Friday, July 30, 2010

Crock-Pot Yogurt

Say WHAT?!
I came across a blog the other day and found a recipe for crock-pot yogurt.
I was intrigued.  So I thought, why not?

Here is the original recipe.

Here is the recipe just in case you don't want to leave the blog.  :)

Crock Pot Yogurt
crock pot
bath towel

1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra-pasteurized (pasteurized and homogenized is just fine)
1/2 plain yogurt, with live and active cultures (this is your starter)

Pour 1/2 gallon milk into the crock pot.  Turn on low and let it sit for 2 1/2 hours.
Then unplug/turn off the crock pot for 3 hours (do not remove the lid).
Take 2 cups of the milk out and wisk in the 1/2 cup of yogurt and return the mixture to the crock pot.
Put the lid back on and cover with a thick bath towel (I used a beach towel).  Let sit, unplugged, for 8 hours or overnight. 

The consistency is thinner than regular yogurt but the flavor is terrific.  I added some peaches, granola and a touch of honey and it was amazing!  You can blend in different flavors (blueberries, peaches, strawberries, etc) but I like to add my fruit to each serving.

Reserve 1/2 a cup of your yogurt so you can do it again.  Yogurt will be good for 7-10 days.

I did this just as it said...minus my snafu of not remembering to plug in the crock pot.  So my crock pot sat with the milk in it a bit  At any rate, I really love how this turned out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Simple Things

I have been wanting to do more homemade foods for my family for a while now.  I just never did it.  I was always struggling to balance life with kids and my husband and sewing and crafting and hanging out with friends and, and, and...

Then we went back to Minnesota this summer.  I realized that I really loved the simplicity of the area.  So I decided I was going to bring that back to Ohio with me.  And I did.  We have drastically scaled back on what we do and where we go.  We are home most days now.  Since I am home, I now have time to do the things I have been wanting to do.  Like today for example; I am freezing corn, canning peaches, making homemade vegetable broth and hopefully going to make some crock pot yogurt.  I am also working on a couple of skirts for the girls. 

My kids are happier.  I am happier.  I get to enjoy my kids more.  I get to enjoy hanging out with friends more because it truly is a treat now.  My husband is thrilled because I spend less  :) 

I had been so busy with keeping up with everyone else and their stuff that I forgot to take time for my family and myself.  Within the last six months I have gone from a doing everything outside of my home that I could possibly think of to doing almost everything at my home and ENJOYING it.  I am LOVING this new part of my life.  I am loving being all domestic!  My kids love it too.  I cannot explain to you the joy that I saw on their faces with they saw that I made dresses for them.  Butterfly was so excited when she saw I made a curtain for HER room.  I guess it really is the simple things.

Learning Wall

 I recently got the bug to do a learning wall in the kids' playroom.  I found some classroom card schedulers in the dollar spot at Target and thought that would be a PERFECT solution for my learning wall.  We now have a calendar, color of the month, shape of the month, letter of the week, theme and season.  All of which we can learn about and utilize at any moment.  Today the kids wanted to talk about the shape and the color.  So we did.  It is basically a visual reminder of things we want to talk and learn about.  

My kids love to do workbook pages and that had been the extent of our at home learning up until this point.  Butterfly has learned to write her letters and we are working on reading.  Bee is learning about shapes, colors, number and letters.  Bubby is just being Bubby.  :)  We do most of our workbook pages when Bubby is napping.  Here are a couple of pictures of our learning wall.  It is just a beginning but it works.  I am going to be adding more pictures and color as we get further into it but this is it for now.

I hope to have an area to display the things the kids are really proud of, whether it is a workbook page or a craft.  That may have to wait until we get a bigger space but it is a dream.  :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Just call me Suzy

I am feeling very domestic as of late.  There has been lots of sewing going on.  I made 2 jumpers for Abby and am working on a skirt.  I am putting up lots of summer fruits and veggies too.  I just got done canning 8 quarts and 6 pints of peaches.  YUM!  Next week I will be doing some freezer corn.  YUM!  I love being able to enjoy all these summer fares in the middle of winter.  We have a small chest freezer so we have more storage than just the side by side fridge that we have.

What do you do to prepare for the winter months?  Anything?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bee's Three!

This post is long over due.  But as promised here is the post on Bee's birthday.

I can hardly believe it.  My second baby is now a very vivacious three year old. 
We were in Minnesota for Bee's third birthday so we took the opportunity to catch up with family and friends.  It was so much fun.  Most of the people who were there were friends from when my hubby and I were in high school.  I don't think that anyone knew one another so the only common link was  All in all though we had a great time. 

The beginning of the party was rough.  We thought the theme should have been "It's My Party and I'll cry if I want to...".  But then things turned around, Grandma grilled, I made the cake, Uncle Mike held the pinata (no worries, it was a pull string pinata), and the kids had a great time.  When we played "pin the badge on Woody" Bee stuck the star badge right over where it was supposed to go!  She was blindfolded and spun around 3 times.  I still can't believe it!  But if any of our kids would do that it would be Bee.  :)

We were so thankful that everyone came and we told them not to bring gifts, but no one listened.  Brenna enjoyed opening her gifts and thanked everyone.  Here are a few pictures of that party.

When we returned to Ohio we had a combined party with one of Bee's friends.  Their birthdays are like a week or so apart so we thought it would be fun for them.  We did the same them (Toy Story) for that party and we reused what we could.  :)  Here are a few pics from that party.

We are so blessed to have such a great group of people that will help celebrate our children's birthdays.  Thank you to everyone who came!  Thank you to everyone who gave a gift!  You are all so very special to us. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Such a sweet girl

I love my kids.  They are wonderful.  They can get on my nerves.  They can be as sweet as pie.  And tonight was one of those sweet as pie moments.  I was sitting on the couch after dinner and the kids were running around and playing.  Bee crawled up on my lap and snuggled in.  Then she said in her sweetest little girl voice (which if you know Bee, is few and far between to hear that!), "I like you Mom."  Yes, my three year old calls me Mom...not Momma, Mommy, or Mum.  Mom.  LOL!  But the fact that she thought it so important to crawl up in my lap to tell me that just melted my heart.  My kids are great.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mei Chair Tutorial

This is the first tutorial that I have written so please bear with me and leave comments if I am not clear about something.  I would love to do more of these.  When I sew, I generally make the seam allowance about as big as the foot on my machine.  I cannot find my seam gauge to tell you how big it is though.  My best guess is that it is about a 1/2 in.  So that is how I did all of my measurements.

Step 1:  Choose your fabric.  Make sure it is washable, as this WILL get dirty.

Step 2: Wash and iron fabric.  This will reduce any shrinkage after your Mei Tai High Chair is made.
Step 3: Cut fabric.
Here is what you will need.
Chair panel: 1 - 22"x50"
Chair ties: 2 - 6"x38"
Harness: 1 - 19"x30"
Baby ties: 2 - 9"x75"

Make sure to measure your chair to make sure this will fit.  It is VERY easy to add an inch or two to make this perfect for your chair.

Step 4: Make the straps.  You will take your strap pieces and fold them in half the long way (if you are using a patterned piece of fabric make sure the pattern is folded to the inside).

You will then sew them with a 1/2" seam (approx).

Then baste the ends of ONE end of each of the straps.
Then turn the strap so the right side is facing out.

Step 5: Hem the ends of the chair panel.  This is the 22" edge.  What I have done is just folded it twice  as I sewed it.  Some may prefer to use a guide and iron it first.  Both work equally as well.  I did it both ways.  :)  You want to take it up just a bit so the edge is finished.

Step 6: Cut out the "harness" piece.  I am working on a template but for now here is how I did it.  I cut the fabric to the appropriate size.  Then I folded it in half.  From the folded edge I measured five inches in from the bottom and five inches in from the side and drew the lines with a piece of chalk.

