Category Archives: clothespins

Warming Up for St. Valentine’s Day

The northeast is bracing for bitter cold weather. Our hope is that you all find warmth with family and friends this St. Valentine’s Day weekend. Plus, it’s a great excuse to eat some chocolate! This week, we share our take on some delicious chocolate truffles, some ideas for using last week’s woven heart baskets, a plant update, and of course, the bears!

EASY TRUFFLES

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Ingredients:

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  • one 8 oz. package light cream cheese, softened
  • three cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • three cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • cocoa powder, chopped walnuts, coconut, dried fruit sprinkles

How to make:

  • Beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Gradually beat in confectioners sugar.
  • Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.
  • Refrigerate 1 hour.
  • Form into one inch balls.
  • Roll in toppings of your choice.

Varieties for truffles are almost endless. Chocolate and orange go great together, so replace the vanilla with same amount of orange juice and 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest. We also stuffed truffles with dried fruit – tastes like a decadent “Chunky Bar”.

WOVEN PAPER HEARTS

Last week, we introduced this easy paper craft. Here are a couple of ways we used these hearts for St. Valentine’s Day this year.

Decorative Banner

Displayed “clothesline style” with photos and cards, attached to twine with painted clothes pins, they add great dimension to a holiday banner. We used a variety of different papers to make the hearts for a fun display.

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Gifts

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The woven hearts were mass-mailed to great-nieces and great-nephews filled with stickers, candy, hair clips and toy cars. We placed the filled hearts in treat bags secured with painted clothes pins adorned with heart stickers.

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Here is the link for how to create these paper baskets.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/Heartbasket.shtml

For more St. Valentine’s Day ideas, check out last year’s post:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/02/13/happy-st-valentines-day/

PLANT UPDATE

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Our Amaryllis is growing like crazy, and now requires a stake for support. A saleswoman at a big-box store gave us a great, money-saving idea on what to use for stakes. She suggested we buy marshmallow s’mores sticks, which cost 19 cents for a package of four. These wooden sticks are 31 inches long, easy to cut and they work great for a light-weight stalk! Helpful tip!

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FOOD ART

Last week’s tomato. Tomatoes are sometimes called love apples! Great for St. Valentine’s Day!

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THE BEARS

The bears show their “light side” by playing with a strand of heart-shaped lights!

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

“In dreams and in love, there are no impossibilities!” – Janos Arany

Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin

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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

Here They Come – The Holidays!!!

A FEW IDEAS TO PREP FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Yes, the time has come! It’s time to start thinking about and planning for the holidays.

Here are a few things we like to do to get ready for the holidays. These tips help minimize the amount of pre-holiday angst which is often present this time of year. Take a look at our thoughts about food preparation, a decorating idea, some hostess gift suggestions, a garden update, and, of course, the bears!

MAKE IT AHEAD

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This time of year (or anytime) when cooking dinner, double the recipe. The oven is on anyway! Double up on soups, pasta sauces, chili, meatloaf, roast chicken, casseroles and side dishes that freeze well. During the busy holiday season, its great to have a meal ready to go – just re-heat and eat! Our chicken rice soup pictured above is a perfect example of this idea. (Hint – brown rice holds its shape when frozen and re-heats beautifully.)

THANKFUL DECORATIONS

Last year, we presented this Thanksgiving Tree (see the link below for instructions).

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https://funclesarts.com/2014/11/14/thanksgiving-continued/

This year, rather than put up a tree, we hung the leaves – clothesline style. We first featured this clothesline banner idea in September’s blog titled, “Nice to Get Away”. Check it out here:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/09/16/nice-to-get-away/

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HOSTESS GIFT IDEAS

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‘Tis the season for parties and get togethers. It’s great to bring the host or hostess a little something to show your appreciation.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Seasonal live plant (last longer than fresh flowers and busy host or hostess doesn’t have to hunt for a vase)
  • Candy
  • Bottle of wine
  • Baked items
  • Jarred goods
  • Ornaments

A couple of presentation ideas:

  • Bottle of wine: We re-purposed the paper bag the bottle came in as the gift bag (above). A silk leaf photocopied onto card stock makes a great seasonal gift tag.
  • Tins of cookies and tea make a good combo gift. We topped the cookie tin with a faux, fall-colored flower.
  • Jar of pepper spread. Trim the lid of the jar with a fall-colored fabric. Hold the fabric in place with a rubber band and then tie a piece of jute over the band for a rustic look. Make a more complete gift by adding a box of special crackers.

