Toy Library

September 18th, 2014 at 6:30 am

I’m not a rigid mama. At least I don’t think I am. The messes and the fingerprints will fade, and I know the dumping will too. But the dumping of every single item we own, well I’m not trying to raise humans that act like that. I believe that children need a little structure and should be taught how to care for things. Just as my mother and father taught me. My favorite rule, that never was until I grew up, is never leave anything in your car. I don’t leave things in the passenger seat as a simple courtesy for my passengers. I also don’t do so because everything has a place when it isn’t in use. Each day I am gently working on teaching them that, I know it will make their lives easier as they grow. It will allow them to more easily be on time to work, my keys are always in the same place. I put anything that hasn’t been put away yet before I go to bed, and so on.

Singer is getting better at placing her clothes on the bed or in the dirty clothes (she can’t open her drawers or reach her closet yet), Silas is working on these skills too. They both have putting their toothbrush where it belongs down. Dishes next to the sink are in order for Silas, luckily both of them want to help so very badly in the kitchen. Hey kids, let mama handle her dishwasher. Please and thank you.

This here is an incognito toy library. Incognito was the word of the day on Sesame Street yesterday, BOOM! ps: unlike most of the population I adore people who are late to most social engagements. It’s so Athens.

Anyhow, just an out of date cabinet  (circa 1983) that houses all of our puzzles and toys that contain small pieces, most importantly behind closed doors. But this is no ordinary toy cabinet, because it has child proof locks on the doors. Now I’ll be honest- Singer can open those so called child proof locks, but she knows this cabinet is not a free for all. That’s ok, she’s not the main culprit when it comes to all the dumping. EVERYTHING MUST BE DUMPED SAYS MR. SILAS HARTFORD.

In addition to child proof doors everyone under the age of 18 needs a library card to check a toy out. I’m just kidding, we don’t have that many children. Yet. But we do have really fun toys that will grow with the kids, I make sure we like to play with them too. That makes for  better parenting. I’m not kidding. So one toy for each child, they have to take it to the kitchen counter or coffee table because our dog is where toys go to die. Expensive toys, that don’t work without all the pieces. With a dumper and a trash compactor of a dog this works for us, so I wanted to share it in case your family is having similar struggles. It wasn’t hard by any means to accomplish, minus the drill with a two and three year old in the house. Totally worth attempted power tool robberies.

After they play each child is responsible for cleaning up their own mess, according to what I think they’re able to do, due to their age. This also works well if you have much smaller children in your home that could choke on small pieces. Because babies put everything in their mouths.

I am clearly firm. Two toys at a time. Who am I kidding? Those are both for Silas, we choose our battles. But before you go: look at that vicious hound calculating her attack, waiting for someone to drop a puzzle piece, one mistake and they will be at the mercy of her jowls…

The Air King

September 17th, 2014 at 9:34 am

Georgia summers are sweltering. Blessed be this summer, it has been a breeze in comparison. Howdy rainy days and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I was pregnant with Silas during consecutive weeks of 115 here in Athens, the next year was hardly any better at a steady heat wave in the upper 90s. Too indoorsy. Couple that with the warmer winters in the past, that means more mosquitos. Taking cover indoors is the pits.  I had to try to solve this nasty equation, make it better. I like solutions, fixing things, leaving what I love better than I found it. Our Air King fan is the panacea. It keeps mosquitos off the deck, a constant breeze (or gusts of hurricane-like winds) going, keeping the funky away.

This past May I had contractor install it for David’s birthday. Along with some outdoor speakers so we can listen to games when we don’t move a tv outside, but mostly to keep the music (and air) circulating. Much like I’ve tried to make sure our home flows = living room > kitchen > deck > yard. This is how I entertain, but more importantly to me, live. I can cook and still feel like part of the party. Whether it’s just the four of us, or our family and a whole slew of friends and extended family.

This fan is a barbarian. When it arrived I developed instant anxiety, worried how we would hang something that easily weighs 25 pounds. Weekends are sacred to us. My man works extra hard during the summer, so I called in a friend and contractor to install a plug and to go up in the attic to run speaker wire, bolt the fan, as well as the speakers, through the eaves of the house. David could have done this, but what a better birthday present than the ordinary, the gift of one less home improvement chore. The gift of time and less curse words, it’s already done. Without further adieu let me introduce you to one of the best and cheapest fixes we’ve made so far on this home, The Air King:


We bought model 9320, currently unavailable. However, I see that there are other options. I went on customer reviews to choose the fan that was right for our home.

View of the mount and outlet addition.

These speakers sound better than the pair we have indoors, and those are pretty sweet speakers too. I liked that our outdoor speakers blend in well with the house, but more importantly the sound is pitched just right.

I chose this spot for the fan for a couple of reasons. I didn’t want it to block the flow of the deck’s exit, it needed to cover the entire deck, and bonus points for swiveling to the far right to aim inside on cool days. It gives off a cool breeze even inside the house.

