Monthly Archives: May 2015

New things! (Of all things!)

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”  – Walt Disney                                                          Source: “Brainy Quotes”

One of the unexpected benefits of this blog is that it has given us is the motivation to try new things. Every week, we try to think of interesting content to share. This has had a very positive impact on our lives. In the past, we might have said, “We should do this”. Now we say, “We will do this and put it on the blog.” Today, we share some of the new things we are doing and trying. And hopefully, you will be inspired to try some new things, too! (No pressure!) So here are some new things for the garden, a new vegetable we tried, an inexpensive craft, and two new creative tools/toys we have acquired.

NEW GARDEN ADDITIONS

IMG_3869 (2)

Hummingbird feeder

Inspired by Kevin’s sister Christine, this year we added a hummingbird feeder to our patio garden. We have never had one before but thought we would give it a shot. We were thrilled this week when Kevin saw our first hummingbird at the feeder. We heard that the feeders also can attract butterflies and are hoping to see those, too. The garden continues to be a great learning experience which brings color and joy into our lives.

New plant varieties

Last year, we grew cherry and beefsteak tomatoes for the first time. We were successful with the cherry tomotoes, netting a few dozen. The beefsteak plant yielded only one tomato, and we determined that type of tomato was less suited to container style gardening on our small patio. This year, we are growing 2 varieties of cherry tomatoes – Super Sweet 100 and Husky Cherry Red. New to our garden this year are peppers. The first bud on our Shishito Sweet Pepper plant is the featured photo at the top of today’s blog.

IMG_4057 (2)

As we’ve been sharing this spring, we planted some seeds and they seem to be coming along nicely. We’ve begun transplanting the seedlings. The marigold plants are doing especially well. It will be interesting to see by how many marigolds and pansies we get, as well as how much basil we end up with as the summer goes on.

TRYING A NEW VEGETABLE

IMG_4001 (2)

We are adding some new foods to our repertoire, and this week we chose celery root. Pretty huh? Here is a recipe we tried from Martha Stewart that was very good:

http://www.marthastewart.com/314078/celery-root-and-apple-slaw

One change we made was to grate the celery root and apple rather than cut them into matchsticks. Unless you have great knife skills and patience or a tool with which to make matchstick cuts, use your grater!

MAKING SOMETHING NEW OUT OF SOMETHING OLD

IMG_4000 (2)IMG_4024 (2)

We buy t-shirts as mementos while on vacation, but because they are so well-loved, they get worn a lot and become worn out. It comes to a point when you can only repair a t-shirt’s underarm holes so many times! Then what? One idea which works well is to frame them. The re-purposed t-shirts become artwork for the home and special reminders of our wonderful trips. Roy’s Cape Cod t-shirt looks great in an inexpensive white frame. Simply cut the image or words out, center and tape it to the cardboard that comes with the frame.

 NEW CREATIVE TOOLS/TOYS

IMG_3997 (3)

Thanks to our income tax returns, we have splurged on a couple of things we have wanted for a while. These will give us a chance to learn a new skill and to improve on an old one.

Camera: We love to take pictures and a few weeks ago, bought a new camera, an upgrade from our very functional Canon which was being held together with duct tape. The new camera is loaded with lots of great features and is a little intimidating. It’s going to take a while to learn to use it fully, but that’s part of the fun!

IMG_4031 (2)

In a similar (more extreme) vein, we bought a guitar! Roy has always wanted to learn to play and we got a good deal on one which came with a whole series of DVD lessons. Right now, Kevin is focused on learning the basics of the new camera while Roy has begun the guitar lessons. We are going to do our best and enjoy the challenges!

OBSTACLES

Of course, when trying new things you are going to encounter challenges and obstacles.         For example, we discovered that the DVD player on our hard drive is out of date and would not play the guitar lessons, and that cutting celery root into matchsticks can be tedious and time-consuming. But trial and error is part of the whole “new thing process”. It is a learning and growing, and in the case of our hard drive, updating, experience.

