Homemade Greek Yogurt

Thursday, July 26, 2012 3:04 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama
I had no idea you could make yogurt at home!! And then, to find out how easy it is??!! Amazing! It is quite time consuming, but most of that is letting the yogurt "incubate", which you can do overnight, and you can use your crock pot!!



Ingredients:
  • 8 cups (1/2 gallon) milk - I used whole milk, but you can use any kind
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (this is used as a "starter", so if you have made homemade before, you can use that. Also I used plain Greek yogurt, but I think any kind would work)
Optional Ingredients:
  •  1/2 cup to 3/4 cup honey 
  •  1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
  1. Pour 8 cups milk into crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.
  2. After 2 1/2 hours, turn crock pot off (unplug it too). Let sit, covered for another 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  3. Take out 1 to 2 cups of the milk and whisk with 1/2 cup plain yogurt. Make sure it is nice and smooth. *You can also whisk in the honey and vanilla at this point, if you wish to have sweetened yogurt*. Pour mixture back into crock pot and stir well with the rest of the milk.
  4. Wrap entire covered crock pot with a thick towel to insulate. Let sit for 8 to 10 hours - I set mine in the oven with the light on over night, but you can probably just leave it on the counter top.
  5. After 8 to 10 hours, unwrap and uncover the yogurt - if you don't like Greek yogurt, you can just pour this mixture into containers and refrigerate until ready to use. 


**To make it Greek style
  • After, 8 to 10 hours of incubating, unwrap and uncover the yogurt. Pour yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined strainer/colander, sitting in a bowl (the bowl is to catch the liquid whey that will separate from the yogurt), and place in refrigerator for several hours to strain. I had to use about 4 layers of the cheesecloth.
  • When yogurt has reached your desired thickness, removed yogurt from the cheesecloth, put into containers, and store in refrigerator until you are ready to enjoy! I was ready to enjoy right then!

  • Keep the whey that collects in the bowl!! It is VERY good for you! Loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes!! You can freeze it into ice cubes and put into smoothies! You can also substitute it in its liquid state where a recipe calls for buttermilk (like pancakes yum!). Here is a good link for 18 Ways To Use Whey. You can always just Google it too! There are so many things you can use it for, so don't throw it away, even though it does has a striking resemblance to urine lol.

Don't forget to save at least 1/2 cup of your homemade yogurt to use as a starter for the next time!

After I enjoyed a few bites of this yummy deliciousness, I decided to add some granola - YUM!
Enjoy your homemade yogurt!

~ Jessica



Pics and Progression Notes: 4 - 16 Weeks

Monday, July 23, 2012 8:14 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama
With my first 2 pregnancies, I hardly took any pictures and I never wrote anything down about it. I did journal for a bit after both kids were born - milestones and such. But never anything while I was still pregnant. Now that I have a blog, I want to use it to keep track of this beautiful time in my life with my third (and possibly final) pregnancy. I really should have started taking pictures much earlier, but the earliest I have is from when I was 12 weeks, so I will start there with the photos :)

I really don't have anything to report as far as symptoms because I haven't really had any. No morning sickness (thank God). No food cravings yet. Maybe a few food aversions for a short amount of time (chicken was yucky to me for about a week), but now everything sounds pretty good lol. The only thing that stood out for me was between 4 - 7 weeks along, I was extremely dizzy and exhausted. Beyond exhausted. Headaches galore. Breathless. But that all subsided by around 8 weeks. Also around that time (somewhere around the 6 or 8 week mark) my clothes started to not fit anymore! Yikes!

Here we go!
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*12 weeks: Feeling great (yet feeling big, and at this point I was not telling anyone about this pregnancy yet)

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*Skipped a few weeks of photos and such, sorry :(
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*15 weeks: Still feeling awesome! And still not telling anyone about the pregnancy until after our 1st appointment, which will be after 17 weeks :) 

I seriously need some new clothes! NOTHING fits anymore - even my "big jeans" do not fit any longer. 
I need some summer clothes! It is HOT! 

I'm pretty sure I felt movement - although I'm also pretty sure it could have also been gas lol. With my 1st pregnancy I felt movement at 23 weeks (she was super tiny so it took a little longer to feel her moving). With my second, I felt movement somewhere between 18-20 weeks. 

(I apologize for the poor photo quality on this one!)

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*16 weeks: Feeling wonderful. I have been intentionally eating as many whole and raw foods as possible. With my first pregnancy with Riley, I ate basically whatever I wanted, but most of what I wanted was good for me - salads, tons of fruit, smoothies, etc. With my second pregnancy, I ate terrible lol! Anything fried, greasy, or spicy was a go! I remember feeling yucky most of the time and I gained a lot more weight than I probably should have. And it also took me forever to lose the weight once I had Noah. So this time around, even before I became pregnant, I have been making a conscious decision every day to eat very heart healthy and drink tons of water, and get exercise when I can, and I can really feel the difference. I still drink coffee everyday and definitely splurge now and then, but overall, I feel much healthier this time around. 


I have been feeling definite movement this week! I remember this feeling very well. Mostly at night, or when I'm laying down, or when I eat/drink something cold :)

I have my 1st doctor's visit next week and am so excited! It has been hard to keep this pregnancy under wraps when just about everyone else around me has announced their pregnancies!

(again, with the crappy photo quality)

Find Weeks 17 - 20 here :)
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Pics and Progression Notes: 17 - 20 Weeks

7:50 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama

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17 Weeks: HEARTBURN!!!! Yep. It's here with a vengeance! I had it terribly with my other pregnancies, and this time around doesn't seem to be any different, except that is has started earlier in the pregnancy than usual.

I FINALLY got to see my doctor for the first time! I LOVE her! I have had female OB/GYN's in the past and had terrible experiences with them, so I was a little hesitant at first when I realized this doctor is female. But she is awesome and I am so glad that I ended up at her office :) The appointment went great - heard the heartbeat a couple of different times during the visit which is always awesome! I have gained about 10 lbs so far this pregnancy, my pre-preg weight was 125lbs and I'm about 136lbs now :) I have an ultrasound scheduled for next week, so I am super excited about that! 

(please excuse the tiny mess in the background haha :) )


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18 weeks: Ultrasound day!! Finally went in for our first ultrasound, which also ended up being the gender reveal ultrasound! Ryan and the kids went with me :) Everything looks awesome for our new little PRINCESS!! Yes, IT'S A GIRL!! YAY!

And here's me :)

And, we FINALLY told everyone!! Whew! Felt so good to tell my friends and family :)

More to come!
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19 Weeks: It has been one HOT Summer!! I already tend to feel hot all the time normally, but add on summer and a pregnancy and it is absolute misery haha! Definitely been having a hard time cooling down during the day, but lots of water and fresh fruit has been helping :)

The kids are really excited about their baby sister! Noah likes to look at her ultrasound picture :) Riley has been going through her own clothes and said she is keeping the small clothes for her baby sister :) And both of them have been learning how to fold and prep diapers - they like how tiny their sister's diapers are compared to Noah's lol.

My next doctor's appointment will be next week to go over the ultrasound and such :)



Not quite 20 weeks yet in this picture, but I loved Noah in this one :)

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20 Weeks: The halfway mark!! Yay! Been feeling really good lately. Definitely need to get more exercise though! Been feeling a tad sluggish, and I know some additional walks around the neighborhood would definitely help. Been thinking about names for babygirl, but nothing solid yet!

Had a follow up appointment to go over the ultrasound and blood work, and everything looks great! My due date hasn't changed, although I did measure 22 weeks instead of 20 weeks (but that could be because of a million different reasons - nothing to be concerned about). I weighed in at 140 lbs, so I gained about 4 lbs since my last appointment - yikes! I was advised to add some additional walking/exercise time into my week lol.

I am carrying super low, which is very uncomfortable. I carried low with Noah as well, and it was miserable! A lot of pressure on the bladder and hips. Although, at this point it is still nice to be able to breathe and not have baby movement all in the ribs and such (but I am sure that will change once she is bigger).

One weird thing that is happening (and it may not even be pregnancy related, although I kind of hope it is), is that my right index finger feels like it has arthritis! Every morning, it is super swollen and tender at the joints. I can barely move it or straighten it. It gets a little looser throughout the day, but not really. It has the feeling of when you jam your finger, yet I didn't injure it. Could this be gout? Whatever it is, I hope it subsides soon or at least after this pregnancy.

OOPS! I forgot to take a 20 week picture! 

Click here to read about Weeks 21 - 24 :)
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Picture Progression: From 12 weeks - 40 weeks

7:11 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama



















Review: Scarlet's Naturals SunBlock - Revisited :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012 1:03 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama
Scarlet's Naturals


Back in May, Desiree from Scarlet's Naturals sent me a generous, full sized Coconut Scented SunBlock to review, just in time for Mother's Day weekend! We ended up spending the day out on the boat and exploring some of the surrounding islands, and for some reason, the SunBlock just didn't seem right - the texture was off, the ingredients were separating, the scent seemed a little off, and it actually didn't work on me (although it worked fantastic on my husband and my kids!). It was odd because I have used some of her other products, such as the Hiney Honey Quick Stick Mini and the Scarlet's Suds laundry detergent, and I absolutely love them and have had no issues with those whatsoever! As it turns out, the SunBlock that was sent to me just happened to be part of a very small few that were a tad faulty. Desiree was so prompt with contacting me about it, and I have to say her customer service is outstanding!! She really cares about her customers and stands behind her products 100%. On top of being super friendly and apologetic, she sent me a completely new full sized bottle of SunBlock! How awesome is that?!


When I received the SunBlock, I have to admit I was a little hesitant to try it again, but I sure am glad that I did! I LOVE it!!!!! It is definitely one of my favorites to use now! I received the unscented this time, and it smells amazing!!! Almost like a light and fresh baby wash type of smell! It is so extremely easy to apply, and even though it ends up going on clear (which I love), it leaves absolutely NO greasy residue!

My kids love to be outside and in the water, so we basically have to use some form of sun protection every single day. To say we have tried a million types of sunscreens and sunblocks and UV resistant clothing would be an understatement!! Or at least it feels that way ;) Scarlet's SunBlock protected my kids for at least a couple of hours with just one application, even with them playing in the water the whole time! 

What I love about Scarlet's SunBlock:
  • All natural ingredients!!!! With ingredients such as coconut oil and beeswax (made from the bee hives in their own backyard!), you can really feel confident about using this product on yourself and your family!
  • Ease of use. This is so easy to apply, even on squirmy kids!
  • No residue. The SunBlock leaves no greasy residue! It blends right in!
  • Water resistant/ Sweat resistent with an SPF of 50+! It really stays on and continues to protect from harmful UVA/UVB rays, even while in the water!
  • Scent is wonderful. Doesn't leave any weird "after scents". It smells very light and clean, the whole time.
  • Great Size and concentrated. The full size comes in a 6 fluid oz bottle and I think it is perfect! It fits nicely in my beach bag without taking up too much room. And because it is fairly concentrated, a little goes a long way and is plenty for our family and will last us a long time.
I honestly can't think of any reason to not love Scarlet's SunBlock! You should definitely give it a try, especially if you are looking for an all-natural alternative for sun protection.

I am so impressed with Scarlet's SunBlock! I will be ordering more in the future for sure! You can purchase your own SunBlock right here! And what is even more awesome is that there is even an option to purchase a convenient, take-along  SunStick - perfect for quick application to the body and face!!! Love that idea! Scarlet's Naturals offers an amazing line of products! You will not be disappointed, no matter what you decide to purchase! Make sure to also go ahead and become a fan on Facebook too - be among the first to know about new products, promos, and giveaways!

A special THANK YOU to Desiree at Scarlet's Naturals for the opportunity to review (and re-review) such an awesome product :)

~ Jessica



*I was not paid to do this review. The products were provided to me in exchange for the review. These are my true and honest words and personal opinions.*


Pregnancy #3 and An Explanation :)

Monday, July 2, 2012 2:17 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama
After you read my "A Confession, A Little Venting, and A Blessing in Disguise" post, the info from here on out will make more sense :) 

FYI: This post is a tad lengthy, but I need to explain some things first - by the time you are reading this post, I will be backtracking some, so try not to be confused ;)

A Little Background:
This is pregnancy #3 for me and my husband Ryan. We have two beautiful little ones - our little princess Riley is 3 and our handsome prince Noah is 2. We always knew we wanted to have at least one more baby, but didn't really know when. My first 2 pregnancies were a breeze. In fact, we got pregnant immediately (on our honeymoon) and weren't even trying! (Well, we weren't exactly doing our best to prevent it either, but you know what I mean hehe). Piece of cake pregnancy - no morning sickness, not a lot of weird cravings (except at the end I drank about a gallon of milk every day - seriously I had to have it!!), I didn't even show with that pregnancy until I was almost 6 months pregnant! I was induced at 37 weeks only because she was tiny and the doctor wanted to be sure she wasn't tiny because of lack of oxygen flow. Turns out she is just tiny, no health issues whatsoever. Labor was extremely short, about 4 hours total, from breaking my water to Riley screaming her little lungs out on my chest :) In fact, it was so short, by the time I asked for the epidural, it was too late! I was already 10cm dilated and she was ready to make her entrance!

 My second pregnancy happened when Riley was about 6 months old, and I misplaced my birth control pills while the interior of our house was being painted and we moved out for about 3 days during that time. Again, we weren't really taking the appropriate measures to prevent the pregnancy, but it happened after only missing about 2 days of the pill - doesn't take much! But again, no morning sickness, I showed a little earlier that time around, no weird cravings (except for Nathan's corn dogs and cheese fries, and anything spicy - so nothing weird, just completely unhealthy lol), he was an average sized baby, but I ended up being induced again, only because he went past his due date and I couldn't handle it anymore! Short labor, even shorter than my first one - less than 3 hours total. Severe back labor, but again, I waited too long to ask for the epidural (you'd think I would have learned to ask for it immediately upon arrival after having gone through the last labor and deliver without one), so Noah was also born without any pain meds - WOW! That's all I can say - it is a pain like no other! lol

So because it has been so easy for us to get pregnant, we really wanted to wait and actually plan for #3. And so we did. We waited for about 2 years to try again. Except this time it wasn't so easy. Thankfully, it only took 3 - 4 months after really trying (I know that's nothing, but for us it seemed like forever, so I really feel for those that have had to wait much much longer and are possibly in the process of still trying and waiting - i.e. my mom and dad tried for 8 years to get pregnant with me!!!). At the time we started trying again, Ryan had a new job and the future was looking great! We were talking about moving beachside (my dream!), and spending Christmas in a new home! It was all just so exciting! 

Then, one day, Ryan came home from work earlier than I was expecting. I was actually expecting him home a little early, because we planned on going to a basketball game that evening and he needed to leave a little early so we wouldn't be late. But he came home a few hours earlier than I was even expecting him. He got layed off. Talk about emotional rollercoaster. We went from talking about moving to a beach house, planning our Christmas in a new home, to being jobless and falling behind on our bills, and then finding out about our pregnancy all within a matter of weeks. 


The Explanation (for not telling anyone sooner):
We originally wanted to tell everyone after my first doctor's visit (which I was planning on being somewhere around 8 weeks), but since week after week I wasn't able to get an appointment, and then it turned out that I wasn't able to get in to see anyone until 17 weeks (almost time for our gender reveal ultrasound), we decided to just wait until we knew the gender to make the announcement. There was also just no way I could tell my friends and family about our pregnancy before then. They would be so disappointed in us (self-imposed, negative thoughts). I could feel the judgment already (again, this feeling was self-imposed - I would hope that nobody would truly judge us). The pregnancy itself was going great, but I just imagined our situation being better than it was. Ryan had no job. I had no job. He picked up side jobs with his dad (construction) and other friends (lawn care) and traveled every weekend (it ended up being every Wednesday or Thursday - Monday) selling athletic bands at iron man competitions and marathons. And I have been making/selling cloth diapers in between all the craziness that comes with having 2 young children at home. It was crazy!!! Nothing stable, our income has been all over the place this year. Ryan was working and traveling all the time! Then there was the issue with my insurance! Ahhh! Such a trying time. But as trying as this all has been (and to some, this may seem like nothing), I am so very thankful that my family is extremely healthy and that I have been able to stay home and raise my 2 little ones, even through difficult financial times. And I am also thankful that this pregnancy has been such a breeze for me, with no issues whatsoever. 

Meanwhile, I have been trying to keep this pregnancy on the down low, but it has not been easy!! Not telling anyone wasn't the hard part. The fear of judgment from everyone has made it quite easy for me to keep it a secret. Thankfully, I have had no morning sickness or any food aversions or cravings, so it hasn't been too hard to keep it under wraps in that sense. Physically hiding it has been the hard part. I have been showing since I was somewhere between 8 - 10 weeks! Here's my belly at 12 weeks:

Not exactly easy to hide that!

 I am now 15 weeks pregnant while writing this, and I have been sucking it in, wearing loose shirts, staying at home, etc. doing everything possible to hide my growing belly until after my first doctor's appointment (which again won't be until I am 17 weeks along) and first ultrasound.

The good news is, Ryan has a stable job now, he has been promoted in the short amount of time he's been there, my insurance issue has been straightened out, we will be getting a decent return from the IRS soon from a mix-up of sorts so we will be able to catch up on all bills and such, there is another possible house for us to move into (not my dream beach location but a great area and much closer to Ryan's work), and I have an appointment to finally see a doctor. God has always pulled through for us, and I know that He always will, but it isn't always easy to see the victory while you are going through the struggle - that's where FAITH comes into play :) Anyway, after our first ultrasound, I will be more than ready and excited to tell everyone the wonderful news!!

In fact, I won't even be publishing this post until after we make the announcement!

So to all my friends and family that are reading, I apologize for keeping everyone in the dark for so long. And if you have been questioning whether I am pregnant or just simply getting fat and "letting myself go" over the past 4 months, now you know lol! 

P.S. It's a GIRL!!!!


More pictures and other fun stuff to come right here!

~ Jessica



A Confession, A Little Venting, and A Blessing in Disguise :)

1:56 PM Posted by Lovely Fluffy Mama
A Confession: 
Recently friends and such have been asking me when we are going to have more kids. And I have been answering them with something like," Hopefully sooner than later". Or "We would love to have more kids, we just don't know exactly when yet".  The truth is, I have known that I was pregnant since I was about 4 or 5 (at most) weeks along, which makes me almost 4 months pregnant as I am writing this. The day my period was due in April (possibly the day before), I took 3 home pregnancy strip tests - the kind that you dip into the urine sample. I thought they were all negative, until I looked closer. There was a very very very faint line on all 3 tests. Evaporation lines. Or so I thought that was what had happened. The lines seriously were so faint that I thought maybe I was imagining it. But I still had that feeling. So a couple of days went by and I bought another test - the kind that reads either "pregnant" or "not pregnant". I wanted the results to be more clear than the lines - and sure enough "PREGNANT". I took the second one the next day just to be sure - "PREGNANT". 

I'm due December 24, 2012 :)


A Little Venting:
My husband has been self-employed up until recently (now he works for a company instead of for himself). And while we were self-employed, we have had no health insurance for the last 5 years. It is WAY too expensive to purchase privately, and since we didn't work for a company that provided benefits, we have always been able to get coverage through our state (enough coverage for pregnancies and the kids' pediatric services and that's all). BUT, this time around was different. Long story short, it has taken 2 1/2 months to get my insurance coverage straightened out (and another 2 weeks to see a doctor after that), and I have waited this whole time to be able to make a doctor's appointment for prenatal care! Let me tell you, it has driven me CRAZY!!!! All I have wanted to do is to hear the heartbeat, make sure the baby is ok, get my lab work done and out of the way, tell people the exciting news!!! I must have called the doctor's office a billion times trying to make an appointment, and every time I called, I ended up disappointed, because I couldn't get in, because my insurance coverage wasn't "correct". 

So, today (July 2nd), I am now 15 weeks pregnant (I know I am back tracking a bit by the time you are reading this), still haven't seen a doctor - I have had a really smooth pregnancy so far, so thankfully I haven't had any emergencies or else I would have gone straight to the ER or Health Department. Trust me, I would have rather gone to the ER for anything than the dreaded Health Department - I have never had a good experience there, so I will not go there if I can go somewhere else. Anyway, I called AGAIN today to make an appointment, because I was assured that my insurance coverage was in place and ready to go. DENIED an appointment AGAIN!!!! INSANE I tell ya! 

A Blessing in Disguise:
I was totally heartbroken and disappointed, because I was so excited to finally be seeing a doctor! However, I truly believe in blessings in disguise. God knows what He is doing, especially when it doesn't seem to make any sense to us :) So, I started thinking, "Maybe I am just not meant to go to this specific doctor. Maybe I should look into other doctors in the area". And I did just that. And I found a wonderful office that I had never heard of before, affiliated with the hospital where I would like to deliver (and have delivered my other 2 children). Called them and got the appointment right away! My insurance went through and we are all set for July 17th. Yes, I'll be about 17 weeks pregnant by then, but I am SO EXCITED to check out this office and meet the doctor and get things rolling finally! UPDATE: I finally went to my 1st doctor's visit and I am SO BLESSED to have found this office! I love it!

P.S. You all won't be reading this until AFTER this appointment, since we are not telling anyone the news until I have had my first appointment or after the gender reveal ultrasound - see the following post :) 

In the meantime, I'll be updating the blog with pictures and such and when the time comes, I will post everything for all to see!!

Thank you all for reading and keeping up with me! I hope you will continue to follow me and my pregnancy!


~ Jessica