Thursday, November 20, 2014

Painting a Tree Mural

 
Recently I was asked to paint a mural for a little girls new bedroom. The home owner is renovating an 1880s farmhouse and I was lucky enough to participate in the renovation by leaving my tattoo on their walls. Painting murals is one of my favorite projects and the larger and more colorful the better for me. I feel a lot more comfortable painting something loud and large rather than something  small which I think is kind of ironic because I  am a naturally quiet person.
 
 
 To start a mural this size I always begin with an outline copied from my original design. I freehand this rather than using any type of graph or projection and my end result is pretty on par with my drawing.
 
 
After it is drawn I may edit a few elements to make the design fit with the wall and fill in the outline with a base color. 


 
 
After my base color for the tree was in I added highlights and lowlights.

 
Next I added the grass and the leaves. The owner only wanted a few so I saved the placement for last.



 
 
Once the room is finished the homeowner is going to add a swing from the ceiling next to the window to give it the look of a tree swing. I love this idea and think it will complement the design perfectly.



Monday, November 17, 2014

A Cheery Colorful Nursery for A Happy Baby

 
 
In my post Friday I shared the Driftwood Mobile I made for our daughters nursery and mentioned that I will be fighting the cold Wisconsin weather this winter by giving our home a make over. We have been living with the house for a while and have worked out what arrangements work best for us so now it's time to settle in. I know we have been here a couple years already but I think it is best to live with a space before making any permanent changes. 

 
 
 
I started with our daughters nursery I wanted to give her room a cute and colorful update with a homey feel to it. I started by making her mobile out of driftwood we found on a family trip over the summer (you can read more about it here) and hung it over her crib.
 





I also gave the walls and trim a fresh coat of paint along with the door. This wood door was stained in a dark brown color and covered in stickers from the previous owner. I want her room to be as colorful as she is so I sanded the door and painted it a bright blue. After a few coats of paint I glued some white molding to it to give the look of an older door and sealed it with about 4 or so coats of semi-gloss sealer to protect the finish. I think it still could use a pretty glass doorknob to complete the look.

The paint I found on the mistake paint shelf at a hardware store for $5.00 a gallon. I like to look for returned paint whenever I go to home stores because I can always find unusual colors I wouldn't necessarily buy at full price then I use them for projects like this.
 
 
 This is the same paint I used to paint the shutters I use at farmers markets here they are in action.

 
 
Anyway back to Corinna's room... I also repainted a dresser that used to belong to my great grandmother that doubles as a changing table. Then I took  some pieces from my farmer's market inventory to decorate her room. I used my home sewn bunting over her window and along a shelf then put up a few of my rustic hearts and signs I also have in my Etsy shop. I love how cute her room turned out to be and I also love that I was able to pull the look together for less than $50 by getting creative with what I already have!

Monday, August 11, 2014

International Pallet Art




My pallet flags have always been American until now. I was excited to make my first non-American flag recently for a very sweet pair of newly-weds. The groom is from the UK while the bride is from the US and they asked me to make them each a flag from their own country. I love what they represent and think they will look so nice paired up with each other in the couple's new apartment. What a fun way to celebrate their new life together! I painted them in vintage tones at their request and might have to use the colors again in future projects. I think the color really adds to the feel of the flags. 





Follow this link to see this flag in purple.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Making Goals Toward a Self Sufficient Life




When we bought our house three years ago we bought it with the intentions of becoming homesteaders and living a more self sufficient lifestyle. After looking back at our ideas then and the reality now we still have a VERY VERY long way to go. When my hubby and I were talking about our progress we began to wonder where we went wrong...we both felt that we should be further along at reaching our dreams. We are both hard workers with a lot of ideas, we are both determined and feel that what we are trying to do is in the best interest for our kiddos so why are we still behind? 

Then we began to look at  everything we intended to have done by now....
  • We wanted an established fruit orchard
  • We wanted to raise bees for honey and pollination
  • We also wanted established berry patches throughout the yard
  • We planned on multiple gardens large enough for our family and for us to sell our extras
  • We imagined a pantry full of an assortment of canned vegetables, salsa, jams etc...
  • A freezer full of home grown vegetables, fruits, raised and hunted meat
  • A long range of groomed concord grapevines
  • A pasture full of chickens raised for both eggs and meat with enough of each to sell extra
  • A pasture full of sheep and a couple hogs for the same reason
  • We imagined having sheared our own sheep and utilized the wool
  • We wanted to be selling our products at farmers markets by now
  • Chris is working a full time job with crazy hours usually over 50 a week we were hoping this would have been minimized  by now so he could be home more to homestead and farm
  • I work in a restaurant part time as well as work on free lance art work out of the home, we were hoping I would be just working on my art by now
  • We also wanted to make more energy efficient updates like a wood burning stove, new doors, windows and a grey water system this we imagined would take years to accomplish.
  • We thought we would have our kitchen and bathroom updated by now. 
The list could go on and on but needless to say we both had big plans for this place. We began to feel discouraged after discussing our failed plans.... 
  • The fruit trees and berry patches have yet to be planted 
  • Along with our gardens
  • No bees yet 
  • Our canned goods are from the store and so are most of our frozen vegetables 
  • The grapes still need pruning
  • We do have the chickens and 1 sheep at least along with an unplanned alpaca
  • The wool though is still sitting in the garage
  • We do have the windows we are happy to say...
  • We were still working outside of the home and Chris is still gone over 50 hours a week 
  • The kitchen looks the same even though we bought a dishwasher that has been sitting in our garage for the past three years because we can't fit it in our kitchen until we move around our cabinets. 
  • The bathroom ... still the same 
After looking at our list of ideas we began to realize that we were looking at the big picture rather than taking it one step at a time and making mini goals to lead us where we want to be. After breaking it down and prioritizing our plans began to seem much more manageable, and our goals much more reachable.  
  • We didn't get a garden in this year and that stinks but we were also imagining a very large garden with a very pregnant me so... maybe we weren't realistic but now that I have had our baby we will plant a smaller cold weather garden just for the household with some greens, radishes and other cold hardy crops. 
  • Everything else we will buy from the farmers at local markets so we can have fresh produce and support their businesses. 
  • We will plant a pair of trees and berry bushes each year rather than all at once. 
  • The grapes will just have to get done as soon as we can... we we lucky enough to get a house with a grapevine so we just can't procrastinate on that one anymore. 
  • The house will just have to wait. Right now managing our animals and produce we already have need to be a priority because that will help the health of our family and our health comes first.
  • Our jobs will have to wait too. We will start with replacing my shifts in the restaurant with my art jobs one shift at a time until I can do art from home full time. Then we will work on getting Chris home more often and on a schedule similar to the rest of the family.
Tackling one project at a time one day at a time and staying organized with our plans should help us to stay on track without becoming overwhelmed. While making mini plans to bring us closer to a long range goal we will also be more likely to stay focused. I will share our plans as we work them out and also share our success and failures along the way too because I am sure there will be plenty of both.

We would love to hear your homesteading stories as well so if you have a tale to tell leave it in our comment box!











Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Easy Cheesy Black Bean Stuffed Peppers




Garden season is an excellent time to experiment with different vegetable recipes. The supply of vegetables are abundant in gardens and farmers markets, and a light vegetable entree is perfect for a summer night. I made this recipe for my kiddos not to long ago and they LOVED it the bright colorful peppers were fun for my boys, and they were excited to pick out their own colored pepper. Not only that, but it tastes great so they had fun eating them and I didn't have a hard time getting them to finish their plates.

I try to prepare my family's meals around a vegetable rather than just using it as a side to reduce how much meat we eat. We are in no way vegetarians, but I feel fruits and vegetables are the most necessary component to a meal, and they offer the most vitamins and minerals that we all need to fight off sickness and keep our minds sharp.

To make these colorful beauties I first mixed the following ingredients in a medium sized bowl while cooking 1/2 cup of white rice....

  • 1 can of organic black beans
  • 1 can of sweet corn
  • 1 large diced tomato
  • 1 small diced red onion
  • 1 small bunch of chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt, pepper, garlic to taste



After I had the ingredients mixed I set aside a portion of the mixture and saved it as a fresh salsa to snack on with blue organic corn chips. This makes quite a delicious appetizer to bring to a summer cookout too if you wanted you could stop the recipe here.

To finish the pepper recipe...

  • slice the tops off three peppers and hollow them out.
  • once your rice is ready combine it with your vegetable mixture
  • fill your peppers with the mixture
  • place the tops and bottoms on a baking sheet filled with a half inch of water
  • top with your choice of cheese ( I used a cheddar because that is what we had)
  • place the pan in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 1 hour
  • once they are ready place the tops on the peppers and serve.











Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Purple and Patriotic



This summer my Pallet Flags have sold like crazy! Between the Oconomowoc Farmer's Market and selling by word of mouth I completely sold out of my stock! One of the flags that I was particularly excited about was this custom purple flag made out of old cedar fencing. I made it the same as the pallet flags by breaking the fencing apart and putting it back together the way I needed it just with a different type of wood. Then I painted it in shades of purple to match the colors of the recipients living room. After it was painted I gave it a rough sanding to give it a little wear and a cohesive look. 





For the sake of photographing the piece I used an old art easel that was given to me by a friend. Normally  I use the easel as a trellis for my clematis growing in the front yard but I thought it would make a great prop for my flag. It may seem odd to keep junk in the front yard of a house you are trying to update and fix up, but for some reason it just makes me happy to have an old painted up easel sitting in my flower garden :) 

(Please excuse the weeds growing underneath my trellis the farther along I went in my pregnancy the less important garden maintenance was for me)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Hand Painted Chrysanthemum Inspired Patio Furniture



Over the past few months I have been working with a client designing and creating this custom furniture piece for their pool area. I was contacted by this customer after they purchased a gift card for custom artwork I submitted to a fund raiser for the Make-A-Wish foundation. I try to support Make-A-Wish and other similar fundraisers that work with children when I can. I have seen within our own family how they can make a difference to families in need, and being a parent myself I feel supporting these organizations is the least I can do. 

My gift card was for a specific dollar amount off a piece of custom art chosen by the recipient. I was excited  to hear that the purchaser wanted a buffet table custom painted since painting furniture is kind of my thing. After going over a few of my designs my client chose a chrysanthemum inspired pattern and I got to work. I was 9 months pregnant  when I painted this piece so it took a little longer than usual for me to complete it but once it was done I was very happy with the results and more importantly so was the owner. 

Before I painted the piece I first sanded it with an 80 grit sandpaper to give the table a rough finish so the primer and paint had something to stick to. Next I used a water based primer and primed the entire piece. I did this mainly to give it a cohesive background color to paint on since the original background was a variety of different shades of color. I finished the piece by painting it with Rust-oleums glossy outdoor oil based paint. I bought just a few of my staple colors red, blue, yellow, black and white and then mixed my colors to match the colors of my original design. I always prefer to mix my own color rather than buying them because it gives me the exact color I need and I feel my pieces are more original that way. Not that I will turn down a premixed color though... I am a bit of a color junkie. Finally since this is an outdoor piece it was sealed with a clear coat of polyurethane.







Now that I have the table complete I am on the scout for 4 metal chairs I can paint a similar red color and a matching umbrella. Once I have those I will also paint the umbrella stand in a coordinating color. I am also thinking that a black and white geometric or tribal looking seat cushion would really be a good idea too. This piece is still a work in progress but I have the bulk of the project complete. I'll keep you posted.


Oh ans P.S. I am no longer pregnant! We welcomed a beautiful and healthy baby girl to our family since this table was completed two weeks ago...

Meet Corinna LuMaye


She was 6 pounds 11 ounces and fitting in with her brothers just fine.



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Easy and Refreshing Garden Appetizer



We recently celebrated our little ones third birthday by having a backyard party for him. I love entertaining outside and making healthy food to match the setting so I came up with this easy garden appetizer after browsing a few recipes and altering them to fit what I was looking for. It only took a short amount of time to make this light and healthy snack.

Ingredients:
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 15 ounces of softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of  basil
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  •  salt, pepper and garlic to taste
Directions:
  • Wash and cut your cucumbers to 1/4 inch thick slices
  • Wash and cut your tomatoes in half
  • Blend parmesan, cream cheese, mayo, herbs and seasonings in a food processor
  • Fill a piping bag (or plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut off) with your mixture and swirl a dollop on each cucumber slice
  • Top each cucumber with a half slice of tomato.  



Enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Highchair Make Over

The majority of my artwork is made up of recycling what is old into something new and of that furniture make overs are my favorite. I love the history of a piece with worn edges and scuffed up stain, and the story that broken hardware tells. From the old story I give the piece new life with a little refinishing and a chance to live again making new memories for a future family. 
I found this vintage worn highchair at a thrift store not long ago, the structure was great but as you can see the finish could use some love. I cleaned the piece up and painted it with DecoArt's Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint in the color "Refreshing" and sealed it with their Creme Wax. This was my first time using this paint and sealant and I really loved the end results. It took a couple of coats to cover the existing color but once I did the color is strong and the finish is smooth, especially after finishing with the wax.



Right now I have this piece for sale at the Oconomowoc Farmer's Market the second and fourth Saturday of each month, but if I still have it available by the time my next one needs it I might just have to keep it for myself. I love the look of having a variety of old, new and refinished furniture and decor in my home. It provides an eclectic collection and a look of pieces found throughout time rather than having furniture that has been bought in sets. This piece has been gaining a lot of attention and positive feedback though so I think I might have to scout out a different highchair if I want once for myself. This once might not last long.




The blanket was made for baby by Grandma isn't it beautiful? I cant wait to see my little one wrapped in it!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Black Bean and Quinoa Chili


It's warming up in Wisconsin but not enough so that chili doesn't sound appetizing yet. Black Bean and Quinoa Chili is perfect for this in between weather we are having. It's yummy and warm but not too hearty so this will still be delicious throughout the spring season, and it's fairly quick and easy to make.

Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups stock...I used a homemade chicken stock but a vegetable stock will work well too for vegetarians
  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 4 cloves diced garlic
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs chili pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  • Using your stock prepare your quinoa and set aside
  • in a separate pot warm your vegetable oil and stir in your onion, shallot, garlic, carrot and celery
  • once your vegetables are soft add the all canned ingredients and seasoning
  • reduce the mixture to a simmer and cover for about 20 minutes
  • in the last 5 minuets add your prepared quinoa 
  • serve warm
I served mine with cornbread and topped it with a Mexican blend of cheese, fresh cilantro would have been good too. I was out of peppers or they would have also been added. This recipe was full of flavor and texture and was mild enough that the kids happily gobbled it up. We ate half of it and froze the rest for after I have the baby. I am trying to make a food hoard in the freezer of prepared meals so things are easier when the baby is here.






Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Yummy Breakfast Smoothies With Kale

Our boys never give us trouble when it comes to eating fruit they will eat it all day if we let them. Even  most vegetables are fairly easy with them since we began gardening they love to help in our garden and sample everything we are growing. Vegetables can be more of a struggle at dinner time though, especially with our two year old. To make sure everyone is still getting all of the necessary daily vitamins and minerals they need from fruits and vegetables, even in the colder, gardenless months and picky meal times, I like to make sure they start their days with a fruit and vegetable rich smoothie. Smoothies are also good for busy school mornings since we can put them in a cup with a straw and a lid and they boys can drink them on our way. I like to sneak extras in our smoothies like honey and organic apple cider vinegar to give their immune systems a little boost and for extra energy.

The recipe I use varies a little depending on what I have in the house but for the most part this is what I use:

Here are my base ingredients:
  • a large carrot
  • a frozen fruit mix
  • a banana
  • berries
  • about 3 cups of kale or spinach
  • 1 cup of homemade yogurt (we have our own easy yogurt recipe made in a crock pot here)
  • 1 tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of a local honey
  • a dash of fruit juice to help it blend
In a blender I start with the toughest and frozen ingredients on the bottom followed by fresh and topped with leafy greens and yogurt, lastly I add the liquids and honey. I think it is easier on the blender to layer it this way. 

I try to use mostly organic ingredients and will throw in any extra fruits or vegetables I have around that are looking like they are starting to turn. I'ts an excellent way to use up fruit that is starting to loose its appeal but you know is still edible. 

Four things I try to incorporate in all of our smoothies aside from a good variety of fruit and vegetables are :
  • kale for its vitamins A,C and K and it's ability to reduce the risk for cancer if I am out then I substitute with spinach or I will use a blend of the two to be sure we are getting enough iron
  • homemade yogurt for it's calcium, protein and natural probiotics 
  • apple cider vinegar for it's many benefits including aiding the digestive tract and it's antibacterial properties 
  • local honey that helps to boost energy and gives relief to allergies.

I will give the boys  a smoothie similar to this and a bowl of iron fortified cereal to start their day and make sure they will have enough energy to last until lunchtime, an since I am pregnant I will make sure to have the same to be sure I am giving my baby a healthy start.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

10 Reasons To Homestead


Everyone has their own reasons for following their passions and living the life they choose. For my hubby and I our passion led us out to a three acre plot of land in the country to start a small homestead for our family. Over the transition of moving from the city, to the suburbs and finally the country we spent many hours discussing the reasons why homesteading would be right for us and why we would like to homestead in the country.

We wanted to share our reasons with you. Whether if you are a person just playing with the idea to homestead, you are just curious or you are ready to pack your bags and get out of dodge there may be something on our list that will help you with your decisions. What is cool is that homesteading can be done anywhere,  for us that meant a few acres in the country. We could have found a larger plot of land and started bigger with more animals many acres of field to plant, but right now we wanted to start with a piece of land where we can have our chickens, a large garden and room for small quantities of larger animals. We have a space that isn't too large but has plenty of room for what we need and gives us  plenty of work.

We didn't have to go with as many acres as we did or even as far out as we did homesteading can be done wherever you call home. It can start with a small garden in a suburban backyard or a patio garden in the city on any scale that works for you.

This is why we wanted to change our lifestyle and become homesteaders....
  1. Homesteading can give you a simple life, do not confuse this with an easy life. Homesteading is a lot of work, but there is a quality of life that growing your own food and raising animals that is slower and rewarding. There is less of a hassle to survive the crowded store with coupons and kids, and I found now there is less of a need for things bought at the store. Before we moved and we were closer to the convenience of discount stores I found myself spending a lot of money on things I thought I needed. When the stores are not as convenient to get to it is interesting how much less I buy or feel I need.
  2. Homesteading lives a life closer to God and closer with our family. We are a Christian family, living a more simple life with less need for the store and more time in the dirt we are further away from the distractions of modern life. With those distractions removed there is more time to live with the earth and focus our thoughts on our creator and our  reason for living rather than what is on sale, the newest store or the latest trend. It is also great for our family's relationship that we are able to focus our time on projects and work as a group. This of course can come with it's own set of complications, there is plenty of room for whining from the kids and bickering between hubby and I, but overall our life is something we are all working together on. With how fast paced modern life is I think it is easy for families to work individually without God rather than as a group and get lost in the hustle of maintaining schedules. We each have our own path and our own direction but homesteading gives us time to be together while we are on our own way.
  3. We are learning self reliant skills that keeps us more reliant on each other than outside sources. This saves us money on our grocery bill and can also save money on home energy costs. We are also learning lessons that can save our life.
  4. We are more prepared for disaster and emergency. I'm sure nearly all of us have heard tales of a pending doomsday and the need to be prepared for the worst that is ahead, and who knows there could be truth to that. I do believe however, there is much truth in being prepared for things like natural disaster or the loss of work. Lets say you live in a cold climate and the power goes out for an extended time leaving you unable to get to the store or heat your home. Homesteading can help you. Having a back up of water, an alternate way to heat your home and having food stocked in your home will keep your family comfortable while waiting for the power to return. The same can help you if a spouse becomes ill or looses a job, in a stressful situation like that, knowing you have a back up plan will make things smoother.
  5. We are teaching our children valuable lessons that they can take with them as they venture out on their own. They will know where food really comes from, how to grow and raise their own and what to do with it. We are also teaching them respect for the land and for animals. Some people wince when we tell them we raise and butcher our own animals but we are teaching our kids that meat doesn't come in a package, it comes from a living breathing creature that needs to be respected and we need to be thankful for this. This will help remind all of us not to waste our food or take it for granted.
  6. Homesteading saves money and gives more freedom from outside work. After a homestead is established, a steady amount of food and energy are being produced and lessons in simple living have settled in there is less of a need for a large income. This will give you and your partner more freedom in how you make money outside of your home. Selling extra veggies and meat at markets may be all you need to pay outside bills now, if not, you may be able to keep one spouse at home tending to things or both work part time. Less time away from the home can help keep families working together as one unit.
  7. Homesteading can give a healthy life to you and your children. By raising your own fruit, veggies, and animals you are able to make the choice of keeping it all organic. We choose to raise only natural and organic food here because we rather have the occasional bug than chemical on our food. There are a lot of changes in children such as food allergies, and attention problems that in my opinion (and I could be wrong here) are related to the strange chemicals sprayed on food to preserve it and give it longer than a natural shelf life. Aside of what we are putting in our bodies that is keeping us healthier we are working harder physically now. We no longer need a gym membership when we work up a sweat outside. Our children help us too. By keeping them away from too many hours sitting in front of the TV or computer helps maintain healthy weights for all of us.
  8. We are building a community of like minded people. With many lifestyles a community of people grow and get together. For us that means a group of fellow homesteaders, farmers and gardeners to trade tips and recipes with. We have connected with new friends and reconnected with old ones because of a desire to homestead.
  9. Homesteading is environmentally friendly. We produce less waste by eating what we grow and make here more often than buying packaged food bought at a supermarket and use less gas doing it. We also do a small part by choosing not to use chemicals and buying used rather than new.
  10. Homesteading is fun,  at least we think so. This life is obviously not for everybody, which is fine, our differences help make the world an interesting place. But we enjoy the hard work and projects associated with managing our land, it keeps us active and keeps our family bonded. There is a lot of trial and error associated with what we do and for us that is part of the fun.
This is just our opinion, our reason for choosing the life we live. We would like to hear yours too, are you a homesteader or someone similar. Leave us a comment and tell us why. If you have a blog leave your link so we can help build our community.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot



My hubby and I are always looking for new recipes to make things at home that we frequently buy at the store. We do this for a few reasons. First, we enjoy making these things on our own and learning new skills that can make us more self reliant. Second, we make our own food to be sure of what is actually in our food. We have read too many books, blogs and articles to comfortably trust packaged food is safe for our family. Lastly, making our own is also a way for us too save our money and do a small part in protecting the environment by producing less waste.  

Recently we have been browsing various yogurt recipes and used them to come up with one of our own making yogurt in the crock pot. This recipe was super easy too. It's something that can be done in the background while focusing on other things around the house. 

Homemade Yogurt

You will need:
  • A crock pot
  • 1/2 gallon of whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized)
  • 1 6 oz container of plain yogurt that contains "live active cultures". (We also found recipes that called for a yogurt starter in place of a container of yogurt. We did not use one but I believe you would make it the same way)
Directions:
  • Add 1/2 gallon of milk to crock pot, cover and set on high for about 2 hours or until your temp reaches 180 degrees.
  • Once it reached the desired temperature turn the crock pot off and let the milk cool to 110 degrees with the cover off.
  • At 110 degrees pour half of the milk in a separate bowl and mix in your plain yogurt being sure to mix well.
  • Pour the milk and yogurt mixture back into the crock pot and stir.
  • Place the lid back on the crock pot.
  • Cover the entire crock pot and lid with a towel and put it in a cooler (like the kind of cooler you use camping or for picnics).
  • Keep it in the cooler for 8-12 hours (overnight) and let is cool down slowly undisturbed.
When you wake up you will have yogurt! Check the consistency, it may be slightly more runny than store bought yogurt. If you would like a thicker Greek style yogurt, place your yogurt in a mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth, set over a bowl and refrigerate overnight. 

To sweeten your yogurt add honey or maple syrup. You can also add fruit jelly or jam to the bottom of your jar to have fruit on the bottom yogurt.

This yogurt will store well refrigerated for 2 weeks. We stored ours in covered canning jars. Be sure to save 1/2 cup of your yogurt in a separate container that you can use as a starter for your next batch in two weeks, and you will never need to buy yogurt again!






Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eggless Buttermilk Pancakes




On Monday's post I taught you all how we make delicious homemade butter that not only will save you money but leave you with wonderful buttermilk perfect for baking. Today I will share with you my recipe for Eggless Buttermilk Pancakes that calls for 1 cup of buttermilk (which is exactly what is left behind after making butter).

Our oldest son has a peanut and egg allergy so you will find that most of our recipes are egg free and all of them will be free of peanuts, and actually eggless baking hasn't been as much of a challenge as I thought it would be especially when cooking from scratch which is what we do most often. There are a few ways to supplement eggs in most recipes or just leave them out all together.

Eggless Buttermilk Pancakes:

Ingredients:
Directions:
  • Mix all of your dry ingredients in a bowl, add the melted butter, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix again being sure to leave the batter lumpy.
  • Pour on to a pan or electric skillet that has been heated to a medium to high heat. When I use my electric skillet I set the temp at 350 degrees F.
  • Let set until the edges start to dry and the batter bubbles.
  • Flip once just until brown.
  • Serve with your homemade butter, maple syrup, choice of fruit and enjoy!



If you are looking for more eggless breakfast ideas try our Perfect Eggless Waffle Recipe.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Make Your Own Homemade Crayons


I'm sure I'm not the only mom out there with stir crazy kids looking for indoor activities to keep them entertained. It has been way too cold to play out side or even go to school in Wisconsin so my boys have been running wild destroying the house. To settle them down and give them a project I found a few recipes to recycle crayons and make these large crayon blocks then altered the recipes to make our own.

We had tons of bits and pieces of broken crayons laying around the house in crayon boxes, the basement and toy boxes some of them I think were even mine from when I was little. Just looking for them all was a project in itself.

To make them you will need:
  • A collection of broken crayons
  • an old cupcake tin(s)
  • an oven


This is how we made ours:
  • Once we hunted down out lot of broken crayons we needed to peel all the extra wrappers, this was the most time consuming part. 

  • After the wrappers were off I had the boys sort the crayons by colors in the cupcake tins. We separated ours by color but multicolored ones would be fun too.
  • After they are separated the crayon pieces need to be broken down into pea sized bits so they melt nicely.
  • We put the tins in the oven at 175 for about an hour until they were melted through then took them out let them cool on the counter in the tin.
  • Once they were cool they popped out pretty easy but if you have trouble put the tin in the freezer for a few minutes and that should help.
  • Be sure to use an old cupcake tin because the crayon will leave a residue behind.
  • After they were cooled they work just as well as blocks as they do crayons.




Monday, January 6, 2014

Make Your Own Homemade Butter

It appears that it has been quite a while since my last post on our blog..can I blame that on the exhaustion first trimester of my third pregnancy? We are blessed to say we have a new baby due this July! But enough with the excuses, I am well on my way into the second trimester and am feeling great so I think it is time to pick up where we left off and offer some tips on making your own homemade butter. 

Who knew butter making was so easy and so affordable? Personally I think butter prices are out of control especially when buying organic, which in Wisconsin costs almost $6.00 per pound. You can make your own for a fraction of the price all you need is 1 pint of heavy cream (not ultra pasteurized preferably) a half teaspoon of salt and a stand mixer.

This is what you do....
  • Add the cream and salt to the bowl of your mixer, cover with a towel or splash guard and set your mixer at medium to high. Let it go for about 10 minutes checking on it periodically (all we had was ultra pasteurized cream so it took a little longer if it had been pasteurized it would have taken close to half this time).
  • What you are waiting for if for the cream to thicken, then peak, then break leaving the buttermilk at the bottom of the bowl. Once you see the cream break it is time to stop the mixing. Be sure to save the yummy buttermilk for baking and use it with in 3 days. Just keep is covered in your fridge until you are ready to use it.

  • Next knead the butter in the bowl using your hands to squeeze out any remaining buttermilk. Once it appears that you have squeezed most of it out run the butter under cold water and keep kneading until you are sure there is no more liquid remaining. 
  • And lastly enjoy your fresh homemade butter and buttermilk.




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