Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetables. Show all posts

Do You Know? Farm: Animals, Work, and Life -- Nonfiction Children's Book Review


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

As spring approaches, I begin to think about my garden. I also am noticing some life at the farm stores and nurseries. I am lucky to have a local farm that grows all year long in greenhouses that I frequent. (It helps that I'm friends with the owners so sometimes I'm there to visit.) Today I am sharing a book recommended for ages 5 and up about farms. It is Do You Know? Farm: Animals, Work, and Life by Camille Babeau and illustrated by Charlotte Ameling, Helene Convert, Ilaria Falorsi, and Camille Roy. It is being released tomorrow.

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. 

Green Kids Cook -- Kids' Cookbook Review in honor of National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Happy National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day! Do you let your kids take over your kitchen or do you have them cook beside you? Hazel takes over the kitchen when baking but when cooking she usually still needs my help. Since it is a national holiday it seems the perfect time to share with you a new children's cookbook! The book is Green Kids Cook:Simple Delicious Recipes & Top Tips by Jenny Chandler. It is recommended for ages 7 to 14 or with adult supervision for younger kid. This book provides healthy recipes, promotes eating more vegetables and also has information about being green as well as some green craft projects.

Christmas Coloring & Crafting & Creative Play -- a Crafty Weekends Review & Link Party

Disclosure: I was sent these products free of charge. All opinions in my review are my own and I did not receive any other compensation. As always I am providing links to the book for your convenience.

I have not been posting as much the past week or so between the holiday, spending time with family and fighting the horrible cold. As a result I am going to share two books with you today. One is for adults and the other is for kids (and is definitely going to be on my great gifts of the year list!!). We will start with the first book which I was planning on reviewing for Relaxing Friday, however it didn't happen. The book is Johanna's Christmas by Johanna Basford. Her coloring books are among the top ones. Over the summer I had the pleasure of sharing her Magical Jungle with you. 

Spring, Flowers and Wildlife

Now one of my favorite types of days is where you do not have to worry about getting somewhere by a certain time, so when you open your garage door and see a turkey, you can take the time to try to see it and get a picture of it--oh, and of course try to feed it. Yesterday was one of those days and yes, when I opened my garage door there was a turkey right there. Hazel and I tried to get a good look at it, but it ran away. We left it some cracked corn, but it was a few houses away by then and I do not think it came back.
Then today after I picked Hazel up from school, we ran to AC Moore for some craft supplies and stopped at KMart for some plants. It was unusually warm here in Massachusetts (20 degrees higher than average) so we spent the afternoon outside. Hazel could not wait to plant some flowers.
We bought an English daisy and three six-packs of pansies. We also bought some lettuce, sugar snap peas, basil and some tomato plants (which we will keep inside for another couple of months). 
Doing the Gardener Dance
Hazel planted the pansies with a little help from me, but actually did most of it herself!
We decided to plant some in a pot on the front steps and some around a tree in the front. Then Hazel also planted some in her garden (my old garden that we are letting her play in). I planted the vegetables there as well since Daddy hasn't dug me my new garden yet. 

While planting in the back we had a sure sign of spring. Our ducks returned. They came up looking for food, but when we moved to get them some, they flew back in the water.
We threw some of the cracked corn into the water for them. Then after dinner I looked out and saw two males. Now we had this problem last year. Some other male comes and attacks the female trying to mate with her. Her mate does his best to chase him away, but it can takes days until he leaves them alone. Anyway, I went out to see what was going on. The extra male flew away, but he started flying circles as I kept seeing him come back. I think he was checking to see if I was gone yet. Then he landed back in the water and went after the female. She kept trying to hide in the tunnel (the creek goes underground on our property), but he followed her. Her mate chased him out and down the creek by the bend where their nest is. She came out and I stood very still waiting to make sure she was safe. She must have decided I was safer than the water, because she came up and sat about 7 feet from me. I stayed for awhile and then slowly moved far around her to check on the males. The attacking male flew away and her mate same down to where she was and came up. They stayed there for quite some time. It looked like she was sleeping some of the time and he was guarding her.
The last time I looked out, they were gone--I'm guessing back to their nest. All I cared about was they were safe and she was not being attacked/raped. (I know it is natural for ducks, but I don't think the female should be attacked when she doesn't want to be with him and she is happy with her mate.) So that was our duck drama and our fun day outside! Tonight the rain will come and bring the temperatures down again, but at least we got one day outside in the warmth.

