Strawberry Picking Tips:
- Call ahead to the Pick Your Own Farm near you. You want to be sure they are open and ready for you www.ontarioberries.com
- Go early, especially on the weekend; a large turnout can pick the field clean.
- During Covi, growers offer containers to collect your berries.
- Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you’d be surprised how you can work up a thirst and appetite! And don’t forget hats and sunscreen.
- To pick, gently hold the stem between thumb and forefinger. Carefully pinch and break the stem to release the berry without squeezing the berry itself.
Storing and Preparing
- Remove any damaged berries as soon as possible. Trim damaged areas and use in sauces, ice creams or in baking where appearance doesn’t matter.
- Store berries in the refrigerator with hulls intact, unwashed, and lightly covered in a single layer. Use within three to six days.
- Just before serving, gently rinse under cold running water (avoid soaking because the strawberries will absorb water and lose flavour), gently pat dry with paper towels, and hull.
- Hull and freeze your Ontario Strawberries for a divine treat after the season!
Three easy strawberry recipes
- Freeze your strawberries and use instead of ice cubes!
- Fill a glass vase full of local berries. Place a bowl of freshly whipped cream or melted chocolate beside you and you will be the star of the party!
- Blend fresh strawberries into your lemonade
- Grill your Ontario strawberries
- More great recipes such as Strawberry Eton Mess parfait can be found at Foodland Ontario
- IF you can’t make it to the fields, the berries will be available at your local roadside fruit stands and if you don’t have time to organize a Strawberry Social, look for one in your community!
Teacher Gift Ideas
It has been a year for the record books. Let’s not forget those teachers who have worked so hard to help our kids learn through these challenging times. I was so pleased to share my ideas today on CTV Morning Live. Here is a link to the video. Let me know if you have any other ideas to add by sharing in the comments
Cleaning the Capital
In hounour of Spring Cleaning, the kids and I have donned plastic gloves and are carrying plastic bags on our walks. If your kids like to go through the trees, it is a good idea to wear long sleeves and pants. There are many more tips on ‘How To’ at Clean the Capital
Together, we can keep Ottawa clean, green, and litter-free.
Build Fairy Houses
Inspired by some of her favourite movies and books, Meghan had the idea to build Fairy Houses in our backyard. We have collected many items on our walks and while cleaning up our own yard. So far we have sticks, bark, dry grass, pebbles, feathers and pine cones. We will also use some papers and treasures from our recycle bin. I have posted some ideas over on Pinterest
Legend has it that if you place a fairy house in your garden a fairy might come and live in it, bringing luck and magic to the garden and its owner.
To attract the fairies to your structure you can leave enticing gifts, such as crystals, silver, or gold. Fairies love natural things with a shimmer and a sparkle, but they do not like magnets or iron. Timing is important when connecting with the fairies. They are most active around a full moon, solstices, and equinoxes, so this would be a good time to leave them a small treat like fruit or sweets, especially chocolate. They love chocolate
With the fairies settled into their habitats, we have begun to think about the wildlife in our backyard that could also use some love and attention.
Water and/ or birdbaths
All wildlife need water and this is one of the easiest things for us to provide. From simple dripping water to a container or an elaborate bird bath, outdoor enthusiasts big and small can attract birds, amphibians and small animals to their yards with this simple provision.
Just pick a container and make sure it is kept full of fresh water. It is also important to change the water and clean your dish or bath on a weekly basis. This can be done using a scouring brush or a cloth. If your container gets really dirty, a mild dish detergent will do the trick. Be sure to rinse well.
The best bird baths at our house are made using the three Rs. Recycled plastic or metal containers hung over a branch make awesome bird baths.
Feed the Birds
We also love to feed the birds. Here is a link to some fun feeders we have made in the past.
Another great way to be kind to birds it to keep them from flying into our windows. Suncatchers work well for this. The easiest sun catcher ever can be made from old cds.
Play in the Mud
Do you know what mudpuddling is? We just found out that butterflies enjoy hanging around mud puddles, who doesn’t really? The male butterflies look to mud puddles for salts and minerals to enhance breeding. To attract these mudpuddlers bury a bucket to the rim, fill it with gravel or sand and keep it moist at all times.
Get into the Garden
Now that it actually starting to feel more like spring it is not too early to turn your attention to your garden itself. Gardening is one of our favourite warm weather passtimes and we start early getting prepared.
It’s time to get out the planters and decorations. For Earth Day, you can create some beautiful planters using recycled items. Here are some great videos and ideas.
Decorate your Driveway
Spread the word. It’s Earth Day and we are taking it to the streets. It’s so much fun to decorate our driveway using sidewalk chalk. Now you can make your own and get the message out.
Homemade Sidewalk Chalk
Time Required: 30 minutes
You will Need
- A Mold
- 1 cup Plaster of Paris
- 3/4 cup Water
- Medium Sized Bowl
- Powedered Tempera Paint
Find a mold for your sidewalk chalk. Anything from a toilet tissue roll or small paper cup to fancy candy molds will work.
Mix together 1 cup of Plaster of Paris with 3/4 cup of water.
Add color to your mixture using powdered tempera paint.
Blend well and let stand for a few minutes.
Pour your mixture into the molds you chose.
Set aside and let dry completely.
Once dry you can remove your chalk from the mold.
Set it aside to dry for approximately 24 hours more.
Take your chalk outside and create fun masterpieces!
Powdered tempera paint is available at most large craft stores.
Experiment with making swirled colors by adding the paint and stirring very little.
Drying time can take from several hours to a few days depending on the size of the mold you chose.
Reuse and Recyle around Town:
Many of the depots are currently closed, but if you can find a space to store, they will be grateful for drop offs when they re open.
Pack up your old books and head out to the book fairs. Look for listings in your local paper. Or consider one of donating your books to the Ottawa Public Library, Goodwill or Value Village . Here is a list of places that accept used books in Ottawa.
Toys & Games
I can’t think of anything more recyclable than toys. Gently used toys have the opportunity to bring joy to some of others. I love to bring my toys to the children’s schools, shelters and Donation Depots in your neighbourhood.
Ensure that you compost, recycle and dispose of waste properly
However you spend it, treat every day like Earth Day!