Showing posts with label strawberry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label strawberry. Show all posts

Spring Means Gardening--Fruits, Vegetables & Cooking Farm Fresh!


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Spring is in the air!! Up in New England the weather is slowly getting warmer--or at least more consistent. We have been having a roller coaster of temperatures this year. As spring starts up people start thinking about about gardening and fresh fruits and vegetables. Today I am sharing three picture books that focus on just that--gardening, fruits, vegetables and cooking with fresh garden harvests. All three books have an age range of 4 to 9. And all three books are being released today!! The first is I Love Strawberries! by Shannon Anderson and illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett. 

Needle Felted Acorn Top Strawberry

So yesterday I mentioned we had collected some acorn caps when we walked back to our car after checking out the swans. After letting them sit for a few days to make sure there were no bugs in them, we wanted to needle felt some acorns. Our plan was to bring them to school as part of Teacher Appreciation Week. I tried to choose wool roving colors for different seasons and one of them was red. Hazel commented on how the red one looked like a strawberry. We decided to make strawberries. Since we have already shared our Strawberry Exploration, we will just share the craft today. We painted the caps green first.

While the paint dried we began needle felting. We took some red roving and rolled into a strawberry shape. Then we needled it as much as possible. I have some safety needle felting tools for Hazel to use, but she did catch her finger once. I always had to finish them since she was afraid of holding them and needling. We also decided to make some unripe ones so we could show the progression of strawberries. 

For these we mixed some colors to make them look like they were ripening. Once the shapes were solid enough, we glued them into the caps. Then let them dry overnight. Now we have some lovely needle felted acorn top strawberries. Hazel decided she wanted to keep all the strawberries and acorns we made for herself and give them to the teachers, but she also wants to make more.

For more ideas on strawberries (mostly recipes) and fruit explorations:

Friday Fruit Explorations: Strawberries

The other day Hazel decided we should go on a fruit exploration. She pulled out her magnifying glasses so we could look more closely at some of the fruit. We started our adventure with strawberries--one of our favorites. 

First we looked at the outside of the fruit to see what we could find.

We noticed the seeds which we knew were there. Did you know strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside? After she was done looking at the outside, I cut one in half so we could look at the inside.

The white lines in the interior of the strawberry bring the nutrients to each seed. Of course to learn all these little facts, we got some books from the library.

Two books focus on the growing cycle of strawberries and the third shares a Cherokee legend on the first strawberries. I was hoping to find some information on the nutrition of strawberries, but have not found books with it. However I did find it on-line. A serving size of one cup has 49 calories. That cup of strawberries contains 12 grams of carbohydrates of which 7 gram are sugar and 3 are dietary fiber. There is also 1 gram of protein and gives you 149% of your vitamin C for the day. They also have a small amount of iron and calcium. The other minerals that strawberries provide are potassium and manganese. Strawberries also contain omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. (Source

Strawberries have also been rated the 27th best among U.S. food, however due to the large serving size needed for the top foods, strawberries move to the 3rd position when considering of which foods you would eat the 3.5 ounces. Strawberries are fragile fruits that start to lose their nutrition after only two days and ideally they will be in 90-95% humidity (most refrigerators have less humidity). An interesting discovery is that when sugar is eaten with strawberries, the blood sugar spike caused by the sugar is reduced by the strawberries. Strawberries also have anti-inflammatory affects. (Source)

To go with our strawberry exploration, I wanted to do some crafts. Hazel and I have had a busy week, so she was not able to make any of them with me yet, but I thought I would share a few. The first two involve handprints and I found them on Pinterest. The first one is inspired by Activity Village: Handprint Strawberry. Theirs was done with paint, but I had some foam handprints and just used those to share it with you. The second  is from French Toasty: Strawberry Handprint Kid Craft. I did not add the seeds, but if I do it with Hazel we will. The third are needle felted strawberries. I will provide a tutorial below to make them. And finally are Strawberry Treat Box Printable from Oh Happy Day! I wanted Hazel to cut one out to make, but she was too tired after her busy day--she got her first filling/crown today at the dentist and then came home to a playdate. 

Now for our needle felting tutorial. The supplies you need are some red roving, green felt and the needle felting needle and mat. Roll or wrap the roving to be a basic strawberry shape and then needle it to firm it up. To cut the leaves, cut a small square of felt and fold it along the diagonal two to three times. Then cut a triangle from the sides. Open it up and trim how you want it. Then needle felt it to the top of your strawberry.

These are quick and easy to make.

For more ideas on strawberries (mostly recipes):
Join us next week for a different fruit exploration!!

Squanto, Pilgrims and Thanksgiving

Now I will admit that I am so fascinated by Native American culture. I don't know if it is the drop or so Native American blood I have in me--my grandfather always said someone along the way married a Native American (well he used Indian), but I don't know much more than that. My sister however does and she found out recently that our Native American ancestor answered Lincoln's first call for soldiers for the Civil War. I love to learn about the way different tribes live(d) and hear the stories. I love them so much I took a class on Native American Culture in college. Anyway, I guess I'm working on passing on my love to Hazel.

We have been reading many books about Native Americans--Wampanoags in particular--as well as much on Squanto. I have learned so much that I never learned in school. Now with many things in history, there are different versions in the books as well as on-line. Here is what seems to be the most widely viewed. Tisquantum or Squanto was a member of the Patuxet Tribe and  was kidnapped at age 12 by Europeans led by Captain Thomas Hunt. Squanto and his fellow braves were taken to Malaga, Spain and sold as slaves. Squanto however was bought by monks who believed God had other plans for Squanto. He spent five years with the monks and learned their language and their religion.  Then the monks sent him to England so he could eventually go home on a ship there. More ships sailed to the New World from England than Spain. They arranged for him to live with a merchant, John Slany, and his family. He learned English there and was amazed by the large city of London. About five years after arriving in England, Squanto was able to go home on John Smith's (of Pocahontas fame) ship led by Captain Thomas Dermer. Squanto had known Captain Smith and Captain Dermer from trading with them as a boy. Squanto was able to translate for the English when they came to Native Americans and thus was useful and worked for his journey.

Source: By The German Kali Works, 
New York [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Upon arriving home, Squanto saw that the Patuxet village was deserted. The fields were untended and not even dog barked to greet him. He walked to a nearby village of the Wampanoags and discovered that his tribe had been wiped out by an illness. He lived with the Wampanoags for a bit, but eventually went to live on his own in the woods. One day Samoset came to visit him. Samoset was sagamore of an Eastern Abenaki tribe that resided in what is now Maine. He was visiting Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags. Samoset had learned broken English from the fishermen and traders he met. (Source) Samoset was the first Native American to approach the Pilgrims in Plymouth. He went to get Squanto since Squanto's English was better. 
Samoset greeting the Pilgrims
Squanto was amazed at the changes to his village when he saw the Pilgrims and what they had done. He was happy to see life back in his village. Samoset and Squanto helped Governor Carver and Chief Massasoit reach a Peace Treaty. This treaty lasted for over fifty years until Massasoit died. They agreed to help one another and not to fight each other. Squanto stayed and taught the Pilgrims how to grow the native crops like corn, where and how to fish, which native berries were safe and good and other important things. Governor Bradford is quoted as to have said that Squanto "...was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation."(Source)  In Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving by Eric Metaxas, there is a similar quote from Governor Bradford. This book really focuses on the religious side of things. Apparently from several sources Squanto truly converted to believing in the European God. Squanto lived with the Pilgrims until he died. Some sources believe that the Wampanoags may have poisoned him. (Sources: The books shown above and Wikipedia)

To go with learning about the Native Americans in the Thanksgiving story, we made a simple Native American craft for our Thanksgiving table. We followed the instructions in Kathy Ross' book, Crafts for Thanksgiving. We used a paper towel roll and construction paper to make Native American headdress napkin rings.


We also made a strawberry corn bread. The recipe came from Thanksgiving Crafts by Judith Hoffman Corwin. The introduction to the recipe discussed how the Native Americans had thanksgiving festivals. This recipe might be used for a strawberry festival. Hazel did not like the bread, Steve did and I thought it was all right. I of course made it gluten free. It was made with frozen strawberries (but thawed) and I used the entire bag instead of measuring them out. I am glad I did because it had very little liquid in the recipe.

For more Native American posts check out Pocahontas, The Wampanoag Tribe, A Native American Cinderella (includes two books and a craft), Native American Cinderella 2 (two more similar stories), and The Turkey Girl, a Zuni version of Cinderella.

Virtual Book Club for Kids-- The Berry Book by Gail Gibbons

With summer just around the corner, this book seemed to be the best for our pick this month. Gail Gibbons has so many amazing books. It was hard to choose one, but between summer coming, berry season starting and the fact that Hazel and I both love most berries, it seemed like a perfect fit!

