Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blueberry Farm

We did one of my favorite summertime activities this past week - blueberry picking! Of course Benjamin wasn't just going to sit on a blanket this year, and I was worried that he was just going to be running around and eating berries, but he was actually really good! He didn't eat any, and he actually helped a bit! Joanna was really good, too, and took a nap for most of the time!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Two of Benjamin's favorite things...Veggie Tales and cuddling with his sister!

Benjamin thinks my rag dolls are pretty fun to play with!

Joanna is now five months old, and getting so big!

Butter...two ways

I've been wanting to make my own butter for a while - and I finally tried it! I had been planning on making it in a jar, but then read somewhere that you could make it with a hand mixer. So I thought, why not try both? Then I could compare which one was easier. Using a cup of heavy cream (whipping cream), you'll end up with about a half cup of butter and a half cup of buttermilk.

Mixer Method:
Pour the cream in a bowl and start beating with a hand mixer. After a few minutes you'll get whipped cream - just keep beating! The cream gets thicker and thicker, until it starts looking like lots of little lumps (kind of like cottage cheese). Then, gradually, liquid starts appearing. Keep beating until it looks like there's a fair amount of liquid (for me, about 10 minutes total beating) Then, you can gather the small lumps of butter into one big lump. Squeeze it to get all the buttermilk out.

Jar Method:
Pour the cream into a jar (the cream will approximately double in bulk when whipped, so use an appropriate size jar). Cap tightly. Start shaking! I didn't shake vigorously - just a nice constant movement. This method takes a while, but gradually it got thicker and thicker - I opened the lid and checked it a couple of times to see how it was doing. It was thick cream, and then all of a sudden, there was lots of liquid and a lump of butter in the middle. Making the butter this way took about half an hour of shaking. Once again, I squeezed the butter to get the rest of the buttermilk out.

Both methods were really simple and easy, the real difference was the time; ten minutes vs. 30 minutes. However, some other things to consider:
* The jar method was a good way to do something productive while watching TV or a movie (as I did!)
* Shaking the jar was not as tiring as I had thought it would be - I didn't shake it hard, but gently and it worked fine (although maybe it would have been quicker if I had shook it hard)

So which method will I use in the future? Honestly, I'm not sure. I probably will use both at different times - using the jar method makes me feel a little better if I'm just sitting around watching a movie!
The butter turned out really well, and of course, I'm saving the buttermilk to use in some baked goods!

One last note, I know I've read something about rinsing the butter when you make it, but I wasn't really sure how or why that is necessary. I did try rinsing it bit, but I'll have to look into that more for next time.

Friday, July 9, 2010


I love browsing through sewing books. They're so inspiring. They inspire me to make more things myself, to think outside the box, and be creative. Seth surprised me with this book to take on our camping trip, and I've had fun looking through it. Now only is it filled with lots of fun projects - several of them on my to-sew list - but it is also has lots of great tips on re-using items you already have laying around your house, and other ideas for living a simpler life, something I definitely desire!


We tried out playdough for the first time the other day! Benjamin especially liked pulling it apart.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Some random projects...

I recently made this little cloth book for Joanna, and she loves it!
The pages are made from random scraps of black and white fabrics, and they have all different textures, which is fun. I appliqued the red shapes on the pages, and my favorite part is that the pages crinkle! I had read an idea online a while ago about using plastic cereal bags for this purpose and it works great!

As a side note - I purchased this Bumbo and tray because I thought it would be a handy and compact thing to take camping with us. I found a great deal on Craigslist, which I am thankful for, since she's not too fond of it. Since I like not having lots of "stuff", and I got along fine without it with Benjamin, I haven't decided if it's something I'll want to keep for future children. I'll have to wait and see how useful it is once she starts eating food!

I recently picked up a bargain box of veggies from a produce stand - just $2.00 for a box full of cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few zucchini squash that had a bad spot or two on them. The cucumbers we ate at meals (enough to last us several days!), the zucchini squash I peeled and grated for use in future muffins, and the tomatoes I used for homemade salsa and my first attempt at homemade spaghetti sauce!

I used a recipe in The Tightwad Gazette as a starting point, then adapted with what I had on hand. It called for a number of green peppers, which I didn't have, as well as a bunch of onions, of which I only had one. In my veggie box I had found a lone jalapeno pepper, so I thought I'd add that to make up for the flavor I would be lacking from the omission of the green peppers and onions. I had no idea one little jalapeno would go so far! The sauce turned out great except that it was way too spicy! When I served it, I mixed half homemade, half store bought and it was still really spicy! I plan on trying this again if I get a great deal on tomatoes, but this time I'll leave out the jalapeno! =)
However, I was extremely pleased with the mileage I got out of my $2.00! Such great deals definitely help stretch the food budget!