Monthly Archives: December 2015

Fresh and Shiney New Year!!!

“Years end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that can instill in us. ” – Hal Borland (An author, not a character from TV’s, “Home Improvement”.)

Happy New Year! WOW!!! 2015 is almost over. It’s exciting to celebrate the beginning of a new year! This week, we offer our new dip recipe, which is full of fresh veggies. We also share our creative resolutions, give 2015’s last Patio Update, and, of course, check out the bears in their celebratory mode! As a bonus, we’ve included three more dip recipes from earlier blogs and instructions for our Happy New Year banner, featured with the bears above.

FRESH VEGGIE DIP

Everybody loves dip, but often they are made with powdered soup mixes, filled with dehydrated vegetables, salt and msg. Freshen things up with our easy and delicious veggie dip!

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Ingredients:

  • one 16 oz. container fat-free sour cream
  • 4 oz. room temperature, low-fat cream cheese
  • one small onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup broccoli, chopped and blanched for 2 minutes, then cooled in ice water
  • 3/4 cup carrots, boiled until tender and diced
  • two medium bell peppers, chopped (we like red and orange, but green is fine)
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • one clove grated garlic
  • one teaspoon hot sauce
  • two tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to make:

  • Saute peppers and onion in olive oil for three minutes.
  • Sprinkle grated garlic over peppers/onion mixture and saute for one minute.
  • Combine the peppers and onions with prepared broccoli and carrots.
  • Chill all the vegetables.
  • Place cream cheese and sour cream in food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Set aside 1/2 cup of chilled vegetable combo.
  • Add remaining vegetables, lemon juice and hot sauce to food processor.
  • Pulse until smooth.
  • Add the reserved vegetables to food processor. Pulse 3 or 4 times, leaving some chunks for texture.
  • Chill at least one hour.
  • Serve with chips, crackers or crudite.

DIP INTO THE PAST

Speaking of dips, one is never enough. Here are three other dip recipes we’ve shared in 2015!

 “No Tell” Queso Dip

https://funclesarts.com/2015/01/25/a-super-bowl-dip-lights-and-a-recycling-tip-now-thats-poetry/

Red Pepper/Chickpea Dip and Rosemary White Bean Dip

https://funclesarts.com/2015/07/02/lets-be-independent-together/

CREATIVE RESOLUTIONS FOR 2016 

Our goal for this blog is to explore many creative avenues, and in doing so, to learn and have fun. Here are some of our creative resolutions for 2016:

Experiment with new foods and recipes.

See more plays, movies and concerts.

Learn to use our new guitar and camera.

Make more creative gifts.

Go to more galleries and art shows.

Meet more creative people.

Expand on the creative things we already do or have done.

Try new things.

Please share your creative resolutions for 2016!

PATIO UPDATE

This has been a wonderful year for our patio garden. We grew a few plants from seed and tried and succeeded at growing some new vegetables and herb plants. Our patio’s use was extended with real and artificial decorations into the holiday season and will continue to be a source of light and color this winter. Thank you for your continued interest in our patio updates. Looking forward to a green, colorful 2016!!!

This week brought the first snowfall (our favorite snowfall – didn’t have to shovel!) and it looked nice with the greenery on the patio.

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FOOD ART

FRESH YEAR!

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas and progress. – Charles Kettering

NEW YEAR’S BANNER

Check out the link below from last year’s blog to make the banner featured above. Easy to update with a quick change of year from 2015 to 2016!

https://funclesarts.com/2014/12/31/happy-new-year/

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE HISTORY OF NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATIONS!

This link from History.com is the place to look for New Year’s facts and videos.

http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/new-years

THE BEARS

The bears (featured above) are polished and shining for their New Year’s celebration!!!

OUR WISH FOR YOU IN 2016

We wish you a happy, healthy, fun, creative and prosperous 2016!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin!

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Merry Christmas!!!

This week, we share a couple of ideas to simplify your holiday preparations. Included are an easy recipe for minty fudge brownies, last-minute gift tips, more of our decorations, a patio update, and, of course, the bears, who are our featured image this week.

FUDGE BROWNIES WITH CHOCOLATE MINT CANDY TOPPING

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These delicious and easy brownies are always a hit!

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Ingredients: 28-piece box of Andes candies mints, 18.3 oz. box of brownie mix.

How to prepare: 

Bake brownies according to package directions.

Top the warm brownies with 25 unwrapped mint candies (the baker gets the remaining three candies). Allow the candies to melt for a minute and spread them like frosting with an off-set spatula or knife. Cool the mint-covered brownies for 15 minutes and then place in the refrigerator for one hour. Candy will harden to its original consistency, making a delicious chocolate mint crust on your brownies.

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Cut, serve and enjoy!

A FEW LAST-MINUTE GIFT IDEAS

You’re driving to a holiday celebration and realize you forgot someone on your list and need to get a last-minute gift. Here are a few suggestions, including two places open Christmas Day.

Gas stations

  • Gift card for the gas station – great gift for family and friends traveling over the holidays!
  • Scratch tickets or lottery numbers. They can’t win if they don’t play!
  • Gloves and hats – who knew they were sold at gas stations?
  • Make a quick car kit with an ice scraper, windshield wiper fluid, car air freshener and other related items.
  • Some gas stations sell gift cards for other stores just like major supermarkets.
  • Make up a tailgating kit: Buy chips, soda, Slim Jims and more for the sports fan on your list.

Movie theaters

Most movie theaters are open on Christmas Day. Buy movie passes and candy to make a great gift combo.

Online e-cards and gifts

The technology available today makes last-minute gift giving a lot easier than it used to be. You can order gifts online and have them shipped. Print out and give a picture of the gift to the recipient. Most companies also will send an e-mail notification that a gift is on the way. You can send gift e-cards directly to anyone’s e-mail address. One site we’ve used is giftcertificates.com, or go directly to specific company websites and see if they offer e-gift cards.

OUR DECORATIONS

More of our holiday vignettes, including snowmen, Santas, and New England sports teams.

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PATIO UPDATE

Even with the recent rain, the addition of fresh pine cuttings, faux poinsettia and holly on our patio add color and make a festive view from our kitchen. The basil plant and other plants on the window sill are hanging in as well!

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FOOD ART

NUTTY SANTA

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THE BEARS

The bears love to reunite with family and friends at Christmas time! Look what old friend is visiting with them at the top of the page!

We wish you all peace and joy this holiday season. Merry Christmas!!!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Cool Christmas!

Christmas is fast approaching and we are just about finished decorating.

This week, we feature pretty decorations using Christmas ornaments, an easy wreath project, a recycling craft, recipe ideas, a festive patio update, and of course, the bears!

SPARKLING DECORATIONS

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Fill clear glass vases and pitchers with Christmas balls. Keep it simple, one color per vessel. Add a string of holiday lights behind or around the vases. This technique makes a beautiful display! Really catches the light!

EASY AND SPECIAL WREATH

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Recycling was the inspiration for this wreath. We removed the original decorations and saved the metal form from an old wreath. Then, we wrapped it with the pretty piece of garland pictured below, which Kevin’s mom used to decorate her dining room chandelier during the holidays. The garland is not permanently attached and in future years, we can use it in other ways. Hmmm – maybe we’ll get a chandelier!

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GIFT TAGS FROM CHRISTMAS CARDS

Recycle your old Christmas cards into gift tags! Simply cut out your favorite images, hole punch the top, add a ribbon and you have these cute gift tags. Write the recipient’s name on the back. These also could be used as ornaments and even necklaces. This is a fun craft for kids!

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PATIO UPDATE

Evergreen cuttings trimmed from the large pine trees on our property add lush greenery to the patio. For additional color, we dotted them with faux poinsettia, unbreakable Christmas ornaments and pinecones.

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The tool box planter looks great filled with fresh pine cuttings. The bee and flamingo both seem to like it!

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We fashioned this swag by attaching a simple waterproof ribbon to an evergreen cutting and hanging it on the patio door. Cost: $1.25!

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Of course, we have our tomato cage trees again this year!

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Here is our post from last year with instructions on how to make these tomato cage trees.

https://funclesarts.com/2014/12/13/christmas-blog-2-the-celebration-continues/

SWEET HOLIDAY TREATS

All this decorating is making us hungry! Here are a few recipes for some easy holiday desserts.

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/desserts/easy-holiday-desserts

FOOD ART 

Our final harvest of garden tomatoes, which we picked green and ripened indoors in a paper bag for almost a month, are finally ready for their closeup!

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The tomatoes were roasted and served with baked fish – delicious!

JOKE OF THE WEEK

What does Santa suffer from if he gets stuck in a chimney? Claus-trophobia! Source:Theholidayspot.com

THE BEARS

The bears are hanging with some cool company this week!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

 

 

The holidays are in the bag!

Holiday prep is in full swing! This week, we share a recipe for an easy, tasty low carb side dish, a quick Christmas craft, a gift wrapping idea, some of our holiday decorations, a patio update and, of course, the bears.

SIMPLE BAKED CAULIFLOWER 

This side dish is delicious and filling. If you think you don’t like cauliflower, give this one a try!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bag frozen cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup mayo (we use Hellmann’s Light)
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard (plain yellow works great, too)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (grate your own if possible – much better than the canned)

How to make:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Defrost cauliflower
  • Mix mayonnaise with mustard
  • Spray 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray
  • Place cauliflower in baking dish, toss with lemon juice
  • Spread mayo/mustard mixture evenly on top of cauliflower
  • Top with parmesan cheese
  • Bake 1 hour or until golden brown

Using cauliflower is a good way to reduce carbs and add fiber to potato recipes. Check out these links from previous blogs. These recipes are great for cauliflower fans and non-fans!

For mashed potatoes:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/10/11/monsters-mash-and-more/

For potato salad:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/07/02/lets-be-independent-together/

EASY HOLIDAY PINS 

Our dancing Santa loves his snowman pin!

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Here’s how to make these cute pins:

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Buy a selection of holiday-themed foam stickers and a package of self adhesive bar-style pin backs. The light weight foam stickers work great with these pin backs, which are available at most major craft stores. Remember to look for online coupons.

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Leave the peel off backing on the foam stickers so they won’t stick to clothes. Some stickers come on a clear backing sheet. Trim around the sticker leaving it on the plastic.

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Attach the adhesive pin back to the back of the unpeeled sticker.

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We created this dimensional snowflake pin by combining three stickers and one pin. Peel paper backing off the green snowflake and adhere to the white snowflakes. Attach pin to back of white snowflakes.

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These multi-functional pins make great holiday additions to clothing, gifts and decorations, as shown on the Christmas stockings above.

LUNCH BAGS AS GIFT BAGS

We bought the lunch bags pictured in our featured image at the top of this blog at Target for $2.07 for a package of 50. They make great small gift or treat bags. Add a ribbon and/or stickers for extra pizzazz.

TIP: Place a piece of card stock or cardboard in the bottom of the bag for added stability. In these bags, a 3×5 inch index card fits perfectly!

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OUR DECORATIONS

The candy-cane clothespins from last week’s blog work great attaching our stockings in this holiday vignette.

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ADVENT WREATH

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Kevin’s mom, Irene, gave us this Advent Wreath a few years ago. We make a point to light the candles every night during the advent season. It helps us connect to the true meaning of Christmas and take a break from all the activities of the day.

Click on this link to learn more about the Advent Wreath:

http://christianity.about.com/od/christmas/qt/adventwreath.htm

PATIO UPDATE

We’ve added lights, Christmas balls, faux poinsettia flowers and holly to our outdoor planters to brighten up our post-summer patio. Use inexpensive plastic ornaments and flowers outdoors.

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This festively adorned hanging basket was home to our pansies this summer.

FOOD ART

“Oh Christmas beans . . . Oh Christmas beans . . . “

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What kind of motorcycle does Santa drive? A Holly Davidson! (source: funology.com)

THE BEARS

The bears think it’s cool adding some UCONN Husky touches to the holiday decor!

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Enjoy!

Roy& Kevin

Catching the Holiday Spirit

Sometimes its hard to get into the holiday spirit. One good way is to put on a Santa hat, listen to some holiday music, have a cup of peppermint tea or hot chocolate, take a breath and dive into your to-do lists! We have separate to-do lists for decorating, cooking and gift-giving. It’s a spirit-lifter to check items off your lists.

This week, we share a craft idea for painted clothespins (great for holiday decorating), a delicious, healthier version of classic onion dip, a patio update, and, of course, the bears.

CANDY CANE STRIPED CLOTHESPINS


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These clothespins are a very functional craft. They work great for holding greeting cards, hanging stockings or hats (pictured above) and more!

You will need:

  • Wooden clothespins (we bought 50 for under $2.00)
  • White and red acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes and toothpicks

Tips:

We painted our base coat by hand, but white spray paint would work well and dry faster. Make sure to use in a well-ventilated area.

Use a toothpick to create the smaller lines on the clothespins. Simply brush the toothpick with a coat of red paint and lay it where you want a thin line. (It works sort of like a stamp.)

You also can use markers or paint pens to create the stripes. A great idea for kids!

SOUP-LESS ONION DIP

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Appetizers are always an enjoyable way to start a party, and what’s better than a dip? We love the classic dip made from onion soup mix and sour cream, but the dry mix has a lot of salt and MSG, and uses dehydrated onions. We came up with this recipe, which uses fresh onions and a lot less salt. Delicious and better for you!

Ingredients:

  • Three cups sliced onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Two tablespoons of light margarine
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • One 16-ounce container non-fat sour cream
  • One teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To prepare:

  • Saute onions over medium heat in margarine and sugar for about 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Onions will reduce by about half. Keep a close eye – be careful not to scorch the onions.
  • Chill sautéed onions completely.
  • Set aside 1/4 cup of the chilled onions.
  • Place remaining onions in food processor and pulse 3 times.
  • Add sour cream, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce and pulse until smooth.
  • Spoon into a bowl and stir in the reserved onions.
  • Chill at least 2 hours and serve with potato chips, crudite or our home-made pita chip.

Our pita chip recipe is on the link below:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/01/18/game-time/

PATIO 

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This week, we cleared out the last remains of this summer’s very successful patio garden. The photo on the left shows our garden in mid-season glory. Next up – time to decorate the patio for the holidays and winter!

We brought in the hummingbird feeder (shown on the right with some of our herb plants). This was the first year having the feeder, and we only saw 1 hummingbird. Maybe he’ll tell his friends and more will come next year!

FOOD ART

Ever seen a mushroom snow flake? You have now (or have you)!

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What is Santa’s dog called? Santa Paws! ( Source: WorldofChristmas.net)

THE BEARS

The bears wanted to help with the stockings and hats!!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin