Category Archives: Pumpkins

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

 

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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

 

Happy and Fun Thanksgiving to All!!!

“Gratitude is the best attitude.” – Unknown                                                                                    Source: Quotegarden.com

Happy Thanksgiving! As Turkey Day approaches, we revisit updated versions of a couple of our favorite side dishes, a hostess gift idea, some of our favorite Thanksgiving things, what we are thankful for, the garden (now patio) update and, of course, the bears!

FAVORITE HOLIDAY SIDE DISHES

Sweet potatoes with bananas

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Check out the recipe here!

https://funclesarts.com/2014/11/22/thanksgiving-the-third-blog-post/

Cranberry sauce with jalapeno peppers

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This zingy favorite is sure to surprise!                     Heat one 14 oz. can of whole berry cranberry sauce over medium heat until it liquefies. Finely chop one jalapeno pepper (remove seeds and ribs to make less spicy if desired) and add to cranberries. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool at least one hour until mixture solidifies.

Check out last year’s post, where this recipe first appeared, to find a crunchy cranberry sauce variation with a touch of citrus!

Click here for the post and recipe:

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

HOSTESS GIFT IDEA

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Baked goods are great hostess gifts, but time constraints around the holidays can make baking from scratch difficult. We suggest using quality mixes. This pumpkin bread was made from a boxed mix. Add dried cranberries, raisins, nuts or whatever you think will work to personalize your goodies. Make it your own! It’s a great gift when wrapped and paired with specialty tea. You can find delicious mixes and ready to bake treats at any supermarket. Easy and appreciated!

“Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants!” – Kevin James (comedian)

THANKSGIVING TREASURES

Cornucopia

This cornucopia has been in Roy’s family for as long as he can remember. It was the subject of a recent “veg art” photo!

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Pilgrim candle

Kevin’s family has had this pilgrim candle a long time, too. His mom gave it to us for Thanksgiving just a few years ago. A treasure for sure.

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“Family gathers to share good noise and good food, gratitude abounds!”

poet Alexandra Elle (source goodreads.com)

PATIO UPDATE (FORMERLY GARDEN UPDATE)

The bee is bee-fuddled by the change in the impatiens.

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The tomato cages are waiting to be transformed into Christmas trees or some other holiday creation!

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Bonus picture: We love bittersweet, a fall vine with berries which grows abundantly on our property. Bittersweet make a great fall decoration, but be warned, if you use it indoors, the berries can stain!

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FOOD ART (FORMERLY VEG ART

Fruits and vegetables ready for Thanksgiving!

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What sound does a space turkey make?  Hubble . . . Hubble . . .Hubble!!!                                       source:101thanksgiving.com

THANKSGIVING TRIVIA

Here is some interesting trivia about Thanksgiving!

http://www.examiner.com/article/50-family-friendly-thanksgiving-trivia-questions-and-answers

Thankful

We are thankful to have wonderful, supportive families, great friends and fun and creative lives. Plus, the 10-0 Pats!!!

THE BEARS

The bears get in the act with their own turkey hats.

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Last but DEFINITELY not least, we are thankful for your support and kindness!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Last Minute Halloween Mayhem!

It’s Halloween week and we’re adding last-minute decorations to our house – a little late, but festive, nonetheless. As Halloween approaches, we share easy ideas for our lollipop ghosts, creepy pins, and tasty treats. Also, check out photos of our decorations, a garden update and of course, the bears!

LOLLIPOP GHOSTS

Ghosts made from lollipops covered with white napkins, fastened with a rubber band.

These lollipop ghosts are fun and fast. Simply wrap a napkin around a lollipop, tie with a ribbon and add a face with a marker. Fun favors that kids love!

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EASY PINS

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From the craft store, we bought 1.5-inch bar pins which have adhesive strips built-in. The pins were secured to the back of these small, plastic decorations for instant, creepy fun! Use flat-backed items for best adhesion. Note: The spider was a little heavy for the pin to support. A little hot glue solved this problem!

The pins pictured above were attached to a piece of cloth for display purposes, but they look great on a jacket or sweater. Crank up the creepy factor – add a little glitter or glow-in-the dark paint to your pin.

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PORTABLE COSTUMES

We often take a cab to Halloween celebrations. One concern is – do we really want to ride in a cab wearing full costumes? When the answer is “no”, we opt for “portable costumes”.

Portable costumes are festive, wearable items that can be tucked into a pocket, purse or backpack, then easily put on before you make your grand entrance!

Some examples are:

  • Silly hats (note our turkey hat – upper left)
  • Campy glasses
  • Halloween ties
  • Boas
  • Clown nose and makeup kit. (Apply makeup when you get there!)
  • Foldable character masks
  • Plain masks with embellishments. (We glued bats and spiders to inexpensive masks.)
  • Lights: Battery operated lights can add a lot of pizzazz to any outfit!

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HALLOWEEN CARD DECOR

Holiday cards received over the years make great decorations, and hanging cards each holiday is one of our favorite traditions. We enjoy reading them and thinking of the family and friends, both here and gone, who sent them. Some of our favorite saved cards surround a Halloween wreath (see last week’s blog for wreath instructions).

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Here’s a small sample of our Halloween decorations.

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Earlier this year, we bought inexpensive projection lights from QVC. These lights create great effects, including the witches’ shadow on the ceiling, and the creepy glow to our hand-made ghost.

We made the ghost (shown above, left) more than 10 years ago. Here is a version you can make. Our ghost has easy-to-attach felt instead of the googly eyes mentioned in the link. Boo!

http://weefolkart.com/white-stiff-fabric-ghosts/

BE SAFE!!!

This link has some good ideas about Halloween safety. Have fun! Be careful!

http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/

TREATS TO MAKE

Here are some easy, last-minute Halloween treats you can make:

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/shows/ros-tasty-treats-specials/specials/ros-tasty-treats-halloween.html

GARDEN

The garden is hanging in there despite some colder weather. The cold has hurt some of our marigolds and the tomato plants are droopy. But we picked 10 peppers this week!

For the first time, this week’s veg art is our featured image, as shown at the top of the blog.

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OUR NEW ADDITION

We picked up these fall-colored marigolds today. Inexpensive fresh flowers are a great way to decorate for the holidays. This plant should last through Thanksgiving.

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers? No, they eat their fingers separately!

Source: Psychology Today.

THE BEARS

The bears are ready for trick or treat after adding diddly-bopper headbands to their own portable costumes.

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Fall back

Dont forget to set your clocks back an hour this weekend. Looking forward to an extra hour of sleep this Sunday!

Oh and…

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Enjoy!

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

Fall into a cool season!

It’s officially fall and the temps have dipped. This week, we share delicious recipes for delicata squash and our apple spice upside down cake. Also featured this week, the first of many quick and easy Halloween decorating ideas, a garden update and, of course, the bears.

DELICATA SQUASH

Kevin’s sister, Christine, introduced us to this user-friendly squash. It’s makes a tasty side dish, after being part of your fall home decor. You can eat the skin, which is different from some other squash varieties. The original recipe can be found in the link below.

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Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

You will need: two large delicata squash, about one lb. each; two tablespoons olive oil; one teaspoon dried rosemary; salt and pepper to taste.

To prepare:

  • Wash squash, split in half. Remove seeds.
  • Cut into moon shapes, about 1/2-inch thick.
  • Toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  • Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Roast 15 minutes, turn squash over and roast another 15 minutes.

Here is the original recipe from eatingwell.com

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/roast_delicata_squash_onions.html

APPLE SPICE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

This idea came from a recipe Roy found in Readers Digest many years ago. It makes good use of a cake mix, and adds fruit, so it’s really a health food!

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You will need: One spice cake mix and the ingredients listed for preparation: two tablespoons butter; six medium apples, peeled and sliced; 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; two tablespoons brown sugar; pinch of salt.

To prepare:

  • Melt butter or margarine in pan over medium heat.
  • Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  • Mix well, saute for 5-7 minutes until apples are tender.
  • Prepare cake mix according to directions.
  • Place cooked apple slices evenly in the bottom of a greased 9″ x 13″ pan.
  • Pour cake batter over cooked apples. Bake according to package directions.
  • Cool for 15 minutes. Turn cooled cake onto platter.
  • Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Great warm or cold!

Not a spice cake fan? Works with carrot, yellow or white cake mixes as well. Experiment with different cake and fruit mixes. Chocolate cake and cherries? Share your ideas with us!

PUT ON A HAPPY (OR SCARY) FACE!

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DSCF0399 (2)We added Jack-O-Lantern faces to these planters by cutting faces out of construction paper and attaching them with double-sided tape for a quick and simple decoration. Funny sidenote: Christmas Poinsettia and 2 Christmas Cacti are shown! Use what you have!

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Using the same technique, we decorated this 4-sided lamp and table combo (left) with a variety of faces. Happy accident – when photo was taken of the decorated lamp shade, another panel showed in the mirror.

We cut our Jack-O-Lantern faces out freehand, but you can find templates for them at:

http://www.myhomeideas.com/holidays/9-jack-o-lantern-templates/jack-o-lantern-pumpkin-carving-template

What can you decorate in your home? Use you imagination and share your ideas!

 

GARDEN UPDATE

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This week, the Impatiens (don’t they look great!) and marigolds have had a surprising resurgence, and the shishito peppers just went crazy! Plus, we were pleased to discover our first purple pansy bloom. We grew pansies from seed this year, and blooms have been few and far between. It’s late in the season, but our patio garden continues to bring us food and joyl!

VEGETABLE ART:

Home-grown basil adds dimension to this week’s pepper harvest!

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

What did one leaf say to the other? I’m falling for you! 

Source: Mytutors.com

THE BEARS

The bears couldn’t wait to play in the falling leaves, so they got into our leaf garland decor (above). Now they are enjoying rummaging through our fall and Halloween clothes!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Thanksgiving -The Third Blog Post

Wow – this is our 6th blog entry already and next week is Thanksgiving. We are focusing on the meal and table today. Every celebration needs a nice centerpiece, and we saw one which showed a flower arrangement in a pumpkin. We did our own take on that. Also, we have a recipe we got from Rachael Ray a few years ago. We’ve changed it up a bit to make it healthier, yet still delicious! Enjoy!

PUMPKIN & FLOWER CENTERPIECE

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Looking for pumpkins the week before Thanksgiving can be tricky. In our area, they are not easy to find (or else we are looking in the wrong places – hmm, could be). Anyway, we adapted and created the pumpkin vase (pictured above) using the plastic pumpkin in the photo to the left.

For an 8-inch plastic pumpkin, you will need: 80 inches of orange (or the color of your choice) twisted paper cord (one brand available in most craft stores is called creative twist), hot glue gun and glue, small pot of mums or your favorite fall flower that will fit into your pumpkin. Our plant is 4 inches in diameter and 12 inches high.

  • Untwist paper cord and cut into eight 10-inch strips. When untwisted, the paper cord is about 4 inches wide.
  • Cover the Jack-O-Latern’s face with one of the crepe paper strips. You may have to cut the strip in 2 and piece them together, depending on the Jack-O-Lantern design. Secure with hot glue. (The face needs to be covered twice for this project so it will not show.)
  • After the face has been covered once, and starting next to a handle, cover the pumpkin by applying the strips vertically. Glue top of strip 1/2″ into inside of pumpkin. Add glue to middle of crepe paper strip and then glue to the bottom. Overlap strips by about a 1/16th of an inch as you go around.
  • Insert plant.

 SWEET POTATOES WITH BANANAS

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We tweaked a great recipe we saw Rachael Ray make so it would be healthier. Go to foodnetwork.com for the original recipe for Rachael Ray’s wonderful Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Here is our version with less fat and sugar:

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
  • 2 tablespoons light margerine (with no hydrogenated oils)
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Directions:

Boil potatoes about 20 minutes until tender, drain and put potatoes aside. In the original pot, add margerine and banana slices.  Cook the banana 5 minutes on medium heat and add the juice of the orange. Allow the orange juice to cook out for about 1 minute. Add the potatoes back to the pot with the stock and brown sugar. Mash together until its well mixed. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper and orange zest to taste. Mash to combine, top with 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans.  WE LOVE THESE SWEET POTATOES!!

JOKE OF THE WEEK:                                                                                                                                       Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?                                                             Yes! A building can’t jump at all!

Joke source:  Kidsactivities.net

FUN FACTS: According to the website Life123 the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade took place in 1924. It was known then as the Macy’s Christmas Parade. Today, the parade is attended by an estimated 3 million people and is viewed by approximately 44 million people all over the country.

Thanks so much for reading, following and sharing these blogs. We have been having fun creating and writing.

1 more blog post before Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble!

Roy & Kevin