Homemade Cream Cheese and Whey (using kefir or yogurt)

I wrote this post before we knew our oldest had a dairy allergy- She is now 7 and still reacts to dairy. However, I absolutely *loved* making unique foods from our raw milk in the past. Maybe one day we can do it again, or try it with goat milk. =)
(2019 update- we now have our own goats and use raw goat milk without any protein problems like we have with cow dairy)
Homemade cream cheese and whey from raw milk yogurt
enjoying homemade-cream cheese filled strawberries
Would you like to make your own cream cheese and have homemade, raw whey to ferment foods with? (and sip on when you’re feeling run down? You can do that! All you need is:

 

You know … “curds and whey?” from the favorite childhood nursery rhyme? Yep- that is farmer’s cream cheese and whey!

For kefir cream cheese and whey you will need:

  • a jar of your kefir
  • a glass bowl
  • a white tea towel or a few layers of cheese cloth material
  • some way to hang your kefir above the bowl (I use a wooden spoon hanging from the cabinet by a rubber band)

1) lay your towel over your bowl
2) pour your kefir into the towel
3) pull the edges of the towel up until they are in a nice bunch at the top
4) use a big ole rubber band to tie the towel up to a wooden spoon that is hanging from your cabinet.
5) let the whey drip down into the bowl for 7+ hours. I let it go over night, or all day depending on what time I started…

After just a few minutes. see what I mean by hanging it up?

When you are done, you will have a tangy cream cheese in your cloth (that you can use for all sorts of recipes), and whey left in your bowl! Both will last weeks (6 or more for sure for the whey… the cream cheese doesn’t make it that long around our house!) in the fridge.

***Be sure when working with kefir grains that you don’t use metal. Metals can harm your grains, so you want a cheapo plastic mesh strainer, and preferably glass jars and bowls***

The cream cheese, or “farmer’s cheese” as a friend calls it, is really good if you add in a little powdered (ground up) sucanat, or sliced strawberries. You can use it for anything you use regular cream cheese for, and it is a probiotic! So good and nutritious for your gut.

You can also do the same thing with regular, plain, full fat store bought yogurt (look for Brown Cow and Stonyfield Farms brands- I have tried both and they were great). This way, you’ll know everything is fresh and made from scratch.

However, if you don’t want to make the kefir just yet, but want to try recipes that call for whey (and make homemade cream cheese) then I TOTALLY encourage you to use the store bought yogurt. It does need to be plain, full fat yogurt- no added sugars, sweeteners, or fruits- preferably organic and not ultra pasteurized.

You can use your whey to ferment foods, soak grains, and in place of milk in some recipes (like my favorite tortilla recipe by the Prairie Homestead).

A jar of whey

So, that’s how you make kefir cream cheese and whey!

What do you think? Easy enough?

If you have questions, please ask. If I don’t know the answer, I will direct you to someone that can help.

KinderBach: Online Piano Lessons for Children {a review}

Kinderbach Review
In recent weeks we have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to try and use a beginner piano program for our three year old daughter. The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, is a wonderful program for young children to learn the basics of playing piano (whether they’re learning on the Amidio piano VST or an organ). Each lesson is set up to be only a few minutes (perfect for young children). Lexie loved it so much, we couldn’t only do one lesson. We did several lessons at a time.

Now, I actually have something to compare this with as well, as we recently enrolled Billy through private piano lessons san francisco. I’m interested to see what he preferred the best.

Kinderbach Review

All About KinderBach Membership with Teacher Corner:

One of the great things about the KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner is the ease of use for parents and children. It is ideal for ages 3-7, but I can see using this with older children as well, because you can skip some of the lessons, and go at your own pace! You will receive:

  • Access to all web lessons (over 240 sessions) by computer, iPad, Android Tablet, Kindle Fire, or Nook.
  • Accompanying downloaded PDF activity pages- these are great!
  • Access to all Teacher Corner materials for Levels 1 to 6 PDFs and Audio MP3s
  • Download all story books, coloring pages and song books

So, what is the Teacher Corner? The Teacher Corner membership gives you everything needed to teach group music lessons and more in convenient digital downloads. You can have your books right now (and they’re included in the price!). Choose from over $400 worth of books in the Teacher’s Corner and more will be added soon. You never have to pay more for a new edition. Membership gives you the opportunity to download all updates.

You will get all of that for $95.88/year which is $7.99 a month. There is no way you can find a piano teacher for $7.99 a month, plus purchase any necessary books and music. All of that will be included in your membership!

Online piano/keyboard lessons: KInderBach

What You Need

There are a few things you will need for KinderBach online piano lessons:

  • A piano or keyboard- yes, you can use a regular ole keyboard! If you need help finding a good one to use then check out this yamaha p115 review
  • A few things from around the house- wooden spoons, empty cartons, plastic lids- anything really. No need to get fancy!
  • A printer is helpful- with a printer, you can print your digital books and activity sheets.

What I Love About It

First and foremost, my favorite part of KinderBach is that is truly is child friendly! My 3.5 year old did great doing these lessons on her own. She was even able to tell her violin teacher a thing or two about the piano! She especially enjoyed the rhythmic exercises, and so did her 18 month old brother. It was something they were able to enjoy doing together, and learn at the same time. Obviously the tot didn’t get as much from it, but hey- he can now hit sticks together in rhythm! =)

Online piano lessons ages 3-7 KinderBach

We used the website on our iPad, which made it very easy to set up right in front of our keyboard (after doing some research and using sites like https://www.revitalizingdowntowns.net/, we did settle on getting a keyboard rather than a piano, it’s absolutely the best fit for us). Because KinderBach accommodates all formats, chances are you own a device it is compatible with. The lessons include songs and music your family is probably familiar with, which help teach parts of music such as: different kinds of notes, different keys on the keyboard, and how to keep rhythm. It is very developmentally appropriate for children, as it allows them to move about and does not require they sit at a piano the entire time (or at all, really).

For me the parent, I can pick and choose what books we use, how fast we go, and how often we do it. This was something we used about 3 times a week, and often did 2-3 lessons at a time, because Lexie enjoyed it so much. We will continue using it in this way. Just before we began these lessons, my husband mentioned putting her in piano lessons, along with the violin lessons she already loves. Lexie loves music, and loves instruments. KinderBach has turned out to be the perfect combination of fun, easy (for the teacher), and developmentally appropriate, for our family!

piano lessons ages 3-7 KinderBach with Teachers Corner

Connect with KinderBach:

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Revive Your Wooden Spoons and Cutting Boards {with M&M Monday linkup}

This week I want to share with you how I revived my wooden spoons and cutting board.  When caring for wooden spoons, you’re not supposed to put them in the dishwasher.  As particular as I am about caring for my kitchen tools, I tend to slack when it comes to my wooden utensils.  It is so easy to just thrown them in the top rack and let them run through the wash.

spoons

But that wrecks havoc on good wooden spoons!  It dries them out, & introduces them to harsh detergents that can split the wood.  It can cause them to splinter.  The same goes for cutting boards and butcher blocks, although I do not put those in the dishwasher.

So, I have vowed not to continue putting my spoons in the dishwasher, either.

And, instead, I conditioned them!  I did however, forget to take before pictures {I always do that!}

To condition your spoons and cutting board, take a rag or paper towel and put a nice big glob of coconut oil on it.  Then rub it all over the spoon or board.  Coat it really well, being sure to really rub it in, but also allow some to stay on the surface.  After you have coated them well, let them sit overnight, so they can soak in the oil.

Coconut oil is natural, healthy, and safe for your utensils.  It leaves them a rich, dark color, and revived.

To continue caring for them, run them under warm water with a mild soap, wash and dry. Oil as often as needed.

Enjoy your pretty wooden spoons and cutting boards!



Hooded Bath Towel Tutorial

After making Lou’s lovie, I tried making a hooded towel.  Oh my, how simple it was!  I did look up a tutorial for this project, because it wasn’t as simple as “piecing together,” it involved cutting things.  I’m not good with cutting things without instructions.  I should probably go back to Kindergarten …

So, I did look up a tutorial for the hooded bath towel and you can find it HERE.  It was SO easy! There is also another tutorial, that i actually like even better for the hood of the towel, HERE.  I don’t care much for the hand corners on her version, but I think making the hood might be easier, and look neater.  Of course, had I used bias tape or ribbon on my edges, it would have looked neater anyway.

Here is how it turned out:

Clearly it isn’t pretty and my stitches aren’t quite straight- After talking with my very crafty sister in law tonight, there are a few things I would have done differently.  I would have been sure to use the finish side of the hand towel for the top of the hood, instead of the cut side.  I also would have sewn the two right sides together, instead of doing it one on top of the other (which is what was suggested on the tutorial, so I did it her way).  Mind you, it looks much better in person and clearly it is functional, but in being a perfectionist, I would have liked it to look a little nicer.  Also, if I had fat (2-3″) ribbon, I would have sewn that on the edge of the hood (hand towel) before attaching it to the body towel.

Again, if you know how to sew a simple stitch using your sewing machine, OR by hand, this is a super easy crafty activity and makes a wonderful gift!  The VERY best part of the whole thing is I got these very nice, large thick towels on clearance at Home Goods for under $8.00!  You can make two towels with one hand towel since it is cut in half, so wala- a nice baby gift under $20!
Enjoy!
-Meg

Taggie Lovey Tutorial

Today I made Lexie a few things using my sewing machine.  I am a beginner when it comes to the sewing machine but I have been doing small projects and hand sewing here and there since I was a little girl. Before purchasing my machine I did loads of research into what is the best sewing machine, to make sure I got the right one, and I love it! When I was about 8, my Memaw and I went to Walmart where she bought me my very first sewing kit!  I still have this kit and use all parts of it!

With the help of my mom I have learned how to do some basic sewing with my machine.  (which is actually her ancient Kenmore machine that is wonderful.  They do not make them like this anymore.)  It only has a few stitches and some other features I don’t know how to use yet, but it is one tough mother!  =)

This post will be a short tutorial on how I made Lou a “taggie lovie.”  Since these things sell for $15+ a piece in the store I thought I would try to make them.  They are only a big wash cloth with some ribbons stitched on the edge!  Right?  I did not look up a tutorial for these, because I figured the instructions would be more confusing than just trying to piece it together.  I was right.

I started with two pieces of fabric, (I am unsure of the size because I just eye balled it, but a 12 x 12 square is probably pretty close), placing them right sides together.  In the picture I have folded back a corer of the top fabric so you can see the right sides are facing each other.


Then I cut my ribbon at different lengths so I would have different sized “taggies” around the edges.  I just used what I had laying around my craft room, but you could use all sorts of textures for the “tags” themselves.  You can also put the rattly material in the middle so it makes noise for your babies.  I didn’t have any so I did not include that with mine.



Next, I looped my ribbons and pinned them to the material.  Here is where it gets tricky..


Like I mentioned, I did not look up a tutorial because I thought it would be easier to figure it out myself, than to read instructions.  I think I thought correctly.  =)
Once you loop your ribbon for the “taggie,” you pin it with the LOOP facing towards the center of the fabric, not sticking out from the edge!  Place the ribbon between the two pieces of fabric, with the loop towards the middle.


Here is a “taggie” shown between the two pieces of fabric.  See how the loop goes inward, towards the middle of the fabric? 

And here is that same “taggie” where it is pinned.  The cut edges of the ribbon go towards the edge of the fabric.  When you turn it right side out, only the looped part of the ribbon will show.


Next stitch around the edges, removing the pins as you go.  Be sure to leave a space wide enough to turn your material right side out.  After you turn it the right way, simply fold in your open edge and stitch it up.  After it was turned right side out, I went along the entire outside of my lovie in a zig zag stitch so it would A) hold together even better and B) look nicer.


My first one did not look anywhere near as good as this one..  And this one isn’t perfect.  Like I said I am a beginner with my machine, but this was such a simple project I think any beginner can do it!  Good luck and please comment with any questions!

-Meghan
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