More Thung Song Happenings (or, an Excuse to Post Lots of Pictures of My Dog)

Every once in awhile I need a theme-less post in which to include miscellaneous photos from around town. This is one of those posts.

in our office a student was carving a flower into a pumpkin one day. beautiful!

haha… a project i do every once in awhile is to assign vocabulary words to pairs of students, then have them translate the word, make a sentence, and include them all on a poster. though they didn’t follow the instructions completely, this poster (for the word ‘decision’) gave me quite a chuckle for sure. (don’t know if it’s clear but in the photo the man is imagining himself smoking.)

wow, it’s a rare occasion i catch jame, o, pok, and top hard at work simultaneously! (it’s worth mentioning that all the girls had been allowed to go to lunch because their work was already finished, whereas the boys hadn’t even started)

jom, my student crush, left me a little note at the beginning of his project: “sorry! i can’t draw and pain colour (so) beautiful.” i imagine he means “paint”

haha. ‘buttiful.’

there he is!!!!

reason number 1244232 to love ollie: he is ALWAYS excited for EVERYTHING!

we saw this chameleon at one of our favorite restaurants, yim yim! he was totally chilling. and we’d just been talking about that movie ‘rango.’

we spied the tiniest gecko!

i blew up an eggplant roasting them to make baba ghanouj, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because, as a result of not having enough eggplant to make baba on its own, i make a hummus/baba combination that was awesome!

david took ollie and me to the vet

i finally snapped a photo of one of the many cows-in-pickup-beds we see around town.

we had some awesome vegan sushi with claire and collette


caught the market in this gorgeous light

weight loss aid AND make your body perfect. isn’t that convenient?!

chris had a colorful ice cream cone after lunch pad thai

ollie got a crate that’s much too small for him… that can’t be refunded

no really… via email: me: ‘i need a crate to take my 18 kg dog on an airplane.’
lady: ‘for 18 kg dog the 1003 crate is much better.’
me: ‘cool.’ [5 days later] ‘whoa that crate’s much too small for my dog, can i exchange it?’
lady: ‘that crate is suitable for dogs up to 20 kgs. you can exchange but you pay your own freight. it’s much cheaper just to order a new one.’
emilie: ‘what?! that’s like a cat carrier.’
me: ‘right? peace out $80…’

there was this kid sitting under a table at the market

the moon was nearly full the night i went to hot yoga for the first time

and then was totally full the next night. probably my last one in thailand ūüė¶

last friday we went in search of a new waterfall. we were successful, except it was all dried up. so we walked/climbed up the giant rocks, which had been baking in the sun all day not unlike enormous round pizza stones, to the top of the mountain. it wasn’t until we made it home that i realized i’d burnt my feet so badly as to produce half-inch thick blisters on the bottom of each. i walked around with two club feet for two days. sorry for the graphic picture. (haha… i just reduced its size in hopes of the ‘ew’ factor also diminishing.)

à la tonsai, david and i momentarily joined a thai rock band

i burnt a few grilled cheese sambos something awful (but they still tasted alright!)

i spotted someone rocking this amusing shirt whilst bustling around town.

Aaaand… that’s pretty much the long and short of it!



Awhile ago a friend stopped by our house to chat and have some sushi. Our conversation was taking its normal course: complaining about school, laughing about something that happened at school, asking if the other had begun watching one of the addictive series catch on like wildfire amongst our friends, complaining a little more about school, etc. Suddenly she sat upright and said, “Oh my goodness! You’ll never guess what I saw the other day.”

My mind began ticking through potential guesses… a monk in an interesting situation? A monkey on someone’s motorbike? Six people on a motorbike? A particularly unconvincing ladyboy?

“Well. I went over to Collette and Claire’s for tea, and noticed they had a big thing covered in a¬†batik on their fridge. I asked what it is and it was–”
“Oh, their kombucha!”
“I don’t know what it’s called but it was¬†mold! A big thing of some tea with proper¬†mold growing at the top!”
“Haha yeah it looks kind of weird but it’s kombucha. It’s really good for you, they’re going to give me some of that ‘mold’ when it’s big enough and I’ll grow my own.”
“Oh no. No thanks. They tried to get me to actually¬†drink some but no! I couldn’t!”