TRYING NEW THINGS IS GOOD FOR YOU

Click on the link to find out more!

http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/10/learn-something-new-your-brain-will-thank-you/

BE OPEN TO NEW THINGS

We encourage you to be adventurous. Try a new hobby, craft, sport or food. It’s good for you and keeps life interesting!

Enjoy

Roy and Kevin

Advertisements

Memorial Day Weekend

For many, Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff to the summer season. It’s a 3-day weekend for a lot of folks who celebrate with beach trips, BBQs and picnics. This week, we are sharing an idea for an indoor picnic that also can work outdoors and includes a few suggestions for easy and delicious picnic foods. We share this week’s garden update and, of course, make note of the real reason for Memorial Day, a chance to honor those who have served in the armed forces, past and present.

PARLOR PICNIC

Kevin’s family used to enjoy what his mom Irene called “parlor picnics,” when the weather or time restraints (we have to work until 4:00 pm on Memorial Day) did not make an outdoor picnic feasible. It’s picnic foods enjoyed in the living room. As his sister recalls, “sitting on the floor – hotdogs in hand”. We take that idea a little further and make our living room more festive by adding a checkered tablecloth, some floral decorations and the flag centerpiece.    (See photo at the top of the page.)

In most cases, Memorial Day and Fourth of July decor are interchangeable – double patriotic duty!

Here are some delicious foods for the occasion. They work great for our parlor picnic, or any outdoor gathering!

EASY OVEN-BAKED BBQ CHICKEN

We don’t have a grill, but we enjoy BBQ chicken. Here is a tasty version you can make in your oven. Easy and good!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You will need: Chicken, chili powder, your favorite bbq sauce.

This method can be used on small or large batches of any cut of chicken, with or without skin. Skin-on thighs are pictured. Adjust amounts of chili powder and bbq sauce to suit your taste.

Sprinkle chicken with chili powder. Bake for 1/2 hour. Coat each piece of chicken with                   2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce, bake another 1/2 hour. Enjoy!

IMG_3949 (2)

MICROWAVE CORN ON THE COB

Make corn on the cob quickly and easily in the microwave! Trim 2 ears of corn top and bottom so that they fit on a microwaveable plate as shown below (left). Microwave the corn on high for 6 minutes. One ear of corn will take about 4 minutes. Let sit 2 or more minutes before you open. To keep from burning your hands, use a paper towel to remove the hot corn husk and silk. Add your favorite toppings to the cooked corn. We like to spray ears with buttery spray and sprinkle with hot sauce or parmesan cheese.

IMG_3941 (2)IMG_3948 (2)

 

RED, WHITE AND BLUE

For a simple, quick patriotic dessert, top store-bought sponge cake dessert cups with fresh sliced strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream! Delicious!

IMG_3947 (2)

 

IMG_3951 (2)

One of our go-to quick crafts is making a coffee can vase using appropriate decorative paper to cover the can. We cut a hole in the cover to keep the flowers contained. A simple and fun craft!

GARDEN UPDATE                                                                                                                                    

Our garden is beginning to take shape. The seedlings continue to grow and Kevin planted our tomatoes and peppers. We were surprised yesterday to see we already have a tomato!

And away we go!

IMG_3974 (2)IMG_3980

THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

“All we have of freedom, all we use or know, this our fathers bought for us,                               long and long ago.”                                                                                                                                          – Rudyard Kipling (Source: inspirational quotes and quotations.com)

th99IH84DR

MANY THANKS.

Of course, the real reason we celebrate Memorial Day is to pay tribute and give thanks to all those in the armed forces who have fought, and in many cases have given their lives, to insure our freedom. We are very grateful to the men and women who sacrifice so much to keep this country safe. If you have a chance, attend a parade or other event in your area to honor our servicemen.

Click on the link below for an informative video about the history of Memorial Day.

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history

Here are pictures of two of our favorite veterans, our fathers, William J. Drew (left photo), and Warren Wollschlager, shown with Irene and their attendants on their wedding day.

scan0001Kevins parents wedding pics

“How important is it for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes”                    – Maya Angelou (Source: Quotegarden.com)

Thanks to all who serve – past and present.

Roy and Kevin

 

Spring Things!

This weekend is the second leg of the Triple Crown – the Preakness – from Baltimore, MD. It’s been 37 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, so we will be rooting for Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah to take the race.

Gardening time is here! We bought a bunch of plants on Mother’s Day and are in the midst of getting our garden together. We got our plants at Lowe’s and a local store, Ann and Hope, which has a great gardening section. For flowers this year, we bought petunias, snap dragons and lobelia. We also picked up tomato and pepper plants, as well as soil and other necessities.

SPEAKING OF . . .

Our seedlings continue to thrive and we look forward to incorporating them into the garden. This year we planted marigolds, pansies and basil. Salsa, pesto and potpourri anyone?

IMG_3889 (2)

BRINGING THE INDOORS OUT

IMG_2250 (2)

Pictured: Wooden desk in 2014 garden                                                                             

Over the last few years, we’ve used old indoor furniture (tables, desks, etc.) in the patio garden. They become great, functional outdoor pieces. It’s fun to do this and the formerly unwanted furniture looks really attractive in the garden. The desk pictured above was nice but sadly missing a drawer. We turned the front of the desk to the fence and ended up with a great garden table! The shelves underneath are perfect for pots and other gardening accessories. Over time, the furniture takes on a distressed, weathered look. Of course, these items are not made to withstand outdoor conditions and eventually may need to be replaced. You could make the furniture last longer by storing it during the winter months.

NEW ADDITION

A new addition to 2015’s garden is this shelf, which was handcrafted by Roy’s father. This piece has been in storage for 15 years and we had no place for it in our apartment. We are excited to re-purpose the shelf and we are sure that Roy’s father, Bill, who loved to grow flowers, would approve.

IMG_3904 (3)

 

TOOLBOX PLANTER

A few years ago, we got the idea of using an old toolbox as a planter. It worked great, and we decided to do another one this year. We found this old toolbox, cleaned it well, lined the bottom with gravel for drainage, and added potting soil and flowers. The final result is the featured image for this blog. We think it makes a clever and interesting planter. Not into the rustic look? Paint the planter in your favorite color using a rust resistant spray paint. Almost anything can be used as a planter. We’ve seen everything from dishes to rubber boots! It’s fun to experiment with this idea, and we’d love to see pics showing your creative planters!

IMG_3880 (2)IMG_3883 (2)

 

THE PREAKNESS

The Preakness is Saturday, May 16th. We enjoy watching the Triple Crown races and picking our horses. Just like on Kentucky Derby Day, we check the entries and mark our choices on these simple forms. For fun, and to increase our odds, we include a second group of picks.

IMG_3771 (3)

 

For more information on the Preakness, check here:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2458498-preakness-2015-odds-and-predictions-for-american-pharoah-in-triple-crown-race

OH, FOOD AND DRINK FOR THE RACE!

Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay is known for seafood – most notably crab. Here, we salute Maryland with a recipe for Crab Cakes from Rachael Ray.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/crab-cakes-with-roasted-red-pepper-sauce-recipe.html

Not a fan of crab? Try this horseradish bacon chip dip! Get it? Horseradish dip!

http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/sauce-spread/dip/bacon-horseradish-chip-dip.html

Every race in the triple crown has a traditional cocktail. The Kentucky Derby has the Mint Julip. For the Preakness, it’s the Black-Eyed Susan. Check out this link for the recipe for this cocktail and other pre-race drinks.

http://www.southernliving.com/food/entertaining/race-day-cocktail-drink-recipes/black-eyed-susan-cocktails-recipe-preakness

MARYLAND, MY MARYLAND

Each race also has its own song. Here is some information about the song that kicks off the Preakness – “Maryland, My Maryland”. (Careful . . . listening to this song might make you want to buy a Christmas tree!)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland,_My_Maryland

Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin

 

Mother’s Day is a Special Day!

 

“… and she rejoiced as only mothers can in the good fortunes of her children.”                                                                                                                                           – Louisa May Alcott

 

We are both blessed to have had mothers who loved us very much. Roy’s mom, Phyllis, died 40 years ago this past February, and Kevin’s mom, Irene, passed away in April 2014. We dedicate this post to them. Today we are sharing a couple of easy gift ideas. We also chose recipes which remind us of our mothers.

The photos above are: (L) Irene with daughter Christine and Kevin, (R) Phyllis and Roy.

PAINTED POTS

We embellished these terra cotta pots with acrylic paints. They make great gifts and are so easy a child could do it with a little supervision. The painted flowers are very simple. Use a cotton swap dipped in paint and create a flower by making a circle of 5 dots. Add a dot in a contrasting color to make the center, then paint a simple leaf on each side of the blossom. Include a painted message. Acrylic paints dry in less than an hour. Add a lovely plant, some faux flowers (as shown) or make the pot into a gift basket. (Hint: Double-click on any photo in our blogs to see a larger version.)

IMG_3823 (2)IMG_3819 (2)

 

GARDENING GIFT BASKET 

We made this simple basket out of a watering can with a few basic necessities for the garden:   a small spade, a garden claw and some nice garden gloves. Plants add nice color. Seed packets and/or a gift card to the local nursery would finish off this gift quite nicely. Don’t forget that your help planting will be very much appreciated!

IMG_3809 (2)

 

THIS WEEK’S GARDEN UPDATE

Our seedlings are doing very well! Following directions, we are now putting them in full sun.

IMG_3862 (2)

 

JUST LIKE MOM USED TO MAKE

IMG_3855 (2)

We all have some foods which, when we have them or even think of them, evoke special memories. Very often, those are the foods our mom’s made for us.

Kevin’s mom Irene made great meat loaf. Here is a tasty meat loaf recipe from Allrecipes.com:

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Classic-Meatloaf/Detail.aspx?evt19=1&referringHubId=998

Roy’s mom Phyllis used to make delicious soft molasses cookies.                                                 Here is a recipe for molasses cookies from Food.com.

http://www.food.com/recipe/soft-molasses-cookies-260971

MOTHER’S DAY FACTS

  • Roughly 65 per cent of all greeting card sales occur within the 5 days before Mother’s Day. (Huffington Post)
  • Mother’s Day is the highest volume phone day of the year. (History.com)                                                                                                                    

Click on the link below for some more interesting information (check out the video):

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/mothers-day

JOKE OF THE WEEK

Why do mother kangaroos hate rainy days? Because their kids have to play inside.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Roy & Kevin

 

Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo and more!

Last week, we were between holidays and events. This week, we double up with the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 2nd, and then Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday, May 5th. But first …

…GARDEN UPDATE

IMG_3741 (2)

We have sprouts! They came up surprisingly fast and we are psyched!

 THE KENTUCKY DERBY 

We love to watch the Triple Crown, starting this week with the Kentucky Derby. Kevin tends to make his picks by looking at the odds. Roy chooses them if he likes the name or the human interest story (they all have one!). Over the years, Roy has done better picking the winners!

Here is a link for more information about this year’s Run for the Roses!

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2449745-kentucky-derby-contenders-2015-triple-crown-odds-and-picks-for-top-favorites

WIN, PLACE AND SHOW CARDS

Once we pick our favorites, we often pick a second trio, just for fun and to widen the chance of picking a winner. This year, we made up some very simple sheets to keep track of our choices. If you are hosting a Kentucky Derby party, have guests complete the forms. The winner could get roses or some lottery scratch tickets (we’ve used horseshoe-themed ones). Galloping fun!

IMG_3771 (3)

A mint julep is the traditional drink for the Kentucky Derby. We’ve made this drink for previous derbies, and didn’t care for it. This year, we decided to take the major flavors of a mint julep, bourbon and mint, and go in a different direction by having Bourbon BBQ Pork and Minty Iced Tea (and maybe a couple of beers).