So I had a box in each corner.  Then I took a glass and rounded out the edge (again using the chalk).  Then I cut it out.  That made the harness part of the seat.  :)

Step 7:  Sew the edges of the harness.

Then you will want to notch out a few places along the inside of the curve to allow the fabric to lay flat when the project is complete.

Step 8:  Attach straps to harness.  Make sure the right sides are still together and sandwich the straps between the top and bottom layers of the harness.  Don't forget, you basted one edge of your straps make sure that edge is NOT the one you attach to the harness. Like so...

Make sure that you place the straps at the bottom of the edge.  This will allow for a flap to cover the straps when tied to the chair, giving it more security.

Then sew straight up.

Step 9: Then fold the top edge of the harness in about a half an inch and sew it shut.  I sew the top of the harness twice...just looks nice I think.  :)

Step 10: Now it is time to attach the straps to the chair panel.  I fold the chair panel in half (so it will be about the size of the back of your chair) and then I measure about half way up and then pin my straps in between the top and back layer of the chair panel.  Don't forget, you basted one edge of your straps make sure that edge is NOT the one you attach to the chair panel.  Then going from top to bottom I sew the edges shut.

Step 11: At this point you will have two pieces, the chair panel and the harness.  It is time to attach them together.  Lay your chair panel down and find the center on the bottom.  Find the center of your harness.  Lay the centers together and pin.  MAKE SURE YOU ARE ONLY PINING ONE LAYER OF THE CHAIR PANEL.  I usually overlap the harness about half an inch.  First I sew the bottom edge down and then I do a second set of stitching along the overlapped edge for added security.

Step 12:  YOU ARE ALMOST DONE!  This is the last step.  Each of the ends of the straps needs to be finished.  All you have to do it sew across the ends of the strap and you will be done.  :)

GREAT JOB!  Don't forget to take pictures and post them for me.  I can't wait to see what you all create!  Please remember to supervise your child while in this chair.  Kids are sneaky and even when we think they are somewhere safe they can sneak their way out of something and into something else.

God bless!

Tomato Update

So after some research (thanks to Laura for helping!) it looks like my tomatoes have Bottom End Rot, how

It happens when there is a calcium deficiency.  It is usually fixed by watering them.  Yeah, go figure.  LOL!  The websites that I checked also said to discard any fruits that have been effected as SOON as you notice it.  So I went out to the tomato plants and pulled off over 2 dozen tomatoes and threw them away.  Now this would be the point where I would love to have a compost pile.  But in my neighborhood that just can't happen.  Grrrrrr.    At any rate, I should be able to save the rest of the crop of tomatoes if I consistently water my plants.  Tomato plants need about an inch of water each week in order to grow properly. 

I hope it works so that I can at least enjoy ONE of my tomatoes. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What is WRONG with these tomatoes?!

This happened at the end of the season last year too but I seriously had no idea why so I planted in the same spot this year.  I am LIVID!  My tomatoes are smaller and they are "bad bottomed" sooner!  WHAT IS THIS?!

I should also mention that on the opposite side of where my tomatoes are my peppers...and this is happening to THEM too!  I treated the ground for grubs WELL before (a month or more) I planted. 

If I lose everything I planted I think I might cry.  :(

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We are back!

What a trip that was.  I am so glad to be back home in Ohio and where I have my own space.  The stories I could tell...and will just give me time.  :)

Here is a glimpse of what our trip was like...

We left on a Friday morning.  We did a couple of errands before we left, quick trip to Target, an auto parts store and at Starbucks.  But by 9:03am we were off.  We were making GREAT time.  The kids were in great moods and by 9pm we had gone through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and almost through Iowa.  Almost, through Iowa.  We were in fact in north central Iowa at 9pm that Friday night.  The night the lights went OUT.  We had just filled up the van with gas.  To our surprise we got about 25 miles to the gallon!  YAY!  I had taken the girls in the truck stop we were at to use the restroom.  Dan had filled the van and the changed the baby.  Dan then pulled the van forward so that he could use the restroom.  Something to note about this situation is that we had been following the edge of a storm.
We could see it.  There was hail in the clouds and after listening to the radio we knew this storm had some power.  So, Dan has entered the truck stop.  I am outside the van chatting with another traveler about the oncoming storm.  And it happens.  Pitch black.  The attendant comes out and says, "Everybody INSIDE!"  I am thinking, WHAT?!  How in the heck do you expect me to get ALL THREE KIDS inside BY  MYSELF while there are freaked out motorists racing by my van (paying no attention to this mom who could use a hand).  Thankfully the motorist I was chatting with pitched in.  I handed her Butterfly and she and Butterfly waited while I got Bee and Bubby out.  By that time my hubby had made his way out to help and he took Bee.  We got inside and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  We were entertained by a small entertained I mean, we went to look at it (in the dark by the light of a cell phone) and then the girls would squeal and run away.  We did this for an hour, all the while the kids begin to fall apart.  After all this is all happening between 9-10pm central time...that means it would be 10-11pm eastern time...where we came from....oy!  So at 10pm, we decide that the risk is past us and we are going to go now.  So we did.  We loaded up in the van and headed out.  Leaving the truck stop no worse for ware...I hope.

Early Saturday morning (1am) we arrive at my parents house.  We throw the kids in the appointed beds and sleep.  Ahhh, sweet sleep.

Saturday was our anniversary.  And on this anniversary we actually got to go out!  YAY!  What a treat.  A free babysitter, my parents, and a trip to Applebee's was in order.  We headed out and found a GREAT parking right across from the restaurant.  We head in order our drinks (after the night before we were looking for something good) and our food.  I had had about a third of my margarita and my hubby had a bit of his Jameson when a little voice above us says something.  It was much like the voice of the adults in the Peanuts cartoon...waaa waaaaaah waaaah wah waaah.  Ok, that was weird.  So we continued with our drinks.  Then our server comes over.  Great.  Now we know something is wrong.  She was very polite but..."I am sorry to have to interrupt your dinner but the tornado sirens are going off and we need you to move to the bathroom."  Really?!  Two nights in a row?!  You have GOT to be kidding me.  Don't you know this is my anniversary?  There are no tornados allowed on my anniversary.  But alas, the weather did not listen to me and we spent a good chunk of time in the bathroom at Applebee's.  Rest assured, all was well.  When the warning lifted, we returned to our table, they re-fired everyone's orders and we got a coupon for a free appetizer the next time we came in.
Upon our arrive back at my parents house we were glad to be home.  We had expected to be out later but with the rain continuing from the storm that had us in the bathroom we decided that we would head back.  So we got to enjoy our kids and my parents.  I hear the front door.  I think, "We didn't get it latched so it is swinging in the wind".  Nope, my parents had invited my inlaws over to help us celebrate our anniversary!  How sweet!  So we had Coldstone ice cream cake and we played Pictionary.  Just for the record...NEVER let my father in law, husband and brother in law on the same team.  They will wipe the floor with you.

And this was just the first two days.  The days following included days of teething for Bubby.  Which meant high fevers and lots of holding.  On Sunday, we had a family reunion to go to on my hubby's side.  It was a fun afternoon in the park.  Everyone, but Bubby, loved it.  Bubby was miserable.

The next couple of days were spent at my parents house.  Just hanging out.  We went to the park, ate at McDonald's and had a good time.  Then we switched houses.  My parents and my in laws live abo ut 40 minutes away from each other.  So when we go back we have to choose carefully where we stay.  This time we stayed at my parents house first.  Then part way through we switched to my hubby's parent's house.  My sister was coming in to stay with my parents and there just wasn't enough room for her family and mine to be in my parents house.  So since we had another option we headed down to my in laws.

My in laws live in the sticks.  It literally takes one 45 minutes in 3 different directions to get to a Wal-Mart...and Wal-Marts are EVERYWHERE!  But we love it none the less.  My father in law was a dairy farmer for 25ish years and this year quit.  We love that he is now able to hang out with us more and play with the kids more.  We took a quick trip to Sioux Falls, SD to switch out some diapers (Bubby decided that he was going to grow JUST enough to make the size 3's too small), so on a hope and a prayer we headed to the nearest city (2 1/2ish hours away) that would have his brand of diapers (since his butt is so picky, he will break out in any normal sposie dipes).  We had much luck and found the diapers.  YAY!!!  Then we did a bit of shopping and back to the farm we went.

One of our favorite things to do when we go back to MN is to go to the races.  Dirt track racing.  Stock cars, B modifieds, A modifieds and the hornet class.  The wind in your hair, the dirt in your eyes, and hoping and waiting for someone to wreck...oh I mean win.  This is what we did that first Friday night.  It was me, my hubby, bro in law 1 and bro in law 2 and my father in law...and yes, they wanted me to go.  We had a GREAT time.  :)

The next few days were filled with birthday parties.  On Saturday evening we went to my grandma's house.  For simplicity reasons she will be referred to as Nana so I don't confuse  My uncle and his family were there, my aunt and her family was there (represented in part) and my sister was there with my parents.  My uncle made the BEST ribs ever and we had a family party for Nana.  The kids sang Jesus Loves Me and then we had a good ol' sing along.  It was so much fun.  But we had extra cheese puffs.  And you can't just let them go to waste.  So out come four volunteers (myself included) and the shaving cream.  Faces armed with piles of shaving cream and hands loaded with cheese puffs, we had a contest.  Who could get 10 cheese puffs to stick on the faces of those with shaving cream.  I haven't had so much fun in a REALLY long time.

Sunday came and it was time for the open house for Nana.  My cousin Danielle, a pastry chef, designed a cake for her and it was as beautiful as it was tasty.  Nana was so happy to see all of her friends.  Her friends span the ages.  She had people come to see her that were her close friends growing up as well as little babies and children.  My Nana is a well loved woman.  I am so blessed to have gotten to spend that special weekend with her.  I got to know my cousins better and my kids love their kids.

After the party we went back to Nana's and had more food (cuz we didn't eat enough at the party? and we lif off fireworks.  :)  Gotta love that.  Although Corbin was still feeling yucky, he perked right up as we lit those fireworks off.  He loves them!  Who knew?!

We then headed out to my hubbys parents house where we could watch the local fireworks (ok, it is more like a village of people, about 300 or less people).  We invited a couple we knew in high school to come.  They have 2 little boys and we haven't gotten to see them in a long time.  So we watched the fireworks, got eaten alive by bugs and then headed back to the farm to catch up some more without the bugs.

Monday came and it was time for one more birthday party.  This time for my little girl.  For Bee.  She turned 3.  I am going to make a seperate blog post for her birthday festivities but she had a great time.  We had a little party for her with friends and family, which allowed us to catch up with some old friends.   It was a great day.  She loved every minute of it.

Also that week, we enrolled the girls in swimming lessons.  All week the girls did great.  Little by little the girls got more comfortable and now I feel more comfortable with them being in the water.  They are by no means skilled but I know they can float if they need to.  :)

The rest of the week was more like vacation.  We did what we wanted to, when we wanted to do it.  The girls played on the farm and even got to "drive" the lawnmower.  They had four wheeler rides and went out to see the cows, cats and dog.  Brenna even got used to Betsy, the family dog, and would pet her every chance she got.

We took two days to come back home.  Day one didn't go very well with the kids so we stopped a little over half way and stayed at a hotel.  The girls got to swim and we got to sleep a bit in the hotel.  Then we made the rest of the venture home yesterday.  It was much better than the first day.

As glad as I was to go visit everyone I am glad to be back in my own space.  I really truly miss everyone back in MN.