1.24.2013

homemade yogurt

vanilla bean yogurt
We go through a lot of yogurt, about 2 quarts of plain greek yogurt a week. I started to get interested in making my own after running across a crockpot version. I also have a large surplus of milk because I get WIC but we don't drink milk often, so it was perfect. I mainly use this recipe, with just minor adjustments. I now make it at least once a week, it's really easy and delicious.

notes:
I use whatever milk I have on hand, usually 2% or 1%. The first time I made it with store bought starter, it seemed very watery, but I strained it until it was the texture I wanted, for several hours and it was fine, I just only ended up with about 3 cups. Once I used a half cup of reserved strained yogurt from that first watery batch for my next batch, it was much thicker. I don't know if using your own starter has more cultures, maybe because it was strained, or maybe I did something wrong the first time, but since then they have turned out great.

It it important to add the yogurt at the right temperature, if the milk is too hot it will not culture properly. I once accidentally added my yogurt when it was 180 degrees, and it never cultured, just looked like milk with some curdles. Whoops.

Crockpot Greek Yogurt
makes a bit over a quart (strained, but it can vary)

1/2 Gallon milk (any kind, but not ultra-pasterized)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (once you make it you can reserve a half cup for a starter)

optional:
sweeteners, vanilla bean paste or extract

Put the milk in a crockpot and with the lid on, set on low for about 2 1/2-3 hours, until temperature is 180 degrees (checked with a candy termometer).

Once at the right temperature, take the lid off and unplug crockpot and let cool until temperature is 95-115 degrees, about 1 hour.

Once at the right temperature, mix some of the warm milk with the reserved 1/2 cup yogurt to incorporate, and then mix into the milk. Put the lid back on, and place the whole crockpot into the oven with just the light on. Leave for 8-10 hours or overnight. The yogurt will be noticeably thickened at this point, with some watery whey also. It can look slightly lumpy, but straining will fix all that. Put the whole crock into the fridge for a few hours or into smaller containers.

Once cooled, line a mesh strainer with at least 2 layers of cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Spoon the yogurt into the lined strainer and put back in the fridge for a few hours, to strain the whey. You can strain it until the desired texture, it will make it nice and creamy if you were concerned that it looked a bit lumpy at the beginning.  I usually do it 3 hours, once I forgot about it overnight and it turned into yogurt cheese, but I just added back some of the whey and it was fine.

At this point you can sweeten it and flavor it. I will make some of it vanilla bean flavored. Using about 2 cups of yogurt I add 1/3 cup sugar (I suggest to add a small amount and taste until it is the desired sweetness) and whisk until dissolved, and add 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste. You can also use the same amount of extract, but I highly recommend using paste or a vanilla bean.

8.20.2012

Arlo.

Arlo just born. Arlo and daddy Arlo 2 months old
first two: his first day. Last: 6 weeks. 

Meet Arlo Rollie Sasser. Born May 24th, 8:43 am 7lbs, 11 oz 20 and 3/4 inches long. Named for both our grandfathers, Marlow (mine) and Roland (his).

Arlo was born after a long time waiting. 60 hours of labor. I won't go into the whole birth story, but he was off center, his hand up to his face and posterior. My natural birth plan was in effect for almost 12 hours at the hospital, until I found out his position and after having intense contractions 30 seconds apart for 8 hours, and only progressing 2 cm, I was exhausted. I had the relief of an epidural which helped me to rest as it took 9 more hours until he was born. I had the most amazing support of Tyler and my doula, who were there for every second doing anything I needed.

After all was said and done, I am so happy with the way his birth went, and everything I did helped him to be born happy and healthy. He was born with the most shocking long white hair, the most pink/red skin, a heart shaped stork bite in between his eyes, and one left dimple.

He's the happiest of babies, with an easy temperament and lots of smiles to give. He makes me melt. Putting him to sleep in my arms is now my greatest of achievements.

It's been nice to have a few months to heal, adjust, and have him meet family. Now we are starting to settle into a routine, and I'm back from my self-induced maternity leave. Thanks for all the support.

5.03.2012

knit hats knit hats
knit hats
knit hats
Here are a couple baby hats I knit up in the last week. The gray one I dyed the yarn myself, which turned out really well. The other is a gift for a baby girl. I currently have 5 other projects waiting for buttons, that's always the slowest part for me.

I am at almost 38 weeks, I guess this could happen anytime, but I'm counting on going a week late. I think I need the extra time anyways! I think I'm still not really comprehending that there is actually going to be a baby at the end of all this.

Recent happenings: I turned a year older, and threw Tyler a surprise baby shower for his friends at school. Nothing crazy blog worthy, just a BBQ and lots of friends. Tyler is in a field (child psychology) where men are a minority, so he has quite a few friends who are very happy for this baby to come. They are so supportive and it was so fun to have Tyler have most of the attention, and watch him open up gifts and show off the baby's room.

I am currently chewing a lot of peppermint gum, practicing my relaxation, and worrying about getting everything ready, all while being kicked in the ribs rather firmly just to remind me of what's about to happen. 

ravelry links here and here.

4.12.2012

idle hands . . .

baby hoodie baby hoodie
I am 34 weeks and 3 days. I'm officially at the stage where I just feel huge and uncomfortable. Not too extreme, but the thought of waiting for over another month sounds like forever. Sitting up in the morning takes all my energy, and I make a lot of groaning sounds.

Now at least spinning classes I get a little vanity boost because so many people are so impressed with me being there, and they tell me how great I am, and how great I look. Not going to lie, that helps a little. They don't know that I just go home and lie on the couch for a couple hours because I feel exhausted.

Walking around campus when I go to work, I feel the undergrads eyes staring at me with terror. I think I'm a walking warning to them all. "This could happen to you."   

As is obvious from my posts lately, I've been knitting a lot. I'm churning out projects like a mad woman. It's the one thing that truly makes me feel relaxed. When I finish a project I almost panic because in that lull that's when the worries set in, and I usually don't have a very good day. Sometimes Tyler will catch me looking a certain way and he immediately says "you need to start knitting something, do you have a project to do?" He knows what I need.

I finished up this sweater a while ago, but just put the buttons on. I feel like the sleeves and body are a bit wide, but it turned out pretty good. I've got four projects blocking today, I'll get those up soon.

Need to get something new on the needles. . . there is a lot on my mind. . . this kid is going to have so many sweaters.

ravelry link

3.29.2012

baby girl knits

lace baby sweater lace baby sweater lace baby sweater baby leggings baby leggings
I just got back from a great trip to see my sister in Portland. The last hurrah in a lot of ways. Last time I see her before we have our babies, last time I fly on a plane without a little one, last vacation with Tyler, and my last time in Portland for the time being (my sister will likely be moving away soon). Time just goes too fast. It was fun to go around Portland eating lots of delicious food with a twin baby bump. I'm sure we were quite the spectacle.

Of course I didn't come empty handed, I brought a few things I knit for my sister's little girl. I love that I can knit girl and boy things, best of both worlds.

For the sweater, I had ordered some yarn that I was hoping would be more monochromatic, like a tonal gray. Instead it was a bit more variegated with subtle tones of purple, gray, and even some spots of red and blue. I didn't like how it was knitting up, the stripey look really takes away from the lace pattern. But I always had the backup plan of dyeing it once it was finished if I didn't like the color. So that's what I did. I think the deep purple turned out great, and was so easy to do (but hard to photograph). ravelry link


I also knit some baby leggings with some self striping sock yarn. So fun! I tried to make them real small and stretchy so they will be snug on little legs. I don't like how sometimes they are all saggy. These are so fast to knit up, I think I will be making many more. ravelry link 

3.19.2012

future academic.

baby shawl baby shawl baby shawl
My first memory of learning the gory details of pregnancy was in 10th grade health. I had the typical health teacher, ex-baseball coach (fired for a mysterious incident that was never talked about), golf club always in hand, he taught us more in the "ways of the world" and about "real life." There were a lot of videos. He did take it very seriously, but he thought teaching from a book was ridiculous and so once a month we would partner up and complete a review of a chapter from the text just to meet the requirements so we could go back to discussing the meaning of life. (Go public school!)

One of the many videos we watched was about pregnancy and birth. He thought it was very important that everyone see a birth, especially since his wife was pregnant at the time. We knew it was coming for weeks and I think everyone was dreading it. I was, because I was totally terrified of childbirth. The day comes and he puts in a video from the late 70's. Now I don't remember too much about the actual birth part, I think I just closed my eyes most of the time.

The most vivid thing I remember is that they showed the woman knitting a sweater from the first trimester until birth. They kept showing this sweater coming together, this woman just sitting and knitting. There was a lot of knitting analogies, and animations of dancing knitting. Terrifying. I'm surprised I can even knit at all while I'm pregnant with those images burned in my brain.

Luckily I was not permanently scarred for life and all I've been doing is knitting. I knew I would knit some shawl collared sweaters for the baby, because they are my favorite sweaters for boys. Tyler has so many of them, we both are obsessed. I didn't love all the seaming in this sweater, I had to take it in so it wouldn't be boxy so the seams are a little bulky. I like the stitch pattern, it gave it a perfect grandpa vintage feel, and the merino yarn knit up so soft.

ravelry link here.

3.05.2012

bump watch

bump watch bump watch bump watch bump watch bump watch bump watch
Time has been passing way too fast. Seriously what has happened? I'm now in my last trimester, and the pressure is on! I can't believe that I'm shopping for car seats, room decorating and thinking about all those details. February seemed to be the month where I really popped (and got my first dye job ever! So fun). I went from a little bump to a big one, and fast! Now when I go to the gym I'm like a walking freak show people just stop and stare.

I'm lucky that I still feel pretty normal other than some typical things, and baby has gotten so big and active he's break dancing in my tummy all the time. I can still wear a decent amount of my clothes, before being pregnant I always wore loose, blousy tops, and now it's interesting how I am the opposite now and love snug things. I have some things that I think are still too big that I wore before.

Here are a sampling of instagram bump photos from February. My username is secret_pocket if you want to follow me, I may not be too good about updating here, but I'm always posting on there.

What have I been doing? Baby knitting! To share soon. 

2.15.2012

love day.

vday gift
vday gift
I hope you all had a great valentines day. We don't go too crazy about it, but Tyler did give me some amazing gifts: he picked out some decals from Shanna, and a ring from Odette.

We couldn't help but put up a decal right away, this one is from her new line (not available online yet). We put it by our front door as a bit of a mantra. 

We got some pizza take out and chocolate cake, which was just what I wanted. We went to a late showing of The Artist, which was really good. Tyler was totally enthralled, but I was bit distracted because pizza + chocolate cake + jelly bellies x(26 weeks pregnant) = loud tummy noises that in a silent movie, the other 4 couples there could probably hear.

2.03.2012

one and not done.

half a pair
I got one sock done. Now I have to do the other one. Hopefully I won't have this turn into my mitten project. Making two of something is hard! Mentally I just want to move on. I guess I could learn how to make two at a time, I'll see if I get sock obsessed after this pair.

This one turned out well, the fit is good, but I feel like I can feel the stitches a bit when I walk. This is probably too simple of a pattern, I would like to do a toe-up version next time. A good place to start, and I didn't have to think about it much while I was making it or refer to a pattern.

2.01.2012

making milk.

almond milk almond milk almond milk almond milk almond milk
I feel like instagram has turned into quite the mini blog for me, I love posting on there but I know it only limits to iphone users. Those who follow my instagram have seen my blender obsession. After making hundreds of smoothies in my food processor, I went for my dream and got a blendtec blender (my mom got one at a costco demo show for me). I've had it for a week and used it dozens of times. I'm in love with an appliance and I don't care who knows it!

One of the things I wanted to try was making my own almond milk. It's so simple, and so much better than store bought (and cheaper!). It can be made with any blender, just probably takes longer than my 40 seconds. :) I used a couple different recipes for reference. I did not have a nut milk bag, I used cheesecloth, but I folded it twice so it was strained through four layers. One layer alone would not be fine enough. Worked great that way.

I used it with my favorite smoothie recipe, and it was fantastic on cereal. I hope to make this a weekly routine. Makes about a quart, and it keeps for 3-4 days. Like all almond milk it separates in the fridge but just give it a stir and it's back to perfect.

Almond milk

1 cup raw almonds soaked overnight in water, rinsed and drained
4 cups filtered water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt

Combine water and drained almonds and blend on high until well blended (maybe 5 minutes for regular blenders, whole juice button on blendtec). Pour over cheesecloth or nut milk bag set over/in a pitcher or bowl. Press all liquids through and put back in a rinsed blender. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine. Pour in a pitcher and keep refrigerated. 

1.25.2012

a stitch for your thoughts.

destress. destress.
This blog has been a journal about what I'm doing in the moment. Obviously, there has been a lot of knitting going on. My first trimester cooking large dinners sounded disgusting, so that's why my normal obsessing about food post have been diminished. Luckily this trimester I'm loving to cook again, and things are slowing feeling normal while also feeling so different.

I recieved this beautiful yarn for Christmas (color well water), destined for my first socks. I'm just doing a simple rib sock, and I'm won't be surprised if I have to rip it all out sooner or later. I'm not overthinking it, just the act of sitting and doing some mindless knitting with yarn that feels like silk through my fingers is my therapy right now. I have so many things going through my mind at times, and in those quiet moments I can just let them go.

For example yesterday, I spent over an hour at the grocery store putting together a perfect cart of food and things I needed. When I went to checkout, the lines were long and I panicked because I needed to get home so Tyler could get to a meeting on time. I had no choice, and I just had to leave my cart and walk out of the store so I could be on time. It was totally my fault, and I felt so frustrated and defeated. I got home, and just knit and knit. And then sweet Tyler went and got everything on my list (again) while I was at yoga. Things work out.

1.24.2012

baby's first knit.

babies first knit babies first knit babies first knit
As you can imagine, I was very anxious to find out what we were having, for many reasons. Mostly for me so I could finally pick out yarn colors and start on baby projects. A couple days after the ultrasound, my sister and I went to the yarn store to pick out colors to start on a chevron blanket together. Made of the softest organic cotton by blue sky alpacas, this yarn has a great color palette to choose from to make this old-fashioned pattern feel modern.

It was a thrill to get my sister back into knitting, we learned together over 10 years ago and I kept at it while she didn't catch the bug. I'm hoping this will ignite a spark in her yet. There has to be a knitting gene in our DNA somewhere we share. I finished this while we were home for Christmas, and her pace is a bit slower, but I can't wait to see it. Her colors for her baby girl are gorgeous.

ravelry link

1.16.2012

two hats for two boys.

jon's hat Tyler
Last of the hats! I promise. My husband and my sister's husband are very similar in what they like, and I wanted to make them the same hat. I liked this fisherman's style twisted rib beanie. But I did it two different ways. For my brother-in-law Jon I did the pattern as written, and for Tyler he wanted it longer. Jon wears it short, Tyler wears it long. Works for both. Ravelry link for Jon, link for Tyler.

1.13.2012

adventures in cables.

lindsay's hat lindsay's hat mom dadhat jake
So many cables. Cables are shockingly simple to do, but make the greatest variations in knitting that make them look so complex. I knit these for my family for Christmas. From the top:

Lindsay: My sister-in-law's hat was probably my favorite one to make. Made from the softest baby suri, it was my first time doing bobbles. It's a great slouchy pattern that has a great textural effect. Ravelry link.

Mom: I wanted to do something snug and low profile, because she does a lot of athletic outdoor activities like skiing and snowshoeing, so this hat was great. I used a superwash merino yarn and it is a twisted rib with cables worked in for a subtle detail. It happened to match her coat perfectly without me even trying. Ravelry link.

Dad: I loved this pattern, and now I've made it three times since making this first one. A nice unisex hat. It's not very mindless, but it was my first time knitting from a chart and it was so easy to do that way. I'm a chart convert. Ravelry link.

Jake: My brother's hat was my only mess up. I made it too long, the pattern is way too long and I only removed one cable repeat when the last time I made it I removed two. The perfectionist in me was very disappointed and so he'll have another one coming to him, even though I know he's probably fine with rolling it a bit. Ravelry link.

1.10.2012

Christmas hats: colorwork

twin hats
twin hats twin hats bright hearts bright hearts bright hearts
For these hats, I did colorwork for the first time in my knitting. It was really easy to do, and a fun technique. I made twin hats for Malorie and I, using the yarn that I dyed. This hat can either be worn slouchy or the brim folded up for a different look. I loved the way that they turned out, and the yarn was dreamy to work with. Ravelry link.

For my adorable niece Reese, I wanted to do something using a bright neon because she loves those colors. I remembered those crazy ski hats from my childhood that are so fun. I used an adult pattern that I modified to be child-sized. I think the hearts are so sweet, and the purple/lime combo a little modern. I loved seeing her face when she opened it up, she's such a cutie. Ravelry link.

Thanks for the love yesterday! I'm so happy I could share with all you, and I'm relieved it's out there now and I can talk about all my weird food cravings. :)
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