Thursday, July 12, 2012

Merry Mead

Good mead takes time. It isn't a lot of work, but you have to start with good ingredients (simple: honey, water, yeast) and find it a cool, relatively stable place to spend a few months. This is the first place I have had in LA that could meet that last requirement. My study/laboratory, on the first floor of the Northeast corner of the house, is sort of like a drafty wine last fall I brewed up a 3 gallon batch of mead and left it sitting there until last weekend.

Honey quality definitely matters - I haven't made friends with any local beekeepers here yet, and our local health food store got bought by Lassen's and stopped carrying bulk honey, so I used Trader Joe's Mesquite honey for this batch, along with White Labs sweet mead yeast.

My mead recipe comes from my SCA days. Purists only here - no spices, fruits, or additives. Those all help if your honey isn't great, but if you've got good honey, let it shine. 3-4 pounds of honey per gallon of water for a sweet mead.

Bottling is the fun part (in addition to drinking, of course). My bottle corker was one of the first big purchases I made when I got a "real job"...hated that job, but I still have the corker. It's 3 feet tall and definitely a commitment to make space for in the kitchen, but you have to have priorities, right?
Corks go here:
Then you pull the giant lever to squeeze the cork and push it in:
And celebrate!
I ran out of bottles with a little mead left in the carboy, so I filled up a couple of mason jars to stash in the fridge for later, then had a little taste to see if it was good yet (sometimes it has to age a while in the bottles before it's really good). Before I knew it I was lying on the floor, drinking directly from the bottle filler and mumbling about Valhalla. Good stuff, that mead.

Come to think of it, that bottle corker was just about the most satisfying $200 I've ever spent. When I think of all the money I frittered away from that high paying job, because I didn't have a clue about money, I really wish I had bought the cider press too...

Friday, July 6, 2012

No Bonfire, please.

It is hard to take sexy pictures of bathrooms, so I'm not sure if these pictures express how awesomely happy I am with this project.
Vanity, now with open base that makes the bathroom feel much bigger.
Floor, all clean and shiny and cute, with zero linoleum.
And of course, awesome vintage wallpaper. The photo can't even capture the 50's glam of this ridiculous green-floral-on-metallic-silver ridiculousness. The ceiling is pure silver, because of course we wouldn't want to go too far. The husband thinks it's hideous, but I say he's touching that wallpaper over my dead body. I also say that he can't have his disco ball back.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Like that story about the lily...

Last week I replaced the faucet in our front bathroom. The old one was cool and brass and oddly phallic looking, which was a plus, but it was leaking like crazy and not repairable. Cue new faucet, which looks pretty nifty on the (pre-existing) real marble countertop after a good polish:
but then the new faucet and shiny marble made the crummy old water-damaged vanity it was resting on look bad, so I had to rip that out and build a new one. While that was happening, I decided to investigate the peeling linoleum, and found cute little hex tiles underneath:
Turns out those little tiles are also Carrera marble. Who on earth would glue crappy 80's linoleum to marble tile? I like to think it was a time traveller from the future who wanted us to be able to buy the house cheap one day. The husband was away on business trips, so there was no one to stop me from going manic and chipping away all the linoleum and adhesives. There were some friends visiting, so they got Tom Sawyered into helping...or at least one of them, who has my kind of OCD, was helping, while the other one lounged in the bathtub in his jammies drinking cocktails and telling us stories.
Seems like a gameboard for some dystopic future version of Settlers of Catan, doesn't it?

Now the floor has been cleaned, minor earthquake damage repaired, and polished. The new vanity is being stained out in the garage, and the whole thing should be put back together again in a couple of days. As far as costs go, this project was cash cheap and labor spendy, and that's the way I like it. New Delta faucet @ $128 on Amazon, wood for the vanity @ $60 from Home Depot, and about $20 worth of adhesive stripper.