Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Freeze Fresh Strawberries

This is the perfect time of year to visit a strawberry farm and pick some fresh juicy strawberries. We did that last weekend in Wisconsin and got way more strawberries than we could eat in one week. So the best way for me to preserve the strawberries is to freeze them. Here is a quick guide to easily freeze your batch.

First wash your strawberries in cool water...

...then drain them and let them dry. If you leave the water on, it will freeze and you will have chunks of ice hanging off of your strawberries. 

Lay them out on a cookie sheet and place them in a deep freezer. This way they will not stick together and it will be easier to take them out when you want to use them for shakes or pies. If you have only a fridge freezer you might have to place them on smaller sheets/dishes. I freeze whole strawberries with the stem for smoothies because the greens add extra vitamins to the drink! Especially if you have organic, pesticide free strawberries, save those greens!

After a whole day in a freezer...

I freeze half strawberries to use later in pies... use the same method just remove the greens and cut them in half before putting them into your freezer.

After you pull them out of the freezer, place them right away into a ziplock bag and label it with the date. Return the bag to the freezer immediately so the strawberries don't thaw and start sticking together.

I love having frozen strawberries at hand daily and especially when I know where they came from!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

FROZEN movie Trash Can Makeover

We have been all wrapped up in the Frozen movie frenzy around here thanks to our little girl! Since her room is up for a paint job this summer, she wants to go all out - Frozen room make over... We are on a budget for sure (and it's a pretty tight one), so we have to make some things out of what we already have. Keep reading to see how we made this very Frozen trash can...

You will need:

Sheet to protect surroundings
sanding paper/sanding machine
Spray paint - PRIMER
Spray paint - ISLAND SPLASH satin finish
Snowflake stencils
Painter tape
White acrylic paint
Sponge or paint brush

This is the original wooden trash can that I bought long time ago at HomeGoods.

First, we laid out a sheet to protect our surroundings from spray paint. Then we sanded the trash can so the paint seeps in nicely. It doesn't look much different but it feels more rough. Wipe the dust left from sanding.

Because the original trash can had design on it, I had to cover it with primer first. Let it dry and then spray paint with the blue color.

You can see the design seeping through on the picture below (see blue side), where I did not use the primer. The primer covered it beautifully. 

Here the trash can is all blue and dry.

I am going for an imperfect look so I sanded it a bit down. There were some paint drops left as well and sanding them took care of it. I sanded the edges down to the wood in some spots as well.

Wipe the trash can down from all the dust and you are ready for the snowflake stencils. I tape the sheet down so it doesn't move easily.

Put a tiny bit amount of white paint on the sponge brush and start dabbing it all over the snowflake, gently so you don't move the stencil. Don't use too much paint, as that might drip under the the plastic and create more of a mess than a snowflake. This little girl is doing a great job helping with the whole project (wearing appropriate dress for the occasion).

They turned out great! Repeat this on all sides if you wish...

After examining the finished product, we decided that the trash can doesn't look Frozen enough... so we added some icicles. Using the same brush I gently applied some white paint to the top edge. You might want to try it out on a paper first, to see the kind of strokes and pressure you should apply.

Definitely feels chillier now ;-)

I noticed the blue color on my photographs changes with the light, so to clarify, the color looks just like the first picture of my post.

Good luck on your project and come back in couple weeks to see the whole room makeover! In the mean time, keep cool! :-)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Meatless Friday - Dumplings

Weeks just fly by lately and here is another Meatless Friday Linky Party. Link up if you have some recipes to share... This time I am sharing my grandma's dumpling recipe - yum!

You will need:

1 bag Instant Yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup of warm water
5 1/2 cups of Wondra flour (or Polish Wheat Flour (Krupczatka) or Czech "Polohruba mouka")
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk

clean cloth
(I have a clean cloth that I use for boiling dumplings only. Please keep it separate, hand wash and air dry it. This way it will also stay fragrance free and it will not give your dumplings extra scent)

First I make the yeast base. Pour bag of yeast, granulated sugar and warm water into a bowl and place in a warm spot to let it rise.

During this time, pour the flour into a bowl and add salt.

You can't use all purpose flour for this but luckily you don't need an European store around to make this recipe. I found Wondra in regular grocery store that works as well! This one is the Polish kind...

In about 20-30 minutes the yeast base should look something like this...

...and that is when you could add it to the flour and salt mix.

Add eggs and milk. Pour the milk slowly and don't add the whole thing right away. Chances are you will not need it all. And it is easier to add then take away...

Mix the dough carefully until you end up with something like this. Cover it and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size (it might take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depends on the temperature and the dough consistency) 

It should look something like this...

Take the dough out and cut into 2 or 4 pieces. Depends on how big you want your dumplings to be. (My camera battery died so I had to use the phone camera from now on ;-) At this time you could start boiling your water in a large pot.

Now roll the dough pieces. I made 4 smaler rolls.

Use a cloth to keep the dumplings from falling apart in the water during boiling. Boil them for about 12 minutes.

Here I am showing you what happens if you don't use the cloth...

If you don't use the cloth, the dumpling will not hold together neatly, however it will be fine to eat.

My mom taught me how to cut the dumplings using thread. You have to do it while they are still hot, right out of the water. Place them on the counter, slide the thread under, pull up the ends, cross them on top, and pull till the whole dumpling gets cut. This way you will get straight cut dumplings. Knife usually sticks to them and gets them misshaped. 

We enjoy them with white sauce and meat balls!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Using the World Cup as a Learning Tool

There is one thing I am certain of when it comes to educating kids. You focus their study around something they are interested in and they will be more eager to learn then any other time. I see that in my house all the time. When we are doing math worksheets while sitting at the table, everyone is falling apart... but if I add some LEGO bricks or Barbie shoes into the equation, they are hooked and have the best time. So why not use some major events, that has us all excited, to our advantage? The Olympic Games, Indy 500, Tour De France... or in this case The World Cup!!!!!! My son is into soccer so I thought of this quick and easy set up to teach him more about geography of the World and the game itself. I hope this helps... and I am sorry about the pictures, the display is under the window and the light is making a mess out of the photographs giving them a glare and a smudge... 

You will need 

a World map

I bought the World map poster in Hobby Lobby for $5 on sale. (I think it might stay in the room even after the competition is over.) We attached it to the wall on the kids' eye level so they can easily read the names of the countries. (You might have a map in your school room already or you might be using one as a decor in your house.)

After that we looked up the schedule for all the games and printed it out. 

Then I helped the kids make their sign. 

We measured, cut, drew, and colored....

... hard at work

I love our colorful sign!

And now all we need are the flags of each country that qualified for the World Cup. Let me tell you I was so so happy (and I mean close to doing cartwheels happy - because that way I didn't have to come up with it myself) when I found this website with bunch of free printable worksheets about World Cup for kids. I printed all possible worksheets that will be attractive to the kids - word puzzles, word search, coloring pages, acrostic poems, jersey matching etc... I mean there is ton of them, go check it out...
I printed the sheet with flags, we cut them out and to save on laminating, I just used tape to make them durable. 
Lay the tape out and place the cut out cards on top of it...

...then just fold the tape over and cut it up.

 We looked up all the teams and placed the flags on top of the correct countries, (well, Europe was a bit tricky ;-)) using tacky putty for easy removal.  This gave us review of Continents and the Cardinal Points.

Kids had fun with it already and so now I am trying to come up with more interactive options. For example we will move a flag of the country that will be sent home... until we end up with the winner of the whole Cup. Then we will study a bit more about that country. We will also match famous players to their teams...

Any other ideas you have???? Please, leave a comment below. Thank you for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DIY - Repurpose a Vintage Wooden Box

I know you flea market people wonder where did I ever get such an awesome looking vintage wooden box... and for free! (well almost) To make the story short, after a long time looking for the perfect size, there was this one sitting in my husband's uncle's garage and no one wanted to deal with it. Perfect! All I had to do was knit his cousin a hat - no problem for a knitter right ;-) (yup, bartering system which I use often with my knitting ;-)

So here it is in all it's beauty! 

It had little bit of rust on the metal parts and splinters were poking out of the wood all over and it was messy on the inside.

So I wiped it with a rag and used sanding machine to make it nice and smooth.

I was trying to be careful around the lettering. 

And now came the fun part! Painting the beauty... Since I wanted to use it as my son's library book box, I needed it to be red to match his room decor. I had no idea how this would turn out but I went for this spray paint. I did it all outside and it needed only one coat.

And here it is! The final result.

This is how it looks in his room...

It turned out so much better than I expected! It adds a little retro touch to his room...

And it fits the large amount of books we get from the library every three weeks. Perfect!