Sharing Saturday 13-49

Thank you to everyone who shared last week and who visited the amazing ideas shared! If you have not had a chance to check them out yet, you really should. This week's party will last for two weeks. I have heard chatter of many taking a break between Christmas and New Year's Day. I will be doing features both weeks, so keep sharing!! We will not be taking a break, so I hope you will come check out Crafty Moms Share all week for lots of great ideas and a product review.

Fruit Christmas Trees

Need something to bring to a Christmas party, but want to make sure there is something not fattening and nutritious? Check out what I have done the past two nights for Hazel to bring to her school Christmas parties. My inspiration came from Pinterest. The original source of the pin is Ginger & Garlic: Edible Christmas Fruit Tree. These are relatively easy, but a  bit time consuming. They are made with a styrofoam cone and lots of toothpicks. I worked from the bottom up and you want to make sure you have plenty of green fruit to make it look like a Christmas tree. I definitely improved on my second one. 

First One
On the first one I tried to use larger star cookie cutters with the honeydew melons to make it look like a pine tree. It did not work well. I used my miniature cookie cutters to cut different shapes out to decorate the tree. I used my angel, gingerbread boy and girl and star on the first one. The fruit I used is green and red grapes, kiwi, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries and a star fruit (for the top). I wish I had splurged on the blueberries instead of the on sale raspberries. Oh, well. As I went on, I began to line the cone with the kiwi. On the second one this is the first thing I did.

Second One

On the second one I also added some pineapple. I also tried the Pop Chef that I have seen advertised on television. I thought it might work well for Hazel to make the tree with me. She was too tired after her Christmas Concert to make it with me yesterday afternoon, so I was on my own. I liked my metal cookie cutters better since I had more variety, but did like the little hearts it made. 

Second Tree

Anyway, I think these are the cutest things to bring to a party. They took me under 90 minutes each. I know my mother is thinking of making one to have out on Christmas Day. 

First Tree
Enjoy!! I hope you will stop by for Sharing Saturday later!

Winter Solstice

On Saturday winter begins where we live although with the weather this week, I think winter is already here. We have had two snowstorms since Saturday. Hazel has made her first snowman of the season! However the snow was a bit icy to make snow angels at least in the first storm. The second one she has not gotten to play as much since she got sick (after playing in the first snowstorm). We have been talking about the shorter days. Of course Hazel is trying to figure out what that means--are there less hours in the day?

Picture of Our Back Yard This Afternoon
To get ready for the first official day  of winter, I thought we would read some winter books and try a few crafts. After reading some winter books, Hazel decided we needed to make some paper snowflakes. This is one of her favorite things to do.

Then we read some more books. We went to the library and found a huge selection of winter books and here are some we got as well as some of our favorites from our own collection.

Although I keep explaining about there being less sunlight on the winter solstice, I am not sure Hazel gets the concept yet. I hoped some of these books would help her. The first two books in this collection are about multiple seasons. The third, Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer may sound confusing, however the story is told by a boy who explains how his world becomes warm (for example, hot chocolate instead of cold milk, pajamas with feet) because of the cold temperature outside.

We also had to look at some books about snow. After all that is the best and the worst part of winter.  Red Sled by Rita Judge and The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats are two of our favorite snowy/winter books.

Three of these books have activities and/or crafts in them. The top two are just about crafts and activities. It's Winter by Linda Glaser has some winter activities and explorations to do at the end of the story. It goes through what the animals are doing while it is cold outside. In the Seasonal Crafts series, Winter by Gillian Chapman has crafts for many holidays and events. The craft we decided to do was make construction paper finger puppets to go with stories that the Inuit women tell on winter nights to pass the time.

Now the Inuit people live in the Arctic. As we can imagine their winter days are long and dark.  To pass time they shared stories. Many were about the animals they lived with and ate: the caribou, the walrus and seals. Then of course there are stories about the sun, moon and the Aurora Borealis. The Inuit traditionally lived in igloos in the winter.

Iglu 1 1999-04-02
Source: By Ansgar Walk (photo taken by Ansgar Walk) [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
 How would you like to live in here for the winter?

Addition on the Winter Solstice: We read the best book for the winter solstice tonight. It is The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson. It goes through history on how the winter solstice was celebrated as well as giving an experiment to try to understand the seasons. I highly recommend checking this one out!!


Looking for more winter ideas check out:
Winter Solstice
Let It Snow! Winter Wonderland Tea Party
A Wonderful Winter Book: Red Sled
My Winter Pinterest Board

Glass Ball Christmas Ornaments--Ideas from Pinterest

I had a pack of six clear glass ball ornaments that I bought at some point. Before Hazel, I would make beach ornaments with sand and a few small rocks and shells to remember a trip to the beach, so I am guessing that is what I bought them for. I saw on Pinterest ages ago the melted crayon ornaments. I have no idea where I originally saw it since I can't find the pin, but here is one tutorial on Meet the Dubiens: Melted Crayon Ornaments. (I know this is not the tutorial I first saw since I remember the one I read saying to use low heat.) Now I have been saving some crayons--the ones from restaurants. I always keep a set in my purse just in case, however we go out enough that we have quite the collection of them. I wanted to try this, so I pulled these out the other day while Hazel was home sick. She became interested in it right away (even with the hair dryer that scares her. 

The idea is simple. Put pieces of the crayons in the glass ornament. Use the hair dryer to heat and melt the crayons and swirl them around as they melt. Have some oven mitts or thermal gloves handy, because your hands will get hot as does the ornament. I left the leftover pieces in there, but for the most part they melted completely.

A friend at church recently told me about the second kind of ornaments we made. You use Pledge floor cleaner and glitter. I did not have Pledge floor cleaner, but experimented with the ones I had. The pin my friend has was only a picture tutorial, so I googled it and found this one at The Ornament Girl. I am wishing I had read the tutorial first. I did not dump out the excess cleaner and now a couple of them seem to have a blob of glitter in them, but they still look pretty and Hazel LOVED making them.

We got creative with mixing the colors of glitter. The first one we did was a multicolor glitter, but after that it was Hazel choosing what to mix. She has asked me to buy more glass balls to make more of both types of ornaments. I am thinking maybe Christmas presents for next year. What do you think? Have you made anything that you saw at Pinterest yet? 

For more Christmas ornament ideas check out my Christmas Craft Round-up and my Christmas Pinterest Board.

Around the World in 12 Dishes: Jamaica

Congratulations to Natalie from Afterschool for Smarty Pants on winning my latest giveaway!

Today we are "traveling" to Jamaica with Around the World with 12 Dishes. As usual we have been exploring Jamaica with stories, books, music and food. We will be spending a little extra time in Jamaica since we are joining a wonderful group of Multicultural Kid Blogs to present Christmas in Different Lands and have chosen Christmas in Jamaica which we will post about on December 23rd! I hope you will come back to learn more about Christmas in Jamaica and a huge thank you to Sherika from Saturday Market in Jamaica who is helping me with my research and giving me some recipes to present this to you!!

Jamaica CIA map
Source: By Directorate of Intelligence, CIA [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jamaica is an island country in the Caribbean Sea. Christopher Columbus claimed it for the Spanish in 1494. When he arrived in Jamaica there was more than 200 villages of indigenous people living there. The indigenous people are the Taino and the Arawak.  The Taino still inhabited the island when the British took command in 1655.When the British took over, the Spanish colonists freed their slaves and left. The slaves joined the Taino in the mountains. The group was called the Maroons and they fought the British throughout the 18th century. Under British rule Jamaica became the world's largest sugar exporter as well as the largest slave-dependent country. After the abolition of slavery, the British brought in Indian and Chinese indentured servants to do the work. Their descendents still live there.
Doll my grandparents brought me from their trip to Jamaica

In the beginning of the 19th century the ratio of black people to white people in Jamaica was 20 to 1. Jamaica gained its independence in 1962. It is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is the ruling monarch and head of state. Her appointed representative in the country is the Governor-General of Jamaica, currently Sir Patrick Allen.

The climate in Jamaica is tropical. The official language is English. However Jamaicans speak an English-African Creole language known as Jamaican Patois. Reggae music originated in Jamaica along with some other types. Reggae music helped spread knowledge of Jamaican Patois.
A bowl of our sweet potato pone

Ok, now onto our recipe. We made Sweet Potato Pone. The book, Cooking the Caribbean Way by Cheryl Davidson Kaufman said it was a popular dish for Christmas morning, but all the references I have seen on-line say it is a favorite dessert. I, of course, returned the book  by mistake before making it, so we used a recipe I found on-line at Real Jamaican Vacations.

Sweet Potato Pone
1 lb sweet potato, grated (this is about one large sweet potato)
1 cup flour (we used gluten-free)
1 cup evaporated milk
2 cups coconut milk (we used canned)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup grated coconut
1 cup raisins
2 tbsp margarine

Combine sweet potato with milk, sugar, flour and spices. Mix well. Add raisins, coconut and margarine. Mix thoroughly and taste for sweetness. Add more sugar to taste. Pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 370F for approximately 1 hour, or until center is set.It took 70 minutes for us.

At first we tried shredding our sweet potato. However after we mixed it all together, I realized it need to be finer. At this point Hazel had lost interest (well more like lost energy due to being sick), so I put it back in the food processor all mixed together and got it more grated instead of shredded. This seemed to do the trick. Hazel helped peel the sweet potato and shred it. Then she helped measure (including packing the brown sugar down) and stir it all together. We had to pretend we worked in a restaurant which apparently needs new employees since she kept going off to talk to the ones not doing their jobs. Oh, the imagination of an almost five-year-old. Hazel said she liked the pone, but did not eat much of it. Of course she didn't eat much of anything that day since she was sick. Steve and I both liked it a lot.

Here are the books we used to look at recipes, crafts and more.

Then we enjoyed stories from these books. Hazel especially liked the Anansi stories. It is funny the difference a year makes. She did not like the Annasi stories when we read some of them from Africa.

Finally we found some Jamaican music to enjoy on these CD's. Much of the music is reggae or calypso, but it is fun music!

For some more Jamaican recipes stop by on December 23rd and check out these great posts. If you have a Jamaican recipe to share, please link it up. Also you can get the Jamaican passport pages and placemat. Plus join us next month as we "travel" to Peru!

Make sure you check out: