Wednesday, April 30, 2014

DIY Cheese!

This post is a bit wordy, but please bare with me. Lately I have had several people ask about how I make cheese. Making your own soft Ricotta type cheese is so very simple.  My son has severe "dairy" issues and so we have turned to goats milk as an alternative. You can use these same steps with cows milk. Here is how I make cheese....

-You will need a quart of milk. Steer clear of low fat and skim, you want the fat in the milk to make cheese.
 -3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. You can use bottled lemon juice, but I find the freshly squeezed lemon juice yields bigger curds, and that is what we are shooting for.
-A wooden spoon
-A candy thermometer, or pictured is our alternative. We use a meat thermometer that is slid through a slotted spaghetti spoon to make a longer handle so we don't burn our fingers.
-Several layers of Cheese cloth or... We use a 32"x32" piece of bed sheet. The cheese cloth you by at stores these days is sub-par and you will loose a lot of your curds even if you layer it. You can also buy fancy cheese making cloths, but this was much easier for us, not to mention inexpensive.
-A tall pot or bowl
-And a medium sized pot
In a medium sized pan bring one quart of milk to 180° 
Using a wooden spoon, stir often so the milk does not scorch. 
While the milk is heating wet your cloth down and place it over a bowl. The wetness will help hold the cloth in place and will also make it easier to scrape all of your cheese out afterwards. 
When the milk reaches 180° remove it from the heat and immediately pour in 3 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
The cheese will curd up within 20 to 30 seconds. 
Now to seperate the curds from the whey.
Slowly spoon all the liquid on top of the cloth. Resist the urge to pour the curds. Pouring will cause you to loose curds.
The curds are pictured in the spoon above. That is going to become your cheese.
This is what the whey looks like. It is a yellowish, mostly clear, liquid. Don't throw it out. It's full or proteins and is great for soups and smoothies. You can even freeze it until you are ready to use it.
When all the liquid has been transferred onto the cloth tie the cloth over your wooden spoon handle and hang the cloth above the pot to drip for 1 hour.
After an hour open your cloth up and enjoy yummy soft cheese. It is very soft at this stage and while some people will tell you not to do this, you can squeeze out some extra whey so it is not so moist. It will firm up slightly in the refrigerator. If you want, this is also a good time to fold in any herbs, seasonings, and even honey. Mmmm
One quart of goats milk makes roughly one tennis ball size of of cheese (sorry, I've never thought to weigh it, but will update the next time I make cheese). It will keep nicely refrigerated for about a week (it might last longer than that, but we usually eat it all before then). 
One of our favorite meals to use this cheese in is gluten free pizza with fresh basil and tomatoes (I keep forgetting to get Kalamata) olives. Panda loves this meal.
And there you have it. That is how my family makes cheese.
Be well, and Shine on!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Morning, Noon, and Night

Playing along with Mothering With Mindfulness today.
Three little windows into our day.
 Morning light
 Afternoon; homemade goat cheese
Night: Dream Smiles.
Be well.
Shine on.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Little Moments

Dear Son,
Lately I've been feeling that I've been on my phone to often. I received an Iphone a while ago and was fearful that I would become addicted to it. I told myself that I would only check FaceBook and surf while you were napping... And then slowly I would start checking things while you were quietly playing by yourself. I could see this was the start of a downward spiral and then another blogger Mamma started posting about the impact that adult screen time has on children. I knew it was time for a change, so this weekend I deleted FaceBook, and Blogger off of my phone. I even moved the internet app to another location so it's not as tempting to surf. I was by no means ignoring you, I just want to make sure we never get to that point. So here we are, a new week, and a new promise. 
Life is in the little details. I don't want to miss out on them. Seeing you smile, watching you observing the world around you. Nope, I don't want to miss a minute. This weekend you started going up the stairs at a creep. I can't say you are crawling up them any more, but your not exactly standing either. I watched you put like blocks with like blocks, and slowly and carefully crouch down to observe a Ceder Waxwing that was laying stunned in the grass after drunkenly crashing into our window after gorging on berries. You did not try to hurt the bird (and he flew away a few moments later unharmed). You just stood there and observed. At one point you reached down oh so carefully to pet the bird, just barely touched it's tail, and stood back up watching again. I love how gentle you are. I am so glad that I didn't miss these moments.
Right now you are napping. My promise is that I will keep to only having screen time during your naps from here on out. That's the way it was originally meant to be, and now we have come full circle. When you have children of your own, remember that life is in the little things. You don't want to miss out. I don't know what the world will be like, but I can bet that there will be a greater media influence with different bits and bobs of technology vying for your attention. Don't forget the important things. Children grow up when you are not looking. 
With all my love, Shine on,

Friday, April 25, 2014

This 'Rainy Day' Moment

"A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember." SouleMama

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Morning, Noon, and Night

Playing along with Mothering With Mindfulness today.
Three little windows into our quiet Easter celebration.
Be well and Shine on!

Monday, April 21, 2014

A 'Duck and Goose' Party

Dear Panda,
This past weekend we celebrated your first birthday with a 'Duck and Goose' themed birthday party. You have loved 'Duck and Goose' by Tad Hills since you received your first book at 6 months. Every day we read all the books in the series at least twice (sometimes more).  
We had these two made specially for you by Eek Creations (Thank you!). When you opened them up you had the biggest smile and made sure that they both received big wet kisses.
One of your gifts was Author Tad Hill's latest book, " Duck and Goose Go to the Beach". You cried and refused to open another present till we read the story.
Planning the food was especially fun. Your cupcakes were topped with mini rubber ducks. There were twigs for nests (pretzels), and chocolate eggs, a rainbow of fruit, and even an octopus made from a bell pepper. I justified that last one as fitting with your birthday theme because the latest book was about the beach. It was so cute that I just had to make it.
Decorations were easy, we just set out your books. 
You are loved by so many people. Happy birthday my little Red Panda.....
And may more!
Shine on.
Love, Mum~

Friday, April 18, 2014

This Moment

"A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember." SouleMama

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Paper Egg Craft

We made a last minute craft and I got to thinking about all you bloggers with many age groups at home. While simple, this might be a good time occupier for a whole family to get in on. Panda loves to rip paper, so all week I have had him ripping paper. Sometimes I sit with him to help rip the paper into smaller pieces. 
Then today with the help of some older children (and someone still young at heart.. grin), we glued them to paper eggs. I may break out the glitter, but aren't they lovely? Panda helped glue the one that is completely covered. He thought it was the best game ever. I plan to hide them all over the house in unexpected places for fun. Start an assembly line, get everyone involved, decorate, keep occupied, and have fun!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Morning, Noon, Night

Playing along with Mothering With Mindfulness today.
Three windows into our day.
Have a blessed day. Shine on and be well.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Panda

My Dear Son,
Today you turned one. Happy Birthday. It's hard to think that a whole year has passed. You have grown so much. You are as tall as some two year-old's now. One of your favorite things is being outside. Oh how you love to be outside. Freedom to run, stretch, feel, and experience this incredible life. You have grown into such a strong and loving boy. So curious about everything, yet incredibly tender and loving. Just the other day you decided your trucks needed breakfast and tucked them into a doll highchair to feed them, and a week or so ago you surprised us with how advanced your doll play is for your age and how nurturing. You put your doll baby into a highchair, fed him, hugged and kissed him, sang him a song, tucked him into a doll cradle, and rocked him to 'sleep'. You fill my heart with so many little moments like that. You will be an amazing father one day.
This morning, as I watched the sunlight softly kiss your sweet cheeks, your Poppy and I did not want to wake you. It was a special magical moment. In one year there is a simple truth have I learned. I'm passing this on to you so that you can read this some day when you have children. Never say something silly like, "I want to be the best mother/father in the world".  All any parent can do is strive to be the best parent for 'their child' that they can be. Every child is different, and every parent needs to respect that. Celebrate it. Every morning I thank God for you and renew this simple vow. Everyday I will strive to be the best mother I can be For You. You are a baby no longer, yet my baby forever. Happy birthday my toddler boy. I love you Panda.
With all my heart. Shine on.
 Love, Mum~

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wings Folded Down

 "A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember." SouleMama.
I need to add that 'this moment' is not the nap, it's the text my husband sent me that said, "he looks like an angel with his wings folded down". Be well. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wooden Easter Eggs

 With Easter Fast approaching I thought it would be fun  to do an egg craft. A bunny does not visit our house, but we will have an egg hunt and a fun basket. Since there will be goodies in the basket we felt no need for plastic eggs that contain yet more goodies. Bear's family hid actual dyed eggs but since we will be doing our hunt outdoors we are choosing wooden ones so not to attract the wild life. 
First I tried natural dyes, and while lovely they were not quite what I was looking for. The colors are off in the photos. They are actually a burnt red, light orange, yellow, and deep dusty purple. I used, yellow onion skins, paprika, turmeric, and blueberries for those colors. I added 5 cups of dyed water, 4 tablespoons of vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of salt to each dye bath and let them sit for 1 hour. 
I really was looking for some nice jewel tones so I used non toxic watercolors. First I tried soaking them in the watercolor but that did not do the trick. Then I used the watercolors straight from the tube and coated every inch of the eggs. I let them dry and then rinsed them off under cold water till the water ran clear (so the colors would not bleed later when being handled or set in the dewy grass). I had to do this twice for the warm colors and three times for the cool colors. Satisfied with the colors and consistency, I waited for them to dry once more and coated them several times with a beeswax wood polish. While they are not what I was originally going for, I love how they turned out. 
Be well, and have fun!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Morning, Noon,and Night

Three little windows into our day. Inspired by Mothering with Mindfulness.
Morning: This is the view I woke up to out my bedroom window,
 Afternoon: Gardening
Night: Evening walk... Slight explanation, this rock is approximately 8 feet tall by 10 feet wide. It 1.5 miles from our house and since we moved here it has become tradition to touch it when we pass it on a walk. This is the first time Panda reached out to touch it :)
Be well. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Last Week of Baby

Dear Panda,
In one week you will step out into the world a toddler; a baby no more. For you I have a simple gift. As you begin this new stage in your life I will begin starting the week with a letter to you. It's a small gesture, but I hope that one day we can look back on these letters and laugh, smile, be warmed, and possibly cry a little together. 
Yesterday was a warm and beautiful day. It was the first real chance you have had to explore the outdoors on your own. We have taken you outside daily since you were born, but you are old enough to want to take off on your own now. And boy did you take off. You ran through the park so far from us; fearless with an indomitable spirit. You delighted in splashing in puddles and ripping fistfuls or grass out of the ground and flinging them into the air. Your laughter was brighter than the sun. We ended the day with a bedtime story (a chapter from a Tiptoes Lightly book). You listened so intently to the end, your eyes flutter closed, there was a soft contented sigh, and only then did you give into sleep. It was a beautiful moment, one I will cherish always.
Right now you are playing beside me on the floor with your wooden lobster (with the claws that open and close with a sharp click-clack when you push it). In a little while we will head out for our morning walk. Today is going to be a beautiful day.
With all my heart. Shine on,
Love Mum~

Friday, April 4, 2014

This Moment: 5 Years ago Today...

A Friday ritual. A single photo-no words- capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."SouleMama". 
I love you Bear. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and Always. Happy Anniversary. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Morning, Noon, and Night

Three little windows into our day. Inspired by Mothering With Mindfulness. 
 Morning Walk. We believe that is a Golden Eagle!
Afternoon Puddle Stomping! :)
Night Time Puppy Puddle.
Be well!