Things have been nutty here lately. I still feel like Chanukah just ended, but apparently I'm wrong, because it's Tu B'Shvat.
I really like Tu B'Shvat, it's like an unexpected gift in the middle of the winter. Tu B'Shvat is the new Year for the trees, and who doesn't like a New Year. The perfect time, while it's still freezing out, to make some more resolutions, specifically to (re)make the ones that I thought about making in January. Let's just cut to the chase. Today is a fantastic day to make a (re)commitment to exercising and eating healthy. So hop to it. (And hopping burns calories, so there ya go).
I have nothing planned for Tu B'Shvat this year, so here's a look back at what we did last year. And if you are just joining us (welcome!), and wow, look at all this new stuff here!
Here's the first one: My girls and I had a great time dehydrating fruit
last year. You can see it here
And here's the second: We Mod Podged the heck out of some wax paper and tissue paper and made these fruit sun catchers
. And if you can find your Succah decoration box in the basement (go you!), throw these in after Tu B'Shvat is over and you'll have a fun surprise come October!
You can do either of these projects in honor of Tu B'Shvat, or neither. Sometimes it's just easier to go outside and hug a tree. That way there's no mess to clean up.
So I don't recall exactly how we came to be in possession of a food dehydrator, but we have one. I do know it involved some combination of infomercials, Josh's love of beef jerky and my mother in law's credit card, but beyond that, the details are a little fuzzy. How to actually use the dehydrator was a little fuzzy too as we haven't taken it out of the box since we lived in Phoenix over seven years ago and thought it would be a good idea to make beef jerky as part of our desert themed mishloach manot. (And if you were one of the lucky recipients of those star-crossed jerky filled boxes that were shipped across the country with love from Arizona to NY, you will surely remember them fondly...)
And then last night, when I was packing lunchboxes, it occurred to me that it might be kind of fun to make dried fruit for Tu B'Shvat. And, and, it would be a great way to use up all the kind of oldish fruit sitting in the fruit bowl.
So I peeled, sliced, and marinated the fruit for a minute or so in orange juice. The directions said to use an acidic solution. I didn't have any solution that was labeled acidic but I figured orange juice was pretty acidic, so it would have to do.
My girls and I loaded up the machine and after a few false starts, figured out how the machine fit together. Hit the on button and left the kitchen and the dehydrator to its own devices.
And six hours later, six hours filled with the soothing sounds of what sounded like a white noise machine (made me want to take a nap. Not so much for the girls...), our dried apples and pears were ready.
(Here is a really terrible picture of my apple chips.
Not sure why the camera seems to angry at me lately.)
I tasted one, thought they were pretty good - and by the time the fruit was finished dehydrating, the boys were home too - and I offered some to the kids. I marketed them as apple chips, like potato chips but sweet, guys! My oldest was the only one brave enough to take a bite. And this is what he said, as the chewed up apple chip fell out of his mouth and onto the kitchen floor: "Uch, Mommmmy! Did you leave them in too long?" The rest of the kids ran in the opposite direction. Lovely.
On the plus side though, Josh loved them. Happy Tu B'Shvat!
Tu B'Shvat is coming up quickly (this Thursday) and I was looking for a project to do with the kids, especially since I was pretty sure today was going to be snow day #5. Turns out it wasn't. Dodged a bullet right there, guys. And really, let all of us who have winter break beginning in a few days utter a collective phew, because there will be quite enough vacation days in a row right there, thank you very much.
So with the boys safely in school, the girls and I embarked on our Tu B'Shvat project. It wasn't too ambitious, which was good because I wasn't feeling the craftiness all that much this morning. But before I explain our project, I will take a minute to explain just what Tu B'Shvat is.
Tu B'Shvat, literally, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, is the birthday of the trees, or the new year of the trees, celebrating the day when the sap rises inside the tree, thus beginning a new growing season for the trees. The custom is to eat a fruit on this day, making the boreh pri ha'etz blessing on the fruit. For a more comprehensive look at Tu B'Shvat and it's meaning, mystical and otherwise, click here.
For the rest of us who may or may not have been to Shoprite in the past week and so may or may not have any fruit in the house, today we will be doing a fruit-like project. I originally came across this project at Mod Podge Rocks, who posted it from Craftown, both fun-filled websites. And while I followed the tutorial, I changed it up a bit. Instead of making hearts for Valentine's Day, we will making fruit for Tu B'Shvat.
The girls and I sat at the kitchen table - well, one of them sat in the highchair, so I guess we can say we all just sat in the kitchen. I spread wax paper out onto the table, cut up the different colored pieces of tissue paper and handed my two-year-old a paintbrush and a cup of glue. The idea is to spread the mod podge glue onto the wax paper and, one by one, paste the tissue paper pieces onto the wax paper. No special outline or shape is needed, just paste them down.
Once dry, mod podge over the whole thing one more time to seal it all in. Let dry. With a Sharpie marker, draw your fruit shapes over the dry tissue paper. Cut out. Add string and hang in the window and watch the sun shine through the fruits. Or, if you're like us, and you haven't seen the sun in days, just watch the fruit. Then go eat some(thing).
Several things I learned this morning:
1. Cover the table with newspaper first. I did not do this and regretted it. It would have made clean-up of all the thousands of extra tissue paper pieces much easier.
2. Use a damp paper towel to pick up the other thousand pieces of tissue paper that are now statically charged, electrically charged, whatever charged - I don't know, Josh would know - to only stick to your kitchen floor. But haha! Once they're wet, they are super simple to pick up.
3. Paint the green tissue paper last. For some reason, this is the only color that runs when painted over with glue. After we did the green, the whole cup of glue was green.
4. Give your two-year-old, or really, whatever aged kid, only one color of tissue paper at a time. This way they can be creative in where they put the pieces but you still wind up with somewhat solid colored fruit.