And yes, Kellie’s reaction can hardly be blamed. I don’t think I or anyone else would try to make a case that the ‘mold’ (or SCOBY, as in “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast,” as it’s formally known) that makes a home at the top of a batch of kombucha is a particularly enticing entity– in fact, it is rather off-putting. But if she’d just gotten past that… if she’d have not let that mental block get the best of her!

She’d have been in for a world of good. People make cases for it being good for just about every part of your body, and also claim it can improve mental health. It’s an ancient Chinese “elixir” that has been used in traditional medicine for over 2000 years. At the very least, (naysayers in the medical community are quick to point out that there have been no clinical trials to support many of the beneficial claims) it’s loaded with probiotics (think yogurt, but MORE) and has well-accepted detoxifying properties. Check here (or here or here) for more detailed accounts.

And since that conversation, we’ve succeeded in preparing two batches of Kombucha! Collette and Claire’s SCOBY (“Thomas,” they named it him) finally reached a sharable size (so, naturally, we now have “TJ,” both to mean “Thomas, Jr.” and because I like to act the part of an overly-enthusiastic UVA alum. Have you seen my dog’s collar?), and following this guideline we’ve met all kinds of success!

Now, one thing you may notice in any research you do about kombucha is that people are quick to mention all the harmful things that can happen as a result of contamination. If you do decide brewing kombucha at home is for you, it’s¬†really¬†important that you keep everything really clean. Run boiling water (mixed with white vinegar, preferably) over¬†everything. Don’t use soap though, as any traces can allegedly kill all the good bacteria.

our materials: enormous glass container, loose green tea in cheesecloth, four cups of sugar, pot for boiling water, vinegar for sterilizing

boiling enough water to nearly fill the container… tedious and sweltering, but worth it in the end!

so. large container of green tea, with four cups of sugar added on the left. a bit of leftover kombucha with the SCOBY on the right. when the tea has reached room temperature, pour in the leftover kombucha as a starter, and then with clean hands carefully add the SCOBY.

tada! now just tightly cover with a cloth or other breathable material, and wait for 1-2 weeks. (taste it after about a week. it’s ready when it’s carbonated and tangy enough for you. all that sugar is intended to feed the SCOBY: the longer you leave it the less sugar that will be left.)

let the waiting begin!

a few days later. notice that the SCOBY has made its way to the top (where it’s in the process of forming a new layer) and the tea’s already a bit cloudier. this is good.

a close-up of the growing SCOBY about a week in.

after a week i was dying for some, so i decided to take one little pitcher. (remember to sterilize all secondary storage containers as well!) this batch was only slightly carbonated and still quite sweet– apparently the SCOBY was still working its way through the sugar.

the SCOBY, after another week. you can understand kellie’s wariness of the whole idea, no?

two weeks in, it’s finally ready to bottle up the rest! once again… sterilized ladle, sterilized funnel, sterilized bottles. don’t let all your hard work go to waste!

and, the finished product. ideally you’ll use glass bottles but we end up drinking it so quickly i feel like plastic’s fine. and that little jar to the side? i’m attempting to grow just a tiny culture to bring home with me:). i hear even the starter kits are really expensive in the states! as directed, we let it sit at room temperature in these bottles until they become “rock hard” from carbonation, then put them in the fridge to chill.

By the end of two weeks, we found our batch had gotten quite tangy indeed and will probably bottle it a few days earlier this time. The link I provided as my “guideline” had recommended infusing it with fruit when bottling it; we haven’t tried this yet but I think it could yield some great results. Sometimes I also choose to strain it when pouring myself a glass, as those little stringy bits (“jellyfish,” as we’ve come to endearingly refer to them) do end up in the finished product and can be a bit much sometimes. And for those of you wondering whether it being a “fermented” drink means that it’s also an “alcoholic” drink, the answer is that yes, there’s a negligible amount of alcohol that forms during the fermentation. In other words, you’d have to drink a whole lot in order to get¬†wasted, but hey, give it a try. If you’re into that kind of thing.

One more time just because her instructions are way more professional and easy to follow than mine (not to mention her pictures are better): How to Make Kombucha Tea at Home from