Jun 11

Strawberry Fruit Leather (No Added Sugar)

by Hannah Holt »

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I might have been a little over zealous with berry picking on Saturday…

straw fresh

It turns out 40 lbs of strawberries is a lot. I know, duh. But seriously, I made jam and froze berries and the kids ate more fresh berries than a digestive system really should have.

And yet, I still had gobs and gobs of berries. At eleven at night I was out of freezer space, so I started pureeing it by the bucket-load.

What can you do with berries when you have no more fridge or freezer space?

Make fruit leather, of course!

strawberry leather steps


Here’s the recipe I used. It’s sort of a choose your own adventure recipe depending on how sweet you want it. Let’s just say making fruit leather is not an exact science. Everything is plus or minus 20 minutes, but this will get you in the ball park…

Strawberry Leather

  • 3 cups pureed strawberries (about 1.5 pounds)
  • (You can sweeten it with up to 1 cup of sugar for super-sweet, but if your berries are really ripe you won’t need it. Also adding sugar, will increase the cooking time…and your dental bills.)

Step 1: Strain the pureed berries through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.

Step 2: In a thick bottomed sauce pan, bring the berries to a low boil over medium low heat. Then simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 50 minutes. (The mixture will be thick enough to mound slightly at the end.)

Step 3: Preheat oven to 200ºF and line a 15×10-inch pan with parchment paper.

Step 4: Pour the thickened puree into the prepared pan and spread as evenly as possibly.

Step 5: Dry the puree in the oven until it feels sticky but will not stick to your finger (about 2 hours). Or you may cook it for 90 minutes and the turn to oven off and leave it in there over night. If you choose not to leave it in the oven overnight you will need to let the dried puree cool on the counter for at least 3 hours before eating it.

Step 6: Using kitchen scissors, cut up the cooled leather on the parchment paper and roll it up. It may be stored in a plastic bag at room temperature for about a month.

straw done


FYI, many fruits can be dried in the oven at low heat over long periods of time. Here are some bananas I dried the next day.



The strawberry puree dipped ones were my favorite, but they were all delicious.



Jul 16

Clown Cups

by Hannah Holt »


It’s summer and my kids are obsessed with water play. And that’s just fine with me because it’s been HOT.

Here’s a simple water craft they can do inside (on rainy days) or outside (on days like today)…

clown cups5

You will need:

  • a paper cup
  • crayons (or markers)
  • scissors

What to do:

clown cups2

  1. Color a clown face on the paper cup and cut out the mouth (adults will probably need to help with this part).
  2. Hold the cup under running water.

clown cups3

That’s it. Easy-peasy and tons of fun.



Oct 08

Preschool Music Crafts

by Hannah Holt »

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Let’s make some noise! Well, okay not too much noise. We all want our ear drums to last a good long time.

These three musical crafts will keep little fingers entertained, and they won’t be too hard on your ears either.

Music Crafts


#1 Rubber-Band Band

Tissue box guitar

Take and empty sandwich, tissue, or cracker box. Any small box will do. If the box doesn’t already have a hole on one side, you might need to cut one. Then place a pencil on one edge of the hole, and wrap a few rubber bands around the box. The pencil acts like a bridge so you can more easily pluck the “strings.” You can glue the pencil in place if you want to be more permanent about the instrument, but the pressure from the rubber bands will also keep it in place. It’s fun to use a few different sized rubber bands because this will produce different pitches.

#2 Paper Plate Tambourine

paper plate tambourine

You’ll need two paper plates, a handful of small noodles (like macaroni), and something to attach the plates together. I used hot glue, but staples or tape would work, too. We drew on our plates before putting them together. It extends the craft and adds that personal touch. :) Shake, shake, shake it!

#3 Plastic Pan Flute


Straw fife


You’ll need about twenty plastic straws, two flat wooden sticks, and hot glue. Lineup all the straws and put hot glue on one of the stick. Press the stick with glue into the straws and let cool. Then glue the second stick on the other side of the straws. Once the glue is dry, cut the straws at an angle, so that they are all different lengths. You play the pan flute by blowing across the tops of the straws. It will make very soft and windy notes as you blow.

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!”

Aug 02

DIY: Glow-in-the-Dark* Paint

by Hannah Holt »


This paint glows under black light.* With only two ingredients, it’s completely non-toxic (you could eat it), and it will brighten any black light party.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup tonic water
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

1) Pour the tonic water into a small bowl and let it rest until it loses its fizzy.

2) Stir the two ingredients together.

3) Using paint brushes, decorate colored construction paper, skin, or other non-phosphorescent surfaces. (Most white papers won’t work because they also glow under black light. I used black construction paper.)

While working on my Spicy Alphabet book, I learned that tonic water glows under black light. I have a black light at home (who doesn’t?), so I tested it out.

It turns out tonic water ice cubes also glow under black light:

As does boiling tonic water:

Here’s the paint applied to my face:

When working on this post, I first tried adding tonic water to a variety of paints. None of them worked. The pigments in the dyes seemed to block tonic water’s glow. Finally my husband and I walked around our kitchen waving the black light over all the foods in our pantry. Cornstarch had the best luminescence, hence this recipe. We tried a few different ratios. The one-to-one ratio had a good consistency.

Most of my projects involve a lot of trial and error. Here’s a video I shared on my Facebook Page a while ago (from my Summer Science series):

What can I say? I like to play!

Happy painting!