Saturday, June 30, 2012

Family Reunion

My dad comes from a large family.  They are originally from Des Moines, Iowa.  I have a lot of cousins, aunts, and uncles, and I love it!  It's so much fun to have everyone together to reconnect. 

This past weekend we had a reunion in Franklin, TN.

These were little welcome bags that we made.  They had a list of all the fun things to do in Franklin and Nashville.

We had a shrimp boil.  Have you ever been to one?  They are wonderful!  Sometimes they can be spicy, but I thought this one was just right.  Thanks to our neighbor, Ken, for cooking for everyone!

Yum!!  ....sausage, corn on the cob, whole garlic cloves (the best part), shrimp, onions, BUTTER, and potatoes galore.

These were supposed to be lanterns that would float up into the air like mini hot air balloons.  They apparently didn't work.  Luckily, Brian figured out a way to put this out before it caught the super dry grass on fire, too. 

This was pretty neat.  My dad put a slide show together of old family photos (he was working on this for a long time!).  We all got to hang out by the pool and see our anscestors. 
Oh, a note to the family, sorry for all the photos of our immediate family (my dad didn't have time to pull some of them out). 
Great job Dad! 

One night, we watched Jaws in this pool on a huge screen.  That's a fun and unique experience. 

We all went to Deer Run Retreat on Saturday for lake time, kickball, and a climbing tower.  It's a local Christian retreat center where I used to work.  I had never gone there for fun, but oh my was so great!!  We all loved it!  

 all the cute little boys and their mamas

 the water slide that goes into the lake

The zipline over the lake was awesome... was the "Blob".

 This little spider monkey climbed all the way to the top!  She's so cute!

 We had a kickball game after swimming in the much fun!

 the "tough" kickball team

 my husband, baby, and dad
This is Levi's kissy face.  He sucks his cheeks in like a fish.  It's so cute!

 all the kids

 where it all started...the great grandparents!!

ALL OF US!  Woohoo!  What a great reunion we had.  I'm so glad we all got to spend time together. 
Thanks to Donnie for the group & candid photos!
I love my aunt and uncle's m&m shirts.  I also love that the family is growing.  Check out all the kids!  They were all SO well behaved the whole time. 

I can't wait for the next reunion! <3

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Painting on Picture Frames

These are so easy, cheap, and fun to make!  They are perfect to give as gifts.

When we were searching for houses to buy recently, we saw painted windows in a couple homes (both had beautiful floral designs).  Those inspired me to try painting on windows and picture frames with acrylic paint.  The best part about this craft is that you can use a razor blade to easily scrape any mistakes off the glass once it's dry (doesn't take long to dry).  It's like painting with an eraser! 

I used a picture frame from Goodwill, and gave it as a gift to the realtor who sold us our first house.  It had never occurred to me that the $.99 picture frames you can find at thrift stores could turn into such pretty art pieces with just a little paint and glue.

What you will need:
picture frame
acrylic paint
design in mind
glass glue (found at Home Depot or craft stores)
glass cleaner and wipes

Unfortunately I didn't get pictures of the entire process, but it's pretty simple:

1.) First, I took the backing off of the frame.  Then, I took the glass out and cleaned it really well.

2.) After that I firmly glued the glass to the frame. 

3.) I also gave the frame a new coat of paint (it was bare wood before). 

4.)The last thing I did was to paint the glass...which is the funnest part!

This is what the frame looks like from the back. The glass is just glued to the exposed wood part. I painted on the front of the glass, but you get a really smooth look (like above) if you paint on the back. It's a matter of what you are going for.

I hope you've enjoyed this simple frame painting tutorial :)

Check back soon!...I'll be posting a DIY window painting project.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Couscous Patties with Pine Nuts & Goat Cheese

Last year I saw an episode of "5 Ingredient Fix" where the host, Claire Robinson, made couscous patties with just five ingredients.  It looked so simple, so I had to try it.  I'm a huge couscous fan!

She used couscous, olive oil, eggs, pistachios, and parsley.  I tried her recipe once, and the results were great!  I wanted to try it with a few different ingredients for fun.


1/2 a box of Near East Couscous (5 oz.)
2-4 tbsp coconut oil
2 eggs
1/2 tsp of salt
fresh chopped basil (I used three leaves)
1/4C flour (not pictured)
1.75-2oz of pine nuts
2-3oz goat cheese (mine was fig flavored)
Makes 12-14 small patties.

First, cook the couscous (measure if necessary).
According to the directions on the box: boil water and butter/oil (optional), then add the couscous.  Remove from heat, cover, allow to cook for five minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Add 2 tbsp of coconut oil to the pan.  Turn on med, and allow to heat while preparing patties.

Add chopped basil, salt, and pine nuts to couscous and mix well. 

Beat two eggs in a separate bowl, then mix into the couscous mixture.

Add about 1/4C of the flour to mixture until you can mold it into patties.

Form into patties, then gently place in pan.  Cook until browned on one side, then flip. 

 Once they are lightly browned and slightly crispy, remove from pan and place on paper towel to cool.

Add goat cheese on top if you like.  I like!

Yum!  These are so great as a side item or an appetizer.  By default, they became an appetizer for us tonight while we waited for chicken to thaw.  We couldn't resist.

I could eat these everyday!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Craft Table

You may have seen (and lusted over) these cleverly constructed project tables on pinterest:

In my search, the cheapest one I have found is $399.  That's a little steep for me!


...I love the way it looks, and it seems really functional, so I decided I MUST have one, somehow.  The link above gives a step by step on how to build the table top.  The only wood working tool I have right now is a hack saw and a sander, so I wanted to come up with a simple way to build the desk.

I stumbled across these beauties at Home Depot.

The nine cube shelf is only $44.98 right now, so I bought two with a gift card I got for my birthday.

There was a super helpful man in the lumber department who told me how I could easily get a sturdy table top on using a strong wood glue.  It wouldn't fit in my car that night (I had baby with me.), so I plan to go back soon to buy a huge piece of wood.  I have some plans for the desk that are slightly different from the picture above.  I will be revealing the end result within the next month.

I am so excited!  Wish me luck!

Now, I need to find some of those cute, colorful cubby boxes for a good price.

The table top won't fit in my car, so I'm waiting for a family member with a truck to come visit!
The final product will be posted at the end of August.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fresh Peach Raspberry Pecan Muffins

These muffins are the perfect Spring and Summer treat! 

This muffin recipe comes from a variation of dairy free blueberry muffins I love to make, but these are definitely NOT dairy free...and they are delicious!

Makes 18 Muffins

  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Wheat Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 1/4 cup Ripe Diced Peaches
  • 1 cup Halved Raspberries
  • 3/4 cups Chopped Pecans
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons White Sugar for Decoration
  • 1 Small Jar of Nutella (you may not use it all)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Line muffin pans with paper liners, and lightly spray the tops with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the butter, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, and salt until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  6. Spoon some of this mixture onto the peaches, raspberries, and pecans in one bowl and toss to coat. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom.
  7. Fold the remaining flour mixture into the bowl with the eggs, alternating with the milk.
  8. Gently fold in the peaches, raspberries, and pecans.
  9. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling to the top.
  10. Sprinkle a little sugar over the tops of the muffins to make them a bit crispy.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until muffin tops are golden brown, and the tops spring back when pressed lightly.
  12. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  13. (Optional) Finally, pipe Nutella into each of the muffins by gently pushing a large star tip, nutella filled bag into the centers.  Let some nutella overflow to the top if you love it like I do.   
I like to add nutella to almost every muffin I make. It's really good in this recipe, but also good without it.

I entered these muffins into a Whole Foods cooking contest, and here is what Whole Foods test kitchen said about them:
"Wonderful fruit-filled muffins from Katie are a great way to celebrate the bounty of the season. Moist from the peaches and tart from the raspberries, these not-too-sweet muffins would be great for breakfast or as a snack. The pecans spread throughout along with the sugar sprinkled on top add a welcome contrast in texture, and we love that these are made with half whole wheat flour -- the delicate crumb holds up nicely to this fortifying split."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Homemade Baby Formula

It was a sad day when I finally ran out of breast milk that I'd saved up for Levi.  He was on breast milk until about ten months old.  My eczema was always mild in the past, but when I started breastfeeding, it seemed to become worse, then progressed to terrible.  I got a bad skin infection, because eczema makes your skin more susceptible to them. That's when I called it quits.  Hopefully I don't have the same problem with future babies!  I know that it's hard for us women when we can't feed our babies the natural way, and there are so many reasons why we have to switch to formula.  The eczema got much better when I quit breast feeding by the way.  It was difficult to find much information about this online, but I was told it is related to hormonal changes. 

The thing I really didn't like about the powdered formulas was that it is nearly impossible to find one in the US that doesn't contain soy oil.  If you know me, you know I don't like soy.  Read up about soy's negative side effects here.  There are some (expensive) brands of formula that you can have shipped from Australia and other countries that don't have soy, but I wasn't willing to dish out that kind of money.  I put him on an organic Wal-mart brand for about one month.  I didn't know it, but formula smells bad!  I must say: I don't believe that you are hurting your baby if you give him/her a commercial formula.  It's just a personal choice that I try to avoid soy.

While researching formulas, I discovered that you can make your own...without soy!  Wonderful!  It took me a while to accumulate all the ingredients.  It is a little pricey to obtain everything you need at first, but once you have the expensive ingredients, they will last a while.  I went through to get the bifidobacterium infantis, cod liver oil, and acerola powder, because they had the best prices on those items (you can save $10 on your first order using this link).  I went through to buy the lactose, because I couldn't find it anywhere else.  I got the rest of the ingredients at Whole Foods.

Raw Milk Baby Formula:

  • 2 cups whole raw cow's milk, preferably from pasture-fed cows
  • 1/4 cup homemade liquid whey (See recipe for whey, below) Note: Do NOT use powdered whey or whey from making cheese (which will cause the formula to curdle). Use only homemade whey made from yoghurt, kefir or separated raw milk.
  • 4 tablespoons lactose1
  • 1/4 teaspoon bifidobacterium infantis2
  • 2 or more tablespoons good quality cream (preferably not ultrapasteurized), more if you are using milk from Holstein cows
  • 1/2 teaspoon unflavored high-vitamin or high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon regular cod liver oil3
  • 1/4 teaspoon high-vitamin butter oil (optional)1
  • 1 teaspoon expeller-expressed sunflower oil1
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil1
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil1
  • 2 teaspoons Frontier brand nutritional yeast flakes1
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin1
  • 1-7/8 cups filtered water
  • 1/4 teaspoon acerola powder1, 2

  • Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).
  • Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.
  • Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.
  • When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.
  • Stir in the coconut oil and optional high-vitamin butter oil and stir until melted.
  • Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.
  • Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.
  • Place in glass bottles or a glass jar and refrigerate.
  • Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer. NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.
"Our milk-based formula takes account of the fact that human milk is richer in whey, lactose, vitamin C, niacin, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids compared to cow's milk but leaner in casein (milk protein). The addition of gelatin to cow's milk formula will make it more digestible for the infant. Use only truly expeller-expressed oils in the formula recipes, otherwise they may lack vitamin E.
The ideal milk for baby, if he cannot be breastfed, is clean, whole raw milk from old-fashioned cows, certified free of disease, that feed on green pasture. For sources of good quality milk, see or contact a local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.
If the only choice available to you is commercial milk, choose whole milk, preferably organic and unhomogenized, and culture it with a piima or kefir culture to restore enzymes (available from G.E.M. Cultures 253-588-2922 or ).
1. Available from Radiant Life 888-593-8333, .
2. Earlier versions of this web page called for 1 tsp of bifidobacterium infantis and 1 tsp of acerola powder--these were typos.
3. Use only recommended brands of cod liver oil.
See our recommendations here ."

I got this recipe from

I actually didn't use raw milk, and just used organic whole milk instead.  I also did not incorporate the optional butter oil, and the only acerola powder I could find was a bottle of chewable tablets.  I just crushed them.

The recipe says that it makes thirty-six ounces. Levi drinks about that much in one day (30-34 ounces), so I made nine times that amount. Another reason why I determined that I should make that much was because the thirty-two ounce yogurt I used produced 2 1/4 cups of whey. The recipe only called for 1/4 cup, so divided 2 1/4 by 1/4, which meant I had to multiply every other ingredient by nine! Don't try this unless you have some BIG bowls. I underestimated how much formula this would actually make.

Homemade Whey
Makes about 5 cups.
Homemade whey is easy to make from good quality plain yoghurt, or from raw or cultured milk. You will need a large strainer that rests over a bowl.
If you are using yoghurt, place 2 quarts in a strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl. Cover with a plate and leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Place whey in clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.
If you are using raw or cultured milk, place 2 quarts of the milk in a glass container and leave at room temperature for 2-4 days until the milk separates into curds and whey. Pour into the strainer lined with a tea towel set over a bowl and cover with a plate. Leave at room temperature overnight. The whey will drip out into the bowl. Store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator.
Source: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, PhD.

First, I made the whey using the recipe (from above.  Making whey has always intimidated me, but it was so easy!

32 ounces of yogurt yielded 2 1/4 cups of whey

waiting for gelatin and lactose to dissolve

1.) Put 2 cups filtered water into a pyrex measuring pitcher and remove 2 tablespoons (that will give you 1-7/8 cups water).

2.) Pour about half of the water into a pan and place on a medium flame.

3.) Add the gelatin and lactose to the pan and let dissolve, stirring occasionally.

4.) When the gelatin and lactose are dissolved, remove from heat and add the remaining water to cool the mixture.

after adding the coconut melts quickly

5.) Stir in the coconut oil and optional high-vitamin butter oil and stir until melted.

6.) Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into a blender.

7.) Add the water mixture and blend about three seconds.

Now I need to somehow combine these two big bowls.  Hmm...
I used a third big bowl and married them until they were well combined.

8.) Place in glass bottles or a glass jar and refrigerate.

9.) Before giving to baby, warm bottles by placing in hot water or a bottle warmer. NEVER warm bottles in a microwave oven.

Making that much formula at once took a while!  The part that took the longest was bagging it up.  (I didn't want to store it in glass, because I froze it.)  If you have ever stored breast milk, you know that it's important to get all the air out before freezing it.  Imagine doing this forty-eight times!  That's how many bags it made (about 310 ounces of formula!).  We definitely had enough to last while we were travelling over the weekend plus some!!

If Levi was younger, I would have thought about making the liver based formula, because most babies aren't ready for that much cow's milk at first (so I've heard). I felt pretty good about giving him cow's milk formula, because he is almost a year old.  I'm kind of glad I didn't have to mess with liver!

The best parts about making this formula are:

 knowing that my baby LOVES it
knowing that he's drinking something closely comparable to breast milk (see below)
feeling a sense of fulfillment in taking care of him by taking the time to make this :)

Recipe Below Will Make
Unit of Measure
Raw Milk
Liquid Whey
Bifodobacterium Infantis
Regular Cod Liver Oil
High Vitamin Butter Oil
Sunflower Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Filtered Water
Acerola Powder
Batch Total

The price really isn't bad compared to commercial formulas!

Breast Milk & Homemade Formula Nutrient Comparison Chart

Based on 36 ounces.
These nutrient comparison tables were derived from standard food nutrient tables and do not take into account the wide variation in nutrient levels that can occur in both human and animal milk, depending on diet and environment.
Breast Milk Cow's Milk
Goat Milk
Calories 766 856 890 682
Protein 11.3g 18g 18g 15g
Carbohydrates 76g 79g 77g 69g
Total Fat 48g 52g 54g 36g
Saturated Fat 22g 28g 30g 16g
Mono Fat 18g 16g 16g 12g
Poly Fat 5.5g 5.6g 5.7g 5.6g
Omega-3 FA .58g 1.3g 1.2g 1.0g
Omega-6 FA 4.4g 4.2g 4.4g 4.5g
Cholesterol 153mg 137mg 166mg 227mg
Vitamin A* 946IU 5000IU 5000IU 20,000IU
Thiamin-B1 .15mg 1.05mg 1.1mg .19mg
Riboflavin-B2 .4mg 1.2mg 1.2mg 1.9mg
Niacin-B3 1.9mg 2.5mg 4.4mg 14.2mg
Vitamin B6 .12mg .51mg .60mg .65mg
Vitamin B12 .5mcg 1.9mcg 2.8mcg 39mcg
Folate 57mcg 236mcg 284mcg 159mcg
Vitamin C 55mg 57mg 59mg 62mg
Vitamin D 480IU 450IU 525IU 460IU
Vitamin E*** 9.9mg 6.2mg 4.7mg 4.9mg
Calcium 355mg 532mg 548mg NA**
Copper .57mg .38mg .58mg 1.9mg
Iron .33mg 1.4mg 2.2mg 5.4mg
Magnesium 37.4mg 91.3mg 96.1mg 34.5mg
Manganese .29mg .034mg .12mg .24mg
Phosphorus 151mg 616mg 729mg 344mg
Potassium 560mg 949mg 1228mg 750mg
Selenium 18.8mcg 15.4mcg 18.7mcg 31.1mcg
Sodium 186mg 308mg 320mg NA**
Zinc 1.9mg 2.8mg 2.7mg 2.5mg
* Vitamin A levels in human milk will depend on the diet of the mother. Nursing mothers eating vitamin A-rich foods such as cod liver oil will have much higher levels of vitamin A in their milk. Commercial formulas contain about 2400 IU vitamin A per 800 calories.
** Calcium and sodium values for homemade broth are not available.
*** Vitamin E values are derived from commercial vegetable oils. The vitamin E levels for homemade formulas will be higher if good quality, expeller-expressed oils are used.

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