For those of you who may not know about the Virtual Book Club for Kids, it is hosted by a group of amazing bloggers. Each month an author is chosen and each blogger chooses a book (or books) by that author and do an activity or craft to go with the book. Then we host a blog hop for you to share any crafts or activities to go with any books by this month's author. This month the author is Gail Gibbons.Here are the wonderful bloggers who host this great club!
Toddler Approved - Rainy Day Mum - Adventures in Reading with Kids - 3 Dinosaurs - Royal Baloo - The Educators' Spin On It - Inspiration Laboratories - Pleasantest Thing - Edventures with Kids - Two Big Two Little - Playing With Words 365 - Kitchen Counter Chronicles - Outlaw Mom - Mommy and Me Book Club - Crafty Moms Share - No Twiddle Twaddle - The Good Long Road - Ready. Set. Read 2 Me - Reading Confetti - Mama Smiles - Juggling with Kids- Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas - Creekside Learning - Creative Family Fun - The Usual Mayhem - Teach Preschool - PlayDrMom - CraftoArt - Here Come the Girls - Being a Conscious Parent - Smiling like Sunshine - Crayon Freckles - Train Up a Child - Smile Play Learn - Enchanted Homeschooling Mom - Coffee Cups and Crayons - Having Fun at Chelle's House- Love, Play, Learn - Juggling With Kids - Motherhood on a Dime - Growing Book By Book

  This month we picked The Berry Book. This book goes through various kinds of berries. It also tells us which ones are edible and which ones are not. At the end of the book there are recipes for blueberry pie, strawberry jam, and raspberry ice cream. 

The book also mentions strawberry festivals and the blueberry festival held in Maine. Our town happened to have its Annual Strawberry Festival on Saturday. It is held by the town's historical society. The only strawberry related thing at it is the strawberry shortcake. We however had never gone, so we did. They had a few crafters as well as some yard sale type tables and then the historical society building was open with a 1920 Ford on display as well as a lantern collection. Hazel enjoyed the strawberry shortcake.

We also decided to try the blueberry pie recipe. Since Sunday was Father's Day we thought it would be a nice treat for Daddy and Pop. We used a frozen pie crust and stuck to the recipe. Everyone enjoyed it.
We are planning on making some raspberry jam as well, but did not get to it. I promised Hazel we would make some this year. She really enjoyed making strawberry jam with my mother last year and blueberry jam with me. Since raspberries are so expensive, I decided to try a recipe that uses frozen ones. I'll let you know how it comes out. I am also hoping to make some strawberry soup. When we were in Florida, we had some delicious strawberry soup at the 1900 Park Fare in Disney's Grand Floridian. Hazel and I both loved it!

My parents also brought us a lovely surprise when they came to visit for Father's Day--some of the strawberries from their garden! They are so much better than the store bought ones!!

Now it is your turn. Have you explored any of Gail Gibbons' books? Please join us in this blog hop if you have!!

Strawberry Banana Muffins

The other day Hazel and I made some muffins. We had some ripe bananas and Hazel decided we needed to add strawberries to them. So we came up with strawberry banana muffins, which I must add were delicious. We adapted the basic muffin recipe from our Better Homes and Garden Cook Book.

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (we used white whole wheat because it is what we had)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1/3 cup flax seed meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 3/4 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 ripe bananas mashed
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, thawed a bit and sliced in food processor
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl combine egg, milk and oil. 
  3. Add liquid ingredients and banana to the dry ingredients.
  4. Add strawberries and mix well.
  5. Scoop into prepared muffin pan. (Either lined with cupcake liners or greased.)
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and then turn onto rack to cool.
  7. Enjoy!
Hazel decided it was Ducky's birthday and the muffin could be his birthday cake, so we had to put candles in one. Luckily after that she got side tracked. I think she may have liked these more than our blueberry banana muffins we usually make.

Strawberry Heartish Muffins

Hazel and I are enjoying a snowy day today. Winter Storm Nemo has begun to hit New England. So far it is flurries, but they are saying it will be much worse. As a result everything is closed or closing early. All the schools, dance class, etc. They are even closing public transportation at 1 p.m. To entertain ourselves we decided to make some strawberry muffins. I looked on line to find a recipe, however I didn't find one I liked, so I combined a few and added my own twists and came up with this:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

We combined the dry ingredients in a large bowl and Hazel mixed it.

We beat the eggs and added the oil, milk and vanilla and Hazel beat that together. Then we poured it into the dry ingredients and mixed. Then we added the strawberries.

Then we scooped them into papers. A few things learned--if using liners, use foil!! I probably would not use liners with these next time. They stuck to the paper. We used liners because we wanted to try to make them heart shaped. (See below)

Now my goal was to make a pinkish muffin and to try the heart shaped muffin trick I saw on Pinterest using a marble. I figured they would be cute for Valentine's Day morning. However, I am going to stick to using my small heart silicone muffin pan next time. I did not like the marble trick at all.
I baked them for about 25 minutes and then took them out, but they were not quite done. I adjusted the marbles and put them in for another 5 minutes.
They are moist and tasty. However I would probably up the nutmeg in the recipe and might add some cinnamon. Hazel is excited to have them at her dance party that she is throwing for her baby dolls. Oh, it is going to be a fun few days without my dear husband. He is going to sleep at work tonight since the worst travel time would be when he would come home and go back. I hope you will join us for Sharing Saturday later tonight!

Hazel's Princess Birthday Party

Sharing Saturday is still open! Please come share your child-oriented crafts, activities, ideas and inspire us all!!

Today was Hazel's birthday party. I am happy to say it was a success. I shared our invitation and what we will be giving her on her actual birthday this past week. She announced to me about a week after last year's party that she wanted a princess theme. Now I knew a princess party would happen sooner or later, so I have been buying princess things when I seem them on clearance. I also went to a couple of stores and got boxes. I made this cut out castle that you saw when you walked in and decorated it with crepe paper/streamers and star shaped lights. Then we bought some princess balloons and the manager at Rite Aid (who was not able to come to the party) blew up our balloons and gave us the mylar ones (one for inside and one for the mailbox). Not that you can tell, but the latex balloons have the Disney princesses on them.

 I also made a photo arch and covered it in sparkly snowflake paper. (Sorry I blocked out faces of other children so you could see the decorations but not the kids.)
Hazel really wanted a pinata as well, so we found a princess one. I cut the bottom so we would not break it open or hang it since it was an indoor party. We also made a beeswax castle which I saw in some magazine but have not been able to find since. I bought this jasmine plant so we put it in the castle and used it as a centerpiece.

Oh, and Hazel had her hair done at the hairdresser this morning and of course wore her princess dress from Halloween. She also wore a rhinestone necklace of mine that I wore in some wedding.
We still have a large mixed age party, so we had several crafts. There were crowns and tiaras to decorate. The tiaras were foam crowns I found on clearance a couple of years ago hot glued onto headbands I bought at the Dollar Tree. There were wands to make. I cut paper stars out and gave them lollipop sticks (8 inch long) and ribbons and glue. There were shields to decorate. Steve cut up shirt boxes in the shield shape and then stapled a strip on the back for a handle. There were also beads and stretchy string to make bracelets and coloring books and markers and crayons. I have to say the older children, teenagers and some adults really had fun at the craft table. Hazel did a couple after the majority of the people had left.
Yellow cake

We had planned a couple of games, but they did not happen. It was a bit too hectic with the 30+ people. We were expecting close to possibly 60, but the kids all went straight for the family room and toys and played. Many did not break for food until the cake time. Speaking of cake, Hazel insisted on having a strawberry cake and a vanilla (well we did yellow) cake. So we made two cakes. Since a couple of her friends have nut allergies, we made the cakes from scratch. The yellow cake was made in a crown pan that I bought on clearance or at Christmas Tree Shoppe. We used this recipe from Allrecipes. It was very good and we do not have much left.
Strawberry Castle Cake
The strawberry cake was a castle. I saw the idea at Betty Crocker . I also added two princesses near the castle. I used this recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride. I tried a recipe for strawberry frosting, but it never quite formed and was more of a glaze. I made the recipe twice, but did not have success and was out of powdered sugar so I went with the glaze. The neat thing about it was it was a pink cake and pink frosting and I did not use food coloring. The wafer cookies however fell apart over night so the doors and windows were a bit broken. Overall everyone liked the cakes though.
Oh, did I mention I pulled out my wedding tiara for the day. The hairdresser pinned it in for me this morning as well. Now I am glad it is over. I still need to pull together Hazel's gift and wrap it and wrap the one from my sister, but her actual birthday is still a few days away. She has already decided what next year's theme will be. I'll see if she sticks with it. It will be easy if she does. She is thinking snow fairy.

Now to get some sleep!! Have a good night!!

National Ice Cream Day = Easy Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

Did you know that July 15 is National Ice Cream Day? I read it in Parents Magazine. (Apparently it is also Cow Appreciation Day and Tapioca Pudding Day, but I won't be celebrating those. Source) National Ice Cream Day apparently came about thanks to President Ronald Reagan who also named July National Ice Cream Month and picked the third Sunday of the month to be National Ice Cream Day. Many of the ice cream retailers will have specials including some free ice cream. Check yours locally.

To celebrate we made an easy homemade strawberry ice cream. I know I saw this somewhere and cannot find where it was. So if it was your blog, please let me know so I can link to it. Since I could not find my original source I went and googled it and found it at All Recipes

You take a package of frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup of sugar and 2/3 cup of heavy cream. 

Put them in your food processor and process. That is it. Then enjoy!!
We certainly did!
We also enjoyed a few books about ice cream.
The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons is a great book that explains how ice cream is made and some history of it. It is the only one I found that actually was not just about factory made ice cream.

And of course, Curious George and the Ice Cream Surprise is always a favorite! 

 This is where I share...