Monthly Archives: September 2015

Reentry and Splashdown!

We just thoroughly enjoyed a mini-vacation. It started off with 2 nights at the beach. Then we went to visit family and enjoy Kevin’s brother’s retirement gala. Our third state in four days ended with a delicious dinner at another hotel. Finally, we made it home in time to see the New England Patriots win on Sunday. (Phew!) Here are some tips for reentry from vacation, an easy way to display vacation photos, a quick and tasty dessert, and this week’s garden update. Also, a look at what the bears did while they were home alone.

TIP (IN HINDSIGHT)

We had a great time on our vacation, but forgot to bring several items, including cell phone chargers, a corkscrew, extra batteries and our beach chairs. The real issue was not having a good vacation to-do-list. It seems so simple, but have a master list of what to do, what to pack and what to buy to prepare for your vacation. Check it twice! Santa is onto something!

HOW TO MAKE REENTRY EASIER

FOOD

Last week, we offered a great recipe for baked ziti, which we prepared and had waiting for us in the freezer for our return. We realized it would have been nice to have dessert, too!

These ice cream sandwiches would have fit the bill.

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Using store-bought cookies and ice cream, these fun treats are quick and easy to make.

You will need:

Ice cream, cookies, sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips, and other toppings of your choice. Lots of cookie and ice cream combos are possible – let your imagination and taste buds decide! Today, we used chocolate cookies with fudge swirl ice cream and chocolate sprinkles. Our second sandwich features iced oatmeal cookies with vanilla ice cream, raisins and walnuts.

To make:

  • Cover a sheet tray with parchment or waxed paper and place it in the freezer.
  • Spread each topping on individual plates.
  • Put 1 scoop of ice cream onto a cookie. Cover with another cookie. Roll cookie sandwich like a wheel in the topping of your choice, coating the ice cream. Pop this onto sheet tray in freezer.
  • Allow to set in freezer for 1 hr. If not eating immediately, wrap sandwiches tightly in wax paper.

How about you?

What would make your reentry from vacation or a long weekend better? Perhaps your favorite coffee, a nice bottle of wine, or a couple of lottery tickets to scratch? Have something fun for your vacation reentry – not just doing the laundry!

PUT UP THOSE PHOTOS! (no pressure)

Don’t leave your vacation photos in your camera or cell phone. We take lots of photos during vacation, and print out and display some of them clothesline-style on a 6-foot piece of jute, strung between two tacks. The photos are attached with painted clothespins. They are a great way to keep that vacation spirit alive. These are pictures from the beach and the retirement party.

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Bonus picture: Here’s a pretty sunset we saw in Westerly, RI!

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GARDEN UPDATE

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The warm weather so far this September has been a boon for our garden. We were pleased to pick a bunch of tomatoes and a few peppers when we came home from vacation. The herbs actually looked better, which leads us to think we may have been over watering them. The miniature marigolds grown from seed are still hanging in there!

VEGETABLE ART

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THE BEARS

The bears did their best to stow away, as you can see,

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but they stayed home and managed to keep themselves entertained.

They were supposed to tackle their summer reading list, but instead they ate popcorn and watched endless loops of Winnie the Pooh, Paddington Bear, and The Jungle Book!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

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Nice to get away!

With a vacation coming up, we share some ways to save money and eat well on vacation and then have a smooth transition for when we return home from vacation. Also, we have a garden update and check in on the bears latest exploits.

FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD!

EATING OUT:                                                                                                                                            One of the pleasures of a getaway is eating out. Research which restaurants are available where you are going to stay. Look for coupons and deals on-line. And plan to splurge once in a while!

IN THE ROOM:                                                                                                                                        Does your room have a microwave and fridge? With a little planning, you can eat things you like and save a few dollars. Why not pick up some bread, cold cuts or canned tuna to make sandwiches. If you have a microwave, cold cuts, cheese and a tortilla make a tasty, warm wrap. Also, corn on the cob is easy to microwave (how-to’s on our Fourth of July blog). Check on-line to see if your vacation location has a farmer’s market. Get some fresh veggies and fruit for a quick snack or lunch when paired with cheese and bread. Great way to support local farmers!

WHEN YOU GET BACK:                                                                                                                             We like to have a nice meal like lasagna or meatloaf waiting for us in the freezer when we get back from a getaway. It makes coming home easier. This week, we made and froze pieces of baked ziti with ricotta. It has all the flavors of lasagna but takes less time. All it will need is a quick re-heat in the microwave when we return from vacation.

CHEESY BAKED ZITI

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This baked ziti has all the flavor of lasagna with a third of the work.

You will need:

1 tablespoon olive oil; 1 medium onion, chopped; 1 medium bell pepper, chopped; 1 cup sliced mushrooms; 1 lb. ground turkey; one 13.25 oz. box cooked rigatoni whole wheat pasta; 4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce; one 32 oz. can diced tomatoes; one 2 lb. container part skim ricotta; 3/4 cup grated parmesan; one 8 oz. package Italian blend shredded cheese; 1/2 tablespoon chili powder; 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano; 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce,         1 clove grated garlic; 1/2 teaspoon garlic herb mix and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Fresh basil for topping ziti.

How to prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Over medium heat, saute peppers, onions and mushrooms in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add ground turkey and cook for 5 minutes or until turkey is browned. Stir in chili powder, oregano, Worcestershire sauce and grated garlic. Add diced tomatoes and sauce. Cook mixture for 10 minutes. Add cooked pasta to meat sauce.

In a separate bowl, mix ricotta with parmesan cheese, garlic herb mix, and pepper.

Spray a 10 x 16 x 2 inch pan with cooking spray. Spread a single layer of the pasta and meat sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan. Make sure bottom is covered but that the pasta is in a single layer. Spoon ricotta mixture as evenly as possible on top of pasta layer. Top cheese layer with rest of pasta. Sprinkle with shredded cheese mixture. Cover pan with foil and bake ziti at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an addition 20 minutes until browned. Top with chopped fresh basil if desired.

PHOTOS

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We love to take a lot of photos when we are on vacation. We print up some of the best ones and display them in our home, where they are easy to see and provide great reminders of good times.

Framing some of your pictures is great, but you also can display your vacation photos “clothesline style”.  We put up this mini clothesline on our wall and clip vacation photos to it. Our clothesline is a piece of jute attached to the wall with tacks. We hang photos and mementos on them with clothespins which we have painted various colors. We also glue shells found on the beach to a few of the clothespins with hot glue. This idea works great for displaying cards, lottery tickets, and reminders, too!

GARDEN UPDATE

We picked a few tomatoes and peppers and topped our ziti with some of our home-grown basil.

Here is this weeks veggie art masterpiece!

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Quote of the week:                                                                                                                                   Laughter is an instant vacation! Milton Berle

THE BEARS

We’re not sure if the bears will be successful with their stowaway attempt (see above) but they have made the best of things anyway!

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Speaking of getaways, we would like to congratulate the silver bear on his retirement and thank him for being a fun part of the blog! We also congratulate Kevin’s brother, Bruce, on his retirement and look forward to sharing in the celebration later this week!

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Happy travels!

Roy and Kevin

 

Talkin’ About Walkin’

We are gearing up for our annual participation in the local Providence AIDS walk this Sunday, September 13th. With that in mind, the focus of this week’s post is “walking”, as we touch on walking for exercise, gallery art walks and walks for charity. We also feature photography and our garden and sports updates. Finally, we check in on the bears one more time.

EXERCISE

We love to walk – it is an excellent, low-impact exercise. Here is a great post from real simple magazine (they do not use capital letters!). This multi-page post highlights the benefits of walking and offers specific walking guidelines.

http://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/benefits-walking

Simple energizing snack: A quick pre- or post-walk snack we enjoy is equal parts unsalted peanuts and raisins. Tasty and easy!

ARTS

Many communities offer art walks or gallery nights to support the local arts community.

We are fortunate to have many art galleries within walking distance in Providence. The galleries offer discounted rates once a month during “Gallery Night”. Transportation also is available for those who may need it. Art walks are a great way to check out your local galleries.

In the Providence area? Here is info on our Gallery Night – next one is 09/17:

http://www.gallerynight.org/

Western MA folks check out “artwalk” in Easthampton, MA, on 9/12:

http://www.easthamptoncityarts.com/artwalk

Look in your area to see if there are any arts walks. It’s a great, inexpensive way to learn more about your local art scene!

CHARITY 

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Roy was 10 when did his first charity walk in Springfield, MA. It was called, “Step Out For People”, a walk to raise money for Forest Park, the city’s major park. He participated in this annual walk several times. Those donating would pledge per mile for the walk, which was 25 miles! 25 miles!!! This was the 1970s and parents let their kids walk, often by themselves, through the streets of Springfield, MA, for 25 miles! They did the 25-mile thing a few times and then saner heads prevailed, and 10k or 5k walks became the norm. Everyone got buttons (pictured above) whether they made 25 miles (25 miles!!!) or not.

AIDS Walk

We have been doing AIDS walks together since we first met in 1995, in Springfield, MA. Sunday will be our 7th AIDS Walk in Providence since we moved here 8 years ago. Had to work one year when they had the walk on a Saturday – though we still donated to the cause! All the money raised during these nationwide walks stays local – helping those who are living with HIV and AIDS. If you would like to support us this year, click on the link below to donate. THANK YOU!!!

http://www.firstgiving.com/team/303880

Look for information on-line for local fund-raising walks in your area. A great way to support your favorite cause, meet people and get some exercise!

TAKE PHOTOS

Whether you are walking for health, arts or charity, don’t forget to take photos. Most phones have decent cameras these days, so snap away, print and frame! Get those pics off your phone and out into the world for people to see and enjoy. Roy was on a walk today and saw these beautiful roses. (An unexpected late bloom because of the heat wave!)

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GARDEN UPDATE

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Another surprising bonus from this early September heat wave is that the Shishito peppers have kicked back in. We picked six today, and have 20-plus new blossoms on the plant. The Super Sweet 100 Tomato Plant has at least 30 buds, while the Husky Cherry Red has more than 25 tomatoes in various stages of ripeness. Our mini-marigolds are hanging in as the picture above shows. Hoping to keep the warm temperatures going a little longer!

VEGGIE ART

Title : Which way? This way? No . . . No . . . That Way! 

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SPORTS UPDATE

The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady, are kicking off this year’s NFL season on Thursday, September 10th, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Gillette Stadium will be rocking!!! GO PATRIOTS!!!

THE BEARS

The bears have finished their walk, changed into their Patriots gear and grabbed their pom poms. They are ready for some football!!!

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JOKE OF THE DAY

“Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.” Steven Wright

Source: searchquotes.com

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

 

 

United We Stand for Labor Day!

Labor Day Is great because it celebrates the contributions workers have made in our country. We both come from hardworking families and decided to devote this week’s blog to Labor Day. Included are some quotes and articles, some personal reasons why we support unions, our repurposed lunchbox, tipping advice, and ways to keep your workday lunch cool. Of course, there also is a garden update. Some of this week’s post is serious and some fun. We think it’s a good balance.

HERE’S THE SERIOUS STUFF

LABOR DAY HISTORY

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. Here are an excellent article and some great videos with info about the history of Labor Day.

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

A great quote from one of our favorite columnists:

“Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.” Molly Ivins

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Unions help working families; they certainly helped ours. Here are two, from what could be many, personal examples of the benefits unions provided our families:

Roy’s Family;

Roy’s mother, Phyllis, battled breast cancer for 5 years from 1970 until her death in 1975. Had the family not had decent health insurance, which was secured by the union at his father, Bill’s, work, Roy’s family never could have afforded her treatment and could have lost their home.

Kevin’s Family:

Kevin’s father, Warren, passed away, leaving a pension to his widow, Kevin’s mom, Irene. Irene collected that pension until she passed away 20 plus years later. Had the union not secured that pension, she would have had to get by on a much smaller income.

LESS SERIOUS STUFF:

The Iconic Lunchbox

Roy’s father, Bill, carried this lunchbox to work for many years. Being a metal worker came in handy when he had to fashion a new handle after the original one wore out. These days, it is back to work for the lunchbox as a holder for our markers and crayons. Having it around brings back good memories for Roy. It also reminds us that its important to balance work and fun and what is more fun than being creative?

IMG_5227 (2)IMG_5229 (2)Lunchbox tip: 

A great way to keep the contents of a lunch bag or box cold is to include an ice pack (the type that you use in coolers). If an ice pack is not available, a frozen water bottle or juice box also works great. It keeps your food cold and will de-frost in time to quench your thirst during lunch. Plus, it’s a space-saver! Another option to keep your lunch cold is to wet a new sponge and freeze it in a Ziploc bag. The frozen sponge will keep your lunch chilled and then act as a moist wipe when it thaws. (Make sure its a new sponge, not the one hanging out by the sink!)

SPEAKING OF TIPS, HERE’S SOME GOOD GUIDELINES (from Emily post, no less!)

Tipping: There are many professions whose employees rely largely on tipping. Here is an article with appropriate guidelines for tipping.

http://www.emilypost.com/out-and-about/tipping/89-general-tipping-guidelines

GARDEN UPDATE

Because of this week’s heat wave, we had a surprising, late-season tomato surge, harvesting 60 plus tomatoes. Only a few peppers.

Here is this weeks veg art piece:

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AN IMPORTANT REMINDER

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Source: the other 98%

THE BEARS

The hard-working bears featured above have earned the right to relax this Labor Day weekend!

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Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin