Monday, October 20, 2014

Happenings

My mind keeps churning the thought, "I need to do another blog post. But what?" So today, you get a bit of this and that, because that's what life is at the moment. A little progress on a lot of things, a lot of repetition, and some new routines in the mix.

We (and I use the we generously because the bulk of this falls to Keith) have been laying flagstone on our patio. It is not the quick project we thought it would be, but we are really pleased with how it is turning out. It has eaten up nearly all of Keith's weekend time since the Labor Day weekend, and there are at least two more weekends of work to go. Literal tons of stone, sand, lime, and cement have been handled for this project. More details to follow when it is all finished!





There are projects that I can't show you yet, Halloween costumes and Christmas gifts that are keeping my hands busy. And Elliott's Christmas stocking, which I am madly stitching away at in hopes of having it ready for the holidays this year.

And of course there are these two, who keep a person quite busy.


There are things on repeat, like bread baking and yogurt making, that fill the days when I think there is nothing really going on.

There are brand-new things, like my sweet little niece who arrived earlier this month. Perhaps I am a bit biased, but I am certain she is the dearest thing I have ever seen. Have you ever seen such perfect little lips?


Colter was quite excited to meet her, as we all were.


The garden is finished with the exception of some brussels sprouts. We are enjoying the bold and beautiful blooms of some dahlias from bulbs a co-worker of Keith's gave us.


Colter has a playgroup one morning each week. The four families take turns hosting, and then every fifth week, we take a little outing. The first was to a pumpkin patch, where we enjoyed a hayride, a short movie about how pumpkins grow, and lots of play time in corn bin "sandboxes" and climbing on combines. Silly me, I didn't take any pictures but the other moms had me covered.



I feel like we are barreling through fall at warp speed, and I am not ready to say goodbye to mild weather and time spent outside. Certainly Colter isn't and Keith feels like he is racing the calendar to wrap up the patio project. I hope fall has been lovely so far for all of you!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Big One for the Little One

I already waxed on about Elliott last week ahead of his actual birthday, and I am a little delayed in getting some birthday photos up.

We had dinner and cake with Keith's parents to celebrate, and Elliott was so serious about the whole thing.



He was mesmerized by his pop-pop's deep voice when we all sang "Happy Birthday."




Elliott was completely perplexed by a big chunk of cake...


...and wouldn't eat it until it was cut in bite-sized pieces. Then he devoured it.


Then came a few presents to open.


He mostly just wanted to walk around with them still wrapped.


 Good thing he has a big brother to help.




Now he's got the idea!




It was a nice evening and it always wonderful when birthdays can be shared with family!

As for the cake, it had to be egg and milk-free, and actually turned out quite well. (You can find the recipe here.) Since icing made out of shortening didn't sound very appealing, I just decorated it with some powdered sugar. I made some train shapes by tracing cookie cutters and cutting them out of paper, but I think I was the only one who knew what was going on. And we reused Colter's "1" candle to top it off.





Monday, October 6, 2014

Welcome to Wonky

Bear with me. The blog needs some changes but they might take a little while and things will look wonky in the meantime.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Year!

Amidst the fog of having a newborn and toddler at home, I remember thinking, "What a difference a year will make!" And what a difference it is. Elliott is walking, babbling, eating all manner of real food, driving his brother crazy by taking toys and knocking things over, and generally making our cups runneth over with his very presence. He is often serious and quiet, but has the funniest little chuckle when amused. He gets excited to see furry creatures: dogs, cows, kittens. He will follow his brother anywhere and protests loudly at being trapped behind baby gates. He likes his nap schedule but is easy-going enough that he isn't a total crank if we are out and about at nap time, though at home even Colter has been known to say, "I think Elliott's ready for a nap." He's a good sleeper and a good eater, though his milk and egg allergies keep us on our toes (fingers crossed for outgrowing them).

It feels like this has been the busiest year of our lives, but it's the year our family became the family we dreamed of, and so it has been the best year. 

Happy birthday, Baby E. We all love you so.






















Apparently, it has been a busy year for Elliott as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Yo! It's Yogurt!

Sometime in the last couple of years, post-Colter but pre-Elliott, a yogurt maker was passed along to me via my Mom-mom. Making yogurt sounded right up my alley, and I thought I would put it to use. And then it sat, and sat, and sat. I even considered taking it to the electronics recycling because I wasn't using it, but then forgot to send it along with Keith when he took a bunch of stuff over on the scheduled day. 

Then, a month or so ago, my mom told me she found a yogurt maker at a flea market and she was so excited about it. After she told me how simple it was, I got mine out and cleaned it up. By this point, I had lost the hand-written cards that came with it telling me how to use it. If I needed any proof that you can find anything on the internet, it came in the form of being able to find manuals to early 1970s yogurt makers. I was in business.


Really, the process is so simple. Take a quart of milk. Bring it to a boil. Let it cool down a bit. My yogurt maker came with a handy spoon thermometer that actually shows you when it is cool enough, then you stir in starter you can buy at a health food store or a tablespoon of fresh yogurt with live active cultures (ideally, a tablespoon from your previous batch).



Once the starter is mixed in, you pour it into the five glass cups and put the lids on, place them in the yogurt maker, and plug it in. 


The top of the yogurt maker has a little "time out" dial so that you can show what time to take the yogurt out, about 10 hours. It isn't actually a timer, just a marker so you can keep track of what time it  will be done.


My first batch was an experiment. Since Elliott can't have milk, we sometimes buy coconut milk yogurt. At over $4 for 16 ounces, it's a little pricey for me. Coconut milk is more reasonable though, so I thought I would use some of the coconut yogurt we had for the starter, and try a batch using coconut milk. I was really excited about the possibility of making our own, because of both the price and that our local grocery store doesn't carry coconut milk yogurt so it is a special trip to get it. Well, lo and behold, it didn't work. It never thickened up. Maybe the coconut milk yogurt I was using as a starter wasn't fresh enough, maybe there is a totally different process to making yogurt out of a non-dairy milk. Anyway, it was a bust.

But fear not, I carried on. Armed with some packs of yogurt starter, I started a batch using 2% milk we buy at the donut shop in town. It came out perfectly. Nice and thick and smooth, just as it should be. The next batch, I kept just a little yogurt from the first round and used that as my starter and it turned out just as well. I know it is hard to tell, but that's the finished yogurt below.


So, now we are making yogurt using local milk, and it comes out cheaper than buying it if we don't have to use a pack of starter each time. Plus, there is no extra sugar or anything in it to start. And we aren't using yogurt out of plastic tubs all the time so that waste is eliminated as well.

Boy, am I glad I didn't pitch the yogurt maker!

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