Fort McHenry

The first thing we did on this trip was head to Fort McHenry. We went straight from the airport, as it’s not too far from BWI. After flying all night, we were exhausted, but I didn’t want anyone to sleep yet (best way to deal with the jet lag/time change). We’ve been here many times, so it was a good stop when slightly sleepy! The kids were able to get a Junior Ranger badge too. You can also get your Star Spangled Banner Trail Junior Ranger here as well (or mail it in)

If you think you’ve never heard of Fort McHenry, you’re wrong. I guarantee everyone knows something about Fort McHenry! Do you sing the National Anthem? Well, guess where it was written? Yep, Francis Scott Key wrote it at Fort McHenry! Old Glory was here – and is now in the American History Smithsonian (which we visited later in the trip. See how I weave all this together?)

We started in the visitors center, which has a few fun exhibits. The junior ranger booklet makes it more fun for the kids. If you watch the video, it ends with the screen rolling up, with a big picture window view of the flag and Fort McHenry- pretty cool!

You can tour the fort. My kids enjoy the jail area and the cannons. They love to climb on cannons for some reason! The fort also has a spectacular view of the bay. We enjoy walking all the way around the top of the fort, which is in the shape of a star.

Along with the jail, you can explore the storage areas and different bunk houses. This time, we were able to see a gun demonstration, where they shot gun powder guns. My boys thought it was pretty cool! They let them look at the guns after the demonstration too.

Fort McHenry is a great stop for your DC/Baltimore adventures. Your kids can run around and explore the fort and the areas within the fort. The views are wonderful and a fun experience to see where the Star spangled banner was inspired! 2 hours is probably more than enough time to explore this site – 3 if you really want to read/see every single thing there is to offer (which my kids would get bored of quickly!)

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Reminisce

Last night was one of those wonderful nights when you and your spouse stay up WAY too late talking. Especially when you’re normally asleep by 9/9:30 to get your seminary kid out the door. While I love my sleep, I also love when we have those late night talk sessions – uninterrupted by children! (well, kinda… the toddler started crying at one point and went back to sleep). I may be surviving on diet coke today.

Last night, we were reminiscing on when we were dating. Not sure why, but I had been thinking about it all day and it brought back happy memories. It was fun to see what he remembered compared to what I remembered. It also was surprised how much we couldn’t remember. I may have a journal somewhere with some stuff in it, but I think with college, dating, friends, a job, I didn’t make time for it. A shame! We need to write what we remember down before the kids do in our memory/minds/sanity for good 😉 (hopefully, I’ll write more detail on our family blog)

Honestly, I don’t remember when we first “met.” I remember going to a dance and my friend coming back from a dance with a guy and saying: “That was Jacob Davis’ brother.” Why I remember that I have no idea! But yes, that was my husband. Who knew?!?!

The first time I can remember noticing him, was when they separated us into Family Home Evening Groups one evening. I knew his roommate, but I couldn’t remember seeing him before that day… Since we were in the same group, myself and a bunch of my friends started hanging out at their apartment. I didn’t really have any interest in any of the guys in the apartment, but they were fun to hang out with. One night, we were hanging out there and chatting about dating, and my friend asked Joseph, “Hey Joseph, Do you know anyone that would date Jenny?” (She said this jokingly because I had more than one guy I was dating at that time)… He actually replied and said: “Who wouldn’t?!?!” I instantly looked at him differently. He jokes that those were the 2 best/most inspired words he’s ever said. ha!

By the end of the night, I had a hard core crush on him. Of course, I left like 2 days later for a month in Nicaragua (my parents lived there at the time. No I am not Latin, my dad was working for the US Government there. I went for Christmas/the entire month of December) I thought about him a lot in my time away.

When I got back, I was determined to go out with him. Now, I was too young for him, so I had no idea if he would ever ask me out, even though I knew he thought I was cute 😉 After a few weeks of hints, I took matters into my own hands. I had to see a play for a class at school and had two tickets, so I knew I’d ask him to go with me. Now here is the part I’d forgotten (Joseph reminded me last night) and it makes the story better, so I am surprised I forgot! I asked him while we were both on dates with OTHER people. Oh yeah… I tend to be bold 😉

We were at some sort of dance, but a dance where you have dates. I think it was some sort of Winter Formal. I knew he had been on dates with the girl he was with, but our mutual friend was pretty sure they weren’t serious. We won’t go into the guy I was dating. Anyway, he and I shared a dance, so I asked him if he was available the night of the play and if he’d go to the play with me. I mean, it was a school assignment and all 😉 He quickly said “yes.”

He picked me up for our first date. I remember him opening the car door for me and that made an impression. At intermission, he told me about his family, and the fact he had triplet siblings! After the play, we didn’t want the date to end. We went back to his apartment and then went for a walk on the OSU campus. He had keys to the Deerborn building, from when he worked there (he was a recent grad) and he took me up to the roof. We talked the entire time. I think we were both extremely smitten by the time the date was over (lasted way longer than either of us anticipated). I was super late when we got back to his apartment, but his roommates were still up. He went into his room, got a change of clothes, and went to take me home. His roommates joked that it must have been a REALLY good first date – ha! In reality, he was staying the night at his parent’s house for some event the next day (neither of us has any idea what that was!)

After that, I don’t remember many other dates. However, we both remember the first time we held hands. It was not long after that first date (less than a week). We think we were coming home from a dance, in the back of his roommate’s car, and he slid his hand into mine. We both, still to this day, can vividly remember it and how electric it was. I’d held several guy’s hands before and never had that feeling. He says the same thing. I think we knew then that this was something different.

I was in his apartment when he got home from his first day of his first real job after college (a job he held for 17 years… just recently switched to a new company). I think it was only a week or so after our first date (a day or two after holding hands). I was there studying/working on homework with his roommate, so I was there when he got home and we talked about his new job. He says he remembers thinking how much he liked having me there when he got home from work (he told me the same thing way back on that day too).

I can remember near Valentine’s Day (2ish weeks after our first date) he bought me roses. Since he got me flowers, I got him a giant stuffed Pikachu – we still have that Pikachu. Then we had to talk about dating other people because we both had dates with other people planned. You could tell neither of us wanted to, but alas, we had previous plans. (Those were our last dates with other people).

Our first kiss was on the floor of my best friends apartment. On the floor, because poor college students don’t have furniture (her first apartment). I can’t tell you a timetable or after how many dates it was. I remember the kiss, but not much else!

Fast forward through all the dating we don’t really remember much of – other than attending a Weird Al concert and him trying to get me to watch Star Wars for the first time and me falling asleep each time 😂

The day we decided to get married, I had actually gotten my ears pierced for the 3rd & 4th time (one ear had one of the earrings at the top of the ear – I loved it and still kinda miss it). We were at the laundromat across the street from his apartment doing his laundry and chatting. Apparently, I was impulsive that day after getting another set of holes on my head (at Joseph puts it). He was like, “You know, I think I want to marry you.” “I think I do too…” I told him that he had to officially propose though… I picked out my ring and even went with him to buy it. His roommate was with us when we bought it, but went to another store and had no idea what we were up to!

He proposed one morning, super early, after we had been out late the night before. I was completely surprised. He had Tp’d “Marry Me” in the bushes in front of my house (if you knew me then, it makes total sense), then he and his roommates sang, “Families can be together forever” at my window to wake me up. My dogs started barking, and I yelled, “Shut Up!!” To the dogs. In my sleepy stupor, I heard laughing while people were singing?!? Took me a couple of seconds, then I ran out front. Joseph was in a suit, came up on my doorstep, got on one knee and proposed. We have pictures thanks to his roommates coming. He then had a picnic of brownies and ice cream for breakfast for us. It was perfect for me. I didn’t know he had that day off work – a work holiday (it was a Friday, so I didn’t have classes), he kept had a surprise too, so after going back to sleep, we went to the beach for the rest of the day.

After a few months of engagement that I barely remember (I had my mom plan everything, ’cause I didn’t care!), we were married in the Portland, Oregon Temple. It was a wonderful day.

Of course, it was not all roses getting to that point. I almost called off our engagement at one point (all happened in one night and I won’t write about since this is a public blog and others were involved) and had some obstacles. We also had great times – one time I remember him being so happy, and I was so proud of him for getting something right in his life again (again, too personal to write here).

17+ years & 5 kids later, I’m still happy about that impulsive time in my life. From asking him out while we were on dates with other people, to saying yes to marrying him, when it went against every “plan” I had ever made for myself (if you know me, you know I am a big planner!!), I now walk past his office (he works from home – we are around each other 24/7), I look in and think he’s so cute sitting working at his desk. I think about how good looking he was at the temple when we took our kids a few days ago. I may not get the electric shock every time we hold hands, like the first time, but what we have created over the last 17+ years is even better 😊

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And then there was one

Got back from our 3-week vacation. It was wonderful. Full of lots of activities and fun (I can’t stand to sit around on vacation. It’s just not me. The closest we have come to that is Hawaii, but even then, we were swimming or playing at the beach the entire time)

Then I’ve spent the last week (we’ve been home a whole week now!) getting all the kids back in school. The oldest started high school and early morning seminary. Second is in middle school. Third is in Elementary school. The fourth just started pre-school today!  Leaving me with one at home in the mornings. And yes, that is 4 different schools that we have to deal with!!! YIKES! Technically 5, since #4 has preschool AND speech class in different places…. So many activities, back to school nights, conferences, etc. Not even joking when I tell you it took me an afternoon to put all the activities and appointments on my phone calendar. It’ll be even more surreal when in a few years, we will have 5 kids in 5 different schools (one being college – YIKES! Let’s not talk about that…)

Then I had to make all the phone calls and go through all the mail that stacked up while we were gone. It seriously takes about a week to get caught up. I am still waiting on an early intervention speech teacher to call me back for kid #4. We have been playing phone tag for a week…

Then our credit card number was skimmed at a secure federal building in DC. Ugh! Luckily, our credit card company put a fraud hold on the card after the first charge. It isn’t a card we were using often, so I didn’t even notice (apparently that is a call we missed?!?!) until I tried to use it when we got home and it got declined. What?!?! Never had that happen….. Got home and then had to have my husband call because that card was in his name. Luckily, it was a pretty easy fix. I spent the afternoon checking credit reports though! This is why I always use credit cards (and pay off EVERY month), so I don’t have liability or issues with someone draining my account. (yes, I know there are safeguards on a debit card, but they aren’t as good a credit cards – look it up, I did, and credit gives you more security – and much less of a hassle than someone draining all your cash and having to wait for the bank/credit union to give it back to you…)

I also managed to get 40lbs of pears canned and lots of plum jam made. Not to mention stocking the fridge with chopped fruits and veggies again (man! The house was empty of fresh food when we got home!). I even squeezed in a church presidency meeting and a back to school get together with other moms.

Oh, and don’t leave a banana on the counter when gone for 3 weeks. Trust me….

We also got to attend the temple with kid #1 & #2. It was #2’s first time, since he turned 12 on vacation (he is ALWAYS on vacation during his birthday!), and it was a wonderful time/experience for us 🙂 (we went for kid #1s first time a few years ago as well!)

All of this and a grumpy toddler that seems to only be happy when I am holding him. He was a champ on vacation! He really did well with all the places we dragged him to. He would point and get excited about seeing new things. He LOVED the rides at Hershey Park. He was even good on the plane – which I was worried about! Yet again, we had fellow passengers saying, “Man! Your kids are really good on planes.” Why thank you! I try REALLY REALLY REALLY hard for that one! Seriously, if you see kids being good on a plane, tell the parents they are doing a good job. We try extra hard to be sure our kids are well-behaved, and I appreciate when people notice – because it is a big anxiety for me! Here’s to the same thing happening when we go to Hawaii in a few months (fingers crossed!)… Anyway, there has been lots of crying and grumpiness since we’ve been home. He is happy when we go out – like to the grocery store… Maybe he just likes to be out seeing the world like I do! Or at least that is what I am telling my husband 😉

I have posts planned for all the new and fun places we went and experienced. Hopefully, I find some time soon to write, because I have been missing it! Hopefully, with my mornings down to one kid (if said one child would finally be happy not sitting in my lap 24/7), I can get some writing in! And the treadmill… because he isn’t napping either (oh joy! Refusing naps! at least he’s in bed early… and then I fall asleep early ’cause I am worn out!!!) Hopefully, we’ll get a routine down. Writing and exercise. That is all I ask! 😉

Mmmm…. I can smell my 15 bean soup in my Instant Pot right now… With homemade rolls to go with it! YUM! Is it dinner time yet?!?! I guess I should go and chop this week’s worth of fruits and veggies we bought this morning (while kid #4 was in preschool. #5 loves going to the store, so we had a brief happy time today… in-between the grumpiness and crying 😛 Mommy may have gotten some medicinal diet coke on the way home from picking up #4 from pre-school *sigh*)

Oh and kid #2 is starting a new instrument: Trombone… Pray for us to get through the learning curve (this is instrument #3 for him: Percussion, Piano, and now trombone… Kid #1 plays 3 as well: Flute, Piano, and ukulele. Kid #3 is currently only playing piano… #4 and #5 are slackers and not playing anything yet 😉 😉 )

