Friday, May 14, 2010

Vote for our Writer Tawdra!

Vote for our very own Tawdra Kandle in this Fabulous over Forty Contest from More Magazine

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guest Post from Author Robin Wells

It’s only fitting that my book, Still the One, is coming out in May, because May is Mother’s Day Month. The book is about Katie Charmaine, a small-town hairdresser who wants, more than anything, to be a mother. She’d given up a baby for adoption as a teenager, and although she was sure she’d made the right decision for the child, her heart had always felt the loss. As the book opens, it’s two years since her husband died in Iraq. She thinks that along with the love her life, she’s lost her chance at motherhood.

Imagine her shock when her first love, Zack Ferguson, shows up in town. Zack left town abruptly after sharing a single night of passion with Katie when they were both teenagers. Zack is not alone; he’s accompanied by Gracie, the daughter Katie last saw in the delivery room seventeen years ago. Gracie’s adoptive parents have died in a car crash. She’s got a smart mouth, a bad attitude---and a baby on the way.

I usually write romantic comedy, and although there are lots of humorous moments in this book, this novel touches on some deep issues. The romance between Zack and Katie deals with teen pregnancy, grief, loneliness and loss, and the secondary romance between Katie’s mother-in-law and father-in-law deals with divorce, infidelity, alcoholism and aging.

It’s not a dark book by any means, but it explores the complexity of relationships -- and there’s no relationship more complex than that of mothers and daughters! I wanted to write about how there are two sides to every story, and how everyone’s perceptions are colored by their own personal histories. I also wanted to write about the need to forgive not only others but ourselves, about the redeeming power of love, and about the importance of finding humor in even the worst situations.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy and read it for yourself--then I hope you’ll my website,, and share you thoughts about it. If you belong to a book club, you’ll find some discussion questions on my website.

Happy Mother’s Day, and happy reading!
Read Mandie's Review on Mommy Reads too Much 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kombucha Tea

Is it just me, or does it sound as though I’m swearing in a foreign tongue when I say that word? Kombucha!

When I first heard someone mention kombucha months ago, I had no idea what they were talking about. Then a few friends brought along their kombucha tea to a meeting, and I tried some. It wasn’t bad. It was different, but it wasn’t bad.

More recently, as I poured over Sally Fallon’s excellent book Nourishing Traditions, I read more about this beverage. It is in fact tea-based. Kombucha tea is a fermented beverage that first was consumed in east Asia before it was introduced to Germany in the early part of the twentieth century.

The benefits associated with kombucha all come from anecdotal experience. People who love the tea claim that it boosts immunity, aids digestion and prevents both hair loss and grayness. For me, it was the digestion aid and probiotics that caught my attention. Now that I’d mastered the whole kefir routine, how hard could it be to brew some tea, right?

HA! I soon learned. I casually mentioned to whole foods guru Lee that I might want to give kombucha a try, and she quickly offered to allow me to “mother sit” her kombucha mushroom while she was in Europe. Sounded okay, although I wasn’t quite certain what “mother sitting” would involve.

A few days before her departure, Lee arrived at my house with a cooler and her arms full of stuff. She handed me a box of tea, a box of organic sugar and a large glass canister. Within the cooler was a glass bowl that contained the mother.

I don’t know that I could do justice to the description of a kombucha mother mushroom, or SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) as it is called more accurately, so I’ve included a picture here. Suffice it to say that I was a bit taken aback. While it’s called a mushroom, it’s actually a gelatinous mass of bacteria and yeast. Fun!

Lee gave me my instructions, and there I was, ready to brew and mother sit. A few days later, I began the process.

First, it’s extremely important to keep everything associated with the tea and brewing as sterile as possible. We’re dealing with bacteria here, and you don’t want the wrong bacteria crashing your kombucha party. The first thing I did was boil water, about a gallon of it. I used the black tea bags to brew the tea, and I added a cup of organic sugar to the pot. Once it had cooled, I poured just under a gallon of the sweet tea into the glass canister. I removed the kombucha mother from the fridge and carefully slid her into the top of the tea-filled canister.

Now it was all up to her. I covered the canister loosely with a cotton dishtowel and hid it in a dark corner of my kitchen counter.
Four days later, with no small amount of trepidation, I uncovered the canister. I gingerly slid the mother, still floating serenely on the surface of the tea, back into her small glass bowl along with about half cup of the tea.

I poured about a ½ cup of fruit juice—I used cranberry—into six quart jars. Then I ladled the tea—now kombucha—into each jar, leaving a small amount of breathing room on the top. I put lids on the jars and moved them to the same hiding place the mother had just vacated. Two days later, the jars were ready to move to the fridge for chilling.

Now was the crucial moment—tasting. I was pretty nervous; after all, it kind of looked as though this stuff had gone bad. There was a film on top of the jar I opened. Bravely I skimmed it off, poured the kombucha into a cup. . .and took a sip.

Hmmm. It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good. Really good. Encouraged, I called my oldest daughter over and had her take a sip. To her credit, she didn’t hesitate, and with a surprised expression, she agreed that it was good.

“But just don’t sniff it first,” she advised everyone else. “Just drink it.”

The real test was my husband. He is very particular about what he drinks, but he drank a little and told me he liked it. I could tell he was pretty surprised, too!

So the kombucha brewing was a success. Well. . .mostly. When Lee came home, she separated a layer from the SCOBY so that I could have my own “mother”. (Yes, the mother has babies, and you can share and pass on your babies. True story.) My second batch was also good. I’m drinking at least one glass of the kombucha a day. My oldest daughter has had a little now and then. The rest of the kids are steering clear for the moment, and my husband, while he enjoyed it, isn’t exactly seeking it out in place of his Arnold Palmers.

And here are the disclaimers. Kombucha brewing isn’t that complicated really, but it does take a time commitment. We had company come into town and it put a crimp in my kombucha schedule. And it should be understood that some medical professionals doubt the validity of the health claims surrounding the tea and have advised caution, as over use might lead to some difficulties (check out the NY Times article at ). It’s important to be scrupulous about cleanliness when brewing your own.

I would rate the kombucha experiment as a partial success. I’m enjoying it, and I don’t mind the little bit of work that goes into making it, but in my family, it hasn’t caught on the way kefir has.

Give it time though. Give it time.

(For more information on kombucha and how to start your own, the best website is:


Tawdra Kandle is stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four children who range in age from 9 years to almost 21 years. She and her husband of over 22 years live in central Florida, where he is in seminary. Tawdra spends most of her precious free time writing and reading, and she loves to travel. She is also a resident writer for Taking Time for Mommy. View more of her Articles HERE. You can also follow Tawdra on twitter and her blog, Publishing Quest


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