Gluten Free, Dairy Free Cheesecake!

I have to say, that I consider this Jonathon friendly (i.e. gluten free and dairy free) cheesecake one of my greatest kitchen achievements. Especially since I had no recipe and it tastes halfway decent. But enough with the pride. Here’s how it happened.

Attempting a cheesecake that Jonathon can eat has been in the back of my mind for some time now, with occasional reminders when I would pass by gluten free graham crackers in the grocery store. But as I was planning to make regular cheesecake for our family Christmas celebration, I figured it was as good a time as any to go for it. Though I didn’t strictly use any recipe, I based my proportions somewhat on the other recipe I was using, found on AllRecipes. I made the altered version in a mini springform pan, so roughly estimated a third of the amounts, which was enough for almost 3 minis.

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Though I’ve seen a few different types of gluten free grahams, these seemed to be the best quality for the price. One sleeve of the crackers, mixed with 1 Tbl sugar and about 1 Tbl of melted dairy free Smart Balance made enough for two mini crusts. Bake the crust at 350 for 6-8 minutes.


While my initial plan for the filling did NOT include tofu, this was all I could find when I did my shopping, and believe it or not, it is actually a satisfactory cream cheese substitute. I combined one 8 oz container, 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/2 Tsp vanilla. To go with my other caramel macchiato cheesecake, I also added some strong coffee and topped with caramel. But you could go with just about any flavor with this base! Bake at 325 for around 30 minutes until center has set and edges begin to brown.


Finished product!


When Pigs Fry: An Introduction

Disclaimer:  Vegetarians and animal lovers beware, this post and all future “WPF” posts will include the true story of carnivorousness.

One of the endeavors that we’ve looked most forward to in our homesteading journey is raising, slaughtering and butchering our own pig.


In August we bought our first two piglets, each weighing in at 30 pounds.  Perfect timing, we think because their first two months or so of life were totally free to us as their main job was rooting up the end of our garden and getting it ready for winter.  They worked as a great team, clearing out rotten veggies, eating wormy apples from the yard and generally feeding themselves and being useful.  We kept one until November, about 70 lbs.  Then Joel built a spit out back and we roasted that piggy for 8 hours to perfection and shared it with 15 of our friends.


For his brother, we had other plans: raise him to full size for a year’s worth of meat – and that we did.  It took about 6 months for him to reach 290 lbs.  Fed on kitchen scraps, cracked corn and a protein-rich hog feed, he was ready to go this last weekend.  We cleared our schedule, and he met his respectful and speedy demise on Saturday morning.


From there, Joel hung, skinned, bled and halved the carcass.  The next day, he got to work on the butchering.  It took well into the night, and a fair amount of consulting this fabulous book :Complete Guide to Butchering, Smoking, Curing, and Sausage Making , but all told we think we have about 150 lbs of delicious pork in varying cuts.


This series will be my record of cooking through an entire pig.  I’m not sure how long it will take me, but I know it will be exciting and fun.  There will be Easter hams, sausage links, breakfast meats and hopefully some guest posts from the man of the house.

I hope you join me on this journey of swiney discovery!

Project 31: Finally, Sheepishly Day 31 – Odds And Ends

Well, now that you all know which sister typically brings up the rear in most things… let’s get down to the business of finishing up this “Project 31”.  I have no excuse for my tardiness besides, well… morning sickness and then a bout of pregnancy forgetfulness?  Buying that?  Good.   Lets continue:

This whole project was tough for me because although I enjoy being organized (who doesn’t?   Ok, maybe hoarders…), I don’t always realize what needs to be organized until I am so frustrated with said stuff that I’m ready to throw it away.  But them my miserly side comes out and asks, “Won’t you maybe use it someday?”  Thus I came upon my latest organizational experience, finding a place for the odds and ends that had found their way into my silverware drawer and were driving me nutso.


In my case this meant finding a new home for my baster (once/year item), wine corks and opener (currently on haiatus), knife sharpeners (hubby item), spreaders (entertaining item), grapefruit spoons (yum, grapefruit!) and metal tongs (why do I have four, you ask?).  I was so delighted to find that they really all fit nicely in the rejected utensil organizer that I found in my closet, that I actually plan to get another one to put skewers and some other rarely used cake decorating items in the drawer below.  Let this challenge you to repurpose something to make your life just a little easier!

Thanks so much for being a part of our organization extravaganza!  We hope you gained a few tips to use as you become one step closer to becoming the master (or mistress?) of your domain.  I know just watching my sisters’ ideas and ingenuity has inspired me throughout this entire challenge.  <3!

Project 31 Day 30: Sewing and Crafting Space

We’re gasping across the finish line, people! We have new posts about unrelated things to share, so that’s finally getting me off my tail to finish the last few organizing projects.

Having a strangely shaped basement was a benefit when it came to finding an out-of-the-way spot to set up my sewing machine and supplies. I found that if I was able to leave it set up, I was more likely to take advantage of short time blocks to finish started projects.

(The same did not seem to be true of the treadmill right next to it, but I digress.)

All my fabric was put into a bin, and I repurposed some awesome Barbie pink plastic drawers to hold buttons, glue gun, ribbon, thread, etc. Frequently used supplies are in the sewing basket, and new or doubles of items are in the blue box on the shelf.

I put together a binder with sheet protectors to store patterns and printed project instructions. This way, random templates and pieces can be stuck inside with the instructions for future use.


Add coffee warmer, some photo-bombing baby toes,  and we’re ready to go!

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Project 31 Day 29: Art Supplies

Well, we’re a bit behind, but bound and determined to finish 31 posts, even if it’s not IN 31!

Today’s project was re-purposing some drawers in order to organize the vast quantities of art and craft supplies floating around our house. My oldest loves to do projects, but we lacked a system for putting them away that she could maintain herself. Time to change that!

I moved most of the unopened extra consumables she received as gifts recently to a box so we can refill her supplies as needed.

We designated four drawers for her, and she decorated them with stickers to help her remember! The other drawers contain mom and dad’s supplies, pre-school supplies, and projects that require my permission or assistance. I like to keep some craft kits separate to pull out for quiet time or while mom is teaching piano!

Here are the finished drawers!

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Project 31, Day 28: My “Brain Board”

This is just little customizable idea for a handy way to organize lists, kid crafts, paperwork, etc. We made these as a craft in our MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers) group and each mom made theirs a little differently. Some made “brag boards” where each child had their own clip and you could hang their latest project, grades, picture or whatever. Here’s what I made:


My “To Buy” is for things that I don’t put on the usual grocery list- things I need to get online, things I need but need to wait til next month, or things I think of when I don’t have my grocery list near by and I don’t want to forget!

Under “To Make” I put the meals that need used up, meals I have bought the ingredients for but might forget to make (am I the only one with this problem?), new things I want to try, and meals in the freezer that I might forget I have (am I the only one with this problem?).

Of course my “To Do” list is NEVER exhaustive- just things I’ve been meaning to do and keep forgetting (am I the only one with this problem?), things that have a deadline, things that might never get done if I don’t write it down, etc. This hangs on my fridge- I put magnet stickers behind it but also attached the ribbon to a magnet clip because 1) it helps it not fall off and 2) it looks pretty.

These are super easy to make and can serve so many useful and decorative purposes!

Project 31, Day 27: Purse/Tote Organizer

This isn’t a recent project, but something I definitely want to share! I don’t have a “before” picture, because I’ve used this for a couple years now.

To start with, I found this awesome purse/tote bag at a convention I attended and immediately fell in love with it. My youngest hadn’t yet turned 1 and I was so excited to embrace my new role as mom of three! Plus it was the perfect size and oh-so-durable. I paid almost $30 for it which was somewhat traumatizing for me because I’m pretty stingy? wise? frugal? when it comes to spending money on myself. But in hindsight it was totally worth and I get complements and “Where did you get that”s  all the time! Here it is:


It’s a great size and very versatile, but not very practical when it comes to keeping stuff organized and find-able. Everything just kind of sits in there in one big pile. So a couple years ago I came across a Pinterest tutorial for making purse organizers out of placemats! I am not crafty when it comes to sewing and at the time didn’t even have a sewing machine, so I asked my friend (who can make anything from Pinterest into real life) to make one for me! Here’s what she made:


It’s just a matter of folding the placemat and sewing seams. She made some large pockets, some small and the button closure makes it circular so you can even use the middle as an extra pocket. You can also leave it unbuttoned and have it line the edges of your bag.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s “stuffed”:


Excuse the embarrassing “lady things” but these are the things you don’t want to be yanking out of your bag at the bank while looking for a pen- right?!? I put my little notebook in the middle usually because it’s tall enough to easily grab above the things that are in the pockets.

Here’s what it looks like in my purse (with plenty of room for the wallet!):