Friday, October 26, 2012

How to Make the Most Delicious Butter

I love butter. Who doesn't, really? It's delicious and here is a link to an article with some information on the nutritional benefits of butter.

Because of the horrible conditions in which commercially raised cattle are kept, and the completely unnatural diet they are fed, we decided recently to only consume raw local pasture raised dairy. Lucky for us, there is a farm not far from our house which sells fresh raw milk from their pasture raised cows. Bonus points, the family who owns and operates the farm is in our homeschooling group! Talk about knowing where your food comes from.

The boys love waiving to the cows when we drive up. Thanks for the delicious milk, Ladies!

So, why raw milk? Raw milk is not homogenized or pasteurized. Homogenization is heat treating and pressurization of the butterfat globules into very small particles so they are distributed evenly throughout milk and do not rise to the top. Not good because when making butter, we want the fat to rise and separate. Pasteurization is the process of heat treating milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit to destroy pathogens. This kills bacteria, but also makes proteins, vitamins, and milk sugars less available and destroys the enzymes that help the body assimilate them. Most milk at the grocery stores today are ULTRA pasteurized, meaning it is heated to 191 degrees Fahrenheit, effectively destroying all organisms. This process damages protein structure and completely destroys enzymes, rendering the milk useless as far as nutrition goes. But it has a month long shelf life! (Note- this shelf life is only when unopened. Once opened, all milk should be consumed within one week.) *

Now that we're done with our science lesson, on to the fun stuff! Making fresh butter! It took more trial and error than I care to admit, but hopefully you can benefit from my mistakes. Some photos are missing because of the messing around figuring out where I went wrong.

To start, let your raw milk sit for about 24 hours until the cream separates from the rest of the milk. You should see a distinctive line.

Then I took a turkey baster and sucked the cream off the top into my mixing bowl. Be careful to get only the cream and not the milk below it.

Let your cream sit on the counter and come up to room temperature.

Equip your handy dandy mixer with the whisk attachment (this can also be done with a hand mixer).
Be sure there is not too much cream in your mixing bowl. The butterfat needs space to crash around and separate from the buttermilk. I learned this the hard way and spend 20+ minutes mixing our cream the first go around.

Turn mixer on to medium speed, for the kitchen-aid I set it on level 4.

First, your cream will become foamy. If you added a bit of sugar here you'd have fresh whipped cream.

Then it will become liquidy again. Keep on mixing.

Then you will start to notice some butter solids creeping up the side of the bowl. You're almost there!!!

Then those solids will get sucked back into the buttermilk and come together, much like a dough will clean the sides of the mixing bowl when its got enough flour.


Now get yourself some cheese cloth if you have it, and a container to save your buttermilk.

Pour off your buttermilk through the cheese cloth to separate.

Look at that beautiful golden butter!

Rinse your mixing bowl with cold water, and return the butter to the bowl. Using a spatula or spoon work the butter around and rinse the butter with cold water until all the buttermilk is washed away and the water runs clear. I found it best not to let the water pour directly on the butter, but on another part of the bowl and then use a swishing motion to rinse the butter.

Once the water runs clear, transfer your butter to a dish for storage. Drink the buttermilk, its full of good for you awesomesauce, and delicious (not at all like the store bought stuff). Or use it to make buttermilk pancakes, topped with your fresh butter of course! And washed down with a glass of raw milk, naturally.

I'm not certain how long all this will keep, it's never been an issue in our house. I assume a one week rule would be safe. Enjoy!

*source- Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Rules?!?!

Yesterday Papa Bear was talking to his dad and his dad said something like, "I saw this post of facebook, do your kids really not have any rules? They get to do whatever they want?" Papa Bear was at work and couldn't really go in depth with an answer. I know our (attempted) parenting style is "radical" to many, so I thought I'd post our family rules here.

First and foremost, we all have the same rules. The boys don't have more or different rules just because they are smaller, less powerful, or less experienced than us.

#1- You own yourself and your body. Meaning- You are responsible for your actions. If you make a mess you clean it, or you ask for help with the understanding that "no" is an acceptable response. If something is bothering you, you have the power to fix it. You have authority over your body.

#1a- Others own themselves and their bodies. Meaning- You don't touch anyone without permission. You especially never harm anyone. You never physically make anyone do something. You don't manipulate people with fear tactics, promises of rewards, or any other coercive means. Those are attempts at control, and remember, you don't own them or control them. They own themselves. You respect others' bodies and choices.

 #2- You own your property. Meaning- It is your responsibility to take care of it. You don't have to share it. Your things belong to you alone.

#2a- Others own their property. Meaning- You respect others' property. You don't take it or use it without permission.

#3- Honor your agreements . Meaning- At any time you're welcome to come to an agreement about something, so long as it doesn't break rules 1 and 2. The agreement must be made voluntarily and be mutually beneficial. If you break your end of the deal, the other party is no longer bound by their end of the agreement and may be entitled to grievances.

That's it. Pretty simple. What happens if someone breaks a rule? Do we punish them? Absolutely not. Respecting other people and their property, and being a truthful person are good things. The boys are naturally motivated to be good. Punishment for mistakes (and we ALL make mistakes) would shift their motivation from "being good" to "not being bad", which leads to things like "not getting caught". Not our goal. Instead we help the boys understand what would have been a better choice. We are patient and understanding. We remind them everyone makes mistakes, and we all try to do better with what we learn.

What about things like eating dinner together, coming home at a certain time, or going to bed at a certain time? We often eat all our meals together, but its not a rule. Sometimes Josh isn't hungry, or would rather be outside playing. I trust he will eat when his body tells him he is hungry. I would rather him eat with me because we enjoy our time together than because I make him (which breaks rule #1 anyway). We made an agreement he would be home by 8pm everyday. So far he's always been home on time. I suggest he goes to bed by 9pm, but I trust his body will tell him when he's tired and needs sleep. Things have been so much more relaxed and enjoyable since we let go of the idea that we can control the kids. I highly recommend giving it a shot. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm only on my first cup of coffee and my writing may show it. ;)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Nap Time Liberty

We teach the boys the philosophy of liberty. What does self-ownership look like for Bug, who is 19 months?

One example is nap time. When he starts rubbing his eyes and acting sleepy, I tell him I think he needs a nap and take him back to his room. He sleeps on a mattress on the floor in his own room. We snuggle, read a story, I give him a kiss, say good night and leave. I don't latch the door. ...

He can get out of his bed on his own. He can get out of his room anytime he wants. He is never locked in the room against his will. He is not left in bed crying. Sometimes he will come back out once or twice for a few more snuggles, or because he wants to read Goodnight Moon ONE MORE TIME, but for the most part he sleeps when he's tired. If he comes out more than twice, I know he's not ready for a nap and he continues to play.

 Its not my job to make him sleep "for his own good". Everyone inherently wants to be healthy and happy. It is my job to help him listen to his body and give him to the tools he needs to be healthy and happy. Its never too early to teach liberty.

Its never too early to respect your kids.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Buying Kiwi

Today's math lesson- buying kiwi at the store.
(I'm often asked how you teach math when unschooling)

 Me- So if 1 kiwi is 38 cents and a 6-pack is $2.77, which is the better deal?

Josh- I can't multiply 38.... ...

M- Well, we could round it up to 40 cents. That would be easier to multiply in your head, right?

J- Yeah. Let's see, 6x4 is the same as 6x2x2 so 6x2 is 12.... and 12x2 is 24 so 6 kiwis would be $2.40.

M- Almost, don't forget we added 2 extra cents to make it easier.

J- Oh yeah! So that's 12 extra cents, and 40-12 is.....(struggling)

M- Do one place value at a time.

J- 40-10 is 30, 30-2 is 28. So $2.28.

M- So should we buy 6 individual or the pack?

J- Individual.

 M- Good job, Buddy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How Time Flies

I'm feeling emotional, so I apologize in advance for this incoherent rant.

 Until about 9 months ago our parenting style was what I'd call willfully ignorant. We spanked Josh, not often, but it happened. We expected obedience. We punished or rewarded him to modify his behavior as we saw fit instead of helping him grow into his own person. It makes me sad to think back on it, now seeing what we put him through in a different light.

He turns 8 this month. He spends most of his waking hours outside playing with neighborhood kids, away from me, and all I can think about while he's out there is how quickly the years have flown by. He's out on his own, building relationships with people on his own, being his own little man, and I keep thinking how I didn't give him the foundation I wish I had.

Its something we work on a little everyday, but there is no substitute for the foundation you give your kids in those early years. Make it one of love, kindness, compassion, patience and understanding. I know parenting is hard, and the days are long, but hang in there and make these things your priority. You can never get those moments back.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Day NOT Back to School

Monday was the start of school here. The previous Saturday Josh went to a birthday party with some of his schooling friends. There was so much anxiety and hoop-la over the start of school. Getting supplies, who's-in-who's-class, getting the kids to bed early to wake up early, the kids not sleeping because they're nervous, wondering how the younger siblings will handle the older ones being gone all day.

I am really thankful Monday was just another day for us, living life and learning what came our way. I am thankful the boys got to sleep as long as their bodies needed. I am most thankful the boys aren't separated from each other 8 hours a day. They get to grow up together, playing with and learning from each other.

I did have one anxious moment Monday. While sitting outside with my coffee, watching the boys play in the morning dew, it really hit me- I am now doing something I've never done before. Something different from the norm. I'm excited for the journey. I hope I don't screw it up.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Moving to Facebook

Hello Peeps!

I have so much I want to tell you about! So many things the boys are up to! But sitting down to write a blog is so time consuming. Uploading pictures really is kind of a pain, and let's be honest, who wants to read a blog post with no pictures?

So I'm taking our adventures over to facebook where it will be easier for me to post more often. Go check it out!

Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 20, 2012

the s-e-x talk

So the other day Josh and I are talking about him doing something dangerous. I don't remember what exactly it was, but whatever he was talking about doing caused me to spit out the line, "I can get a new [insert item] but I can't get a new Josh."

Later on we were sitting down at dinner, and out of nowhere Josh says, "So that means no more s-e-x for you and daddy." (yes he spelled out the word!)

Naturally, I'm like, "wha.....? Where did this come from?"

Josh, "Well you said you couldn't make another me, so that means no more babies, so no more s-e-x."

I explained that even if we had another baby it would never be the same as he is. Then I explained that there were ways to have s-e-x and not make a baby.

Josh, with a puzzled face, asks, "So you and daddy still have s-e-x?"


"Is that why I'm not allowed in your room sometimes?"


"Hmmm. Okay."

Then we went on eating dinner like no awkward conversation had ever occurred. And really, in our house that isn't awkward conversation (as long as Papa Bear isn't home, he would have been mortified). We're just talking about normal things. Sex is normal, and I'm open and honest with the kids when they have questions.

Have your kids asked you any s-e-x questions? How do you handle them?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Coconut Flour Pancakes

I love baking. Trying to eat a fully Paleo diet means you have to get creative with the baking. We've come across a few paleo pancake recipes, this one from Health, Home, and Happiness is hands down the best we've found.

The recipe-
1/4 cup coconut flour
4 eggs (local if you can!)
1/4 cup yogurt (Greek full fat!)
1 Tablespoon honey (local if you can!)

(sorry for the blurry pic)

Mix together and really beat at it to get all the lumps out. Then let sit for 5 minutes so the coconut flour can absorb the moisture. Cook on medium heat using your favorite fat- butter, coconut oil, whatever.

Makes about a dozen silver dollar pancakes.

Josh loves blueberries in his pancakes. :)

Serve with butter, your favorite nut butter, and/or honey. My personal favorite is peanut butter and honey. I know, I know, peanuts aren't paleo. I'm weaning myself.

And of course, a picture of the boys eating...

They are a bit more dense than "normal" pancakes, but other than the texture they are a close match. The kids didn't even notice a difference once it was loaded with berries and honey.

Rainbow Slime

Another fun indoor entertainment project for the summer.

Equal parts clear glue (we just used Elmer's brand from the back to school sales) and Stay-Flo liquid starch (found in the laundry detergent aisle of your local super market). Mix, separate into bowls and add food coloring.

Fair warning, this is slimy, gross, and makes a mess. But it kept the kids busy for about an hour.

In the end Bug didn't really care for the mess it made and decided to spray down the tables to clean it up. Too cute.

Fun with Beans

It is ridiculously hot outside. Not to mention Bug and I get devoured by bugs every time we step outside, and we get these awesome allergic reactions every time we get bit. Instead of an annoying itchy bite we get giant welts which swell and spread and itch for a week. So we don't go outside much in the summer. Which means I have to entertain the kids inside.

This particular day we played with beans. I saw a picture online of an owl made of coffee beans and Josh thought it would be fun to recreate.

I put down some coffee beans and lima beans on a table top on the floor and let the kids get creative. I obviously wasn't fully caffeinated when I thought the beans would actually stay on the table top, but oh well.

Things started well, Josh helped Bug make a ghost out of the lima beans...

Then Bug decided he didn't much care for the ghost...

And Bug spent the rest of the afternoon "sweeping" up the beans...

When Bug went to bed for the night, Josh took the opportunity to finally recreate that owl he had seen online. I think it turned out really well, he even brewed the coffee himself. :)

Officially Withdrawn!

Last week we started the week by officially withdrawing Josh from public school!

Even though this has been our plan for the last 7 months, I'll admit, it was quite a feeling making it official. We're now officially those weird homeschooling people. Things have been great over the summer and Josh still has play dates with his friends from school, but I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little nervous that people will start treating us (him) differently once school is back in session. Who knows, maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised by people and shouldn't assume the worst.

We are confident in our decision and this is the best choice for our family and our son. I'm excited to see where this road leads us.

I'm falling behind!

Putting up new posts takes more time than I'd like it to. Sorry I'm falling behind. I'm going to try to post individual fun activities instead of waiting til the end of the week to recap it all. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Unsupervised Egg Scrambling

Bug has been sick the last 4 days, which means I have been waking 3-4 times every night to help him. He's obviously been up at least 3-4 times each night too, so during the day he's very VERY cranky. I can't blame him, I'm cranky too. And I'm only sleep deprived, I'm not sick on top of it.

So this morning I did something GENIUS. I took a nap when Bug took a nap. I know, I know, obvious thing to do, but how often as parents to we actually take a nap when we're tired instead of check email, watch tv, or (heaven forbid) take care of our other kids. Bug went down for a nap at 8:30 this morning. You read that right, nap time at 8:30. So I felt much less guilty about leaving Josh to keep sleeping and play or whatever when he woke up.

Josh is such a good kid. He woke up and he must have known how tired I must be dealing with Bug (or, more likely, he's seen how grumpy I am when someone disturbs my slumber). He went out to the living room and did his thing, not waking me, save for one exception. He came in to ask me where the egg pan was. I told him it was in the dishwasher, clean, and he left.

I could only assume he was going to make eggs. I'll admit there was that moment of panic when thoughts of burning houses crossed my mind, but I laid back down and trusted him to let me know if something went awry. Nothing did.

He used a little recipe card I'd made him a few weeks ago outlining how to make scrambled eggs, including "turn off burner", and enjoyed some self scrambled eggs.

I'm really proud of him. He took the initiative to care for himself, and he now has the confidence that came with his success. I'm proud of myself too, for letting him do it instead of telling him to make a bowl of cereal or wait til I woke up to do it for him. Our kids are capable of so many things we don't always give them credit for. :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tasty Treats

Eating healthy is is important. Probably 80% (completely made up figure) of our overall health is based on our diet. We're trying really hard to eat only whole, real food. Papa Bear has even committed to eating a paleo diet. I'm not quite ready to completely give up carbs, I have a MAJOR sweet tooth.

Also, getting the kids to give up sweets will be quite an undertaking. Bug, not so much since he doesn't know anything but healthy food yet. But Josh on the other hand, he's of the mindset that eating a bowl of cereal should earn him an after breakfast bowl of ice cream. I can't blame him, I myself love ice cream for second breakfast.

So, I started looking for some kid friendly snack ideas. First I came across this idea on Pinterest to use ice cube trays for toddler finger foods. A super fun way to get the kids to eat a colorful array of fruit and veggie snacks, or whatever you've got handy. Also a great way to use up those random bits of leftover produce in the fridge.

I did this twice so far and both times it went over well. Josh even thought it was fun for a minute.

 apples, blueberries, peas, almonds. banana, ham, carrots, cheese

Bug approves

apples, oranges (already eaten), goldfish crackers, bananas, peas, blueberries, ham, strawberries

 Josh even went for it for a minute there...

That was all well and good, but Josh and I needed a fix for our sweet toothes... sweet teeth? Whichever. A big favorite in our house is snow-cones. There's a lady right down the road with one of those little wooden shacks where you can get a ginormous styrofoam cup of sugar coated ice shavings for $1.50. So yummy on a hot summer days, but not healthy. So we did some experimentation to find an alternative. 

Bug has a milk protein allergy/intolerance so he drinks coconut milk. It's suuuuper sweet and delicious, so we decided to make snow-cones out of that. We poured some in a bowl and stuck it in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so we'd pull it out and whip it with a hand mixer to break up the ice crystals and make it fluffy. We placed the bowl into another bowl of ice to keep it from melting too quickly while we worked.

 The end result had to be served immediately, because storing it in the freezer would just make one big giant coconut milk ice cube. It turned out looking like this-

And the kids liked it alright...

But for me it was hours of waiting and work for a treat that was just "meh" in my opinion.

Next we tried a recipe I read somewhere for mixing yogurt with berries. I have to go on a quick tangent here...

I went to Wal-Mart, against every fiber in my body screaming "Nooooo! Don't do it!" because I needed new shorts for Josh, fish food, printer ink, and frozen berries. I mistakenly thought it would take less time to go there instead of three separate stores. Wrong. I spent way too long looking for the frozen berries, thinking they would be near a sign reading something like "Fruit" or "Juice" even.... oh no.... No people, frozen fruit is labeled as "Desserts & Toppings." Because no one ever eats fruit unless its a topping on a dessert...*rolls eyes*

Anyway, simplest recipe ever. One container honey flavored FULL FAT greek yogurt (you could use plain yogurt and add honey) and one bag frozen mixed berries in a blender.

Mix, pour it in a bowl and put it in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so give it a stir to break those ice crystals up into tiny delicious pieces.

After a few hours of this you'll have beautifully scoopable, tasty delicious frozen yogurt.

I would have pictures of the kids eating it for you, but there aren't any. Josh ate the entire batch in one evening. Bug didn't get to even try it, and I barely got to lick a couple spoons. It was amazing. Sooooo delicious. And no way was this Mama Bear going to say "no" when her carb-aholic 7 year old asked for more good fat, protein, and vitamin- full greek yogurt and berry "ice cream".

Give it a try, I bet you'll love it. You're welcome. Nom nom nom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

No New Things...

We're trying to live more simply. We got rid of tons of stuff when we moved earlier this month. We are trying really really hard not to buy any new stuff to fill up our new house. It's so nice having all our uncluttered space, and barely needing to move a thing when dusting, sweeping and cleaning in general.

But we have a quarter acre lot, and that means we need lawn tools. Living in a condo before meant we had nothing as far as lawn equipment was concerned, and we'd be starting from scratch.

Papa Bear and I did some soul searching and some reading, and we set a goal to not buy anything new if we can help it (except underwear and toothbrushes, for obvious reasons). We'd like to be less wasteful, both with our money and with our material possessions. Why go out and buy a brand new x, y, or z when there's a perfectly functional used one somewhere out there. It not only keeps used items out of landfills, it also supports small local businesses and families instead of big box stores. And it saves us money. Triple win!

We put our goal to the test and started perusing Craiglist for the things we wanted. We found plenty of listings that were already sold, which really frustrated me as I'm an instant gratification type of gal. But with patience we found exactly what we were looking for at a great price from people right in our neighborhood.

We got this entire set of tools from a family just a few streets away from us. I'll compare our purchase price to an estimated new price. I'm Googling the "new" prices for each item and using the least expensive price I find.

New Prices

Garden Rake- $20
Axe- $16
Round Shovel- $10
Flat Shovel- $20
Wide Broom- $28
Hoe- $18
Smaller Broom- $12
Leaf Rake- $10  


Total New- $134 Our Price- $40 Savings- $94

Then we found all the following tools from a recycling center we found on Craigslist located in the next town. Again, I'm Googling the "new" prices for all these and using the LEAST expensive price I find.

 Black and Decker Hedge Trimmer
new- $55

Black and Decker Leaf Blower/Vaccum
new- $72

Snap and Go Weed Eater
new- $30

Black and Decker Edger
new- $89

Homelite Cordless Electric Mower
new- $349

Scott Push Mower
new- $105

Josh insisted we get this, much to Papa Bear's head shaking. He loves it though, and has spent the last three days mowing for fun!

Total New- $700 Our Price- $100 Saving- $600

They originally had each item listed separately, but since we bought them all at once they gave us an awesome package deal. The only down side was we had to make a second trip because the electric mower didn't fit along with everything else the first time.

I'm so excited we were able to get EVERYTHING for taking care of our lawn in one weekend, and for only $140. Truly amazing. Bonus points- Everything is electric. No gas, no oil, no gas can sitting in the garage. Extra bonus points- Our electricity plan is 100% wind power, so I feel pretty good about that too.