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Archive for the ‘saving money’ Category

The Booch.
Ie. Kombucha.
Hard to find, but easy to make, kombucha is a great way to maintain your health, kick a cold, and if you’re into the whole probiotics kick, will keep your gut filled with productive, “good” bacteria that your body needs. A recent study reported on by the New York Times shows that probiotics can actually soothe a colicy baby.
But one thing about the booch is that it’s expensive!
When I was first introduced to kombucha, I was intrigued by the concept (a fermented tea) but scared off by the cost–$4.50 for a 16 ounce bottle. I finally gave into my desires and found the stuff to be liquid gold. But being the starving artist I am, the cost was very prohibitive. That is, until now.
A week back I was at my friend’s house for a jam session, and over tea in his kitchen I saw his pretzel-container filled to the brim with a healthy “mother” and the good stuff. He offered to give me some of the “mother,” cut a piece off and put in some of the tea for me to bring home to start my own Kombucha farm. He gave me the simple steps, and I mean simple, to save myself hundreds of dollars a year on kombucha. This method costs literally pennies for gallons of the stuff!

1.Get a bottle of RAW kombucha. Don’t drink it. You can find this at whole foods. Look for a bottle that is particularly cloudy. This is going to be your mother seed for the kombucha culture that will soon grow into a BIG, jelly fish looking thing.
(If you are at Whole Foods on 2nd Ave in Manhattan, go to the beer store and pick up a spigot for $2.99 that you can put on your pretzel container. This will allow you to pull kombucha directly from your container without having to open the jar and put in a filthy ladle. This step is not required, but it makes it awesome. Overachievers apply)

2.Find yourself a big pretzel or pickle container. The kind you see at a deli on the counter. I found mine in someone’s recycling bag out on garbage night in about 2 seconds. Or just buy a big thing o’ pretzels and enjoy them!

3. Once the pretzel container is cleaned out, you’re ready for the next step. Fill it half way with cold, filtered water.

4. Boil about 4 cups of water and steep 6-12 bags of your favorite tea in the water. Let it steep for about ten minutes and pull the tea bags out.

5. Add 1-2 cups of sugar. I used sugar in the raw and it came out really well. Stir evenly so it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom. Let it have a rolling boil for two minutes or so.

6. Add your tea mix to the cleaned out pretzel jar. Fill it to the top with water. Since there was already cold water in it, it should take the boiling water down to about 70 degrees.

7. Add your bottle o’ kombucha. Hopefully you just got plain, raw kombucha.

8. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and a rubber band. Don’t cover it with the plastic cap you got with the pretzel container, or it will explode due to pressure created by the fermentation process.

9. Wait anywhere from 5-20 days to consume and repeat, taking out the kombucha mother and putting it into a sterile mug while you pour in the boiling water. Don’t worry too much about sterility (But try your best!) because these are very hearty cultures that will eat anything that comes in their way!

10. Share with family and friends! Every time a cycle is completed ( about 30 days) your mother will split off and you can give the offspring culture to a friend.

All in all, you will find yourself feeling more healthy, wealthy and wise using this recipe. Mix in apple juice or your own homemade juice for a super healthy drink that will propel you through the day!
Using this method, you’ll be able to make about one and a half gallons a month of the stuff for the cost of a single bottle, some tea, and some sugar.
Here’s my baby.

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Permaculture at work.

IF you’re like me, you’ve been in a state of transition. The winter seemed to drag in a perpetual state of inbetween this year. Here in Brooklyn, we’re already seeing some pretty awesome spring blooms. Bees are humming, compost is composting, and the birds are flyin’–its time to get-a-plantin’. It’s been almost a year since I wrote “The Urban Survival Guide”, which can be downloaded/read here, but I’ve only just begun my experiments in permiculture. To get me off to a quick start, I just bought a copy of The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. So far, it’s been a great read. Its the first physical book I’ve bought in a long time, and the design work is wonderful. It’s full of helpful tips for folks in the city that want to green up their experience. They talk about porch gardens, raising chickens, worm farming and the like. Its very funny, too. There are a lot of simple tips, like growing out garlic so the shoots can be used in all kinds of dishes. This was a wakeup call! The veggies that you buy at the grocery store are still alive! After a winter hibernation that had me, for better or worse, skipping out on fruits and veggies more than I should have been, it was the motivational push that got me thinking green again.
Case in point, I just started putting out my trays for spinach. Right now is the perfect time to start planting spinach and lettuce if you live in New York City. In my experience, it doesn’t need too much soil (about 3-4 inches) and it’s a great way to feel connected to the food you are eating. I went and purchased some domes for my spinach this year after reading that they like to be at a constant moisture level. The trays are inexpensive (1.99). Get the ones with holes in the bottom so you don’t drown them. The 5-inch clear domes were expensive ($5.99). To supplement/experiment, I only bought two domes and for the other trays I used clear garbage bags and some used toilet paper rolls to keep the bag from sitting on the soil. This was simple, but less attractive. Then I poked some aeration holes into the bag. I’ll keep this post updated as my spinach, mesclun mix and wheatgrass trays begin growing. I used Bloomsdale Spinach (Fast, 5 days to sprout) and Franchi Mesclun mix. These should sprout in 5-10 days. The wheatgrass is Red winter Wheat, which I found at a local shop. The wheatgrass and spinach is listed as organic, but the mesclun is not.
I’ve also found that as I start to become more active in my greening pursuits, I’m also writing more. I just updated my other site, sublimeminds.com with a small review and link to Andrew Bird’s new album, Break it yourself. I also played an hour long set this past weekend of some of the tunes off my latest record Mountain Sons. Hopefully this momentum will build and continue into the spring! In two months, I’m set to begin my adventures in Beekeeping! While I’m planning on doing this upstate, I haven’t barred the idea of city beekeeping in the years to come if I can find a spot that is out of the way to do so. The city needs bees more than ever as more and more people jump onto the permiculture train that will lift us from reliance on the big ten producers of American food.