BBQ PORK WITH BOURBON AND CHIPOTLE SAUCE

IMG_3747 (2)

You will need a 2.5 lb boneless pork loin roast; 2 tablespoons canola oil; 1 teaspoon each chile powder and garlic herb mix, combined; 1 bottle bourbon flavored BBQ sauce (we used Hak’s Chipolte Bourbon BBQ sauce); 1 small onion, chopped; 3/4 cup chicken broth and 3/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced.

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat canola oil in skillet at medium heat for 1 minute. Coat roast with chile powder and garlic herb mix combination. Brown roast in skillet 2 minutes on each side. Remove roast and place in casserole dish on top of roasted peppers. Brown chopped onions in skillet, deglaze pan with chicken broth and pour onion/broth mixture over pork roast in casserole dish. Top pork with 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of BBQ sauce. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours or until tender. If it starts to dry out while cooking, add more BBQ sauce. Serve with sides of your choice or shred for great BBQ pork sandwiches topped with your favorite cole slaw. DELICIOUS!

MINT ICED TEA                                                                                                                                               Skip the hangover and enjoy this tea! We use Splenda instead of suger for this southern sweet tea recipe. Taste’s great!

http://www.food.com/recipe/iced-sweet-mint-tea-91292

SING IT!                                                                                                                                                           

My Old Kentucky Home, written by Stephen Foster in 1853, is the official song of the Kentucky Derby. It was designated as the Kentucky state song in 1928. Traditionally, the University of Louisville marching band plays it to open the derby every year. Source: About Travel

CINCO de MAYO 

Ironically, Cinco de Mayo, which translates to the 5th of May, is celebrated more widely in the United States then it is in Mexico. May 5th has always been a special day, because it is Roy’s sister Lyn and her husband Billy’s wedding anniversary. We love Mexican food and celebrating, so we’re happy to double up on the party! Happy 40th Anniversary, Lyn and Billy!!!

Here is some basic info about Cinco De Mayo:

http://latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/thehistoryofmexico/p/10cincodemayobasics.htm

A couple of food ideas for Cinco de Mayo:

JALAPENO BITES

A spicy appetizer from Mexico’s own Tricia Yearwood! (Actually, she is from Georgia but knows her way around a jalapeno, which she shows with this tasty appetizer.)

IMG_3730 (2)

Our pre-baked version is pictured above. Sour cream made a cooling dip for the bites. Check out Trisha’s recipe in the link below:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/jalapeno-bites-recipe.html

MEXICAN PIZZA

We make the Mexican pizza’s shown at the top of this blog all the time. They are easy and healthier than the ones you get at fast food places.

Preheat oven to 350.

YOU WILL NEED:

1 package of whole wheat tortillas, one 16 oz can of pinto beans in medium spice chili sauce (we get ours at Target), 1/2 of a 16 oz can fat-free refried beans, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1 package of reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese. Toppings such as diced tomatoes, guacamole, chopped lettuce, pickled jalapeno slices, olives, green onions, taco sauce and sour cream.

HOW TO MAKE:

Place 4 tortillas on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 5 minutes on each side.

In a small saucepan, combine both types of beans and cumin and heat thoroughly.

Remove tortillas from oven.

Top tortillas with bean mixture, leaving half-inch border on all sides.

Top with cheese.

Heat in oven for 5-7 minutes.

Garnish with toppings and enjoy!

This recipe has no meat, but you can add any meat you like. Just put cooked meat on top of the beans and cover cheese before baking. Hint: If there is any leftover Bourbon Chipotle BBQ Pork from Derby-Day, it would be great on this pizza!

HOLY GUACAMOLE!!!

According to the California Avocado Commission, American’s consume 81 million avocados during Cinco de Mayo celebrations! Pass the hot sauce!  Source: mstarz.com

JOKE OF THE WEEK

What did the retired race horse say to the colt who just arrived at the stable? Welcome to the naaayyyborhood! Source: Roy Drew

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin