Monday Musings - Adams

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
~Scott Adams

Big Girl Bed

My intent was to move Kirsten into a toddler bed for a couple of years and eventually into a twin back in what is the nursery after the next baby outgrows it.

You can see the initial plan in this post, toddler bump bed included. To recap with just the image and sources:
Image sources from top right: Bump Bed; Canopy; Side Table;
Doily LampToy BoxTable and Chairs; Bookshelves;
Shaker PegsBoard and Batten; Fairy Lights

I absolutely fell in love with the bed we bought her when I saw it, and am reworking the room a little bit around the bed. Since the bed is twin sized, I have a round white ottoman I am putting at the foot of the bed. I can still do the canopy around it. I do have to come up with a solution for books.  Maybe a small basket next to the ottoman or under her nightstand.  She doesn't need a lot of books in her big girl room just a few to read each night, the family room and nursery both have wall to wall bookshelves with lots of room for the books.
Beautiful Rosemaling Bed by Hob Nob Artisan
Just a quick word about the bed, I got it from Hob Nob Artisan on etsy.  Jennifer is the seller and she was AMAZING! It's obviously a bigger item, so we were coordinating shipping and such and sent quite a few emails back and forth with each other by the end of the transaction. She was a dream to work with and I would definitely buy from her again as a seller. Plus, her rosemaling and attention to detail is absolutely beautiful! I also got a little matching shelf for her room which is hung above her bed right now, I'll get a nice picture of it once I style it.
Rosemaling bed by Hob Nob Artisan on etsy
Footboard Rosemaling detail
About four years ago, Meadowbrook moved from downtown to a mall area. When they did, they had a large sale of floor models and decor that they had used that hadn't been for sale, rugs, lighting, cabinets, etc. Well, I bought a rug for our family room, but I also bought some very nice linen Battenberg lace shelf liners, 2 for $5. I had no particular plan for the liners, I was thinking initially as a bit of a runner for a table by my kitchen window, but they were way too long and it just looked awkward trying to adjust it. I folded them up and tucked them away figuring I might fashion them into a valance or something eventually.

Well, I need a bed skirt for my daughter's bed and I've been looking online and white pretty ones aren't cheap.  Even a simple white twin bed skirt with no frills is about $20-$30. So, I decided to make one, something simple nothing fancy. Well, when I was trying to find a white bed sheet to use for a bed skirt and to cover some kids chair seats, I found these all folded up and tucked away. Perfect! I ironed and and ironed and ironed some more, they were terribly wrinkled. And they are a perfect fit for her bed! It really was fate. There are two shelf liners and they are the perfect size lengthwise for the length of the bed, and folded in half they perfectly fit the end of the bed.  I do need to adjust the length a tiny bit on the end, a bit of tucking and pulling will fix it. All in all though, I think it turned out perfectly!

Battenberg lace shelf liner bed skirt
The improvised shelf liner bed skirt, it needs a slight adjustment here

Battenberg lace shelf liner bed skirt
The improvised shelf liner bed skirt
 The most important part is that my daughter absolutely loves her big girl bed, although she hasn't slept in it yet. We're easing her in slowly, plus she'll like it more when she has more of "her stuff" in the room.


Bye Bye Library

Rosemaling Bed in Kirsten's Big Girl Room

So, last Thursday evening my daughter climbed up the side of her crib and fell out with a big thud. Her crib is fairly deep, deeper than average, it was one of the reasons I was smitten with her round crib. I've been planning to move her in to a big girl bed for potty training for a little while now, but first we had to clear room in the basement to move all of the bookcases out of my library/office. I also needed a new home for my office which was previously occupying the closet of the library.

I found a beautiful secretary desk on craigslist for only $375 and I think she is gorgeous, picture and details coming soon! All of my stationary, design/decor and artsy/craftsy project components will be completely housed in it. The only exception is my painting supplies, which I still have to figure out. Canvases and my portfolio are rather large.

I wanted to strip wallpaper, add board and batten with shaker pegs, replace light switches and lighting... however, after she fell out of the crib everything got fast-tracked. The library is now an empty room with a bed in it, the walls are still wallpapered and the lighting is still dated, as are the switches. I'm totally in love with her bed, though it is 3 inches wider than a standard twin? Not sure what that is supposed to be.  So hubby bought wood to cut slats, and we've made it work.

The wallpaper stripping, painting, board and batten and shaker pegs will just have to wait for a little later. I've spent the last few days organizing and PURGING. I think I've shrunk my office items by 50%. I got realistic about my scrapbooking, or rather lack thereof, a few months ago and gave most of my supplies to a friend of mine that actually scrapbooks and makes cards.  Well I found another stash for her, so I'll bring them to her this week.

I have a small yarn stash which I may have to get real about too. I was crocheting a bit before Kirsten was born, making booties and hats and scarves. I haven't touched any of it since then. If I don't touch it at all in the next 6 months, it needs to be donated to someone who will use it, like my aunt.  I've set a calendar reminder for December 31, 2012.

I have a decent number of blank stationary and thank you's, so I'm not permitted to buy more until what I have is used up (a year or two).  I have a bit of a pretty paper addiction. I want to be the sort of person who sits down and writes lovely notes to various friends and family members. But let's be real, if I have something to say, I will call or email or Facebook or think about calling or emailing or Facebooking (totally a word), but don't get around to it often enough. The days of beautiful penmanship on an envelope coming in the mail are mostly in the past. I've allowed my penmanship to get sloppy, more of a scrawl halfway between writing and printing with a few made up letterforms that hang on from when I was in middle school and expressing my creativity.

So, it's been a crazy week, but I've taken lots of pictures and I have a lot of little projects in the works to share. Not to mention the rest of the posts from Iceland.

Skyr - Recipe

Skyr with chopped cherries

I talked a bit about my love affair with skyr yesterday, and promised after it was whipped up and sampled that I'd share the recipe. You do need skyr to make skyr, so if you are lucky enough to be in Iceland grab yourself a container of plain skyr.  Otherwise go to Siggi's Skyr and see if you can find a location near you that sells it. The nice thing is that you once you make skyr you can continue making the next batch with the skyr you've made and so on.  As long as you make it every three weeks or so you don't need to buy skyr again.


Siggi's Skyr Plain MS Selfoss Skyr plain

This is what I did after reading as many online recipes for skyr as I could find.  It worked beautifully!

Skyr


Ingredients

1 gallon skim milk
2/3 cup skyr

7-8 drops animal rennet
-or-
4 drops vegetable rennet
-or-
1/4 rennet tablet
1/4 c warm water

Sterilized Cooking Utensils needed

These need to be sterilized (dunked in boiling water) or taken clean direct from the dishwasher.

large pot with lid (big enough to hold a gallon of liquid)
whisk
4 cup canning jar - or equivalent storage
2/3 measuring cup
2 cup or larger bowl
8 cup or larger bowl (I used another big pot)
strainer spoon or slotted spoon
mixing bowl
mixer beaters
rubber spatula
thermometer

If using a tablet:
small cup
1/4 measuring cup
small spoon

You also need cheesecloth or a cotton dishtowel and a big fluffy towel or two.

Directions

Pour the gallon of milk into a large pot and bring to 180F over medium heat whisking frequently to prevent scalding.  Turn the heat to low and bring to 185F, whisking constantly. Remove from heat immediately.  The last bit is to prevent scalding, however a little scalding is alright, just make sure you don't whisk the scalded bits up into the milk.  Place the pot into a cool water bath (sink full of cool water works well) until the temperature reaches 110F.  I changed out the water once during this cool down, I brought it down to 140F rather quickly, then let it come down the rest of the way slowly.  I didn't want to accidentally cool it too much.


Once the milk is cool, pour 2/3 cup skyr and approximately a cup of the cooled milk into a small bowl and whisk it together. Pour into the pot of cooled milk and whisk to distribute.

Add the rennet drops if using liquid.  Drop them into a spoon and then add to the milk mixture, too much rennet will make the skyr rubbery. If using a tablet, dissolve the tablet into 1/4 cup warm water then add that to the milk mixture. Whisk the pot to distribute.

Turn the oven on to 200 for 1 minute (just to take any chill off). Put the lid on the pot. Wrap the pot and lid completely in the towel and stick in the oven for 12 hours. If the pot doesn't fit in your oven, or you need your oven, you can also put it in a cooler and put a couple of containers of warm water in around it.

Forget about the skyr for 12 hours, don't peek at it or disturb it.

At this point I'm sharing lots of pictures, because it's more about look and texture, which is hard to describe but very easy to see.

Take your pot out from it's cozy towel and open the lid.  This is what it will look like (click for a larger views if needed), if you wiggle the pot slightly you'll see a slight layer of whey and the milk will be congealed.

skyr after incubating

Take a knife and score through the skyr, until it's cubed.

skyr cut into curds
Line your 8+ cup bowl with a double layer of cheesecloth or the cotton dish towel.

Use your strainer spoon or slotted spoon to scoop the skyr curds into the dish towel, draining it as best you can with the spoon as you go.  You may need to pause and pour some whey out of the bowl you are transferring to a couple of times so it will all fit.
skyr curds and whey

Once it's all in the dish cloth (cheesecloth) twist up the ends at the top and tie them up around a long utensil or stick to keep the cloth above the whey if possible.
skyr and whey separation

Put this bowl in your refrigerator for 6-8 hours and let it drain as much whey as possible.  Reduce to about 1/4 of what you started with (gallon of milk).
skyr and whey separation completed, ready to unwrap

Unwrap and it'll look like this now.  Sort of dry looking and the consistency of cream cheese.
Skyr unwrapped to show texture

Put it in a mixing bowl and beat it for 3 minutes or so on high, might need to start on low for a bit at first.
skyr in mixing bowl showing the slightly wetter side

When you are done it'll look like this.  Mmmmmm skyr!
skyr all whipped up

It can be used plain as a cheese spread (treat it similarly to cream cheese as a spread).  Or, you can add a bit of milk to it and stir it together until you achieve a consistency similar to sour cream or yogurt.  Stir in fruit or sweetener of your choice and enjoy.

This made a 4 cup jar of plain skyr (nothing added) which will last between 3-4 weeks.
skyr in a 4-cup canning jar

Plus enough for a small bowl to split with my daughter for dessert tonight, this is just under 1/2 cup skyr, and just under 1/4 cup milk and sweetener or fruit to taste. I like my skyr on the thick side.
small remaining amount whipped up with milk and sugar with some chopped cherries

Skyr and Cookbooks

Growing up our visits to Iceland were much more frequent than they are now. The food, while simple, was comforting and after seeing family is what I most look forward to each visit back.

I've often asked my amma for various recipes and they are generally a vague list of ingredients with a lot of "until it looks right" type instructions, I've only successfully duplicated a few of them so far. So cookbooks were high on my priority list of things to acquire while in Iceland.

I did buy a handful of baking cookbooks from Hagkaup, with recipes for things I generally want to make at Christmas time. Baking is so fussy, so having the right amounts or ingredients will be nice. They have full color pictures for each recipe and several have step images as well, to help with what looks right. I also brought back with me a cookbook simply titled Matur og Drykkur (Food and Drink) by Helga Sigurðardóttir. My mother has a well-used copy, and the book I brought back is my amma's well-used copy She's going to find me a copy in Iceland and bring it for me in October, and I'll be borrowing hers in the meantime. This is sort of like the bible of traditional Icelandic cooking, more on that book to come in a later post.

Cake Book Cookbook and Desserts Cookbook

Bread and Cake Book Cookbook

Simple recipe showing steps and photography

A bit of a teaser, the first recipe I'll be sharing doesn't come from these books. It is something I've been wanting to be able to make for a long time, but couldn't.  Mainly, because it is not available locally, and you have to have some to make some. So I couldn't even make some from scratch, until now. I brought skyr back from Iceland, so I can make skyr. Now that I have some as long as I consistently make it every 3 weeks or so I'll have a steady supply. Skyr is a very thick nonfat yogurt, often described as a yogurt cheese.  It is a little looser than cream cheese, but thicker than greek yogurt, maybe a thick sour cream consistency.

As a small child sitting in my amma's kitchen, often still groggy and rubbing the sleep from my eyes, my breakfast was generally served to me. A bowl of skyr placed before me, lightly sweetened and just the right amount of milk mixed in to it (just until it looks right). We often sprinkled the top with just a bit of sugar and poured in milk around it. Heaven was a small mound of thick, creamy skyr swimming in a shallow pool of milk. I never ever stir it together; instead I was careful to have each bite contain the perfect ratio of skyr to milk.

Even better were the mornings that grautur was offered to replace the sugar, my favorite was strawberry. Like a pourable strawberry preserves, nothing could compare to skýr and jarðaberjagrautur (strawberry grautur). I still remember my afi reading the newspaper, my mother and amma drinking coffee and conversing in Icelandic, while us kids relished our morning skyr.

The whey is currently draining off my skyr, so I'll whip it up and take lovely pictures tonight.  It's a 2 day process to make, but most of it is unattended and the skyr makes itself automagically.  I'll share the recipe and whole process tomorrow.

A gallon of milk set up

Iceland


Warning... picture heavy post.  Most of this week will be photo heavy posts.

Travelling with a toddler takes almost as much time to recover as it does for the actual trip! Well, probably not typically, but getting back into our routine after a week in a time zone 5 hours different from ours has been a bit of a challenge. She's also getting back into the notion that no she will not get whatever she wants when she wants it. Unfortunately, in order to pacify her and keep her from meltdown (mainly because she was out of her routine) we gave in on a LOT of things while we were on our trip. Also, everyone we visited gave her something, so it was like Christmas and we came home with lots more than what we had when we left.