Category Archives: Holidays

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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Wreath is the Word!!!

 

Happy Holidays! This week, our miniblog is about creating simple, beautiful wreaths, using Christmas ornaments and collectibles. Every year, most of the tables in our home are filled with holiday-themed vignettes – Santas, nutcrackers, snowmen, etc. Creating wreaths is a great way to free up some table space!

Using coupons (of course), we bought a variety of plain wreaths and wreath forms at Michael’s and Joann’s.

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NUTCRACKER WREATH

These nutcrackers make a festive wreath. They were gifts from Kevin’s mother, Irene, who presented her children with a special ornament or decoration, the “family gift”, every Christmas. Kevin attached them to the white wreath with Christmas tree hooks or wire depending on the weight of the ornament. It’s a great way to showcase this collection.

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SANTA WREATH

Our Santa figurine collection has grown over the years. Ho Ho Ho!!!

Here’s a Santa vignette decorating one of our desks last Christmas.

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This year, we created a Santa wreath and saved some valuable counter space.

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The Santas were attached with green twist ties and final product is the featured image above.

MORE ABOUT THE FAMILY GIFT

For many years, Kevin’s mom, Irene, gave what she called, “The Family Gift”. Each year, usually with the a special assist from daughter Christine, Irene selected a special Christmas decoration and gave that to her seven children. An angel, Santa, snowman, nutcracker or set of nutcrackers, or some other treasure was given each year. All of the nutcrackers on the wreath featured above were family gifts.

Irene chose each family gift with a lot of love (and an eye to finding seven of the same item!), and we have borrowed the idea, continuing the family gift tradition for Kevin’s family each Christmas. We lost Irene in 2014, but these wonderful ornaments are a reminder of her love for her family and the holidays.

The bears are back to get in on the wreath fun!!!

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Peace.

Roy and Kevin

 

 

 

 

Pine Cones 102 – Not So Itsy-Bitsy Spider!

No living thing is ugly in this world. Even a tarantula considers itself beautiful.”

– Munia Khan (poet) Source: Goodreads

For our second mini-blog, we created a spider out of pine cones and mini pumpkins. A fun project to do with your kids. Perfect for Halloween!

You will need:

  • Six 5-inch pine cones
  • One 3-inch mini pumpkin
  • One 4-inch mini pumpkin
  • Black spray paint (Satin finish)
  • 1 black chenille stem (we used Jumbo Fuzzy Sticks from Target) cut to 5 inches
  • Craft glue
  • Two 1/2-inch googly eyes
  • One 14-inch platter

How to create your spider:

  • In a ventilated area, spray paint pumpkins and pine cones thoroughly. Use newspapers to protect surfaces.

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  • Allow to dry.
  • Place 3-inch pumpkin upside down below and in front of the 4-inch pumpkin on the platter or whatever you choose as a base.

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  • Add googly eyes with craft glue. (Some come with adhesive backs, use those if you have them.)

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  • Decide which pine cones go where. We used larger pine cones as the back legs.
  • Place 3 legs on each side.
  • Bend chenille stem to create feelers and position under spider head.

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Watch the bugs (and some people) disappear in fear!

Hint 1: This display is temporary because we will be using the parts for future holiday decor. Stay tuned! For more permanence, attach spider parts to platter with double stick tape.

Hint 2: If paint comes off pumpkins during assembly, touch up with quick drying, matching acrylic paint.

Be creative with your spiders! Use colorful googly eyes, make a purple spider or whatever you favorite spider color is, add stickers and designs. We’d love to see pictures of your creations!

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

September’s Bounty!!!

This week’s blog highlights a new (for us) kitchen gadget, a classic tomato salad, a garden update, and of course, the bears! Plus, we are announcing an exciting venture for the holidays!

SPIRALIZER

We just bought a spiralizer, a cool gadget that makes noodles out of vegetables.

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Our new Oxo spiralizer is easy to operate and clean. If you get one, read the instructions and handle with care because the blades are sharp.

The first time we used it was with a combination of zucchini and yellow squash. We sautéed our “noodles”  with olive oil, salt and pepper. Next, an English cucumber got spiralized. We tossed the cucumber noodles with vinaigrette and served it cold.

Both dishes were delicious! We highly recommend this kitchen tool. It is easy to use and makes healthy eating fun!

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CAPRESE SALAD

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In Rhode Island, it has been a GREAT year for native tomatoes! They are delicious with a sprinkle of sea salt or in salads, but with our basil plant thriving, this year’s tomatoes called for Caprese salad.

Caprese salad is made with tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinegar (hint: warm vinegar for a few minutes – it will thicken and sweeten), sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

GARDEN UPDATE

“I’ve always felt that having a garden is like having a good and loyal friend.”                                  C.Z. Guest – Actress/designer (Source: Quote Garden)

Sea grass we planted years ago has returned. The bee looks bee-fuddled!

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BONUS PHOTO:

We had a visitor on the top of our patio fence. (This grasshopper is much smaller than it appears here, thank goodness!)

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VEG ART

This year’s edibles – a great crop!

Another version of the picture at the top of the blog with our 2 types of peppers, tomatoes, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, and thyme. (Surprisingly, the parsley didn’t make it!)

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JOKE OF THE WEEK:  “Gardeners know all the dirt.” (Source Bing.com /images)

THE BEARS

The Bears feel like stars, because this week, on September 9th, they celebrate Teddy Bear Day!

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ANNOUNCING: HOLIDAY CRAFTING MINIBLOGS

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It is never too early to begin holiday crafting. This fall and winter, in addition to our regular posts, look for our weekly holiday crafting mini-blogs. These mini-blogs will offer some of our favorite craft and decorating ideas for the upcoming holiday season.

Check out the blogs which feature the decorations shown above:

https://funclesarts.com/2014/10/29/halloween-blog-3-the-final-chapter/

https://funclesarts.com/2014/12/06/the-christmas-season-is-here/

 

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Happy Birthday, America!!!

 

Where liberty dwells – there is my country. – Benjamin Franklin*

As we celebrate the founding of America this 4th of July, it is important to remember that we are a nation of immigrants. In this time of turmoil, we think our future is best served by building bridges, not walls.

This week, we feature gifts for kids, a patriotic dessert, garden update, and, of course, the bears!

GIFTS FOR KIDS

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Children love getting mail, and we love sending packages to our great nieces and nephews. This year’s 4th of July mailing included holiday-themed pencils and erasers, toy cars, silly straws, hair clips, necklaces, bracelets, candy, cookie cutters (for the parents) and, of course, American flags.

DESSERT

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Patriotic ice cream sandwich sundae

Here is a delicious sundae you can make with ice cream sandwiches.

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You will need:

  • ice cream sandwiches
  • fresh strawberries, cut in fan shape
  • fresh blueberries, frozen
  • strawberry jelly, microwaved in jar (no lid) for 20-30 seconds
  • whipped cream

In the photo above, we pressed frozen blueberries into the sides of the ice cream sandwiches and topped with strawberries, whipped cream and a drizzle of warmed jelly. Even though the fruit was frozen and the plates were cold, during assembly, the ice cream sandwiches began to melt, especially when we drizzled with the strawberry jelly. Delicious, but messy. New thought: Simplify!

To make a simpler 4th of July ice cream sandwich:

  • Microwave 1/4 cup strawberry jelly for 20 seconds.
  • Place ice cream sandwich on a plate.
  • Top with frozen berries and whipped cream.
  • Drizzle with warm strawberry jelly.
  • Enjoy!

More good stuff:

Last years 4th of July post:

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

GARDEN UPDATE

Summer has finally arrived, and our patio garden is thriving! Our crop already includes seven tomatoes and two peppers. Here are a few photos:

The whole thing!

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Another angle!

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The bee is fond of the pink Impatiens!

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Peppers and tomatoes!

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Blooming beautiful!

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FOOD ART

Be fruitful!

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A TRIO OF HOLIDAY RIB (not BBQ) TICKLERS!

What did one flag say to the other flag? Nothing – it just waved!

What is red, white, blue and green? A patriotic pickle!

Why did the duck say “bang!”? He was a fire quacker!

Source: academictips.org

THE BEARS

The bears had a visitor in honor of the 4th of July and Pride! #Orlandostrong

 

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“Then join hand in hand brave Americans all, by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!”                   – John Dickinson, founding father of the U.S.*

*Quote source: ibtimes.com

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Memorial Day and More!

QUOTE FOR MEMORIAL DAY:

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”  – Arthur Ashe

Source : inspirational quotes and quotations.com

This week, we offer some picnic food ideas, a garden update, thoughts on Memorial Day and, of course, the bears.

PICNIC FOODS

Memorial Day starts the picnic season and even though we can’t grill outdoors at our home, we enjoy grilling indoors on our grill pan. Here’s a nutritious twist on bacon-wrapped hot dogs which still offers great grilled taste.

Zucchini Wrapped Hot Dogs

Skip the bacon and add some vegetable goodness to your hot dog!

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Hot Dog Wrap

You will need:

  • Your favorite hot dogs – turkey, beef, whatever you like. (Tofu?)
  • Medium zucchini, washed
  • Vegetable spray for grill pan

How to prepare:

  • Using a vegetable peeler, cut zucchini lengthwise into strips.
  • Place zucchini strips on oiled grill pan.
  • Grill zucchini for 1 minute on each side.
  • Wrap one or more grilled zucchini strips around each hot dog.
  • Grill zucchini-wrapped hot dogs to your preferred level of doneness. (Double grilling the zucchini gives it a meatier flavor.)
  • Serve with your favorite toppings. (See below for one of our new go-to relishes.)

Giardiniera Relish

Giardiniera is a spicy mix of pickled vegetables. We saw this tip on Rachael Ray’s show and decided to give it a try. It is delicious!

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Place the contents of a drained 16 oz. jar of giardiniera in the food processor. Pulse until consistency of pickle relish. It’s a delicious topping for hot dogs or your favorite sandwich. Also great as a topping for chicken or fish.

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LOOK BACK

Check out last year’s blog for more ideas:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/05/24/memorial-day-weekend/

GARDEN UPDATE

It’s been a cold spring, and we are just beginning to put our garden together. Last weekend, we bought a cherry tomato plant, 2 pepper plants (one hot, one sweet) and 2 trays of Impatiens.

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Kevin enjoyed starting the planting. He planted the red Impatiens below the hummingbird feeder because the hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.

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Memorial Garden Decorations

In our garden, some of our ornamental items are in memory of loved ones no longer with us.

Our garden bee is in memory of our niece and dear friend, Christine, who was, among many things, an avid gardener and beekeeper. The flamingo watering can is in memory of our beloved friend, Sondra, who always had flamingos in her beautiful garden.

The angel below is in memory of Kevin’s mom, Irene, who had a special relationship with angels. It sits on a shelf created by Roy’s late father, Bill, who also owned the wind chimes pictured to the right. We think these mementos, coupled with a garden of flowers and vegetables, make a beautiful tribute to life and those we love.

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Plant Stands? Perhaps!

We are planning to use these two ladders as plant stands. The bears want to paint them.   (Hmm – not sure how that will work out!)

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GROWING GREEN ONIONS 

Kevin’s sister, Christine, told us about this fun idea.

Buy a bunch of organic green onions from your local grocery store. Put in a glass of water, root side down. Trim onions as needed for your favorite recipe. The onions will grow back remarkably quickly. Change the water as needed. Could not be easier!

Here is our plant and some pictures of the growth after cutting the three stalks on left:

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1 day’s growth after an initial trim:

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2 day’s growth:

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3 day’s growth:

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4 day’s growth:

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Amazing, instant success – great for kids!!!

Food Art: PEPPER PETALS

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The Bears

Our furry friends were successful! With a quick coat of paint, the small old ladder makes a great plant stand!

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OUR HEROES:

Last, but not by no means least, we salute our fathers, both of whom served our country during World War II.

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Roy’s father, William J. Drew, Jr.

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Kevin’s father, Warren Wollschlager, shown with new bride, Irene.

We thank all those who serve to protect our freedom, past and present.

Enjoy

Roy & Kevin