Homemade – Yogurt with UHT (Shelf Stable) Whole Milk

image

For a while I dreamed of making my own yogurt. It seemed a daunting task. Thinking that it would explode if even the smallest outside germ was introduced on an unsanitised spoon or lid, I never ventured forth to fulfill my dreams. Looking back, it seemed such a silly fear. Yogurt is the simplest and most forgiving homemade item I make actually. It’s amazing what a little time can achieve. Below I have compiled a few tutorials I found on the internet, because why reinvent the wheel? These tutorials are well written and include several different ways to make your own yogurt.
image

Curious? Read on to see how you can make your own yogurt too!

A straightforward tutorial with basic household items, you have on hand or can substitute easily:
Basic Homemade Yogurt Tutorial

A rather lengthy process with lots of extra ingredients, but good for those who choose a dairy free lifestyle, or are the adventurous yogurt type! 🙂
Yogurt with a Food Dehydrator

A video tutorial, using a yogurt maker, for those of use who “ain’t got time for that” reading nonsense. 😉
Video Yogurt Tutorial

And finally the easiest method of all, when you just don’t have time for fanciness.. or you’re electricity is out AND it’s pouring rain AND lightning is crackling all around you…. and you need a non electronic, indoor, activity to do with the kids as their homeschooling science AND cooking lesson that day. Oh! Just me then? Hmmm.
No Heat Yogurt Making Method

For those of us who prefer thicker set yogurt. Once you’ve chosen a method above and successfully achieve your first batch of yogurt, follow these suggestions below. I have found, using shelf milk, the most successful option has been letting it sit a bit longer, pouring out the extra whey and/or adding a bit of gelatin.
Thicker Yogurt Options

image

My most recent method of yogurt making is the following method. I use shelf stable (UHT) whole milk, because it’s what we have access to at the moment. I do not preheat my milk or yogurt, I found that the shelf milk doesn’t need it. I plan on trying out the no heat method above next. I simply measure out a litre of milk into each cleaned out 2lb peanut butter jar, drop in a frozen yogurt ice cube, set 3 open jars in my my yogurt maker, set the timer for 10 hours, cover it with a huge pot and press start. When the timer goes off, usually at night, I just leave the yogurt undisturbed overnight. By the next morning it is slightly warm still, but cool enough to go right into the fridge.
image

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you purchase something other than what is advertised in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you purchase by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

 

Monster Purse (shaped) Threaders

Over on the TAST Facebook group our faithful leader Sharon from Pintangle posted a question the other day asking for our stitching confessions. It was such a great question and really got quite a response! The most common confessions ranged from stitching things other than the fabric being worked, to our work (corners of the fabric, finger calluses, pant legs, even hair!) to spitting to thread a needle… and everything in between.

I must “confess”, I continue to do these two things on a regular basis, as well as a myriad of other confessions on the board. I found myself chuckling and mentally saying “yep, me too!” over and over throughout the course of the day. The most discussed confession was definitely the spitting threading technique. Some say it’s no big deal, other women recounted tales of Aunts and Grandmothers tsking them for this supposedly improper technique and teaching them the “proper” one instead.

I will say threading a needle is tricky at best, at worst it is a downright impossible feat that may reduce you to a puddle of tears.

Soon you find yourself bleary eyed, desperately seeking reprieve from your threading woes…

anyone will do, you say…

your spouse  …who is out-of-town, convenient.

your live in elderly parent… with eyesight worse than yours. Can she even see the needle??

the 4-year-old you’re baby sitting for the evening… who’s mother has a phobia of letting her handle sharp objects, and up until this moment you could completely understand the logic of this phobia… but she seems so reasonable with other toys, you say…and now you begin considering the logic of that silly rule, just this once.

the next door neighbor… after you desperately explain 3 times you are not trying to sell them anything you just need this needle threaded… what? a needle? never heard of it,  while slamming the door in your face. ..

perhaps your cat…. who continues to lick his paws giving you a look of complete disdain for the depth of which you have allowed yourself to sink.

Wait?

What?

That’s never happened to you?

Hmm…  just me then, alright.

Well for some of us… it’s moments like these when you may find yourself in need of your very own Monster Purse Shaped Threader!

The one post that inspired this particular crafting adventure is found here. (I just love Wild Olive and all the fun inspirational and informative posts Mollie puts up on her blog!)

