Tuesday, February 28, 2012

T is for Teapop!

I posted before about beginning to teach Will how to read, and I am still working on it with him. He naturally and easily learned his ABC's through books, toys and TV shows, but what is really most important is learning the letter sounds. I knew it would be up to me to teach him that. Luckily I have a smarty pants on my hands, so it really didn't take much effort from me!

First, I got a cute notebook on clearance at Target.

 Then I wrote in the whole alphabet in big, bold letters. Both lower and uppercase.

I also wrote in some simple 3 letter words.

When we were first starting out I would work on it with him a few times throughout the day. Just a few minutes here and there. I wanted to teach him both the uppercase and lower case, and the sound of each letter. If he couldn't answer, I would give him the answer and we would move on to the next.

He now knows all the letter sounds, and can tell you a word or two that starts with that letter!

Here is a video to show you his skills. It's a bit long, but it's pretty stinkin' cute. Aaand he breaks out in song in the end, so you'll be glad you stuck with it.

The next thing I want to work on with him is learning to write his name!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yogurt: A How To

UPDATED 10/08/12

I have a new better way of making yogurt. Go here to see it!

I have been making my own raw milk yogurt for over 2 years now. It really is quite simple once you get the hang of it. Along with having great healthy bacteria benefits and a good source of healthy fat, yogurt is just plain yummy! We use it for fruit smoothies, eat it for breakfast and it's one of the first foods I feed my babies.

Although the heating process I use to make yogurt does kill of some of the good bacteria it is still tons better than any store bought yogurt, which is just loaded with sugar. Even plain yogurt has sugar!

Side note: There is a way to make yogurt without heating the milk. Although, I have never tried it. Read here for more info.

I currently use raw cows milk, but you can definitely use store bought or goats milk as well! 

Here is a step by step on how to make yogurt!

Supplies needed:

- About 3 cups of milk
- 2 gallon insulated jug
- 1 quart glass jar
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup of plain yogurt or yogurt starter
- Medium sized pot
- Candy thermometer
- Wooden spoon (not pictured)

Measure out your milk in a 1 quart jar, stopping at least 1 1/2 inches from the top. It'll be around 3 cups.

Pour the milk into your pot, and put over low/med heat, leaning more towards low. The lower and slower you heat up the milk the less the enzymes and bacteria become damaged.

Heat the milk to 180 degrees F; just before it starts to boil. For me it takes about 10 min. But it really just depends on how low your heat is and the size of your pan. Remove from heat.

Preferably your thermometer would be attached to the side of the pan and not resting on the bottom. But if yours is broken and rests on the bottom like mine be aware that the temp will read higher then it actually is. Just make sure you lift it up a bit every so often to get the correct reading. You could just buy a new one. But that would be too easy.

Let the milk sit undisturbed until the temp lowers to 110/120 degrees F. For me it takes about 30 min. (I have had the best results letting it cool to just 120 degrees F.)

Add your plain yogurt or yogurt starter to the warm milk. No more than 1/4 cup of yogurt is necessary.

I have never used a yogurt starter. I just use store bought organic plain yogurt for my first batch.

Gently stir in the yogurt with a wooden spoon. Metal spoons have been known to kill live cultures. Although, I did use a metal spoon before I learned that, and never had an issue.

Pour the warm milk and yogurt mixture into the 1 quart glass jar. It MUST be a glass jar. Because the milk is pretty warm it would make a plastic container seep chemicals.

Put on the lid VERY tightly.

Put the jar into the center of your 2 gallon jug, and add hot water almost to the top of the jar.

I have had fine results just using my hot tap water, which gets up to 150 degrees F. If you have to, you can add a bit of boiling water to the tap water. Be cautious though. While pouring hot water on glass you must go very slowly to make sure it doesn't break!

Tighten the jugs lid, and let sit on the counter for at least 5 hours. I usually let it sit longer, sometimes over night.

After letting it sit for 5+ hours, remove the jar of yogurt and put right into the fridge to cool. I have found that it makes for a thicker yogurt if you cool it first before eating. That way the extra whey can settle on top and you can scoop it off before mixing.

It is definitely tart just plain, and will need a sweetener. We use honey or stevia.

That's it! It's one of those things that sounds to scary to even try, but it really is pretty simple. So be a little adventurous and give it a go!

Here are Sam and Will enjoying their yogurt!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Valentine Craftyness

So far in my married life I haven't gotten to crazy when it comes to decorating for holidays. I usually get a few gourds and pumpkins to have around the house for Fall. Christmas we get the tree, put up some lights around the house and hang a wreath on the door. No pilgrims. No Easter eggs. And usually no hearts.

It's not that I don't like decorating for holidays. I actually enjoy it a lot! I think my lack of it is partly because we have a small house, and don't have many places to put decorations or I just don't think about until it's too late. Then of course I didn't always have Pinterest to inspire me!

Valentines Day is one of those holidays that has so many cute decorating options, and I always wish I was able to decorate for. But it always creeps right up on me, and is over before I get the chance!

I was quickly browsing "Valentines Day" on Pinterest the other day to get an idea for Valentines Day cards for Will's preschool class, and came across this cute DIY Valentine's banner. I realized I had everything I needed to make it, so I figured, "Hey! Why not!" I worked on it bit by bit throughout the day, but really if I had been able to just sit and do it with no distractions it wouldn't have taken any longer then 20 minutes to make.

So here is my one and only contribution to Valentines Day this year!

As you can see it is NOT perfect. Burlap is a pain to cut evenly. But that's how homemade things should be; a perfectly imperfect one of a kind!

After looking at this picture I really noticed how colorless my little tan corner is. Maybe I will add some light pink hearts to my branches. Kind of like this:

Here are some other ideas I would love to try someday; Maybe next year!




Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Potty Training: Day 1 & 2

Will has yet to show any interest in potty training. I kept waiting for a sign that he was ready before I dove into it. I didn't want all the time, effort and all the dirty messes to go to waste if he just wasn't ready. (Not even kidding. As I was writing this Will came up to me with dirty fingers and underwear full of poop. Nice.)

BUT he is coming up on 3.5 years, and well, the kid is huge. Size 6 diapers just barely fit him. Someone joked recently that if he isn't potty trained soon he'll have to start wearing Depends! So something must be done. Well, more like I've got to do something about it.

We got a portable potty since I think the big one scares him, (he freaks out whenever I've tried to have him sit on it) and I've told him I will give him "special surprise chocolate" if he goes pee on the potty.

So we started yesterday. I had him sit on his little potty that barely fits his butt while he watched Kipper.

He surprisingly sat there for almost 30 minutes! Not a drop of pee to be seen though, so I let him get up and he put on some Batman underwear.

He looked so stinkin' cute in his tight little underwear, so I called him over to take his picture. The very first picture I took is this one:

Yes. That is him peeing. Not 2 minutes had passed since getting off the potty, and he peed in his underwear. We were off to a great start!

I have been told to just let him run around in underwear or naked and he will hate the feeling of pee trickling down his leg. That it might motivate him NOT to do it again. But it didn't seem to phase him at all.

I put him in a diaper when we went out for the morning, and tried out the potty again when we got back.

 Not sure what Sam was doing here. Trying to get my attention most likely!

Same thing happened. Sat there for 20+ minutes, and 2 minutes after putting his underwear back on he peed on the rug.

He wore a diaper the rest of the day.

So far today it has been: Sit on the potty. Put underwear on. Pee on floor. Except, as you read above, we've also had poop in the underwear. I have a feeling this is going to go on for awhile. Wish me luck!