Tree of Life Learning

Striving for Academic Excellence Through Christ-Centered Education

Friday Fun pt 1 Strawberry Sauce…

Simple Strawberry Sauce

2 + 1/2 qts strawberries, divided
1 + 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (US) corn starch
juice of 1 lemon
heavy bottom sauce pan

It doesn’t get much simpler than that. This makes a smashing sundae topping or filling for stawberry pie. (Either way, you’re destined for a repeat performace!!!)

What You’ll Do:

First, hull and quarter all but 1/2 cup of berries. (If doing pie filling, you’ll want some larger berries. In that case, the remaining 1/2 cup of berries is cut into halves ONLY and set aside a few minutes. If making sundae topping, hull and quater ALL berries)

Second, put your quartered berries into a heavy-bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Add your sugar and your corn starch.

Now, let that mixture cook down to the point where berries start releasing their juices and “sauce” begins to form. Whisk OFTEN.
Meanwhile cut your lemon into and juice it. Add that juice to your pan.

For filling: you’re headed for strawberry pie awesomeness if your sauce sticks to your whisk a bit.

strawberry sticks to whisk

As seen @

If it rolls right off, continue cooking until it reaches that point!
Add your halved berries, cook until warmed through.
Finally, pour into par-baked, 9-inch crust and freeze 2 hrs

For topping: you’re done cool slightly and serve!

Males 1 9-inch pie



Friday Fun Pt 2 Natural Remedies Alzheimers & Morning Sickness

This post is really a tribute to my mother who was into alternative health care, herbs and such, way back when it was just plain weird, and who, over the past 3 decades, has collected more books on the subject than she’ll ever read….

Now  before we get started, all the usual disclaimers apply here: First, I’m NOT a doctor or any kind of medical professional. Next, I DON’T diagnose or prescribe anything. But, I AM happy to share health information, such as I discover, on topics of interest to readers . Common sense and prayer always apply. 

If you have a chronic condition, or think you may, see your doctor! The following statements have not been approved by the FDA, but are made under the protection of  my 1st Amendment right.

Last summer, I was perusing her bookshelf and found, The How-To Herb Book This book comes from another time, I think. There are absolutely no illustrations, of any kind once you get past the cover, and I have to admit that page after page of black-and-white text coming at you can be daunting in this extremely visual age. Nevertheless, the determined reader will be well rewarded. And I was amazed to discover that despite being over 20 years old (publ 1991), it’s still in heavy enough demand today to be fairly pricey: a copy in good condition can easily command $30-$50 on Amazon.

How to Herb Book

Obviously, our copy is well worn, but still quite good, I think

All of that said, here are some interesting– and hopefully, helpful– things I read:

For Alzheimer’s Disease:

2 Cayenne capsules + 2 Gotu Kola capsules with each meal

Notes: 1) Helps, say the authors, by increasing circulation within the brain.

2) Cayenne powder is HUGELY renowned in alternative medicine as an excellent healer, but it is also EXTREMELY potent and may cause upset stomach and diarrhea.

3) If you’re currently using a blood thinner, MAKE SURE to talk with a doctor before taking cayenne , as cayenne may compound the effects!

4) I didn’t read this in How to Herb, but you may also wish to investigate the combination of phosphatydal serine + phosphatydal choline

For Morning Sickness:

B6 + zinc
NOTES: The authors actually  recommend starting with all B vitamins in complex first, and then taking individual Bs as as symptoms indicate, so B-complex + B6 + Zinc for morning sickness.

Questions About Herbs in General

“My (insert title) said I should take these. But, I haven’t noticed any difference. Why??? ” 

With most herbs, it takes about 90 days, or 3 months, of continuous usage to notice significant change. Hang in there or change your routine based on advice you trust. Again, even in the realm of alternative health, you need to seek out quality advice BEFORE you take anything.

“My (insert title) said I should take these. But, I feel worse than I did before.”

This happens more often than people think. Assuming you got advice from a quality health professional in the beginning, and there are no interactions, your body maybe ridding itself of  built up toxins. I have good news for you: this cleansing you’re going through is often the first stage of the healing process.

Teleconference: Nutritonal Strategies for Autism Coming August 18th 2012

You’re Invited!

Please join us as Tree of Life  Learning hosts its first-ever live teleconference “Nutritional Strategies for Autism” on Saturday, August 18th 2012 from 10 AM-11:30 AM EST.

Featured Speaker:

certified herbalist and nutritional consultant Mary Beth Arrends (See  Arends, a former homeschooling mom, turned to nutrition in the early ’90s when her son began displaying autistic behaviors,  for which  a maze of specialists had no answers. Hear her story. Share your own. Part of our program will include a live, real-time Q & A session. Log in right from your laptop via Skype. (Active Skype account required.)

Running Time:

Approximately 90 minutes. However we will stay as long as necessary for productive Q&A.

Language Format:

Standard US English


Internet connection, active SKYPE account

To Register:

please visit   Registration Deadline is July 31st 2012

Suggested Donation:


dew on flower

Image Courtesy Photobucket

Friday Fun Pt 2: Making Gumball Necklaces

It’s been awhile since we’ve featured a kid’s craft here @ToL. Most of the crafts I’ve seen lately left me speechless in a ho-hum sort of way. My little nice, however, loves “neck-a-lesses”. (She just turned 3.) So, I can’t what to try these.

As per usual, my timing is dreadful. I had just purchased 6 little necklaces to use as stocking stuffers from AVON. These, I am told, can be made for under $1. I spent just over $30–ouch!

Summer birthday party favors, sleepovers, even Christmas, you can’t beat ’em. Just to get you thinking about the possibilities, these were done @One Charming Party:

gumball necklaces

Gumball Necklaces as seen at One Charming Party

Jamielyn from I {Heart} Nap Time  (via created a more sophisticated mommy- look with her necklace:

gumball necklace

Gumball Necklace as seen at Iheartnaptime

What You’ll Need:

bag of large gumballs–count on 6 per necklace
40 inches of ribbon: 1/4 – 1/2 inch-wide, per necklace
a metal skewer or knitting needle (a hammer and nail would work, too)
a doll needle
18 inches of fabric cut into 2-inch circles, if making the rosette as Jamielyn did
matching thread

What You’ll Do:

1. Using a metal skewer or knitting needle, pierce one side of the gumball, gently working to the center.

tapping a gumball

As seen @ One Charming Party

2. Flip the gumball over and poke another hole directly opposite your first hole. WARNING: Resist the urge to  try and poke a single  hole straight through, from one side to the other, all  at once. This is the surest way to break your gumball.

3. Use a  doll needle to thread the ribbon through the gumballs. Thinner ribbon will be easiest to string. Tie a knot between each gumball as you string it.

Source: One Charming Party

To Add a Rosette:

1. Cut (6) 2- inch circles. Then fold each one in half.

2. Fold each circle in half again, creating a wedge or “pie” shape.

3. Tie a knot on the end of your strings and thread the needle through the corner of the “pie”.

4. Thread all the circles on the ribbon using step 3. You may need to turn the “pies” to create a full flower.



Although it wouldn’t be nearly as pretty, you could also use plain elastic as your string. (Remember Smartie bracelets.) Cherry sours, lemon drops–any candy that comes in a solid ball (obviously, gooey centers are out) will make a fine bobble. String ’em up!

Friday Fun Pt 1: Easy as Pie, 7-Layer Ice Cream Cake

I have 2 words for this: simply gorgeous!

7-layer ice cream cake

7-Layer Ice cream cake as seen at

I discovered this  @Pip&Ebby  a week too late–a week after serving my mom pound cake and berries for Mother’s Day, which don’t get me wrong, were delightful as strawberry shortcakes always are. But what you see here, this 7-layer ice cream cake, is a potluck, pitch-in, summer- event,  show stopper!

I can remember slicing strawberries last Sunday and thinking,”Yeah, this is gonna be good, but isn’t there anything else we can do with a pound cake?”  Sadly, only blueberries came to mind, so I just kept slicing…Oh, well so much for luck!

Anyway, making your own layered ice cream cake is really simple. (A matter of assembly more than anything else)

What You’ll Need:

1 pound cake, your recipe or check the bakery or frozen section (for Sara Lee) in your supermarket.
3 cups ice cream,softened: 1– a cookies and cream, 1–a sherbet, 1–your favorite flavor
a serrated knife
1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 + 1/2 cups whipping cream
2 rubber spatulas
plastic wrap
**Omit sugar & cream if using cool whip, which is certainly fine to do if time is of the essence.

What You’ll Do:

1) If using store bought cake, remove it from the metal pan it comes in. Line the pan with plastic wrap. Use enough wrap to cover the sides & top of the cake, too.

2) Using your serrated knife, slice the cake. But DON’T cut down through the top as you normally would to slice something. INSTEAD, cut the top 1/4 off lengthwise, working from front to back.

slicing pound cake lengthwise

As seen at Pip&

Altogether, you should have 4 long slabs of pound cake.

3) Put the bottom layer of cake back in the wrap-lined pan. Now, using your rubber spatula, spread 1 cup of ice cream –you choose which flavor comes first– over that layer. Put down the next layer of cake.

4) Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have used all of your ice cream. Then place the “top” back on the cake and cover tightly with wrap.

5) Freeze for at least one least one hour and up to 3 days.


The cream & and sugar I called for can be whipped together into stiff peaks to create a frosting. Cool Whip is an even faster option. I even seen meringues used. They scare me, but to go that route you’ll want 2-3 egg whites, a pinch of cream of tartar, and 1/2 teaspoon or so of vanilla. Again, whipping until you have stiff glossy peaks.  Also, I don’t see why you also couldn’t use a ganache or some type of Jello pudding.  Experiment and see what you’ll like. Frost top and sides.

IMPORTANT: Don’t get too matchy-matchy with your fillings and cake. What makes this so much fun is its eye-popping contrast!

Looks Wonderful, but I Don’t Do Dairy!

No problem; you can still do this. Again, think Jellos, fruit preserves or jelly– think about brightly-colored things that freeze well, and you’re on you’re way 🙂

Friday Fun Part 1: Make Your Own Swiffer Solution

Swiffer Against Door

Photos Courtesy

Ready mops are the rage right now, and making your own cleaning solution is much cheaper than buying the branded cleaning one.

Here’s how to make your own cleaner that can work on any type of  flooring:




white vinegar


Johnson's Baby Shampoo

Mix together 2 +1/2 tablespoons Johnson’s baby shampoo,

(This is one time the name-brand works best; generics tend to streak).



                    1/4 cup distilled white vinegar




Here’s your basic all purpose, antibacterial cleaner. If you’re looking for SUPER HEAVY- DUTY germ- busting power add 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of ammonia. Dump all 3 ingredients into the reservoir of your mop and then fill it 1/2 to 3/4ths full of water, depending on the size area you’re cleaning