Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Last year I did a new resolution every month. It was fun, motivating, and effective at changing little things. The accountability didn't hurt. I'm not sure why I didn't just keep it going this year, but I didn't. And I'm kinda missin' it. So why not start in April?
Really, my "new years resolution" this year was to journal more. Journal my quiet times and take notes at church, etc. I haven't been doing that hot. But we can call that "january" and keep working on it!
February I decided to read more. (I don't actually know if it was february exactly, but I've been trying to read more.) and for heavens sake, not JUST about food. I read a lot about food :) I've read:
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
and am working on
To make a goal more achievable, "they" say you should quantify it. So I'm going to say one book per month.
March brought the idea that I should be doing more with Rowen as far as directing his play to bring about a more structured learning. So I've been planning projects and trying to listen to his interests and questions more- it's been fun! My goal is to plan 3-4 activities a week (or more) and only a week at a time, so I can really mold them to him in that moment. Fun!
April is coming up, and my resolution is to read through the bible in a year. Starting in April, you ask? Didn't you do that last year, you ask? Yes, and yes! My first resolution last year, starting in January, was to read through the bible in a year. And I did! Hooray! But then the year was over, all my little boxes were checked, and my bible reading totally fizzled out. I just get stuck- what to study next? I dunno. Apparently, I'm a box checker. I knew that about myself, this is not shocking. So I downloaded a new "one year reading plan" (complete with boxes!) and I started yesterday (cheating a little, I know.) :)

Now, my resolutions are not and have not been a one-month deal. (okay, a couple of them were.) Anyhow, to recap the last 12 months:

May - stockpile the freezer. OAMC style. (okay, this one really was a one month resolution. I really liked it, and I haven't done it since! I can't believe that was a YEAR ago.)
June- have a healthy baby and try to stay sane. (shoot. another one monther.)
July - ban high fructose corn syrup from our house. (boy, what a can of worms this turned out to be! Not only corn syrup, but all things processed have been getting the boot around here!)
August- try one "deceptively delicious" type recipe a day. (This really was a one month goal, and then to see where it took me. I don't do anything anymore besides the "sweet milk" (sweet potato in his milk, which he loves) and we're still in a fierce vegetable battle with the toddler. Ya win some, ya loose some.)
September - journal pray as a daily part of my quiet times. (clearly, with my January resolution, this has been a flop. But I earnestly want to keep at it.)
October - so long, corn-fed beef. (check. We've even gone to one pastured chicken a month, divided up into four meals plus bone broth.)
November - tidy up! fill BOTH our yard debris bins, every week. & keep the kitchen table clear. (while the yard debris bins are a seasonal thing, i'm still keeping the kitchen table fairly clear!)
December - spend at least hour, one night a week, on the kids' scrapbooks. (fail. utter fail. and I'm still trying. and still failing. boo.)

What about you? What's one thing you'd like to work on this month? Name it! Quantify it! Let's encourage each other :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

You can make that? Ketchup!

You can make ketchup? Yeah! And it's SO easy! Maybe you're venturing into eating a healthier, preservative-/additive-/mystery ingredient-free diet. You're cooking dinner at home most of the time: great! But when you venture into the condiment isle at the grocery store- what do you do? You could shop at a fancy, organic grocery store and spend loads of money. (Well, some of you could.) We sure can't!  My solution: make it myself :) I've been making our salad dressing, sour cream, mayo, pickle relish, and now ketchup. Yay. But wont it go bad in like a week, you ask? I can't be making all our condiments every week! The magical, ancient solution: fermentation. When you ferment your yummy home concoctions, they'll last a month or more!

This was my first batch of real ketchup, and I was SO excited to make it!

 I got the recipe from The Nourished Kitchen - a very fun blog I highly encourage you to visit. Here is her recipe:

  • 2 cups tomato paste, preferably homemade

  • 1/4 cup raw honey, maple syrup or whole unrefined cane sugar (see sources)

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh whey*, divided

  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar, plus extra for thinning the ketchup, if desired

  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • Seeing that homemade tomato paste is out of the question in March, I used S&W Organic. Yay for costco.

    I used a combination of pure maple syrup and raw honey, 'cause I'm complicated like that.

    added the vinegar, salt, spices and my 1/4 cup of whey that I had drained from kefir. Stir it all up! (If you don't know what whey is or want to know how to "make" it, leave a comment and I'll be sure to explain!)

    Scoop it into a mason jar.

    Top it off with the extra 2 Tbsp whey for good measure.

    Put a towel on it, and set it in a warm place for three to five days & leave it alone so it can ferment. (Next to your lacto-fermenting beets of you have them. Then they can have a nice chat while they culture.)

