Category Archives: weekly update

Make Yogurt! (and a challenging week)

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I didn’t post an update last week, due to a rather difficult week, mostly with, ahem, a certain seven year old. But then I opened the front door, and saw the following, which I found rather amusing, and perfect for one’s blog, in which everything looks so delightful all the time

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Yes, they were reading to Sulien, AND not fighting over who reads which page, sits to the east or west of him, or the correct pronunciation of “interesting”.

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We visited the Agricultural Heritage Center, which is free and a lovely way to spend the afternoon. E and G brought home the Nature Detectives paper for that site, as part of their quest to visit all the open space sites in that program. After a visit at Carrie’s Honey (recommended!), we came home for an always too-brief visit from my aunt and uncle on one of their cross-country trips. Ruthie suggested a post on how to make yogurt, so here you go!

Yogurt
milk (I use very rich, raw milk, but pasteurized will work)
plain yogurt (with active cultures, which most yogurt has): 1/2 to 1 t. for each cup of milk
jars (I like 2 cup, wide-mouth glass jars)
a cooler large enough to fit the jars

Heat the milk to about 180 F (almost boiling), whisking frequently to avoid scorching the bottom. This changes the protein in the milk so that you don’t get goopy yogurt. Cool it down to about 110 F (cool enough that you can put your finger in it without burning it, but so that it is still a little warmer than you are). Add it to jars with about 1 t of yogurt for each 2 c of milk. Put the lids on, give it a little shake to distribute the yogurt, and set in a cooler of hot water (I use the hottest tap water from my sink). After several hours (usually 6-8) the yogurt will be set and ready to refrigerate and eat.

Much like the above-mentioned soap, this is a natural product, so quirky things can happen. Sometimes it isn’t set enough after 8 or even 10 hours. I usually replace the hot water, and sometimes add a little more yogurt, and give it several more hours. If you get a thinner consistency than you like, either embrace it, or add a thickener like powdered milk, or strain it (but use the whey-like part!)

Resist the temptation to use lots of yogurt. For some reason, more bacteria doesn’t equal better yogurt, and will actually make a worse product. The other quirk of yogurt making is to leave the yogurt still while it is setting, or it will not set as firmly. Ask the bacteria why; i have no idea.

You can use a previous batch to start a new one, but I have read that after time, it will not work well anymore. I like to switch up the bacteria, to make sure our systems are getting a good variety, so I usually use store-bought yogurt as a starter. Experiment with different brands; I love Straus yogurt, and the final product usually resembles the type you used.

And some photos from the week, in which we had rain(!) and continued to appreciate this never-ending autumn:

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Birthday week in the mountains

We stayed in a lovely cabin near Rollinsville for my birthday, after a whirl around the carousel in Nederland.

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One of the highlights was my birthday cake, adapted from the Joy of Cooking (1964) with a cream cheese chocolate icing. Glory wanted to decorate it, went outside to collect bits of autumn, and came up with this beautiful creation:

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We did our part-time school day even more part time, with the joy of doing math in one’s pajamas. Art was pretty low-key; Glory and I did contour drawings of aspen leaves, which turned out wonderfully.

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And the hiking–glorious! We hiked at the Moffat Tunnel, which is very beautiful, but they had the Big Fan on constantly for some reason. We also did a bit of the Hessie Trailhead–the aspen groves there are very magical right now!

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It was warm enough to have morning tea outdoors

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Happy 38 to me!

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Crafts, cooking, and reflections

The pencil rolls. These are actually really handy for bringing places, having the pencils laid out on the table, and not having them spill in the art cabinet. Made from a 1960s fabric scrap and a thrifted pillowcase, they cost about $1 each!

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Good foods this week: vegetable pie with potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and other goodies from our garden  and CSA. Dreena Burton’s No-Fu loaf (a tofu-free vegan meatloaf). Apple-pear crisp (our tree is dropping the apples right now; unfortunately the bigger trees around here don’t have any apples this year!) Dried pear slices. Homemade vanilla-peppermint ice cream from our cow share. Oh, autumn foods have just begun…

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Lovely finds: a wool floor duster that is fantastic for quickly cleaning baseboards. It’s basically the original Swiffer, works way better, and doesn’t use disposable materials. A fairy dress and tiger costume for G and E, which saves me sewing them (sewing fake fur is a mess!) A stash of vintage aprons that jumped out at me at the thrift shop when looking for the costumes.

Emmett is slowly getting that it is in his best interest to try his best for tests. The first math test was today, and he did great.

Week of September 14

A glorious week for being outdoors! Monday’s art was watercolors in the garden, with our new, grown-up brushes and Stockmar paints. They also had some sort of game in which Glory was a sea diver.

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History was the Old Kingdom of Egypt, and the completion of papyrus making. Unfortunately the strips did not stick together. We will soak and roll them again. The history text for Emmett’s class is rather disappointing, so we’re focusing more on books we find and projects. Piano is going really well, despite the book progressing rather quickly. Glory played with a classmate this week for the first time.

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Our house is painted, and we are taking apart the old front screen door to make a new back door, since it was so nicely constructed.

Wednesday was windy (which made for fun data for Emmett’s wind observations for science) so we flew kites. Wednesday Craft Day was making fall-inspired tutus for Horsie and Lavender Basil.

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Nature Friday took place at the Sourdough Trail, where we were four weeks ago. It was neat to see the same trees in a suddenly different season. Sulien wanted to walk most of the way, which was a bit much for tiny legs. Horse riding was fun; Emmett and Glory traded horses this week.

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Week of September 7

Week 3 has been more successful school-wise! Emmett was nearly enthusiastic about doing work some days. Monday we hiked the Ceran St. Vrain trail, with, apparently, everyone who had Labor Day off. It appears to be a heavily used trail, but I think this was exceptional. E and G loved their “dirt slide”, and Sulien kept wanting to go in the St. Vrain–brr! The trail is shady, and has large campsites, though they aren’t exactly secluded.

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We went to the library and the Egyptian store, since we are reading about ancient Egypt, and got a kit to make papyrus. The process can take two weeks! I am not impressed by the history book Emmett’s class is using, Story of the World by Bauer, but the chapters are short, so we have plenty of time for other books on the subject. Glory lead Wednesday craft time, and we made paper puppets (her own invention). Piano is going well for Emmett; he seems to really like it.

I finished their art smocks, and used some scraps to make Sulien a reversible sun hat. Both projects are from Oliver + S: Things to Sew. This book doesn’t have any of their awesome clothing patterns, but the projects in it are as well-written as their single patterns.

Nature Friday was close to home, with a walk to Golden Ponds and the river. Emmett found some claws, and we saw the cutest frog in the world. Saturday had horse riding, and the finishing of the house being painted! Now we are taking apart our old screen door to use on the back door, and have gotten some lovely red oak to make a storm door. Three cheers for being able to avoid Home Depot.

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Week of August 31

Week three! Sulien is concentrating on P.E., walking all over, and trying out the bike trailer for our library trip.

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We’ve begun history, now that Emmett has his book, and have started on Egypt. Piano is going well for all of us, despite an exuberant Sulien who likes to play along with whomever is practicing. Emmett would read books all day if he could (except the workbooks). Nighttime reading is My Friend Flicka, which I realized takes place just over the Wyoming border.  APEX went well, though I’m still waiting for the week in which Glory will use the toilet there. Sulien and I stay close to the telephone on those days–sigh.

We celebrated Lavender’s third birthday (again?) with some banana bread

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Other highlights: roasting marshmallows with a bonfire, and riding

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Matt’s birthday party was a little picnic at Sandstone Ranch.

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Nature Friday is moved to tomorrow (Monday)…

Crafty project: art smocks! Pictures to follow once I get the last parts of them finished.

Week of August 24

Week two brings us the start of attending APEX once a week. Glory is doing kindergarten, which they require because she is five, and Emmett takes a day of classes: Ancient history, science, art, robotics, piano, and Passport to the World. The teachers are awesome, the classes are fun and give us a path to explore in more depth (for example, history). Once a week classes (there are no grades) are great for E and G, who like to self-teach and move along at their own pace.

The home part of home schooling has been a bit stressful. Emmett continues to hope for no school as his school. We continue to hope that he will stop protesting for hours to do work that takes a fraction of the time, and is actually useful. He does, however, greatly enjoy lunch, recess, art, field trips, silent reading, and stories.

We felted wool roving to make decorations for our nature table, went swimming, painted, rode horses, went for a short hike at Chautauqua Park, and visited the very fun annual tractor show–twice!

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Glory's favorite vehicle at the tractor show.

Glory’s favorite vehicle at the tractor show.