Combine multiple items like these into a wonderful gift basket!

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WRITE IT DOWN!

A great way to stay organized for the holidays is to use lists. Make lists of what you need to do and what to buy. We keep our lists, coupons and holiday ideas on handheld clipboards for quick reference. When a creative idea strikes, we grab the clipboard and jot it down. For the more technologically savvy, there are clipboard apps.

GARDEN UPDATE

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This has been a crazy year for our garden. It has brought us great joy. These pretty flowers are hanging in even though it’s mid-November.

Still harvesting tomatoes and peppers and enjoyed some in pasta sauce and salads just this week.

We are very grateful for our abundant 2015 patio garden! (Made this year’s thankful leaf clothesline!)

Photo bonus: Love the fall colors of this vine on our fence along Route 95!

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VEG ART

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like? Plymouth Rock!                                                   source: Jokes4us.com      

THE BEARS

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The chilled bears enjoyed a nice cup of hot tea as they contemplated the upcoming holiday season. Looks like they borrowed our scarves!

And last but definitely not least. Veteran’s Day this week was the perfect way to begin the Thanksgiving season. We thank all those who serve and have served, keeping our country safe.

Roy & Kevin

We Fall for Halloween!!!

 

Halloween approaches! This week, we share two ideas for easy-to-make decorations, a recipe for sweet potato salad and, of course, our garden update and the bears!

HALLOWEEN TREE

We created the Halloween tree pictured above using easy-to-find items, most of which were purchased at our local dollar store.

You will need:

  • 1 tree branch with some off shoots – our’s is 22″ tall
  • Two 8-eight foot strands of black garland
  • Decorative plastic Halloween figures
  • Plastic Halloween rings (ours are bats, skulls and spiders)
  • One 18-inch square of fabric. We used fleece, but burlap would be great, too!
  • Gravel to act as stabilizer in the pot
  • Newspaper and/or plastic bags for filler
  • Curling ribbon
  • Basket, flower pot or the vessel of your choice

 

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We foraged our yard for a spooky-looking tree limb with offshoots on which to hang our decorations. The branch was wrapped in the black garland. The garland had pumpkin and skull images on it, which we removed and saved for another project (see below).

How to create your tree:

  • Line flower pot/basket with cloth.
  • Put gravel in cloth-lined pot.
  • Nestle tree in gravel.
  • Fill pot around tree base with newspapers and/or plastic bags.
  • Gather cloth up around base of tree and secure with ribbon.
  • Arrange the Halloween rings and decorations on your tree.

This tree can be made any height, depending on the size of the tree branch and container used. It would make a great addition to a children’s Halloween party. At the end of the party, kids can take tree decorations home as favors. Do your own variation with light-weight candy, toys or whatever says “Happy Halloween!” to you!

GARLAND WREATH

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The first step in this easy-to-make decoration is to line a 12-inch wire wreath form with black garland (shown). Next, cover the wreath with an orange and black pumpkin-themed garland (thanks, dollar store!). To finish it off, a larger pumpkin (leftover from the tree project above) represents the moon, lighting the sky for one of our cute clip-on witches from last week’s blog.

SWEET POTATO SALAD

This sweet potato salad is a delicious side dish for your Halloween and fall celebrations!

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Tricia Yearwood (yes, that Trisha Yearwood!) had this recipe on one of her recent Food Network television programs. We tweaked the recipe by using non-fat sour cream, doubling the hot sauce and topping with toasted chopped walnuts. Very tasty. Like all potato salads, it’s even better the next day!

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/sweet-potato-salad-recipe.html

GARDEN UPDATE

With frost warnings predicted for our area last Sunday night, we brought our flowers, basil, chocolate mint, and pepper plants indoors. We also picked most of the tomatoes, even though they were still green (see veg art below). Temperatures have risen, the plants are now back outside, and they are having another resurgence. One more unexpected comeback!

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VEG ART

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What is one room a ghosts’ house doesn’t need? A living room!                                                      source: Halloweenjokes.com

THE BEARS

Hmm . . .  we didn’t know the bears were expecting company! Not sure they did either!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

We’ve Only Just Begun!!!

A year ago today, we decided to start a holiday blog and do one post a week from mid-October through New Year’s Day. Once the ball got rolling, we didn’t want to stop. The blog has been a lot of fun to do and it has inspired us to be more creative. Thank you to everyone who has followed and contributed to our the blog. We’re looking forward to another crafty and tasty holiday season and a fun 2016!

PAPER

For wedding anniversaries, the traditional gift for the first year is paper. With that tradition in mind (sorta), we share two crafts made from paper. The first paper project is a clip-on Halloween witch made from construction paper and a clothespin. The second project is a banner we made for Kevin’s brother’s family, wishing them luck on their upcoming move to Florida. Additionally, we offer a recipe for broccoli rabe, a garden update and, of course, the bears!

WITCH CRAFT

Halloween is coming and we are creating a few fun and easy crafts. This week, it’s the cute clip-on witches shown above.

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You will need:

  • clothespins
  • black, orange, green and white construction paper
  • glue stick
  • double-stick tape
  • scissors
  • a fine marker (black ink)
  • ruler

To make:

Cut the following equIMG_5648 (2)ilateral triangles:

  • three 1-1/4 inch triangles – 1 green (head), 1 orange (hair), 1 black (hat)
  • two 1-1/2 inch triangles – 1 black (dress), 1 yellow (broom head)
  • two 1/2 inch black triangles (shoes)

 

You also will need:

  • one 3/4-inch x 1-1/2 inch white rectangle
  • one 1-inch x 1/8 inch strip of green construction paper

Draw (as shown in picture below):

  • lines on the white rectangle – every quarter-inch
  • a face on the green triangle
  • a black verticle line on the yellow broom head

A little more cutting (see picture below):

  • cut the white rectangle in half lengthwise to form the legs
  • cut broom bristles 1/16-inch wide ending at the verticle line
  • cut 1/16-inch wide strips in bottom of orange triangle to create hair
  • cut 1/4-inch off the tops of the yellow and black 1-1/2 inch triangles
  • cut the tops off of the 1/2-inch triangles (1/8 inch off the tops)

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  • attach orange hair to the back of the head with glue stick as shown below.
  • attach shoes to legs and legs to body
  • attach arm to body

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  • attach head to body and hat to head
  • using double stick tape, attach broom bristle to end of clothespin

Before attaching, the back of the witch should look something like this:

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Attach witch to clothes pin as shown using double stick tape.

The completed witch will look something like this.

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These witches love to help decorate! Use them to clip Halloween cards to curtains or on our clothesline banner (search previous blogs for info). Looking forward to seeing photos of your witch creations!

This is a simple, kid-friendly craft which is more difficult to describe than to create. Use these basic guidelines and have fun!!!

BANNER  

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 We designed this special banner by thinking of what symbolizes Florida and came up with the  two obvious answers: oranges and sunshine. We cut out orange and yellow circles to represent  those iconic images. Some quick cuts turned the yellow circles into suns and green leaves attached with small black paper fasteners transformed the orange circles into fruits. Stickers express the sentiment, “Enjoy FLORIDA!”. The banner was strung together using curling ribbon and embellished with sandal and beach themed stickers. (The top of the exclamation point at the end of the banner is a surf board sticker; the paws represent their dog, “Sadie”.)

This was a fun project to create, making use of quality stickers, craft paper, and a new circle cutter. We’ve said it before, but it bares repeating. Always look online for coupons from craft stores (and any stores for that matter). We saved money on all the items use in this banner with just a few minutes effort to print the coupons.

BROCCOLI RABE

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In our effort to explore new foods, this week we tried broccoli rabe. The first recipe found on- line did not boil the rabe first. It was awful – very bitter! Our second attempt is this recipe from one of our go-to favorites – Rachael Ray. It’s a delicious, healthy way to cook this green.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/broccoli-rabe-with-lemon-and-garlic-recipe.html

GARDEN UPDATE 

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The recent, unseasonably good weather has kept our garden thriving! We have at least 70 green tomatoes on our two cherry tomato plants and 25 peppers in various stages of growth on our Shishito pepper plant. They better hurry up and ripen before this weekend’s predicted frost or we may be growing them in the house. Wonder how much indoor grow lamps cost!

Kevin spotted this lone flower today on the vine that grows on the fence that surrounds our property! This vine has never flowered in our eight years here!

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VEG ART

The apples have taken over. (No, we didn’t grow them!)

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THE BEARS

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The bears are starting to figure out their Halloween costumes!

Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin