Tree of Life Learning

Striving for Academic Excellence Through Christ-Centered Education

Friday Fun Pt 2 Mushroom Soup with Barley

picture Barley and Mushroom Soup

Barley and Mushroom Soup as seen at Two Peas and Their Pod


Original recipe @Two Peas & Their Pod
1 cup barley
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped or 1/2 bag of frozen pearl onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 package of white button mushrooms, sliced
3 1/2 cans low sodium stock (at least 6 cups)
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste


1) First, prepare your barley. Follow package directions, OR in a medium pan, bring 4 cups of water and the 1 cup of barley to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Drain well. You can cook your barley the night before.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until they, too, are soft. Add your stock, water, bay leaves, and fresh parsley. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked barley and cook all together for 15 minutes or so.

3) Remove the bay leaves before serving,   Add salt and pepper to taste. YUM!!!

NOTE: This is fine as a vegetarian entree, but you could always add some slicked smoked sausage or cubed ham if you prefer the meat. Chopped spinach would also be a nice addition.


Friday Fun Pt 1 Keep Away: Avoid Hassles with Common Household Items

Keep Pantyhose from Running

There’s nothing more annoying than buying a brand-new pair of pantyhose and running them before the day is out. To prevent runs follow these steps:  gently wash new pantyhose and allow to drip dry. Then mix  together 2 cups salt + 2 tsp white vinegar with 1 gallon water  in your sink or tub. Immerse the pantyhose. Soak for 3 hours.  Finally,  rinse thoroughly in cold water and allow to drip dry.


Photobucket Image Hosting
Ants, it is reported, will not cross a line of Salt, and if they ingest “20 Mule Team Borax”, they will carry it back to the colony and  all of them will eventually die.  NOTE: Be careful using Borax around small kiddos and pets, please.
20 Mule Team Borax picture


Cats photo

Your cat is a treasure, but maybe you’d rather not have the neighbor’s tom lurking about. Try putting fresh citrus peels in problem spots. NOTE: Citrus scented lotions and potions won’t work You need the real deal for this “KEEP AWAY”.





Bees in the NestPhoto No question about it, bees are wonderful pollinators, but few things can spoil a picnic faster. To keep them at bay, picnic away from trash cans, a few extra steps when it’s time to clean up are well worth not being pestered all during the meal or stung. Be vigilant about keeping sweet treats–which are CERTAIN to attract bees and other unwanted intruders– tightly covered until they land safely in your mouth, no joke! (This is one time to buy those plastic covers for soda pop cans!!! ) Also try setting out plenty of fresh cucumber slices. Bees, it’s rumored, don’t like them!



Almost as pesky as bees,  to keep from being a living feast, try taking a daily B-complex from April 1 to October every year. Why? Vitamin Bs give your body an odor, undetectable to humans, mind you,  that mosquitoes don’t care for, but it takes time to build up in your system. Investigate the herb lemon balm, too.

Panning a extended outdoor adventure this summer? 5 to 6 days prior start taking  some brewer’s yeast, and twice a week thereafter to avoid giant biting flies. Based on the principle  explained above.

lemon slices photo

All images in this article, except Borax, courtesy Borax courtesy Facebook.


Friday Fun Part 2 Easy Oatmeal No-Bake Breakfast Cookies

boatmeal breakfast cookie recipe

Easy Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies as seen

Breakfast doesn’t get any easier or yummier than these no bake cookies I found, what’s more, this recipe makes it a pleasure to kick sugary boxed cereals to the curb where they belong. Below is my variation:

Quick as a Flash, No-Bake Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies

serves 3 but doubles easily
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon shredded coconut
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1/3 cup toasted pecan or almond pieces
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or to taste)
1/4 cup your favorite add-ins: raisins, dried cherries or apricots, chocolate chips, fresh fruit, etc.

Mix oats, nuts, milk, peanut butter, coconut and syrup in a small bowl. Taste to ensure it is sweet enough for your palate. Cover bowl with lid or plastic wrap and let sit overnight. When ready to serve, mix in desired extras and mash on plate. Enjoy!

Friday Fun EXTRA: Extending the Life of Plaster

Plaster of paris goes on Pictures, Images and Photos

Adventures in Plaster

Oh the joys of a closet remodel, or, actually, trying to fix a  previous closet remodel gone awry. If you’re planning a remodel anytime soon, heed the delicate choreography that awaits you: you mix and pour only to find that one or two passes with a trowel later,  your plaster is already getting hard, so back to the sink you dash…

Let’s just say playing beat the clock with plaster of Paris is not this gals idea of fun. After the frustration, I did some digging on the net and found that if you add 2 Tbl of white vinegar to freshly mixed plaster (and stir) it won’t dry as quickly.

