Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bringing in Spring

This week we officially brought in the spring!  Easter Bark (more to follow).  Strawberry Jelly.  And our Garden!
I had decided not to make strawberry jelly this year because Miller does not like jelly at all and Ella just decided that she no longer wants strawberry jelly, only blueberry.  But strawberries were $1.25 at the grocery store and I just could not resist.  So, Thursday morning we made strawberry jelly!  Miller and Ella remembered their jobs from last year, chopping the tops off ALL the strawberries.  They did a great job, however, Miller could not resist those big red strawberries.  Who can blame him?
Ella diligently cut off every top.
We made all the jelly with only one injury.  Somehow between last summer and Thursday I misplaced my jelly funnel.  I have a strange suspicion that after being used as a horn or who knows what it got placed deep within a toy box somewhere, but in my quick search around the house I could not find it.  If you do not have a jelly funnel and you want to make jelly you have to get one!  Since all my strawberries were already chopped and ready to be made into jelly, I decided I did not really need the funnel.  To prevent dripping jelly over the counter as I poured it into the jars, I decided I would just hold the jars.  Big mistake.  The first two went fine, no problem.  With my confidence up, I decided to pour a little bit faster since I did not know where the kids were and could only imagine what they were doing.  Big mistake!  I poured the steaming hot jelly all over my thumb.  I will definitely be getting a new funnel this week at the grocery store.  But we do have 5 beautiful jars of strawberry jelly and my blister is almost all the way healed.

This year we had a new helper to plant the garden.  It is amazing what these little ones pick up.  Sara Wells found her little hoe in the garage and knew exactly what to do.  She worked right beside Murray and Ella as they planted all of the vegetables.  We planted all the usual suspects this year, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, green beans, rosemary, basil (more basil jelly and pesto this summer!), thyme and okra.  If you remember last summer right as the okra started producing, the herd of deer (I know that is not what you call deer, but that is what we have in our woods!) ate the tall okra plants down to little nubs.  However, I love okra so much that I want to give it one more try.  Murray has rigged up a super duper deer net that will hopefully keep the deer out as the okra grows.  We will just have to wait and see.

I have been wanting to post about these spoons since Christmas, but I thought you would really be able to see how great the look when they were actually in the garden.  I found these awesome garden markers for Murray for Christmas this year at the Etsy shop Wooden Hive.  She has got the greatest things!  If you have a garden, an herb garden or know someone who does, you definitely need to check out this shop!  She is so fast and you can place custom orders to get exactly what you need for your garden.  
The days that we stay home can be kind of crazy and tend to get filled up with stuff (laundry, picking up the house and who knows what) unless I am very intentional.  I love to make and do things with the kids and they LOVE to make things, so I try to keep my eyes open for fun little projects to do with them the days that we are at home.  The hardest part is planning ahead and making sure that I have everything on hand.  We used to do our little projects during Sara Wells' morning nap.  Now that she is not taking a nap, things have gotten a little bit more complicated.  When I saw this Easter Bark the other day I knew it would be perfect for everyone.  I wish I remembered where I saw it so that I could give credit where credit was due, but I don't have a clue.  When I saw the directions, I knew it would be quick enough that Sara Wells would be ok sitting on the counter watching but have just the right ingredients to keep Ella and Miller excited.

Things you will need:
2 bags white chocolate chips
1 bag of Jelly Beans
cookie sheet
wax paper

1.  Pour the white chocolate into a microwave safe bowl (yes, Sara Wells actually poured the chips into the bowl!)
Glass bowls always work good for melting chocolate.  You could use a double broiler, which I usually do when melting chocolate, but the kids would not have been able to help with that part and actually I really liked doing it in the microwave better.
2.  Place the wax paper on the cookie sheet.  Then spread half of the jelly beans over the cookies sheet.
Sara Wells loved the jelly beans!  They kept her occupied for most of the time.
3.  Melt the chocolate at 30 second intervals, stirring in between.  You have to be very careful not to burn the chocolate!  There is no recovering burnt chocolate, you just have to scrap it and start over.
4.  Pour the chocolate over the jelly beans and spread evenly (as evenly as possible) over the cookie sheet.
Mine really needed to be spread thinner, but with three sets of hands trying to spread and eat the melted chocolate (see pic below) at the same time, I felt really good just to get it this spread out.  The kids did not seem to mind the thickness, but for me it was too much white chocolate and it was VERY difficult to break up.
5.  Spread the rest of the jelly beans across the chocolate.  It really helps if you push the jelly beans into the chocolate just a little bit.
6.  Put the cookies sheet in the fridge for about an hour so that it is nice and hard.  Then just break into small pieces.

We actually took half of it to the ladies at Murray's office.  One because we needed to get out.  Two, I really did not want that much candy in my house!  I could just hear all the whining that would accompany all the candy, "please Mommy, please I really want some more Easter Bark."  So, we had fun together, got a special treat and shared our special treat with others!   What a fun day.

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