Friday, October 13, 2017

Supportive Women

I apologize in advance to my friends who are grammar fiends. This post is more about what is going through my head rather than properly constructing a sentence.

Today I had the pleasure of attending a MOPS meeting. If you think this means we cleaned the floors...I guess you don't know about this amazing international group for Mothers of Preschoolers. I had the opportunity to share my pain and healing journey with them today regarding, well...I'm not sure what to call it. In my head I refer to it as my year of crap (YOC). Mainly because that's how it felt, crap on top of crap that I had to process and mourn and grow-up. Both grandmothers dying, cancer in the family, new pregnancy, depression, friend groups changing, missing so many family functions because of so many circumstances.

It was God's timing for sure that this meeting fell 3 years and 1 day after the miscarriage that started off my YOC. I shared with these ladies how I experienced a miscarriage when my husband was away on a youth retreat. I shared the details I was ashamed of. I shared my tears and pain. They listened, they prayed, they really cared. Then they shared hope. They helped me process.

I have healed a great deal from my YOC, but there are always things popping up to remind me. There's shame that I've come so far in my mourning. I feel sometimes that I am doing a disservice to the memories of those I lost to have come so far. I know this is not true but I feel guilty sometimes remember how deep my sadness was and how that has turned.

I've had a great deal of support these past 3 years from friends and family. From the friend who sat with me basically until my husband came home from the retreat but held me up far after he was home, to the members of my church who prayed over me, to strangers who listened as I cried over my children in the grocery store. I've had my family to grieve with and share memories. My children have grown in so many ways and my marriage has been tested and strengthened.

All this is to say, Thank you ladies, thank you. Thank you for letting me go first and share my story with you.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Homemade Greek Yogurt

Hi everyone, sorry for the long hiatus, but what are you going to do when the kids...are kids? :)

Anyway, I've had some requests from people in my circles to share my yogurt technique. I use technique rather than recipe because it's more about how you put the ingredients together than the ingredients themselves.

I started making yogurt because we were spending $11 a week on yogurt! That's $44 a month... I'm just too cheap to let that be in my budget. So I asked my mom about making yogurt because I remembered she used to make it when I was younger. She said it was easy but you have to get a few elements right for a good result. So I started my adventure and haven't looked back.

Now I make the same amount for at most $5 a week. That's less than half and leaves more wiggle room in my food budget. Ok, onto the technique.

I'm apologizing in advance for the flexible amounts and times in my descriptions. This really is the way I make yogurt and it changes slightly from time to time but all the ranges I give, I have gotten wonderful yogurt. Also, I know that many reading this know how to cook, but for clarity I will give an exhaustive list of equipment so you are well prepared for each step.

A note on starter: yogurt is made from good bacteria processing the milk. When you see "live and active cultures" on the label, that means those good bacteria are in there. I've noticed a difference in using only starters that contain milk and live and active cultures yields the best results. Sometimes there are additives like sugar, gelatin, and emulsifiers in store-bought yogurt that might impede the process. Also, not all plain yogurt tastes the same. We discovered that Fage brand 2% Greek plain yogurt was what our family preferred. You can either use a single serving tub of your choice of plain yogurt or 1 cup of any plain yogurt, even what's left from a previous batch. Try out a few or just pick out one and give this a go. 

Last warning: This may seem time intensive but honestly it's just a few quick interactions separated by some long wait times. I start heating the milk at 9 am, start cooling it before lunch, add starter after lunch and let it sit til the next morning around 7 am, and then strain it. Some days it's delayed so I just take it out later the next morning.

Feel free to comment or email me with any questions or to share your success!

 So here we go.

Homemade Greek Yogurt

-1 gallon milk (I use whole but any cows milk will work)
-6-8 oz plain yogurt (I use Fage brand 2% Greek plain yogurt single serving or 1 cup of yogurt from a previous batch)

-6 quart crockpot
-Instant-read Thermometer
-Sink of cold water/ice bath
-Oven set to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, or just a cold oven with the light on, this will keep the oven at the perfect incubation temperature
-Flour sack cloth or clean smooth cotton cloth
-Large bowl
-Small bowl
-Large Spoon/Spatula

1. Pour 1 gallon of milk into crockpot set to high. Stir occasionally and heat covered until temperature reads 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. This takes my crockpot about 3 hours but yours could take as little as 1.5 hours. The important thing is this is a gradual process, heating too quickly will result in a grainy texture.

2. Remove stoneware insert and place in ice bath sink uncovered until temperature reads 110 (I bring it out if its 115 or lower) This may seem weird to heat up then reduce the temperature but its to denatures the whey protein in the milk, making it active. You will not get a high quality or quantity yield without this step.

3. Remove stoneware from sink.

4. Remove 3-4 cups of 110 degree milk from insert and add plain yogurt starter.

5. Whisk gently until smooth. Pour mixture back into insert. Stir gently to combine.

6. Cover and place in 110 degree oven (or oven with the light on) for 12-18 hours.

7. Remove yogurt from oven and pour into flour sack lined colander that is fit inside a large bowl. This will strain out liquid and give a thicker, Greek yogurt. Without straining, you have just plain yogurt. Feel free to just stir and put in an airtight container if you wish at this point. Otherwise strain for anywhere from 1-3 hours, depending on your desired thickness.

8. Remove Greek yogurt from cloth and store in airtight container for up to two weeks. I use a spoon or spatula to scrap the yogurt that clings to the cloth.

9. Enjoy with add-ins or plain.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Updates to Share

Hi everyone! I had a great time at Holiday on 44th. So many people, so many smiles, and so much Christmas.

I had a profitable time, but, honestly it was fun even when people weren't buying anything. I loved talking with the kids that came by, sharing the joy of making, and just being jolly with those celebrating.

I now have items on my Etsy site. I'm also still up for custom orders.

I do have a disclaimer, I can't get anything else made by Christmas, so if it's in stock, I can get it to you, if not, you'll have to be patient til the new year.

I love seeing people enjoying the things I make and thank each and every one of you who has supported my journey in crafting.

Enjoy Life,


Monday, November 28, 2016

Starting to take the Plunge

I have done a few craft shows in the past, but haven't taken them very seriously or have been helping someone else with theirs.

This coming Friday, December 2nd, it's my turn, I'm jumping in, making it a priority. I've planned out, made, and fixed up my old displays.

I'll be at Holiday on 44th craft show in the gym at Patrick Henry High School from 6 pm to 9 pm this Friday. Please come out and buy my stuff...that's not desperate sounding, right?

I have my Preston crochet baskets, Christmas ornaments, magnets, wood lawn games, and small wood trucks. All these are great for gifts, and I do custom work as well if you're looking for something that can wait til after the holidays.

I'm so nervous.

I make things because I love to and because I love seeing people take joy or find function in something I've made.

I can tell that I have alot of uphill work ahead. From maneuvering small business accounting, to networking as an introvert (people can be exhausting), and throwing in family life with growing kids, I'm trusting in God to show me daily where to focus my energy.

I can tell you this, I'm EXCITED to walk out, shoulders back, and jump into this handmade business.

I'm going to be posting more this week about what to expect at my booth. See you there!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trading One for Another

I've just come from a week at the beach. I'm both loving and loathing being back in Minnesota. Loving, because I'm home and can get back into my normal rhythm. Loathing, because I have so much less help with my energetic toddler and scooting baby.

Keeping up with these two is sometimes difficult. Especially when I know I need to take care of myself, too. I've shared my struggle with self-care here before. I still struggle but am learning the value. I'm loving the fact that our garden is coming in and we can already enjoy fresher than fresh produce. RADISHES!!! This is the only time I eat them. When our garden is bursting with red orbs hidden in the dirt, and crowned with greens. We used to enjoy these spicy treats then merely put the tops in the compost bin. WHAT A WASTE!!!

This may seem like an extreme reaction but hear me out. Since I've had to cut back on sweets and make better food choices, it's hard to have food treats. But I've discovered a new one and am beyond excited.

Have I hyped this enough? OK, here it is, Radish Top Pesto! No kidding, its...NOM NOM NOM.

In a food processor (Thanks, Mom and Dad for mine at Christmas), blitz 2-3 cups of tops (I used the amount I had from 8-9 radishes), garlic, EVOO, and lemon juice until a paste forms. Add a bit of sugar (the tops can be bitter without it), pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. So easy, it took me about 10 minutes. I had to stop right then and there and enjoy a piece of toast topped with this wonderfulness. (For full recipe go to this website, I wouldn't change a thing so I don't feel comfortable copying it here, definitely want to give them the credit since I just did what they said.)

So this is where I am. Trading cookies and milk for salad and pesto. Candy for fruit, and binge eating for calling a friend. It's a daily struggle and some days are successes and others are less successful. I'm thankful God loves me no matter what.

God Loves You
Enjoy Life

Friday, April 22, 2016

An Open Letter to Curtis Stone, My "Take Home Chef"

Dear Curtis,

I want to begin by thanking you. Because of you, I have some great memories. I'll explain but I have to set the stage.

I was a sophomore in college in 2007 and had a bad breakup with my first boyfriend. It was spring break, but instead of going somewhere warm with a group of friends, I ventured to Michigan to spend ten days with my grandma. My grandpa had died years earlier so it was just the two of us in her house.

This amazing woman was just who I needed to spend time with. She, without saying "It'll be OK," showed me I would be OK. She took me to get my hair done, took me to restaurants, tended to me I wasn't feeling well, and taught me to cook a few things.

You're probably wondering, what does this have to do with me?

Well, this is when we got hooked on "Take Home Chef." We watched you meet people in the grocery store and make food for them every day I was there. This is when we stopped going out to eat and started cooking together.

We giggled and dreamed about if you somehow would be in our local Meijer and choose us to cook for. We knew this wouldn't happen but it didn't stop us from going to the grocery store for the most mundane items, in in case.

Because of you and that show, my grandma and I shared something that was only us. You were the catalyst to bond us together and heal a young heart.

I went back to school, grew up a bit, found the love of my life and now have my own strong family.

Now you're probably wondering why this memory is coming back almost ten years later. My dear grandma passed away July 2015. Only 12 days after my second son, her third great-grandbaby was born.

Now, 9 months later, I'm to the point in my grief where I'm able to unpack my memories. That's when I looked back and realized you were a thread through the past decade of my memories with my grandma.

These precious memories I'm holding so dear right now in my grief. Thank you for doing "Take Home Chef." Thank you for inspiring us to cook for each other. Thank you for being a string tied to a memory of comfort and caring.

Bless you in your life. Thank you for blessing mine.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Early Morning, Early Spring

I wrote this March 28, 2016 and meant to post it sooner but this has been the first time Ive had a chance.

The quietness of a morning. Something I rarely experience. Today is early spring. One of the first days in the year where the sun streams through my windows noticeably earlier than any other in my recent memory. Frost still bites the shingles of our garage and the grass of our yard, but it losing strength. Delicately strong buts are on every branch in our neighbor's tree in vibrant red and on our lilac in bright green. Sleepy clouds sail past in a periwinkle sky. Birds are chirping and replace my alarm.

Early morning in early spring. Just a small moment, but such a beautiful one.

I could ruin it with focusing on how dirty the windows are, or how our yard looks like the Clammpett's from Beverly Hillbillies in places. I could say snow is probably coming or that this just means allergies are going to get bad.

Not right now. I'm choosing in this rare still and quiet moment, when I'm alone in my kitchen, to breathe in the beauty I used to just pass by. because it's fleeting and fast. If I don't take it in now, I never can.

Be mindful today of the beauty around you.

God Loves You
Enjoy Life