Tag Archives: activities for kids

Hello Kitty Strawberry Surprise Cookie Mix

My daughter wants everything with Hello Kitty on it. After I learned that Wal-Mart is one of the few places in town that reliably stocks red curry paste, we’ve occasionally shopped there for groceries. My daughter saw a pink box of Hello Kitty Strawberry Surprise Cookie Mix on the shelf and had to have it.

I don’t have much faith in cookie mixes. Cookies are easy to make, and all a mix gets you is all of the dry ingredients in one place. I caved for this purchase because it offered transfer sheets of Hello Kitty’s face, and I’ve been curious about transfer sheets.

The mix needed eggs, water and vegetable oil stirred in, and quickly took on a vibrant pink color after water was added. We rolled the dough into balls, and I noticed the dough was very stiff, like modeling dough. We flattened the balls into disks per the instructions, and the Hello Kitty faces were laid on top.

The cookies baked for twelve minutes and the results were underwhelming. The strawberry flavor is chalky and artificial, and the cookie was so dry, it fell apart in our mouths. The transfer paper was cute and didn’t add any unpleasantness that wasn’t already there, but it would have been nicer to use it on a better cookie.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter

Purple Crystal Growing Kit

I’ve often looked longingly at grow-your-own-crystals kits, but never bought one. It must have been that bad experience I had with a rock tumbler that told me I would probably be very disappointed.

One of these sat in my garage for thirteen years

Then my daughter developed an obsession with rocks. Every time a Scholastic book order form was offering a set of rocks, that’s what she wanted. When we would go to a gift shop, she’d dig through that big pile of tumbled rocks and plop a few into a bag. We own two volcano sets.

This Christmas, I thought it was time to grow some crystals. I picked up the Crystal Growing Kit: Grow Stunning Purple Crystals (Includes Real Amethyst)! by Discover with Dr. Cool, which was a big hit when she pulled off the paper. The kit came with chemicals for growing our crystals, a paperback book about crystals, a real piece of amethyst, and a cardboard backdrop for displaying the crystals.

I knew there was a problem as soon as I read the instructions and saw we were supposed to grow them in a glass–something. It didn’t specify what. I used one of my mason jars, and realized that was a mistake right away, because the glass was blue. The chemical solution was a dark soup, and there was no seeing anything grow through blue glass.

That meant we had to go on faith that something would be in there at the end of a ten days. The instructions were adamant that we keep the glass jar still, because crystals only grow in a stable environment. The dark soup sat in on my kitchen counter and I tried to avoid touching it for over a week.

The sides of the jar crystallized, but until we dug around in the soup, we didn’t know for sure we’d grown anything. We drained it, and found a small layer of crystals at the bottom that fell apart when we tried to remove them.

The results of our experiment were… not quite as advertised. Perhaps the crystals on the box are what you see if you also have a microscope? That said, my daughter was not disappointed. As far as she was concerned, small or large, we had crystals, and we’d grown them ourselves. The largest crystals have definition, if you look close. She has her crystal shards on display in the provided cardboard backdrop and couldn’t be prouder of them.

Author of Strawberry Shortcake: Return of the Purple Pie Man, Disney’s Frozen Comic Collection, Transformers: Robots in Disguise Animated and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business. She’s written for IDW Publishing, Hasbro, Lion Forge, American Greetings and Scholastic, and her work has been discussed in Comics Beat and The Washington Post. Subscribe to the newsletter