Monthly Archives: April 2015

A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That!

We are between holidays and special events, so we decided to post a mashup of various things. Included are two of our recipes – one for chicken salad and another for easy apple crisp. We also have a garden update and a few thoughts we want to share about the arts and creativity.

SMALL CRAFT WARNING

No completed craft projects in this week’s post, but we have assembled materials (see above) for a craft challenge Kevin is about to embark on using mulberry paper (of all things) and watercolor paints. We will keep you posted!

TASTY CHICKEN SALAD

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This chicken salad is very juicy. Oven-steaming the chicken is something we came up with, and it comes out great! Perfect for sandwiches or as a main dish.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients: 1 & 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, 1 cup mayo, 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard, 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of both Mrs. Dash (or your favorite) garlic herb mix and chile powder.

To prepare the chicken: Spray baking pan with cooking spray, place chicken breast halves in pan, sprinkle with chile powder and garlic herb mix to coat chicken. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Allow pan to cool for 1/2 hour and place in fridge to cool completely.

To make the chicken salad: Chop cooled chicken into 1/2 inch pieces. Add mayo, spicy brown mustard, and chopped green onions. If desired, chop a small tomato and add to chicken salad mixture. Enjoy as a sandwich or salad topper!

APPLE CRISP

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Have you ever bought a bag of apples at your local supermarket, brought them home and been disappointed? You know the ones – brown spots, bruises, etc. When that happens, we make this easy apple crisp.

What you will need: 8 medium apples peeled and sliced, 1 cup of quick oats, 2 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar or Splenda, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons butter or light margarine, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 cup walnuts (optional).

Preheat oven to 375.

Place apples in an 8-inch square pan sprayed with cooking spray. To make crumble topping, combine oats, flour, sugar or Splenda, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add butter or margarine, raisins and nuts to oat mixture and sprinkle on top of apples. Bake until top is brown, about 45 minutes.

We top warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream the first night and then sprinkle leftover apple crisp on ice cream the 2nd night – if there’s any left!

GARDEN UPDATE

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Our seeds are in! This year we are experimenting with marigolds, pansies and basil. This is our first attempt at growing plants from seed. It will be interesting what happens. We will keep you updated!

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SUPPORT THE ARTS AND ARTISTS

The main point of this blog is to encourage creativity. We are so grateful to our families and friends for giving us encouragement and praise. If you know people who are creative, and everyone is, support them! It is crucial to support the arts, because the arts make the world a better place.

Here are some ways you can support creative people and the arts:

Tell creative folks you like what they do, or that you think it is great they do it.

Give young artists, and the young at heart, books, arts supplies and gift cards to buy materials.

Be encouraging and forgiving of less than stellar results. The mere act of creating is positive, regardless of the end results. The process is what matters!

Resist the impulse to discourage young people from creative careers. Encourage them to get a good education and some marketable skills in addition to their artistic ambitions, not instead of them. Be positive!

Encourage – encourage – encourage!!!

Support the arts by attending concerts and plays at all levels. Today’s high school performer could be tomorrow’s star, and if not, they’re having a great time!

Donate to arts organizations.

Create! Create! Create! Share your creativity with the world!

PEOPLE ARE NICE!

Speaking of supporting your arts and artists, here is a picture from a Worcester area newspaper featuring Roy and his puppet friend, Buddy, announcing their recent visit to the Uxbridge (MA) Free Public Library. Thanks to all for the many kind comments after this was published.

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Enjoy!!!

Roy and Kevin

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The Earth Is In Bloom!

Spring is here and it finally feels like it!  We made the wreath pictured above for Kevin’s mom, Irene, at least ten years ago. We inherited it after her passing, and got a nice surprise when we came across it in a storage bin. We used a piece of handmade paper as backing. It really brightens up our living room and our hearts, remembering the pleasure the wreath gave to Irene.

April 22 is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.  This crucial holiday focuses on the fact that the earth is our home and we have to take care of it. We are committed to these “3 R’s”: reduce, renew and recycle. It’s a great way to limit our carbon footprint and conserve our natural resources. As artists and craftsmen, we try to carry these ideas into our work. It is important to use materials wisely and to reduce or eliminate waste as much as possible.

We also are focusing on our patio garden. We picked up our seeds and starter kit to get the flowers and herb garden going. It’s the first time we are growing plants from seed. Looking forward to planting the pansy, marigold and basil seeds. Updates to come!

 WE ARE READY TO PLANT!

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 A COUPLE OF BASIC EARTH DAY FACTS FOR EVERYONE TO CONSIDER:

WATER BOTTLES

Americans throw away an estimated 24 billion water bottles a year and they sit in landfills for hundreds of years. Using reusable water bottles is an easy way to reduce this number.             Source: Livestrong.com

SHOPPING BAGS   

Total amount of plastic bags used by U.S. citizens each year: 100 billion! Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the U.S. The rest end up in landfills, the ocean, or other places in the environment. It’s estimated that 1 million birds and thousands of turtles and other sea animals die each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags. Reusable shopping bags help and don’t forget to bring your plastic bags back to the store for recycling. Sources: Statistic Brain & Huffington Post

Please note: We certainly are not experts on this topic, but have enjoyed learning more about Earth Day by researching on the internet. Here is a great website with more information about Earth Day and what you can do to help our home, the Earth.

http://www.earthday.org/takeaction/

CRAFTY RECYCLING

We enjoy re-purposing items. Here are a couple of ideas for reusing coffee cans and plastic or glass jars.

We use coffee cans as canisters to hold art supplies, kitchen items, pens and pencils, or whatever. Peel off outer plastic label and use plain for an industrial look. To color coordinate with your decor, paint or cover with cloth or paper.

 

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We use plastic or glass jars as vases – in this case, apple sauce and peanut jars. Decorate with ribbon that matches the flower color, or put the whole thing in a colorful lunch bag.

 

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EARTH FRIENDLY CLEANING PRODUCTS

We got some of our favorite, environmentally friendly, home-made cleaning solutions from this website :

http://eartheasy.com/live_nontoxic_solutions.htm#substitutions

 

SINCE WE ARE RECYCLING, HERE’S AN IDEA FROM A PREVIOUS POST

We sometimes buy cold cuts that come in Tupperware-like tubs. They make great containers for storing art, sewing supplies or whatever fits!

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Happy Earth Day and Spring!

Roy and Kevin

Spring into Spring!!!

“The first day of Spring is one thing, and the first Spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.” – Henry Van Dyke

The quote above is especially true this year. Spring officially started on March 20th, but it hasn’t felt much like it with cold, rainy weather and even a little snow.

This entry focuses on celebrating Spring! We are sharing ideas to make the season easier, to bring the flowers of springtime indoors, fun ways to “recycle” Easter candy, and a delicious asparagus recipe.

NO PRESSURE SPRING CLEANING

Make a checklist of everything you want to accomplish for Spring cleaning. Our goal is to complete the list by September! Take pleasure in small accomplishments – use just 15 minutes to organize a drawer or clean the ceiling fan.

 “RECYCLE” YOUR LEFTOVER EASTER CANDY (Leftover Easter candy? What’s that?!!)

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Check out this great Rachael Ray segment about recycling Easter candy into different treats!  (Very cool!)

http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/food/20083_get_excited_four_amazing_ways_to_repurpose_your_easter_candy/

“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden.” – Ruth Stout

OUR PATIO GARDEN

LOOKING FORWARD: We love having a garden on our patio with lots of flowers and a few vegetables. The picture below is our patio today – first day completely snow-free! Check future blog posts for updates!

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IN THE MEANTIME: Using one of our tomato cages, we created the “faux flower” (sounds better than fake or artificial) Springtime display pictured at the top of this blog. Still too early to buy flowers for the patio, and real forsythias are not in bloom here yet, but we wanted that flowery feelin’.  We’ve had great fun using our tomato cages indoors (see previous blogs), but are looking forward to using them, as intended, for tomatoes again this summer!

RECIPE OF THE WEEK

ASPARAGUS:                                                                                                                                              

When we think of spring vegetables, we think asparagus!!!

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Check out the recipe posted below for baked asparagus with lemon butter and parmesan from natashaskitchen.com Delicious!

http://natashaskitchen.com/2012/04/13/baked-asparagus-with-lemon-butter-and-parmesan/

SPORTS UPDATE

Congratulations to the UCONN woman’s basketball team for winning their 3rd straight national championship! Great weather expected for victory parade in Hartford tomorrow, Sunday the 12th! GO HUSKIES!!

Congratulations to Providence College for winning their first NCAA Hockey Championship !!!

BASEBALL IS IN FULL SWING!

We are Red Sox fans – so far so good!!! Time to buy furniture from Jordan’s yet?

Spring is natures way of saying, ‘Let’s party! ‘  – Robin Williams

The Spring quotes in this blog are from The Quote Garden – a garden of quotes – how appropriate for Spring!

Time to put those winter coats away and enjoy Spring!!!

Roy and Kevin

Easter, Passover and March (in April) Madness, Oh My!!!

What a busy week! Easter is early this year, coinciding with Passover and the Final Four games of the NCAA tournaments. Here are some quick, kid-friendly Easter crafts, the “how-to” for a traditional hard-boiled egg game and a different take on classic egg salad for the losing eggs.

CUTE NESTS

We were originally going to make mini Easter baskets with tuna cans as a base, but Kevin thought the tuna cans would make cute nests for Peeps and candy eggs or other items. It ended up being a really easy, inexpensive craft that is fun to do with kids. One of the final results is pictured above.

For each nest you will need: One 5 oz. size empty tuna can, 1/2 pkg. paper Easter grass (not the glossy type) in the color of your choice, craft glue (we used Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue, but use your favorite), plastic wrap or wax paper.

How to make: Create a ball of grass about one inch wider than the can. Make sure can is clean and dry. If there are any rough edges, cover those with duct tape. Apply a light coat of glue to outside of can. Place can on top of grass and mold the nest around can. Add additional glue to further secure paper grass. Let dry completely before adding grass to inside of can. Add filling of your choice. If you wish to put unwrapped candy eggs or other food in finished nest, line the inside with plastic wrap or wax paper before adding the food.

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EGG CRASHING GAME

Kevin’s family plays the egg crashing game every Easter. Here is a link with some more information about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_tapping

POST-GAME SNACK: Though the name is not exactly fitting for the holiday, this delicious recipe is a perfect use for your eggs after the egg crashing game is over. It’s a nice combination of two hard-boiled egg classics. Here’s the link for Rachel Ray’s recipe:

http://www.rachaelray.com/recipes/deviled-egg-salad

BUNNY BANNER

We saw a cute bunny banner at Kohl’s, liked the idea and came up with our own version. We got a pattern, then traced and cut out the rabbit shapes on a variety of colorful craft papers. We then strung the rabbits on rustic jute, added cute pompom tails, and drew easy bunny faces with a fine-tipped Sharpie. We alternated the images on the banner, front and back. Happy Easter window clings were added for the photo, but we don’t recommend keeping them up as they may stain the wall. This is another great craft for kids, who can color the rabbit cut outs on construction paper rather then using the craft paper. You can also use seasonal gift wrap for the rabbit cut outs. Hippity Hoppity!

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Template source: pinterest The little fabric shop

LIGHTED EASTER EGGS

We love what we call ” festive party lights” and incorporate them into our decorating whenever possible. Easter is no exception. Kevin came up with the idea a few years ago to light plastic Easter eggs by punching holes in the back of the eggs and attaching them to white or multi-colored Christmas lights. They look great and are easy to do. We used a Phillip’s head screw driver, but an awl or drill would make easy work of punching the holes in the back of the plastic eggs. Most Christmas lights are low temp, but use caution – don’t leave them on when you go to bed, or when you go out. We haven’t had any problems, but we must say, do this craft and any of our other crafts at your own risk!

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FINAL FOUR UPDATES

The men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments have reached the Final Four. On Saturday night, Michigan State plays Duke and Kentucky takes on Wisconsin for the chance to play in the men’s finals on Monday, April 6th. The games will be played in Indiana – a state that recently legalized discrimination against gays. Congratulations to the state of Connecticut for refusing to use state funds for any government trips to Indiana (including paying for UCONN men’s head coach Kevin Ollie to go to the Final Four).

The women’s Final Four is Sunday night in Florida, when the top four seeds play – South Carolina vs. Notre Dame and UCONN vs. Maryland. The winners play for the national champoinship on Tuesday, April 7th. We are pulling for UCONN to win its third straight title.   GO HUSKIES!!!

JOKE OF THE WEEK:

With the coming of Spring and Easter, we are looking forward to nicer days ahead and thinking of all of our family members and friends – those who are with us in person and those who are with us in spirit. We wish all of you a very Happy Easter, Happy Passover, and Happy Spring!!!
Roy and Kevin