Monday, December 29, 2014

DIY Coffee Facial Scrub!

In the post Going No Poo - Week 5, I discussed using a coffee rinse in my hair that turned out wonderfully! You may have noticed a picture of me with an espresso mask/scrub on my face that sort of looked like mud. Yep, here it is:

Well, it's not mud. I was inspired to try coffee grounds (or espresso, in my case) the same night that I tried my lustrous espresso rinse! If I can repurpose the extra coffee into a (basically) free, conditioning rinse, why not use the grounds too? I've come across a few mentions of using coffee grounds for a facial scrub on Pinterest and Facebook, and I happen to have some fresh grounds on hand last night after brewing some espresso (to drink and for my hair)... plus I love to experiment with free, DIY beauty treatment! *This Scrub can also be used on those pesky rough elbows and feet!*


What Ingredients Did I Use?

All it took was 3 simple ingredients, which are quite common in my household:
  • Coffee Grounds - I used espresso grounds for my scrub, but they are basically interchangeable for this purpose. You can use either fresh or used grounds, so why not get more bang for your buck, and reuse grounds you've already brewed? The coffee grounds work as an exfoliate, while the caffeine has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce redness and inflammation. It also temporarily reduces the appearance of cellulite! Who knew you could get cellulite on your face? Not me. (Source: LIVESTRONG.COM)
  • Honey - Some of you may know that I have a love-affair with honey, and that's okay with me. Honey is an antiseptic, therefore it prevents the growth of the bacteria in your pores, and disinfects your skin. In fact, if honey is applied to a fully developed pimple or whitehead, it can stop the infection in your pore from worsening (Source: Honey and Acne). Honey also has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduce swelling and redness that can accompany pimples. Finally, honey is a humectant which preserves the moisture in your skin and draws moisture from the air, which leaves your face moisturized without feeling oily.
  • Lemon Juice - Lemon helps to lighten the skin and even complexion, while the citric acid exfoliates. Since lemon juice is an astringent, it also dries the blemishes. *Since it can be drying, it's important not to add too much lemon juice, especially if you have dry skin.*
This may not be the prettiest mask in the world, but I personally love the smell!


I love the ease of this scrub! Simply mix together the ingredients in a small container, and apply to the face with clean hands or a clean makeup brush. Leave the scrub on your face for about 2 minutes, or longer if you like. Rinse over the sink or in the shower and gently rub the scrub off in circular motions . Pat your face dry with a clean towel.

You can easily make this scrub into a mask: simply add 1/2 Tbsp of Greek yogurt, and leave it on until it dries!

Some people have mentioned having an adverse reaction to honey and/or lemon juice, so be sure to test this recipe (as well as any other) on the inside of your wrist. If you feel any stinging or burning, wash it off immediately and DO NOT use it on your face.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Going No Poo - Weeks 6 & 7

I've been pretty busy with the 7 Days of Christmas, so I was pretty late getting to Week 6. The week was already almost over by the time I got any free time, so I figured I'd just combine Weeks 6 & 7.

Giving Up Honey

I seriously LOVE honey. I love it! Have I said that enough yet? Despite my love-affair with honey, I actually haven't washed with it since Week 4 (well, maybe a drizzle in my rinses here and there). It doesn't mean that I don't love honey anymore (I swear, I do!), it was just time to switch things up! I felt like my hair was getting too weighted down, and I also felt like I could stretch out the days between washes a bit more. I decided to finally try out an espresso rinse in Week 5, and LOVED it!

Can you see the difference in body? The espresso enhances my curls as well!

I did use a honey mask after a failed experiment left me with some scalp irritation. Read Trial & Error below for more details.

What Am I Using Now?

Since I recently made some homemade yogurt, I had plenty of whey leftover (a byproduct of yogurt). I tried a whey rinse back before I made the switch to No Poo, and I loved it then. I had espresso, I had whey, and somehow they ended up together in my hair. It was awesome, and the smell was delicious! My favorite part was that it was the closest to a lather I've gotten since going No Poo! The whey has a bit of a thickness to it, and that's what sort of feels like it's lathering up. I've also been experimenting with adding a ginger/rosemary tea to the mix (simply ginger and rosemary boiled in water and steeped for about 20 minutes). I usually leave it in for a while, but it works pretty well as a quick rinse too. This is just a personal preference, but I like to apply the espresso/whey mixture over the kitchen sink, then wrap my hair in an old, clean T-shirt and allow it to dry before rinsing it out with water.

