Sunday, October 30, 2011

peter peter butter eater.

These days everyone seems to be talking about pumpkins. But I'm here to talk about butter. I like butter much more than pumpkins.

One day a couple of months ago I had a little bit of heavy whipping cream left over after using some for a recipe. I often find that I have heavy whipping cream taking up space in the fridge only to sadly spoil or to find it's way into my coffee.. which is probably a bad choice. I did what any average person with a question does these days: I googled it. I found a little tutorial on how to make butter from heavy whipping cream by shaking it vigorously in a jar for 10 minutes. I tried this jar thing and after about 30 minutes of shaking and a significant amount of arm fatigue I sort of had butter. Which proceeded to spoil the following day.

It was suggested that I try a blender instead (what an ingenious idea!). However we don't have a normal blender. I tried out our immersion blender the next time I had some heavy whipping cream around and with a little more effort than would be needed with a typical blender.. I made butter.

I am now a butter making machine and I would like to share for you my means of making butter. It's shockingly simple. It will save you money. It's probably better for you than many store bought butters. It's fun. And it gives you lots of buttermilk. Who doesn't want lots of buttermilk?

I started with this half gallon of Horizon organic heavy whipping cream that I bought at Costco for $6.99. I made my butter in smaller batches as needed so I cannot attest to the accuracy of this.. but from a bit of Google research it seems that a half gallon of heavy whipping cream will yield 3-4 lbs of butter. Depending on what type of butter you purchase, where you purchase it, and in what quantities your purchase it your actual savings when making your own butter will vary. I had not been purchasing organic butter because we use so much butter.. it was just too costly. This gets me organic butter, in large quantities, for a little more than one package of butter at the co-op.

I poured some into one of the mixing containers that came with my immersion blender.

I started blending it on the highest speed setting.

Pretty quickly you'll notice that the cream is doing it's job... it's turning into whipped cream. Keep blending past this point. When using an immersion blender you have to lift it up and down to keep the blended cream circulating.

Depending on the speed of your blending apparatus your whipped cream will start to turn a bit chunky and slightly yellow after 5-15 minutes. If you feel like you're getting nowhere it's possible that your cream warmed up too much. Simply place it back into the refrigerator for a bit and try again later.

Blend a bit more until you notice a liquid separating from the chunky stuff. The chunks are the butter and the liquid is the buttermilk. My blender starts to give some resistance at this point.

Take a somewhat rigid spatula and press the butter into a big glob.

Switch spatulas when you realize you're using the IKEA spatula that falls apart and gets stuck in the butter chunk.

Pour out the buttermilk into an awaiting receptacle. I use an old honey jar. Try to get as much buttermilk out of the butter as possible by squishing it a bit more. If buttermilk is left in the butter it will spoil quickly.

I prefer to use a clear container so you can see what's going on at this point. This part of the process is called 'washing the butter'. It helps get as much buttermilk out of the butter as possible.

Add some cold water to your container of butter. Use the spatula to press the butter into the sides of the container and fold the butter over and press again. Pour out the water. The butter should stick in the container when you pour and not fall into the sink.

Add cold water again. Notice it is less cloudy but not clear. This means there is still buttermilk in your container. Repeat the washing process.

Repeat the washing process until the water poured out after washing is nearly clear.

Transfer to the container(s) of your choice. And there you have it! Homemade butter!

You can do plenty of things with your butter. I use it when I bake bread, I put it on bread, I butter pans, I add it to recipes which call for butter. Use your buttermilk for things like buttermilk pancakes, and biscuits, and coffee cake like this!

And if you have an 8 month old baby something like this may happen while you're making butter...

I suggest you give butter making a try. Homemade butter smells and tastes better and is much more rewarding to consume.. at least to me. It's one of those things that I never knew was so easy! Like making pie crusts. Or bread. Or rice pudding. Why do people buy those things anyway? So stop buying butter.. and make it! Yay!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

we're all visual.

I learned quite a few things during my time working as a Mental Health Practitioner at Fraser. A recurring theme, in numerous settings, was visuals. I first used then when I worked in Day Treatment classrooms and then when I provided services in-home. I helped staff find ways to use them in-home and I taught families what visuals were and came up with ways to use them when I was a Visual Consultant. Visuals are huge for people on Autism Spectrum and are huge for their families, teachers, and peers. But do you know what I learned? With the exception of a very few number of people (whom I will never be able to understand), we are all very visual.

Numerous times while making visual schedules for little kids who struggled to get through daily routines at home I reassured anxious parents that nearly all of us are visual. Right now this child may need to see pictures to understand what comes next.. but maybe that's because they don't yet understand words.. hopefully someday that schedule will become smaller and smaller and potentially nonexistent someday. But maybe they'll still carry a checklist in their pocket as a teenager.. who knows? But how many of us don't carry a checklist around with us from time to time? Do you write yourself a grocery list? Do you make a list of what you need to pack or do before heading off on vacation? How about a checklist of daily chores? Do you cross things off as you go? Make a little check next to each item? Erase them? Just because there aren't pictures involved in these lists doesn't make them any less visual... they're still visual aides and I'm assuming you've used them before, if not daily.

I am very visual. I think in maps when I'm driving somewhere.. I picture myself on a map and I have an ariel view perspective. If I look online for a map of how to get somewhere I rarely consult the street names... I just follow the route, the turns I make, the ways the roads curve, and I find my destination. I also write lists. Sometimes five times a day I'll write a different list for a different thing. But often those lists fail me, unfortunately. I've come to realize that my brain think it's smarter than my lists. And my brain doesn't realize how gosh darn distractible it is. I honestly wouldn't be surprise if I was diagnosed with an attention problem if I sought that out.

Here's why: I make a list of the things that I want to accomplish any given day. On my way to do thing number one I decide that thing number four is easier or more important or more fun. But in the middle of thing number four I cross paths with thing number six so I skip over to thing number six until I realize that I forgot to add something very important to my list... so in comes thing number twelve. And this process continues and repeats itself until I have twenty five things on my list and by the end of the day I have only completed thing number two and a portion of thing number one, thing number four, things number six through eighteen, all the while thinking constantly about thing number twenty five. That's no way to get things done, now is it?

When I taught families the usefulness of visuals one aspect I would frequently highlight is that they are concrete. "Oh, you don't want to do that right now, well the schedule says that's what it's time for." Pretty simple. You shouldn't get mad at mom, you should get mad at the schedule. Mom may be showing you the schedule but it's the schedule that's saying it's time to get dressed. In my case I made the schedule and I made it on a piece of paper and I still have the pencil in my hand so.. scratch scratch.. scribble scribble.. why don't I change my schedule a little bit? It's much better now, isn't it? Yeah, I try that ten times and then realize that they day is over. Whoops.

I also get extremely overwhelmed by all there is to do at my house and in my life that I sometimes reject my little lists because they're just... pointless... how can a little list get me anywhere when I have ten million things to do to this house before we can even think of selling it? Why should I waste my time cleaning the kitchen when I hate the kitchen? When the floors are screwed up and the ceiling is weird and there is tile where there shouldn't be tile and the stove smells weird?

As I'm sure you can imagine my time spent at home with Olive since her birth has been... interesting to say the least, in terms of my accomplishing daily tasks and having a relationship with our house.

I may be jumping the gun here but I think I have found a solution to my problems and I feel moved to share it with you. And who knows, maybe it will help you, too. It's a little thing called Motivated Moms. Sounds pretty, uh, cool... right? It's basically a chore planning system but it's done for you. You don't have to figure out how many times a month you should do thing one or if thing eight is more important than thing twenty three. Just do what Motivated Moms tells you and forget about the rest. Don't stress out about that dirty thing you just walked past because you have your tasks for today and that dirty thing will surely be taken care of in the next day or two. It's available in both paper and iPhone App form. I'm trying to Motivated Moms Lite right now. It's a two week free trial and after that I'm going to purchase the full app. It's $2.99 for the rest of 2011. Each day there is a checklist and when you're done with a task you tap it to check it off.

Over the past two days my life has changed. I have gotten more done than everything combined in the previous month. I am completely serious. And it wasn't stressful and it wasn't difficult and it felt oh so good.

Yesterday I...
changed the towels and dish scrubbie in the kitchen
changed all of the towels in the bathroom and washed them along with the rugs
cleaned the top shelf of the refrigerator (isn't that so much more manageable than the entire refrigerator?)
clipped olive's nails
organized and dusted the dressers in our bedroom
dusted in olive's room
cleaned the kitchen counters and the kitchen sink
did laundry
emptied all of our trashcans
fed honey
washed the dishes... a few times
made our bed
made dinner
read Joel 1-3
read Olive a couple of books
took my vitamins
cleaned the bathroom sink
And I also did a few things that the App didn't tell me to do...
I painted 1/3 of the trim in my room
I made kheer
I made some phone calls
I worked on editing photos
And probably some other things

Today I...
cleaned the kitchen sink
vacuumed the car, the car mats, and cleaned trash out of the doors and other little crevices
cleaned our hairbrushes
wiped the kitchen counters
dusted in the living room (even the blinds!)
emptied the trashcans
fed honey
did dishes
made our bed
mopped the kitchen floor after i vacuumed it
made dinner
read to Olive
straightened our bedroom closet
took my vitamins
wiped out the bathroom sink
And again I did a few things that the App didn't tell me to do...
I painted another 1/3 of the trim in my room
I cleaned up pup poo in the backyard
I took out the compost
I clipped my fingernails
I took a shower
I gave Olive a bath
I made bread
I almost made coffee cake but we don't have enough butter. So maybe I'll make butter again when I'm done with this post.

I still have to read Amos 1-4 and order a free Experian credit report...

Wow. That feels so good. :) The App tells me what to do and I trust that it'll get around to everything that needs to be done eventually. No need for me to stress out about some dog hair on the floor - I'll get to that tomorrow or in a couple of days. And the App is structured and concrete... I can't scribble on it. I might whine but then I'll tell myself "Oh, you don't want to do that right now, well the App says that's what it's time for." And then I'll do it and be happy when it's done. My brain can't outsmart this because it didn't come from my brain.

So if you're a stay-at-home mom or dad or you just need a little help structuring what to do each day after work I really encourage you to check out Motivated Moms. I'm almost certain I can say it's changed my life though I may be saying that too soon... seeing as it's only been two days.

I am writing this out of the goodness of my happy, organized, non-stressed heart. Yes, it's a review I suppose, but only because I wanted to... not because anyone told me to. Also, a big thanks to Emily from Joyful Abode for posting some photos of her cleaning process on instagram. Without that I may not have learned about Motivated Moms! And then were would I be? Probably walking in circles between thing number seven and thing number forty one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

i heart faces { let them be little }

This is my second time entering an I Heart Faces photo challenge.

This week's theme is "Let Them Be Little". You may think this is a wonderful theme for me since I'm a photographer and I have a little baby. But that actually makes it much more difficult... I have entirely too many photos to choose from! Oh my!

So I'm going out on a limb and just using a photo taken with my iPhone rather than with my DSLR. I love this photo so much. I just can't help entering it! :)


Sunday, October 23, 2011

8 months old.

Please forgive my lack of posting lately. This may seem completely absurd and rather lame.. but we recently got new phones and we're sort of distracted. In addition to our anniversary, our best couple-friends getting married, Tyler's birthday, a few photo sessions, and a husband & baby cold all happening over the past couple of weeks.

But I won't get into the details of any of those things right now (hopefully a couple of those things will get a bit of attention in upcoming posts, if you're lucky).

On Thursday Olive turned 8 months old. In "celebration" we headed to a park across the parkway in Golden Valley to play in the leaves, crawl around in the sand, and swing on the swings. It was a very sunny day and we both had a lot of fun! I had hopes of going to the park with Tyler also as he started work late that day but, as usual, we were slow to get going and didn't accomplish much before I took him to work. Hopefully we'll have a bit more nice weather before winter arrives so we can have family play time at the park. Olive loves it and Tyler doesn't get to go with her very often at all.

After our time at the park we drove the long way home looking for a different color pile of leaves. Everything seems to be pretty yellowish around here but I thought some oak tree leaves might be fun. While walking up a very very small very very harmless incline covered with millions of leaves I fell and landed with Olive just fine in my arms.. and then she tipped forward into the leaves. She ended up with a tiny red spot on her forehead and was pretty shaken up. After she calmed down we snapped a few more photos before we got chilly and headed home.

You will most likely also notice a huge spot on Olive's cheek. A few days ago she put her hand down on a toy on wheels and of course it rolled out from under her and she hit her face on another toy. That was a pretty sad time. :( So she has her first blemish... but she's tough. :)

As usual Olive had on her serious face while I photographed her. I took entirely too many photos so this month's post includes a slideshow... Forgive me... But I refuse to cut and paste the code of 75 photos. Yes, 75. And I deleted like... a million.

Unfortunately you have to click this link because Wordpress won't allow and Flickr slideshow. :( Sorry!

