Friday, May 31, 2013

Harvesting and Preserving Green Onions

Shannon and I always plant onions in our garden. Shannon loves onions, and I do too as long as they are cooked, so we go through quite a few of them throughout the year.

We always buy some sets in the spring and plant them then harvest the green shoots all summer long to use as green onions before harvesting the onions themselves near the end of the season.

If you don't trim your onions they will flower, which we didn't want them to do (except at the end of the season), so we trimmed them pretty regularly. We used what we could fresh, but of course there was way too much and we ended up dehydrating quite a bit. Dried green onion is great, and even though we used it regularly we still had enough from last year to last all the way to planting season this year!

To dehydrate your green onions you simply cut them into little pieces (scissors are quicker and you can cut many of them at once - only one is shown in the picture to make sure the picture was clear) and then spread them out on your dehydrator tray (the without holes), set it to the proper temperature, and turn it on. You can also sun dry them. Just put them in a  cake pan, set them outside in the sun, bring them in at night, and stir them several times each day. By the end of day two they should be dry. 8 cups of thinly sliced green onions equals almost 1 cup dried.

If you are going to dry them in your oven, be house will smell like onions for weeks! If you have to dry them in your oven, slice the onions, spread on a tray/cookie sheet/cake pan, put in the oven, prop the door open about an inch an set your oven temp to the lowest setting (150 or lower)  stir often.  This will take 2-3 days, or longer depending on how big you slice the onions, how often you stir them, and how thick you put them in the pan.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Freezing Milk

Sometimes the grocery store has amazing deals and you may be one of those people who likes to stock up. My family has a long tradition of buying everything in sight if it is a good enough deal. My grandfather was famous for it. He bought hundreds of pairs of different sized shoes at a going out of business sale. He had four refrigerators with freezers and one huge freezer in his house to store his stock pile of assorted foods. Living through the depression made him an expert saver.

One thing my grandparents stocked up on was milk. Milk, having an expiration date, needed to be frozen, and I learned a lot of what and what not to do about frozen milk from growing up with them.

Tip #1: If you freeze milk you must let it thaw COMPLETELY before drinking it. Trust me...I was an impatient little girl and tried to have a glass while there was still chunks of ice in the gallon. It ruins the whole gallon. When you freeze milk, the fat separates, and if it isn't completely thawed before you go to drink it then you can't very well mix it back together.

Tip #2: Either pour some milk out of the jug before freezing or freeze your milk in different containers. Liquids expand when they freeze and most of the time the plastic jug can expand with it enough to not explode, but every once in awhile there is a big mess. Don't chance it because it sucks cleaning that up if you don't have to.

So, keeping those tips in mind here is my how to for freezing milk:

Step One: Pour milk into mason jars just enough to reach the first ridge for the lid.
I use mason jars because I am not a fan of freezing plastic. Even if it is BPA free there are probably other things seeping out of it. They are also small and thaw much more quickly. I don't like to wait, so this is perfect for me. I fill them only to the first ridge to make sure that there is room for expansion because I don't want broken glass and spilled milk in the freezer.

Step Two: Label the milk. 
This is important for a few reasons. It is always good to label and date anything you freeze so you can use the oldest first (you can freeze milk for up to three months). I also need to make sure to label because I plan on freezing my breast milk the same way once I start pumping. I do not want to make any mistakes there!

Step Three: Thaw the milk without heat.Don't heat milk unless you plan to be drinking it right away in hot chocolate or cooking with it. So when you thaw your milk start it off in the sink or on a towel at room temperature and then move it to the fridge while it still has some ice chunks in it and let it finishing thawing in the fridge. This can take quite awhile if you are trying to thaw a whole gallon so plan ahead.

Step Four: Shake it up and enjoy!
Milk separates when frozen and turns a yellow color. When you thaw it you need to shake it up really good to mix it up and the color will be white again.

Extra tip:

You can also freeze milk in pre-portioned ice cube trays for recipes. This works great for buttermilk which I am never able to use up before it expires.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Poppies for Memorial Day!

Having read John McCrae’s poem 'In Flanders Fields' Moina Michael made a personal pledge to 'keep the faith'. She felt compelled to make a note of this pledge and hastily scribbled down a response entitled “We Shall Keep the Faith” on the back of a used envelope. From that day she vowed to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quick Read: Weight Loss Motivation

The most common motivational tip people get when gearing up to lose weight is to look at a picture of themselves when they were smaller or find a picture of someone else that is your goal look. I have a different couple of ideas.

1. Write a list of 20-30 things you will be able to do once you lose weight that you can't or don't do now because of your weight

2. Imagine an outfit or style you have always liked but that never looked good on you. As you are starting on your weight loss journey work on getting closer to that look. Being confident in your style is more important than your actual size. A small amount of weight loss can give a huge confidence boost.

3. Do a little research on just how large your risk factors drop for fairly small amounts of weight loss. It is a great feeling to see yourself getting healthier.

4. Make a plan to go do something that your weight or size prevented you from doing. For example, some people are too large to enjoy going to amusement parks because they feel stuffed into the rides. Or, better enjoy a social setting that you felt like an outsider because of your size.

I personally most look forward to being able to be more physically active doing things like biking and jogging, as well as the idea of being able to run up a flight of stairs in a hurry or run a short distance to catch up with someone else without being out of breath at the end! It's the little things that will mean the most to me.

If you get discouraged easily just take a look at this image:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pregnancy Ideals vs Reality

What I wanted for my pregnancy:

What I thought my pregnancy would be like:

What I was willing to settle for with my pregnancy:

What I actually got during my pregnancy:

Did you know?

Unlike most males in the animal kingdom, male seahorses carry their young. Not just one or two, we’re talking hundreds and even thousands. Once the young are ready to be birthed, they erupt from the father’s pouch in a matter of seconds in a series of violent contractions.Now that sounds like an ideal pregnancy!

What I thought pregnancy would be like with  my husband:

What pregnancy was actually like with my husband:

What I thought I would be like during my pregnancy:

What I actually felt like during my pregnancy:

What the interenet told me my pregnant belly would look like:

What my pregnant belly actually looks like (note: this is not my actual belly - I have many more stretch marks):

What I thought I would be doing during my pregnancy:

What I actually did during my pregnancy:

Okay, that one was pretty much correct.

 Pregnancy is different for everyone, but I am sure you all can relate to at least one of these!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

6 Basic Needs for Indoor Cats

Cats have needs, and I have noticed a lot of cat owners are completely unaware of this. Dog owners play fetch, take their dogs on walks, or let them run around in the back yard. Cats are expected to entertain themselves, usually stuck inside the house all day.

My cat, Drusilla (pictured on my "about me" post), is a 99% indoor cat. She comes outside only occasionally in the summer with me. We have been considering getting her a pen so she has a little bit more freedom, but she still won't be out in it without me around. She is my baby and I worry about her. To be honest, I don't think she would want to go outside without me anyway since she spends her whole day following me around and only goes near the door when she is waiting for me to come back in. She is far more clingy than the average cat.

Need # 6, Toys:

Most bad behavior shown by cats is a product of boredom.When Dru starts knocking things off the end tables, or attacking my feet, I know she needs to play. Cats need interactive toys that sate their desire to hunt. Indoor cats have very little opportunity to hunt and therefore you need to provide them with prey. Don't let yourself become the prey though, always use a toy. When Dru attacks my foot I immediately pull it away from her and find something more suitable for her to attack. I don't want her to get the impression that attacking people, even playfully, is ever okay. You have to be careful not to encourage bad behavior. Some people let their dogs jump on them during play and then yell at them for jumping on guests. This sends a mixed message and the pet will never be able to understand.

When you play with your cat, try to do so for at least a good 15 minutes at a time. Don't be afraid to tire them out. Panting a little after play is a GOOD thing!

Need #5, Litter Box:

Indoor cats need some place to do their business, and most have not been trained to use the toilet. If you don't plan on this training then you need a litter box. It is a good idea to have one more litter box than you have cats. So if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. Depending on how often you clean the litter box you can get away with having only one for one cat. As long as you clean it every other day you should be fine, but multiple cats need multiple boxes. Choices encourage them to go in a box instead of using the rug.

Need #4, Scratching/Climbing post:

Cats need to scratch. If they have claws, they scratch to sharpen their claws, but even declawed cats never lose their need to scratch. I am personally very much against declawing and may get into that later on a different post. As long as your cat has suitable options for scratching, they can be trained to leave the furniture alone. Cats also like to climb so if your scratching post has a perch at the top your cat will probably enjoy climbing up there and watching the world from on high. Dru prefers to scratch vertical objects. Though we have a few horizontal scratch-able objects for her, she ignores them unless they are sprinkled with catnip.

Need # 3, A Bed:

The bed doesn't need to be fancy, but a cat needs its own comfy spot to sleep. Drusilla sleeps on me 90% of the time, but there is a particular drawer in my dresser that is slightly loose and she discovered she can open it. When she wants to sleep on her own she usually goes in there and we have a special blanket just for her. We also keep a large pillow bed in the closet for those nights it is just too hot to let her sleep all cuddled up on me. When I throw her on the pillow she usually gets the hint by the third or fourth time and settles down there.

Need #2, Food and Water Bowls:

Obviously cats need to eat and therefore need something to eat off of, but the type of bowl you use is important. Plastic dishes can cause feline acne. The plastic rubs their little chins and they get those black crusty spots. A glass or ceramic dish, shallow and wide, is best. Cats don't like to get their sensitive whiskers wet or messy.

Need #1, Personal Space:

 It is imperative that cats have a spot that is all their own for when they want to get away. Sometimes they just need some alone time, but there are also times when they need somewhere to hide out if you have company or are redecorating. Noises and changes can be stressful for cats, so they need a place to retreat to where they can feel safe. Drusilla uses her drawer, but lots of cats prefer someplace high up. Cats also enjoy windowsill perches where they can have some height and also a view of everything indoors and out around them.

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