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Wanderlust

I’ve always had a serious case of Wanderlust. I want to travel and see the world. I know that I have been blessed to not only have seen quite a bit in my life but have been able to figure out how to travel with a larger family, on the cheap, with one income. (I’ve blogged about this MANY times)

Lately, my wanderlust has been stronger than ever. I attribute it to a few things. My husband works from home now, so he can work wherever and whenever he wants (as long as he gets his time in and has the internet). My daughter is also starting high school this year! That means we only have 4ish years to show her everything I want to. What!?! Where did the time go?!?! It is impossible to think it has gone by so fast. Now, mind you, she has been from Hawaii to Canada, to NYC, to Washington DC, to Florida and beyond. She is not lacking in traveling experience, but I want to see even more while I have my little family all in one house! I grew up traveling through Latin America and it has stuck with me. People are always saying to me “Wow, you travel a lot with your family!” Well, for me it’s the antidepressant drug of choice to experience this world with my family. It makes me happy.

The fact that my husband works from home also means we can live anywhere we want. For years, I have felt we have been “stuck” here because of the job situation, but that isn’t true anymore. However, it is hard to make the choice to uproot your kids just because you want to instead of having to (like many do for a job). It is actually exciting to think that you could move wherever you want… but also can be intimidating to pick the perfect place. I think I have picked the place we want to move, but don’t know if it’ll be next summer or in 4 years. It is just a matter of us deciding to do it. Taking the leap. We all know that moving isn’t fun! (and it’s expensive!)

When you have a child with special needs, it makes it even more difficult. Choosing to change their friends, school, schedule – life as they have always known it – is an extremely difficult choice to make. I go back and forth on a daily basis what is right for her and obviously have yet to come up with the right answer. We’ll either let her stay here until she graduates (in 4 years) or this next summer…. Or maybe we’ll just play it by ear and see how things go – maybe we’ll feel the need to move sometime in between there! In other words, I don’t know! But I told my husband I want to move by the time I’m 40 – just so we have a time-table! (Hopefully, It will be before that!)

In the meantime, it doesn’t help me get over that “stuck” feeling. I want to move. I want to travel. I want someplace different. However, I also am a mom. I want to do what is best for my family and my kids. I may have to put my wants on the back burner for maybe 4 years to do what is best for our family right now. That may change in the next year, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

The want to wander and feeling of being “stuck” in one place (To be clear, I only feel stuck in the place that I live, not by my family/husband) can be depressing. I often don’t know what to do about it. It can be frustrating and makes me want to pull my hair out in figuring out what is right for EVERYONE in the family.

In discussing it and doing research with my husband, we think we have come up with a temporary solution to my wanderlust/stuck feelings. I am really excited about the idea! I really hope it works and we can make it happen! Stay tuned! It could make for some exciting posts here on the blog. It may take up to a year for us to get what we are looking for, but hopefully, we will find it and we can let you all in on what our plans are.

I’m hopeful it will bring me out of my funk. Of course, we are going on vacation next week and then to Hawaii a few month after that, so that should help too! For me, wandering/experiencing the world – along with my husband and my kids – are like the drug that I need to survive. I have had a really hard time with the “stuck” feeling the last few years, so I am hopeful that this solution will help until we can find the right place for our entire family – at the right time.

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Junior Ranger Badges & a list of ones you can earn at HOME!

Summer is in full swing around here. Swimming lessons, playing outside, morning walks to the park, camps, and general laziness and enjoying not having a set schedule.

If you are looking for a fun and educational project to do with your kids that also earns you a FREE prize, read on! No traveling necessary! (just a printer and some paper!)

One thing we are doing this summer is working on a BUNCH of Junior Ranger Badges. We are going to Washington DC again (this is a common trip for us) and decided that we should do the Junior Ranger badges this time. We started doing the Junior Ranger program last summer when we visited all the National Parks in the State of Washington. The kids LOVED it. Plus a fantastic FREE souvenir! We also bought the passport books and started collecting the cancellation stamps. Another FREE souvenir and way to remember all our adventures! Also, there are badges you can earn without leaving your house! So even if you don’t have the opportunity to travel, you can still take part!!

So For this trip, I have tried to print out as many of the junior ranger books as I can. Most of them are available on their website! For us, it is MUCH easier to work on all 5 kids books at home or in the car, instead of trying to help all of them there at the park. We’d rather be adventuring out in the parks, than trying to get all of them filled out – which is very time-consuming with 5!! Most even allow you to mail in your books and have your Ranger Badges mailed to you! Many have the address in their books, or simply check their website for their mailing address. This is great if you don’t get it all filled out while they are open or just don’t make it back to their ranger station in time for some reason. I actually am mailing in some of our Ranger books for this trip beforehand, so I don’t have to deal with keeping track of 500 badges/patches/books while on vacation! Plus it is fun to get something in the mail! Some we will get while we are there, and some mailed home to us! Since we have been to all (or most) of the sites several times before but never bothered to do the Junior Ranger before, they aren’t too hard to fill out. We are planning on doing about 18 badges for this trip – Wow! To top it all off, we are learning fun things about all the places we are going to vist!

Some sites have badges, some have patches. My 2 middle boys have special Junior Ranger Vests for their collection (see picture – they will get many more soon! Some of their current ones are on the back as well. One vest is from North Cascades NP, from last summer. The other vest is from Crater Lake, which we went to just a couple of weeks ago). My daughter uses a lanyard for hers. We keep the youngest’s in a drawer until he decides what he wants to do with it! I’m sure he’ll want a vest like his brothers.  If you use something like the vest, or something they will wear around, I encourage you to buy locking pin backs for the pin type badges, and to hot glue the pin into the safety-pin type badges, because they will fall out. We have had them come off many times, but luckily noticed before they got lost! Phew! Now we always hot glue or put the locking backs on the pins before we let them wear them around on their vests/lanyard.

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel, there are SEVERAL that you can earn at home!! SWEET!!! We are going to start on these once we get the ones for our trip all filled out! (some we are actually working on FOR our trip too!) These are a fun way to do something educational with your kids and get a fun, FREE reward. We LOVE the Junior Ranger Program!!

Junior Ranger Badges you can earn at home:

Clara Barton (did this for our trip, since we will see her place in DC, but this is to be mailed in! Anyone can do it from their website!)

Underground Railroad (did this for our trip, since we will be going to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad museum/park, but this too is meant to be mailed in!! Address is in the book)

Historic Preservation

Junior Archeologist

Junior Underwater

Junior Cave Scientist

All About Bats

Junior Paleontologist

Junior Night Explorer

Junior Wilderness

Klondike Gold Rush

Fredrick Douglass

Mary McLeod Bethune

Carter G Woodson

Junior Secret Service Agent

Star Spangled Banner Trail (another we are doing for our trip that gets mailed in!! Is meant to be done from their website!)

Chesapeake Bay (Another for our trip that is also meant to be mailed in!! It can even be emailed in!)

George Washington Parkway (another for our trip that is meant to be mailed in)

Lewis and Clark Trail (I noticed this one, when looking up sites in our state! It can be emailed too!)

Appalachian Trail (another one for our trip. We are doing the Harper’s Ferry one, since we will be going to Harper’s Ferry, but there are 3 different ones to choose from)

 

I’ll update the list if I find more than can be mailed in! Also, leave a comment if you know of one that I missed!

 

I’m sure there are more National Historic Trails that you can mail in. You can always search for the National parks/sites in your state and see if they offer a Junior Ranger. I was surprised at how many of the National Trails offer Junior Ranger, and most of those are meant to be mailed in! Find the ones near you or ones that your kids/family are interested in learning about. It is a fun and easy way to learn some history and get a little prize too!

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Parenting Win

 

I’ve mentioned how much I LOVE these Ziploc Divided Containers. (back in stock on Amazon – SQUEE!!!) They are reusable, wash super easy, and are cheap! Even though they are inexpensive, they last a LONG time. I did finally recycle 2 that were about 3-4 years old because they finally broke a little bit being tossed around in their lunch boxes – they were still usable, if not using liquids though! But that many years of almost every day use, is pretty good considering the price!

The part I love the most, is that they always remind me to pack them a healthy lunch with fresh fruits and veggies. The big container is for their main portion – a sandwich, cheese and crackers, a bagel – and the two others are for fruits and veggies (in our house at least!). They usually get one fruit – watermelon, cantaloupe, sliced apples, oranges, strawberries, blueberries, homemade yogurt, etc. – and one veggie – snap peas, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, etc. Somedays, they’ll get 2 fruits or 2 veggies, but usually one of each. This is how I make their lunches every day. Well, once or twice a week they get leftovers or chicken nuggets in their Thermos. (Super handy for a HOT lunch!). They both help streamline making lunches and choosing what to make.

Now, I make the 3 kids that go to school’s lunches each morning – or the night before usually (yay for extra fridge = extra fridge space!), even though the 2 older ones are old enough to make their own. Honestly, if you are making one, you might as well make 3. It doesn’t take any longer and less mess.

Well, its summer now, so mom is on break. I NEED a break from that school routine. Last week, the older 2 had band camp. They needed to take lunches each day of camp. I told them they were responsible for themselves and I didn’t care what they packed.

Seriously, they could have packed a lunch box full of candy, cookies, and caramel popcorn and I would not have cared. That is how fried mom’s are at the end of the school year.

So I spent my mornings cuddling my baby and they made their own lunches before I drove them to camp each day. I didn’t even ask them what they packed, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Simply asked that they had their lunches.

At the end of each camp day, I would give in and ask them what they packed. Parenting win of the year: They packed the same healthy lunches that I packed them each day, thanks to their training on using the Ziploc Divided Containers every day! I was shocked. Maybe it didn’t occur to them that they could take a lunchbox full of candy, but hey! I’ll take what I can get. When left on their own, they made good, healthy choices! YAY! Each day they either pack healthy fruits and veggies in their Ziploc Divided Containers or packed leftovers in their Thermos with fruits and veggies as their sides! Sometimes, It’s these little things that make me think we’re doing SOMETHING right at least! (I write this as I hear them fighting downstairs… Ya win some, you lose some -ha!), Having chopped and prepped fresh fruits and veggies at all times helps a lot with this too! (we bought one of those fridges with the refrigerated external drawer – LOVE IT!!! Such a good decision to buy it! It’s always full of fresh fruits and veggies – ready to eat – string cheese, yogurt, etc.)

(FYI – I am not paid to endorse either product. Simply love them that much!)

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Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt and Fresh Strawberry flavoring


Another item I made this week and didn’t take a picture of. Next Time! Since I plan to make this at least every month now, I should have pictures soon (I hope!). I mainly wanted to write down my process, so I could make sure that I do it right next time too!

The first time I made Homemade Yogurt (ever!) in my instant pot only turned out ok. It wasn’t thick enough. I figured out my problem. The Instant Pot “boil” feature doesn’t heat the milk hot enough. It needed to be hotter. This last time (second time!) I made it, I made sure it got to the right temperature and boom! Perfect Yogurt!

I added fresh strawberries blended up this time and a little powdered sugar and OH.MY!!! It tastes like DESSERT! The kids and I are eating it up – it is soooo good! This is coming from someone that is not a big fan of yogurt (my kids love yogurt though)… This is so good, we will be making it at least once a month here! Right now, Strawberries are only $.99lb, so I will be making the blended strawberry mix and freezing it for future yogurt batches. YUM!!

Seriously, this GIANT batch of yogurt only cost me about $3 and has soooo much less sugar that the stuff you get in the store!

Ingredients

Yogurt:

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/4 cup yogurt starter (or plain yogurt from the store)

Strawberry Flavoring

  • 4 cups of fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp (or 2 packets) plain gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • Powdered Sugar

 

Directions:

Pour the gallon of milk into your Instant Pot. Press the “Yogurt” Button and then the “Adjust” button so it says boil. Allow to boil until done. This only gets my milk to about 165. I then use the saute button to reach the desired temperature of 185. It will not take long on saute to reach that temperature. Once you reach that temperature, remove the pot and allow to cool to 110 degrees. To speed this up, I place it in my sink surrounded by ice. I whisk occasionally, and it doesn’t take too long to cool down. Once cooled to 110, add in the 1/4 plain yogurt – either from the store or from another batch you made. Then place in the Instant pot and use the Yogurt setting for 8-10 hours. The longer you allow to sit, the tarter and thicker it will become. Once done, I like to skim off all the whey/liquid on the top. Not necessary, but I like my yogurt a bit thicker. Then allow the yogurt to cool and place in the refrigerator before stirring.

While Yogurt is sitting in the instant pot, make the strawberry flavoring. I blend up the 4 cups of fresh (or frozen) strawberries. I add the plain gelatin to 1/2 cup cold water. After the gelatin has set for about 5 or so minutes, I add it to the blended strawberries. Allow to sit in the fridge while your yogurt cools.

Once the yogurt has cooled, Stir the strawberries in. Add in Powdered Sugar to get the sweetness to your liking. I used less than a cup for the entire gallon, and it worked great! You might like more or less. Sooooo good!

Eat and enjoy. We all think it tastes like dessert around here – like an unfrozen strawberry milkshake! Mmmmm… Delicious!

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