Monday, December 12, 2011


We started making our own yogurt a little while back. It is MY FAVORITE THING TO EAT ON THE PLANET (besides frosting)!
This is so easy to make, it is cheap and has nothing in it but milk! Seriously, this is it:
1. Heat milk up to 180 degrees.
2. Let it cool to 110 degrees.
3. mix in yogurt (from your last batch, or store-bought if this is your first time). I add about 1 1/2-2 cups if making a gallon. For a half gallon, of course, 1 cup would do fine.
4. Pour into clean jars, bowls, whatever.
5. Maintain at 110 degrees for 6-10 hrs.  I place mine into my picnic cooler, add 2 closed mason jars of hot water beside them and place towels around those jars. Shut the cooler and go to sleep for the night. In the morning I put the yogurt in the fridge to chill.

You can strain the yogurt through a cheese cloth if you like greek-style yogurt. This stuff is great! For $2.50 I can have a gallon of yogurt without additives! You can add fruit, any sweetener you like or just eat it plain. But you may never want store-bought again!

It's beginning to look a lot like christmas

I SWORE I wasn't going to decorate for Christmas except for our stockings and our little (2 foot) tree this year. "The kids don't care, no one joins in, I liked when I was little. We had everyone in on it, carols blaring, it was fun." 

Then, the very next day, Wolf pushes away from the dinner table and announces, " What we need is some classic Christmas preparations. Chop, chop, let's get started." Next thing you know, I'm sucking on a candy cane, wearing a Santa costume and happily unwrapping the 17th nutcracker!
Olivia does NOT like Grandma Claus!
Our first gingerbread house! We cheated, we used graham crackers!

We all got into it, even Grandma Jo! The "battle scar" on Vladdie's cheek is his new thing. He markers fake battle damage onto various parts of his body pretty much daily now.

There is a tiny smooshed marshmallow snowman made by Vlad. He has blue facial features. Can you see him?

A gummi bear is fishing for shark (crackers) in his pond!

Vladdie Claus!

So, I never mentioned T-giving this year. We had a lovely day that was very intimate by our standards. Mum and Mark helped us to celebrate and we had a really nice visit with good conversation, and of course great food! We were very casual and enjoyed not caring if the house was clean. Plus, can you say "elastic waistband" ?
I decided to try my bread recipe in a different shape for a change. They were cute! Everyone really enjoyed the roasted butternut squash and cauliflower, another new addition to the usual recipes.

The boys had fun learning about the first Thanksgiving and made Native American headdresses. They really got into "Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving" so next year we might have toast, jelly beans, popcorn and pretzels!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What's up, November? There's a new kid in town named December!

Right now, I am...
:: living as slowly as I can. Trying not to get caught up in my usual holiday expectations or the shopping insanity that has consumed all manner of media.
:: feeling a little dread about winter coming. It will be fine once it arrives, but I still long for summer. Time to put the icescraper back in the car.
:: thinking about what it would be like to never have to work weekends again, especially since both Christmas And the New Year And their eves are on my workdays this year.
:: looking at the haircut I gave myself, snipping off a few more pieces here and there.
:: letting the boys play video games on a "token" system. They get a set amount of tokens for 15 minutes each token, daily. They choose how to spend them once the "arcade" has opened for business.
:: holding hands with my little sweeties at the playground today. Such a sweet time together.
:: wondering what the heck to get certain people for Christmas!
:: eating a throw together meal at the Grand-Hoffs. I love them! They start with a phone call to or from myself or Jo. "I have soup and a loaf of fresh baked bread, what do you have?" "Salad, squash and home made applesauce." Then into the car and off we go! These are fast becoming a fabulous tradition!
:: writing a knitting pattern  that I can't get right. Knitting= patience!
:: listening  to Christmas music! Crooners and swooners, Curious George's Christmas Monkey, Star Wars Christmas ("What do you get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb?", Charlie Brown's soundtrack. Loving it! 
:: treasuring the way Olivia gives her dolly "rock-a-bye-babies" and kisses!!
:: savoring squash, roasted with olive oil and parmesan cheese. And must not forget the homemade yogurt---so good it knocks my socks off every morning!
:: preparing for cookie making time! I want to cut back from my usual cookie insanity, but I love them all!
:: knitting  up some Christmas goodies, I hope!
:: moving my butt in some serious ninja/samurai/anime girl-like ways as my sons present me with a lovely eye patch and ask me to channel the spirit of yagu jubei (sp?), the greatest swordsman in Japan.
:: wishing I had a little more energy :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy Holidays from Frostville Museum

     Can I just say that we are blessed with so many great museums here, both big and small.  Not to mention wonderful local historical societies. We were able to use the Lakewood Historical Society's Nicholson House for our daughter's wedding and my Mom-in-love and Aunt's retirement party.
     But, today we attended the Frostville Museum's Holiday celebration. We toured 5 of the homes and the church today and got there early before it was crowded. The volunteers for the Olmsted Historical Society are wonderful. They dress the part and know their stuff. I love sharing local history with my kids. It is personal and accessible and priceless. Today's event was free and included cookies and coffee! I love seeing the ladies proudly sharing their bakery, willing to give Matt a recipe for one cookie that was just a little too good. More on that recipe when he makes me some!
     Here's a few pictures of the day...

The boys learn about Father Christmas, as compared to Santa.

The boys were asked to hang a decoration on the tree

Wolfie was actually allowed to wind the Victrola this year!

Wolf takes in the fire with a volunteer. See his popcorn? He admired another volunteer's popcorn, so the Gentleman shared it with him!


Olivia will just eat the stroller, thanks.

face painting. Vladdie surprised the young lady when he requested a "Christmas tornado". She obliged.

wolf got a penguin that danced when he puffed up his cheek!

Checking out the local high school class of 1951

Tornado completed!

The finishing touch to the penguin. Vlad approves.

     Such a wonderful day, so happy to have shared it with so many people I love!


Look at that fine leg with an almost as lovely sock adorning it.

     Yes, I am shouting it from the mountaintops!  I finally finished knitting my first pair of socks!  These are for Matt, which means they are huge and took longer than little socks, but that is no excuse for how long they took--7 months!!!!!!  I learned so much making these, each time I ripped them out and started over.  I can not give a higher recommendation to the author of the book I used, which was so much easier for me to follow than other patterns I tried.  God bless you Ann Budd!
I beasted these socks, in a slow, drawn out over many months sort of beastly way.
Matt so loves to receive socks .

Friday, November 11, 2011

And So It Begins Again...

Winter, it is coming. Today, we had some snow for the first time this year. Then some weird ice pellet type stuff.
    What to do about it?  Fire up the oven and bake some bread. The smell, warmth, taste. Sure to banish winter blues. For now that is.

BTW, Want to know how great I am at delegating?  I outsource our pumpkin carving to the squirrels! Ok, we know I suck at delegating, but it sure is fun watching those little beasts have at it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

What's been goin' on 'round these parts

We have been lucky to have a visit from Grandma Kathy!!!!!

Grandma Kathy visited and brought a number of beautiful hand-made goodies for Olivia, like this sweet kimono.

We met up with my Uncle for a trip to the orchard and a visit to Schoepfle Garden. 

A fun fall sunset picnic of pickles, pumpkin donuts and cider slushies with  Uncle Frank, Lilly, Abel, my Mom and the GrandHoffs.

walking through the gardens on a perfect Autumn evening, the cousins enjoyed  being together

Wolfie and Abel 

Silly pose!

Sweet pose?

Bangsy can't stay out of the water!

Grandpa Jay with the wind up and the pitch!

Vlad almost falls in!


3 Hoffs 

Me with My Mom and Uncle

We made a big old batch of applesauce to freeze for later in the year.  We used the last of our pick-ur-own apples. The boys helped with the china cap and pestle. The sauce was sooooooo good!

Lots of leaves to rake!!!!!!!!

    I am still diligently knitting Matt's socks and hope to be done soon!  I have successfully made yogurt a few times now! The last batch I made was a gallon and it was the best yet! It is so much better than store bought. All I need is a gallon of milk and a cup of yogurt to use as the starter. easy peazy!!  A great tutorial is at Soule Mama. I had been wanting try it for a long time. My first batch didn't set, but I worked it out by the next batch. Next up is finding a fast, low maintenance routine for making batches of soup stock to freeze. I'm on it!