Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rendering Beef and Venison Tallow

What could be more fun than spending your day rendering beef and venison tallow? Spending your day rendering tallow with your husband! :-)

What is tallow? Tallow is rendered from fat, usually from a cow or a lamb... or in our case, a deer. For whatever reason, rendered and unrendered fat from a pig is called lard. But I digress.

To render the tallow, you cook the fat down, strain out the chunks, and what you're left with is tallow. I know that sounds a bit simplistic, but it's really not much harder than that.

Here's a good link for directions, if you're interested. It tells how to do it in the oven, crockpot, or stovetop. We tried the oven and the stovetop. I prefered the stovetop method, as the oven method seemed to take a lot longer than I'd like... it took all night. However, the chunks were quite a bit bigger than the shavings we used for the stovetop method.

Chunks of deer fat in food processor. My husband kept deer fat from hunting season this year--they process their own deer--and cut off the parts with bloody or meat still on it, so it's purely the deer fat.
Chopped up fat.
The above fat went into a pot and got cooked down.
After it gets cooked, you should be left with hardened bits on top. Strain those off and put the liquid fat in jars, where it will eventually harden. See the bits in the pan below. They're called cracklings, which you can use. I plan to give the deer cracklings to the birds and cats, but I want to use the beef cracklings as a bacon bit substitute.
My husband wanted to clarify the tallow, which we did before it was bottled. In my awesome 1895 version of "The Presidential Cookbook", it says to clarify fat by boiling some sliced potatoes until the potatoes are brown. The potatoes help to get rid of impurities in the fat. The recipe made it sound like the impurities just evaporate, so we ate the potatoes. They were tasty. :-)
Why in the world would we want to make tallow?

You can't buy this type of tallow in stores. At least not where I live. The beef fat we acquired from down in southern Minnesota when we lived there, from a farmer who pastures his cows. Grass-fed fat, that's right. Extra good for you. And you can't buy venison tallow, at least I don't know of anywhere you can buy it. If you can find tallow and/or lard in stores, it's usually hydrogenated. Those are trans fats, which you may have heard are really bad for you.

Also, we love cooking with tallow and lard. Whatever we make with it is so satiating that we feel comfortably full, and feel no need to continue eating.

I think we ended up with 7 pints and 3 quarts of tallow when all was said and done. So we should be good for another 6 months, hopefully.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hens, and Chickens, and Kittens, Oh My!

Okay, so obviously this post is quite dated. Some of you may have heard that we got chickens waaaaaay back in the summertime. And then I mentioned in passing on Facebook that we got some baby chicks, and that kittens decided to adopt us. Here's more to the story.

First, the cats. Here they are, making a mess.
Beginning of October, a mama cat and her four kittens came onto the porch and decided to stay. We later discovered they were from the neighbor's. The mama cat has since left, and one of the kittens is no longer with us (I ran over it...I felt so awful!), but we have Smoky (grey and white), Sharpy (calico/tabby mixture), and Creamy (cream colored).

We feed them with scraps, leftover deer pieces, etc. They're doing alright in these sub-zero temps, since they have a shed to shelter them. They like to try and come inside, but then they never know what to do once they are inside.

And of course the boys love them.

Next, the hens and chickens.

We got 16 laying hens back in June and kept them at my husband's grandma's house till we officially moved into the log cabin in July. Then in about August, we had to butcher three of those hens, one had a goiter, and two had leg problems.

September 10 we got 50 baby chicks, 25 broilers (a faster-growing chicken with white feathers that is supposed to be ready to butcher in about 8 weeks) and 25 laying hens (that will be ready to start laying eggs in the spring).
Here you see what box they came in through the mail. You need to dip their beaks in water mixed with apple cider vinegar when taking them out of the box. You could do plain water, but the ACV is good for them.

Due to our complete lack of knowledge, we lost a lot of chicks. It didn't help that the chicks arrived, via USPS, on one of the coldest and wettest days we'd had. One thing you don't want to expose baby chicks to is cold and wet.

We also had some rat problems. And because the genetic make-up of the broilers is to grow very quickly, I think they're a less hardy bird, more prone to sickness. At least that's what it seemed like with ours!

We've had to keep one of the white broilers inside with us for at least a month because it had gotten one of its toes slashed by what we think was a rat, and so it couldn't walk properly. One thing that chickens do is pick on those that are hurt. So the others were pecking on that poor chick's leg till it was bloody! The chick's leg has since healed somewhat, but we've come to call it "Peg-Leg" because that's what its leg is like: a peg leg. We were finally able to return Peg-Leg to the coop with a bandaged leg, and it seems to limp around well enough without getting picked on too much.
Do you see Peg-Leg's bandage?

So the final count is 9 white and 16 black, I think. That is very poor for the amount we started with!

These are our laying hens. Their feed trough is in the middle. See the deer carcass in the background? They like to peck at that. During the warmer months, they are free-range and love pecking around for bugs, worms and frogs. Hens have their own personalities, and it's funny to watch them run around. Now there's snow everywhere and so they stay inside. We just lost another one due to poor health, so we're down to 12.
It's mid-December now, and we are planning on butchering the broilers in the next couple days. We've had them for over three months now, we probably should've butchered them sooner, but for whatever reason, just haven't. To be continued...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My Fav Sourdough Bread Recipe

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Healthy Choices, put out by Keepers at Home. I haven't taken any pictures of the process yet, but hopefully in the near future I can get some added... just wanted to get this recipe up here for the local Weston A. Price chapter meeting tomorrow!

My Fav Sourdough Bread Recipe
adapted from "Sourdough Bread" in Healthy Choices, p. 104

1 c. sourdough starter
2 T. molasses (originally 1/2 c. sorghum)**
1/2 c. oil (I use melted coconut oil or olive, or a mixture of the two)
1 T. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water
6 c. flour (if I use flour from Natural Way Mills, I tend to use less)
**I first subbed 1/2 c. molasses, which was good, but for some, it could be a little overpowering, which is why 2 T. is a good amount. I'd imagine you could also use honey, which I haven't tried. I think I maybe should add a smidgen more water to make up for using less liquid sweetener.

Mix first 5 ingredients and half of the flour. Beat vigorously for several minutes. Knead in the rest of the flour. (I usually knead it for about 10 minutes or so, sometimes giving it a 5 minute rest period, and then an additional minute of kneading. Also, I do the "windowpane test" to test for readiness.) Grease bowl and let rise until double. (I usually put in the oven with the pilot light on to give it a favorably warm environment, and let it go for about 4 hours.) Punch down and shape into loaves. Let rise until almost double (usually another 4 hours). Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes. (I put the loaves in the oven, then turned it on, which gave a nice rise.) Grease tops with butter. Yield: two 1 1/2 lb. loaves.

What I do is refresh my starter at night before bed, then in the morning I mix up the dough, and let it ferment for a total of about 8 hours, and is usually ready by supper. It fits well into my day. It actually doesn't take that long, most of the time spent is waiting, during which time you can do other chores around the house.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sourdough Resources

I love everything about sourdough. The way it leavens dough with a "wild" yeast that I caught myself, the way it makes the flour you mix with it more nutritious and digestible, they way it makes me get all excited about practicing science experiments in the kitchen, and the way it tastes.

My first experience with sourdough was in 2008, following the recipe in Nourishing Traditions for making your own sourdough starter and rye sourdough bread. Let's just say I needed more practice! I tried a couple times, but finally vowed to get a sourdough starter going beginning of 2010.

While I'm definitely not an expert at this, I am constantly learning and trying out new things with sourdough. I'm going to be making some sourdough bread to take to the next Weston A. Price meeting, and bringing some starter to share, so I wanted to do a post to help the novice sourdough user.

If you received a bit of sourdough starter from me, put it in a quart glass jar, and do a 1:1 ratio of flour to water, maybe start with 1/2 c. of each and let it set out overnight, or a few hours anyway. You should start to see bubbles form through the side of the jar. At this point, it's active, and you can start using it!

If you don't have any sourdough starter and want to try making your own, read-on!

Starting a sourdough starter. There are several methods, but I think simpler is better. Try and follow a method that uses just water and flour, like in Nourishing Traditions. Here are a some sites that do that.

Feeding a starter.
  • Here's what I do: add a little flour (rye or whole wheat) and a little water (filtered or well water from tap) and mix with whatever starter is left in the container. The consistency I go for is thicker rather than runny. It will last longer in the fridge if it's more "sponged". I rarely measure what I put in there, but try to shoot for a 1:1 ratio of water to flour. And I try to replace the amount that I used, at the very least.
  • The Naturally Knocked Up link above advocates changing jars. Here's what she says: "Upkeep on a starter is very simple. If you do not use your starter for one week, transfer to a new jar, feed it a 1:1 ratio of flour and water, and set it back in the fridge. OR After you use it for a recipe, feed it the same 1:1 ratio and let it sit out again for just a couple hours before storing in the fridge. (transfer to a clean jar about once a week) If your starter starts getting a bit too thin, go ahead and pour out the watery layer that settles at the top!"
So what do you think? It's really not too difficult. And it's fun! If you're interested in learning more about sourdough breads, I enjoyed the books below. Even if I don't follow everything an author says, there's always something to be learned!

Books I have read:

And here are some favorite recipes of mine, either that I have already tried, or plan to try in the future.

Recipes I use/have used:
  • My all-time favorite pancake recipe
  • My Fav Sourdough Bread Recipe
  • Everyday Sourdough Bread--A great step-by-step with pictures
  • Sourdough Blueberry Muffins--I modify this recipe a bit. To me, the whole point of using sourdough is to impart more digestibility and nutrition by soaking the flour, and this recipe doesn't incorporate that. So, I take the flour and sourdough amounts and add just enough water to make a medium thick paste. Instead of sugar I use honey. And I drop a few blueberries on top of the muffins. I find that if I mix them in, they all end up in the bottom of the muffin. And if I ferment the dough overnight, to be ready in the morning, this recipe makes about 10 muffins.
  • Sourdough Chocolate Cake--I used this in a bundt cake pan that I greased really well, turned out great!
  • Rustic Sourdough Noodles--Love these. Don't ever use regular noodles anymore. I just roll them out and cut with a pizza cutter. If you had a noodle press, that would work too.
  • Buckwheat Sourdoughnuts--I've only made these once so far, but I definitely want to make them again, maybe with all whole wheat. Also, I think I cooked them a little too long, so some of them got a little crunchy. But still, we were in love when we ate these hot out of the palm shortening, which, by the way, is a great use for palm shortening!
  • Staititai--an ancient kind of pizza that I found to be super easy and yummy!
  • Sourdough English Muffins--don't always have success but when they do work, they're awesome! It depends somewhat on the temperature in my kitchen.

Things I want to try:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Homemade Deodorant

I've been using homemade deodorant for three months now, and I truly LOVE it! It works better than anything I've ever tried before, and believe me, I've tried quite a few of the so-called "natural" deodorants out there.

I stopped using deodorant/anti-perspirant about four years ago, because I was tired of all the chemicals. I remember writing a speech in college about the aluminum in anti-perspirant being linked to Alzheimer's, and it got me researching that topic quite a bit. Plus, deodorant/anti-perspirant never worked very well for me at keeping the stink and sweat at bay, no matter what I tried.

Then I moved on to the deodorants at the health food store that supposedly had fewer chemicals in them, but was never real happy with how they worked. And I still didn't know what all the ingredients were!

Finally I decided to make my own. I wish I had taken the plunge YEARS ago! Since I'm really into DIY stuff, I found this recipe at the Naturally Knocked Up blog. It uses only four ingredients: coconut oil, cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), aluminum free baking soda, and tea tree oil (or another kind of essential oil, but the tea tree oil is used for its anti-bacterial properties, and helps with any smell issues you may have). Keep your old deodorant containers to put your homemade deodorant in. I need to have three old containers to have enough space to put this recipe in!

I use coconut oil a lot (we buy it in bulk and wait for specials to get a good price from Tropical Traditions... if you buy small amounts at your grocery store, it can be pretty spendy) so I always have it on hand. I don't recommend substituting another kind of oil. Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, so it is in the solid state up till 75 degrees F. when it starts to melt. So you may need to keep this in the fridge if you are somewhere that gets warmer than that.

Make sure you read the tips listed on the above link for using the deodorant. One tip is letting the deodorant soften with the warmth of your skin before you smooth it on. It doesn't rub on right away like your typical deodorant. I find myself sort of dabbing it on.

Also, I like how the blog's author talks about this deodorant allowing the body to work the way God intended it to. Sweating is a way to remove toxins from the body, and when you block the toxins from coming out, that means they move somewhere else in the body. Ick. Personally, I'd rather let the toxins come out, rather than letting them hang around.

Both my husband and I have been using this first batch of deodorant exclusively for three months, and I only now had to make a new batch. We both love it! We're normally pretty sweaty people, but when using this deodorant, even when it's been hot out, we've had great success.

If you're looking for a different deodorant, give this recipe a try!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Andrew Turns One...or...Let Them Eat MEAT Cake!

Oct 11-Climbing on a box.
Eating fermented beets, and loved them!

Yes, you read that right. I said meat cake.

For Andrew's first birthday, he got a meat cake. A truly nutritious and wholesome alternative to what usually gets served up.

I know, some would think I'm crazy. It's a one-year-old's rite of passage to get totally messy, with frosting and cake stuck in every crevice of their body, right? It probably is mostly okay to do fun things like that once in a while. But I think I'll wait till the 2nd birthday for that. Why? I'll save THAT for another post. Oh the suspense. ;-)

But now, for the cake!

Meat Cake

1. Mix up your favorite meatloaf recipe. I just used 2 lb. hamburger, 1 egg, then season to taste with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, whatever suits your fancy. Then I split it up into two 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees till done. I think it took about 30 minutes.

2. Put one "cake" onto a plate. As a middle "frosting" layer, I used pureed squash, but you could also use mashed potatoes. Then put the second "cake" on to of the "frosting" layer.
3. Then "frost" with mashed potatoes. Decorate with ketchup and pureed squash. I put the squash into a plastic bag and cut off the tip to decorate.

That's it! You'll want to warm it up again before your meal, so make sure you use an oven-safe plate. Also, reserve a dollup of cold mashed potatoes to put on the cake to put a candle in, so it doesn't melt into your warm cake!

I tried hard to get them all looking at the same time. It just wasn't happening.

Enjoying his cake.

And here are some pictures of the birthday boy!

Oct 22-He crawled into the box and enjoyed some books.
Andrew and Mommy. I had to take the picture myself since Daddy was gone working all day.
After bathtime! He loves climbing onto Judah's bed.

Oct 23
Andrew is trying to say many things like, "kitty", "amen", "Judah". Those are just a few of many, and he does a lot of mimicking of sounds. It's so fun to see the light of recognition brighten up his face as he tries to make a new sound.

He's got such a bright smile, and shares it readily. He loves crawling up stairs, and we just are learning how to go back down stairs, with Mom's help of course.

He still hasn't taken that first independent step on his own yet, but I'm expecting it to be soon. He can rise to standing from sitting without any support. He prefers to walk while holding onto your fingers with a super-tight grip.

He loves milk, and is just learning how to drink from a sippy cup, although he prefers to drink from a regular lid-less cup. And he is getting quite good at feeding himself. I've given him a fork or spoon a few times, and I've caught him trying to put food onto the spoon or fork to try and put into his mouth. Oh the look of concentration! So cute!

He also loves reading books. I love peeking in on him in his room to find him contentedly looking at books.

So that's Andrew at a year! It's been fun. And November 1 marks his baptismal birthday. Hard to believe how much as changed in a year.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Homemade Shampoo

I have been wanting to lower my use of artificial, synthetic, and chemical products for a while now. I've pretty successfully eliminated them from my food as I've gone to a real foods, whole foods diet. And I've slowly been trying to eliminate chemical products from my house.

One way that I've wanted to do this is by steering clear of shampoo and conditioner. Some of you may have heard of the "No 'Poo Challenge" out there right now, which has intrigued me. I think it involves just washing your hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Well, I don't think I really want to completely eliminate shampoo, just find a healthy alternative to it. (My hair gets really gross when it's greasy!) But I don't necessarily want to go expensive, either.

I've been trying to buy some "organic" and "all natural" products out there, but are they really that much better than the regular products out there for the price you pay? If you look at the label, some "organic" products contain just as many weird hard-to-pronounce ingredients as the regular products!

I listened to a podcast by one of my fav bloggers, Cheeseslave, a while back. You can listen to the podcast here. She interviewed the owner of Actual Organics who was talking about how many chemicals are in products we use every day, and eventually our body won't be able to handle the chemical load anymore and it will manifest as some disease or cancer. I don't remember exact details, but one thing I do remember is that anything with "eth" anywhere in the ingredient name is bad! Please listen to this podcast to get more details!

While I don't think I will ever be able to afford her products, the DIY-side of me got to thinking...why not make my own? I don't think I'll ever be able to do make-up, but when I came across this shampoo recipe, I thought, "Here's something I can do!"

I found this recipe in a cookbook called Healthy Choices put out by Keepers at Home Magazine.

Homemade Shampoo

1 bar castile soap (I bought a 3-pack of Kirk's Original Coco Castile Soap" from the local U-Save Store for about $3.49... not sure if that is a good price or not, but even at about 1.17/bar, this shampoo is quite reasonably priced!)
1 pint boiling water
1 egg

1. Flake soap, and melt in the boiling water, then cool. (I just cut the soap into shreds with a knife and put in the water.

2. After water is cool, put soap mixture into a mixing bowl and add one egg. Beat with beater. (It really foams up!

3. Put in jar. After it is settled, it is ready to use. This shampoo will keep.

For me, it filled a quart jar and a pint jar. I thought the texture would be very liquid, like store-bought shampoo, but it's not. Once the mixture settles, it's thicker than what it looks like. You need to make sure you scoop out enough to get it to foam up in wet hair. For me, I need about a tablespoon.

Also, I thought castile soap was an olive oil based soap, but I guess it refers to any vegetable-based soap, as opposed to soap made with animal fat like tallow or lard. (Don't worry, homemade lye and/or lard soap is on my list of things to do....!) Kirk's is coconut oil based, which is cool. I like coconut oil.

Like I said, this is easy, I like it, and it's in my price range. :-)

About conditioner, I have been steering away from it, but I'll look into a homemade version soon!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Fermented Sauerkraut according to Me

I wanted to share with you how I go about making sauerkraut, a food that we hold near and dear in this household. It's good and so good for you.

These are the six huge heads of cabbage my husband snagged from a local gardener. They weren't raised organically, but they weren't raised with all sorts of chemicals, either, plus they were raised locally. I like to buy local when I can. It's important that whatever cabbages you use to make sauerkraut, that they are of highest quality. If they are nutrient-deficient, it will result in a very low-quality final product.

And that thing in the middle of the picture? THAT, my friends, is an old-fashioned kraut cutter from my grandparents. They used it to make sauerkraut back in the day, before there were food processors. Interesting tidbit of how my forebears used to make sauerkraut... my grandma said that they used to set the jars to ferment outside in the shade of the lilac bush.

With these beautiful heads of cabbage, we made sauerkraut. And not just any
sauerkraut. Fermented sauerkraut!

How do I make it? It's is really quite simple. Surprisingly so.

When we first started a couple years ago, it was very small scale, and the way to go for anyone starting out with the fermented sauerkraut endeavor. The basic recipe can be found here.

But this summer we've evolved into doing more at a time, especially since we've been able to acquire more cabbage heads at a time. AND we have honest to goodness crocks!

The process:

1. Shred cabbage, allow about 1 small-medium head to 1 quart of space. Food processor is easiest. I had to have my husband do the shredding with the manual shredder because it required someone stronger than me to use! But boy, it shredded cabbage really great, got the juices flowing a lot better. I don't like to shred it too finely, but whatever you like.

Here's a pile of shredded cabbage.

2. Put into big bowl with whey, salt, and caraway seeds, and pound with a wooden pounder until the juices start to pool in the bottom of the bowl. Allow about 4 T. whey, 1 T. real salt, and 1 T. caraway seeds (opt. but recommended!) for 1 quart. If you don't have any whey, here are directions for making some. Otherwise, you could skip the whey and substitute an additional tablespoon of salt. Why even add whey? In the cookbook, Nourishing Traditions, whey is recommended because it helps to ensure "consistently satisfactory results," and also supplies lactobacilli (this helps improve digestibility of food and increases vitamin levels, as well as producing helpful enzymes, and antibiotic and anticarcinogenic sustances, and promotes the growth of healthy flora in the gut... simply put, GOOD STUFF!) and acts as an innoculant (reduces the time needed for sufficient lactic acid to be produced to ensure preservation).

I use a nifty wooden pounder my husband made. You could also use a meat pounder, too. It also helps to mix it all together and let it sit for 10 minutes or so, the salt starts to draw out the juices.

We strayed a little from the directions as we used crocks this year. We were going more toward the directions in Wild Fermentation, which recommends to just layer the cabbage and salt, and to not worry too much about pounding. I think the pounding is really just to bring out the juices so you can push the cabbage below the salty brine, which is what keeps the cabbage from spoiling.

One of the crocks we threw in a few garlic cloves. Wow does it make a smelly kraut, but it doesn't taste bad at all!

3. Press pounded mixture beneath liquid and put a plate and weight on top of it. Cover with towel and let sit anywhere from 3-14 days. We fermented for 9 days. If you're going small scale with this endeavor, you can put a lid on the glass quart jar and just ferment for 3 days then put in the fridge. In the open crock, we made sure to skim the "bloom"(aka mold) that formed on the top of the liquid about every day. If you don't have a plate the right size, you could use a glass or plastic food-grade lid that fits inside the container you're fermenting in. If you're not using a crock, you could use a plastic food-grade bucket, or a larger glass jar. The weight we use is a smaller glass jar filled with water.

4. Put in jars and keep in a cool place. We filled about 15 quart jars from this ferment. Make sure to push the kraut below the brine. You may have to skim some mold off the top if you keep it for several months, but the kraut is still good, so don't throw it out! We will be keeping all our jars (I've lost count now, but we must be between 30-35 jars of kraut, plus all the pickles we've done) in the crawl space beneath the cabin, they should keep nice and cool on the cement floor.

Here's a bowl of the end result... sorry for the dimly lit picture.
And here I am, concentrating very hard at filling the jars. That wooden thing I'm holding isn't the wooden pounder I described above. THAT thing would make pounding anything pretty difficult. But it works well to push it through the funnel. And in the background you'll see two gallon jars half full of kefir soda fermenting! But that is for another post...
So you see, it's really pretty easy to do, just takes a little time. The longest part of it is the waiting, and that's not hard at all! Okay, maybe a little, if you're excited to eat some kraut. I know we're all strapped for time, but it's amazing how many people watch a lot of TV but say they don't have time... Okay, I'm off my soap box now.

I encourage you to try fermenting sometime, and sauerkraut is a great way to start.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Judah is three!...and...Andrew is 11 months!

September 1--Judah opening presents from Ohio grandparents.
September 11--Birthday party with Iowa grandparents
September 21--The ACTUAL birthday. I made sourdough apple cake. Yum!

September 21 was Judah's official birthday, although we started celebrating it for a couple weeks before. Now he thinks we should have a birthday party every day, especially with cake and preferably candles to blow out. ;-)

A couple weeks before he turned three, he started telling me that he had to go potty! So, we ran to the bathroom, got him on the potty, and voila! Pee in the potty, not in the pants! This is a big deal. After about 9 months of on and off potty training, I had pretty much given up and had him wearing diapers, and only put him on the potty before or after sleep times.

What a difference a couple weeks make! Now he's wearing big boy underpants! And in the last couple of days, he's gone all by himself a few times, without alerting me to his need to use the potty. Pretty cool. Now if we could just get night-time potty trained. One thing at a time, Mom.

Other milestones... Judah enjoys choosing his clothes, and sometimes wants to change several times a day, much to his mother's chagrin. He also likes to take his socks off and leave them in random places, then when he needs socks, he goes and gets out a new pair.

Sometimes he can get by without an afternoon nap, although then he's reeeeally ready for bedtime.

He is doing more pretend playing, especially talking on his phone. I will hear him recite parts of hymns, prayers, and nursery rhymes to himself. And of course, he still loves to be read too.
And he LOVES machines, with a special affinity for tractors, although he also loves 4-wheelers, snowmobiles, and combines, as well as other big equipment such as those.

He is much more observant now, too. Last night he looked out the deck door and noticed three deer eating under the crab apple tree just outside of our house!


September 22 was the 11-month mark for Andrew. Hard to believe how big he's getting.

I missed the 10-month mark. So, to bring you up to speed, here he is at 10 months. Yes, he is playing in the toilet. Look at that smile!
August 22
Tried getting a good picture of both boys. These are all I got.

The cousins visited on this day. Here is Stephanie with Gabriel, and me with Andrew! Johnny, Malia, Judah, Gabriel and Andrew are below.
September 3
September 5--I was blanching corn to freeze, and we cooled it off on the bathtub. Andrew discovered that he LOVES corn on the cob, so was in heaven when two of his loves were joined! He almost fell in a couple times trying to swipe a cob.

September 9--Sooooo big!
September 10

September 14--almost 11 months

And here he is at 11 months:

He likes to climb up the side of his crib, from the floor and will just bounce on the ledge as he holds on. I'm surprised at how coordinated he is.
September 21
The brothers.

He is now saying what I think is "amen"... sounds more like "meh", but it's at the same time we all say Amen at the end of prayers. He is also very good at doing "soooo big" by raising his hands high above his head. He is still a very active boy, and will sometimes move the gate away from the stairway so he can climb. He gets a very impish grin and laugh when he's climbing.

Other words he tries to form: peek-a-boo (he covers his eyes with his hands while he does this), banana (sounds like na-na), quack (comes out more like quaaa), Judah (hit and miss...). He likes to just jabber noises, which is so fun to listen to. Overall, a pretty happy guy.

His personality is showing through and I think he's going to be a people person. He readily gives smiles. So far, he hasn't shown any stranger anxiety, and when we're around other kids, he wants to be right in the middle of them to watch them and laugh at them. He has no fear of animals, and will let big dogs come right up to his face. So I need to be wary, since he's not! He loves the outdoors, and long ago lost his fear of the chickens, so we enjoy watching those.

Andrew still isn't walking, just not brave enough to take that first independent step. But he's doing a lot more free-standing. I'm in no hurry!

That should bring you up to speed for now. Until next month....