Sunday, September 30, 2012

Making Cultured Raw Buttermilk

I've been working on a few fun projects since I got my hands on some raw milk.  You don't have to have raw milk to make buttermilk, but I chose to use my raw milk for this project.

First, visit  Freak out because their site is so awesome, then spend an hour on their site putting everything they sell into your cart.  Realize that you can't spend that much on cultures and starters and take most of it out...ok, that's just what I did!  I ended up starting out with the buttermilk culture, milk kefir grains, and New Zealand sourdough starter this time around but you better believe I will be going back for Kombucha mushrooms, yogurt cultures, and cheese making paraphernalia!

Making buttermilk is so easy and rewarding.  First you have to make a "mother culture."  This has to be made with pasteurized milk or raw milk that has been heated to 160 and brought back to room temperature. The reason for this is that the bacteria that is naturally occurring (and beneficial!) in the raw milk will disrupt the culture over time.  Do not use ultra pasteurized milk either, as this can result in a weak culture.  I used pasteurized, fresh milk from a local dairy farm for my mother culture.


  • Pour 1 cup milk into a canning jar
  • Add powdered culture 
  • Shake or stir
  • Cover with a coffee filter secured with a rubber band
  • Set in a warm spot for 12-24 hours

My house is at the perfect temperature of 77 degrees day and night right now (still using AC in October here in North Carolina!) and my mother culture turned out perfect!  You'll know it is ready when you tip the jar and all the liquid (it's kind of half way between liquid and solid) moves together and doesn't leave a film on the side of the jar.

Now, put a lid on your jar and place in the fridge to halt the culturing process.  This is your mother culture!  Refresh it once a week by reserving 1 Tbsp. of mother culture and repeating the process above using the Tbsp of culture in lieu of the powdered you used the first time around.

Now to make the buttermilk...

  • Use a ratio of 1 Tbsp. of mother culture for every 1 Cup of raw milk
  • Combine up to 1/2 gallon
  • Shake or stir
  • Cover with a coffee filter secured with a rubber band
  • Set in a warm spot for 12-24 hours

You've got buttermilk!  Place in the fridge to halt the culturing process and enjoy!

This morning I made gluten-free, refined sugar-free, raw buttermilk pancakes and they were TOTALLY AWESOME.  Recipe for those will be blogged soon!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dewdrops, Bees, and Morning Glories

One of the things I have enjoyed about coming home after being out of town for almost a full month during the summer is the wild wonderland that my yard has become.  And no, I'm not being sarcastic!  Isabelle, Hutch, and I spent a lovely little time exploring the new world in our backyard this morning.  I really have to get out there and start identifying some of the wild weeds that have taken over the (non)vegetable garden!  The arbor was heavy with grapevines and crawling with morning glories and several species of wild mushrooms had sprung up in patches across the yard.  We watched busily buzzing bees collecting pollen and looked under mushroom caps for fairies. :)  The fact that my lens kept fogging up was actually the perfect touch.  On the blog agenda for the near future are a photo essay of our trip to Washington State, Hutcheson's herbal teething tea, and a Waldorf doll tutorial.  Stay tuned. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

And the winner is.........

Congratulations to Michelle Henson!!!  Out of 37 entries her name was randomly chosen to win the diaper giveaway!  Michelle will get an organic one-size wool-in-two in the print of her choice, yipee!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to EVERYONE who entered and left such sweet comments on the blog and Facebook about our diapers and also to those who pinned to Pinterest!  Your support is GREATLY appreciated! 

I have some new pictures below of the one-size wool-in-two on a newborn baby.  So sweet. :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Introducing One Love Diaper Co. and a GIVEAWAY!

Recently I was asked to introduce myself on an application and the first thing that came to mind was "Hi, my name is Heather and I am a compulsive maker-of-things."  Yep, that about sums it up.  Some of the things I've been compulsively making lately have been cloth diapers.  I've actually been making diapers on and off for the last 6 years.  Selling them, moving, not selling them, moving, selling them, making other stuff, having more babies, moving.  But no matter what life throws my way, I seem to always come back to....diapers.

My husband and I have been talking for some time about starting up the diaper business again.  Since our 3rd baby was born, last fall, I haven't been doing any doula work or photography because it hasn't been practical for me to work outside our home.  What I have been doing a lot of is sewing.  I started thinking about what was important to me in making and selling diapers and what would be important to the company if we chose to go back down this path.  It is important to me that I use the most natural, organic, and high quality materials I can find.  It is important to me that I give back something to some of the organizations and causes that are near to my heart.  It is important to me that the the diapers be unique in design, super (duper) cute, and that they work REALLY well.  Since Hutcheson was born I have been diapering him in wool covers and organic cotton diapers.  While I was pregnant I sewed all kind of prototypes and used all kinds of fabrics.  I found quickly that I reached first for anything I had made of organic cotton sherpa.  Wool covers also totally blew my mind.  I mean talk about WAY more absorbent, waterproof, and stink-free than the PUL covers and AIO's that I used with the other kids.  I can honestly say I have yet to have a leak or a blow-out or even a diaper rash using wool.  No kidding.  The stuff rocks.  And as far as the extra care required to lanolize and hand wash, well, I actually enjoy that and I've also found that properly prepped fabrics do just fine in the wash.  I think the difference is both the prepping and using the highest quality wool.  I can often use the same cover all day long and just air it out overnight.  It sounds crazy, but I've given many the sniff test and they really do remain clean, dry, and stink-free!

So, now we get to the point.  After a lot of careful designing, sewing, testing, and planning, I have decided to share my new passion with the world.  Our new company is called One Love Diaper Co.  and I am selling my sized and one-size organic wool diaper covers and cotton sherpa soakers.  The materials that go into these products are the highest quality, 100% organic, and 100% sewn by me. :) Every month I am selecting a special print, the profits from which will go to a charity or cause that I am passionate about, such as the Big Push for Midwives, North Carolina Friends of Midwives, ICAN, Garden Harvest and the Farm to Consumer Legal Fund.

To celebrate the opening of this new endeavor I would like to have a GIVEAWAY (YAY!) here on the blog.  The winner will get one 100% Organic One-size Diaper System complete with snap-in soaker and booster in a print of their choice (see image).  You can read all the details about the system HERE.

I have a new obsession with Pinterest (who doesn't) so I think it will be fun to get a little pin happy with this giveaway.

To enter you can:
*Leave a comment on this post
*Pin any image from our website: or any image from this blog post to Pinterest and then leave a comment here to let me know you pinned!

**It has just been brought to my attention that some folks might be having trouble leaving a comment on the blog-if you can't comment for some reason then head on over to my facebook page at and leave me a post letting me know you want to enter.  If you also want to pin an entry you can do so and let me know on FB as well.**

***I think I have the blog comment issue fixed!!  But please feel free to also enter on the FB page if you want! :)***

Multiple entries are allowed and the giveaway will close on 7/29/12 at midnight.  The winner will be chosen using and I will announce the winner here on the blog on Monday morning!


Big Cartel:


Prints by BORA: Bees, Sunflowers, Mushrooms, Fishies, Happy Fruit, Circus Stripes, Flowers, Bathtime with Elley, Ice Cream

Friday, July 13, 2012

Feeding Hutcheson: Egg Yolk for Baby

As some of you know I gave birth to our third child at home last November (his birth story is here).  In what literally feels like the blink of an eye he is now 7 months old.  I don't know if it is part of being born at home, I'd like to think that maybe it is, but he is the calmest, happiest little guy.  Last month he had his first taste of something other than breastmilk.  I had decided I would introduce his first "solid" at 6 months but I'll admit I approached this milestone with some trepidation.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there about what first foods are the best and what order to introduce them in.  I wanted to make the right decision about what his first food should be.  I wanted something pure and natural.  I wanted it to be nutritious, something that would support his growing brain and body much as my milk has.  I knew that breastmilk would still be the bulk of his diet, but I wanted his one non-breastmilk meal of the day to be full of awesomeness. :)  Inspiration came in the form of a passage from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon:

"A wise supplement for all babies-whether breast or bottle fed-is an egg yolk per day, beginning at four months.  Egg yolk supplies cholesterol needed for mental development as well as important sulpher-containing amino acids.  Egg yolks from pasture-fed hens or hens raised on flax meal, fish meal or insects are also rich in the omega-3 long-chain fatty acids found in mother's milk but which may be lacking in cow's milk.  These fatty acids are essential for the development of the brain.  Parents who institute the practice of feeding egg yolk to baby will be rewarded with children who speak and take directions at an early age."

Brilliant!  I have three beautiful free-ranging, insect-eating hens right in my backyard!  So we decided on soft-boiled egg yolk for Hutch's first food.  It just made perfect sense, it's organic, it's an animal protein, it's easy to digest, it's chalk full of beneficial enzymes, it's what baby chick's eat!  Now I know a lot of folks are really uptight about fully cooking things like eggs, but if you fully cook the yolk instead of soft-boiling you destroy the enzymes in the yolk, so that's something to keep in mind.

How to do it:

Boil 1 organic egg in water for 3 and a half minutes
Remove, peel and pour YOLK ONLY into a bowl
Sprinkle with a pinch of natural sea salt (helps with brain development)

After the first few weeks Hutcheson suddenly decided he wasn't a fan of the flavor of the yolk so I started adding a bit of mashed, organic or un-gassed banana to his egg yolk.  Banana is very easy on a baby's immature digestive system and Hutch loves the flavor.

Here are a few pictures from our first food experience!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July Lemonade Pie

Nothing better than a frozen and festive treat in the middle of a North Carolina heat wave!  Yesterday was so busy for us that I made this super-easy no-bake lemonade pie instead of one of my usual I-made-this-from-scratch-the-hard-way recipes. :)  I really do love slow days where I can do things like shell peanuts and grind my own peanut butter BUT some days call for a quickie recipe.  So here you go, lemonade pie, the easy way.

Adapted from this recipe.

  • (12-oz.) can evaporated milk
  • (3.4-oz.) packages lemon instant pudding mix
  • (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • (9-inch) ready-made graham cracker piecrust
  • Strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream, and lemon zest to garnish

1. Whisk together evaporated milk and instant pudding until thickened.  I use my stand mixer for this, goes much faster!
2. Add cream cheese and vanilla extract and beat until smooth
3. Add lemonade concentrate and blend again until smooth
4. Pour filling into piecrust
5. Pop in your freezer for 8 hours
6. Garnish with strawberries, blueberries, whipped cream*, and lemon zest

*Note: Just whip some heavy cream up in a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer, no need to sweeten it because this pie is already super sweet!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Handmade Waldorf Dolls

Sharing a few pictures of my most recent handmades-organic waldorf dolls: Skylark Morning and Ruby Rainbow.  I made these for my daughter's 5th birthday, which is coming up in a few weeks.  Both dolls are made from 100% organic cotton knit and are stuffed with organic wool, organic brown rice, organic buckwheat hull, and organic lavender.  Their hair is made from wool felt.  These were so much fun to make!  I have searched everywhere for a waldorf-style doll that is an actual baby doll, the same size as a real baby, and weighted like a real baby.  I couldn't find what I wanted, so as is my usual solution I decided to make it myself!  I drew the pattern for the dolls by hand and I am working on getting a tutorial up very soon!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Neapolitan-style Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Arugula

I've been needing to get this post out of my system since I posted the pasta recipe with wild arugula.  Here's another delicious way to eat wild arugula!  This is the simplest weeknight meal that you can have on the table in under an hour.  I've already blogged the recipe for the neapolitan pizza dough here (this time I let the dough rise for half an hour though).  Follow the directions for making your pizza dough, then simply top with your favorite tomato sauce (or make your own simple tomato sugo-see below), slices of fresh mozzarella, slices of tomato, and a handful of wild arugula and you're ready go!  Bake at 450-500 for 8-12 minutes.

I also want to introduce my improvised rolling pin.  A couple months ago our family stayed for a week in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I did a lot of baking while we were there, but I didn't bring a rolling pin so I improvised one with an empty wine bottle!  It worked so well as a rolling pin that I've been using an empty wine bottle when I bake at home instead of my nice wooden pin!

World's Simplest Tomato Sugo (yummy on pasta, risotto, pizza, and more!)
1 lb. ripe Campari or San Marzano tomatoes
1 stick salted butter

Melt butter in pan.  Halve the tomatoes and place face down in the melted butter.  Cook over low heat stirring/pressing occasionally until the tomatoes have broken down and formed a sauce with the butter.  Strain in a fine mesh sieve to remove skins and seeds.  Taste.  Add salt if necessary.

*Note: This is not a thick/chunky Ragu-style sauce, which is what most American families are used to eating with their Spaghetti.  It is a thin, fresh tasting sauce that reminds me of the kind of tomato sauce I ate often when I lived in Rome.  I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fresh from the Garden: Penne with Wild Arugula, Cherry Tomatoes, and Herbed Goat Cheese

Ok, so the cherry tomatoes aren't fresh from the garden-yet.  But the arugula is!  Our first harvest of the season was about a pound of wild arugula.  My husband was actually cleaning up the vegetable beds and checking out what herbs had re-sown themselves after going to seed in the fall, when he started pulling up arugula thinking it was a weed!  I had my back to him, but almost instantly I smelled the familiar spicy aroma and I said "Wait!  That's arugula that you're pulling!"  Sure enough.  He had a couple good clumps up by the roots.  All was not lost, we still have several thriving plants in the herb bed.  The goat cheese in this recipe is from a local goat farm and apiary.  It is a secret gourmet blend, so I can't tell you exactly what herbs and spices are in it, but any herbed goat cheese will do and if you want you can add a sprinkle of cayenne for an extra kick.  This is a delicious, fresh, no-cook sauce that you can have ready by the time the pasta is cooked.


12 oz. penne pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Several handfuls of fresh, wild arugula, coarsely chopped
4 oz. herbed goat cheese
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Sea salt to taste
Approx. 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Cook penne according to package directions.  In the meantime combine tomatoes, arugula, and garlic in a bowl.  Crumble over goat cheese and season as desired.  Drizzle oil over the fresh ingredients and toss to combine.  When penne is 'al dente' drain and add to the bowl tossing to coat in the sauce.  Taste and add seasoning or more oil as desired.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Equinox Photo Essay

Happy first day of spring!  Here are a few photos of our day.

Spring Equinox watercolor paper lanterns 
Wood Sorrel Mojitos 
My sweet girl 
Happy Hens
Lizard running from the camera! 
Plum trees in bloom 
Last year's green bean poles 
Wintered-over garlic looking good in the garden 
Apples trees in bloom 

Shelling peanuts 
Pug love 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Eat Your Weeds-Edible and Medicinal Uses for Clover

Hop Clover
A little late on this post!  Intended to post yesterday for St. Patty's Day, but with two kids and a husband down with bronchitis it's been an interesting weekend....Every month the kids and I have a "Herb of the Month" as part of our homeschool explorations.  This month clover was the obvious choice!  Not only do we see images and construction paper cut outs of these three-leaved beauties all over town during the month of March but they also happen to be springing up and blooming all over the place where we live at this time of year.  So far we have found and identified three clover species in our local area and two clover impostors.  We have collected White Clover, Red Clover, Hop Clover, Wood Sorrel and Black Medic.  Be careful with Black Medic, it looks almost identical to Hop Clover but has different medicinal properties and potential side effects.  Wood Sorrel, another great edible weed, is often mistaken as clover but has heart-shaped leaves. These cuttings have been dried and pressed onto watercolor paper and the kids have labeled them and we will be laminating them (with my brand new laminator) in order to start compiling our very own field guides of edible and medicinal wild plants in our community.

Black Medic-looks similar to Hop Clover
or White Clover (when not flowering) 
Clover...beloved by leprechauns and honeybees alike.  Clover is a member of the pea family and all species of clover are edible.  The leaves can be eaten cooked or raw, the flowers can also be eaten in salads or dried and ground into a flour.  Clover leaves and flowers can also be brewed into a nourishing and healing tea.  Clover is considered a purifying herb and can be used to treat wounds.  It is also used to treat colds and coughs.  The most common types of clover used (and studied) for medicinal and edible purposes are white and red clover.  Red clover has been used to treat a number of ailments "traditionally, these have included cancer, whooping cough, respiratory problems, and skin inflammations, such as psoriasis and eczema. Red clover was thought to "purify" the blood by acting as a diuretic (helping the body get rid of excess fluid) and expectorant (helping clear lungs of mucous), improving circulation, and helping cleanse the liver" (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2012).  More recently, red clover has been discovered to have estrogen-like effects in the body that can ease some of the symptoms of menopause. "Red clover is a source of many nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, and vitamin C" (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011). 
Wood Sorrel-often mistaken as a clover
but has heart-shaped leaves
Despite the possible estrogen-like properties red clover is believed to be safe and nourishing during pregnancy and lactation (I drank tea that included red clover throughout all of my pregnancies).  Aviva Jill Romm has a wonderful recipe for Nourishment Tea in her book The Natural Pregnancy Book, which includes red clover.

How to make clover tea:

  • Gather 1/4 cup fresh or 2 tsp. dried red or white clover flowers
  • Steep in 1 cup boiling water for 5 minutes
  • Strain and enjoy!

Optionally add mint and honey to taste or combine with other nourishing herbs such as red raspberry, nettles, and alfalfa.


Here's a short video the kids and I watched about clover:

*The contents of this post are purely educational and not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. This information is not a substitute for seeing your physician. Please exercise caution when identifying, harvesting, preparing and using wild, edible herbs and plants.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sun Bread

One of the books we are reading this month (we homeschool) is Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven.  In the story it is a cold, dreary winter and everyone in the town is wishing the sun would come back out.  The baker decides to make a giant, warm, delicious sun-shaped bread that draws all the townspeople to her bakery, warms their hearts and tummies and even makes the spring sun shine again.  It is a perfect story for this time of year. I purchased the book with the intent of reading it and baking sun bread with the kids and I didn't even realize the book includes a tasty recipe for 'sun bread' inside the back cover!  Here are a few photos of the kids baking sun bread (with my help).  I think that the braided egg bread recipe I posted several years back would also work well for this, and you could even add a few extra eggs if you want the dough to be more yellow like the sun!  You can purchase the book here.

Sun Bread Recipe adapted from Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven:

3 eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 stick butter
6 tsp. active dry yeast 
3 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. warm milk
1 egg yolk + 1 Tbsp. water (for brushing before baking)

1. In a large mixing bowl combine:
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 stick butter, melted.

2. In a small bowl combine:
6 tsp. active dry yeast
3 Tbsp. lukewarm milk (105-115 degrees)

3 Tbsp. sugar

Let stand until yeast is activated and mixture is foamy (5-10 minutes).

3. Add the yeast mixture to flour mixture and incorporate with hands (let the kids get their hands dirty, this is the fun part!).  Let little hands take turns kneading the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes.

4. Place dough in greased bowl, cover with a slightly damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.  *Tip!  if your house is cold or drafty let your dough rise in the oven (no drafts in there!) OR turn your oven on to 400 F for ONE MINUTE then turn off and let your dough rise in the slightly warmed oven.  Kinda speeds up the process!

5. Punch down dough, knead again for a few minutes, then separate into two portions.

6. Shape one portion into a ball and flatten with your palm.  This is the sun's face.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Pull a small portion off the 2nd ball of dough and roll into a circle to make the nose.  Attach to the sun's face (use a little water if it isn't sticking enough).  Divide the rest into several small portions for the kids to shape into "snails" and triangles and help them attach these to the outside of the sun.  Create the eyes and mouth of the sun.  I used a turkey baster (of all things) to make deep holes for the eyes and a sharp paring knife to cut a deep "smile."  They have to be deep enough that they won't close up while baking!

7. Cover the sun and let it rise again for another hour.

8. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg yolk with water and brush over the top of your "sun" for a nice, shiny, dark crust.

9. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Enjoy!  

This is especially fun to make when winter is transitioning into spring and everyone is excited about the sun, flowers, and trees returning!  It would also be neat as a summer solstice project!