Here are a few to entice you to view the slideshow:







Olive is learning and exploring at such an awesome rate right now.
She crawls all over the house and pulls up on furniture, people, and the dog. She walks around in her crib and her playpen or along furniture like the couch. She seems to not have too difficult of a time getting back down from standing though sometimes she can't figure it out and fusses until she gets help.
Olive will set her sights on something interesting from across the room and make her way over to find it. She has even managed to push a little chair around the room in order to climb it to get to something. Amazing!
She now has three teeth - the third one, on top, came in on Thursday. There is another just days away from breaking through. Teething continues to be bothering her much less than I had anticipated.
Olive continues to want to eat everything and seems to enjoy it all (tonight she sucked on a lime!). She can hold her little glass herself, though I usually support the bottom for her. Sometimes she chews on the cup and you can hear her tiny teeth tapping the glass. Occasionally she tries to eat her plate as well.
Olive waves at people when we're sitting in the car or at the park regardless of their giving her any attention. She also waves to the dog in the morning. And sometimes randomly waves to us even if we haven't come or gone.
Olive continues to prefer "mom mom" as her babble sound. She has taken to yelling it quite often.
Olive weighs just over 15 pounds and, if I measured correctly, is around 27" tall.
She is not interested in being contained for long, even in the sling. Luckily at the grocery store she is interested in what is around her so she'll tolerate being contained for nearly the entire trip.
Olive continues to use her potty in her room, in the living room, and in the back hatch of our car.
She is getting less and less interested in many of her toys. I have tried putting some away and later switching them with the toys that have been out for a few days but she seems to catch on immediately. Hopefully she'll get some interested and stimulating things for Christmas.. it's only a few months away!
Olive is becoming more and more playful. She likes to put things into my mouth, take them away, put them back, etc. She has recently decided tickles may possibly be fun. She loves getting tossed up into the air.
Olive really really loves Honey. :)
She still cruises around the house in the walker. I often have her in there when I'm cooking or cleaning in the kitchen and I give her wooden spoons, spatulas, and measuring cups to entertain herself with.
Olive's sleep/wake and nap schedule are still different nearly every day. But I guess it keeps us on our toes!
She had her first overnight away from us last weekend and she did great! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

winner winner winner winner!

Yay! It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of the Baltic amber teething necklace!!

I'm so happy to have had the chance to host another great giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Without further ado...

The winner is...


Amber, from By Amber's Hands!!!

Congratulations Amber!

Please email me { anowlsnest(at)gmail(dot)com } the name of the necklace you would like and your mailing address. Yay!

Monday, October 10, 2011

i heart faces { raise your hands }

This is my first ever entry into an I Heart Faces photo challenge. I suppose it's kind of amusing that the focus is not faces this week nor is a face required to be seen in the photo.

I'm a bit busy this week so I haven't searched too hard for that perfect hand shot but I really do love this photo of Olive holding one of her Baltic amber teething necklaces. She loves to play with them nearly as much as she loves wearing them!

What cute little hands she has.. :)


Saturday, October 8, 2011

A little preview.

I have to share the photo below from this afternoon's session.. I just can't resist.  It's straight out the camera.. and I completely love it!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

anniversary of our wedding.

Today marks four years since we were married on October 7th, 2007.

Tyler and I met in Chicago in November 2006 where we were both living at the time. I was in my final year at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Tyler had just moved from Minneapolis to Chicago... to seek better things.

We met through a mutual friend. We had a lot of fun. We spent Thanksgiving 2006 together. We built forts and went on adventures. We worked as ushers together at some of the theaters downtown.

In May we took a trip to visit my aunt in San Antonio. Tyler asked me to marry him by the pool her in backyard.

In September 2007 we left Chicago and moved to Minneapolis.

And then on October 7th, 2007 we were married in Bellevue, Iowa after a long hot drive without air conditioning. And then the starter on our car broke. But we made it.

A few weeks later we went on our "honeymoon". We went to Uganda where we stayed on an island in Lake Bunyonyi for a couple of days and then headed to a small village by the name of Kishanje to work with Juna Amagara Ministries.

We lived in an apartment in Minneapolis for a couple of years. It was the third floor of a big old mansion. The stairs were a fire escape.

We had some fun doing some things. But we realize now this may not be where we belong. I wish I could say we've made the most of it but I'm not sure if we have. At least we looked like we had some good times. And, we did.. don't worry.

Then we bought a house in the summer of 2009. In the fall we got a dog.

In the summer of 2010 we found ourselves pregnant and had little Olive on February 20th, 2011.

And here we are... four years of being an elf! ;)

I love you Tyler dear pie snuggle butt face cuddle puff!