Virtual Book Club for Kids--Lois Ehlert

Just a reminder that Sharing Saturday is still open! Share your CHILD-oriented crafts and activities with us! And I have a great GIVEAWAY going on for you to enter! Our multicultural post will be shared later in the week due to the Book Club for Kids!

The Virtual Book Club for Kids is a wonderful group of blogs that choose an author each month and share an activity and/or craft to go with a book by that author. Then we host a blog hop so you can share as well. The blogs hosting this great time are:

This month the author  is Lois Ehlert. This week we are sharing about Growing Vegetable Soup. I will start by saying I chose this book because of the many things we could share with the Moms Fighting Hunger Group. So yes, I'm sort of double dipping here.

For those that do not know, September is National Hunger Month here in the United States. A group of bloggers, moms, dads, anyone have joined together to help fight hunger and help advertise No Kid Hungry campaign of Share Our Strength. And this week is their Dine Out for No Kid Hungry where restaurants across the U.S.A. have special events going on to donate money to the campaign. For participating restaurants near you check out the map here.

So now onto our book and activities. This book is literally about a family planting, taking care of and harvesting vegetables and then making soup. Very simple premise. So for our first activity, we planted plants and seeds. However we did not do so well on the taking care of the garden aspect. However Hazel did plant some seeds and plants with my father in his garden since we did not have enough space in ours for everything she wanted to grow. He did a great job of taking care of it, so we harvested some of his vegetables for our soup. Then my mother and I went to the local produce place and bought the rest of what we needed. In the gardening pictures you can see green peppers, Swiss chard, tomato, cabbage and celery.

 We came home and made vegetable soup with all of our ingredients. Now at Cape Cod the temperatures had been just around 70 if not lower, but when we got home it was 80. Not my ideal soup weather, but Hazel had it in her head and really wanted to make it and I knew this is what I wanted to do for this post.
Hazel helped me chop the vegetables. She chopped the zucchini, green beans, and carrots. I chopped the potatoes, celery, pepper, tomatoes, corn (off the cob), onion, garlic, and broccoli. Since we are not big cabbage fans, we did not put it in. We threw everything (except the corn and frozen peas) into our big soup pot and added a few quarts of vegetable stock and a bit of spices (rosemary and thyme) and let it cook. I had to go out around dinner time and left instructions with Steve to add the corn and peas about 10 minutes before eating. When I came home he was microwaving the corn and peas. He didn't quite get what I meant. Oh, well. The soup was yummy!! Oh, we also did put a little ground turkey breast in just to give us some more protein. Then I got to thinking about the nutrition of food that the hungry eat. Since it is so hard to buy nutritious food for small amounts of money, wouldn't it be great to give vegetable soup or its makings to a food pantry or soup kitchen. The next time I was at the grocery store I bought some cans of soup and some cans of vegetables (now personally I don't like most canned vegetables, but at least they would be nutritious and not spoil) and another quart of the vegetable stock. I am going to donate all of it to the food pantry in my town. I'm also going to ask you to go buy a can of vegetable soup or of a vegetable and donate it to your local food pantry or organization that feeds the hungry in your area. I hope you will join me in this fight of hunger in our local towns!!

On a side note, I would like to share something my Weight Watcher leader told me. I asked her to advertise the Dine Out campaign and she told me that some of her members teach in a local school system (a city next to our town) and they have seen kids digging through the trash at the end of lunch to have food to bring home for after school. It is so sad and heartbreaking. We are all so worried about the third world countries we seem to forget about the hungry in our neighborhoods.

Now my next thought was where do I want to donate this food. My church is always collecting food for an organization called Haven From Hunger. But I wanted to do something besides just drop off the two bags of cans I bought. I got to thinking and went to my local library. Now the children's librarian knows Hazel and me well. I asked her if we could organize a can drive story time where she picks books about hunger and/or food (depending on age appropriateness) and advertise that the children must bring a can of food to attend. She jumped right on board with me as long as we could postpone it to the first week in October since her September calendar was already set and we could advertise better for October. Now every Tuesday she has two scheduled story times, a 2-year-old one and a 3-5-year-old one. She added for October 2 an afterschool one to get older kids and kids who may be busy during the day. So she is going to plan three story times and ask for cans for our local food pantry in our town. This is where I'm going to donate my cans and I will take all that she collects to the local food pantry. Plus I spoke to the local newspaper editor about advertising it for us and he told me to call when we have it all set because he is happy to do it.

So I was trying to think how I could help even more with the story times and was thinking about stories for the younger kids. I thought of Stone Soup. I mentioned it to the librarian and then volunteered to make ingredient stones (like my story stones) for the story time. She can give each child a stone and have a big pot so they can participate in the story.

This idea also works with Growing Vegetable Soup. You just would need vegetable stickers or to paint your vegetables. Then the child could make vegetable soup with his/her stones. Now I am not a very good painter, so I used stickers. It took me forever to find vegetable stickers, but I found some at AC Moore. I stuck them onto rocks and Mod Podge over them to seal them. For the ingredients in the book and not on the stickers, I did my best to paint a picture of them and also wrote the name on the rock. Then sealed them. I know the kids will love this activity with the story time. Plus it is s a fun way to play with vegetables and nutritious food!

Now it is your turn to share!! If you have a new or old post about an activity to do with a Lois Ehlert book, please share below and grab the button and code if you would like to help us advertise! (FYI, the blog hop goes live at midnight!!) Also please make sure you visit the other blogs that are hosting to see what they have created with the various Lois Ehlert books! (Plus next Monday we will share another project to go with a different book!)


Hazel Cooks Pancit --Inspired by Readathon 2012

As I mentioned yesterday this week's theme for the Readathon at Memetales is Global Culture. One of the books that is free this week is Cora Cooks Pancit by Dorina Lazo Gilmore. Well, after reading it we were inspired to try to make pancit.

Back to our post. Cora is a young child with three older sisters and an older brother. Since she is the youngest she does not get to help with the cooking, but cannot wait to get her chance. One day all of her siblings go out and she asks her mother to teach her how to cook. She gets to do the jobs her older siblings usually each do when they make pancit--one of her favorite Filipino meals. In the story Cora gets to soak the rice noodles, test the noodles for softness, shred the chicken and stir in the noodles.

Pasta Salad & Egg Shells

Our Dinner
Hazel and I made some pasta salad last night. This is a fun recipe since Hazel can chop most of the vegetables we like in it. I love having it since it makes such a great lunch afterwards. I cooked up a pound of whole wheat fusilli pasta (I love Trader Joe's brand) and let it cool. I prepared the vegetables for Hazel. 

She chopped zucchini, red pepper, carrots, and cucumbers. I also chopped celery (her chopper isn't quite sharp enough to deal with the strings), grape tomatoes, snap peas and fresh oregano. 

Then we add the juice of one lemon and some olive oil and some feta cheese (I use the fat free version) and a little ground pepper. Then mix it all together! You get a yummy dish either a side or main dish which is perfect for the hot weather! We had it last night with chicken breasts (and I have been known to cut up the chicken and put it right into the pasta salad as well). One of my favorite things about this recipe is you can use the vegetables you and your family like or whatever you need to use up in your refrigerator.
Another fun craft we did recently was egg shell mosaics. I saved the shells from the first dozen eggs I bought at Drumlin Farm. Hazel has been asking to make Easter eggs again. We have some Easter egg dyes floating around so I figured we could make an Easter egg mosaic. I know I saw someone's on-line, but cannot remember where I saw it now. Sorry!! (If you know, please let me know!!)

We of course started by dyeing the egg shells--well at least the white and brown egg shells. We left the blue ones blue. This of course was very exciting to Hazel and she managed to make a huge mess spilling dye everywhere twice. I did my best not to lose my patience, but was not completely successful.

Shells Drying

Then once the shells were dry we took them outside with some paper and glue. I put glue down in the shape of a flower and Hazel wanted a sun on it so I added that. Then we started breaking the egg shells and putting them on.
Then Hazel added some glue to be grass and something else.
Then she finished it up. She enjoyed this activity but her favorite part was dyeing the eggs. It did not come out as neat as I had seen on-line, but again she is three and I let her do what she wants.

Gardening Blog Hop

Patio garden with vegetable garden in background
We spent a good part of last weekend outside in our gardens. One of the major issues we have in our yard is that we do not have great sun in the back yard. My vegetable garden was slowly being shaded by the trees, so Steve dug me some more space in the other direction so we could plant all of our seedlings and seeds (which Hazel chose). This garden has been taken over by raspberries and oregano. I pulled most of the raspberries out because they need too much space for the room we have and I always am pulling out the oregano, but it keeps coming back. In fact it even managed to spread over to the patio garden! Not sure how that happened.
Steve extending my vegetable garden
While Steve dug my extension, Hazel and I tackled the weeds in the patio garden. We had really let them go and since they had flowers we left them there, but they were taking over so it was time. Hazel was a great helper. She brought over her little wagon and helped pull a few, but since I kept filling the wagon she kept taking it to empty it for me.

After having lunch outside, Steve went on to dig Hazel's sunflower garden. This garden will hopefully be a sunflower house this year for Hazel. Next year we may pick a different theme like a pizza garden. These ideas came from Sharon Lovejoy's Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots: Activities To Do in the Garden. For some of the other books we have been using as a reference check out this post.
Sunflower Garden

For now we left the center of our sunflower garden grass so it will be more comfortable as a sunflower house.

While Steve started on the sunflower garden, Hazel and I started planting our seedlings. (See Post 1, Post 2, and Post 3 for previous mention of these seedlings.) Hazel wanted to start with the patio garden, but grew bored and went off to play while I planted some of our marigold seedlings and seeds.
Patio Garden
Fairy in Our Patio Garden

Simba's Memorial

She got interested in our garden again when it was time to plant the pumpkins, watermelon and zucchini in our vegetable patch. We also planted some marigolds around the edge to keep the pests out. We are trying one of those Topsy Turvy things for a tomato plant since our tomatos have not done well in our garden. We put it over near the sunflower garden since it gets the most sun in our back yard.

Then we ended our day planting the sunflower seedlings and seeds around the giant circle that Daddy dug. You can see the picture above. What are you growing this year?

Now it is your turn to share with us! 
I have been invited to co-host a blog hop on gardening with
Please visit my co-hosts and check out their wonderful garden posts as well!!
This is a blog hop. Please join us as we know Crafty Moms Always Share!!

Natural Dyeing Part 3

Ok, this is really from my second day of experimenting with dyes and techniques, but it is the third post since I already posted Day 1 and Day 3. On this day we did some experimenting. I tried to make the process easier and a bit more kid friendly. I made a crucial mistake though. I did not pre-soak in the mordant. My colors washed away much more and are not as deep as they could be.
Celery Leaves
We started with Hazel chopping some celery leaves. We were hoping to get some green yarn. Unfortunately, it did not seem to work for us. I don't know if the pre-soak would have affected it or not. Half way through the day I added baby spinach with more vinegar and water, but it still didn't do anything. I actually re-dyed this yarn on Day 3. My new method is to put the chopped vegetable, fruit, flower in the jar with the mordant and then add boiling water. This way I did not have to use the stove (I have an electric tea kettle) and Hazel could help more.
Purple Cabbage

The next experiment was really neat. I had read on Poppytalk (which I found through Pineterest) that using vinegar or salt with red cabbage gave different colors. (She does a neat table runner with natural dyed fabrics--I definitely want to try this at some point!) I wanted to try this. This is actually why I didn't pre-soak. I wasn't sure what to do with the salt at the time. Now I have found recipes on how to do it (on Pioneer Thinking). And the neat thing is I was telling a family I tutor for about the experiment and the student I work with said, "Oh, I know why. We just learned this in chemistry class." She was so excited to see a real life application of it. It has to do with the pH of red cabbage. For more information to use as a lesson or possible understand yourself check out this explanation on (plus it is really a neat science experiment there).
Purple Cabbage 1) Salt Mordant 2) Vinegar Mordant
 Look at the different colors you can get with purple cabbage!! I was so amazed. (It might be worth it to try making the green with the ammonia as the mordant. I just don't know if it will work on wool.)
1) Purple Cabbage with Vinegar, 2) Purple Cabbage with Salt, 3) Celery Leaves/Spinach
Since I did not pre-soak with a mordant, I rinsed with a mordant or should I say post-soaked in a mordant. I do not recommend doing it this way. It is definitely worth taking the 20 minutes to pre-soak. Please learn from my mistake!!
Same order as picture above with original colored skein on top.
As you can see the celery leaves and spinach did not change the color for us. Oh, well. Day 3, I had more success with this skein. Hazel had asked to dye some blue, so I'm glad the purple cabbage and salt worked. Next time I will definitely pre-soak though!! My hopes is for a rainbow sweater for Hazel from all this great yarn! When we went back to Drumlin Farm this week I bought two more skeins. I may retry the red cabbage with pre-soaking and I may buy a good natural green dye since none of my experiments worked.

This is where I share...