The Birthday Crown that Wasn’t. A Story About Growing Up.

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I've never been the mama to mourn the loss of the each passing stage of development. I don't mope over first solids, cry over babies growing out-of-arms, or pine away for the days before name-this-developmental-milestone. I've embraced the changes. Every step of the way. I celebrate the getting-bigger as it comes. Every. Time.

But. Nine. What is this? Nine. Nine feels big. As in: my kid is growing up fast. He is somehow 1/2 way to being an adult. How is this possible?

Sure, he still puts on costumes and goes to Antarctica with his sister (in a wool hat and mittens in August). Yes, he still loves to cuddle and be held and be read to. Yes, he still apologetically adores both Pete and I. But still. He is growing up.

It is a subtle shift, but I can feel it in my bones. (The Nine Year Change. I need to read up to find out just what that's about.) I've seen the shift in subtle ways. Like interest in friends. And sleepovers. And weeks away with my parents. And a subtle moving away from me, ever so slowly creating his own space. But nine. Nine is big.

Here's how I know.

We were getting ready to go to the cabin to celebrate Sage's birthday last weekend. It was the first birthday that Sage doesn't have a birthday crown. (His was washed by mistake last year, caught in the tangles of a shirt, and it was toast. He cried big tears and then we let it go.) Pete was loading the car while I got the birthday stuff together. No crown, I thought. Strange. I stood there, staring at my felt, thinking, "Nine? Nine is big. But maybe, just with us he might…" I decided to make him a grown-up interpretation of a birthday crown, just for family use. Maybe just for this last year (or maybe for a couple more). If I sprung it on him and it was really a cool crown – all black and awesome – he might be taken by its charm and stay little for one more year.

I grabbed his baby sling and cut a chunk out of it (it was threadbare and set aside for special projects). It seemed like the perfect thing, to bridge baby to young boy to big. I set to work sewing an elastic casing. I'd hand sew the crown at the cabin the next day.

Enter Sage, stage right. "Whatcha making?"

Me, trying to be cool, "Oh, just an elastic casing."

Sage, sharp as a tack, "For what?"

Me, "Um, a birthday crown. Because yours got wrecked. Do you want one?"

Sage: silence. He stares at me with an exaggerated "what-do-you-think-I-am-a-baby?" expression on his face, lip curled up, one eyebrow down and scrunched, kind of like there was a really bad smell in the room. "Um, no. I don't like birthday crowns anymore."

I was thwarted. He had already done it. He went and got big without my permission.

In that moment I experienced what I think others do at earlier milestones. I experienced the irreversibility of this growing up, and the deep – and yes, sad – realization that early childhood is over. There is no going back. The innocence of little is done. Forever.

I had the sensation of standing on a dock and seeing a ship begin to slowly pull away from shore and I realized that I couldn't quite reach the ladder and I wasn't meant to go along anyway. We'd always be together, but he has his own seas to sail.

There is no turning this boat around. He's growing. Becoming. Going ever so slowly away.

And my heart aches.

 

What I didn’t know: Reflections on Motherhood.

I am almost always with my kids. We are together. All. The. Time. Home business, homeschooling, homebody. We rarely go our separate ways. I like it like that. But sometimes I crave a little time alone. Pete recently took them both on a trip for a few days, allowing me a deep silence in which to reflect on how my sense-of-self has been shaped my motherhood. How motherhood has changed me.

Here goes.

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I have been a mother for most of a decade.

Looking back over the past 9-plus years since I became pregnant with my first child I am stunned by what I have discovered and learned so far. I have grown and evolved on account of motherhood more than at any other time in my life.

Even more amazing though is the vast abyss of "what I do not yet know" that lies before me. The foundation of motherhood, perhaps, (aside from unconditional love) is embracing that gap in knowledge while we find gratitude for what we've learned so far. And trusting that we'll find our way.

Really, we know so little, don't we? We can read and research and look at statistics and talk to other parents, but really becoming a parent is one big question mark. We learn as we go, making it up along the way. We're all on this ride together with no telling what comes next or where we'll end up. So we hold tight to trust, lest we get mired in worry and miss all the fun.