Listen to this big boy go on low:

If you have any questions or would like some help bringing the indoors out, and the outdoors in please email me at brinsonfolks at gmail dot com.

Add More Nutrients to Your Smoothies

September 16th, 2014 at 6:52 am

It’s as easy as opening a can and pouring the contents in your blender. Or you can do the work and crack open a coconut from the produce aisle or famers market.

Let me be transparent. I do not like coconut water. I think it tastes terrible. I also know it is one of the healthiest things you can drink. So I chug them if I’m dehydrated, but more often I add them to our smoothies. 4 out of 4 people in the Brinson Home do not enjoy coconut water, though none of us can taste it when I gussy up our smoothies with it. It gives your smoothie a light refreshing kick. It makes my nose and mouth feel fresh and airy, somehow.

But wait, all coconut water is not created equal. It’s always best to go straight to the source, but I don’t have a coconut tree in my backyard so I keep two brands on hand. They’re the only two that had everything I wanted nutrients wise that I have been able to find without spending a small fortune. The Food Babe has done all the hard work for you and me, please read her information on canned coconut water before you keep spending your hard earned money on it, or start doing so. Brands like Pepsi and CocoCola own many of the cans and boxes you see in stores, and they do not have consumers health in mind.

Here are my two choices after researching and crunching numbers. Nature Factor and Taste Nirvana coconut water. Both organic and not from concentrate. They aren’t raw like the waters that Food Babe lists as the best, but you will pay 50 dollars for 6-8 raw coconut waters and I use them almost daily. I buy these two in bulk from Amazon Subscribe and Save to get 20 % off on my order of 5 or more items each month. Read more about S&S here. As far as taste I think the Taste Nirvana, appropriately named, has a slight advantage over the Nature Factor. It also has pulp in it, and that adds vitamin c to it’s content. It has less magnesium than Nature Factor, but added chloride. It also has fat content, due to the pulp. Good healthy coconut fat. I like Nature Factor’s can better, simply due to shipping- it comes in the sturdiest can I’ve ever held, thicker than a can of soup. It holds up well in the mail, as you can see the dent in the Taste Nirvana can in the photo.

Adding a can, or half a can (I usually use 1/2) of coconut water can add magnesium, iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin c and chloride to your smoothie. Most American’s are deficit in magnesium, which leads to plethora of health problems. I do everything I can each day to get more inside (and outside!) of our family’s bodies. It can reduce headaches, fatigue, speed weight loss, relieve anxiety,  help build strong bones, remove callused skin from the bottom of your feet if sprayed topically, and aid in reduction of hypertension- plus so much more. It is a crucial mineral for all bodies to have, but with soil depletion and lack of fruits and veggies in diets so many people are missing this mineral in their daily lives. Many American’s believe that they are lacking vitamin d and calcium, but they need to work on magnesium levels before they can successfully absorb vitamin d or calcium. Read more about magnesium deficiency here if you are suffering from any of the problems I listed above.

Don’t like coconut water either? I am pretty confident this is a great way to get it in your body without tasting it! If you do, you’re ahead of the game, try adding it to your smoothie if you haven’t to give it a bonus of vitamins and minerals and it will also make it invigorating and crisp.


Recipe: Sourdough Starter

September 15th, 2014 at 1:59 pm

If you’re wary about jumping on the bread starter train make sure you read this first, the reasons why I’ve chosen this extra task. It may help you decide not to continue or you may want to get started today.

This southern girl is pretty healthy but I like to feed my loved ones biscuits, pancakes, and warm white hamburger buns throughout the month. I adore the diversity of bread starter as you can start with any flour and then use the flour of choice when baking. Many fermenters prefer rye, but I am an organic white flour gal all day every day.

I worked on this recipe throughout the summer. I wanted to figure out how to make a starter with a small amount of flour, and without having to buy a starter kit. What I found is that you can even forgo the grapes or pineapple juice. I think they get things going a little faster, but it’s possible to catch the yeasts that live in your kitchen with only flour and filtered water. However, below I’ve listed my two favorite ways to get your starter brewing. Grapes and Pineapple juice work really well. I have yet to have a fallen starter with these two methods. So that is why I chose to highlight them to get you started.


To make sourdough starter you will need:

2 pound bag of flour
2 gallons of spring or filtered water (you won’t use all of this flour and water at once, but you’ll need it on hand)
wooden spoon
a large mason jar, crock, etc.
unwashed organic grape or pineapple juice (no sugar added)
cheesecloth or a linen napkin
string or a rubberband

Let’s get started:


White Flour Starter

day one
1/3 cup white flour
1/4 cup spring/filtered water
three or four unwashed organic grapes
Mix flour, water and grapes together, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

day two
1/3 cup white flour
1/4 cup spring/filtered  water
Mix flour and water with starter, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

day three
1/3 cup white flour
1/4 cup spring/filtered water
Remove grapes. Mix flour and water with starter, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

day four
1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup spring/filtered water
Mix flour and water with starter, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.


Rye Starter

day one
1/3 cup rye flour
1/4 cup pineapple juice
Mix flour and pineapple juice together in jar, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

day two 
1/3 cup rye flour
1/2 teaspoon pineapple juice
Mix flour and pineapple juice together with starter, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

day three
1/3 cup rye flour
1/4 cup spring/filtered water
Mix flour and water with starter, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

day four
1/2 cup rye flour
1/3 cup spring/filtered water
Mix flour and water with starter, stir well. Cover with breathable fabric secured tightly in place.

That’s it! You should have a bubbly starter by now if you have loved this concoction each day. If you can give the starter an extra stir each day, even better!

Important notes and upkeep:

Some starter experts say you have to discard starter while building it, I’ve found otherwise. You can if you’d like each day- about a half a cup. I think that’s wasting good flour and would put it to the side for two jars, You can save two cups and make pancakes with it once it gets bubbly. Your kitchen will look like a science experiment. I’ll share that pancake recipe next to help keep your counters clean. If I feel the need to discard (like it’s way too bubbly, which isn’t a bad thing- that means its ready!) I also like to stick some aside for a friend and feed it too, until you can get it to them. You may also give the starter a good feed, cover with a mason jar lid and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Then pull it out and feed it, stick it on the counter to warm up and cook with. I keep my starter in plain view and feed it every day, and sometimes every other day because I use it a lot. Some days you can just get away with giving her a good stir. If you plan on storing the starter in the refrigerator you need to feed it and bring it to room temperature before you use it for a recipe. Otherwise your product will be flat and lifeless because the yeast is more or less sleeping.

Once you have a bubbly happy starter (pictured below) feed it most days if you leave yours at room temperature. I stir in about 1/3 cup flour in the starter 5 or 6 out of 7 days a week. Then I stir and add a little filter or spring water until it’s a nice consistency, not water/not thick. I really believe there isn’t as much science or fuss to it as many starter lovers will have you believe. If we’re going out of town or I know we will be busy I feed and refrigerate.

Sometimes starter will form a thick shield on the top, it can easily be pulled off the top and discarded. If there is a layer of water pour the water off and feed really well, lots of stirring!

Only use non-reactive container and utensils. I only use glass and wood during all steps of bread making.
The use of non chlorinated water is very important. Chlorine will kill your yeast. YOU MUST USE SPRING/FILTERED WATER. 

Be patient with your starter, due to your home’s condition you may not have any activity the first week. Keep feeding it and the bubbles will come. Make sure your home is at least 68 degrees, preferably 70.
When cooking with your starter plan on having enough left over after adding it to the recipe to feed and build again. I like to make sure I have about a half cup before feeding it again, immediately.

Get that sourdough starter going and I’ll share my favorite recipes over the coming weeks.



June 4th, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I’m working on that sourdough, I promise. My kitchen is currently a science experiment. While I’ve successfully made sourdough starter I haven’t done it without great waste, so I’m trying to get this done without any pour off for the initial process. Waste not want not.

You see, when catching yeast every recipe I’ve come across has you add copious amounts of flour and then throw some away the next day. I’ve read that you HAVE to do this… but after months of working with starter almost every day I believe I don’t have to take this as fact. But it’s taking some trial and error. Well, there hasn’t been an error yet. I had what I found to be workable starter the second day with a new grape method I tried last week. So I threw it out and started again with a new bag of grapes just to see if it would work again- and while it didn’t catch yeast as quickly it’s still looking and smelling exactly the way I’d like it to start. Let’s just say I could get really nerdy up in here, but I won’t bore you.

Here’s my new white flour and rye starter bubbling away. I’ll be back with my results and a frugal recipe soon…

This weekend we went into the bees and added a super (fancy beekeeper word for made the hive bigger) because this sucker was oozing honey. It felt pretty darn good since we just started all over after the cold killed a colony this winter.

I get to spend every day with this.. maniac.

These two are incredible. So different. So not ever the same. Never apart. Joined at the hip.

The feeler, thinker, sensitive type…

The laid back, giving, surfer dude…

I am most proud of them, of course, out of anything David and I have built together. And if we stop being hard on ourselves and sit down to make a list we’ve created some things we should be proud of.

Like our home and this yard, that was gifted to us by god and nature. Sometimes when it all settles, and even when it doesn’t, I look around and am so incredibly grateful. This sunrise makes me want to fall to my knees. But then I might spill my coffee. So I don’t, instead I just admire it, holding my head high- thankful that I get to cohabit this spot.

We’ve been working on the front yard this year, there are trees and overgrown shrubbery purged. We plan on working as hard as we did in the back, but it will be slow. I create as I am inspired, as not to make haste and throw a bunch of things I don’t love and aren’t lasting into the mix. Catching a few shots from a firefly hunt last week certainly helps grow inspiration.

He would follow her to the ends of the earth…

more recent photos here