Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Successful Family Vacation! Potato Creek Cabin, 2014--

--Which means the parents got a break and the kids had fun!

Not pictured, almost-thirteen year old daughter who spent her free time reading The Fellowship of the Ring...More photos soon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Sainted Aunt: Sr. Cely

Sr. Cely 
Dec. 4 1927- July 9 2014

Here is the link to the wonderful sharing about her by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, read aloud at her wake.

My great aunt Sr. Cecilia Ann, or to the family "Sr. Cely", was a tall, gentle, intelligent, patient woman of art and faith. I was lucky to know her a bit when I was in college at St. Mary's. I worked in the art department for my work study, and was sometimes asked to help move large or awkward items for her classes. She loved to construct huge, complex 'still life's with all kinds of crazy and beautiful objects. My freshman roommate had "Sr. Kelly's" drawing class and loved it. By the time I knew her, Sr. Cecilia, tall and broad shouldered, had back pain that affected her ability to stand for long periods or do heavy lifting. Yet she was committed to continuing to teach, and very humble and patient for one so talented.

It was fun to meet and greet people at the wake in the Church of Loretto, including Terrie Ann, Tom Michel, Aunt Margaret, Uncle Ed, Aunt Alice, my parents Paul and Patty and others. I made diagrams later on in the evening when we were socializing at Tom's house, trying to map out where we all fell in the family. I just say 'cousins' sometimes; we are all descendants of the same two people! (Folks, if you read this, email me your pics from the evening, so I can put some here for the clan!)

The wake was simple and respectful, not too somber. I was very moved by this prayer we all read together while a frail looking little nun moved over to the coffin and sprinkled Sr. Cely all over with holy water:
God dwells in the temple of the heavens, yet abides in our midst.
Since in baptism Sister Cecilia Ann became God's temple
and the Spirit of God lived in her,
We reverently bless her mortal body. 

At Sr. Cely's wake, a middle aged nun from Sr. Cely's community came up to me, where I was seated with other members of the family, and shared with us. She said that Sr. Cely taught her an art class when she was 13 years old, (I guess at a high school where Sisters of Holy Cross were teaching) and that Sr. Cely was one of the reasons she later 'entered' and became a sister herself. And this little sister shared that she was herself about to celebrate her own 50th jubilee (anniversary as a sister of Holy Cross)!

Below is the obit published in the local paper:

Sister M. Cecilia Ann Kelly, C.S.C. Dec. 4, 1927 - July 9, 2014 NOTRE DAME - A Sister of the Holy Cross for 63 years, Sister M. Cecilia Ann died in peace at Saint Mary's Convent at the age of 86. She had two aunts who were Sisters of the Holy Cross who preceded her in death. She was born in Akron, Ohio, one of nine children, where her early education took place. She earned her B.A. from Saint Mary's College and then a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Utah. For over 50 years she was both and artist and art professor and the majority of those years were spent on the faculty of Saint Mary's College. Many of her beautiful art works hang on the walls here on Saint Mary's Campus. She valued her meeting with Salvador Dali in Spain and her friendship with Georgia O'Keefe. Through art, Sister Cecilia Ann felt blessed, knowing that her talent and her vocation in life as a religious had come together. Reception of the body and wake service on Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. with Mass of the Resurrection on Monday, July 14, 2014, at 10:30 a.m. All ceremonies in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto. Memorial contributions can be made to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Ministry with the Poor, Saint Mary's, Notre Dame, IN 46556 or online at www.cscsisters.org. -

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Five Faves: My Fave Natural Concoctions for Home and Body

I'm going to share my five fave natural concoctions that I use in my home and on my family. Maybe someone will get a new idea from this!

1. Charlie's Soap (Charlie's is great; check 'em out!) +White vinegar!  My fave all purpose cleaner for bathroom floors, potty-training accidents, you name it. I add white vinegar and tea tree oil to this basic, non-toxic detergent. It doesn't just smell great, it really kills germs and mold! And leaves no toxic residue for little people or pets (or parents) to come in contact with.

2. Homemade baby wipes: Dr. Bronner's Castile soap +lavender essential oil +tea tree e.o. I mix up a bottle of this in an empty castile soap bottle and keep it by the changing table to pour over my cloth wipes. (Tip: tear or cut up cotton flannel baby receiving blankets into the size and shape you want for wipes. You may already have more of those blankets than you need; if not, buy super cheap at garage sales. If you use cloth diapers, it is so much simpler to also use cloth wipes!) I put just a dribble of soap and only a couple drops of each essential oil to the empty bottle, then fill with hot water. The soap and oils help remove stool and germs, and fight things like bacteria and yeast. They also prevent mold in the wipies container.

3. Wellness Mama homemade natural sunscreen, with wonderful smelling coconut oil, olive oil, neem oil and zinc oxide. Many of us have been hearing of the wonders of coconut oil. It is naturally spf 5 as well! And to me, that divine smell is what sunscreen should smell like. Check out WM's blog for a recipe and the natural SPF factors of various ingredients. (I didn't have beeswax, so I didn't put any in. My mixture is very liquid as a result. I have it in a little plastic pump-bottle). I saw 'neem' e.o. at my local health food store. (I go to Garden Patch Market; haven't yet entered Whole Foods in my town). Neem has a reputation for being soothing and healing for skin. It has an interesting scent that reminds me of sesame oil. But the real reason I bought it and put it in is because of this poem I used to read to my daughter:
From groves of spice, o'er fields of rice, athwart the lotus stream,
I bring for you, aglint with dew, a little, lovely dream.
Sweet, shut your eyes, the wild fireflies dance through the fairy neem,
From the poppy-bowl for you I stole a little lovely dream.
Dear Eyes, goodnight, in golden light the stars around you gleam.
On you I press, with soft caress, a little, lovely dream. 

4. Wellness Mama's recipe for underarm deodorant: (You better go check out her blog if you aren't already familiar. Great info). I made mine with lemongrass and lavender oils, and it smells heavenly and really works! I got to go thrift shopping for a cute little jar with a lid; I grab a dab and massage it on each morning, and I really think it works better than the brand name stuff we were buying! I just bought another, more masculine(?) little jar, so my husband is about to get some, too. I think I'll put tea tree and something else woodsy in his...

5. Bug repellant! We discovered this great, natural flea and tick repellant (this here) for our dog a few years back. My husband always says he smells like Christmas when we put it on. Turns out, cinnamon, peppermint, lemongrass and lots of other essential oils are toxic to insects while remaining harmless to most mammals! I have used this info to get rid of an ant problem just by spraying some lemongrass, peppermint, lavender and rosemary oils, mixed in a spray bottle with water, in the problem areas! We have started spritzing it on our skin* when we are out in the yard. Of course, Wellness Mama has bug repellant recipes on her site.

*It is important to follow some safety guidelines when using essential oils. A drop goes a long way! Keep them away from the faces of babies and small children! Keep most of them away from cats. Use water or a carrier oil, and do not ingest. Essential oils are natural, but even garlic can be toxic to babies in some circumstances! Do your research. Try out a few things, discover what you like, and enjoy!

Linking up with Five Faves, now hosted by Heather: http://www.mamaknowshoneychild.com/2014/07/five-favorites-kelly-style-finally/

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Making Fab Yogurt! My New Awesome System for Large Batches of Homemade Yogurt, Without a Special Yogurt Maker

Everyone is talking about making yogurt! So I will too. I started making yogurt at home several years ago, inspired by The Tightwad Gazette and by this post about using your crockpot to make homemade yogurt. I loved the ideas, because I had a few children, and the small batches you could get from yogurt makers just didn't seem to be worth it. I ended up with a recipe of my own that worked great for years. (Edited: I forgot to talk about how I store the yogurt in the crockpot, too!).

 I used a crockpot that a friend gave me and used a basic meat thermometer to check the temperature of the milk, so I wouldn't have to watch the clock and guess about when to do the steps of the process. It's so simple its amazing! I bake gluten free, and have found that using yogurt in recipes really helps moisture, flavor and texture. I use it all the time. Not to mention living on yogurt during my most recent pregnancy!
Now I have a real candy thermometer to check the temp of the milk, (and six kids who like yogurt and my pancake recipe), and this is what I've been doing:

Homemade Yogurt in a Hand-Me-Down Crockpot:
3 quarts whole milk
a heavy bottomed pot
an old school crockpot
a thermometer
a few tablespoons of yogurt with live active cultures
a beach towel

I have found, and you will read in a lot of other places as well, that whole milk is easiest to make yogurt with. You can use reduced fat milk, but, really, milkfat is not so bad for you after all, and until you are used to it, it's advisable to just go ahead and use whole milk to ensure a delicious result, because for some reason it helps with thickening.

All you do is heat your milk in a pot on the stove until it reaches 180 degrees F. This is necessary, so make sure it gets that high. Use a quality, heavy bottomed pot so you don't burn the milk. Also, don't go far, because it's a pain when the milk boils over and you have to clean the top of the stove. I should know...

I pour the hot milk into my clean, unplugged crock pot. Crock pots are excellent for yogurt because they hold the heat so well, with the thick crock itself and the insulated base. My crock comes out of the base, and I like to have it out when I pour in the hot milk, because the next step is to allow the milk to cool. Leave it uncovered until it comes down to 115 degrees F. (Make sure its less then 120 or the heat will kill your live yogurt cultures.)

When the milk has cooled, add a small amount of the warm milk to your reserved yogurt, full of live cultures. Blend, then add it all back into the milk. At this point, we want to hold it at this temperature so the little cultures can do their thing. Put the crock into the base, still unplugged, put the lid on, and cover with a substantial towel to really hold the heat in.

I read something in the past about how long to let it go, and that more hours of activity would allow the live cultures to use up more of the milk sugar, lactose, and would result in a more sour yogurt. So, I used to let it go only about 6-8 hours. Since then, I have fallen in love with Greek yogurt, and have found that longer times lead to thicker yogurt, so I leave it overnight. So does Auntie Leila. See what you like, and decide how long you want to let it go.

I love Greek yogurt, but I have not found it to be important to use Greek yogurt for culture. To make it "Greek" you have to strain it through cheesecloth over a colander afterwards to remove the whey. I can't see me taking that extra step, nor throwing away whey! (I suppose you could save it to use as buttermilk.)
It does make a big difference if you spend the money on a bit of really nice, organic, natural, live yogurt for your starter. After that, you save a little of what you made to use for the next batch! Awesome! Easy!

And then, I discovered Australian yogurt. 'Noosa' is the brand my husband found at the store here, and it is so delicious, it's like a dessert. So. Delicious.

I agree with this review, and nice pics, too.

I have since started using this for 'Australian cultures' for my homemade yogurt, and it does smell and taste even better than ever.

Here's mine, all ready to make some rad GF pancakes:

Another beauty of using a crockpot is that you can store the yogurt in it. I have this one I use only for yogurt, and I can put the whole thing in the fridge:
When we have eaten most of it, I save the last for starter, clean out the crock, and make a new batch!

So, if you have a crock pot sitting around, or your mom has one she doesn't use much, give this method a try! Enjoy!