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When I was pregnant with Sage there was much that I did know. I knew (and had since childhood) that I wanted to be a mother. I knew that I would someday have a daughter but that this one was going to be a boy. (I thought that Pete, who grew up without a father, needed a son first to be the dad he never had so I decided long before we had kids that we'd have a boy first. We did.)

I knew that I would parent from the heart rather than from the advice of a physician, book, or well-meaning family or friends. (I did not know how hard that would be at times.) I knew that I trusted myself more than I trusted western medicine and I was going to be a relentless questioner when it came to my child's care.

I knew that I wanted to raise my own kids, full-time. Day care and pre-school weren't in our plan. (Neither was school as it turns out.) We'd tighten our belts and cut our income nearly in half. One of us would stay home to raise our baby.

I knew I wanted a homebirth. I knew that my boy would remain intact (un-circumcised). I knew that I would nurse and maybe for a long time and he would sleep in our bed. ("Six months," said Pete. So we borrowed a crib for when he was bigger. We didn't know that almost a decade later we'd still co-sleep with one or both kids most nights.)

Yes. I knew some things that turned out to be true. And yet, there was so much more that I did not know. There still is.

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I didn't know what it would be like to be a mama. Not at all. I knew there would be tears and giggles, diapers and nursing, bedtimes and early mornings. I knew that eventually there would be first smiles, first signs, first words, and first steps.

But I didn't know how different "mama" would be from "papa" in our world. I thought they were interchangeable. Mom. Dad. Same difference. "50/50," I said. From my career mind I rationalized that we'd each have our job during the day – I would stay home to be with Sage and Pete would go to work. But the rest of the week we'd be 50/50. Evenings. Bedtime. Nights. Days off.

But it didn't shake out that way. I didn't know just how much of the parenting would fall to me. Sage, in his baby-way demanded it. And my heart told me to give him what he needed. I remember feeling tired. Resentful. Overwhelmed.

And while I remember being frustrated at not being able to take a shower or finish a meal without a baby fussing his way into in my arms, I also remember surrendering. Releasing the resistance I had to it and embracing – eventually – what was my new life. What a gift that was to learn to let go and be present in what is.

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Sage arrived into our life, born in the front doorway of our house in the middle of a sunny August afternoon, a few feet from a four-way stop. I let the screen door close behind me as I turned back into the house and yelled "F************K!" louder than I had ever yelled before. I was standing there in my bathrobe, my foot on the coffee table, my backside to the street with the midwives and Pete around me in a semi-circle. We were heading to the hospital as our homebirth plan started to unravel but Sage was determined to be born at home.

There we stood – all four of us – the midwife's car idling outside, dumbfounded, staring at this baby who decided not to wait. (I'm so glad.)

I remember his wrinkled forhead, his focused, watchful eyes, and his powerful cry. I can see him perfectly in my mind – born twice the size I expected him to be, red faced and wet, gazing deep into me. The words "Old soul" echoed in my head as he held my stare, the two of us still joined still by his umbilical cord.

Sage, aware of every nuance around him. Sage, with his hair-trigger startle reflex. Sage, with his stunning ability to shake the hell our of everything we thought we knew. Amazing. World-turned-upside-down kind of amazing.

Sage reminded us immediately of how very little we really knew. He cried. A lot. (And so did I.) I was worried about everything and he felt my discord and let me know that he was worried too. It was hard. Really hard. I remember when Sage was two weeks old Pete and I looked at each other wild eyed and one of us whispered, "No one told us it was going to be like this. No one said it would be this hard." And then I think I cried. Again.

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But it was. It was really unbelievably hard. I didn't know it would be like that.

I told my midwife some months later that we would never have another baby. That I didn't know if we could survive. She said she was sad that I would never have "the pleasure of an easy baby" and I remember thinking – did she just use "pleasure" and "baby" in the same sentence?

I didn't know how amazing it was going to be once we hit our groove. I didn't know I would indeed do it again (on purpose) and yes, it would be a pleasure to have an easy baby. And I didn't know that the lessons that I had learned through the teacher of my truly not easy and highly sensitive baby would carry me through motherhood with a clarity I could not have found without that trying time. That hardest time of my life shaped me into a better mother than I every could have been without it. That the struggle would be a bigger blessing in many ways than ease would have been. I didn't know.

Someone bought us a stroller as a baby shower gift. I would push the empty stroller around town with one hand, holding Sage in my arms after just a few moments of riding (and protesting). He wanted to stay close. Finally I gave up on the stroller that I never wanted anyway and put him in the sling that a new mama friend brought me to use. (You know who you are. I still thank you for that.) He settled. I settled. We found our groove.

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I didn't know that he needed my arms. That he needed quiet. That he needed to nurse on a pillow so I didn't overwhelm him with touch. That he needed rhythm and routine and clothes without tags. I didn't know. But I learned. I listened and he taught me.

Sage's crib sat unoccupied, the world's largest laundry basket until we packed it up and gave it back. He never spent a night in it. I didn't know that we didn't need a nursery. Or a stroller. Or a pack-and-play. I didn't know that what I needed was someone to show up with a meal and help with the dishes and tell me to listen to my heart. Someone to tell me to trust my instincts. Someone to tell me that it was really unbelievably hard this mothering business but that actually I did know what I was doing and it would all be okay soon.

I didn't know.

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I didn't know that every priority I thought I had would be shuffled and jumbled up and come out in a new amazing arrangement that would direct the rest of my life. And because of becoming a mother the pieces would begin to fall into place and I would find purpose and meaning in this life beyond anything I had imagined.

I didn't know that becoming a mother would take the identity that I had been working so hard to build for myself and turn it to dust in an instant. And then from that dust a brand new and far more meaningful sense-of-self would slowly emerge and define me for much of my life. Likely all of my life. I am not only a mother, but being one has been the most powerful force in shaping the person I have become.

Most importantly, I did not know how deeply I could love. I had no idea. Love was surely deep before motherhood, but I can not compare it to the love I felt for my newborn, nursing away in my arms, eyes darting beneath sleeping lids, counting on me to understand and deliver what he needed in each moment. The love for your child is a different love. And it is bigger than I ever imagined.Babysage1

Looking back I celebrate all that I have discovered. There is more to learn each day as I strive to grow as a person and as a mother. To find balance. To be patient. To connect. To play. To live fully in this now. To trust myself, my partner, my child, and the universe. To be free of worry and fear and find joy in the magic of this day.

I didn't know that becoming a mother would simultaneously be the hardest thing I had ever done and the thing that I would hold closest to my heart. Motherhood would be my most important role ever.

I didn't know that motherhood would change everything.

Tutorial : : Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

Last winter I promised you a tutorial for homemade laundry soap. At long last, here it is! I originally wrote this for a soapmaker's publication, the Saponifier Magazine. I write a regular column for them and will share some other tutorials for homemade in the coming months.

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DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

In my company we make a lot of soap. A lot. Our cornerstone body care product, we sell thousands of bars each year and ever batch results some trims or damaged bars. We sell the scratch and dent soaps when they are available over here (perfect for laundry soap!), or make yours with a regular bar. One bar is enough for weeks worth or laundry soap. Either option is perfect for effective, homemade laundry soap. (As a bonus, after coming here day after day you'll have a scratch-and-sniff experience of my world when you use my soap!)

My soaps are as natural as can be, made with organic oils, essential oils, and herbs. But most bar "soaps" found in stores today – as well as most laundry "soap" is actually synthetic detergent. Who knew? I'm all for clean clothes but I prefer the most natural route possible. So quick homemade laundry soap it is.

There are only three additional ingredients to turn natural bar soap into laundry soap and all can be found at your local grocery store: baking soda, borax, and washing soda. Baking soda is a natural odor remover. Borax softens water. Washing soda is chemically similar to baking soda but is a much stronger base (high pH) and helps neutralize the natural moisturizers found in soap.

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Two thoughts before we begin regarding soap selection:

  • Any of the soap I make (LuSa Organics) is laundry friendly. If you opt for another brand, select soaps that do not contain synthetic colorants or large bits of ground herbs.
  • If you are mixing different soap varieties choose scents that harmonize with each other. (We used a lavender soap and a eucalyptus bar.)

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

How to Make Laundry Soap

Materials and Equipment:

Soap, approximately 4 to 5 ounces (to make 2 C) (One large or two medium bars)
2/3 C Baking Soda
1 C Borax
1 1/3 C Washing Soda
Essential Oils (optional)
Box grater or electric grater
Food processor (optional)
Mixing bowl, reserved for non-food use
Mixing spoon, reserved for non-food use
Jar, for storing laundry soap

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog


DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Instructions:

Gather your materials and equipment. You may consider wearing your gloves and dust mask as we'll be working with powders and alkaline materials (washing soda).

Grate soap on the fine side of a box grater or process through your food processor fitted with the fine grater blade. Go for the finest shreds possible as they will dissolve easily in your washing machine. (Note: 4 ounces of well-cured soap will make approximately 2 C of grated soap.) If desired you may process the grated soap a second time in your food processor for an even finer powder.
Measure grated soap into mixing bowl. Add additional ingredients and stir well to combine. Check scent. If desired add additional essential oils to boost the scent of your soap (a few drops is plenty). Transfer to storage jar. That's it! Shake jar occasionally to keep powder from separating from soap if your gratings (like mine) are medium size. Use two to three Tb. per load, and add a splash of vinegar to your washer in the fabric softener cup for your freshest, cleanest clothes yet. Homemade laundry soap is low-sudsing and is safe for use in most HE (High Efficiency) washing machines.

 

Make Your Own Sunhat.

This is a re-post from last July. Since summer is on its here in then North I wanted to share it with you again. This pattern is sweet and simple (and easy to sew). Sage is still loving the hat shown below and I'm thinking of making a fresh and girlie version for Lulu.
Homemade is always better than bought, don't you think? If you sew one post some pictures in the flickr photo pool. I'd love that.
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This is a little late in coming. I promised this pattern to you weeks ago! I didn't make the time to stitch up a second one and I didn't want to post it without photos, thus the delay. But summer is wearing on and I have this image in my head of many little boys out in the sun, squinting like mad.

So here it is – a sewing pattern without photos – but a pattern none-the-less. Go forth and sew hats, you brave, bold mamas.

(Note: the hat below seems a bit too tall to me, so the pattern trimmed off about an inch.)

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Sage's Sunhat

Materials:

  • Pattern – three pieces (below). Print without scaling so that you get the proper size.
  • Outer fabric (I used linen)
  • Lining fabric (I lined with the same)
  • Timtex or other stiff interfacing for brim (afflink)
  • Matching thread

All sewing was done with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This was sized for my 7 1/2 year old. Adjust as needed to fit a younger or older child.

Boy Sunhat Band (No pattern piece. Rectangle 21.5" x 4") – cut two (one lining, one outer fabric)

Boy Sunhat Top Pattern – cut two (one lining, one outer fabric)

Boy Sunhat Brim Pattern – cut three (two outer fabric, one interfacing.) Note: When you cut out your paper pattern fold and cut so you have the entire 1/2 moon. I only copied down 1/2 of the pattern to make it fit on a single sheet.

Brim

  1. Cut interfacing brim down by 1/2 inch on all sides.
  2. Sew outer curved edge of brim, right sides together.
  3. Turn and press.
  4. Insert interfacing and trim if needed to fit smoothly inside.
  5. Top stitch outer curve through all layers to hold interfacing in place.

Crown

  1. Fold hat band so that the short ends line up (right sides together), creating a flattened cylinder.
  2. Sew.
  3. Pin cylinder shape carefully to hat top (also right sides together).
  4. Sew.
  5. Turn right side out and press.
  6. Repeat with lining.
  7. Pin brim to hat, centered opposite of back seam with top side of brim flat against front of hat (it will look like someone flipped the brim up, 1980's grade school style).
  8. Sew into place and flip down. It should be starting to look like a hat now!
  9. Press under 1/2" on bottom edge of hat and hat lining.
  10. Insert hat lining into outer fabric hat and top stitch together very close to the edge. 

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Your hat is done! Dance around a little and then call in your boy (or girl) and share your creation. Feel free to leave comments or send emails with your questions.

xo

Rachel

Tutorial: Homemade Almond Milk Recipe

Edited: I've seen many links
lately for using this recipe as an infant formula. Please, please,
please find a holistic health care provider to work with before you
decide to either A) supplement your breast milk or B) give nut milk to
your infant. All the best to you and yours.

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Commercial almond milk can not compete with homemade. Store bought almond milk, with its overly sweet and overly processed attributes, is nothing like what can come out of an ordinary blender. Skeptical? Read the ingredients on a box of store-bought almond milk. I promise there are ingredients in there you would never put in your blender.

Homemade almond milk takes just minutes to make and is far more nutritious than anything that can be stored in an aseptic cardboard box. And you can use the leftover pulp for all kind of delicious recipes, so no waste.

Real, live, whole food.

Ready?

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Homemade Almond Milk Recipe
1 C soaked raw almonds (I soak and then dry all of my nuts to make them more digestible, but you can use soaked and still wet or even unsoaked/straight from the store almonds.)

1/2 C raw unsweetened coconut flakes (optional but encouraged)

5 C water

Pinch of salt

2 tsp vanilla

1 Tb honey (optional – I don't usually add this but if you are accustom to sweet almond milk this will ease your transition.) 

Process:

Heat your water to just below a simmer.

In your blender jar, combine almonds, coconut, hot water, and salt. Allow to soak. (If you are in a hurry skip the soaking. It will turn out beautifully. I promise.) Wait 15 minutes or more – you can soak all day if you wish.

Add honey and vanilla. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes in an ordinary blender or for a shorter time in a fancy-pants blender. Strain out pulp in a fine mesh strainer. (To speed the straining I first pour it through a wider mesh strainer, then strain it a second time through a very fine strainer.)

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Uses for your Almond Pulp:

Make More Milk: You can make a second batch of (thinner) milk by returning the pulp to your blender and adding 3 C water and following above procedure for blending and straining. I don't love the second batch but it works well as a skim-type milk, while the first batch is very creamy. Or mix them together and call it 2%.

Make Almond/Coconut Flour: Oil cookie sheet with coconut oil. Spread the leftover pulp onto the sheet and dehydrate in a low heat oven. The flour will be in big chunks that you will need to grind up in your food processor, but it crumbles easily. Use as a gluten-free flour for making muffins, crackers, or waffles. You can even skip the drying and portion onto a cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop, then bag. This way you can add a few to every batch of baked goods you make, gluten-free or not.

Variations:

Homemade Coconut Milk Recipe: Proceed as above but omit nuts and add 1 C coconut flakes.

Any Nut Milk Recipe: Substitute other nuts or seeds for the almonds and/or the coconut flakes. The options are endless!

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July 2011 Note: I've seen many links lately for using this recipe as an infant formula. Please, please, please find a holistic health care provider to work with before you decide to either A) supplement your breast milk or B) give nut milk to your infant. All the best to you and yours.

Postscript: How sweet you have all been since the comments box came back up. Yes, I missed you! Many of you are revisiting older posts to finally leave your comments there, and plenty of you are leaving unrelated questions on current posts. I'll get back to each of you soon if you had a question for me. I promise! Thank you for sharing your voice. It is one of my favorite things about writing here.

It’s National Breastfeeding Month and I Think We’re Weaned.

Nursing has been on my brain lately. Because, for the the first time in almost eight years I'm not nursing anyone. Or I don't think I am. (I know. That sounds strange. But natural child-led weaning isn't a cut and dry nursing/not nursing relationship. It's fluid and transparent and ever-changing.) But I'm fairly certain that we're done. Forever.

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Since late 2001 I have been either pregnant or nursing. Until right now. Sage nursed until he was 3 1/2. He weaned around the time I became pregnant with Lupine. And she is now 3 1/2. And she'd done. Weaned. "A big girl" as she would put it.

 

Why child-led weaning? For me it is an extension of how we have chosen to parent both of our children, gently and with the minimal intervention possible. But in truth (if I look deeper into the shadows) there is more to it than that.

When Sage was almost two I started to feel done with nursing. (There is often an increase in the intensity and frequency of nursing when a child reaches 18 months old, and we were there. I didn't know it would pass and we'd hit our groove again.) I started to move towards gently weaning Sage.

But then Sage got really sick. And as I lay by his side in the pediatric ICU, wires and machines and nurses and neurologists everywhere, we nursed. All night we nursed. All day we nursed. And as that long week wore on I felt gratitude hour-after-hour for nursing. It was all we had.

And after we went home, nursing – so vital all along – became unsurpassed in its importance because if things ever went terribly wrong again (fingers crossed) I wanted that safety net available to us – for comfort, security, and nourishment.

I decided that Sage would know best when he was ready and I surrendered to that. And he did. No, we never needed nursing again like we did that week, but we still needed it – for overstimulated afternoons, for connecting after a hard day, for hydration and natural immunity during colds and flu, for a physical manifestation of mother-child love. And when he was ready it was over. It was so gradual I can't remember the last time we nursed.


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Lupine was a different story in that she arrived with no baggage of something-might-go-wrong. Just bliss, joy, and the now. While I was free of worry, I still carried the gift of surrender that I learned with Sage. I gave myself up to her babyhood in a peaceful and joyful way, knowing that these moments were fleeting. I was happy to have her in my arms, in my bed, at my breast for as long as she chose. And while I didn't know what that would mean I was game. It just felt right.

 

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And now? I have a big girl. In her words, "Mama, do you know why I don't love to suse (nurse) anymore? No milk, no milk, no milk, no milk, no milk, no milk, no milk, no milk, no milk, no milk – for like five days."That was this June. Since then she has halfheartedly nursed for a brief second on each side, once a week.

Yep. It's over.

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As for me, it feels good. Like both my kids (in this department anyway) had their needs met and we were all happy with the journey. Now everyday Lupine nurses her dolls and talks about all the babies she'll have when she is "a real mama."

And so this chapter ends and the next begins.

In the Kitchen : : Homemade Yogurt Tutorial

Update! I rewrote my yogurt tutorial in 2016 with tips and tricks to make your yogurt even thicker. You can find it here.

Did you try the butter or tortilla tutorial I recently posted? If not, maybe this one is more your pace. Yogurt. One of the easiest and most common fermented foods. And the cost is about half that of store-bought yogurt.

This recipe is nearly foolproof yogurt every time. No special equipment needed. Making yogurt is ridiculously easy. We make it three times a week.

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 Homemade Yogurt Tutorial

1 Quart milk (raw is awesome but store-bought works great, too)

1 Tb yogurt culture (details on lively yogurt cultures are below)

Cooler, oven, heating pad or yogurt maker

Kitchen thermometer (optional)

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Step 1: Heat

Warm 1 Qt of milk over medium-low heat until it is about to simmer. A skin will form on the top. Stir it in (my method) or lift it off (Pete's choice). If you are using a thermometer heat to 180 F/82 C.

Why heat? Heating the milk to nearly boiling kills anything living in your milk and gives the yogurt an unpopulated place to grow and thrive.

Remove from heat.

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Step 2: Cool

Transfer your still hot (but not jar-breakingly hot) milk to a clean wide mouth quart jar. I do this little by little to ensure I don't crack my jar. Pour, swirl, wait. Pour, swirl, wait. Then pour the rest in.

Allow to cool until it feels warm but not hot to the touch (if you are using a thermometer it will be between 108 F – 110 F (42 – 43 C).) Cool adequately so that you don't kill your culture.

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Step 3: Culture

Add 1 Tb of unflavored live yogurt.

How do you source good yogurt? Look local. Do you have a friend who makes yogurt? Ask for a bit. Is there a local or regional brand at your coop or grocery store? Try a small cup. Always choose unflavored yogurt because the sugars in sweetened yogurt weakens the culture and doesn't result in thick yogurt.

Blend the yogurt into a small bowl of milk or add to the jar and shake well (really well) to incorporate. Don't add extra. In yogurt making less is definitely more. I've experimented with different quantities for years, but only after reading Wild Fermentation did I find this perfect quantity. Our yogurt is now amazingly thick thanks to this minimal quantity of culture.

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Step 4: Insulate

Place your quart jar in one of three places:

A. A cooler filled half way with very warm water. This method requires a bit of monitoring. Check the water temp a couple of times. Is it still warm? If not carefully scoop some out and replace with hot water.

B. A warm oven. Turn on your pilot light and place jar inside. This is our preferred method. We make yogurt in 1/2 gallon jars this way frequently.

C. A yogurt maker. There are styles with little glass cups that you can find second hand, or newer versions like the one above. I bought this one on Ebay for $8 including shipping. Score. In essence a yogurt maker adds heat and insulates to keep your yogurt warm while it cultures.

D. Heating pad on low heat. This can be tricky if your heating pad gets too hot, but can work beautifully. Place heating pat in the bottom of a cooler and cover with a thick towel. Set to low and place yogurt on top. Cover.

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Step 5: Wait

Let your yogurt culture undisturbed for 4 – 12 hours. Four makes for mild, thick yogurt and the full 12 hours creates a more sour yogurt with no residual milk sugars – great for people sensitive to such things. Don't jostle your yogurt while it cultures or it will be thin and disappointing.

Step 6: Chill

Cool your yogurt before you scoop it out or it will separate a bit. My kids love warm yogurt and we use whey for lots of other things, so we sometimes scoop while warm, but if you want your yogurt to not separate pop it in the fridge for an hour.

 

Step 7: Enjoy!

Fill a bowl with your homemade yogurt, some fresh fruit, granola, or a drizzle of maple syrup. This yogurt is so good that I ate two bowls while writing this. Really.

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Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

Hello, friends! So many of you have emailed for more information on healthy teeth, so I have posted steps 1 and 2 of the Holistc tooth care series. You can find step one here. Be well! ~ Rachel

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Making your own toothpaste is as easy as can be.

From a self-sufficiency perspective it’s awesome simply because you made your own toothpaste (how rad are you?). But you also get the bonus of being able to control what goes into your mouth (did you know most toothpastes contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate? Yep. Even at the Co-op).

Oh, and there is one very compelling reasons to stay away from the commercial stuff. Decay.

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Lupine had early childhood caries (ECCs). Her teeth were crumbling by 18 months. Modern dentistry blames ECCs on poor brushing habits, poor diet, acidic mouth, genetics, and nighttime-nursing/bottles.

But that story wasn’t jiving for us.

We brushed well and regularly, ate wholesome food, and avoided juice, corn syrup processed foods, and most sweets. We did night nurse (and still do), but that seemed evolutionarily normal and to me it didn’t make sense that it would contribute to decay of healthy teeth. So I dug deeper. Lots deeper.

I discover a nutritional imbalance. We adjusted our diet to mainly Traditional Foods, continued to night nurse, and began to supplement deficient nutrients. And we adjusted our cleaning routine.

The first step? Toss the toothpaste.

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A coating of glycerin remains on the teeth for days after brushing with commercial, glycerin-based toothpaste. This film prevents remineralization, something vital for healthy teeth.

While our dentist doesn’t buy this theory, he did acknowledge that Lupine’s decay ceased within weeks after we made the changes above. It has been over a year and have seen no new decay since our diet and brushing habits changed.

The recipe below is our new standard. It tastes pretty good – sweet and minty, and if you rinse after brushing there is no soapy-taste at all. (Bonus: Our soap-based formula helps prevent swearing!)

LuSa Organics Homemade Toothpaste

2 tsp Natural Liquid Soap (try unscented Dr. Bronner’s or similar. We’ve used our bar soap grated into water but it makes too thick of a toothpaste for my squeeze bottle.)

4 Tb Coconut Oil

1 Tb Water

2 Tb Xylitol (optional)

1/2 tsp Stevia powder (edited in 2014: please use the green stevia powder rather than the highly processed white powder. A half dropper of liquid stevia is another great option.)

10-20 drops Peppermint Essential Oil (optional)

5-10 drops Spearmint or Sweet Orange Essential Oil (optional)

Boil a small pan of water. Measure out 1 Tb and stir into it Xylitol (optional). Stir to dissolve. Melt coconut oil and add to water mixture. Measure in soap and stevia and blend (a stick blender works well if you have one. Otherwise use your regular blender or whisk by hand like mad).  Blend while the formula cools enough to stay combined. Add essential oils and transfer to a clean squeeze or pump bottle. Cool completely, shake well.

Then smile at your self-sufficiency with those squeaky-clean teeth.

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