Add homemade butter to the list of new things I’ve tried lately. Over the past year, I’ve been on a quest to consume less processed and more nutrient dense foods. Throughout this journey I’ve been drawn to the paleo style of eating, because it looks at food sources: not only what we’re eating, but what the animals were eating before we were eating them. What I like about the paleo advocates is that they look at the science involved in raising healthy food, so it seems more practical and less emotional to me. I think it’s important to look at my food sources, whether the food is considered paleo or not. That brings me to raw milk.

raw milk homemade butter

While my consumption of dairy products has decreased over the past few months, I still love them. The fact that I feel good when I eat them leads me to believe that I should continue to consume them. Given that I am putting this in my body, I have started paying attention to articles about milk and how it is processed, and what is going on in the bodies of the cows who are producing the milk. I’ve seen a few articles about raw milk and am finding it very interesting to read about the pros and cons of pasteurization and homogenization. One of the farmers at our local farmers market sells raw milk, so I bought some earlier this week to give it a try. The farmer shared the reasons she believes raw milk to be healthy and she told me how to make butter. I couldn’t wait to get home and turn into Laura Ingalls and make my own butter.

Here’s what I did: I let the milk sit in the refrigerator long enough to separate. In my case, I left it overnight. Once I could see the cream line through the milk jug, I poured some of the cream into a jar with a lid. I let the cream sit on the counter for a few minutes to warm up a little. Then I shook it for about 5-8 minutes. The butter just started clumping together.

raw milk butter

Once I could see that the butter had separated from the liquid, I poured off the liquid into a different container. It didn’t dawn on me until I was pouring off the liquid that this was buttermilk! You would think that I’m some kind of city girl or something, not raised in the San Joaquin Valley, some of the richest farmland in the world! {I drank the buttermilk right after I took the photos – Yum!}

raw milk butter

I rinsed the butter with cold water, then added some salt. It was sweet goodness!

raw milk homemade butter

raw milk butter and buttermilk

We ate the butter on some zucchini that we grilled with our steaks that night. I’m not sure if it was so sweet because of the raw milk or because I was so proud of myself for making butter. It wasn’t rocket science and didn’t require the skills of a master artist, but making butter gave me a feeling of being self-sufficient. It also made me think about re-reading the Little House books.

I drank some of the cream from the raw milk in my coffee.

raw cream in coffee

I drank some milk, too, and it was good. I didn’t drink nearly as much as I normally would because it tasted so thick compared to the 1% milk we’ve been drinking for years at our house. I really like the idea of raw milk from grass fed cows, so I’m going to keep reading and researching to see if the science backs up the feeling in my gut. (Haha, that was a paleo pun!) Do you drink raw milk? Did your parents grow up drinking raw milk? Let me know in the comments.

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This is a paleo friendly recipe for sausage stuffed bell peppers. It was from one of those nights where I looked at the ingredients I had on hand and made something up for dinner based on not taking a trip to the store. It was delicious. During dinner, both of my teenagers requested that I make it again. I’ve made it with grass fed ground beef instead of sausage, too, and that was also good.

sausage stuffed bell peppers

Simple and good are two of my favorite words when describing dinners that I make. This one gets both descriptors.

Sausage Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 pound ground sausage
1 small red onion, chopped
cauliflower rice (1/2 head cauliflower, 1 tablespoon coconut oil, salt and pepper to taste)
4 bell peppers

Warm the oven to 350. Start by making some cauliflower rice. Chop half a head of cauliflower into pieces that fit into the food processor. Pulse until it looks like rice. Put cauliflower and coconut oil into a frying pan and cook until the rice starts to brown. It takes ten or fifteen minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. This dehydrates the cauliflower. Set aside.

In the same pan, brown the sausage and onion. Combine the sausage mixture with the rice.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and hollow out the insides. (Chop up the pieces from the tops to save for tomorrows eggs so you don’t waste anything.) Scoop in one fourth of the sausage and rice mixture into each bell pepper. Place them on a cookie tray and bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Ta-da! You have a whole meal in a pepper. It’s a lot more filling than it looks, too.

sausage stuffed bell peppers

sausage stuffed bell peppers

sausage stuffed bell pepper

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Over the past year I have been trying to shrink the amount of stuff we have. It’s a grueling process for me. A family can accumulate a LOT of stuff over the course of a couple of decades. I have sold things on eBay and Craigslist, donated lots of stuff, and sent several pieces of furniture off for some college living with our oldest son. You would think with the volume of stuff that’s been removed from our house it would look empty, but it doesn’t. You. can’t. even. tell. It’s makes me take note of my hoarder tendencies. I have gone through the low hanging fruit and now it’s on to the things that are more complicated to deal with.

Saving Photos from old Hard Drive

One of the things that has been sitting in our basement is an old computer that stopped working. We didn’t throw it out because I knew it had some photos on it, and I wanted to recover them. So, it’s been sitting down there for several years. Fast forward to this week, and Brian had some time off work and decided to see what he could do about it. He removed the hard drive from the computer and tried to hook it up to our modern computer with no luck. Next, he took it to our local apple repair place. They plugged it in and transferred everything onto the tiniest jump drive I’ve ever seen. The old computer hard drive was 6 gigabytes, which seems so small now that we have phones with much bigger capacity than that. The little jump drive is 16 gigabytes!

saving photos from old hard drive

For $20, we have been able to get the photos off the old hard drive and recycle the old computer. Now instead of that big tower we have the tiny jump drive. The photo below shows a quarter, the tiny jump drive, and the original hard drive that was in the computer.

saving photos from hard drive

It might sound funny, but it feels like a burden has been lifted. We now have this tiny drive (and it’s on our current hard drive, too) instead of that whole big blue box. If we had known how simple it would be, we would have done this ages ago! It made me motivated to keep going with my Less is More theme.

saving photos

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You may know that I’ve been going through the process of trying to shrink the amount of stuff we have. My current mindset is that just because it fits in the house doesn’t mean we need it. If it isn’t functional, we don’t use it, or it adds clutter then I’m trying to change that, either by making it functional or donating/selling it. That’s how I started this bookshelf makeover.

We have three of these bookshelves. They came from Target, so they are not fancy at all. They used to sit side by side, creating a whole wall of books. When we re-arranged furniture a few years ago, they wouldn’t all fit, so one of them was relocated to another room. We easily filled it with stuff, but we don’t really need it. That’s how it became my next target. When I determined we didn’t need this, my first thought was to sell it on Craigslist. My next thought was hey, I could practice my chalk painting on this before selling it on Craigslist. So, that’s what I did. I’ve been map crazy, so I decided to try adding a map to the shelf, too. Here’s the before/after photo:

Bookshelf Makeover Before and After

To start this project, I took the back off the shelf, took the drawers and shelves out, then painted it with chalk paint. Since I knew I wasn’t keeping this, I decided to use only things I had on hand and not spend any money for this makeover. I had white paint, so that’s the color I used. I followed the recipe that I used on the armoire project to make my own chalk paint. The thing that has me so intrigued with chalk pain is that you don’t have to prep. Hooray. I gave the bookshelf several coats of paint. When I had all the pieces painted, I got out my vintage atlas and found the pages I wanted to put on this shelf. I cut them out with an X-acto Knife.

map from vintage atlas

I used Mod Podge to attach the map to the back wall of the bookshelf. I wanted it at the top, so I measured beforehand to be sure I placed it in the right spot. This is where I learned a few things. First, once the image gets wet, it’s hard to move it. You have to do it right the first time. I ended up with some ripples that I couldn’t remove without tearing the map, so I smashed them down. I think they look like waves in the ocean, don’t you? Or is that just me trying to look on the bright side? Another thing I learned is that even if you are trying to smash down the paper, you can rip it. There is a small hole in the ocean on this map that I couldn’t figure out how to fix, so I left it there.

Mod Podge map to bookshelf

Once the map had dried, I coated the back panel of the bookshelf with polyurethane. This back panel is actually two pieces of wood-like material, probably particle board, and it’s held together with duct tape. It came that way. See, I told you this wasn’t fancy to start with. The polyurethane dried thick in some spots, so it looks more yellow in those spots. I wanted it to look distressed and aged, but not that way. I tried using steel wool to smooth out the spots and ended up rubbing all the way through and creating another rough spot. I tried to hide it with paint, but ultimately ended up putting a shelf right above the spot, so it doesn’t even show anymore.

polyurethane on map bookshelf

I distressed the shelf so that the black shows through on most of the edges. That’s the other great thing about chalk paint: it’s easy to distress. Then I added a coat of wax so the paint won’t chip off, and reassembled all the pieces. The wax also helps with the aged look, making the white look a bit more yellowed. I used the same drawer pulls that came with the shelf because I didn’t want to spend any money on this project. I think if I planned on keeping it I might have changed those, but these work.

bookshelf makeover with map

map bookshelf DIY

Here’s how it looks in the house:

black to white bookshelf makeover

top half of DIY bookshelf makeover

top shelf of bookshelf makeover

bottom of bookshelf makeover

I think it turned out okay, and I like it even more when it’s filled with books and favorite things. I’m still not going to keep it, but I’m glad I got to practice and learn from this project before I get rid of the shelf. The last thing I learned is that I don’t want to make a hobby out of giving makeovers to furniture I don’t intend to keep – it’s too time consuming!

bookshelf makeover with map

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Memorial Day is just a few days away, so I thought it was appropriate to review the flag code. I also love all the patriotic summer holidays, so I’m likely to create something involving a flag. Hopefully this refresher will help me {and you!} be creative within the confines of the flag code. I love our flag and the country it represents, and I have always been a fan of flying the flag every day. Did you know that on Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon, then raised to the top of the staff until sunset? This represents respect to the fallen veterans in the morning and the living veterans in the afternoon. Since the flag on my house is on a fixed pole, I can’t display it at half-staff, but I will be looking around town to see whether flags that are displayed on poles are following this guideline.

US flag code

Even though there is a lot of text in the flag code, while I was reading it here I came to the conclusion that all the guidelines come down to respect. The flag should be displayed in certain ways, for instance with union (the blue part with the stars) on the observer’s left. When outdoors it should be displayed from sunrise to sunset, unless properly illuminated for nighttime display. If flown on a pole, it should be the top flag on the pole and should never share the pole with a corporate flag, only with state or local, or military flags. To display a corporate flag in addition to the US flag, there should be a different pole.

The flag is intended for display, so the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. I have mixed feelings about that one. The interpretations I read about that one say that anything that looks like a flag to the observer, whether or not it’s to scale or correct numbers of stars/stripes should be considered a flag. There is also a guideline that the flag is not to be used for advertising. Combine that with the one about not printing the flag on something temporary that is meant to be discarded and that means that the Old Navy t-shirts our whole family wore for many 4th of July parades were disrespectful. Ugh. I intended that to be very respectful and patriotic. I am a rules girl. It disturbs me that I violated this rule and it is also a bummer because I really liked those t-shirts! Hopefully the fact that I did it with respectful intentions mitigates the breaking of the code just a little.

I learned a few things that I didn’t know before. First, there isn’t a penalty for not following these guidelines. They are just guidelines. Second, you don’t have to burn the flag if it touches the ground. If it touches the ground, just get it off the ground as soon as you can. This goes for touching other things below it, too, like the bushes near your front door. If it hits the bushes, raise the flag higher or do some trimming. The other thing I learned was that it’s okay to fly a flag in inclement weather if it’s an all weather flag. I have always raced to pull the flag in when it started raining, but since our flag is meant for all weather, I can leave it out now.

One of the sites I looked at had pictures of how NOT to display your flag. I found it helpful to see what they were talking about.

If you have a flag, do you display it every day or just on holidays?

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Last weekend Maddie and I took a mother-daughter day trip to Crystal Bridges Museum. It’s in Bentonville, Arkansas, which is less than two hours from where we live in Missouri. The Norman Rockwell exhibit was there and Maddie, who is an art student, wanted to take a look. Our family has been to the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but she was in elementary school then and doesn’t remember much from that visit. Crystal Bridges was well worth our drive. It turns out the Rockwell exhibit sells out quickly each day, so it’s best to reserve a spot online before you go. We didn’t do that, so we didn’t get to see the Rockwell exhibit. We did, however, get to see the permanent collection, which included one of my favorite Rockwell pieces, Rosie the Riveter. Here’s Maddie, absorbing this painting.

Rosie the Riveter by Normal Rockwell

The thing with lots of museums these days is that you can take photos, as long as you don’t use a flash. That’s a big change from years past, where cameras were often not allowed inside. I had more fun watching Maddie see works by the artists she learned about over the last year than I did actually viewing the art. Don’t get me wrong, the art was extraordinary and the volume of famous artists and their work was incredible. Because it’s here, in the middle of the country where we aren’t known for our fabulous art museums, I wasn’t expecting this museum to be as great as it was. It is a world class facility, as good (or better than) any museum I’ve visited in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Chicago or Boston.

I highly recommend visiting Crystal Bridges.

Crystal Bridges courtyard mother daughter adventure

I told you before that I loved seeing Maddie light up when she recognized another famous artist or their work. Well, the best part of the trip wasn’t even inside the museum. It was outside in the courtyard area, where, for that day, they had a table with bags of chalk that you could use to create your own art on the sidewalk. Maddie decided to grab a bag of chalk and draw something. There were kids and adults, both, adding color to the concrete. Maddie started drawing and got into that zone where she wasn’t paying attention to anything other than her drawing. Then something unexpected happened: people starting watching her, like she was some kind of street artist or something. At one point there were probably 10 people standing at the top of the steps where she was working, looking down while she drew. They were taking photos and shooting video. She didn’t even realize it until I showed her my photos later. It was super cool. Here’s the courtyard, with the red Keith Haring art, and the photos I took while Maddie was creating. It was one of those times when it felt like I was fully living in the moment, and appreciating everything beautiful and amazing about this experience. To have this special day with Maddie, to watch her stand in awe before some of the great American artists’ work, to see her curiosity piqued when she learned new facts from the docents, and then to see her go out and create her own art was…I don’t think I can choose one word here. It was amazing, incredible, golden, wonderful, glorious, brilliant, and gratifying.

Crystal Bridges courtyard with Keith Haring art

Crystal Bridges courtyard art

Crystal Bridges courtyard art

Crystal Bridges art in the courtyard

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Springtime is here and for many that means time for spring-cleaning! If you are like my family, you go through electronic devices like crazy. Between the five cell phones on our family plan and the various other devices we use for music, movies and computing, it seems like there is always some kind of gadget replacement going on here. What do we do with the old or broken gizmos? We sell them to Gazelle. For cash. There’s no reason to keep broken or outdated electronics laying around the house when we could have money in our pockets instead. Do you have an old smartphone, or Apple product lying around? Have you come across a broken tablet, iPad, Macbook or iPhone while cleaning around the house? You could earn some extra cash and do some good for the environment by selling your item to Gazelle! Gazelle offers a fast and easy way for consumers to get cash for their used electronics like iPhones, iPads, Macbooks Samsung Galaxy devices, tablets and other smartphones.

More than 500,000 consumers have used Gazelle to sell nearly one million gadgets. That number includes my family. Visit Gazelle today, and see what your items are worth!

 

I’ll just say it: I’m a ModCloth affiliate because I’m a huge fan of their style. They have real vintage clothes, new vintage-styled clothes and kitschy housewares. In watching the previews for The Great Gatsby, which is being released this weekend, I have been reminded how enamored I am by the styles of the twenties. Lucky for me, ModCloth has a whole section of roaring twenties styled items collected in one place.

Full of glitz, glamour, ornate details, and a true style all its own – what girl wouldn’t want “The Great Gatsby” look? Whether you are looking to enjoy a casual Gatsby themed garden party or don your most glamorous look at a fabulous cocktail evening, there are plenty of ways with ModCloth to add a flapper-esque flair to any look this spring/summer.

  • Details, details, details. Epaulets, pearls, rhinestones, and sequins were highly used during this time period to add glitz to an evening outfit.
  • Slender silhouettes. While you could still see a full skirt, long hemline, and high neck, the robe de style dress featuring a drop waist and straight cut was the most popular style.
  • Haute headpieces. To top off the entire look, add a whimsical & decadent headpiece from ModCloth. You can even DIY a fabulous headband with ribbon, feathers, and gemstones!

I’ve told you before how I get into movies or television series, then feel the need to dress the part. {Most recently it was the Winnie Cooper headband look and the Audrey Hepburn bun that I shared here.} I’m pretty sure that’s going to happen with this movie, too. In my hunt for the perfect 1920s inspired outfit, so far this dress and these shoes are my favorites.

Patisserie Delicacy Dress from ModCloth

Notch Your Step Heel in Caramel from ModCloth

Will you be needing some 1920s styled clothes, too?

For more tips & tricks to achieve the perfect flapper-esque look, you can visit the ModStylists here: ModCloth ModStylists Will Style You Up!. The ModStylists can put together a look-book specifically for you!

1920’s Great Gatsby Fashion at ModCloth

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This is a post from last year that I want to share again because even though I don’t have a graduate this year, many of you do! This is an easy chocolate graduation dessert that is both festive and yummy. Enjoy!

graduation caps sweet treats

l saw these cute graduation caps over at Lil’ Luna. {Of course I pinned them to my Pinterest board}. With my daughter graduating from high school, I decided to use Kristyn’s idea, but use different ingredients because I was in a bit of a time crunch. Instead of mini muffins, I used mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. For the mortar boards I used chocolate graham crackers. For the tassels I used Twizzlers. To glue everything together I used frosting. I cut the Twizzlers at the end to make them look like tassels. Red M&Ms were used for the tops.

ingredients for graduation caps

They turned out looking a lot like Kristyn’s.

graduation caps with reese's peanut butter cups

I put them on upside down bowls {I called them pedestals} and decorated the table with them. They looked cute and were pretty tasty.

graduation caps on the dinner table

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These vintage bathing suits are some beauties I found while scanning a 1966 Good Housekeeping magazine. Because it’s May and it is snowing here today, it seemed like a good idea to share this pretty summer attire, if only for the sake of distraction from reality. I think the head wraps and towels on the heads are funny. I like how modest the styles are and how this lovely beachwear was created with so many different personalities in mind.

vintage bathing suits 1966

vintage swimwear1966

vintage orange swimwear

vintage bathing suit 1966

vintage bathing suit 1966

vintage bathing suits 1966

vintage bathing suits 1966

vintage swimwear 1966

I like the orange suits best. The orange and navy blue two piece is my absolute favorite. Here is the closest thing I could find in modern swimwear from ModCloth:


Fruity Suity Two Piece from ModCloth

from: ModCloth

Which one is your favorite?

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