Since AJM and I have been working on embroidery samplers we’ve been having some needle threading issues of our own. When I presented the DIY Monster Purse shaped threader idea, she was very excited.

DSC_0709

They were both very excited for craft time!

DSC_0711

Though she didn’t quite understand exactly how it worked, she had faith that I was leading her in the right direction. We picked out some materials, based on Mollie’s suggestions (and based on what we had in the house) and got to work.

DSC_0706

Here you can see we’ve got some 32 gauge craft wire, Felt sheets cut into a few pieces, various colours of embroidery floss strands, large blunt needle for hole punching and our mini glue gun!

DSC_0710

We followed the basic instructions over at Wild Olive. First we folded the felt and poked some holes in the center.

DSC_0714

Even BAM helped!

DSC_0715

Then spent a half hour embroidering our big felt pieces.

DSC_0722

Finally we assembled our monster purse shaped threaders!! I did this by putting a little hot glue along the inside and pressing the wrong sides together, like a sandwich with one closed end. I added a little hot glue on the metal wire, where it is inside the felt sandwich and on the openings where the wire loop comes out of the felt.

DSC_0731

Yep, it’s hard to tell who’s cuter… the threader or the model.

DSC_0733

Well I suppose it’s time to hang them up and move on to dinner!

DSC_0752

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you buy something other than what is in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you  shop by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

 

Pasta Pizza – Freezer Meal

image

In my house there are two things my family just gobbles up; Pizza and Pasta! So I happened upon this idea the other day, when digging through the refrigerator looking for a dinner plan. Why not put pizza and pasta together?!?  I grabbed some curly pasta and tossed it in a pot of boiling water, gave it a quick stir, then turned off the heat as soon as it started boiling again. I left it on the burner, off,  set a timer for 2 minutes longer than the package recommended and moved on to making tomato sauce.

This can be as simple or complicated as you make it. Some days I’m all about, “how many veggies can I sneak into this sauce and puree?” Other days I’m in a hurry and it’s fairly quick and simple. It all starts with the same old saucepot.

Today’s sauce was meant to be quick and simple. Into the pan went 2 (3 oz) cans of tomato paste, 3/4 c water (2 canfuls) a pinch of oregano, a pinch of mixed herbs, a tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, a Tbs of honey, a tsp of vinegar (I use the apple cider variety), 2 chopped tomatoes (pureed with my stick blender when I put them in the pot). I turned the heat to medium,covered the pot and cooked until the sauce had reduced by about 1/4.

While that was simmering, I peeked through my refrigerator and realized there was a pile of carrots and peppers I needed to use up. I went ahead and shredded a couple carrots and chopped up a pepper, and tossed them into the sauce and headed over to tend the noodles.

Drained and back in the large pot, I poured the sauce over the noodles and gave them a good mixing with my wooden spoon. I dished out even portions into two 8×8 pans, set the timer on the oven and began setting up the pizza topper.
image

The pizza making ingredients I used were, sliced pepperoni and sliced mozzarella. I sprinkled about a cup of mozzarella on top of each pasta pan and finished up with pepperoni. I have a plastic lid that fits over one pan, so I sealed it up and placed it into the freezer.

image

The second one I out in my oven at 350 to bake for 15 minutes, then I turned it on to broil until the cheese was golden in some area and served it!

It was a big success!

image

The portion I froze made a delicious meal a few days later, when we had a less than super amount of sun day! The noodles were a bit overdone when I reheated, so next time I’ll leave them in the water for a shorter period of time, cool them completely and cool the tomato sauce completely before adding it to the freezer noodles portion.

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you purchase something other than what is advertised in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you purchase by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

Freezer Meals!!

It has been raining by the bucket full for the past week. Since we’re getting electricity from solar panels, we haven’t been getting much. Today was the first day the sun came out long enough to catch up on laundry and dry it! Woo hoo!

All this rain is great for the rain collectors and plants, but makes cooking dinner and other meals a bit tricky. This morning I decided to google search precooked freezer meals. The plan here being maybe I could precook things and then just thaw out and reheat for a shorter time in the oven or on the stove. Saving electricity and making clean up a bit easier. Also it would give me a few days where I don’t have to hang out in the kitchen cooking.

I found a great website Happy Money Saver! I just love how well Karrie has her website organised, packed with loads of useful information AND recipes for freezing meals. I intend to visit often and glean all her pearls of wisdom. My goal after visiting her site today is to spend a day making 30 meals, then aim for 50! Sounds a bit intimidating, but after today’s success at making 7 meals in the 2 hours it didn’t rain, I think I totally could do it!

The first recipe that caught my attention was her Fried Rice freezer meal. I haven’t been super successful when it comes to freezing rice, but thought I’d give it a try again, using bags as storage this time!

I used her recipe more as a guide. I cooked a 2lb bag of brown rice and let it cool. While it was cooling I scrambled 8 eggs with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, then set it aside. While this was cooling off, I washed a bunch of ziploc bags I found while cleaning out my freezer.

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you purchase something other than what is advertised in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you purchase by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

TAST – #1 Fly Stitch

I started following along with the embroidery stitch TAST challenge over at Pintangle last week!

I am doing mine in square inch format, known as “Inchies”, and working each stitch daily. My oldest daughter, AJM,  is also doing the challenge, but in the weekly form. Every Sunday, she’ll start a new stitch. I’m making her sampler each week, by drawing out (in pencil) some different pattern with that weeks stitches. I’ll be including a small combination pattern with the previous week(s) stitches as we progress into week 2. I think this will help her learn how to use her new and old stitches together.

I will post my corresponding  inchie along with her weekly sampler once a week on Sunday or Monday for your viewing pleasure! I’ll include pictures of the previous weeks completed sampler as well!

Without further ado, may I share our “Fly Stitch” for stitch number 1!

image

image

AJM seems to really enjoy embroidery. She spent a few minutes after dinner working on her sampler! Even BAM (my 3 year old daughter) sits next to us with her big needle and plastic stitch mat. It’s a lot of fun!

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you purchase something other than what is advertised in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you purchase by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

Introducing my Inchies!

Alright in honour of my new found need to be creative and learn stuff, I’m starting an embroidery sampler of inchies!

I’ve divided up a cloth with square inch sections and decided to start in the center. The only rules I’m giving myself is I have to do an inch a day. I can repeat stitches if I want more practise or do a completely different stitch in each row. I’m not sure what will happen yet.

Today’s stitch was the basic straight stitch. I chose light green cotton embroidery floss and made a swirly square design, free hand sewn.

image

What crafty things are you working on? How do you fit creativity into your schedule?

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you purchase something other than what is advertised in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you purchase by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

Finding Calm

Almost a month ago, shortly after beginning my exercise challenge, I hit a low in my life. I realised at that moment I had no joy inside myself and was flailing around being angry at everyone else for their joy and apparent calmness in general. I was angry, tired, empty, demoralised and holding onto this like a life raft.

I couldn’t let it go. If I let it go, who would I be, where would I go from there, who would I become? I’ve tried (not whole heartedly) several times over the course of the last two years to get rid of these feelings, but have never successfully achieved my goal. I had many excuses and “valid” reasons (in my mind; that were not logically valid and really were just fear holding me back) for not being successful.

Our minds are such a maleable thing, but in order to get the mind on a positive track we have to work at, internally, daily, hourly, minute by minute. Every breath in we have to be thankful for being alive and stand in awe of the beautiful world around us, seeing through all the garbage. But how do you begin to work inside your mind? Meditation. Sounds fairly simple right? Sit down, focus on your breath, rid yourself of your demons of negative emotional habitual response.

For me, that is terrifying. Looking at my life and my past choices and owning them and forgiving myself for them and learning from them. Even the idea of meditating seemed daunting and exhausting. The idea of sitting and looking at myself on the inside sounded dull and boring. I started to do it anyway.

Finding an amazing app, Calm,  I began a 7 days to calm program. I found myself really enjoying that quiet time. I didn’t have an agenda or any expectation of it working. But after a week, I felt a slight bit more at peace and better able to notice my anger and calm down faster or not blow up at all. Then I started the follow up program 21 days to calm and have continued noticing a difference in how I feel over all. Tomorrow is the last day of that program and I will begin the 7 days of a good night sleep. I’m looking forward to that and to my daily meditation in general. I enjoy the guided setup of the app, as well as the option to just listen to soothing melodies and sounds with no guide.

I’m still not expecting this to be an overnight ot over month fix, but I know with repetition, I will find calm and content.

How do you meditate? What works for you?

image

This post and website contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using any of the links you see here. Even if you purchase something other than what is advertised in the link/banner, I will still receive a percentage if you purchase by clicking my links first to shop on their website. Thanks in advance for helping support my family and our adventures!

 

Crazy Fruit and Veggie Salad Cake

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 c Flour (feel free to use white whole wheat/whole wheat substituting 50% of the AP Flour or all of it.. I say… live a little)
  • 1/2 c Oats (rolled or instant is fine)
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed (opt’l)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 c Oil (something with very mild flavor, coconut oil works great!)
  • 1/2 c Honey
  • 1/2 c Milk (any type of milk works… coconut, cow’s, almond, soy, rice, fresh goat, etc)

Fruit and Veggie Ingredients

  • 1 medium ripe bananas (black spots good, green bad; approx. 1 cup)
  • 1/2 Pear (1/4 cup small chopped)
  • 1/2 Apple (1/4 cup small chopped)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 medium Carrot (1/4 cup shredded)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 f.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside for a little nap.
  3. Put wet ingredients in a Large bowl and, using a stick blender, puree until smooth. Add each fruit/vegetable ingredient one at a time, puree until smooth after each addition. (I like to just scoop/chop/shred right over the bowl, hence the approximate cup measurements. I personally think a little extra fruit/veggie really won’t screw this cake up.)
  4. When wet/FV mix is well incorporated (i. e smooth like whipped butter with some beautiful fruit peel flecks) dump the dry ingredients mixture right over it. Using a rubber spatula fold to combine until just moist. Scrap down the sides a few times as you go. But don’t get stuck on making all the whiteness dissappear.

Pan and Baking Options

Choose one  of the following types of pan:

  • 9×9 square pan
  • bundt pan
  • 13×9
  • 2- 12 ct muffin pans
Really the choice is yours. I don’t think the baking goddesses are going to judge you.
  1. Grease the pan(s) if they’re not nonstick.
  2. Scoop or scrape the batter into chosen pan. For muffins fill about 2/3 of the cup.
  3. Place in preheated oven (or in my case your toaster oven, yes… yes you can. ) and bake until golden brown and cracking on top. Approximately an hour for cake pan, probably about 30 minutes for muffins,  the key is testing with the insertion technique descibed below.
♥ Insert a clean knife, toothpick, straight smooth pointy ended non toxic item, in the center to test for doneness. If it comes out clean and free of batter, it’s done! If not, bake it for about 5-10 more minutes and test again. ♥

Don’t get stressed out about it if you have to do this a few times… you will get to eat this eventually.  So will you’re impatient beautiful children, who won’t stop asking if it’s done yet during the entire process.  Just breath in that delicious aroma wafting through your kitchen and sit with them and snuggle for a bit.

That’s what I like to do anyway.

Remember you’re oven temp may vary from my oven, so pick whatever setting you normally use for a basic cake, cupcake.

Finishing

  1. Remove from oven, let cool in pan for about 10 mins.
  2. Flip out onto a plate, slice and serve.

Serve with honey or butter or honey-butter or jam…

Really the choices are endless.

Heck yes, you could totally serve this a la mode!

Eat it warm or feeze it for approximately 3 months.. I think, but it probably won’t make it to the freezer, from people gobbling it up before you can locate an appropriate container for it. So note to self,  next time make two.

Have a beautiful day!
Dashaina

Make it! Bug Bags

Woah Bug Bags!
Yeah, a sun is not a bug.

I suppose a frog is also not a bug.

But a ladyBUG is a bug, and a BEE is a bug, so we’re just gonna go with bug bags.

Plus that’s what the book we used for inspiration calls them…so…anywho.
image
Let’s get our materials together!

  • Different colours of felt
  • Scissors
  • Washable Marker … yep, it rinses right off the felt, just run it under the tap and squeeze a few times, it also gets all over your fingers, don’t wipe your face when doing this project, until you’ve washed your hands. Trust me.
  • Shapes or Pictures… you want to make into fun bags. I started with two from the book (ladybug and frog) and then used a big circle and some freehand for the sun and bee.
  • Thread … I chose black and white, but if you like things to match, then match the colour thread to the piece that you are attaching
  • Sewing Device… I have a machine, but this can be done completely by hand using a straight stitch (in zigzag pattern), back stitch (around the body to close it up and attach the legs, arms, antennae, and handle, and the French knot (for the eyes)

First choose the shapes, bug or whatever you are going to create into a bag.  With a few simple shapes you can create an endless array of possible bugs.  Don’t like bugs, how about a sun? fish? butterfly?  Use your imagination and you will be amazed at what you come up with.

For this demonstration I will do a bee! This is in honour of my friend N and her “love” for bees. Okay maybe she doesn’t love bees… but maybe she’ll like this one for it’s colourful, stinglessness.

image
Yep! That's my amazing "Bee" sketch

Draw out your pieces onto white paper.  One main body, one of each different leg, one atenna, one of each different wing, stinger, etc.  Generally I don’t draw basic shapes, that I will only need one of, onto white paper.  Eyes for example, I’ll just cut to small circles that closing match, right out of the fabric.
image

Cut out the white paper shapes and trace onto your fabric colour of choice.  I let AJ pick out her colours for the bee, this got her excited about the project and gave us some quality hang out time.  If your child is old enough to use scissors, let them cut out some of the basic shapes that don’t necessarily need to be perfect.
image

You will need to trace and cut the following from your fabric; one whole main body and two 3/4 main bodies (basically fold one end down about 1/4, creating a straight line and trace) eyes, legs/arms, other optional pieces (wings, antenna, tongue, and body decorations.)

Draw and cut out  a 2″ x 6″ rectangle for your bag handle. (you can make it longer and/or wider) 
image

Take your two 3/4 body pieces and your main body piece and set aside all the other stuff for a bit.  Overlap the two 3/4 back body pieces so that they are the same size as the main body piece.  Fold over the overlapped part so that they are still 1/2 or so overlapped. 

image

Pin them and run a stitch along the edge to secure it.  Pin the two pieces in place, double check they match the top piece, and sew the at the overlapped section, leaving the middle open. 
image

Place your arms/legs and stinger so they point inward and pin.  Run a quick baste stich to hold them in place. Place your handle and pin, pointing inward.  Run a baste stitch to secure. Set finished back body piece aside.
image

On main body piece, place, pin and attach eyes, decorations, wings and atenna.
image

Finally pin your main body and bottom body, right sides facing each other.   Run a short length straight stitch (or backstitch) all the way around the entire body, closing it up.  Reminder to double check that all the pieces were tucked in, not out, so you don’t catch any legs or other pieces.
image

Pull the inside of the bag out, through that open pocket and smooth out the edging so that it takes the right shape. Smooth out any quirky parts, by jabbing a pencil eraser end in there and pushing the edges out (like if you have a tail on your little creation).

Hand it over to the love of your life, those little cherubs, and bask in the smiling laughter that will ensue as they stuff all kinds of blocks, milk caps and crayons into that little bag over and over.
image

Repeat process about a bazillion more times as the children have discovered your new found ability to make bags in a variety of designs and begin requesting all types of animals, bugs, objects, etc.

image

Make it! Princess (or Prince, Queen, King, Empress, Emperor) Crowns

Today we made princess crowns.
image
From this brown paper roll I have that we use for all kinds of crafty things, including making patterns for sewing!!
image
But today it was all about princess crowns.
It was fun, quick and super easy.
All you need are a few simple items and you’re ready to give your daughters (or sons) a title of royalty. 
image
Supplies!!

Items:
Paper (enough to make it all the way around the head, we cut ours a bit short and just used some scraps and tape to add length.)
Markers (preferably the washable kind!!)
Scissors
Tape
And any other sparkly things you think might made it more super, glitter, little beads, ribbons, string, etc…and of course some glue if you go that route.
We kept it simple with just markers….and crayons work just fine for those precious 2 year old fingers who want to just paint your entire house and their bodies with the markers, just when you aren’t prepared for that kind of madness.  I wasn’t, so I decorated it for her.
image
First, if you are making two, cut down on time by folding your paper in half lengthwise and then in half widthwise.
image
Draw half of the design on the paper.
image
Cut it out along the lines.
image
Open it up!  Then cut along the center line for the two crowns, so they can be detached.  Unless you have children who like to stand head to head and then they can just wear them together. 😉 Now, measure the child(ren)s head and adjust accordingly, by chopping off or adding paper. When you’ve got the correct length, take two pieces of tape and tape along the cut on the inside and outside, this makes it more durable.
image
Now go ahead and pass those markers or crayons out and let the children decorate their hearts content.
image
Blam! Done.  Now bequeath those titles, while you crown your newly Royale and go on with your day.
Have a beautiful day,
Dashaina