A year's worth of composting now hard at work.

I’m also looking to do a few new podcast episodes of
Starving Artist Radio as soon as I can secure some guests!
If you have any suggestions or want to plug some music and be interviewed on the show, send some samples to starvingartistsguide@gmail.com

Hope everyone is happy and healthy.

Johnny

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Some say that Seasonal Anxiety Disorder is one of the reasons that New York City folk are so angry all the time. Well, I tend to agree. It was during the doldrums of winter that I got the idea to make my own wine bottle lamp to give my room a boost in light and make it a bit more homey. It was this lamp that had me branded “the dude’s version of Martha Stewart” by a friend that saw it. I’ll wear that badge proudly. The idea began to flourish when I wrote an email to one of the guys at Brooklyn Brewery and asked him if they would send me around 200 BB beer bottle caps to make the bottle lamp really look awesome. They came through and totally delivered. I bought a wine bottle lamp cork kit here.
Once it was completed, another idea struck me–I had a bunch of old LED Christmas lights up to no use, and I’ve always saved the old Brooklyn Brewery bottles that I buy once finishing their tasty and nutritious contents…

Thus, the Brooklyn Brewery Chandelier was born.

I couldn’t get enough lamps. It became a night of passionate lamp building and it was going on one o’clock in the morning. I also had an old Hitachino Beer bottle and a wierd old glass orb hanging around. Sure! That could be a lamp!

Another odd lighting choice was born. So for the cost of a few christmas lights, some twine to keep the chandelier up, a few extension chords and a bit of ingenuity, my little abode is lit to the max for the pennies it costs to use LED lights. The same thing can be done using old wine bottles or whatever you have laying around the house! Viva la Home Decor! For Full Resolution pictures of these projects, click through! (more…)

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If you’re like me, you’re constantly trying to hustle people outta their hard earned paycheck to support what you love to do. Kinda like that new show on HBO called How to Make it In America. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out cause it’s pretty awesome. It’s about these two guys in NYC who are constantly trying to outsmart the man, from hawking fake leather jackets on the street to creating their own line of jeans. Who knew a show that is somewhat about fashion could be so good? Check out the pilot episode here. Anywho, I’ve gotten my promo stuff done exclusively through Vistaprint for the past year and I’ve been pretty happy with their products…To make a long story short, you can get 500 postcards made for about $40 with shipping and tax included by going here. This is a great deal as opposed to the $90 they charge you on Uprint.com. They also make decent shirts and I’ve gotten some other stuff from them as well. Whatever you do though, don’t use Vistaprint for getting stickers made. For my recommendation on where to get stickers made, check out The Starving Artist’s Guide to New York City on lulu.com. You can download it for free or buy it for $15 for a hard copy here.
Oh, and they also will send you personalized business cards for free!

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Howdy, folks,
Any time a hurricane is seen from space, there is this hole in the middle of it where nothing seems to be happening. This is the “eye” of the storm, and if you were within it, you’d be surrounded by lopsided trees, downed power lines and walls of gray sky for 360 degrees. But if you were to look up, it would be a bright, sun shiny day. This is where I am right now. (more…)

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I recently got a gig writing for the great music/culture/etc magazine Death + Taxes. I’ve already written a few articles that are on the website if you take the time to mosey around on it. One of the interesting ones can be found HERE, and it’s a fairly savvy way to get acupuncture on a very small budget. They have a “Happy Hour” about once a month, and it had some incredible effects on my state of mind for only $10 (it woulda been just $5 if I brought a friend!). That’s less than the price of a movie ticket, or two beers or whatever comparison you might make.
Check out the article, as I go into a bit of depth as to what the experience of acupuncture is truly about.

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2/7 – SUPER BOWL PARTY: A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA & FOOTBALL – The Mercury Lounge

3/6 – EVAN DANDO – The Mercury Lounge

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