being the mother

When I was a little kid, I was terrified of werewolves. Terrified, I say.

I remember laying in my bed, straining to hear the click of clawed feet on our linoleum kitchen floor or heavy, wolf-like breathing in the hallway. I avoided looking out the window in my bedroom, sure that if I did I would be face to face with gleaming teeth and yellow eyes.

My one comfort and hope was my mother. My mom is  the kind of mother who put the fear of God into any monster our fertile imaginations could dream up. Because of this power, my middle of the night bathroom trips always ended with a stop in mom’s room where I would ask her to stay up for a bit and watch T.V. while I fell back asleep. She never complained, never denied and I never questioned or doubted her, I would simply trot back to my room and lay down in utter peace – mom was awake, I was safe. No werewolves could get me.

Now, being this young, I never once thought, “Gee – mom was up all day long taking care of us, she must be exhausted!” I always took it for granted that as she had the ability to defend us from evil, she would be willing to use it no matter what time it was. I had no guilt, I only remember this intense and overwhelming assurance of being protected. Trust. It’s one of my best and most comfortable memories.

Well, I’m a mama now and it makes me see my own mother in a breath-takingly new way. I am now the one who is counted upon to be there *all the time* day and night, to feed, warm, comfort, entertain, protect, defend, clean, and sit up and watch during the night to make sure all is well. My son doesn’t doubt or even think for a moment about whether or not I will feed him or love him or be there for him when he needs me, he doesn’t consider that it’s the umpteenth time he’s been up that night, or that it’s the fourth time he’s needed a new change of clothes in a two hour period and you know what, I hardly notice it myself. He is enveloped in a sweet, oblivious trust. I think about all the years my mom cared for me without me ever realizing exactly what all that entailed. I never realized that I don’t ever remember my mom being tired, or sick or hungry or needing to use the bathroom or needing anything throughout my entire childhood. In my memory she is this incredible person who could do anything and do it all with nothing to work from and four little beings trailing along behind.

This past week I contracted a chest cold and have been gimping around with a cough and slight fever for a couple of days. Strangely enough, my illness didn’t seem to affect my three-month-old at all! He still needs to eat every other hour, still needs to be changed almost as often and seems to fall asleep in my arms just as the tickle in my throat becomes unbearable.

When I am sick, food preparation is usually the first thing to suffer (which is why there is no recipe this week) and we all suffer with it! I don’t know what my mom had going on yesterday, I don’t think we asked. I just knew that if I needed her help, she’d be there – and she was. Like the work of a good fairy, delicious food appeared and my husband was fed before he went off to work.  Chicken noodle soup, eggplant parmesan, baked french toast – she cares and feeds and gives like it were as easy as breathing. I gulped down her homemade soup and knew that health and healing were right around the corner… I guess the same Super-Mom Power is as effective against illness as it is against werewolves!

 

 

yes I am this person

I got out my old calculator the other day and figured out that we spend (theoretically) $400+ a year on yogurt – alone. ALONE. That’s a ton of yogurt, but we eat it almost every day in our wicked-healthy-morning-smoothies and there is no way I am giving those up so I decided to crunch some numbers and see what it would cost to make my own yogurt each week.

I am not normally a person who likes to do math, in fact, I will go great distances to *avoid* having anything to do with numbers, but I am a sucker for saving a penny. I admit it – I love to save money. Not like, saving as in not spending it in the first place, but saving as in spending a *little* when you could have spent *a lot*. Beating the system.

Buying in bulk delights my soul, and my own mother can attest to the fact that shopping at the damaged discount food store gives me giddy goosebumps (and she might be the only person on earth who understands why). You would think I had a been set free with  unlimited credit in an upscale fashion boutique. It’s almost embarrassing – but any hesitation I might have (were I a more normal person) disappears the moment I find a slightly dented box of organic, free-range chicken broth for $.99 when I know For A Fact that the same product, undented, would cost $5. It’s all thrills and chills from there on out, my friends. No shame – only Gain.

So – knowing that about me, of course you believe that I actually sat down and figured out what it would cost me to make my own yogurt. Sometimes making things yourself is not always the cheapest way out – sometimes it is the best way in terms of *value*, but it doesn’t always cost *less*. Well, I have good news, very good news. Not only is it cheaper to make my own yogurt (saving us a whopping $250+ per annum) but I can make it fresher and simpler and I dare say Better than the store brand.

Isn’t it wonderful when you actually get rewarded for doing the right thing? Like deciding to make your own organic yogurt and being able to save a couple hundred bucks a year? It’s stinking Awesome – and that’s why I am writing this.

First – the recipe. It’s actually many recipes modge-podged together until I liked it and so far it’s worked pretty well. There’s no telling the difference between my yogurt and the expensive store brand. (So there.)

Yogurt

2 quarts of whole milk; it can be pasteurized, but skip the “ultra-pasteurized” stuff  (I know, I know – “BUT THE FAT!!!” I’m sorry, but milk fat makes good yogurt and happy people and if you scratch under the surface of all those fat labels you will find that there really isn’t that much of a difference between whole milk and 2%… go ahead and get the whole, you’ll thank me.)

1 package (1 Tablespoon) of plain, unflavored gelatin, available in the jello section of your local grocery hang-out (this is to give the yogurt more of a ‘store-bought’ texture, and to add a little protein and gelatin to the finished yogurt, both of which are really good for you.)

6-8 Tablespoons already made plain yogurt (this can be purchased at the store or saved from the last batch you made…)

A 3-4 quart pot for heating the milk

2 sterile (or really, really clean) glass quart containers with lids

a wooden spoon

a funnel (optional, but really handy!)

a candy or cheese thermometer

a small cooler or ice chest for incubating (I have an old two-person picnic cooler…)

Alrighty then. First off, dump the milk into your pot and then sprinkle the package of gelatin over the surface of the milk. Turn on the burner to medium to gently start to heat the milk. Stir the milk so that the gelatin dissolves and the milk doesn’t begin to scorch on the bottom. The milk has to reach between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit, so while you are waiting (in between stirrings…) distribute the yogurt starter between the two jars. When the milk has reached temperature, gently fill the two jars – this is where the funnel comes in handy! Now stir with your wooden spoon so that everything is mixed well and comfy-like. Cap those bad boys and set them in your small cooler.

I’ve read lots of ways to do this part and have honestly only ever done one of them, but it works for me so I haven’t had any inkling to mess with it. I welcome your input and experiences – if something works even better, by all means – share it with the class!

I run hot tap water (about 110 degrees) and fill the cooler so that the jars are in a nice bath up to their shoulders. Then I put the cover on, wait 8 hours and pull them out. Into the fridge they go to set and in the morning we have fresh yogurt for breakfast. Yum.

The gelatin really makes the creamiest consistency which is even better if you wait a whole day, but we haven’t been able to wait to dip into that first jar.

And now for the numbers:

I was purchasing 2 quarts of brand-name organic yogurt a week from the store.

2 quarts= $8.00 a week x 52 weeks = $416.00 a year

Now, here are the figures for the homemade, bear with me now…

I had all of the equipment, which was a bonus

1 gallon of organic milk = $4.00  = $1.00 per quart

1 box plain gelatin (four packets) = $2.20 = $.55 per pack (roughly)

1 container start up yogurt (enough to start 6 quarts of yogurt) = $2.20 = $.40 per quart

So that is an $8.40 start up cost, but I don’t have to buy the gelatin or the starter yogurt every time…

Every quart of homemade yogurt costs me $1.58 to produce. I guess if you want to get hardcore about it (and don’t we all) you could count electricity for the stove and time and the hot water, bringing it up to a generous $2.00 a quart, which is *still* half of what I was paying.

((***It’s still worth it.***))

I know I absolutely geeked-out on this one, but I was too excited not to share.

Do you have some nerdy heart-throb of a money-saving habit you would like to share? Please do…

a ten in the bucket

I hear a lot of people talking about their bucket-list.

Well, not being one to be willingly left out of a conversation, I want to talk about it too.

It was one of the things Alex and I first discussed when we started to court last year, “What’s your list?”

I guess you can learn a lot about a person by hearing what they want to do before they die, and I also suppose that he liked whatever it was I said because he answered, “Well, I’d like to do all those things too, with you.”

*awwwwww*

I also feel like I should mention that we have pretty tightly wrapped-up my bucket list, having done most of the things that were on it in the past year. True, I didn’t have anything really crazy like “skydive over the grand canyon”, but it’s still been a wild year of incredible happenings. Skinny dipping totally, absolutely and completely included.

I’ve had to write up a new list.

Here it is.

Babe – you getting this?

 

1) Go to the West. By plane, train or automobile, it doesn’t really matter. I just want to see West.

2) Have a baby. Yup. It’s on the list and now that I have a husband, we might actually be able to make that happen. Wowsers.

3) go to hear a symphony orchestra

4) learn to make pastry

5) whale watching

6) learn archery

7) learn to fly fish

8) write a book

9) try snowboarding

10) create a home-based business that actually works

Ok, so a little odd, slightly lame, I get it – but these are the things I want to do. I actually had a hard time coming up with this list because really, before I got married my secret bucket list was simply to find someone to share every day with, and now that I have that, my list remains just as simple; Live every day, sharing it with my best friend, perfect lover and husband. What better adventure could one ask for?

How about you? What’s on your List?

homeschool heartache

“OUCH!”

My husband says,

“My face hurts – I feel like I just got slapped with Home-school.”

He loves to tease me about my history as a geeky home-schooler and it gets worse when I talk about knitting sweaters for fictional literary characters, or admit that I had a wicked crush on Jimmy Stewart as a teen and not Brad Pitt, or argue that the Civil War had precious little to do with slavery. His life with me has been one very long slap of home-school. What can I say – I’m his first home-school experience, I want him to get his money’s worth.

I have little home-school moments when I feel like no one understands me and I revert to a Jane Eyre-esque state of stoic hysteria.

 

“Do you think that because I was home-schooled I have no heart? No sense of fashion? A slanted education? No interest in the world around me? No understanding of popular culture? No dreams, no needs, no desires?”

 

 

Then sometimes, it’s more like this:

 

I am a Home-schooler. Hath not a home-schooler eyes? Hath not a home-schooler hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter
and summer, as a public schooler is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?

 

I’m talking sackcloth and ashes home-school heartbreak.

Then I get over it and move on to the next sweater, the next fond memory of my dead-man crushes, the next argument about states’ rights and how I think pot should be legalized.

Ok, that last gem was more of a Hippie thing than a Home-school thing.

Just sayin’.

 

I’m Falling for Ten

It’s almost September, you crazy people! Summer is almost over and I want to run through our not-so-crowded streets sounding the alarm. We need to soak it up Now- the heat – the swimming- the watermelon –

Do All The Summer Things While You Still Can!

And then again, we are getting all sorts of scandalously awesome Autumnal things in at work which has made me go gushy over Fall. I love Fall.

But I love Summer too. And I hate being cold. But I love sweaters. Sweaters are warm and you can’t be warm and cozy in the summer – that’s a Fall thing.

Welcome to my life as a human being who borders on having a multiple personality disorder when it comes to the seasons. I love all the seasons; I love to see them come and I love to see them go, always ready to move on to the next one. I would never survive in a place with no seasons.

 

10 Things I am Looking Forward to About Fall

1) Big Sweaters – because I love them. There is something infinitely attractive to me about being cozy and shapeless at the same time. My wardrobe is rather disproportionately made up of sweaters.

2) Bonfires – because who is crazy enough to go sit by a roaring blaze when it’s 900 degrees out and you’re under attack by a demonic squad of mosquitoes and other hideous summer bugs. Yeah, that’s what I thought.

3) Fall means it’s almost Christmas! (Not really, but kind of)

4) Thanksgiving – my favorite holiday forever and for always.

5) Leaf-peeping tourists. I love a good tourist! Last year I had my picture taken several times as a quaint ‘local’ – how fun is that? Where else can I, a random stranger, be considered a part of some British person’s vacation memories than in Vermont in Fall? And I love the accents, and the clueless driving (although it’s kind of dangerous) and the tour busses full of smartly dressed elderly people from Georgia who can’t understand the way Yankees talk…

6) My body tells me that it’s time to start eating heartier foods so that we can build up enough fat to survive the coming winter. Silly body, we don’t *need* to do that anymore – but let’s anyway, shall we?

7) Warm weather foods! Yay shepherd’s pie and beef stew and hot cocoa and pies. I don’t want to see another salad until May. I’m going to go bake scones and have some tea… ILOVESCONES.

8) Did I mention warm clothes? I talked about sweaters, but I really love all cold-weather clothing. I like being all covered up and warm.

9) The colors. The colors. The colors. I must say, the mountains have their own sort of fireworks display and it’s put on by the trees – the fall foliage is incredible. No wonder people from all over the world come here to see them.

10) Those gray, raw days when it rains and the streets are covered in leaves and everything feels pensive and a little bit sad and so you huddle up inside and drink tea and knit and listen to your favorite music or watch a good period drama. I love that.

Are you looking forward to Autumn? Why or why not?

dream a little dream of me

“Last night I had the craziest dream that you and I went on Gwen and Andy’s honeymoon with them to Alaska. Gwen cut her hand really bad and had to be taken ashore to the hospital which was this really old, sketchy Chinese thrift shop. They took Gwen to the back of the store where this little Eskimo lady was going to sew her hand up and you and I were walking around looking at all the stuff and I couldn’t decide between these two patchwork bags that I really wanted.”

“Yeah, THAT’S not hard to believe.”

“Listen now, so I was trying to pick, and you came up behind me and gave me a big hug and said that I could get both. You were so sweet. And you looked like Paul Newman.”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute. I looked like Paul Newman? Like, young, good-looking Paul Newman or old Salad Dressing Newman?”

“Ummmm, like the salad dressing Newman.”

“Oh. Ok. And I said you could get both?”

“Yeah, but I didn’t. I still couldn’t decide….”

“Only you. This is like some kind of a wife dream where the husband looks like a movie star and tells her she can buy both the bags she wants…. yeah.”

“Yeah. I know. So did you dream last night?”

“I did actually, I dreamed that you and I were working on the truck together…”

“Husband dream. Did I look like Marilyn Monroe?”

Because I know *I* would rather look like the Salad Dressing Version of a movie star…

OH, you shouldn’t have…

But you did.

I’ve been awarded the Inspiring Blog Award by Niki at Meet Your Treat.

First, I’d like to thank Niki, of course, for sharing her lovely recipes and thoughts with us random Internet people, and giving me this award.

The rules are simple – the awardee (is that even a word? Let’s hope so…) must share 7 things about themselves that their gentle readership won’t already know and then pass the award on to some other inspiring bloggers…

So here goes –

1) As much as I like the ideas and principles – and even the act – of eating healthy, I am still a hard-core junk food lover. I know, I know, like you didn’t know that already.

2) I went to public school through 4th grade and then was homeschooled for the remainder of my education… did you know that? The revolutionaries will be homeschooled…

3) When I was a little kid we lived in this old Victorian mansion that was haunted. For real.

4) I think I might be allergic to shrimp.

5) I studied botany/herbal medicine for years and wanted to become a Clinical Herbalist before I got married and became a food writer…

6) Back home, my brothers and I were certified weather-spotters. Oh yeah, we were spotting that weather like crazy. The highlight of our short but terribly interesting career was a slight twister than snaked itself down in the field across from our house after a huge storm. We were able to call it in and save the day. Sort of.

7) My drink of choice nowadays is Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood tea. It comes in a glass bottle that’s smeared with red, green and yellow and has a big picture of Bob Marley laughing on the front. It’s wicked good, and very mellowing… very. And no, there is no pot involved. I’m so rad.

Alright – enough about me, let’s move on to these inspiring bloggers:

Homemade with Mess

Create It Yourself

Raising Rural Kids

Castle of Blue

In a Small Kitchen

Baker on the Rise

Between the Stacks

Emily Cooks Vegan

Girl Friday Makes Good 

Tomato Soup Cake

 

Have a great day, folks!