D.I.Wine: Cork the Excuses and Get Down to Business

After  a little vacation, I figured it’s time to get Crafty Bitch back on the go.  So, as my return-from-hiatus craft I wanted to make something that was not only fun and pretty but something with a lot of umph.  So, I made a short list of my favorite things: 1. Makin’ shit,  2.  Reading, and 3. Being a lush.  So the logical conclusion is to make alcohol, which sounds incredibly hard, but if you can read (see number 2) you can do it.

So, I set out into the interweby to see if venturing into the wine making world was for me.  But for some reason the only things I could find were frou-frou blogs and posts from sniffle-y wine snobs which used words that I had only ever heard on Fraiser. So I veered headlong and without any sort of preparation into the wine-making world, but I knew that my love of booze would triumph over my tendencies to let my interests wane and a general lack of determination with these sorts of things.  Most people pick up hobbies that are intended to better oneself, but most people (myself included) begin to make wine so the world just gets a little bit drunker—that, my little meatballs, is a true hobby worthy of my time and effort.

With a little help from Santa Clause I came into possession of a beginners wine making kit from Brewery Lane (which, you might remember, is the store that provided me with the fizzy for my fizzy bath bombs).  This is a neat and compact little kit that has almost everything you need for making vino.  The most important thing is that you read your instructions carefully, as well as take a little cue from one of my favorite books and “Don’t Panic”.

Know your Shit
Juice- This is what becomes delicious, delicious booze.

Packets- they’re filled with stuff that do things that I don’t care to figure out (stabilizers, clarifiers, junk like that).

Plastic Carboy- A lot of my amateur wine-making pal-ios have turned up their noses at me when I say I’ve got a plastic carboy instead of a glass one.  The big thing I’ve been hearing is that there’s a greater risk of oxygen diffusion.  To these Debbie Downers I say, “Well, that’s just impossible because I don’t know what that means.”

Auto-Siphon-  This is a nifty little piece of equipment that helps you transfer your wine from one vessel to the other.  When I first heard of a siphon I, classy lady that I am, thought of pilfering gas out of a car—and that’s pretty much the kind of tool it is, which is convenient if I you up creating a gasoline substitute instead of wine.  It’s not as unlikely as you might think.

Sanitizers- To keep the germies out.

Two very impressive pieces of equipment that are called “Spoon” and “Bucket“.   Anything you can make in a bucket has got the Crafty Bitch stamp of approval.

Ye olde buckette, and ye olde spoone.

Making it Happen
Basically, and there is some variation to this process, you read the instructions and then follow them.  That’s about it.  Even the complex instructions are easy– they’re usually something like put this here, stir, now put it here, stir, stir some more, etc.  I know you’re thinking, “But what if I’ve never made wine before, and I bought all the stuff separately and I don’t have instructions?”  Well, to that I would say, “Go get your money back and buy a kit.”  I’m of the school that believes that you’ve got to learn how to fry up a grilled cheese before you conquer coq au vin.   Anyway, the basic instructions go something like this:

1. Sanitize everything by following the instructions on your sanitizing powder.
2. Put your juice in the bucket followed by water and any other little extras that your instructions say to add (which are clearly labeled, thank Jesus).
3. Stir
4. Wait two weeks
5. Tranfer juice into the carboy using the auto-siphen.
6.  Wait four weeks

This is what you stare at longingly for four weeks.

7.  Transfer wine into wine bottles
8.  Add all the little finishing bells and whistles.  I got some black seals from Brewery Lane (do I love them because of the great customer service, or the adorable pun-name?  Who knows, who cares).  Then I ordered some labels online that cost way too much and are taking too long to get here, before I realized I can get them locally at a place called Brew Craft.  I made them myself with my trusty MS Paint:

 

Hurry up, Mother effer, so I can slap you on my bottles.

There were moments when I felt like a backwoods moonshiner, because, clearly, the very technical fermentation process doesn’t work unless you are barefoot and stirring like a butter-churning fiend.   I also listened to some Bill Monroe and Soggy Bottom Boys to keep in the spirit while getting my churn on.

Just in case you're wondering, no, I'm not a Quasimodo, I'm a sloucher, it comes with the territory of being too hip for posture.

I found making wine was a lot like making bread– people say it’s hard but it’s mostly a lot of waiting around.  Then you present it to your friends and family with a smug look on your face that says, “I created this tiny delicious miracle out of raw materials and a dream, what did you do with your afternoon?”  This is a super fun hobby that involves very little thinking, in fact, you’ll probably even kill quite a few brain cells.  Plus, it’s extremely rewarding (and I mean actually rewarding, not rewarding-by-obligation, like earning a degree, or volunteering).  And if you find it’s something that you’re actually interested in,  you can, you know, start to use your brain and actually learn the ins and outs of it.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some lovely winos who would like shower heaps of praise upon me.  That’s code for “I’m breaking out Buster the Big Glass tonight”.

Song of the Day:

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Homemade Gifts or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bath Bombs

So,  I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping lately and as I’ve been wandering through throngs of people (seriously, don’t you people have jobs or families to go to?) and sifting through shelves of all the useless shit that’s piled up in the big box stores of this city and I’ve come to a realization that some of you little fruitcakes might have already had:  Christmas gift shopping sucks.  I know what you’re thinking: “But, Oh Crafty One, it’s only November, it can’t be that bad!”  But it is… it’s worse.  I like to spend most of my Christmas holidays not wanting to hang myself from the rafters with a piece of tack-licious tinsel garland, so I stay out of stores by getting all my gifts early.  However, I think I might be giving away too many of my secrets because it seems the masses have figured out my ploy and followed me, Pied-Piper-style, to Walmart and beyond.
So, what is a Crafty Bitch to do when you want to please your friendly-wendlies and loved ones and not kill your fellow shoppers in the process?  Why, you just whip together some hassle-free treats, stick on a gift tag, and call it a day.

One of the most underrated treasures in the world is homemade gifts.  Think about all the absolute crap you’ve gotten in your lifetime and how much it actually meant to you.  If I could take all the shitty teddy bears I’ve gotten in my life and get them together, I wouldn’t have a teddy bear picnic, I’d have a teddy bear bonfire.  I don’t know about you, but I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need any more junk, and so are most of my friends, so why should I be throwing away tons of my hard-earned money at the mall finding that perfect something  when my pal-ios probably already have two of them, or they never wanted it in the first place.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the most valuable thing you can give someone is your time, so why not put together a few time-filled goodies.

Bath Bombs
These are super easy to make and I love them because when you throw them in the drink with ya it’s like soaking in a big glass of champagne.

They’re also awesome  because you can lie and tell people they took you all day and they’ll believe you (Remember: The best relationships are built on a foundation of lies).

Ingredients:
1 cup baking soda:
I say sodium bicarbonate because it helps me remember baking soda, not powder.  Also, it makes me sound like  a fancy scientist: “Hmm, yes, I need some sodium bicarbonate for cleaning my flatware… AND MY DEATH RAY”.  You can get this anywhere, I like Bulk Barn because it’s cheapy-cheapy and I can pick up  a shit load of candy while I’m at it.

1/2 cup of citric acid:
… or as I like to call it– Waldo, because it can be pretty hard to find.  Here’s a few little tricks to finding it though that I didn’t really think of when I went out a-lookin’: Know what it looks like:
(I put a tiny wind-up Santa next to it to give you an idea of how big it should be.  Then I realized that tiny Santa’s aren’t exactly a universal measurement, but fuck it, I’m not taking the photo again.)

Secondly, you’ll probably be asked what citric acid used for just so they’ll know what section of the store to find it in.  The answer is- It should be everywhere, but it’s usually nowhere.  It can be used in small amounts as an additive to jams and jellies so it could be found in the canning section of Walmart, it’s also used to ripen cheese so it might be in your local health food or cooking supply stores, also, you can use it to cut heroine so you might try asking your local drug dealer.  Just joking, smack is whack.  Anyway, I thought I could just go out and ask some nice helpful salespeople and someone would have an idea.  However, most people looked at me like I was trying to build a bomb.  Which I was… a bath bomb!  (Just FYI, it’s probably not a good idea to use that one to said suspicious salespeople.)  After 2 Walmart`s, 4 Shopper’s Drug Marts, 2 Dominions (brawl with rude customer service lady thrown in for free), and 1 Sobey’s,  I had a stroke of genius that involved calling around before heading out.  Of course the first place I called was a wine making supply store that had tons of the stuff.  So, I’d look there first.  If you’re okay to wait, I’d recommend checking out Ebay or the Brewery Lane’s online store, Clickabrew, which is the store I got mine from.

2 teaspoons of cornstarch
Easy enough.

4 teaspoons of grapeseed oil
If you don’t know what grapeseed oil is it’s because it’s been camouflaged next to the olive oil at the grocery store for all these years.

A few drops of food colouring
I use neon food colouring because I’m wild and craaaaazy.

A few drops of fragrance
You can get these at Michael`s or any place with soap making supplies.  I’m not usually one who heeds all the warnings but I’ve heard that you must use soap fragrance as candle scent can irritate you body when added to a bath and I always abide by such disclaimers when my hoo-ha is involved ;).

Extras
There are a few extras you can add to your bath bombs, such as vitamin E oil, but really you’d just be spending money to gild the lily.  Some people add sugar, sprinkles, or candies, but apparently these peoples’ mothers didn’t teach them about the pitfalls of women’s health (Thanks, Ma!).

Instructions (Make sure you pay attention, it’s real tricky)
1.  Mix wet ingredients in a cup (this batch is grapefruit flavoured, in case you were wondering).

2.  Mix dry ingrediants in a bowl.

3.  Add contents of cup to bowl.

4.  Smoosh.   Throughout your smooshing process you will need to add more oil, just keep going until you get a sticky-ish consistency– enough so when you shape it it doesn’t fall apart.  Don’t worry if you go a bit overboard, as long as you don’t turn it into bath bomb-slop you can even it out with more baking soda.  P.S.  You will love how your hands feel after this– soft like buttah.

BAM! you got your mixture.  Use anything you want as a mold- ice cube trays, chocolate molds, plastic Christmas ornaments, it’s all good.
I like the little bubble  containers you get from gumball machines.  Pack it hard (that’s what she said) then extract from your mold.  Again, if they are a little powdery or oily just let them sit for a while to harden up.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match colours, some of my favorites are pink and green melon scented, and white vanilla paired with orange tangerine to make cream-sicle.

Put them in baggies, throw some straw or ribbon on it, and give them to all your smelly friends 🙂 .

Oh, and for all my homies reading this right now:  Guess what prezzie you’re getting!  And for all my friends that don’t like baths:  aw well, maybe you’ll get something next year.

Song of the Day: