Saturday, January 29, 2011

Birthday Ideas On Picnik

It is the universal problem:

What to give 
(fill in any man in your life) 
for birthday, Christmas, Father’s Day . . . 
Sophia’s dedushka had a birthday yesterday.  
Anton and I started discussing what to get him at least two weeks ago.  
Every night Anton would turn to men and ask, “What can we get my dad for his birthday?”  
I would answer, “I don’t know.  What do you think?  It is so hard to buy for men.”
Every night the same conversation.

Every night the same conclusion:                         
We have NO idea!
Since I’m sitting with a hot water bottle on my hurt back for a few days, I’ve had time to play on the computer!  
One of my favorite sties is Picnik.  
You saw the subway art I made for Valentine’s Day here.
Yesterday, while playing around on Picnik, I decided to make Dedushka a photo collage - with pictures of him with Sophia thru the years. 
What a great idea!
I just know it will make him smile!
Then, I got the idea to make him a bookmark:

Both were such fun to make!
Might be a great Valentine’s Day gift for that special man in your life!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

True Love Subway Art - I Corinthians 13

I have fallen in love with subway art.  

It is all over the craft blog world.  

Painted, printed, made of wood, sewn in quilts . . . the options varied and numerous!
For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to print out a True Love subway art using God’s definition of Love from I Corinthians 13 in the New Testament.  I have a heart now for  Sophia to learn what Real Love is, what it does, doesn’t do . . . if she will learn to recognize real Love now, in herself and in others, how much heartache it will save her in Life!
So, to get started, I looked all over the web for a free one that I could print.  I didn’t find one but I did find this tutorial on one of my favorite blogs, The Mother Huddle, about how to make subway art using Picnik.  
It was easy and so much fun!
Here is what I made in about 30 minutes:
Now, what should I do with it?  Printed out it is 5X7.  
Any ideas?  
I would love to share this with you, as a free printable, if I knew how . . . 
Give Picnik a try . . . I can’t wait to see what you make!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Playing With Patterns

We’re entered the world of patterns - both with numbers and letters.  
Sophia is fascinated with them.
She is getting to be such a good reader!  
My favorite time of the day is the early morning.  
Papa has gone off to work.  
Sophi and I jump back in bed and snuggle under the covers for a few more minutes.
She reads a book to me and I read a book to her.  
Then, we start our day!  
The other day, I was cooking in the kitchen and she got the idea to make her own word
Here are a couple of her puzzles - can you find her words? 
There is one word to each puzzle. 
(remember, 4 almost 5 yr old spelling is involved!)
The First Puzzle
The Second Puzzle
Leave your answer in the comment box.
The first one to get both puzzles correct will win a special treat!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Raw Milk - The Perfect Food

Do you remember your first sip of fresh whole milk?
        Some of you may have grown up drinking it from your own family cow.
        Others may have never ventured farther than the skim milk shelf in the dairy 
            section of your local grocery store.
        Or maybe you’re like me, and your first real raw milk experience may have 
            happened to you in a far-away land. . . where little old ladies still rise before 
            dawn, pull up a worn wooden seat, and collect it in sliver buckets.
I remember my first sip.  I was camping with Max, Sveta, and Anton in Prezhevalskoye, a lake district about an hour from Smolensk.  The days had been cool and we had eaten glorious camp-fire meals and rested under the pines . . . and had become restless.  We were ready for an adventure.  
Max suggested we take a walk to the village up on the hill and see if we could find some fresh milk.  We took off - walked for about 1/2 an hour and made it to the village of some 10 houses.  At one house a Babushka gladly gave us a big glass jug full of milk.  My 3 Russian friends readily drank and passed it on to me, with words like, “It’s wonderful, so rich!  You have to try it.”  I was thinking things like, “Has it been pasteurized?  Are there live bacteria in there waiting to infest me?”  
And, so, reluctantly, succumbing to the Russian collective, I took my first sip of fresh raw milk.

It is NOTHING like the skim milk I had grown up drinking!  
It is rich, creamy.  It sits on your tongue a moment before going down.  It fills your tummy with a couple of sips.  It feels real, sweet, mellow, whole.  
You gotta try it at least once in your life!  (Just be careful and know your source!)
Since then, I have drank it many times.  In our village, Selifonova, we have a lady that we buy milk from regularly.  Her milk cow grazes on the lot next to our house - very local source!  
I drink it, but have never tried to make anything else from it.  Russians make all kinds of things:  sour cream (the BEST you’ve ever put in your mouth!), cream cheese, cottage cheese, buttermilk (several different kinds), kefir, hard cheeses, tvorak (something like cream cheese but a little sour . . . 
This New Year’s week Anton and I went with our friends, Volodya and Natasha, to their dacha for Russian banya (Turkish bath).  While we were there, we drank milk from their local Babushka’s cow.  On the way home, they stopped and got us 3 liters!  
We had so much . . . so I decided to try to make something this time.

I read several websites about what to make from raw milk and decided to make buttermilk and soft cheese.  
First, I separated the milk into two jars.
I added about 1/2 cup of buttermilk that I had in the refrig (from the store) to each jar and             shook it up really well.  This was the “starter.”
After about a day, I uncovered the jars and took a wif - - BUTTERMILK!  Really yummy!
Next, I decided to move on and make sour cream cheese - a kind of tvorak.
I kept the buttermilk sitting and waited - looking for the separation of curds (white balls) and whey (clear liquid).  It took a while.  I set the jars on the floor by the heat in the kitchen and in about 2 more days I saw this:

Pretty clear separation!
Now, at this point I was afraid to take a smell . . . I mean, we’ve all seen milk look like this and the smell impression is still so real it makes us pucker just thinking of it.  Everything I read said that the smell would be sour, but not a sickening smell, a nice sour.
I pulled off the cloth . . . put my nose down  . . . “ahhhhh, yes, nice sour it is!”
Next step - drain the whey from the curds.  
I got a dish towel, put it over a strainer, and put them both over one of my cooking pots.  I wondered how it would ever drain like this . . . but, after about 8 hours . . . 
This is what I had - Buttermilk cheese.  Firm but soft, creamy and sour.  
I LOVE it!

Sophia and I ate it for breakfast.  Just a little in a dish with some homemade raspberry jam.  Delicious and very filling!
I’m hooked - loved the process and the result!  

Disclaimer:  I am not a professional dairymaid!  These were my own escapades into the world of sour milk.  I did all of this without help of professionals, based on my own research on the internet.  I know that there are differing opinions on the safety of raw milk.  
We know our Babushka’s and their cows and feel comfortable with their products.  
If you enter this raw world, you do so at your own risk.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The King of Breads - Borodinsky!

There is no Russian table without bread.  It’s not even imaginable . . . 
Bread is present at every Russian meal.
    For breakfast:  a open-faced sandwich with cheese and sausage
    For lunch:  a big bowl of soup; eaten with soup spoon in one hand and a slice of 
                    fresh black bread in the other
    For dinner:  salad, meat, potatoes . . . and bread!
I have always loved bread, but I never ate it as fresh or as tasty until I moved to Russia.
My absolute favorite Russian bread is this beauty:
Borodinsky Bread - made from rye flour and rye malt and sprinkled with coriander seeds.
It is thick, moist, a little tart and a little sweet.  

Borodinsky is the perfect compliment to almost every salad, soup, and meat. 
My favorite pairings for Borodinsky are salads with oil dressings and soups with tomato bases.
Sophi and I ventured out on this slippery, hovering around 32 degrees, day . . . we were out of bread!  We made it to our local bread kiosk where we bought a baton of “Nareznoi"
white bread and our favorite small loaf of Borodinsky!
As soon as we got home, 
before we even sat down to try the homemade chicken and wild rice soup I made today, 
we cut two pieces of Borodinsky and oo’d and ah’d over the freshness!  

I wish I could send you all a loaf!

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