Of course, wet plaster brings adventure all its own. Remember, if you try this, your plaster won’t be dry when you expect it to, so be careful getting too close! 🙂

Friday Fun PAPER SERIES Magazine Nails

Our paper series continues this week with something definitely teen inspired, magazine nails! Yes, move over subtle and sweet french manicure, today’s nails are… well READABLE!

Nail art with Words

Newspaper Nails as seen

What you need to make magazine nails:

10 brightly colored pieces of magazine page, cut just big enough to wrap around each fingernail
rubbing alcohol
white base coat
clear top coat

What you’ll do:

1) First of all give yourself your best home manicure: clean your nails– trim your cuticles, too– and file them to a pleasing shape;

2) Apply lotion, if you like, and rub in thoroughly. When your hands are dry, apply your white base coat. (I recommend at least 2 coats of white base coat.)

3) When the base coat is COMPLETELY dry, wrap your opposite thumb in magazine paper, making sure that the image or lettering you want is centered over the nail bed itself. The desired image should face the nail. The “wrong side” of the paper should be facing you. (For those who remember Lee Press-On Nails, the magazine paper becomes a kind of nail tip.)

4) Dip one end of a q-tip in rubbing alcohol and gently rub it on your nail. Use enough alcohol to cover your entire nail, but not so much that the magazine tears.

5) Pressing firmly, hold until the magazine dries.

6) Repeat steps 3-5 for each nail;

7) Carefully remove the magazine and apply a top coat when your nail is completely dry.

~~Let’s see those nails!~~

NOTES: Alcohol acts as a magic eraser here. If you get print on your skin or you don’t like your art, dip another q-tip in alcohol, rub it on your nail or skin until the image is gone and begin again. Also, you can put almost any image you can think of on your nails if you’re good at photo editing and can crop it tiny enough. Wrap your nails in computer paper and let the alcohol do its work. Always start with a clean, DRY, white base coat, though.

Today is Deadline for Shepherd’s Heart Scholarship

Today, MARCH 15,2012. is the  application deadline for the Shepherd’s Heart Scholarship. All applications must be received by this date in order to receive consideration.  Unfortunately, applications postmarked with this date but received later will NOT count as eligible. Our plans are that the Shepherd’s Heart Scholarship become an annual award. Lord willing, next year we’re designating $1,000 for Christian students who are Elementary Education majors.

Thank you for your interest in the Shepherd’s Heart Scholarship & best wishes to all 2012 high school graduates!

Shepherd's Heart Scholarshp

Shepherd's Heart Scholarship

Friday Fun: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

…way up high. You might just trap a leprechaun and put him in a cake. –Leprechauns LOVE cake, you know. If you did, he might leave you something special.  Cut it open & see what I mean:

Cake with Rainbow Inside

Cake with Rainbow inside as seen

I first saw leprechaun trap cakes back around Christmas time, and was disgusted with myself because I could not figure out HOW to put the rainbows inside. Well, after some intrepid investigation it turns out, HOW, is really simple.

How to Put Rainbows Inside a Cake

First of all, understand that rainbow cakes need white cake. Yellow just isn’t as pretty and chocolate defeats the purpose. So your first step is to mix up a batch of white cake mix, either from a box or your recipe.
Your next step is to divide the batter into 8 equal parts, one for each layer of the rainbow. Then you’ll add the appropriate color of food coloring to each dish of batter until you have a layer for each color of the rainbow.                                                                 See the picture below.    NOTICE: You’ll will need eight tubes of food coloring for this.

Batter divided for making rainbows as seen @

Remember ROY G. BIV:
R- Red,
O- Orange,
G- Green,
B- Blue,
I- Indigo,

Next, add each layer, one at a time, to your prepared pan. If you want your rainbow to have an arc, you’ll need an angel food cake pan. With each color, you’ll make concentric circles around the tube in the center.
If tie die swirls are acceptable, any pan will do. Finally, bake as your recipe directs.

From the outside, your un-frosted cake may–hmmm, will likely– look like you goofed. But take heart: rainbows are meant to be  surprises revealed when you cut into your cake.  Put a generous layer of green frosting on top, fill the center will foil-covered chocolate coins and enjoy!  Friday Fun PAPER SERIES returns next week, lw.