Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adoption Shop is Open for Business

Check out everything we have for sale in our Facebook album here.  We've got some great homemade items and ALL proceeds go toward bringing our twins home to us next month.

Thanks for your support!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adoption T-Shirts

We're selling these awesome t-shirts to raise money to bring home our twin girls from Africa!

The shirt (designed by Jonathan) is based off of the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.  The three cups represent the three rounds of coffee that are served to guests.  Participants in the ceremony usually converse and share about important life issues.  The first two rounds are called "abol" (meaning "first") and "tona" (meaning "second").  It is impolite to leave before the completion of the third round.  That final round is called "baraka" (meaning "blessing") and is considered to bestow a blessing on the participants.  "Baraka" is what is written in Ethiopian Amharic under the third cup on the t-shirt.

By helping to support our adoption, you are being a blessing to us and to our twin girls.  Thank you so much for your support and encouragement!

The design has been printed on unisex American Apparel t-shirts.  The brown shirt is 100% Fine Jersey cotton, and the galaxy blue shirt is 100% Organic Fine Jersey cotton (super-soft!).

Both designs are available in S, M, and L.

How to order:
  1. Click on the yellow "Donate" button to the right of the blog to link to PayPal, and follow directions to donate money.  
  2. In the "Note" field, indicate how many shirts you would like of each color.
  3. Include $20 per shirt ordered.  For orders that need to be mailed (I can hand-deliver to Atlanta area), please include $5 per mailing address.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

17 Months of Rory

It really just keeps getting better and better doesn't it?

  • In the last month, Rory has made the transition of exactly 11 hours of sleep a night to 12 or 13.  The only bummer about that is I don't always get to see her before I leave for work in the morning.  She's still taking two 1-2 hour naps a day as well.
  • Her language has really exploded.  She mimics every word we say.  She regularly requests "gaga" since we offer her agua.  She also requests "kah-wee" (coffee) since she sees mom and dad drink it every day.  She occasionally counts to three, but usually just crosses her fingers (like in the above picture).  She also learned the word "no" around Christmas time and used it freely with her very affectionate and loving cousin.
  • She's definitely a little lady.  She loves putting on jewelry and headbands and then grinning at and giving herself kisses in the mirror.  She also loves her pink cowgirl boots almost as much as I do.
  • She loves doing anything we do: cleaning up, getting dressed, laundry (check out the video below), roasting coffee, playing with tools, baking, etc.  She's definitely daddy's little helper.
  • She loves playing jokes on mommy and daddy too.  In the mornings, she'll cry out when she wakes up.  When we walk into her room, she's usually standing at our crib, but the moment she sees us, she throws herself down onto the mattress and pretends she's sleeping.  Then she opens her eyes and giggles.  She also thinks burping and tooting are hysterical.  She tries to fake burps so she can laugh about them.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Homemade Yogurt Using a Crockpot - Tutorial

We've been feeding Rory organic store-bought yogurt for as long as she's been eating solid food.  It costs about $4 a quart, and we go through about a quart a week.  So when Sarah's sister-in-law introduced us to homemade yogurt over Christmas, I had to try it out in the "More With Less" spirit.  I asked for a personal lesson and later supplemented it with some quick internet research, and made my first batch last week.  Doing it this way saves us about $2 a quart!  Here's how you can make yogurt at home too:

Required Supplies:
  • 1/2 gallon of milk
  • 1/2 cup starter yogurt
  • crockpot
  • thermometer
  • container(s) to store finished yogurt

I started with organic whole milk from the local grocery store.  From other people's stories, as long as the milk isn't ultra-pasteurized you should be good to go for making yogurt.  The higher temperatures of ultra-pasteurization do something to the milk that isn't good prep for bacteria reproduction.  Homogenized, pasteurized, non-organic, and 2% milk are all fine.

The starter yogurt needs to have live bacteria in it for you to be able to make more yogurt from it.  I used Stonyfield organic yogurt, but you can use any brand as long as it has "live" and/or "active" somewhere on the label, telling you those good bacteria can wake back up and reproduce.  This particular one says "six live active cultures".  Some people say you can't use flavored yogurt as starter, but I did and it worked... maybe because this one is "naturally" flavored?  Whatever you use, it will all end up as a plain yogurt batch.

1.  Pour half a gallon of milk into a clean crockpot.  You can measure exactly if you want to, but I just eyeballed it. 

2.  Cover the crockpot and turn it on high.  You want the milk to warm up to 180 degrees first, prepping it for bacteria reproduction.  My crockpot has a nifty temperature probe, so all I had to do was set the desired temp.  A regular kitchen thermometer (for meat or milk or whatever) works just fine too.  Depending on your crockpot, it could take half an hour longer to warm up to 180.

3.  When the milk is at the right temperature, turn off the crockpot and let the milk cool back down to 120 degrees.  The yogurt bacteria will grow when the temperature is between 110 and 120.  Too hot and the bacteria will die.  Too cool and they'll go into hibernation.

4.  When the milk reaches 120 degrees, take about a cup of the warm milk out, mix in the 1/2 cup of yogurt, and add back to the crockpot.  Stir it together.  Put the crockpot lid back on and cover it all with a towel for insulation.

5.  Now wait.  The bacteria just need time to grow and turn that milk into creamy yogurt.  If your crockpot loses heat easily (or if you're just paranoid), you can check it every hour or so and turn the warmer back on for a few minutes to get it back into the 110-120 range.  Just set a timer or something so you don't forget to turn it back off - you don't want to nuke the bacteria!

6.  After as few as maybe 3 hours, you'll hopefully see that the milk is turning into yogurt.  Water in the batch is perfectly normal.  A lot of people just start the yogurt process before they go to bed, and wake up to put away the finished yogurt in the morning.  It seems like the average wait is 6-8 hours, so that's what I shoot for too.  Logically, the bacteria stop reproducing when the temperature falls out of the ideal range, so it may not matter much as the hours extend.  Maybe there's a scientific reason for longer waits... go Google it if you feel the need.

7.  When it's all done, just stir the yogurt and transfer it to your desired container.  I use two glass quart jars, which is just perfect for the 1/2 gallon of yogurt.

8.  Let the yogurt chill for however long (it usually takes me a day to get through previously-made yogurt anyway) and then enjoy!  I love it with some chopped fruit and a bit of honey.  Don't forget that you have to save 1/2 cup of your yogurt to make the next batch!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Organizing Fabric

Yes, you're reading the post byline correctly: The husband is writing a crafty blog entry.  This will be the first of several (or many) of my DIY posts, written as I journey through this season of life as a stay-at-home dad. 

Because of her various sewing projects, Sarah's always had a bunch of random fabric lying around in boxes and shelves.  The disorganization made it hard for her to find a specific color or pattern when she would start new projects.  We're in the middle of setting up her craft room in our neato finished attic loft area, so it was an opportune time to organize that pile of fabric.

First we looked at other bloggers' fabric organization systems in order to get ideas.  A lot of people seem to use "The Fabric Organizer".  Very functional and neat looking, but at almost $2 a board, we had to find a cheaper alternative.  the little green bean used foam core board, which ends up looking the same at a fraction of the price.  At the cheapest online price, each of those boards costs about $0.44 to make.  However, we thought the foam core board might get bent pretty easily and eventually need replacing.

Our solution: Hardboard.  We wandered the lumber aisles at Home Depot and stumbled on something that looked perfect for our project.

We used 1/8 in thick hardboard, 4 x 8 ft.  The guys at the nearby cuttings station were able to cut it down to pieces 1 sq. ft. each (they weren't able to do any smaller than that).  When I did a return trip to get more made, I found out they usually charge for cutting stuff for you.  But the second guy did it for free also!  Each hardboard sheet yielded 32 squares, so it ended up costing just $0.25 a board!  And it's a material that seems like it'll last a long time.

At home, we folded and wrapped all the loose fabric around the boards.  For lesser amounts, we did two pieces of fabric per board.  After a little bit of color organizing, we loaded up a set of spare bookshelves and ended up with this:

Stay tuned for more posts of Sarah's craft room!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Happy New Year

Sorry I never got around to posting pictures of our Christmas decorations.  The house is a work in progress and we'll be giving room tours as the rooms become ready.  In the meantime, we'll be busy filling up an empty bedroom for our two little girls who we hope to meet and bring home by Easter. 

We are so very thankful.