Monday, April 23, 2012


     Sunday morning I was blessed and encouraged beyond measure.  Going into church Sunday morning we ran into our pastor, Pastor Kevin. We are new members to Spring of Life and we have only meet Pastor Kevin on two other occasions. We were unsure of this church at first because we didn't want to be "just another attendance number" We are FB friends with him and his wife Brenda and get updates into their lives and they see into our lives as well. We DO NOT feel like another number. Its nice to begin forming personal relationships in a church as large as ours. I hope to have them over in the future for dinner :). 
     Anyways, Apparently Pastor Kevin has been reading my blogs through my FB posts and he told me Sunday morning that he had been enjoying them. Now at the time I didnt know what to say other than Thank You and I hope I was not rude by not continuing a conversation!!! I was surprised I was recognized in the sea of faces. Again I really hope he didn't find my quick thank you rude!!!  But sitting in church I was thinking about what he said and it encouraged me.  Writing a blog is hard work, throw in 3 kids and its near impossible, but not completely and his comment gave me motivation to try harder.  

     Pastor Kevin, Thank You for being kind to me. Our family greatly enjoys Spring of Life and are very happy to call it Home. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Homemade Yogurt

Image Source: Rebecca Bent
   In my efforts to provide nutritious foods for my family I have started making a lot of things homemade. I know what ingredients are put into each thing and I can avoid a lot of extra questionable things. One example of nutrition can be found in yogurt.  Most of us know that yogurt is full of 'good bacteria' that aid in digestion and give our immune system a boost. Those 'good bacteria' are also good for people who suffer from a lactose sensitivity, like my youngest. I could write a whole post on the health benefits of yogurt, but I am going to leave a link and you can fill your brains with more yogurt knowledge when you have an extra minute.  
     Most of us also know that store bought yogurt can get expensive over time, especially the little 6oz containers. My family eats yogurt in bulk. My youngest daughter is on the 'picky eaters diet' and typically only eats yogurt and bananas, though she has become a little more adventurous here lately, thank goodness. :) So between my three kids a 32oz container of yogurt only last 2-3 days. At $3.00 a container the cost starts to add up. x2 32oz containers a week is $6.00 x4 = $24 a month :/. That's a half a tank of fuel or so and with the price of fuel so outrageous any spare penny can defiantly be used there. Now these price comparisons are for the cheap store brands. More specialty yogurts come with a heavier price tag. When making my yogurt I purchase the store brand milk because its cheapest though I am sure to check to make sure it has not been treated with hormones. As I am able to increase my food budget the first thing is to buy organic milk.

Anyways, Lets break down the cost of homemade yogurt using the cheap milk. I buy milk for $2.57 a gallon. That's potentially 128 oz of yogurt. That would be $12 if I got it at the store! The amount of milk you use is how much yogurt you get. I typically make a gallon of yogurt because I strain the whey from mine to make it thicker and more like Greek yogurt. In doing so it reduces the amount by about half. But that is still 50% cheaper than buying it... plus Greek yogurt is way more expensive to buy. So now that you've seen a little run down on price how about we visit the process. Here are the things you will need to make your own:

Milk- in whatever quantity you want in yogurt 32oz = 32oz un-strained yogurt
Starter at room temp-( 2-3 tablespoons of plain store bought yogurt with live and active cultures( easier to get) OR frozen Yogurt cultures,( I have yet to find this, but others say it does exist.)
Thermometer-( that goes to 185*)
1 pot for direct heating or crock pot and lid with either or-( 2 pots if you prefer the double boiler method)
Preferred heating method( some use crock pot, I use my stove)
Heavy towel
Cheese cloth or other very thin cloth( optional ) 
Storing container

Now the steps:

1. Sterilize equipment in boiling water 
    Truth be told, I never do this and I have never had any ill effect. Heating the milk to 185* kills the bad bugs anyways. 

2. Using your preferred heating method, heat the milk low and slow( so not to scorch) to 185*. I just put the milk in the pot and the pot on the stove. For as much yogurt as I make the crock or double boil methods are not big enough. 

3. Now allow the milk to cool to 110*. This can be done sitting on the counter ( takes about 45 mins) or can be done quickly with a sink of icy water. Just submerge about half of the pot into the water and watch the temp closely.( Dont let water get into the milk!)  If it gets too cold just warm it back up to 110*

4. When the milk reaches 110* whisk the starter in.

5. Place the pot in a warm place( I have a warming zone on my stove) and put a lid on it as well as the heavy towel.  A heating pad on low works as well. The temp needs to stay 110-115* for the next 7 hours at least. You can culture longer for a more tart taste. Ive read instances of 24 hour yogurt! Once an hour I set my warming zone on low for 10 mins. I just set a timer to remind me. Take the temp ever so often, but dont disturb it too much. This stage does take a little bit of babysitting, but after a couple batches you'll start to learn how well your pot or whatever insulates. At the end of 7ish hours you will have a very nice yogurt. I would start with 7 hours until you determine your taste. You could eat it warm now, but it will be a bit thinner than you'd expect. Chilling over night will produce a thicker yogurt. Or you could go a step further and strain the whey and make a very thick and yummy Greek style yogurt.

6. Strain the whey ( optional ). Line a colander with the cheese cloth and place the colander over a bowl or pot the will hold it but not let it fall down inside. Pour the yogurt into the cheese cloth lined colander and wait. I do mine about an hour, but you can stain as little or as much as you want to. 

7. Store- From staining, spoon your yogurt into a container of your choice that has a lid. Lots of people use mason jars for example. I use 32oz containers from previously buying yogurt that I happen to have still. If you did not strain your yogurt just give it a final good whisk and pour into your container(s). Place the yogurt in the fridge. I believe other who say it keeps only about a week, however ours never last that long. :) At this point the sky is the limit to what you can add to it!  Jam, honey, granola, fresh fruit... Etc.!!!! 

Now remember to save a couple tablespoons for your next batch.

There ya have it. If any part is unclear just shoot me a message and I will do my best to clear it up. Happy Yogurting :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Home schooling: Not just at the kitchen table

     When I first started this new adventure a few months ago the vision in my head was to have my little pupils sitting at the kitchen table doing their work enthusiastically. I quickly realized that wasn't a realistic vision. My kids are active, like most kids, and want to be where mom is most of the time. 

     At this current season in our lives we can generally do most lessons during nap time, but lets face it... Mama needs to shower at some point... Oh sure I could shower before they get up, but I would be getting up at 5 am in that case for I have an early riser. Or I could shower at night after they go to bed, but with my long hair dripping wet at bed time means a sloppy wet pillow all night. So a nap time shower works best for me. 

     So what's my new homeschooler to do while I am in the shower... Usually, she showers with me and I am completely fine with that. After a few showers I started to pay attention to her drawings on the shower door in the steam. To my heart warming surprise she was drawing letters in the steam and asking me questions about each letter. Then as her attention went from drawing letters to stick people she would count the people and ask me basic addition problems, which I made her figure it out on her own with her drawings. 

     So I then realized that now I do not feel like she has missed any "school" time when we shower during nap time. I also realized that I could teach just about anything anywhere we are and not be limited to a kitchen table doing worksheets. And so simply drawing in steam has opened the world of home schooling to me and enabled me to see lessons anywhere from the park to the grocery store and everywhere in between. I hope this post will encourage new home schooling families to think outside the box of the kitchen table.