Monthly Archives: August 2015

“Wrapping” Up Summer!

In our families, we have been called the fun uncles, hence the title, “funclesarts”. One of the goals of this blog has been to share some of our creative gift ideas. This week, we offer a fun gift idea for kids and our taco fries are a special gift for Mexican food lovers. Finally, let’s “rap” about our stamped gift wrap, which is sure to please!

GIFT FOR KIDS

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Recently, Roy visited family members who rented a house in Narragansett, RI. We wanted to give a couple of gifts to the little ones, aged 4 years and 18 months. We found these inexpensive pails and shovels, emblazoned with Disney characters, Minnie Mouse and Cars. Roy’s 4-year old great niece’s bucket included coloring books, washable crayons and markers, bubble solution and wands. Her brother’s bucket had picture books and coloring books. Roy had a great visit and a good time was had by all (except for Kevin who had to work).

TACO FRIES

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Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

You will need: 4 medium russet potatoes, 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix from the packet – we buy the low sodium type.

How to make: Cut potatoes into wedges. We get about 8 wedges per potato. Toss with oil and taco seasoning mix. Bake 15 minutes. Flip fries and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with your favorite condiments or Mexican toppings, including sour cream, salsa or guacamole. Kevin likes these with ketchup (huh!) Very versatile!

GIFT WRAP

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Inexpensive stamps and ink pads transform brown wrapping paper and newsprint into personalized gift wrap. Use fun stickers for the recipient’s name to finish the presentation!

 

 

 

GARDEN UPDATE

As the end of summer nears, our garden crop has become less productive. We picked only a few tomatoes and peppers this week. On the positive side, there are a lot of blossoms on the pepper plant and many green tomatoes. Hoping that the hot, humid weather predicted for the upcoming week will yield a late-season harvest. Our basil plants continue to thrive – great in sauces, salads and pesto!

After a slow start this summer, our pansy plants, grown from seed, are having a late-season coming out party!

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VEG ART

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This week, we welcome one of August’s most anticipated guests – the native tomato!!! It is a lifetime favorite of ours and a delicious addition to the basil, peppers and cherry tomatoes from our own garden. Add some mozzarella and call it caprese salad!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/caprese-salad-recipe.html

BEACH PICTURES

Candid shots of Roy’s family enjoying the beach in Narragansett, RI. Nothing better!

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JOKE OF THE WEEK:                                                                                                                                What color socks do bears wear? The don’t wear socks, they have bear feet!  (source:enchantedlearning.com)

BEARS

Looks like the bears got into the ribbons – again!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

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One idea evolves into another. . .

EVEN THE TITLE EVOLVED

Originally, the title of this blog was going to be, “Oh evolve”, but we changed it to, “One idea evolves into another. . .”, which is more fitting.

We were thinking about how things are created, about how ideas are formed, and we started thinking about how one idea leads to another. With that concept in mind, we share our loaded potato bake, our fun dessert idea and a few other tips and tricks which came about because one idea leads into another, which leads into another, and so on, and so on . . .

LOADED POTATO BAKE

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We are potato fans. One recent night, our favorite oven fries were on the menu, but we had just had them a few days ago. So we switched to roasted potatoes. Spuds were in short supply, so we added broccoli to bulk up the side dish, and topped it with cheddar cheese. At that point, we realized the dish was evolving into a deconstructed (sorry – pretentious but accurate!) stuffed potatoes. Going with that idea, we topped the dish with bacon and green onions. It turned out great and it is now one of our favorite potato recipes.

To make this you will need:

4 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces; 1 lb. bag frozen broccoli; 2 tablespoons canola oil; 1/2 teaspoon chili powder; 1/2 teaspoon garlic herb mix (we use salt-free Mrs. Dash); 3/4 cup cheddar cheese; 2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled; 1/4 cup chopped scallions.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the potatoes in water until they are fork tender; drain well. Put potatoes in oven-safe dish, add oil and seasonings, mix well. Top with cheese and bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and green onions. Serve with sour cream, ketchup (Kevin’s favorite) or condiment of your choice, if desired. (Hint: Loaded potatoes not your cup of tea? These potatoes are delicious baked with just the oil and seasonings, or use your favorite veggies to evolve this potato dish even further – we’d love to hear you’re ideas!)

TEDDY BEAR PUDDING CUP

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One night, we were having sugar-free pudding cups for dessert. They are a quick and tasty dessert, but are sold in disposable plastic cups and are not very fancy, We transferred the pudding to ramikins and added some crumbled graham crackers and whipped cream. It was delicious, like a mini chocolate cream pie. Fake it ’til you make it!

This quick dessert evolved when we discovered Teddy Bear Graham Crackers. They have the same taste as graham crackers but they are more fun – and the box has A LOT of tasty bears, which are great for snacking. Plus, there are different flavors for different puddings.

QUICK PLANT STAND

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A glass cake stand works perfectly to elevate this overgrown phylodendron plant. It does the job and adds great sparkle!

LIBRARY INSPIRATION

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Our Rhode Island Public Library System is stellar and includes a great selection of arts and crafts books. We don’t always make the projects as written in the books we check out, but we do use them to inspire our own creative projects. Find your libraries – be inspired!

GARDEN UPDATE

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Our seasonal flowers (marigolds. petunias, Impatiens) are doing well. The vibrant blue lobelia have been a pleasure all summer, but are now struggling. We’re hoping for one more comeback. We continue to harvest peppers, tomatoes and basil. A quick count has 100+ cherry tomatoes in various stages of ripeness. This week, we used the tomatoes in salad, and the peppers in “Sloppy Joes”.

A Favorite Tip: Add fresh vegetables to canned Sloppy Joe sauce to give it a homemade taste.

This weeks garden art (impressionist)!

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What do you get when you cross a thought with a light bulb? A bright idea!                     (Source:Jokes4us.com)

THE BEARS

The Bears are constantly coming up with new ideas!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Mystery Solved – Fun!

After being without power for 3 and 1/2 days, it has taken a while to get back in the groove with the blog and with life in general. We thought we should devote this post to fun! (Hey, why not?)

In this spirit, we offer our simple, make-in-a-bowl chicken tender recipe. Who doesn’t love chicken tenders? Plus, as seen above, the bears are trying to solve this week’s fun treasure hunt and, of course, we share our weekly garden update.

CRISPY CHICKEN TENDERS

These crispy chicken tenders are delicious and very easy to make. We simplified the breading process, so it all happens in one large bowl. How fun!!!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders, pieces cut in half.

1 beaten egg, 3 tablespoons flour, 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan,             1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic herb mix.

How to prepare:

Place chicken pieces in a bowl, add flour and toss until coated. Add beaten egg to chicken and toss to coat. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, parmesan and spices. Coat chicken pieces with bread crumb mixture.

Place chicken pieces on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle any leftover bread crumb topping over chicken. Bake 15 minutes, turn chicken and bake an additional 15 minutes until golden brown. Serve with dipping sauces such as ketchup, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, cranberry sauce or whatever you like. This chicken comes out crispy – no frying involved!

TREASURE HUNT

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We like to do fun, at-home scavenger hunts. This has evolved over the years, dating back to one of Kevin’s birthdays when Roy hid his gifts. On a whim, Roy wrote up clues for Kevin to find his presents. It was a lot of fun and we have been doing this sort of thing from time to time ever since. This idea is only limited by your imagination and your clue-making ability! Know your audience to keep the hunt fun!

Hide the “treasures”: Put the treasures (scratch tickets, gifts, etc.) in books, behind pictures, in drawers, wherever.

Write up the clues: Invent fun clues that aren’t too difficult, but be clever, if possible.

Number the clues: Each clue should be numbered in the order you want the recipient to find the treasures.

When time comes to guess the answers, don’t be too hard on the guesser. If they are having trouble, give them additional hints and help them find the items if necessary. This should be fun!!!

Here’s a recap of one of our recent scavenger hunts (the prize was scratch tickets):

Clue: “This silver friend treasures his reading material.”

Answer: The silver bear’s copy of Treasure Island. 

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Clue: “You’re sure to fall in love with old …”  t-shirt (tough clue if not familiar with the song!)

Answer: Behind the framed Cape Cod T-Shirt

 

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 Clue: “Bean Town Beanie “

Answer: Under the Red Sox hat (this one was hard because we have a lot of Red Sox hats!)

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BUBBLES

What is more fun than bubbles? Here’s a link to show you some bubble how-to’s!

http://www.grandparents.com/grandkids/activities-games-and-crafts/sshow-fun-bubble-ideas-for-a-sunny-day

GARDEN UPDATE

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We planted sea grass a couple of years ago. We didn’t plant it this year, but we are pleased to see a few sprouts of it pop up in our garden. We decided not to pull them but let them grow and add some character and height to our patio garden.

Our basil is abundant! This week, we made this delicious pesto with basil from our garden.

whttp://www.food.com/recipe/basil-walnut-pesto-45348

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Bears are on the case: The bears are in disguise for this week’s treasure hunt and looking to Sherlock Holmes for inspiration.

 

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Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin

An Enlightening (yet dark) Week!

WHAT HAPPENED

This week, a major storm, called a macroburst, hit parts of RI and CT. With little warning, severe thunderstorms hit our state, Rhode Island, at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 4th, with sustained winds of over 80 miles per hour. Trees were uprooted, telephone and electric poles toppled and power was interrupted for more than 100,000 people in Rhode Island alone. Our city, Warwick, was one of the hardest hit. Fortunately, no one in Warwick was seriously injured. Unfortunately, the storm caused us to lose power for 3 and 1/2 days. No ac, no lights, no hot water, no ability to cook (always wanted a gas stove!), and no refrigerator. In the office, we had to work without the computer, voicemail, lights and ac.

Here is a glimpse of what happened:

http://www.warwickonline.com/stories/We%20were%20slammed,104608

http://wnpr.org/post/thousands-lost-power-rhode-island-and-connecticut-following-fierce-storms#stream/0

WHAT WE DID

It’s unsettling when unexpected events like this happen. In our current home in Warwick, power outages have never lasted longer than a few hours, and we hoped that would be the case this time. As the severity of the situation became more apparent, we did a few things that were helpful.

GATHER THE LIGHTS

There are several flashlights in our home that we use all of the time, as well as a bunch of flameless candles and an Old Brooklyn Lantern (as seen on TV!). It was helpful to gather them all in one spot so they were available when needed.

RADIO

Other than in the car, we don’t listen to the radio that often. Our old battery-operated boombox has a radio. We dug it out of our storage space and managed to scrape up the six “C” batteries needed for the radio by pulling them out of other items. The radio helped to keep us informed and entertained throughout the week.

SHELF STABLE FOODS

Dinner the first night without power was tuna and some mayo, which was still cold and safe to eat. Dinner on Wednesday and Thursday came from restaurants. Crackers, peanut butter, soda, cereal and other shelf stable items (cookies!) were picked up for quick snacks and lunches.

EMERGENCY SUN TEA

Like many of us, Roy needs his coffee or tea in the morning to get going. With no electricity, that became a challenge. He put 8 teabags in a half-gallon pitcher of water and let the heat of the sun work its magic for only an hour. The tea was strong enough to get Roy moving and be less cranky. If it’s raining, use the same method indoors – it will give enough of a caffiene jolt to do the trick.

FOOD SAFETY

Unfortunately, we had to throw out a lot of our refrigerated foods. Here is a link with advice on what to keep and what to toss in the event of a power outage.

http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html

PHONES

Before too long, our cell phones were out of juice. Kevin’s sister, Chris, suggested that we get a cell phone charger for the car, which was an unknown item to us. We were lucky there was still one left at our local Target store. It worked great and cost under 20 dollars. They also sell battery-operated radios with built-in cell phone chargers.

Our regular home phones are cordless, which means they don’t work in power outages. We used our classic Harley-Davidson motorcycle phone (pictured below) which plugs directly into the phone jack. (Sadly, the batteries for the “Vrooom Vrooom” ring tone were being used for our radio!)

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GARDEN UPDATE

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We lost Roy’s hand-painted flowerpot in the storm. This pot was made for the Mother’s Day blog post. All the other plants fared well! The tomatoes continue to be plentiful and we have a couple of new pansy blooms.

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At least 60 tomatoes and 10 peppers were harvested this week. We made a shrimp and pasta dish using our garden veggies and basil Friday night to celebrate getting our power back.

Garden Art – Here is this week’s master work!

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WHAT WE LEARNED

CASH Several of the banks in our area lost power for a couple of days, meaning ATM machines were down. If you can, have a kitty at home with some emergency cash when banks aren’t available. Power outages are expensive – lost food, eating out, buying batteries, etc.

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EMERGENCY SHELF We had most of the supplies we needed, but they were not in one place. Now, we have a shelf in our linen closet designated for emergency supplies – batteries, flashlights and other light sources, first aid kit, battery-operated radio, wall phone, cell phone charger, non-Dixie brand paper plates and cups, etc. (The picture above was staged for your viewing pleasure!)

Here is a great website for emergency readiness information

http://www.ready.gov/

SAVOR THE MOMENTS

it was a tough few days, but we enjoyed some things as well. Going out to dinner midweek, which is something we don’t often do, was a treat. Gift cards came in handy! Another highlight was the last night without power, listening to top 40 radio, eating takeout food by the light of our Old Brooklyn Lantern. This has inspired us to have a weekly “unplugged” night – no TV, computer or cell phone. Board games, cards, music and re-connecting will be the focus.

THE BEARS

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The bears helped lighten this week’s dark days!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

 

Short and sweet – just like the heat wave! (We hope!)

Much of the country is in the middle of a heat wave this week. During hot weather, staying comfortable and being creative can be a challenge. We decided to keep this post short, sweet, and cool. Here, we share a quick craft to make the simplest coasters you can imagine. Then, let’s cool things down with coffee-flavored iced cubes and a recipe for cold brew iced coffee. Plus, there is a garden update and we check to see how the bears are chillin’.

EASY TILE COASTERS 

Need some new coasters? Pick up a few ceramic tiles and some small self-stick cork protective pads. Adhere the self stick dots to the bottom four corners of each tile and within minutes – for less than a dollar each – instant coasters! We liked the look of both the flat and textured sides, so we made 2 of each. These are not dishwasher safe, but clean easily by wiping with a damp cloth. A perfect place for our iced coffees!

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CUBE IT UP!

We love iced coffee, but melting ice cubes weaken the flavor. A great solution is to fill up an ice-cube tray with black, unsweetened coffee and make coffee ice cubes. Easy and tasty! This is a very versatile idea. Freeze fruit, fruit juices or herbs to make your drinks more interesting and flavorful. Put lemonade cubes into iced tea, mint cubes into mojitos, fruit cubes into . . . well you get the point – be creative! How about tomato juice/horseradish ice cubes for a Bloody Mary?

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To keep the kitchen cooler, try this recipe for cold brew iced coffee:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/06/perfect-iced-coffee/

GARDEN UPDATE

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The garden is doing well. During the heat wave, we are watering at least 2 times a day. Our pansy plants, which we started from seed, are starting to bloom (2 so far). We must have done something wrong early on, resulting in the pansies lack of growth and slowness to bloom, but they finally are starting to produce. Looks pretty!

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We welcomed a new plant from our sister-in-law Sharon’s garden – a sweet potato vine. After a slow start, it’s thriving!

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On the veggie front, we are bringing in a few peppers and tomatoes every day.  This week, we used our harvest in several dishes, including a pasta salad, a tuna salad, and a tomato and cheese tart. Oh, and in our veggie art, as seen below and in this blogs featured image.             (No veggies were harmed in the production of this art!)
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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What did the air conditioner say to the man? I’m your biggest fan! (Source: jokes4us.com.)

“ICE ICE BEARY!”

The bears will do anything to stay cool! Here, they even put themselves on ice! Looks refreshing!

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ENJOY!

Roy and Kevin