Tag Archives: experiment

Candy Cane Coffee Syrup Recipe

Homemade Coffee Flavoring Syrup Gift Set

I like my coffee dark and sweet, preferably with a flavor. As I have written before, I like to experiment with making my own flavoring syrups. Since I have accumulated several favorite recipes, I suggested to Brian that we make our own gift sets for family members we would see for Christmas. Although many of them do not drink coffee, the syrups are also good in tea, hot chocolate, cider, and steamers (hot milk with a flavor add-in).

Holiday Flavors

I posted the recipe for Cinnamon Stick Syrup a while ago and found the Gingerbread Syrup recipe on AllRecipes. I invented the Candy Cane Syrup recipe, which uses actual candy canes. I much prefer this recipe to peppermint syrups I tried using peppermint oil or peppermint leaves.

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How to Propagate Christmas Cactus

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus | StairStories.com

My “Heirloom” Cactus

When my grandparents moved out of their farmhouse last year, I came into possession of my grandma’s sprawling but sadly neglected Christmas cactus. She does not remember how long she had it, but the plant is at least one or two decades old, perhaps older. I remember arriving at her house to celebrate Christmas and her eager excitement over showing me the beautiful pinkish blooms on the cactus. For as long as I can remember, it sat with a couple ferns in front of gauzily-curtained windows.

After a few months of research and TLC, the plant recovered and I wanted to propagate cuttings to share with other family members. Here are the steps I followed to propagate – or “start” – new Christmas cactus.

Preparing the Environment

First, I filled three self-watering flowerpots with with potting soil specially-formulated for cacti and succulents. I chose self-watering containers because, from my research, mature Christmas cacti do best when watered from the bottom.

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus | StairStories.com

Choosing Cuttings

Next, I examined my mature cactus and removed any dead or dying segments. (I try to do this pruning regularly.)

Then, I chose sections that were at least four segments (leaves) long and broke them off by twisting them from the main branches. You could also cut them apart with scissors or a knife. I especially looked for segments that had tiny rootlets already starting.

How to Propagate Christmas Cactus | StairStories.com

Planting

After that, I planted the cuttings, being sure to bury the joint between the first two segments. The roots will grow from those joints.

Christmas Cactus | StairStories.com

Follow-up Care

Finally, I watered the soil a little and set the pots near a window where they would receive indirect sunlight.

I watered the cuttings weekly and then gave them to my grandma, aunt, and mom a few weeks later.


Have you propagated succulents? I have not had much success with starting other varieties (except jade). Leave your advice in the comments!

 

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Order Same-Day Instagram Prints from Your Phone

How to get same day Instagram prints | StairStories.com
Temporary Photo Wall Project
Our student ministry welcomed students back to campus last weekend. We had a table in the official check-in line and wanted to make our area look inviting. I printed photos from the past year and then Veronica and Lindsey arranged them on our photo wall. They were impressed when I told them Walgreens now lets customers upload and print photos from Instagram (with same day service). I ordered a number of photos from my Instagram feed and both I and the girls were impressed with the convenience and quality. One of them said, “Man, that is amazing! I’m going to print some tomorrow!”
2014-08-18 17.54.41
What I Did
From the Walgreens photo page, I logged into my Instagram account, selected the photos to print, and chose the sizes. I used 4×4 inch squares, but they also offer 8×8 inch ones too. Most Walgreens stores will offer same-day service for a little extra fee.
Discount
Walgreens often puts discount codes in banners at the top of the page. In addition, you can use RetailMeNot or its smart phone app to look up discount codes. I found a code for 50% off any photo order, but they change often.
Side Note
You can also upload photos from your computer or from your Facebook account. I have tried the former, but not the latter.
Disclaimer
Walgreens did not ask or pay me to recommend their photo service. I am simply sharing my experience with a business.

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DIY Coffee Flavoring Syrup

Cinnamon & Vanilla Rum

I like my coffee strong, dark, and sweet, so I like coffee-flavoring syrups. Did you know it is easy to make your own, customized syrups that taste better than store-bought? I start with the most basic simple syrup recipe and add whatever suits my taste. Both microwave and stove top work well for me, so I have included directions for both.

What is your favorite coffee flavor?

Basic Coffee Flavoring Recipe

Basic Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

 

Cinnamon Stick Syrup
Add 1 cinnamon stick (3-4 inches long), broken into pieces

 

Vanilla Rum Syrup
Add 1 teaspoon vanilla (Mexican or some other really good kind), and
1 teaspoon rum or rum flavoring

 

Microwave Directions
Stir all ingredients together in a clear, microwave-safe container that holds at least four cups. (I use my four-cup Pyrex measuring cup.) Cook on high for two minutes, stir, and then heat until bubbling but not to a rolling boil. Stir about every minute and keep a close watch so it does not boil over. Cook at a “bubble, not boil” for about five minutes in total.

 

Stovetop Directions
Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan that holds at least four cups. Heat to a low simmer, but not a rolling boil. Stir occasionally. Simmer for about five minutes in total.

 

Taste Test & Finishing
When the sugar is completely dissolved and the solution is thicker than plain water, you can check the flavor: Scoop up about a half-teaspoon of HOT syrup and let it cool before you taste it. If you prefer a more intense flavor, you can simmer for a little longer and consider adding a little more of the flavor add-ins. When you like the flavor, let the syrup cool.

 

If your add-ins are not dissolved (like the cinnamon stick), strain out the pieces with a strainer and cheesecloth. Pour the syrup into your preferred containers. I prefer easy-to-pour bottles. Use right away or store in refrigerator.*

 

*I always store mine in the refrigerator and have no idea how long it lasts because I use the syrup quickly!

 

 

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Pinterest 101

Abby Explains

 

Do you use Pinterest?

Pinterest has been widely adopted by individuals, businesses, and bloggers. If you were an early adopter, you may still get asked to explain it to people who have heard about it.

 

I thought my verbal explanations were a bit lacking, so I made a short explanatory video (less than four minutes): Pinterest 101*.

 

*This was a grad school project for my Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) class.

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31 Days of Random Questions – Day 25

What has fear of failure stopped you from doing?
Skydiving, singing solo in public (singing is definitely not my gift!), diving from a high board, flying with a jet pack or in an ultra-light, bungee jumping, stopping a speeding train like a superhero. I have no interest in trying any of these things, though!

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31 Days of Random Questions

I’ve heard of 31 Days in passing and several bloggers I follow will participate every year. I’ve never had the desire or time to do it myself, but enjoy reading what others post.

I like to write because it helps me ponder and process but I had the idea that it would take a ton of time and energy and creativity to undertake 31 Days. As I scrolled through the list of links to participating blogs, I realized that many people do lots of time and energy and creativity into their 31 posts, but some make it more simple and still meaningful and/or fun. If you are doing 31 Days and you fall into that last group, thank you for making it seem attainable.

I like questions, especially random ones that don’t have yes or no answers, that make people think, that start conversations, that invite stories. I have a whole list of good questions already, so I’m going to post one with my answer every day for the 31 days of October. Take them and ask your friends or family if you want. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions to include, let me know.

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