Friday, March 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes

I'm joining Jennifer Fulwiler today -- and a couple hundred others -- and blogging seven little paragraphs.  Mostly mundane.  A little Christmassy.  A bit fermented.  Slightly ridiculous.  That's life around here.

- ONE -

I've been making my own kefir since the beginning of February.  I ordered my organic milk kefir grains from Simply Kefir, and have been delighted with how easy it is to make kefir.

For those of you who are not experts in kefir, "kefir grains" are not grains at all, but rather they are gelatinous, cauliflower-resembling structures made of yeast and bacteria.  You feed them some fresh milk, they turn it into kefir, and you strain them out and start again.  As long as you keep feeding your grains, the fun never stops!  Then you can flavor your kefir with fruit or put it in a smoothie or drink it plain if you like things a little fizzy and sour.  Supposedly kefir contains up to four times the beneficial live cultures as yogurt.

{Of course, that won't stop me from continuing to make delicious homemade yogurt, too.}

- TWO -

I kid you not that my husband's "white trash Christmas tree" (the fake tree we inherited in the basement from the previous owners of our house, not the real tree we put up in our living room each Christmas) is still up in the TV room.  I ask beg threaten him nearly daily at this point, and yet it still stands.  You're probably wondering, "Sarah, why don't you just take the %&*# tree down yourself?"  Well, because Nathan insists that he and he alone can be the one to properly disassemble this piece of plastic-y horror and then take it in its piecemeal glory down to the basement.  I don't know why.  The truth is, I could probably do it, but Nathan likes to make projects really complicated and come up with reasons why they have to be done a certain way and no other way will suffice and no one but himself can be the one to do them.  In this way, he can continue to stress himself out on a regular basis.  We call him "The Overkiller" around here, because pick a project, be it as simple as making a peanut butter sandwich, and Nathan will find a way to make it really complex and use at least four different drill bits, some caulk, and the vacuum cleaner.  Then he'll need to replace a fuse.  That's just the way projects go around here.  


It is amazing what a little sleep can do for a person.  This morning when Nell woke up at 6:30 or so, I was really dragging.  My mind was a jumble of, "I don't know how to be a good mother / I don't know how to make any of the decisions I need to make in life / I have too many problems / I don't have any solutions / I'll never be able to raise this baby to be a kind and productive member of society who loves Jesus."

Then at 9:30 Nell took a nap, and I did too.  And I woke up at 11:00 thinking, "Okay.  There is probably at least one mother somewhere in the world even less qualified than I am.  I can do this."

That's the power of a nap.

- FOUR -

Nell has been a little dramatic lately.  It seems like every little thing makes her face crumple slowly into a look of abject misery, and then the crying begins.  Every diaper change.  Every morning when it's time to get dressed.  Every time she drops a toy.  Or bumps her face with her hand.  Or reaches for something she can't have and is swiftly removed from the situation.  It would be funny if it weren't so pitiful to see her little face fall, as her world comes crashing down time and again.  I have to say, I don't think I was expecting this level of drama until she was at least twelve or thirteen.  Maybe she's working on another tooth?

{Look at that adorable little bundle of blurry frustration.  I love her.}

- FIVE -

It snowed today.  About a foot.  Very beautiful.  But I'm very ready for spring.  No more snow, please.

... I just ran upstairs to re-settle my baby girl.  Then, having been pondering the snow, it seemed necessary to make myself a mug of hot chocolate.  My justifications were twofold: one, it was a snow day for the schools, and snow days require hot chocolate; two, I don't want that tin of Sipping Chocolate from Trader Joe's sitting in my cabinet all summer, so somebody's got to use it up.  Will I regret this indulgence?  My friends, I regret it already.  And yet that is unlikely to stop me from sitting here and drinking it as I type.

Yes, I know it's Lent.  I didn't give up sweets this year.  I'm sure I should have.  I'm striving for simplicity and prayerfulness overall, though, and finding that not surprisingly, these are good things.

- SIX -

I have two avocado seeds properly skewered with toothpicks and half-immersed in water sitting on my kitchen window.  It's been weeks and weeks, and they have nothing to show for themselves.  I also have the beginnings of sourdough starter on my kitchen counter, which I am dutifully stirring and feeding, but which looks suspiciously lacking.  You'd think I could dwell on my successes (such as the aforementioned kefir) and brush these things aside, but they are bothering me.  Especially the sourdough starter.

I still have hopes that it will pull through (I'm using whole wheat flour and pineapple juice as described here), but it just doesn't look very promising yet.  As for the avocado seeds, well, I suppose I can let that one go.  I didn't really envision a yard full of avocado trees in Eastern Massachusetts, anyway.


Earlier this week I bought the ingredients to start making my own laundry detergent, as well as some other household cleaners.  This was something I'd been meaning to do for a while, and I've procrastinated long enough.  This weekend, it's happening.  Wish me luck!  Do any of my readers have any experience making their own cleaners/detergents?


  1. One: Kefir frightens me.
    Two: The funny thing about sourdough is that it gained popularity from the early goldrush settlers. They actually carried leather pouches around their necks that (while full of bacteria from sweat, days in the sun and previous batches) contained their families 'starter'. That pouch would rest in the dough and turn it into a naturally risen bread. Gross and awesome at the same time.
    Three: Nell looks like she is doing a hulk impersonation. It is amazing.
    Four: I am afeared that Kafir will take over the planet if left to its own devices.

    1. Hah! I think my husband would agree with your fourth point. He is probably afraid that between sourdough starter, kefir, and yogurt, bacterial cultures will soon consume our entire house.

      I had heard that same thing about sourdough starter! "Gross and awesome at the same time" sums it up perfectly.

  2. While I still love my Clorox and Comet, I keep a spray bottle of half vinegar and half water around all the time for general mop-ups. And for cleaning mirrors. It works really well! (And is super-simple.)

  3. I've made homemade laundry detergent using Borax, washing soda and Fels Naptha laundry soap bar. You just grate it in a blender and mix one cup of the washing soda and Borax. I've been using it for a year and it works really well with a bit of vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser.

    I have also made homemade dishwasher detergent using borax, salt, and citric acid. But my husband swears the dishes don't come clean so he won't let me use it. Sometimes I sneak it in during the days load :)

    I think it's so cool you're making your own kefir. I'm a fan of the kombucha Whole Foods carries and I have successfully made a sourdough starter that made delicious bread. I love reading the homemade things you make. We have all that in common :)

  4. Oh my, I love kefir, and I make my own as well. I use whole milk for it, and it tastes just like the kefir of my childhood memories from Hungary and Russia!

    I used to use the vinegar and lemon peel cleaner Pinterest seems to love, and it worked great. I used vinegar water and old newspapers to clean windows. I had home made laundry detergents that were usually a fail. And dishwasher liquid... oy, that was a disaster!

  5. Such a great comment. I will take your story to heart, and try to refrain from becoming overly self-congratulatory. I don't have any plans to try my own dishwasher detergent, but your mention of the real detergent being superior to the store brand -- that's something I may have to try! Our dishes come out of the dishwasher with water droplets on them. Also bits of food stuck on them. Also, they come out broken sometimes, because the racks you put the dishes on are rusting through at a rapid rate, and often a new chunk falls off mid-cycle, dropping a glass or bowl to its demise.

    In other words, I guess, detergent is the least of our problems?