    And.... tadaa! you have ketchup! Nutritionally speaking, a vegetable with natural sweeteners, just teeming with healthy, beneficial bacteria (think yogurt!) The recipe said I could just stir in the white stuff that formed on the top from the extra whey, but it eeked me out a bit so I scooped it off. :)

    yum! Homemade turkey nuggets, here we come.  This ketchup will last SEVERAL MONTHS in your fridge. Hooray!

    Almost forgot!
    cost analysis:
    tomato paste: can't find the reciept. I think it was 6.99, but maybe it was 7.99 for the box of 12. I'm going to guess high. $8 / 12 = $0.67. I used three cans = $2.00
    maple syrup: $12.55/32oz - 1/8C=$0.39
    honey: $30.40/1gal - 1/8C=$0.24
    whey: free, drained off kefir or plain yogurt
    cider vinegar: $2.75/32oz 2T=$0.09
    sea salt & spices: oh..... i don't know. Let's say $0.02

    Total: $2.74 at the most! (you could make it much cheaper with cheaper ingredients! I could be wrong, but I don't think you could buy an organic ketchup with probiotics for $2.74 or less at the grocery store!)

    Spring Sensory Tub

    I think beans, water, rice, or sand (etc) are the best things for touch tubs. Scooping, pouring, filling, burying, generally running stuff through tiny fingers.... But I wanted to switch it up a bit and do more with textures, weights, and things that could be sorted since Rowen's really into that right now. So for my spring sensory tub, i tore all the blossoms of an apple blossom garland (half off at Michaels) and threw in some easter grass, easter eggs, glass rocks, and little fuzzy chickies. Fun! (at first I did a whole bag of easter grass. Bad idea on several accounts. Not only was my kitchen full of easter grass, but the whole tub was one mass. So only a few strands remain and it's much more fun!)

    and on a side note:

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    You can make that? Kombucha!

    I make a lot of stuff at home. Some of it is crazy. Some of it is just plain ordinary. When it comes up that I make a particular thing (i.e. yogurt) most people are awed and think I have some amazing talent or tons of time. Neither is true :) I've just learned a trick here and there, and enjoy going back to the ways of old, home cookin'.  
    Because I really believe most things I make "from scratch" are so simple, I've really been wanting to share some of them here on the blog.  Maybe some things will be obvious, maybe some will surprise you. If you try anything yourself, let me know how it goes! If you start with just one thing at a time, you might get hooked. :) My goal is to write a "you can make that?" blog any time I make something that I think might be interesting to someone- that way you can kind of see in "real time" just how little time it takes up.

    For my first entry: Kombucha!

    (what on earth?)

    I know. I'd only heard of it recently. But after three batches, I'm sold. And it's not even summer yet! Imagine how good this is going to be in the heat of summer!

    Okay okay, on with it!

     Kombucha is a heath drink. In a nutshell: fermented sweet tea. But it tastes more like apple juice than tea. (and slightly beer-like.)

    Here is a better description than I could give you, from
    "Wonderfully fizzy and slightly sweet tasting, Kombucha is a great way to improve your health. The Kombucha culture, often referred to as a “mushroom”, is a probiotic colony of friendly yeast and bacteria. It acts on sugar and tea to produce acetic, lactic and glucuronic acid. Kombucha is great for detoxification, boosting metabolism and assisting digestion. It is rich with antioxidants and amino acids, namely L-threonine (supports healthy protein balance). Kombacha is loaded with enzymes and healthy bacteria thought to enhance the digestive process. It has been used to prevent post-meal heartburn, acid reflux and has even been used as a cure for cancer."

    There is a LOT of info on the internet if you want more :) I'll just give you a quick how-to!
    First of all, the hardest part of making kombucha is finding a mother. And if you know me, that's going to be very easy. Just ask :)
    1-boil 3 quarts of water
    2-dissolve 1 C sugar
    3-add 4 tea bags (i've been using black, but you can use green)
    4-let it cool to room temperature. In my kitchen, this takes about 2 hours. Remove tea bags.
    5-add 1/2 cup mature kombucha
    6-place the "mother" scoby on top (scoby stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast)
    7-cover your GLASS container with a towel, and leave it in a dark place for 7-9 days. You'll know it's done when it no longer tastes like tea at all, and you have a "daughter" scoby formed on the surface.
    8-pour it out, which I think should probably be done gently...
     there they are! mother and daughter.

    Bottle it up, and reserve 1/2 cup kombucha for your next batch. I've just been putting it in a jar, which is fine. It looses it's fizziness though, and that's half the fun. So I'd like to eventually get some better bottles for storage. (oh, and store it in the fridge. You can look up flavors to add and a double fermentation method with juice added on the Internet. Since I haven't tried any of that yet, I'm not going to include it here.)

     add the new, cool sweet tea to your (hand-washed) jar

    place either the mother or the daughter on top, give the other one to a friend (you can store it in 1/2 C kombucha in the fridge until ready to use)


    cover it up and start again!

    Cost analysis:
    glass jar: $6.99 if you don't already have one. One time cost (i read somewhere that a 1 gallon bowl is better than a jar, actually, the kombucha thrives when the depth is less than the width. I didn't read that until after I bought the jar. we'll see how it goes.)

    tea: varies. I bought a big box of lipton, though some will say you must use organic tea to avoid fluoride. go with your gut on that one. My math worked out to $0.11 for the four bags.
    water: don't make me figure that out. I'm gonna go with "free" even though I know technically it's not
    sugar: $0.26

    Total: $0.37 (after making up the cost for the jar!)
    if there are 12 cups in 3 quarts, that's $0.03 per cup. Wow! Talk about an affordable, tasty, health boosting beverage!

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Springtime Activities: terrarium, nature walks, spring books, and a big paper tree

    hooray, it's Spring! It's still cold and not much has changed, but it IS staying lighter after dinner, and there ARE pink blossoms lighting up the trees! Reason enough to celebrate for me. :)
    I haven't been taking many pictures of our springtime activities. Oops. For starters, we've been on a few walks. We talk about the Spring things we hear (birds chirping, frogs croaking) and see (blossoms on the trees, daffodils) and it's fun seeing Rowen aware of so much more this year.
    First fun project: we built a terrarium!  I've had a bottle of soda (gifted to us at a potluck last summer- or the summer before?) that I finally decided to dump down the drain for this activity. We cut off the bottom, and I let Rowen scoop in the soil from a bag of potting soil. I let him poke his fingers in, count the seeds, drop them in his finger holes, and bury them. I shoved the bottle top back into the bottom (trickier than it sounds!) and we squirted some water in the top with a squirt bottle!
    I actually have pretty low expectations for this minute bottled garden. (radishes. they're the hardiest thing I could think of.) as Rowen immediately shook the heck out of it. We'll keep you posted! So far he's looked into it a few times a day. Hopefully something will sprout and grow into a learning experience!

     To bring a little spring inside, we decided to built a tree with some pretty pink spring blossoms. Ro did great with his kid scissors (finally, an art project he can get into!) but also did lots of tearing. He really liked using scotch tape to put the pieces together.

     I cut a whole bunch of shapes out of pink tissue paper (triangles, ovals, circles, squares and rectangles) which he identified, squished, and stuck in the glue.
     yay! (yes I know, the top is naked. He got bored, but lasted much longer than I thought he would! Maybe we'll add some more "blossoms" later.

     We went to the library and picked up some Spring books. This was much more effective than my pathetic attempt at St. Patrick's Day books. (Have I mentioned how much I love the library's online request system? I can request a bazillion books while sitting at home, and then they'll email me when they're ready. I walk it, pick them up off the shelf filed under my name, and check out. Saves SO much time and chaos!) Anyway, the biggest hit is "Kevin Discovers Spring" by Liesbet Slegers.

    Time Budgeting

    I have so many things milling around in my head these days... but I can only blog so much. So I'm starting with time budgeting.  I've been messing around with schedules and things for a few months now, (really some form or another for a couple years) to pretty much no avail. I'm always wondering where the heck my time goes. I'm a stay at home mom- doesn't that mean I should have an amazing dinner ready every night, a spotless home, fun activities planned with my kids each day, time for exercise, and profound daily quiet times?
    yeah. right.
    Anyway, I was thinking about budgeting the other day and a thought occurred to me. There are only so many minutes in a day. (I know, shocking, right? who knew?) Just like there is only so much money every month. I'm an avid budgeter. If you follow Dave Ramsey at all, I'm the "nerd," not the "free spirit." I love excel. (well, I'm a Mac user- so it's actually "numbers" that I love.) Anyway- I've been fanatically budgeting since high school. (yes.) I love knowing where every penny goes. (nope. I don't round up. every penny.) If someone were to ask me how to get started in budgeting, I'd tell them to save all their receipts for a month and to enter everything into a spreadsheet. To try not to change your habits that month, just to be aware of where it all goes. It can be shocking. So while I was thinking about this and how it relates to the time in a day, I thought I'd start recording all my minutes. Just how DO I spend my time? Should I feel guilty about not spending enough time with each kid, doing fabulous things? How much time DO I spend in the kitchen? Should I feel guilty about how untidy my home is in this crazy season of life? And really, how much time DO I spend on facebook? The endless life-sucker that it is... because frankly, when I "waste" my minutes rather than being intentional with them, I rob other areas of my day of much needed time.  Things I'd rather be spending my time on.
    So, that's my project for the week. Time budgeting. Hopefully it wont take up so much time by itself as to throw off my observations. ha! Actually, I'm committing to not adding anything up until a designated time. In a week, perhaps I'll enter it into a new spreadsheet and look at percentages. Maybe it will help me to see areas that I need to change. Like I was wondering how much time I spent making lunches. Would I spend less time "packing" lunch for everyone the night before when I pack my husbands', even though the kids and I eat at home every day? Hm. Anyway, if I can make my life more efficient, great. If I can just be aware of how I spend my day, honestly, I think it may be eye-opening. Perhaps not. But worth a shot.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    St. Patrick's Day Activities: round 5!

    Rainbows! Rowen's really not much of an arts & crafts guy. Sorting, however, was a big hit. A couple days ago, I soaked some round noodles in food coloring water, and then let them dry. The next day I dumped 'em into a bucket, with some other random "rainbow" colored things I could find. He enjoyed sorting them into different little tubs!When he was through, he wanted to find MORE things to add to his "rainbow."
    love him!

    and.... just 'cause she's cute :)

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    St. Paddy's Day Activities: continued

    kefir+spinach+banana+a bit of pear puree for sweetness= shamrock smoothie!

    mmmmm....... green goodness!

    grabbed a pack of 8 glitter glues at the dollar tree. toddler fail. You have to squeeze them from the bottom in order to get the glue out. (Toddler wants to squeeze the middle, of course!) Eh, what do you expect from the DT anyway?) :) He has the most fun with the caps, anyway.

    These are shamrocks cut out of the papers he "stamped" yesterday. I learned from one of our library books that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to unbelieving Ireland. Three leaves, one leaf... cool, huh?

    left over smoothie? smoothie pop. oh yeah!

    The Ladies: 1.5 weeks

    I propped a stick in the brooder today for a roost- they had a jolly old time picking at it all morning. They enjoyed either eating or playing with all the lichen and moss but that's about it. I think big blackie has been wanting to roost (especially on top of the waterer, if only she could get up there!) I tried propping up a crepe spreader (seriously.) for a few days, and she kept stretching one foot up on it, but never attempting to perch. I figured it was too thin. So, a bigger stick was in order :) Big yellow (Miss Bossy) tried it first, but didn't stay. Big blackie is quite pleased. (no, they still don't have names. I'm starting to think it's for the better, though.) We'll see :) She's pecked at a couple of the other girls who've looked interested. "this is MY roost!"

    They're hilarious. They play "keep away" with any pine shavings that they find that are slightly different. They peep all day (and night) long, but it sounds like spring time. Like a tree just outside your house has a flock of birds flying back home from the south. So far no stink, which is a perk. Just waiting for that one :) They're getting their feathers in- you might be able to enlarge the picture to see but I haven't checked. But the tail feathers crack me up.

    That's all for now!

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    St. Patrick's Day Activities #2 & 3

    yesterday was too busy for blogging, so today you get two activities :) First up, a shamrock shaker! Rowen enjoying pouring in the soap, water, food coloring (for heavens sake, they're for crafts, not for FOOD!), beads, glitter, and little shamrocks. Nice fine motor work!
    Momma glued the cap on- and.....

    Sister's really enjoying playing with it! I forgot how much fun Rowen had with these when he was a baby. We'll be making more in the future :)

    Activity number two! Potato stamps. What's more irish than a shamrock stamp made out of a potato for Pete's sake? (or uh... for Patrick's sake?)
    we left one an oval and carved the other into a shamrock. It was good fun for oh, five minutes. My little boy. SO not a crafter. Oh well :)

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    St. Patty's Day Touch Tub

    Thought we'd have a little sensory fun and switch out the touch tub with a little seasonally themed fun! We went to Winco and the Dollar store and found some goods :) So far, I've been rewarded with a peaceful quiet morning!
    Honestly, I'm not obsessed with St. Patrick's Day. I can't even honestly tell you the real story of St. Patricks Day, though I know I've heard it many times. I'm telling Rowen about Leprachauns and Shamrocks and pots of gold and he's got this glazed over look on his face... I think we need to hit up the Library after nap for some colorful books. :) But yes- I don't care that much about St. Patrick's Day. I just want to be more intentional with directing his play. I think I may homeschool eventually. And if I'm cut out for that, I'd better be cut out for a little child-directed learning. Which includes actually planning activities for him to discover and grow with. So, I happen to be starting the week of St. Patrick's Day. So if I'm a good little girl and actually follow through with my plan, I'm going to post a bunch of fun activities (or not so fun!) and I just needed to get that little disclaimer out of the way first :)