Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Culture Crazy - DIY Sour Cream

This week, I started fermenting foods, and I haven't stopped.  I never realized just how good sour things could be until I came across using bacteria for my personal gain.  Just by putting certain cultures in dairy products for certain amounts of time leads to pretty awesome conclusions that can heal your gut and make you feel even better!  One you probably eat regularly is sour cream!  And here's how simple it is to make.

You take 1 cup of cream and two tablespoons of buttermilk and mix them in a glass bowl.  You can also use kefir or yogurt instead of buttermilk to culture the cream, though I have no idea what the difference in which culture you use would be.  When I find out, I'll let you know.

Then you let it sit on the counter for 12-18 hours.  Next time, I think I'll let it sit about 24 simply because I like it more sour than what 18 hours did.  Once that time has passed, you put it in the fridge.  Once it cools, its ready to use/eat.

Easy, right?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Conquering the Lazy Bug

Recently, I read an amazing post by an awesome goal oriented blogger that talked about lazy bugs.  She compared them to lice and honestly, she is totally and completely right.  Just like lice, lazy bugs are almost impossible unless you take the right steps.  Here's where I step in and tell you how I am going to find the cure.
"Mom!  Let's play the Wii!" Says Aria every chance she gets.

I've been doing many things all day.  I've worked and wrote then worked out and wrote more.  After that I cleaned, and crafted and spent time with the kids playing legos.  Everything stayed picked up and the house kept its order.  I cooked dinner, and did what cleaning up I could handle while cooking.  Once that was done, everyone helped set the table and we all sat down to eat...  The lazy bugs though, they sat in the dark depths under the table, snickering and chuckling at the thought of their brilliant plan.  The entire day, they patiently waited until that crucial moment in my day when the family sits down to eat.  Suddenly, as I take my last bite of bbq crockpot meatball, the entire colony of lazy bugs jumps up and bite down as hard as they could on me.  These things bit so hard that metaphorical blood began dripping off my chair.  There I sat wanting to do nothing all of a sudden.  I couldn't believe that with just one activity, my entire motivation drained.  

You see, every night it seems the lazy bugs bite in some form or another.  Tonight, it was sheer exhaustion from the day.  Last night, the kids wanted to play the Wii, and who can resist that?  Sometimes, the husband wants to watch a movie with me, others I just want to take a bath.  The problem?  My routine crashes when I don't clean up the dishes after dinner and give the kids their baths.  I like to also get their rooms clean, but alas, that doesn't seem to happen either.  When none of these things happen because of that lazy bug, it spreads.  Soon, the next morning comes and I don't even want to get out of bed, let alone make breakfast, workout, or keep the house in order.  And those legos?  Forget the effort, there's already a huge mess!

My point in all this is that I mustn't let the those pesky bugs ruin my routine, evening, and effort just because they found me vulnerable.  The cure, my friends, is to keep going and do even if you reallllly don't want to.  Sure, the first week or so of work sucks and you're exhausted.  You don't want to move, let alone finish those dishes, but I tell you now, do it because the benefits will be reaped.  The reward is always greater than the work in this case, and after the initial umph, life is much easier and you'll find more time to do those things you never thought you'd have time for.

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Projects I want to finish

The top ten tuesday blog carnival is hosted over at Many Little Blessings.   My friend over at Momma in Progress introduced me to this awesome weekly linkup, and I greatly enjoy participating when I can.  Go check it out here and perhaps participate yourself.  Afterall, top ten lists can be quite exciting.

1. My quiet books.  Here's where they stand right now.  I even had to scale them down from the original size so they'd fit in the kids' travel backpacks.  I also used paper for most of the remakes.  Several posts coming about these, as I'm actually almost done!  Almost.

2.  Crocheted baby legs.  Ok, I admit I haven't actually started these yet, BUT I fully intend to.  Maybe.

3.  Slightly waterproofed underwear.  I may or may not make more of these, but I was definitely aiming for this pinterest post except in boy styles (which is completed pin number 4! this year.  Yeah, I'm slacking.)

4. These (a similar style anyway) simple napkins which I've turned into "paper" towels too!  (Pins number 5 and 6 right there.)

5.  Wipes/kleenex/bath rags of sorts.  (pin 7) These are simple and easy, I just haven't had the time to sit down at the sewing machine to finish them.  I probably should soon though.

6.  Clean my basement.  It still has the eventful mess created on thanksgiving down there..  Don't worry, no food.  :D

7. Fermented soda!  I have a "cream soda" version actually brewing on the counter and has a whole post in the works on it.  I just want to make sure it turns out first. Not gonna count this pin until my post is complete!

8. My nursing pads.  I've had these cut out since, oh, probably July!  Just haven't taken the time to finish them since I obtained a sewing machine in November.  (pin 8!)  4 layers of flannel and one of either fleece or PUL.  Haven't picked a favorite back fabric yet.

9.  Catch up on some posts that I just haven't finished yet.  Look, a sneak peek into the future!  I have a post in the works about what I use my vitamix for, the rest of the catch up posts, annoying things about moving, several fermented things, and internet finds.

10.  To find pictures for this post!  They're on the desktop where I am currently brainwashing my children with movies so that I can write this.  Perhaps they're here by the time you read, perhaps they're not.  (Yay, I've finished this one!)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kombucha - From mold to magnificient

Because I happen to be a HUGE fan of blog carnivals, I've found another one to link up to occasionally!  It is reffered to as Real Food Wednesdays.  If you love real food and happen to be looking for some great new recipes or knowledge, go check it out here at this blog I found: Kelly The Kitchen Kop.

In my first post about kombucha, roughly five seconds into writing it, I realized I -almost- ruined my second attempt at kombucha!  Almost.  You can read about that mistake here.  I am happy to say that the batch turned out magnificently!  I could drink this stuff all day if I really wanted to.  Seriously, it is -that- good.  I didn't think fermented tea would be this amazing, but I admit to being totally and completely wrong.  Sadly, though, I didn't get a picture of either my first batch or the second awesome one, so have a picture of my girls!

Because taking a picture of Kombucha is overrated.

Now, you're probably wondering where I heard of this stuff, right?  Well, a few friends around here had been talking about it.  At that time, I didn't care about it.  I had absolutely no interest in a giant mushroom looking thing sitting in tea for a week in which I was then supposed to drink.  Not happening!  Except, never say never, right?  Soon, I came across the stuff on pinterest.  Then someone else mentioned it.  At that point, my curiosity peaked, and I began researching all the benefits of simply drinking such a weird tea.  As if I needed more convincing, I picked up my copy of Nourishing Traditions and started reading the beverage section.  There sat the recipe to make this weird tea the world is bragging about.  I found myself hunting for a SCOBY after that.  Lucky for me, someone around here already had kombucha fermenting.  You know kombucha is ready when a daughter SCOBY grows.  Once the new one appears, you can either keep it in your brew, toss it, or give it to a friend.  Don't like those options?  See this link for a few recipes and uses.

Brewing my first batch in the cabinet in a bowl  :D

If all those links make you want some tea, but you don't have friends who make it, you can buy the culture here.  If you're extra fancy and have a nice awesome health food store nearby, you can grow your own culture by looking at this link to find out how.

Do you plan on trying this tea now?  Or do you already drink it regularly?

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick takes #4 - Boobs

Lately, I've been on an insane pro-breastfeeding kick.  I -love- breastfeeding and all its benefits.  I feel bad for the women who can't, or those who have horrid supply issues.  I sometimes even find myself bothered by those who simply choose not to breastfeed, but who am I to judge?  My first child was not, and honestly, things happen, but all in all, the choice is always left to the mom.  It is her choice, and no matter what that choice may be, she should get supported.  Unless the choice is ridiculously harmful like giving your newborn straight up ultra-pasteurized, homogenized cow milk.  Or not feeding the kid at all.  Anyway this week's quick takes (again, aiming for going regularly again) is all about breastfeeding.  Below are 7 links to better your nursing relationship and hopefully even help a few of you solve some issues you might be having.

1.  Kellymom is probably a resource you visit often, and definitely makes for one of the best go to sites.  If you haven't been there yet, go check it out! 

2.  Have you ever heard of quinoa (keen-wah) milk?  Apparently it is also known as a mother's tonic.  I first found this recipe about it in the book Noursing Traditions (kitchen must have, by the way), and it mentioned it as a nursing mothers tonic.  I then went to google for more information and found this!

But then the next link was even more interesting!  That woman was making baby formula!  I had no idea about that one.

3.   Raw milk will boost supply.  Or so this intriguing story tells.  I can attest that it does indeed help.  My supply has plummeted, I've been craving my milk, and its only been four days since I ran out.

4.  There's a really good reason your toddler still wants to nurse.  According to this amazing woman pioneer in the studying of breastfeeding (by the name of Kathy), human children should nurse for a minimum of 2.5 years to a max average of 7 years.   

5.  How about those thumb suckers?  According to Kathy, thumb/finger sucking really means baby just wants more boob.  Read more about that here. 

6.  Still haven't found a solution to your supply issues?  Try a nursing vacation!  Its where you and your baby just sit in bed and relax all weekend.  The catch?  Skin to skin contact!  Cuddle up with a good book and be naked.

7.  Lastly, I'll leave you with a link to the LaLecheLeague on Breastfeeding in Public.  Don't be worried, as if someone is bothered, then they're staring too hard.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Household Time Management Tips

The top ten tuesday blog carnival is hosted over at Many Little Blessings.   My friend over at Momma in Progress introduced me to this awesome weekly linkup, and I greatly enjoy participating when I can.  Go check it out here and perhaps participate yourself.  Afterall, top ten lists can be quite exciting.

This year's goal has me doing so much and so little at the same time.  In fact, I'm having loads of trouble actually sticking to it.  I'm going to blame the internet even though I know its my very own will power keeping me attached to laziness.  Example:  Coming up with just the idea of this post took almost an hour, and that entire time, I was reading blogs, googling things, and refreshing facebook.  Productive, right?  Ha.  None of those things brought me any new knowledge I didn't already know, nor did any of it lead to anything even lazy-productive.  So, in hopes of boosting my productivity this week, I think that if I write about all the things I should do but don't (and a few I do accomplish), it'll put things more into perspective.  Goal this month:  Get more done around the house

1.  Social media

The first step is admitting the problem.  The second?  Fixing it.  I realize the days I feel super unproductive are the same days I spend too much time on the computer.  Particularly Facebook.  Or Pinterest, though that one is much more productive than refreshing a page.  Either way, even though I do it fairly regularly, this is not in any way shape or form how I want to spend my days.  Time to step away from the internet for most of the day.

2.  Clean in your Routine

One thing I learned from The FlyLady is that routines are blessed things.  They hold the key to making my day go smoothly, and if I need routine to accomplish most tasks, why not cleaning too?  So I try fairly hard to build tasks such as dishes, cleaning bathrooms, laundry, and mundane things into these routines of mine for sheer ease.  If you do something every day for 21 days, it suddenly becomes second nature.

3.  Prepwork

Especially in terms of dinner, prepping things makes me feel like I've done so much more work even if I haven't, in a good way.  I feel on top of my game when a dinner that takes an hour only takes twenty minutes because all the hard part has been done already.  When you have the spare time, do things that would make future tasks easier, such as chopping carrots, gathering supplies, mashing bananas, mixing dry ingredients, and presorting laundry when you take it off.

4.  Video Games

These things may make a person feel better, but if you find yourself spending -all- day playing a game that will get you nowhere, then doesn't it feel like you've pretty much just wasted an entire day of your life?  Of course, there's nothing wrong with a little time spent enjoying a game, but be real.

5.  Involve the children

One of my biggest problems in getting things done is that the kids are always in the way, or I dont have time for this and them, or my most popular lately, "I can't do everything with you guys acting like tornadoes!" Why not involve them in the task instead?  Of course, this will take more time to complete it, but if its time together, then its well spent indeed, right?

6.  Plan ahead..  And do it.

I like to have my day planned out mostly, especially meals and activities.  If I say "I'm going to cook this for dinner, and we're going to make playdough," changes are I'm actually going to do those things instead of trying to find something to do that day.  No time spent wondering what to do.  Now, the catch with planning is that one must actually complete said planned tasks.  The entire point is moot if you aren't going to actually use it.

7.  Organize yourself

Last year, I made this nifty organizer (in which I lost the pdf page files!  D:) that helped, until it just got too...  papery.  Instead, I discovered a fairly expensive app called Pocket Informant.  Sure, the thing costs a fortune in terms of applications, but definitely worth it!  Write down your plans, menus, tasks, activities, appointments, and random other things because chances are, unless you're an elephant, you can't remember -everything- all the time.  Also, organize your things.   If you don't use it, it doesn't make you smile, or it isn't going to ever be used, why are you keeping it?  If you are keeping this thing, find it a home.  And keep it there when you're not using it.  This makes that thing so much easier to find and less time spent looking for it the next time you need or want said item.

8.  "You can do anything for 15 minutes."

This is one of the biggest most awesome pointers I learned from the flylady.  Need to get something done but feel overwhelmed?  Are those dishes piling over?  How about that paper you don't want to write?  Just spend 15 minutes doing it.  No, you probably won't finish it in that amount of time, but you will have fifteen minutes of work done.

9.  Don't overwhelm yourself

One of my biggest problems is that I plan and say, "I'm going to do this and this and this," except you realize that all those things will take -forever- to do and doing them all in one day is virtually impossible.  You can't do anything and everything all at once (or all on your own for that matter) so don't even try.  That's just asking for failure.

10.  Just do it.

Lastly, just do it.  Stop saying, "Oh I'll do it later."  Or, "I don't want to..." Or even, "Someone else will do it."  Chances are that said task will never be done.  Ever.  So why not just get the thing done?  Or atleast start on it.  Use that fifteen minute phrase to your advantage.

Do you have any useful productivity/time management tips to share?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Getting up to speed Part 3 - Pottenstein

Sometime mid July, the neighbors invited us to go to Pottenstein with them.  More specifically, to this place called Devil's Cave.  Its a huge giant cave that has so many pretty stalactites  stalagmites, and skeletons in it. That sounds like pretty much every cave though, right?  What makes this one unique is how deep it is as well as how the cave earned its name.

A long long time ago, the villagers of the town kept losing their animals into this cave.  Their livestock just kept disappearing in that particular area, and very quickly, they came to discover the cave.  Since, you know, a cave is virtually a giant hole in the ground, the locals began to believe that the devil would come up and steal their livestock when the animals wandered too close.  Eventually, people actually came in and explored what part of the cave they could.  At first, this was only about 100m, and no skeletons were found.  Soon, modern technology allowed for renovations and deeper exploration.  It was then that many intact and complete skeletons were found throughout the cave, including a massive bear, which can be seen when one takes the tour.

The cave bear

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Family photo!  (The child on the left is my neighbor's daughter.  The girls jumped into both family's pictures.)

Have you ever been here or somewhere like here?  How was it?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pins #2 and #3 - A tale of two fails

I wanted to bring in the new year and start the month out right, and by that, I mean I wanted to try new things.  My first two choices?  Kombucha and Sourdough starter.  Both failed rather miserably.  We'll start with Kombucha:

What's this?  Well, its a fermented tea drink.  You take a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeasts) and just put it in a gallon of freshly brewed sweet tea. OHMYGOD I FORGOT TO ADD SUGAR. Oy!

..I'll return to writing more when I can remember silly things like this.

Have you ever forgotten an important ingredient and then wondered why it wasn't working?

Friday, January 11, 2013

How did my Garden Grow

Last year, I started gardening, and I didn't expect -anything- to grow, but my optimism held out, and guess what!  I grew things!  Not all of it turned out, but some of it did, and to be totally honest, I didn't even expect  one vegetable to be edible, but surprisingly, I had tasty lettuce all the way until September.  And while I had a good slug problem, it wasn't bad enough to actually render the lettuce crops useless.  Sprinkling salt around the garden helped keep them out, until one day I forgot to move said slugs.  They made a dead slug bridge over my salt boundary.  Eeeew.

Though out the summer, I.. ignored the garden.  Aside from this picture, I don't think I tended it, except to pick lettuce and the occasional weed.  Ok, the weeds actually took over quickly once I just didn't take the time to pull them as often.

Regardless, at the end of september, I decided to go ahead and pull everything up so that the yard had time to heal before we moved.  That didn't go so well, but we can pretend, right?  Here's what I managed to pick that day:

Yep, I picked those WAY too early.  That's ok though.  I liked the taste of the big purple carrot.  The smaller ones tasted rather sour for carrots.  Not pictured is my garlic.  Those turned out fairly wonderfully.  By that, I mean that I could actually cook with them even though each bulb consisted of three cloves.  Tiny but useful.  Next year, I'll be more patient.

First year I learned:

- Be patient.  It'll grow eventually.
- It requires more work than you think.
- I can't successfully grow things above ground yet, though my root veggies do well.
- The internet was correct when they told me that broccoli would bolt to seed quickly in heat.  As in, overnight.
- Small animals around here feel the need to unearth garlic.  Maybe they only like mine.

Did you grow a garden last year?  Or ever before?  Share your tips in the comments!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting up to speed Part 2

What in the world did I do for six months instead of blog?  I bet you're wondering all about the adventures I've done and the things I've created since June, right?  Well, this series of posts will be full of the big fun awesome activities that have happened since then, one awesome adventure at a time. 

Orion's second birthday  

We planned a party, but the day before he managed to spike a horrid fever.  And it didn't go away for a week.  So this year, we didn't have an actual party, but I did make him a fantastic cake.  He loved it! 

All I did was bake a 8 x 8 square cake, put it on a plate, and frost.  I fully intended to put these cute push pop airplanes on the cake, but instead decided that metal planes would get more use and wouldn't make the cold worse.  Those planes are still in use today.  Actually, all the things we gave him for his birthday are still played with.  I think that's a sign we did good!  Had two floor puzzles, an RC fire truck, and these planes.  You might ask how I managed that?  I think I just came across some sturdy toys by chance.  I mean, this fire truck can take a fall like no other, down three flights of stairs to be exact.