Acid rinses (like apple cider vinegar, certain teas, and coffee) are not technically washes; they're considered a conditioner, so you can use them daily if your hair responds well to it.

Since the Switch

Since I've quit using a honey wash every week, and have switched to acid only (AO) rinses (espresso and whey, specifically), my hair has had so much more body! My hair loves espresso! I usually do them every other day, but they are fine to daily as well.

Trial & Error

One thing I sometimes miss about shampoo is the smell. My hair doesn't smell bad at all; it just doesn't have a smell. Sometimes I miss that freshly shampoo'd smell (think flowers or fruit), although not enough to actually use any. I decided to try a little scent experiment with vanilla extract. I don't have any EOs (essential oils, for you EO virgins like me), but I have seen vanilla extract in some DIY recipes (for lotion or soap perhaps). Well for those of you who don't know, most vanilla extracts are made with alcohol and sugar or corn syrup. Although alcohol is found in many commercial shampoos (why?), it's extremely drying. After going this long without commercial shampoo, even 10 drops of vanilla extract was enough to inflame the scalp irritation that going no poo helped get rid of. The irritation was bad enough for me to use a honey mask the next day, which helped immensely. Lesson learned: don't use vanilla extract on my hair.

Some people like to leave their conditioning rinses in, and I though it would be great to try with espresso! Wrong. It left brown marks on my hands anytime I ran my fingers through my hair. It also left my hair feeling a bit stiff... I'm not sure that's the right way to describe it, but I can't think of a better word for how my hair felt. I'm going to stick with rinsing the espresso out. 

Unexpected Benefits of Going No Poo

  • Stronger nails - since giving up shampoo I've noticed that my nails have gotten stronger, but especially since using my orange/rosemary herbal tea rinse on my hair; just the act of rubbing it into my scalp was enough to strengthen them. I wish I had a before and after picture to show you. My nails usually break off right above the pink, but in the last few weeks, they've gotten unbelievably strong! Since I don't use the herbal tea rinse anymore, I'd like to incorporate it into a nail care routine. 
  • New hair growth - believe it or not, those little hairs I circled below are actually new growth! I attribute it to the rosemary in the rinses I've been using (rosemary is great at strengthening hair and even promoting new growth), along with the fact that I haven't been using any harsh chemicals on my hair or scalp!
    I'm sure these little hairs are new growth and not breakage for a few reasons:
    1) I haven't been doing anything to cause split ends (tying my hair up, using harsh chemicals, brushing too hard and/or too often).
    2) I examined them to make sure there were no frayed or stressed ends. 

For more information on breakage and new growth, check out

The most important thing I've learned from all of this is to experiment! Every wash or rinse you try won't work for you, but when you come across what does work for your hair you'll be over the moon. I thought I had found what worked for me with honey, but if I didn't experiment with new wash methods I wouldn't have found this better working one!

To read about the rest of my journey, click here: 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 7 - Cookies & Hot Chocolate for Santa (Bonus: Track Santa's Journey)

If you're in need of some easy last minute cookie recipes for Santa, look no further.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

While it's not the healthiest, one of my go-to recipes in the past were peanut butter blossoms. It was always a favorite, so I never rocked the boat by trying to tweak it or make it healthier. The peanut butter recipe was actually on a Jif peanut butter container (check it out here). For peanut butter blossoms, all you have to do is add a Hershey's Kiss immediately after taking them out of the oven.

Click here to get the recipe!

Cookie Bars

After reading some blog posts about how to use up Halloween candy back in October, I stumbled upon a cookie bar recipe that was actually from scratch! I love it because you can use whatever candy you have on hand (or pick red and green candies for Christmas!). This is the perfect recipe to use up any half full bags of chocolate chips or candy you might still have left over from Halloween (believe it or not, we do). Get the recipe here!

Click here to get the recipe!

Hot Chocolate Recipe

Sometimes Santa gets bored of plain old milk with his cookies... and by Santa, I mean me. Why not switch it up this year with an easy hot chocolate recipe? Don't forget the marshmallows! Try some of these easy and awesome recipes!

My son wants to leave out hot chocolate and eggnog, as well as a note asking which Santa prefers. That's totally fine with me, because Daddy likes eggnog and Mommy likes hot chocolate!

Track Santa's Journey!

Find out where Santa is right now with Google Santa Tracker! You and your children can see where he is, and what his next stop will be! Check it out here!

Happy Holidays to everybody! Don't get so wrapped up with everything that you forget to enjoy yourself!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 6 - Cheap, Last-Minute Christmas Gifts!

If you're like me, and you wait until the last minute to buy/make Christmas gifts, then these quick, cheap, and last-minute options will be right up your alley!

Homemade Teriyaki Sauce

Spoiler Alert for anybody we give gifts to: this is what you're getting this year. Hope you like Teriyaki! I can't remember where I got this recipe for the life of me, but it's extremely simple. What I love about this gift is that it's practically free. We up-cycled old lemonade bottles for the container, and we usually have all of the ingredients on hand. All I did for the label was print some business card size labels in Microsoft Publisher, punched a hole in each one, and tied them around the bottles with a ribbon.

Teriyaki Recipe

  • 1-2 teaspoons oil (for coating pan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger, grated (about 1/2 inch piece)
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic, minced (about 2-3 large cloves)
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (I use 1/4 tsp.)
Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan first, immediately followed by the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Use immediately, or allow the sauce to cool and put it in a container. 

Cookie Bars

These are even easier than regular cookies, in my opinion, making them perfect for the last minute. They're less time-consuming because you don't have to form individual cookies; just press the dough into a casserole dish and cut it into bars after it's baked and cooled. I originally used this recipe for leftover Halloween candy, but you can easily find Christmas colored candy to use (think red and green M&Ms or candy cane pieces).

DIY Ornaments

The baking soda ornaments may not be the quickest gift to make, but if you've already made them they're a breeze to handout as a last-minute gift. You may want to remember that for the years ahead: these homemade ornaments can be a day of fun with your family and presents!

The puzzle ornaments, on the other hand, can be made fairly quickly... about as long as it takes to put the puzzle pieces together, Mod Podge them, and let the dry.

DIY Beauty Products

Honey, Yogurt, & Lemon Face Mask

Back in November I posted a recipe for a honey, yogurt, and lemon face mask that makes a wonderful gift idea. Just be sure to remind the recipient that this mask needs to be refrigerated when not in use. Check it out here!

Herbal Tea Rinse

This is also a wonderful gift idea, because it can be customized for any hair type. You can make a blend specifically for hair loss, oily hair, or just a general use rinse! Check out the post here for different tea blends!

Monday, December 22, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 5 - Kid-Friendly Christmas Tree Craft

This is a fun craft to do with kids of almost any age. Theses ice cream cones go perfectly with a ginger bread house, but they also make a great craft by themselves! They are perfect for little hands, and are much easier to assemble than a gingerbread house. As with many of the DIY projects I feature, this was inspired by a pin on Pinterest (check it out here).

What You Need

I forgot to picture the green food coloring. You can use a much
greater variety of candies, if you desire.

  • Sugar Cones (the pointy ones)
  • Vanilla or Cream Cheese Frosting (lighter colored frosting will be easier to turn green)
  • Green Food Coloring 
  • Assorted Candy (we used M&M's Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers, Gum Drops, & some spare candy from our gingerbread house kit)


  • Add green food coloring to frosting, 1 or 2 drops at a time, until desired green is achieved.
  • Place the Sugar Cones upside-down and frost them until they look somewhat like green trees. Young children may need help with this part.
  • Decorate your Christmas trees with candy!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 4 - Santa Sack (& FREE Printout!)

What does Santa do with the presents he brings your children? In some households, like Daddy's when he was a kid, Santa didn't bother to wrap presents. I guess I can understand that. The big guy's pretty busy. Mine were always wrapped, usually in a different color, unless it was something awkward to wrap like a bike.

Well, another option is the Santa Sack! It's a special bag from the North Pole that Santa puts your child's presents in. I was browsing Pinterest a few weeks ago, when I can across the inspiration to create my own Santa Sack (check it out here).

It saves you the trouble of wrapping Santa's presents, if you do. Otherwise, it will add a magical touch to your child's Christmas morning.

The Santa Sack!

For this project, you'll need:

  • White T-Shirt Transfers
  • White Pillowcase (1 per child)
  • Iron


  1. Click here to print out the FREE Santa Sack printout! The text is mirrored in the printouts, but it will appear normal once you iron them on to the pillowcase. Be sure to print them on your transfers. You'll need 2 transfers for each Santa Sack you're making.
  2. Try to center the printouts onto the wrinkle-free pillowcase, image side down. Be sure to place the bottom transfer about 3 inches above the bottom of the pillowcase.
  3. Follow the directions that came with your White T-Shirt Transfers for transferring the images onto the pillowcase. 
  4. Gently peel off the transfer backing, holding down the transfer and the pillowcase, to reveal the finished product!
  5. Wait at least 24 hours before using the Santa Sack. Fill it with presents from Santa on Christmas Eve, and tie it with a ribbon!
The final product is now ready for Santa to deliver!

We used a king size pillowcase, but a standard will work just as well. We wanted to be sure there would be enough room, in case Santa brought something large.   

Saturday, December 20, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 3 - Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays!I try to teach my son that Christmas is not all about getting presents. Each year we even pick out a toy to donate to Toys For Tots! Since Christmas isn't all about receiving, we also like to make DIY presents to give away. Two years ago those DIY gifts included ornaments that we made ourselves!

These were fun to make, and even more fun to give away!
You only need 3 ingredients for these ornaments: baking soda, cornstarch, and water! I found the original inspiration for this project on Pinterest (what a surprise). Check it out here!

DIY Ornaments

Baking Soda Ornaments:


  • 1 box of baking soda
  • 1 cup of cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

What You'll Need:

  • Sauce Pan
  • Bowl
  • Spoon
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Cookie Cutters


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and cook them over medium heat, stirring consistently, until it is too thick to stir with a spoon. 
  2. Cool for 15 minutes, or until the dough is cool to the touch. Knead it for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap when not in use.
  3. Roll dough out to desired thickness (however thick you'd like your ornament to be), and use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. Don't forget the holes for string or hooks!
  4. Lay the ornaments flat to dry. This may take a few days (depending on how thick they are), so put them out of the way. The sunnier a spot it is, the better. Flip them over every day while they're drying to avoid raised edges.
You can paint them once they dry!

Recycled Puzzle Ornaments:

This actually an original idea, y'all! I love this DIY ornament idea because it involves upcycling, or using something that I otherwise would've thrown away. I found an old Power Rangers puzzle (ORIGINAL Power Rangers for those of you old enough to remember!) in Daddy's old mementos, but upon further inspection I realized some of the pieces were missing. I know, it's not that surprising considering it's a 20 year old puzzle. It meant too much to Daddy to just throw away, so I decided to try something out. These ones were for our personal use, and not given away.

I was actually inspired for this ornament by how a puzzle was packaged in Wal-Mart! They had puzzles on sale for Christmas, and they had an adorable little puzzle piece ornament attached to the outside of the box! I thought to myself, "I can do that!"

Of course their puzzle ornaments were only one piece, but mine didn't work out that way. There was no single piece with a picture on it that made any sense. I guess that's why you have to put the puzzle together...

I'm still super happy with mine though! I used Mod Podge (puzzle saving glue) to paint the peices and hold them together. I brushed both sides with Mod Podge, but make sure to let it dry before flipping it over. Otherwise you'll end up with newspaper stuck to your ornament, or Mod Podge stuck to your surface.

Friday, December 19, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 2 - FREE Letter from Santa & Santa's Footprints!

Another tradition in our household for the last two years at Christmas is that Santa sends our son a personal letter! The first year my mom actually paid for one to be mailed here from some online service. However, we were lucky enough to find a free one that AAA offers last year!

AAA is not endorsing me for this post in any way. I only wanted to share this awesome Letter from Santa with you guys. It's completely free, and you don't even have to be a member!

My son loves getting these personalized letters! Click here to get yours!

Screenshot from
To create your own custom letter for your child, click here!

You can "mail" it to your child (there is an option to print out an additional postmark to glue/tape onto an envelope), or you can make it even more special by having Santa personally deliver the note!

Imagine Santa's footprints leading up to the letter he left for your child!

I found the inspiration for Santa's footprints on Pinterest originally (Click here to see it!), but I tweaked it just a little bit. Rather than trace a boot, cut it out, and use it as a stencil, I just dipped Daddy's work shoe in a shoe box filled with a small amount of flour (yes, Santa has two right feet) and made magical footprints on the floor! They're magical because the snow doesn't melt, but they could look even more magical if you mixed in glitter!

You could also just do this on Christmas Eve for the morning.
Ours led in from the balcony. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

7 Days of Christmas: Day 1 - Polar Express Christmas Light Tour (Free Printable Polar Express Ticket!)

Last year started a new tradition in our household:

The Polar Express Christmas Light Tour! 

My 5 year old son LOVES the Polar Express movie! After being inspired by a pin on Pinterest (click here to see the original pin!), I decided to try our own Polar Express ride! 

After watching the Polar Express one random night before Christmas (a night that Daddy was off!), we told our then 4 year old son to put on his pajamas and brush his teeth for bed just like any other night. However, when he got to his bed he found more than just pajamas... there was a surprise waiting for him!

Along with his PJs, he found a blanket and a "ticket" for the Polar Express! Last year's ticket read: 
The bearer of this ticket is entitled to one magical Polar Express ride, complete with popcorn, hot chocolate, & Christmas lights!

We had hot chocolate made, popcorn popped, and candy ready to go. We headed down to the "Polar Express" (our car), and drove around looking at local Christmas lights (while listening to Christmas music, of course). It was an amazing experience for my son, especially since he only thought he was going to bed! It went so well, we decided to make it a regular Christmas tradition.

Look how happy he is!

Last year's ticket was hand-drawn at the last minute, but this year we (I have to credit Daddy) decided to create a more thought-out one on the computer. I've included a link to download a printable ticket for your child (or children; print as many as you need!) so that you can enjoy a Polar Express Christmas Light Tour with them too! Simply print out the PDF file, cut out each side of the ticket, and glue them together. We have some laminating sheets we'll be using to make ours a bit more durable.

Don't forget the hot chocolate and goodies!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Homemade Yogurt

I love yogurt. Especially Greek yogurt - it's so versatile! It can be eaten sweet (think fruit or honey) or it can be made savory (seasoning and extra virgin olive oil, for example), and it's a wonderful substitute for many things (sour cream and heavy cream, just to name a few). Some people I know hate it though, and to them I say "This recipe can make either Greek or regular style yogurt!"

The only difference between Greek and regular style yogurt is that the Greek version is strained, and therefore thicker.

Whether you're making Greek or regular style yogurt, follow all the directions until you reach the section about straining. At this point, there will be two sets of instructions: one for Greek style and the other for regular yogurt.

*All temperatures in this post are in Fahrenheit.*

Things you will need to get started:

  • Slow cooker or large pot
  • Thermometer (instant read or the type used for deep frying/candy making)
  • Something for the yogurt to incubate in (oven, cooler, thermal bag)
  • Containers for the yogurt to incubate  in (jars, slow cooker, or even a pot)
  • Strainer (large enough to hold all of the yogurt, if straining)
  • Cheesecloth or coffee filters (if straining)
  • A bowl large enough to rest the strainer on and collect the whey, a byproduct of yogurt (again, only if straining)
  • A container or 2 to hold your homemade yogurt and the whey (that stuff is useful!)


Ingredients you will need:

  • Milk (skim, whole, or anything in-between; the higher the fat content, the more yogurt you get)
  • Starter yogurt (must be Greek yogurt, about 6 oz. for every gallon of milk; you can use your homemade Greek yogurt for this next time!) 

To get started, you'll need:
milk, starter yogurt, a pot, and a thermometer
If straining, you'll need:
A large bowl, a strainer, and cheesecloth (or coffee filters)

The basic concept:

  • Scald milk
  • Cool temperature down to 110-120 degrees
  • Add starter yogurt, mix
  • Incubate
  • Strain (optional)



Pour as much or little milk into the pot as you'd like.
The higher fat content the milk has, the more yogurt you'll get from it.

Scald -

To start the yogurt making process you need to scald the milk by heating it to 180 degrees. Stir regularly or you'll end up with a thick coating on the bottom of your pot.

Cool -

Next let it cool back down to 110-120 degrees (use your thermometer).
You can do this in a crock pot or on the stove, but be sure to keep an eye on the temperature; 110-120 degrees is the sweet spot for that good bacteria to reproduce and make your yummy yogurt! Keep stirring to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Starter -

After the milk has been scalded and brought back down to 110-120 degrees, add your starter (about 6oz of Greek yogurt to 1 gallon of milk, store bought or from your last batch of homemade yogurt) and mix it together thoroughly.

Incubate -

If you used a crockpot, leave it in there or pour it into glass jars. (I made it on the stove, but used my slow cooker to incubate it. I've also just poured it into another pot in a pinch.)

Popular Incubating Methods:

  • Put the covered jars/crockpot into an oven that's been preheated for 1 minute and then turned off, with the oven light on.
  • Place the jars/crockpot inside a cooler with water that has been preheated to 120 degrees.
This is where I diverged from basically all of the recipes I read. My oven doesn't have a light, so I skipped that one (although I later found out that the light doesn't really matter). I'm also too lazy for the cooler method. I used a thermal shopping bag that keeps cold things cold or hot things hot. I stuck the whole crockpot in the bag, shut it tight, and wrapped it with a bath towel. I put it in a somewhat out-of-the-way place, and made sure to tell my family not to disturb it. It was thick around 5 hours later, but I let it go 8 hours just to be sure.

Avoid spilling your milk/yogurt mixture
by gently lowering it into the thermal
bag, if that's the method you're incubating
with. You may want to put it on the
floor to make this part easier.

Most of the recipes I read suggested letting the yogurt incubate for anywhere between 8-12 hours until thick like regular yogurt. If you're a scatterbrain like me, and you forget things a lot, then you'll be happy to know it won't hurt to leave it incubating for a long time. My record so far is 19 hours. I looked it up online and some people do recommend letting it incubate about that long for extremely thick and creamy yogurt. The good news is that nobody in my family got sick!
Allow the yogurt to incubate to your preference. The next step depends on whether you want Greek or regular style yogurt.

Here is the point in the process where you will either strain it for Greek style yogurt, or leave it as is for regular yogurt:

For regular yogurt:

If the yogurt is in a pot or a crockpot, pour the yogurt into containers (more than one may be necessary). If the yogurt is in jars, go ahead and put them into the refrigerator. When they are chilled through, they are ready to add flavoring or enjoy plain! Read further for flavoring suggestions.

For Greek yogurt:

Line a strainer with cheesecloth or coffee filters, and place over a large bowl. Pour the yogurt into the strainer, and place in the refrigerator. Allow it to strain until it's your desired consistency (be sure to cover with plastic wrap, a lid, or even a plate).

I did mine for about 8 hours, overnight while I was sleeping. When I woke up in the morning, I had thick, creamy Greek yogurt.
I've also accidentally forgotten about this part and let it strain longer than that. I just ended up with extra thick yogurt! I've also read comments on other blogs about straining it until it becomes like a tangy cream cheese, so there's always a Plan B if it goes WAY too long. I'm honestly not sure how long that would take though. You can also mix some of the whey back in until it's the desired consistency (I've done this before).

Before straining

After straining 8 hours

 The final product

Update: For ideas on how to use your leftover whey, check out 5 Uses for Leftover Whey!

Possible containers:

  • Tupperware
  • Jars
  • Old yogurt/butter/sour cream containers (Yay for recycling!)

Flavoring your yogurt:

You can flavor your yogurt once it's cool (you need to be able to do the "taste test"). I've personally never flavored my yogurt batch all at once; I prefer to flavor each individual bowl as I (or my son) eats it. That way I can use the plain Greek yogurt as a substitute for other things. I can personally attest that it works great as sour cream, and mixed with hard-boiled eggs for egg salad. Greek yogurt can also be used to cut calories in place of mayo, sour cream, and heavy cream or buttermilk (water it down with milk until it's the desired consistency for heavy cream or buttermilk).

Flavoring a large batch:

Many of the recipes I read suggested adding vanilla extract (some also mentioned sugar, but I suggest tasting it without first). You could also try experimenting with other extract flavors as well! Since I've never done this, I don't know any exact ratios for the sugar to vanilla (heck, I don't even know what size batch you're making). However, another blogger recommends:
"For a full 32 oz. container, I add: 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • a little less than a 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • and 3 tablespoons powdered sugar"

Flavoring individual bowls:

Plain yogurt can also be eaten as a quick snack, flavored with some honey, fruit, and nuts or seeds; my son actually enjoys it with a bit of jelly and a drop of vanilla extract swirled in! What other mix-ins can you think of?

Tips for Success:

  • Stir regularly to avoid most of the yogurt
    getting stuck to the bottom of the pot. 
    Stir regularly. Don't  just walk away and forget about it, or you'll end up with half of the yogurt stuck to the bottom of the pot. The photo to the right is with stirring, so imagine without.
  • Moisten your cheesecloth before lining the strainer, if making Greek yogurt. It makes it form to the shape of the strainer much easier.
  • Start the yogurt at night, so you can leave it overnight to incubate. This is especially handy if you don't have anyplace "out of the way" to put it or if using your oven to incubate.
  • Don't be intimidated! This recipe/method is very hard to mess up. If you scald it over 180 degrees, it'll still be fine. If you incubate it too long (like I've done before), or strain it too long it can still be salvaged.
  • Save your whey! You can make ricotta with it, rinse your hair with it (I use it on my hair, and it's amazing), boil noodles or rice in it, or marinate chicken in it to make it super tender. Update: Click here to read 5 Uses for Leftover Whey!
Whey leftover after straining


I did a lot of research on the subject of making yogurt, and the basic concept was universal. Some of sources that helped me the most are: