Monday, February 22, 2010

homemade: greek yogurt

this is my favorite homemade project yet! i posted here about my favorite way to eat greek yogurt, and i continue to eat it almost every day. several of you have mentioned concerns about the price, and i couldn't agree more. it runs between $1-2 for a single serving, so i was sucking it up and buying it, but really not liking spending that much on just yogurt. anyway, i found a way to make it myself and it's really, really easy. you start with plain yogurt. i buy plain fat free organic, but any type will do. hang a small colander over a large bowl but make sure the bottom of the colander is not touching the bowl so the yogurt has room to drip. line the colander with a coffee filter (cheesecloth would probably be best, but i don't have one and don't really know where to get it. i've also used a dish towel and it worked fine. remember though that i wash my clothes in detergent that i could eat :), so if you use conventional detergent, it may not be the best idea). anyway, pour your yogurt (i do 32 oz at a time) onto the filter/towel/cheesecloth, cover tightly with saran wrap, and put it in the refrigerator overnight. when you take it out the next morning, you have greek yogurt!! i like mine really thick, but if it is too thick for you, you can take a tablespoon or so of the whey that has dripped off and add it back in. so as not to waste a good thing, remember to store your whey in a mason jar to use for soaking grains in your baked goods. it's full of healthy bacteria and acts as a digestive aid, so you can even drink it straight (sounds gross to me, but i've heard it's a good homemade tonic for stomach bugs). if you've never soaked your grains for baking before, here's the benefit according to lindsay at passionate homemaking:

"Unfortunately, whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain which combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract. This makes it more difficult to digest properly. Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption.

This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins, including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains. Everyone will benefit, nevertheless, from the release of nutrients and greater ease of digestion."

i store my whey in the fridge in a mason jar, and it should keep for 6 months or so. i use it to soak my whole wheat flour before i make bread, muffins, tortillas, anything. i think you could probably also mix a couple of tablespoons with milk to make a substitute for buttermilk in recipes. you can also use it to make ricotta cheese, but i haven't gotten that adventurous yet. also, if you want to go a step further with the greek yogurt, i think if you let the whey separate even longer, you can make cream cheese, but i haven't done that yet either. i think i may need to use yogurt with fat in it to get it to the right consistency for that. so much experimenting with this stuff...let me know if you come up with anything good!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

poor kid

we had an eventful week last week with kennedy's accident-proneness, and she now has a gash on her head to match the missing tooth. i thought it was a little weird that we've had kids for 3 1/2 years, and haven't made a trip to the ER, but now we've officially joined the ranks.

k + b are really into the sound of music. they watch parts of it almost every day, and they've put together a re-enactment of "the cuck-koo song" as they call it (the "so long, farewell" one...don't know what it's called), where all of the kids are standing on the stairs (if you've ever seen the movie). they've been using the fireplace as their stage, where one stands on the stage and one on the floor so they can look like the kids in the movie. brett's aunt was at our house and it was bedtime, so they were going to do one last performance for us. kennedy was so excited to show off her mad acting skills and ran as fast as she could to the fireplace, tripped on the rug, dove headfirst into the corner of the fireplace, and the blood started gushing. thankfully aunt gaye is a nurse and knew how to clean it up and check for a concussion and everything. i'm not a panicker, but i've always heard that it's a good sign if a goose egg pops up, and k's whole forehead was dented in, so i freaked out a little (or a lot and demanded that we jump in the car right away and head to the hospital). not to mention, brett had to take care of k because blakely was screaming the loudest of anyone. as soon as she saw the blood, she screamed and ran upstairs; i guess she didn't know what else to do. she came back down to find me and asked me to hold her and she started crying and said "but i really loved kennedy". i guess the poor thing thought her twin was gonna die right in front of her. i started crying at both the fear of k being hurt and the sweetness of how much k + b love each other, and b just kept saying "it's ok mommy, i'll take care of you" over and over. she acts like such a little cool cat most of the time, but when it comes down to it, she really has the sweetest little heart and is loyal as they come. once we got to the hospital, k + b couldn't get enough of each other. they laid in the hospital bed together, and b fed k water out of her sippy cup and kissed all over her. i think she was just so happy she was ok that she couldn't love on her enough. after a thorough exam and some liquid stitches, we were out the door and off to the original plan of bedtime.

so that's our first ER story. besides a scare and a scar, nothing traumatic came out of it; thank the lord. it actually ended up being a sweet night of reminding us how very blessed we are to have 2 sweet little girls who adore each other more than anything in the world.

Friday, February 5, 2010

still at it

blakely still thinks she has long hair.

she's added dish towels to the rotation...


and her usual sweater dress...


washcloths...


and best of all, she styles it with headbands...


k thinks it's normal and talks about b's hair like it's real...


colored highlights. i had to take the sleeves of this one yesterday and pull them back into a "ponytail"...


never knew a 3 year old would make me laugh harder than anyone i've ever met.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

homemade: deodorant

i stopped wearing deodorant about 6 months ago. brett hasn't complained too much so i think it's ok. i just always assumed that if something was available to the public for purchase, it couldn't be that bad for you. what i didn't realize is that marketing and money are strong powers in our world, and i can't always rely on the brains behind the 2 to make decisions concerning what i put in or on my body. 99% of the ingredients in personal-care products sold in the U.S. have never been tested for safety, yet research has indicated long-term health risks associated with many of the ingredients used. i used to think that i needed to focus more on what my family ate, but something i read recently made a good point in saying that our liver is designed to filter toxins from what we eat; whatever we put on our skin, which is our body's largest organ, is absorbed through our pores and allowed to proceed directly to our circulatory system, then make it's way to our other organs. really it seems that we would be better off eating the things we're putting on our skin; atleast then they would be filtered or make us sick enough to puke them up :). the products most all of us have used our entire lives contain hormone disrupting chemicals....maybe not a coincidence that you seem to meet a new person every day who has issues with infertility or hormonal imbalance? the average U.S. woman uses 12 personal-care products each day, a combined total of 168 chemicals. again, i'm no doctor but the more i study this stuff, the more it makes sense.

i'm not trying to go granola on you. i love beauty products as much as anyone i know. there are some things i absolutely cannot bring myself to give up. i'm sure they're poisoning me and probably part of the reason my hormones make me crazy sometimes...all for vanity ;). i'm tanorexic but am scared of skin cancer, so i don't go in the sun. my hair is so dark that i think i look like an oreo when i stay pale, so i can't bring myself to give up self-tanner, but it's probably the worst thing in the world i can put on myself. i mean, it dies my skin. how healthy can THAT be? maybe my 2011 goal will be to make pale trendy, but until then, i will either continue to put lord knows what in my body or try to find an organic option. i know they're out there, but i've looked them up on cosmetics safety database, a website dedicated to educating consumers on the hazard level of cosmetics, and they still have moderate hazard levels. also, i just found out that the pressed powder i love and have worn every day since college has a high hazard rating. it's hard to not feel like it's too late and keep piling the products on, but now that i'm educated, i'm trying to cut back where i can, which is where my homemade body care products will come in. i've picked a few products to keep using that i just love, but everything else i have tried or am trying to replace with a natural alternative. ultimately, i want everything i put on my body to be something i could eat (obviously not stuff that i necessarily would eat, but stuff that is safe enough). i'll list my deodorant below and try to get my shampoo/body wash recipe up soon, but the other stuff is a work in progress. i'm trying to create a face serum and moisturizer for dry, sensitive skin, so if anyone has a suggestion, i'd love to hear it. also, if any of you are already using low hazard products and have some you love (homemade or not), i'd love to hear that too. natural products are expensive (which is why i'm trying to make so many of my own), so i hate to buy them then not like them. something like deodorant is easy for me to switch on, and there has been specific research indicating it's risk: a 2004 british study found intact parabens, found in deodorants and anti-perspirants, in biopsies of malignant breast tumors, leading scientists to believe that many breast cancer cases have developed from use of these products. i know there seems to be something wrong with everything: if the sun's not giving you cancer, the chemicals in sunscreen are making you sick or staying indoors is giving you a vitamin d deficiency and making you depressed. when it comes down to it, we live in a broken world and things will never be right this side of heaven. i just want to feel the best i can while i'm here.

homemade deodorant:
combine oil and baking soda until it forms a paste and a consistency you like. store it in a jar and apply like you would a lotion. the one i'm using right now is made with coconut oil, but it's a little hard to use because coconut oil hardens in cool temperatures (i think it only melts when it's over 76 degrees or something like that). if your house is warm enough, it will soften and end up sortof like the consistency of deodorant. i've also used olive oil before, which worked just as well; it just stayed a more liquidy consistency. i still sweat using it, but i work out every day and really don't sweat anymore than i did with regular deodorant. it definitely works better than organic deodorant. also, a lot of people have had concerns that the oil would make them break out, but i haven't had that problem, so it's worth a shot.

hope it works for you!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

toothless

if you've had problems in the past telling k and b apart, we've got a solution: kennedy lost her tooth yesterday! it's a little sad because she won't get another one for probably another 4 years, but cute nonetheless. she already had a lisp, so now it's even worse and i love it! we were in st simons a year and a half ago when she fell on her face on concrete and broke the tooth in half. one of our family's good friends is a pediatric dentist (and a really good one if you live in the alpharetta/johns creek area and need a dentist for your kids), so he put a crown on it to try and save it, but the damage had already been done and it abscessed so he decided it was best if he remove it all together. it made her first few trips to the dentist pretty traumatic, but it helped that she knows danny and he was great making her comfortable. she's still getting used to it and timid when she eats, but if you know k, that won't last for long. here's her toothless grin...



pretty sweet.

on their favorite cartoon, super why, wyatt lost his tooth this week too and the tooth fairy paid him a visit. i thought it was perfect timing and would make her trip to the dentist easier, so we talked about the tooth fairy and how we would leave the tooth under her pillow (along with a note saying blakely was sweet while kennedy was at the dentist and needed a treat too :)) and she would have a gift when she woke up. she was soooo excited all day and rushed to bed with her tooth in a little pink box, but when brett and i went up to put them to bed, the tooth fairy's visit was given the same reaction as santa's. they were scared to death and decided they didn't want that lady coming in their room while they slept. daddy came to the rescue, stepped out of the room to make a quick phone call to his brother to explain the situation, then called the tooth fairy (aka our sister-in-law) with k and b to ask her to leave the gifts in mommy and daddy's room for us to give them. this sufficed for a little while, then they decided they didn't even want her in our house, so we had to call the tooth fairy back and ask her to leave it in our mailbox for us to get in the morning (and lock all the doors really tight). the thought of her visiting our neighborhood in the middle of the night didn't cut it either, so kennedy decided she wouldn't open her eyes because she might see her and blakely decided she wouldn't lay down so she tried to sleep sitting on the edge of her bed. needless to say, we checked the mailbox at 8:30 last night to find the tooth fairy had already come so they didn't have to worry about a middle-of-the-night trip. i think we're done with make-believe in our house. these girls are way too practical!