2015
Oct 26

Kitty Litter Cake

by Hannah Holt »

7 comments


This attention grabbing Halloween cake is deceptively delicious. If you’re brave enough to serve yourself a scoop, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Kitty Litter Cake

Kitty Litter Cake

18.5 oz spice cake mix (flavor optional, choose your favorite)

2 5.1 oz packages instant vanilla pudding 

12 oz vanilla wafer cookies, crushed (a blender works well)

6 to 10 Tootsie Rolls

1 kitty litter pan (new!)

1 plastic pooper scooper (new, too!)

green food coloring

  1. Prepare the cake and pudding according to package directions. Add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 cup of the cookie crumbs and set the rest of the cookie crumbs aside.

  2. Crumble half of the baked cake into the kitty litter pan. Spread half of the pudding over this layer.

  3. Add the rest of the cake on top of the pudding and cover with the remaining pudding.

  4. Sprinkle the non-colored cookie crumbs into the pan with the cake/pudding mix.

  5. Soften the Tootsie Rolls by placing in the microwave for 10 seconds on high and shape to resemble cat scat. Arrange the Tootsie Rolls on the cookie-pudding cake mixture.

  6. Sprinkle all with the green cookie crumbs. Serve with pooper scooper.


2015
Jun 05

Building Forts with Plants

by Hannah Holt »

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Forts are my favorite.

I loved building elaborate blanket forts as a kid, and I still like hiding away in nooks to read a book–when my kids let me.

This year we’ve been visiting historic forts in the Pacific NW, like Fort Stevens

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and Fort Vancouver.

Elena and Josh Ft Vanc

While we were at Fort Vancouver this weekend, I noticed something cool in their vegetable garden. They grow their beans on birch tepees.

bean fort bare

bean fort1

Wouldn’t that make the perfect summer fort for a four-year-old?

In May, I started a corn fort:

corn fort

It’s basically the world’s easiest corn maze: the corn is laid out in a rectangle with one end open for a door. By August, the plants should be high enough to create a nice little hiding place. I’m thinking about putting a chair in the closed off end.

I also tied together some sticks and made a mini-cucumber fort in my garden boxes. But this one is more of a fort for lettuce than children. I’m hoping when the summer gets nice and hot for cucumbers, it doesn’t scorch my lettuce.

cucmber fort

 

Forts could also be made by planting tall flowers like sunflowers or hollyhocks in a circle. Just make sure you leave room for a door.

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Plant forts are the perfect summer escape–right in your backyard!


2015
Apr 08

The Incredible Edible Yard

by Hannah Holt »

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite books growing up. I loved cheering for Charlie as he came out ahead of the obnoxious Varuca Salt (et al). But most of all, I wanted to float down that chocolate river.

Charliechocolate

Unfortunately, I grew up and realized a chocolate river would lead to all kinds of trouble: ants, carpet cleaning nightmares, a happy but untimely death…

In lieu of the chocolate river, I’ve opted for the highly snackible yard. Wherever possible, I plant edible bushes and flowers. It’s more healthful than my childhood dream but still delicious. Here’s how it came about.

Last year we moved to a house with almost zero landscaping:

astro turf yard

That green you see is astro-turf. Pretty sweet. Right?

Okay. No.

I live in a temperate rain forest for crying out loud. I knew we could do better.

Flowers

I started with flowers because they are relatively easy and beautiful. I chose…

cone flower

  • cone flowers
  • lavender
  • sage
  • parsley
  • day lilies (Warning: many types of lilies are poisonous. Always research plants thoroughly before eating. FYI, day lilies taste like cucumbers and make a colorful addition to salads.)

Trees

  • apple
  • fig

(Note: many fruiting trees and bushes require more than one variety to produce fruit. However, some are self-fertile.)

Bushes

  • blueberry
  • rosemary
  • honeyberry

Honeyberry is a new bush for us. They are ripening now and should be ready by June. Fingers crossed that we don’t hate them.

Vines

  • raspberries
  • kiwi

We haven’t planted the kiwis yet because it involves building a rather large trellis system. Last year our huge project was this rock wall:

Wall beginnings

Building it made us very tired. One big thing at a time–kiwis are my wish list for next year.

Ground Cover

creeping thyme

  • creeping thyme
  • strawberries

We also have a wood chip and grass play areas for the kids, and a vegetable garden plot. Not every section of our yard was completely guided by the plant-to-eat philosophy. However, it’s possible to make landscaping choices that are decorative and delectable.

All this on one-tenth of an acre.

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(This picture is from last summer before most of the perennials had grown in. I’ll try to update later this year with the second year’s growth.)


2014
Oct 28

Apple Recipe Round Up

by Hannah Holt »

one comment


I keep buying huge crates of apples. I can’t help it. They are super cheap this time of year and absolutely delicious! How can I resist?

Well, I’ve processed over one hundred pounds of apples over the last few weeks. I’d like to share some of my favorite recipes!

1. Apples chips

Apple Chips

What you need:

-apples (we used Jonagold, but I bet any baking apple would do)
-a cookie sheet
-cooking spray or parchment paper
-a sharp cutting knife
 

Directions: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. De-stem and core the apples. Slices them about the width of a quarter. (You can cut them thicker but it’ll take more time to dry that way.) Lay them in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper. Place them in the preheated oven for 4-6 hours, or until dry and crisp.

Tip: don’t have 4-6 hours to hang around the house while they dry? Cook them for 2-3 hours during an evening and then turn the heat off and let them rest in the oven over night. If they aren’t quite dry in the morning, cook them for another hour of so.

2. Slow-Cooker Applesauce

Crock Pot Apple Sauce

What you need:

-apples (we used Jonagold, but a mix of baking apples would be delicious)
-a slow cooker
-a sharp cutting knife

Directions: Peal the apples, core them, and slice them into pieces. (Some people prefer to leave the skin on…that’s fine, but I recommend at least removing the cores and stems. Because unless you have a Victorio Strainer you will have a lot of “texture” in your apples sauce. Crunch, crunch). Cook the apples on low for 8-10 hours. You might want to stir them occasionally the last few hours to keep them from sticking, but that’s pretty much it. The apples will be so soft that you can stir them into a mush pretty easily. Add cinnamon for more YUM!

I’ve used up most of my apples on the healthier fare above, but no apple post would be complete without diving into dessert!

Here’s a round up of some of our favorite apples desserts…

These cinnamon apple rings look divine.

You can’t go wrong with apple crumb cake.

If the words easy apple cream cheese pastry sound good, try this recipe.

Of course, apple pie has to make the list! Here’s a great crust recipe. And here’s for the pie filling.

As the German’s say, “Mahl zeit!”


2014
Mar 13

Butterfly Life Cycle Poems & Coloring Page

by Hannah Holt »

2 comments


Butterfly Life Cycle promo

Last year, my kids wanted to raise a wild caterpillar. We named him Greenie:

img_6708

He’s that small sticky looking thing next to the apple leaf. We did lots of research, and we tried to make a good go of it. But it turns out we stink at raising caterpillars. R.I.P. Greenie.

Maybe sometime in the future we’ll order a premade kit and have better luck. For now, we’ll stick to the lesson we learned: wild things should be kept in the wild.

We did enjoy learning about butterflies, and I wrote a set of poems about the life cycle of butterflies. I’d like to dedicate them to Greenie (there’s a coloring page at the end!):

-THE BUTTERFLY SUITE-

Monarch’s Nursery

With a leaf for a crib
and no nanny to beg,
so begins life
as a butterfly egg.

 

Dining Hall

 The sleepy little caterpillar loves to munch and munch,
laying on his underside for breakfast, brunch, and lunch.
Shedding skin that feels too thin, he eats leaves with a crunch.
The growing bigger caterpillar loves to munch and munch.

 

Dressing Chambers

 Pupa, pupa changing quick,
hanging underneath your stick.
First you’re green and then you’re brown,
trading kid-clothes for a gown.
 

 The Ballroom

 They twirl and glide, this dancing pair.
Then dip a curtsy in midair.
Waltzing wind, they flutter by…
I wish I were a butterfly.
 

And here’s a butterfly life cycle coloring page:

Butterfly Life Cycle Coloring

Here’s a pdf copy: Butterfly Life Cycle Coloring Page.

And here’s a color version with answers: Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle.