Category Archives: Crafts

Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2017 (now that we are both Irish)!

“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.”

Our mantra has always been that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. This year, we have found out that it is actually true for us. Kevin is Irish and is named for his Irish roots. Recent new family DNA testing reveals that Roy is 13 percent Irish! Erin go Bragh!

TASTY GREEN ICE CREAM

We love our new ice cream maker and have been experimenting with different flavors. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, it’s Andes Candies Green! We made a standard vanilla ice cream, added some drops of green food coloring and 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract. Five minutes before the ice cream was done, some chopped Andes Candies were added to the mix. Fittingly green, minty, and festive!

If you have an ice cream maker, follow your directions for vanilla ice cream and add the last three ingredients listed below.

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 drops green food coloring*
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract*
  • 1/2 cup chopped Andes candies*

Source: Cuisinart ice cream maker recipe booklet

*These are ingredients we added to the recipe.

SHAMROCK DECORATION

Place a small pot of shamrocks (ours were bought at Stop and Shop for $2.99) in a holiday pot picked up at a party store. Attach chocolate gold coins around the edge using double stick tape. A rainbow wall decoration adds the perfect background for our “pot at the end of the rainbow”. This works well for a party, but for a more permanent decoration, use plastic gold coins and attach them with craft glue.

Work in Progress

We have been learning to create signs with stencils and stamps. Here is a work in progress for St. Patrick’s Day:

Some of the materials used: acrylic paints, stencils, stamps, old boards.

Here is a sign we created for St. Valentine’s Day based on a quote by Broadway’s “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“Love is love is love is love is love…”

A TRIO OF IRISH JOKES

What’s Irish and stays out all night? Paddy O’furniture!

How is a best friend like a 4-leaf clover? Because they are hard to find and lucky to have.

Never iron a 4-leaf clover because you don’t want to press your luck!

Source for all jokes : Jokes4us.com

THE BEARS

The bears followed the rainbow to the Pot o’ Shamrocks!

Slainte!!!

Roy and Kevin

 

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We Are Still Thankful!!!

In this mini blog, we share how to make lollipop turkeys and a fun idea for easy place card holders. (Warning – pine cones are back!)

LOLLIPOP TURKEY CRAFT:

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We decided to put a Thanksgiving twist on the lollipop ghosts that are one of our Halloween staples.

You will need:

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  • lollipops (we use Tootsie pops)
  • one sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″ white card stock for each turkey
  • orange tissue paper
  • small googly eyes – any color
  • 1 sheet yellow construction paper
  • scotch tape
  • double stick tape
  • markers and crayons
  • ball point pen
  • scissors

How to create:

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  • Print out our turkey template (above) onto card stock
  • Color with crayons and markers
  • Cut out with scissors
  • Our turkey body is 5.5 inches from top to bottom but when printed from the blog on our printer it comes out 5 inches. Either size works fine.

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  • Wrap pop with 4-inch circle of orange tissue paper and tape to secure. Make sure a bit of the lollipop wrapper shows to create the turkey’s waddle.
  • With double stick tape, add mini googly eyes and 1/4-inch yellow paper triangle for beak.
  • Poke hole in turkey with ballpoint pen.
  • Place lollipop into hole and fasten stick to back with tape.

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Make it fancy! Use markers, paints, crayons, whatever your favorites are. These turkeys were made with sharpies and highlighters.

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Gobbling fun!

One last thing: Carefully remove tissue paper from pop and put it back on turkey body with double stick tape, so you don’t end up with a headless turkey.

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Lollipop ghosts:

Open link below for how to make the easy lollipop ghosts that were the inspiration for these turkeys.

https://funclesarts.com/2015/10/30/last-minute-mayhem/

PINE CONE PLACE CARD HOLDERS

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Spray paint some flat-bottomed pine cones gold (or whatever color works in your decor). Add a themed holiday sticker to computer-generated name plates. They make great place card holders for Thanksgiving or any gathering.

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The gold spray painted cones are great, look for them in future holiday posts!

We are thankful for our loved ones, our health and for you, too!

Enjoy!

Roy and Kevin

Pine Cones 101

” You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou     Source: Goodreads

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For the first in our mini-blog holiday crafting series, we feature one of several pine cone entries, starting with a centerpiece made with painted pine cones. This is an easy, fun, affordable idea whether you use pine cones you find in nature or buy at your local craft store (don’t forget to use coupons!). Here is what we did. (Figured you were “pining” to know all about it!)

PREPPING THE PINE CONES

If you find your pine cones in nature, they will need a little prep to make them usable for crafting and decorating.

There are a couple of ways to prepare your pine cones. The method we used was to bake them in a pre-heated 200 degree oven for 1/2 hour, and allow them to dry for a couple of days.

For more about pine cones preparation, check out this link:

http://tipnut.com/how-to-prepare-preserve-pinecones/

PAINTING THE PINE CONES

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  • We chose orange and black for this fall and Halloween craft.
  • The cones were spray painted in a well ventilated area. (Our patio fit the bill.)
  • A disassembled cardboard box covered with newspaper protected the concrete floor.
  • One side was painted, allowed to dry a half hour, before turning over and painting the other side.

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Stand pine cones up in saved egg cartons to allow for thorough drying.

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Bonus Craft Tip: Save your egg cartons, they work well for paint projects and for storing small items such as beads and pins.

Plan ahead – avoid the fumes!

We prefer to use spray paints outdoors. If you are planning to spray paint pine cones, or anything for Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, do so before outdoor temperatures get too cold. For best results, spray paints should be used in 50-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

EASY AUTUMN CENTERPIECES

Once our black and orange pine cones were ready, we created these centerpieces using a glass trifle bowl and vase. Pump it up with a couple of mini-pumpkins!

Pretty and simple!

Here are a couple of different versions:

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More pine cone and holiday craft mini-blogs coming soon!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

 

‘Tis the season for holiday crafting!!!

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”                                – Albert Einstein Source: Goodreads

We love making holiday crafts, but always seem to be doing them last-minute. Never will forget finishing handmade family Christmas ornaments in the car one Christmas Eve! (Sometimes having a 2-hour drive is a good thing.) This year, we are starting our holiday crafting early and thought we’d do a few “mini-blogs”, short posts featuring some of our favorite holiday craft ideas.

This week, we offer some ideas to make the crafting process easier and less expensive. Here are a few things we do to get ready:

BRAINSTORM

Write down any and all ideas you may have for holiday crafting. At this point, no thought should be discarded! The next day, re-visit your master list and factor in time and price constraints to develop your final craft plans for the season. If you are crafting with a partner, toss ideas back and forth. Very often, you’ll come up with good ideas which evolve into even better ones when two or more people are working together.

FIND INSPIRATION

Crafting ideas can come from anywhere. Check out crafting websites, borrow books and magazines from the library, watch craft segments on television, take a walk in your local park, or look at the decorations in stores and see if you can create your own versions.

HAVE A REALISTIC PLAN

Do you want to make things for every holiday that’s coming, or maybe just for one holiday? Do you have time to do what you would like to do? Keep your schedule in mind and be realistic about what you can accomplish. If you are following instructions, read them thoroughly before starting your craft.

GATHER MATERIALS

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Before you start work on your creations, gather what you need in one spot and make sure you have everything you need. Check lists work great!

NATURAL MATERIALS

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If your projects involve working with materials you’ve gathered in nature, do your research about how to clean them.

We have several large pine trees on our property and gathered a bunch of pine cones for this year’s first craft project. They needed to be prepared before using. The website below offers how-to’s if you are working with fresh pine cones. Check out our next mini-blog for some pine cone craft ideas that will take you from Halloween through New Year’s!

http://tipnut.com/how-to-prepare-preserve-pinecones/

COUPONS

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Don’t forget that money-saving coupons for craft stores are available on-line or in your local newspaper. This time of year, the stores are battling for your craft dollar, so there are some great coupons. Take a look before you shop. We ask that you do not shop at Hobby Lobby – their corporate philosophy is not socially responsible.

