Water Kefir

When I first tried water kefir at a friend’s home a few months ago, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I wanted to make it myself.  I currently can’t have much dairy, which includes dairy kefir and yogurt.  Water kefir would be a lacot-fermented drink that I could have!  Although I have made and enjoyed a lacto-fermented berry drink (based on the Raspberry Drink in Nourishing Traditions), it is slightly time consuming, especially if you want to have some all the time.  Now water kefir wouldn’t be quite as time consuming, and it doesn’t use nearly as many ingredients (it just has water, Sucanat, and the water kefir grains).

So when, this past Sunday, a friend of mine gave me some water kefir grains, I was so excited!  I couldn’t wait to start some water kefir.

So on Monday I started a quart of water kefir.  I sat it on the top of the fridge to ferment (this is a nice warm spot, great for such activities).  After a day, I strained out the kefir grains and put some frozen mixed berries in the kefir for a second fermentation (this adds some more color and flavor).  After another day (or was it 12 hours?  I forget), it was ready.  The next batch I made I let ferment for two days before doing a second fermentation with berries for 24 hours.

I am quite pleased with the kefir.  I have only tried the first batch, but I like it.  It actually doesn’t taste like a whole lot.  It smells fairly strong, but the smell is (surprisingly) not an accurate representation of the taste.   I have not tried the kefir that I fermented for two days (three, if you count the second fermentation), since I am still working on drinking my first batch.  I will be trying it in a few days, though.

So I have done a total of two batches of kefir.  I started with about a quarter cup of kefir grains (probably since they weren’t packed together, they filled a half-pint jar halfway).  Now I have a pint jar more than halfway filled with kefir grains.  I discovered this the other day when I was straining my second batch.  It really looked like I had more grains than I started with, but when I poured them in the jar, you could really tell how much they had grown!  I knew they would grow, but I was quite surprised with how fast they grew.  I currently have my little grains resting in the fridge, since I have plenty of kefir right now.  I will probably make some more tomorrow.

_MG_3550

See the line about halfway up the jar?  Everything below that is kefir grains.

Right now it is pouring rain outside.  It has been raining off and on all day today.  Currently, the sky has dropped 2 inches of rain on us.  I am so happy.  It’s been so dry this summer that we are glad for any rain that we get.  Hang on a minute.  We were just upgraded from a tornado watch to a tornado warning.  I and my laptop are going to relocate downstairs.

Now we are downstairs.  Everything looks pretty calm outside, but we’ll se how crazy things get.

So I have been enjoying the rain today.

In the past few weeks, I have been cooking all kinds of things:  Chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, coconut milk ice cream, Arnold Palmer (half lemonade and half sweet tea, a drink that I was introduced to up at my aunt’s home), lots of dinners, and plenty of soups.  Oh, and on Tuesday I made grain-free chocolate muffins with chocolate frosting.  The cupcake part wasn’t all that good.  But the frosting.  Oh, the frosting.  It was basically melted butter and melted chocolate chips.  How much better does it get?  Maybe if I made it mocha?  🙂

I know I haven’t posted about any of the food I have been making.  Mostly because I have been busy.  And because I haven’t taken pictures of any of it.  But I will try to post more often now.  I should have time and plenty of food!  (Tomorrow Meiling and I may make some strawberry coconut milk ice cream, as strawberry is her favorite flavor.  She has to continue feeling better, though.  She’s getting over a bit of a stomach bug.)

Watching for tornadoes,

Allison

P.S.  We are no longer under a tornado warning.  Just thought you would like to know.

Mint Chocolate-Covered Brownie Bites

If you remember from this post, I had experimented with making some grain-free brownies.  I made them again the other day for a bridal shower.

They were just as great, and I had so much fun making them.  I made a double batch of batter and it made 85 or 86 bites.  The baking was just the short part, though.  After I had finished baking the last batch, I started melting chocolate to cover them with.  By the time the chocolate had melted the first batch of bites had cooled and were ready to coat.  It took quite awhile to cover all of them.  But, as I said, it was fun.  I had some extra chocolate after I covered all of them, so I took it and made little curly cues on the top of the brownies.  They really looked like chocolates!

For the recipe, click here.

This time I *actually* took pictures of them.  I will also include a few photos from the shower that took place the next evening.

_MG_3259

Cooling

_MG_3264

Melting the chocolate

_MG_3266

Coating the brownies with chocolate

_MG_3272

*drip*

_MG_3277

Decorated

_MG_3293

Mmmmmm….

_MG_3296

Packing them to bring with

_MG_3325

At the shower

_MG_3340

Punch glasses

_MG_3358

I would have to classify this picture with the pictures of the telephone pole – the gray sky and cool tones

_MG_3368

The food table – most everything fell into the categories of either chocolate or fruit.  They even had chocolate fondue!

_MG_3372

GF German Chocolate Cheesecake!  These were great.

Fun With Earrings and a Few Other Photos

I know I said that I have quite a few things to post.  And I do.  But we’ve been busy.  Very busy.  I have been, um, unhappy, or maybe sad is the way to put it, to have not posted in five days.  I guess that is not that bad after all.

I had my ears pierced back in May, which I know I have not mentioned before here.  Why I finally did it is a story in itself, which I am not going to tell here today.

But one of the results of this is that I have been noticing earrings.  A lot.  On other people, on TV, just about anywhere.  I have been wanting to change my earrings, also, but my ears are healing slowly, so I haven’t been changing my earrings a whole lot.  I have changed them before, but, as it didn’t turn out wonderfully, I have been sticking to this pair (pretty much).

Now that said, I got the bug the other day, and had to try on some of my other earrings.  I only tried on one pair, but they are so fun.  I love them, and can’t wait to wear them.  I have a shirt that matches them exactly.  And I mean exactly.  I was even wearing the shirt when my good friend gave them to me.  Funny, huh?

Thank you, Sarah, for these cute earrings!  Can’t wait to wear them (for a longer time)!

_MG_3182

Self-portraits are always a little difficult

_MG_3196

But fun, nonetheless

A few days later, when I was babysitting, it was just lovely out.  Nice and cool, and the light was a overcast/gray light.  Which I love.  So I took Meiling and Noah outside, and took some photos.

_MG_3208

Down the road

_MG_3210

The pond

_MG_3214

I’ve done something similar before here, but I just love how the telephone pole looks against the gray

_MG_3222

3 levels 🙂

_MG_3244

The warm glow of windows

Of Family, Fun, and (Slightly Less) Exhaustion

Sorry it has taken me this long to get a post about the rest of our trip up!  We’ve been busy.  Really busy.   Doing a bunch of things that will become later posts.  Really.

Anyways.

On Monday we said (a rather sad) goodbye to the L. family, and headed to the airport to get Dad (he went to a different conference over the weekend).  But first, we stopped at a Polish deli.

Actually, we stopped and got gas at a gas station first.

But that isn’t all that important.

Unless it’s in real life, and you forget to get gas, and you run out of gas, and are left on the side of the road.

Enough of that.

So we stopped at a Polish deli.  This was the deli that my grandparents would go to to pick up delicious lunch meats.  We purchased some bologna (which is nothing like the stuff you get at your regular grocery store), the garlic sausage that my dad always liked, another white sausage (made with veal), and some German ham.  That ham was delicious.  It was sliced paper thin.  Mmmm….

We also picked up some chocolates (tiramisu filled), some buns (the kind that my grandmother always had and would make me little open-faced sandwiches with butter and bologna on – sniff), and some Prince Polos. Prince Polos are a wafer and chocolate bar.  We got the extra extra large size, since they were 2 for $1.  They are probably about 9” long.

Then we were on our way to the airport to get Dad.  I took a bunch of photos of my toes on the way.  You’ll see them later.

After getting Dad, we headed to my aunt and uncle’s home.  They weren’t home when we arrived, so we unpacked and just chilled.

When my aunt got home, we all went over to the tennis courts to – you guessed it – play tennis.  I had a great time taking pictures, and even hit a few balls there at the end (I think one actually made it over the net!).

That evening we went over to my cousin’s apartment to see her and her new apartment.  We all went out to dinner to a favorite German restaurant, Schnitzel Platz.  We used to go to The Platz every time we went up north, but it has been several years since we’ve been there.  It was just as wonderful as I remember (pictures of all the food to follow).

The next day my grandparents came over to my aunt’s home, and we just visited and played games until the early afternoon.

In the afternoon we drove up to my other aunt and uncle’s home for dinner.  My cousin had just passed her boards, so we went up to celebrate!  Again, we did a lot of visiting and had a simple dinner – pizza.  After dinner we went to the park.  We almost always played at this park when we went to their home. 🙂  It was so nice to see them, but, as always, it could have been longer.

On Wednesday we went out to breakfast with my grandparents and my aunt and two of my cousins.  After breakfast, we went back to my aunt’s home to pack. Before hitting the road, we went over to my grandparents’ condo.  We chatted and played another game of Rummikub (my grandma and I love this game, and we always try to play it when we go up there.  Last time we didn’t get to play, so I was glad that we got a game in this time).

Then we headed home.

And that’s that.

Our trip, in a nutshell.

_MG_2817

Look!  Cute toes!

_MG_2818

Aren’t they just adorable?!

_MG_2825

I love ‘em.

_MG_2833

The skyline

_MG_2845

Chillin’

_MG_2852

Drake, with a mouthful of Tic-tacs

_MG_2857

Playing tennis

_MG_2868

Love this

_MG_2874

Look!  Cute toes!

_MG_2896

Tennis

_MG_2897

Drake

_MG_2912

Wow!  They are cute!

_MG_2924

Noah playing tennis

_MG_2929

My Cuteness

_MG_2938

 

_MG_2950

 

_MG_2958

Wow!  Just lovin’ them!

_MG_2961

 

_MG_2964

 

_MG_2973

Blue sky

_MG_2977

AHHHH!  UFO  landing!  (Just kidding.  It’s the sun.)

_MG_2985

At Schnitzel Platz:  The pretzel bread

_MG_2995

The salad – a marinated bean salad, marinated beets, a cole slaw type salad, and marinated carrots

_MG_2996

Root beer (NOT mine)

_MG_2999

The Rahm Schnitzel (Schnitzel in a cream gravy)

_MG_3003

They brought each of us our own, personal extra gravy boat.  Yum.

_MG_3005

Chocolate Lover’s Cake (actually, this is Mom’s and my cousin Sarah’s piece.  Noah and I ate ours before I got a picture.)

_MG_3010

See?  It’s all gone!

_MG_3015

Tuesday: Swinging

_MG_3019

Playing ladder ball

_MG_3034

I love panning

_MG_3048

Cousins in the hammock

_MG_3054

Bologna

_MG_3067

A lovely sunset

_MG_3072

Playing tag at the park

_MG_3092

David, being it (I think), strikes a contemplative pose.

_MG_3101

RUN!

_MG_3103

 

_MG_3120

Isn’t he funny?

_MG_3134

The uncles join in

_MG_3137

David’s it (that’s why everybody’s running)

_MG_3157

Balancing act

_MG_3161

Wednesday – coloring while waiting for breakfast

_MG_3168

Look what kind of coffee creamer they had – White Chocolate Mocha!

_MG_3172

Cousins

Of a Conference, Friends, Fellowship, and Exhaustion

Last Friday Mom and us children drove up North to attend the conference “By Every Word,” a conference about the importance of the law of God.  We had left in the morning so that we could make it, not just to the conference on time, but to our friends’ home.  They were making dinner for us.  We would be spending 3 days with them, and I could hardly wait.  Last time we spent time with them, we had so much fun.  That time we still were getting to know them (well, aren’t you still getting to know any of your friends when you spend time with them? we knew the L.’s, but not that well).  To tell you the truth, I couldn’t even remember Kristen’s name.  No joke.  I haven’t forgotten it since (except in those way-over-exhausted moments throughout the weekend).  This time we new them pretty well.  And Melissa, another good friend of ours, was also staying with them.  I knew we were going to have so much fun.

We arrived a bit after 5, which was later than we had wanted to.  We were still in time for dinner, and had plenty of time to get to the conference.  After dinner (and some talking of course – there would be a ton of that over the weekend) we drove to the hotel, where the conference was being held.

Dr. Morecraft’s talk was really good.  He spoke on how all laws are religious, and how we can’t be neutral.

(Insert funny story here:  I paused typing here to go take care of the laundry.  When I was finished, Noah was downstairs.  I thought he looked a little glum.  So I asked him what was the matter.  He said nothing.  Despite the fact that he said he wasn’t unhappy, I still thought that he needed some cheering up.  So I started singing the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” song.  That’s when Mom appeared on the stairs.

“Don’t you know that the insurance guys are here?”

Great.  No one told me.  I didn’t even know that they were coming.  So here I am (in full earshot) singing “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

Just as I was getting the guts up to go upstairs (and act like I hadn’t been singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” in the basement), I decided to go up the back stairs and enter the upstairs through the garage.  A better way to disassociate myself with the singing.  Then, as I enter the house, I recognize one of the insurance agents.  Great.  No way to disassociate myself now.)

Back to the story: Once we came back to the L.’s house, we all didn’t go to bed like a bunch of good little children.  Who would?  Really?  The party was just getting started!

After some more eating (and Melissa broke out her chocolate covered espresso beans – mmm, where they good!) we migrated over to the family room.  We now spent the remainder of the evening – and some of the morning – talking.

The next day there were 5 talks plus a Q&A session.  Since the hotel had coffee, Laura and I brought hot chocolate packages to make mochas.  And we did.  And they were good.  And they helped us stay awake.

The conference was done by dinner time.  We went back to the L.’s home for dinner with them and another family that we are good friends with.  We then proceeded to stay up very late again, despite our previous late night, early morning, and the early morning tomorrow.  Fun, fun, fun.

Sunday, after church, was the fellowship meal.  I really enjoyed getting some more time to chat with all our friends around the lunch table, and then again after lunch.  We went and sat under the gazebo, where there was shade and a lovely breeze was stirring.  It felt like a lovely spring day.

We left the park at 6:30, and went over to my mom’s cousin’s home for a surprise visit.  We did give her quite a surprise, and she and mom had a nice time talking.

When we got back to the L.’s home, we broke out the leftovers again, since it we were hungry. 🙂  Next, I got the grand tour of Kristen’s closet, just as she had promised.  Then Melissa painted Kristen’s toes and my toes.  Mine are an adorable red that is so absolutely cute.  I am in love with it (if you haven’t guessed that yet).  I am going to have to buy it.  There are no pictures of them now, but don’t worry.  There will be plenty in the next post.  I even did a photo shoot of my toes in the car. 🙂

Since we left the L.’s on Monday morning, this seems like an opportune moment to pause this narrative.  It will be resumed in a later post.

_MG_2750

Friday night – Laura, a fellow photographer

_MG_2758

Dr. Morecraft

_MG_2765

My cute pen

_MG_2771

Saturday Morning – Dr. Carlsen

_MG_2789

Saturday evening – Aren’t Kristen’s shoes and skirt just so cute!?

_MG_2790

Feet 🙂

_MG_2792

Kristen – the lighting was amazing