Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Which Rachel Slays Me

I want to discuss Rachel's ponytails.
I mean, do ponytails get any cuter than that?
Oh my goodness, stop it Rachel. You're killing me. Ponytails this cute should be illegal.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Today Johanna Is As Old As Me

Happy birthday to Johanna.
Happy birthday to Johanna.
Happy birthday dear Johanna.
Happy birthday to Johanna.

The end. Not as good as last year, was it. Oh well, at least it's on the correct day this year. It still applies, too. So go read it again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Squirrel Saga

See this cute little guy. Isn't he just ssooooooo cute? Sarc off. The girls put some bird seed in one of their toy bowls and our friend Mr. Squirrel was quite appreciative. We've got some Shake Away to scare him off. Hopefull he doesn't like dried fox pee.
I don't like Mr. Squirrel. He eats my plants. Lookie my tomato plant. I can't believe it's still there and he hasn't chowed it down yet.
But lookie my bean plants. I think we've got maybe 1 or 2 dozen grean beans even though Mr. Squirrel has eaten all of the leaves and most of the green beans. Well, gee thanks Mr. Squirrel. You are so kind and generous to leave us some of your loot.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Leu Gardens, Go There...If You Can

We ditched school today and took a field trip to the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens in Orlando. It's a little more than an hour from here but they are the best botanical gardens I've ever been to and it's free to get in on Monday mornings. The girls got tired of it after about an hour of looking at lots of flowers and plants but I could spend all day long there and not get tired. The weather is just perfect, too. Here are some of the cool flowers I photographed today.
I have no idea what this flower is and it wasn't labeled. Too bad, I'd love to know what it was.
The same for this one, although I think it must be related to the Orchid if it's not actually an Orchid.
This rose was called "Lemon Zest." I want one. They are so beautiful. I bet the squirrels would love to eat this rose...but that another post.
This hibiscus had huge flowers in case my hand being in there for perspective was confusing you.
They have lots of fantastic bamboo and really neat palms. One of my favorite was the Fishtail palm. Really neat.

And this is a Blanket Flower. The butterflies loved this one.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cars Speak To Me

Driving around today I saw two things that made me laugh.

The first was a bumper sticker:

"Why am I the only one on Earth that knows how to drive?"

HA! That's a good one.

The second was advertisement on a vehicle: Exercising Paws: Exercising your dog, so you don't have to.

You've got to be kidding me. Why have a pet if you don't have time to take it out to pee. I mean really. They even have a picture of a poodle on a TREADMILL on their website. I mean REALLY PEOPLE. They will even come to your house and clean up your dog poo for a measly $8 for the first visit and $2 per pooper-scooper visit after that. I mean...REALLY PEOPLE.

But good for them. I can hardly believe you'd be successful in a business venture like that, but I may very well underestimate the amount of money that people will spend on their dogs and cats.

As for me, that's what I've got kids for: pooper scooping and dog walking. Except we don't have a dog. Because there's enough poop and hair to clean up in this house as it is.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Other Post

When I posted about making yogurt, I mentioned that I had tried using 1/2 cup plain yogurt as my starter with not-so-great results, but that it was a topic for another post. Well, this is that post! When I used yogurt as my starter, my end result looked like this:

Looks yummy, no? I have several theories as to what went wrong. First, I didn't have fresh milk. I mean, it wasn't past date, but it was getting close. Also, my yogurt that I used for the starter was about two weeks old. Again, not bad, but not fresh. The biggest mistakes were these: I didn't cool the milk completely down to 110. I was in a hurry, and I realized later that it was 120. Also, I read that it is best to mix a bit of the warm milk into the yogurt and then add it all back to the milk. I didn't do that. As you can see, it is all nice and solid at the bottom of my container and liquid at the top. I think all my starter stayed at the bottom.

Anyway, I guess I was feeling brave the day I made this mess and just put it in the fridge to see what would happen. The next day when it was nice and chilled, I took it out to see if anything could be done with it. I smelled it, and it smelled fine. I tasted it, and it tasted great. But the texture was way wrong. Lots and lots of whey, and a dry and somewhat grainy yogurt. I did some research and found out that you can make cream cheese at home! I actually found this out by looking up how to make whey. I use whey to soak grains to make them easier to digest. I was having a hard time skimming enough off of yogurt for this and found that you can extract the whey out of yogurt, and what you are left with is cream cheese! Who knew?

So I got a bowl and set a strainer lined with a towel in it and dumped in my not-so-perfect yogurt into the strainer and let it sit out on the counter.

I let it sit like this for several hours on the counter until it wasn't really dripping out any whey anymore. At that point, I carefully pulled up the corners of the towel and tied it around the handle of a wooden spoon and hung it over a pitcher so it could drip while hanging and get every last drop of whey out of it.

It kept dripping overnight and a few hours into the next day. When the dripping stopped, it was done! This is what was left in the towel - the most beautiful, yummy cream cheese!

I was a bit skeptical that it would actually taste good, and the knowledge that it had sat out all night creeped me out a little bit, but it was really nice. And what was really strange was that it was even a bit cool to the touch even after sitting out. And I was left with a jar full of whey (about 1 1/2 cups) and a little over a cup of cream cheese. This cream cheese is a little bit different from commercial cream cheese - not so much in taste, but in texture. It is a little bit more dry.

I am working on a recipe using the cream cheese right now, and I'll have to let you know how it turns out.


I found my glasses! They were buried under a bunch of stuff on the cutting table in my sewing room. I can drive now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I Like This Story

How cool is that?

California Man 'Adopts' Wife's Two Aborted Children


Here's the AssistNews article.

I found that she is a leader of the women's ministry in her church. I think she's perfect for the job. I bet she's got a perspective on biblical womanhood that many women need these day.

What a fantastic story.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Now I Have to Go Back to New Mexico

Four corners survey is inaccurate.

15 years I lived in the Four Corners area...sheesh.

On My Mind

I wear glasses for distance viewing. They bother me to wear all the time so I take them off as soon as I'm done driving, or watching a movie, or whatever it was I was using them for. This presents a problem as I'm one of those people who tend to lose small items like keys, wallets and glasses. They've been missing for over a week now. I am not allowed to drive without them. I need to find them.

Surely you've heard about Stellan. Anyway, yesterday his mom put a post up about people wearing orange to show support/pray for him since today is his ablation/surgery thingie. Well, you know I'm not really into that kind of thing so I wasn't going to do that; I was just going to pray. The odd part was that when I opened my drawer to pull out a T-shirt to wear, this one was sitting on top of the pile. Hey look! My bed is made! Go me. I thought the orange shirt was in the laundry. Weird. So anyway, Stellan is heavy on my heart today. Especially with this cute little pink thing being so near his age. I know that God is in control and his will is perfect for little Stellan. I pray more for peace for his parents to accept God's will.

Everyone should have daylilies in their garden. They are so beautiful and happy.

I found Atlas Shrugged. It was in another backpack I had taken to the air show that day and then it was stuffed into the girls' closet. I thoroughly clean out their closet on Sunday and found the bag then. I'm about three hours into listening to it and all I can say is, "WOW!"

Monday, April 20, 2009

Garden Woes

Sigh...does anybody know how to stop squirrels from eating your garden? We're in city limits so we can't shoot them (okay, so we don't have a gun either) and it may be difficult to put chicken wire up. Grrr...maybe we can hire a fox or something to patrol our garden.

Here's the lovely garden. Looks nice from here, eh? You can see nice tomatoes and rhubarb, cucumbers, corn, sweet potatoes, onions. Lemon grass. Ahhh, isn't it totally fabulous. What's missing? Well, if you recall I mentioned before that we planted some green and red peppers and green beans. The green beans should be climbing up that thar fence y'all see thar.

See our peppers. First stupid squirrels ate the leaves off, then the flowers off and then nibbled down the stems to what you see here.

After they devoured our peppers they started in on the green beans. Most of the green beans looks like this now. There are only a couple with leaves or flowers on them and I am sure they will be consumed with abandon any second now. In fact, with my super-Spidey hearing, I think I can hear them gnawing at them right now.

The onions and cucumbers are left alone. Maybe the cucumbers make them have gas and the onions give them bad breath.

So far they've left the tomatoes alone except for a few leaves toward the bottom of the plants. I expect them to be next because in all the reading we've done about squirrels in your garden everyone talked about them eating their tomato plants. I'm really upset.

Stupid squirrels

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Salad Anyone?

Since I began to serve on my church's Women's Ministry Board, I have been able to do many new things. I now publish a church newsletter for the women that has become a ministry all of its own, use Microsoft Publisher like a pro, know how to use nifty machines that fold paper into a variety of folded brochure type shapes, can speak in front of the entire church without so much as a nervous sweat...I have discovered that I very much enjoy serving my fellow sisters in Christ through leadership and organizational duties. Yesterday, I got to try something new again - prepare a salad to feed forty women! I didn't want to bring a plain salad with various bottles of dressing (although there would be nothing wrong with that), so I put together this beauty:

You should try it! (Although, you should probably scale down the amounts...)

Johanna's Extra Tasty Salad (feeds 40)

  • 9 pounds spring mix lettuce
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 2 bags dried cranberries
  • 1 large bag chopped walnuts
  • 1 large purple onion
  • 2 blocks feta cheese
  • 1 recipe Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing

Thinly slice the apples and toss them with 1/4 c. salad dressing to prevent browning. Thinly slice purple onion and set aside. In a large bowl, toss 4 1/2 pounds lettuce mix with half of the remaining salad dressing in a large bowl. Top this salad with half the apples, one bag of cranberries, half the onion, half the walnuts, and one block feta cheese (crumbled). Repeat this process with remaining ingredients. Serve to a large group of hungry women.

This salad was awesome! I like that there was a combination of sweet, sharp, bitter, sour, and pungent flavors and also crunchy and soft textures. Very satisfying.

I rotate off the board this June, although I am going to continuing writing the newsletter. I will miss it, but for now I need to focus on my family a bit more. I'm sure I'll be back on some day!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

One Thing Does it Again

One Thing. I miss her blog. But she posted a link to this yesterday and I identify with it very much.

My favorite part is this:

"Motherhood is a Formal Enquiry, not “a challenge”. It is an Interrogation. Motherhood grabs you by the neck, slings you into a hard metal chair, angles a white hot light in your face and demands an accounting. It cross-examines you until you are no longer sure of who you are and can give no reasonable explanation for just what, exactly, you thought you were doing."

Yeah, motherhood isn't for wimps.

Go read the rest. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shoe Problem

I fully accept that when you have nine people living in one house, there are going to be a lot of shoes. Especially when over half of those people are children. However, I think this might be getting a wee bit out of hand.

First you have the obligatory shoes by the front door.Then there's the ones by the garage door.There always some scattered in random placed about the house.It starts getting bad though, when you have a shoe box and the shoes won't stay in there. Keep in mind that the shoe box is about 4 steps inside both the front door and the garage door.But then look at the massive pile of shoes out the garage door. I mean, what in the...who left these...don't we all have closets???I didn't even take pictures of the shoes in the closets. It makes me wonder why in the world the girls can never find a matching pair of shoes to wear.

Yeah, I think we might have a little bit of a shoe problem.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rachel on Muffins

I was making blueberry muffins this morning. Yum-o. I had a little helper (term used very loosely). Rachel loves to sit on the stool and help, or watch or make trouble and generally gives a running commentary about whatever is being made, life, movies, sleep and whatever else is on her mind at the time.

As I was spooning the muffin batter into the muffin tin (although I don't know why I'd call it a tin since mine is a muffin stone) Rachel's question is:

"Mom, are those going to grow up to be muffins?"

Awesome. Love it. Can I get a snuggle and a nuzzle and a kiss please?

Fun With Dairy

A couple of weeks ago, the boys and I did experiments with dairy for school. It was a blast! I posted on my Facebook status that we had experimented with dairy, and Marie said I should blog about it. I didn't get many pictures of half of the project, but here it is anyway! We made yogurt and butter that day, and since then I have also made cream cheese (which has a byproduct of whey, which comes in handy for me, too!). I'll save the cream cheese for another post, though!

I saw a post about making butter over at Angry Chicken (I just love that blog, but I really don't get the name...), so I decided I needed to try it. I searched for instructions that would allow me to use my Kitchenaid, because I'm a wimp and didn't want to churn by hand or shake a jar for a ridiculous amount of time. I found these instructions, and we got busy. I bought a high quality organic cream to make this, I think it was the Organic Valley brand, and I only used a pint. It took a little bit longer than I thought it would from reading the butter-making accounts I found on the web, but it worked beautifully.

Washing the butter was a bit weird, and I wasn't sure I had done enough (which I did because this butter was used long before it spoiled) but in the end I got one cup of butter and about one cup of fresh buttermilk. The butter was smooth and sweet. It tasted great, melted perfectly, and was even better because we knew we had made it. The buttermilk was not like the thick, cultured buttermilk which you buy at the supermarket (which isn't actually a byproduct of butter making, but milk with a culture added), it was fresh and sweet/tart. Now I understand when I hear people say they loved drinking a glass of fresh buttermilk when they were young. It wasn't anything like what I picture when I think of buttermilk!

Of course, what do you do with buttermilk other than make buttermilk pancakes? Ooh, these were sooo good made with the fresh buttermilk and topped with our fresh butter! I usually put peanut butter on my pancakes, but these were so good even plain, that I couldn't bear to tarnish their purity with the peanut butter, so I used some fresh butter and pure maple syrup. I cannot wait to make these again when I have fresh buttermilk again! Making butter is no cheaper than buying it, but getting the fresh buttermilk makes it a worthwhile endeavor!

Yogurt making was not new to me. I used to make plain yogurt all the time. It was one of Ethan's favorite baby foods. I had gotten out of the habit of making it, though. Here's what you need to make yogurt:
  • a yogurt maker (or you can use your oven - instructions below)
  • 1 quart good quality milk
  • commercial yogurt starter or 1/2 c. plain yogurt (high quality and fresh, room temperature)
  • candy thermometer

First, heat the milk gently until the thermometer reads 180 degrees.

Remove the milk from heat, pour it into the container that comes with the yogurt maker and cool to 110 degrees. You can do this in the refrigerator to speed the process, but watch it closely because it cools quickly once it gets under 120. Once cooled, stir in the yogurt starter. If you are using the 1/2 cup yogurt, stir about a cup of the cooled milk into the yogurt, then stir this back into the rest of the milk.

Place the container into the yogurt maker and process as directed.

I like to process mine for a shorter time, because then end product is milder. I can actually eat the homemade yogurt unsweetened because it is mild. It is great in smoothies and with a bit of fruit or jam, too. If you don't have a yogurt maker, you can pour your mixture into a shallow glass, enamel or stainless steel container. Then place the container into a warm oven (a gas oven with a pilot light or electric oven pre-heated to warm and then turned off) overnight. Your yogurt will be ready in the morning. I've never tried this method, but I've read that it works.

Mmmmm, yogurt. Other than being able to control the tartness, the only other difference between homemade yogurt and commercial yogurt is that homemade is generally runnier than store bought. Really, if you have milk and plain yogurt, there is no reason not to try this! I tried using the 1/2 cup yogurt instead of the starter this week, with not so great results. But that is for another post...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


As a family, we are slowly, sometimes learning German. :) Today at dinner, Ethan asked, "How do you say 'y'all' in German?"

Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!! This kid cracks me up!

Tuesday Morning Randomness

The after-dinner clean-up is always a little bit intimidating around here.
The two oldest like to get Lily involved. They pick her up and help her "put away" dishes, especially the silverware. I find things in the oddest places though. It's nice to give this most hated of jobs away to the kids who think it's fun. Now for the folding of clothes. Yuck.

Easter. What's with that look on Ella's face. I don't get it.

And that's as random as it gets. I'm coming up blank otherwise. The getting up early thing is kicking my rear. My brain function is severely retarded. Maybe it's because I have not fed it coffee this morning. But I'm about to take care of that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Petitioning God

I was reading a devotional today and a couple of lines really struck me. The devotional was on asking God for help, and was based on I Peter 5:6-7. Are you like me, and find yourself waiting until you have tried every other solution you can think of before going to God and asking for help? This isn't always the case, but most of the time, I go to God and ask for help after I am at the end of my rope, rather than as soon as a problem arises. What pride! I suppose that is why the verse right before we are commanded to cast our cares on God tells us to humble ourselves before God.

The writer of this devotional makes an excellent point about why we pray and ask God for help. It really isn't about getting the solution we want. He says,

"The point is that it really doesn't matter how God decides to solve the problem. By asking God for help, you have admitted that you need Him, and that is what really matters. How God decides to deal with the issue is immaterial, but rest assured He will intervene in the best way possible. God does not want you to depend on a particular solution; He wants you to depend on Him. "

How often I depend on the solution instead of Him! Jesus modeled this for us when he prayed before he went to the cross. The writer points out that the purpose of Jesus's prayer was to connect with his father.

"But what is perhaps more surprising is that Jesus is asking for something He knows He cannot have. When Jesus asks, "Let this cup be taken from me", He is perfectly aware that it is the Father's will for Him to proceed, so why even ask? Jesus speaks these words not to seek a result, but simply to express His anguish and anxiety. Jesus is not asking for a reprieve; He is asking for comfort."

I really needed to read this today. There is one thing I have petitioned God for help with throughout the years that is still a problem for me. Many times now I don't even petition any more, because I think God intends for me to depend on him through the tough times rather than remove the difficulty from me. This is encouragement for me to continue to pray. I need the prayer in order to depend on God! Not that I think God will change his answer (though he could), but because I need His comfort and help.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wonders Never Cease

This afternoon, "He-who-shall-never-ever-ever-sleep-during-the-day" took a two hour nap. Two. Hours. This has never happened in the 151 days since he was born. And there was much rejoicing.

I'm not a huge fan of medicating children, but I am praising God for Zantac today. This is the second child of mine who went from sleepless and screaming, to some sleep and less screaming with this drug. There's something to be said for that. You know, like, "Praise the Lord!"

Hey, Guess What!?

First I would like to announce that I'm getting wiser. I have proof. See?
We had Passover last night. From a Messianic standpoint, it is an amazing feast! Jesus ate the Passover meal the night he was betrayed and then he became our Passover lamb. It's amazing. If you ever have the chance to go to a Passover meal I highly recommend it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's Done

I'll try to stop talking about grass now and come up with more exhilarating conversation.
The space in the back is left for a fence and dwarf azaleas.