HAVE FUN!!!

Remember to have fun and enjoy the process!

Enjoy

Roy & Kevin

Summer Garden!!!

“The most lasting and pure gladness comes to me from my garden.” – Lillie Langtry*

We have had a busy July with some extra work responsibilities. It’s nice to have the beauty of our patio garden to enjoy!

This week, for our 80th blog post, we feature a quick shrimp & vegetable recipe, stencilled signs, a garden update, and, of course, the bears!

EASY SHRIMP AND RICE

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This dish is a perfect weeknight meal. It’s quick, easy and delicious. An added bonus on a hot summer night – no oven required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Two cups of instant brown rice, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 lb of 41-50 shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails off
  • 2  tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lb frozen mixed pepper strips
  • 1/2 lb frozen broccoli and cauliflower mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  •  Two tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 rib of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

HOW TO PREPARE:

  • Saute onion, mushrooms and celery in one tablespoon of oil until tender.
  • Remove and place in a Dutch oven.
  • Cook frozen peppers and broccoli/cauliflower mixture in microwave for 5 minutes and add to Dutch oven.
  • Toss shrimp with garlic powder and red pepper flakes.
  • Saute shrimp over medium heat in second tablespoon of olive oil until just pink.
  • Add shrimp to vegetables.
  • Stir in cooked rice.
  • Add frozen peas and soy sauce.
  • Stir, cover and cook on medium low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Make your own combination, add water chestnuts, bean sprouts, cooked carrots or whatever you like!

TRYING SOMETHING NEW: PAINTED SIGNS

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Inspirational or humorous stencilled signs are very popular decorating items for home or garden, but can be very expensive. Why not try making your own?

A found piece of aged wood, and some inexpensive stencils, foam stippler brushes and acrylic paints from Michael’s (look for coupons!) made this project easy. Our stencil set had a full alphabet, punctuation marks and a leaf pattern, which went well with our, “Lets Grow”, message.

A couple of tips:

  • If your stencils come with directions, read them. (Maybe we will next time!)
  • Don’t rush. Do a letter at a time and allow it to dry. Acrylic paint dries quickly, so this crucial step will not take too long.
  • Sand paper and accent paint can help correct smudged letters.

We love how this sign came out and it has a special place in our garden. Which leads us to:

GARDEN UPDATE

“The Earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson*

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We got this beautiful bird house, expertly painted by Roy’s soon-to-be five-year old great-niece, Kinsley, with the assistance from grandma, Lyn. Kinsley has a great eye for color combinations. After seeing photos of our garden, she knew where the bird house needed to go. It color-coodinates perfectly with our pot-full of pink and white petunias! (Thanks Kinsley and Lyn!)

This is a fun craft for any age. The unpainted birdhouses are available at craft stores. (This one came from Michael’s.) Acrylic paints do the trick. They dry fast and hold up pretty well outside. As an added bonus when working with kids, they wash off easily with soap and water.

Add embellishments to make your bird house festive; customize for different themes and holidays!

The Plants:

The warm summer weather has been a boon for our garden. The pepper plants, especially, are responding to the hot, humid weather. The flowers also are thriving – as long as we remember to water at least once a day!

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GUEST GARDEN PHOTOS

We visited Kevin’s brother, Warren and sister-in-law, Sharon, this past weekend. They have a beautiful assortment of flowers. Here are a few pictures:

Kevin was pleased to see that they have a tiger lily plant, which they grew from a clipping taken from Kevin & Warren’s childhood home In Meriden, CT.

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A second recent addition to our garden landscape and a nice surprise from this visit was Roy’s belated birthday gift, a trio of beautifully blown glass solar garden lights. (Thank you Sharon & Warren!)

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FOOD ART

Light on the red onion.

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JOKE OF THE WEEK: 

How well is your garden going to grow? Only thyme will tell!                                                         Source: Nestinstyle.wordpress.com

THE BEARS

The bears are admiring our new “Let’s Grow” sign (featured image).

Enjoy & stay cool!

Roy & Kevin

*Quote source-brainyquote.com

Help the Earth? Yes We CAN!!!

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” – Aldo Leopold, author and conservationist

Today, April 22nd, marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, reminding us of the importance of taking care of our home, the Earth!

This week, we offer our new recipe for three-bean vegetable chili, a craft using tin cans, recycling tips, a garden update and, of course, the bears!

THREE-BEAN VEGETABLE CHILI

For health reasons and to reduce our carbon footprint, we have been having more meat-free meals. Here is a recipe for a delicious, satisfying chili that fits the bill.

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Ingredients:

  • two tablespoons olive oil
  • one cup onion, chopped
  • one cup yellow squash, diced
  • one cup frozen corn
  • one lb. bag mixed pepper strips
  • one 16 oz. can vegetarian refried beans
  • two 15.5 oz. cans each of black beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans, rinsed
  • one 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • one tablespoon tomato paste
  • one cup medium salsa
  • one 4.5 oz. can chopped green chilis
  • two tablespoons (or to taste – careful very spicy!) chipolte in adobo sauce, pureed. (Hint: puree a 7 oz. can in the food processor and freeze the excess for future use.)
  • two cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
  • two cups water

To make:

  • Saute onions and squash in olive oil for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in minced garlic.
  • Add corn and pepper strips and cook until they are defrosted and warm.
  • Stir in refried beans and heat until incorporated with other vegetables.
  • Add the remaining ingredients.
  • Salt to taste. (Canned items may have a lot of salt, so use caution. You can always add more later.)
  • Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Serve with guacamole, sour cream, chips and your favorite toppings.

Here is an interesting post about the impact of beef on the environment:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/21/beef-environmental-impact_n_5599370.html

SAVE YOUR CANS!

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The chili recipe above uses a lot of canned items, and the cans should be recycled. As another option, why not make the cute tin can man, woman or robot (featured photo above)? Place him or her in the garden for whimsical decor. Over time, it will rust beautifully and add even more charm to the patio! (If that’s possible!)

We used:

  • One 16 oz. can for the head
  • One 28 oz. can for the body
  • Eight 6 oz. cans for the legs and arms (two for each limb)

You will also need:

  • wire
  • drill
  • wire cutters
  • silver duct tape

To make:

  • Remove labels from cans, clean and wash.
  • Drill holes at the areas where you want to attach pieces together.
  • Attach limbs and head to body with wire, twist to secure in place.

We used some colorful magnets for our face and buttons, but you could use screws, hardware, paints, stickers or whatever will show your creation’s personality! Use silver duct tape to cover wires and sharp edges on cans.

We have just started to work with this idea, so look for updated tin can creations in future blogs.

Warning! Will Robinson! Danger!!! This is not a toy! This is a decorative item we plan on using in our garden. The wires and can pieces are sharp. Use caution when assembling and displaying your creation. As with all of our projects, do this at your own risk!!!

A COUPLE OF INFORMATIVE, EDUCATIONAL EARTH-FRIENDLY LINKS:

Here’s one from the EPA about recycling and ecology:

https://www.epa.gov/earthday

Here is last years post with some good ideas and links:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/04/19/the-earth-is-in-bloom/

GARDEN UPDATE

Still a little early to plant our flowers and vegetables. Today was a beautiful summer-like day, so we brought some of our houseplants outside to soak up the sun and meet our tin can creation.

Repurposing is very earth-friendly, and the garden is a great place to make that happen. Here are photos of the toolbox we adapted into a planter, and the desks (no longer house-worthy) we used as garden tables.

Flash back to repurposing:

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FOOD ART

Don’t cry, the flowers will be back soon!

(Shopping day is tomorrow, so onions are this weeks star!)

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

Why are recycle bins optimistic? Because they are full of “cans”!

Source: amomwithalessonplan.com

THE BEARS

Inspired by this week’s craft, the bears wanted to get in on the act!

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However, they found it more comfortable resting on the Earth map pillow!

(Earth map pillow was made from a recycled fabric remnant years ago!)

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Academy Awards 2016!!!

 

We love the Academy Awards and like to have a nice meal and dessert while watching the show. For this year’s awards celebration, we chose to highlight walnuts and strawberries throughout our meal. Hope you enjoy this unique brie cheese appetizer, our salad entrée, and strawberry shortcake ice cream cake. Also offered are an easy Academy Award banner idea, a plant update and, of course, the bears!

HONEY AND WALNUT BAKED BRIE

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We found this great recipe for brie in puff pastry on-line. It’s unique because the brie is sliced sandwich-style and the walnut/honey mixture fills what becomes the ultimate cheese sandwich. Hmm . . . we hear Brie is a favorite for this year’s Academy Awards. Oh wait! That’s Brie Larson, favored to win Best Actress for her performance in “The Room”. Good luck to all of this year’s nominees.

http://www.puffpastry.com/recipe/50003/honey-and-walnut-baked-brie

WINNING SALAD

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Champagne vinaigrette coats this delicious salad which combines strawberries, walnuts, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and Dole Spring Mix Salad. Check out our crispy chicken or shrimp recipes in the links below to make this salad a great entrée!

https://funclesarts.com/2015/08/17/mystery-solved-fun/

https://funclesarts.com/2016/02/06/super-weekend/

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE ICE CREAM CAKE

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What you need:

  • 1.5-qt strawberry ice cream
  • shortbread cookies (we used Pepperidge Farm 5.5 oz.)
  • toasted walnuts, ground
  • 1/2 tub of whipped topping
  • 5 ounces strawberry jelly (we prefer Polaner All Fruit)
  • sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)

How to prepare:

  • Spray loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Line pan with parchment paper or wax paper, overhanging the pan on all sides.
  • Put a layer of ice cream in bottom of pan.
  • Add a layer of sliced strawberries on top of ice cream.
  • Add a layer of cookies; 6 cookies work well for first layer.
  • Repeat with second layer of ice cream, sliced strawberries and cookies. Use cookie pieces to fill in if necessary.
  • Wrap up and freeze overnight.

Invert ice cream cake onto platter. If cake will not release, place pan in warm water for a few minutes.

  • Mix whipped topping with strawberry jelly.
  • Frost cake with topping mixture.
  • Sprinkle with crushed nuts.
  • Decorate cake with strawberries.
  • Re-freeze.
  • Enjoy!

This ice cream cake idea has limitless possibilities! Combine your favorite wafer cookie, ice cream and fruit for an easy, delicious dessert. Our next mashup might be chocolate wafer cookies, coffee ice cream and bananas! What other combinations would work?

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 NAPKIN BANNER

We made a banner out of these fun movie-themed napkins found at Party City. Simply string a ribbon or wire between two points and place the napkins over them. These napkins could serve multiple purposes. They can be used as place cards for a sit down dinner or to identify food options at a buffet. Just use white chalk to fill in details on the napkins.

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DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!

There have been a lot of unbelievable, shocking, comical and jaw-dropping “performances” this year. But enough about the presidential elections! The Oscars honor the best in moviemaking.

Here is a printable ballot for this year’s Academy Awards. Print out enough ballots for your party and have everyone vote for their favorites. Offer a prize for the person with the most correct choices. Maybe a bottle of champagne?

http://www.ibtimes.com/oscars-2016-printable-ballot-watching-88th-academy-awards-home-2323593

More fun stuff!

For more ideas, check out last year’s blog at:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/02/21/oscar-oscar-oscar/

PLANT UPDATE

Our amaryllis plant has really grown and grown.  A fun project for the winter months, we highly recommend planting this remarkable bulb. They are available at garden centers or online.

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FOOD ART

These strawberries have been photo-brightened to look their best, just in time for the Oscars!

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THE BEARS

The bears featured at the top of the blog are dressed up and ready for the Red Carpet!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin