Category Archives: recipes

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

 

An Olympic-Sized Post

“If you dream and allow yourself to dream, you can do anything, and that’s what the Olympic medal represents.”  Clara Hughes – Canadian cyclist and speed skater and 3-time Olympian with 6 medals won in 1996, 2000, 2012.*

We love the Olympics! It’s a month-long celebration of great sporting events, drama and human interest stories. Opening ceremonies for the Summer Olympics 2016 in Brazil are tomorrow, Friday, August 5th. But the Games have already started. Glad to see the U.S. women’s soccer team won their first match, 2-0! Go USA!!!

This week, we feature an easy chicken nacho recipe perfect for watching the Olympics, family-friendly Olympic activities, a garden update, and, of course, the bears!

CHICKEN NACHOS FOR OLYMPIC-SIZED APPETITES!

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These chicken nachos are easy and delicious – a gold-medal snack!

Ingredients:

  • two cups diced rotisserie chicken
  • 1/3 cup water
  • one tablespoon low sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 6 oz. tortilla chips
  • one can fat-free refried beans, heated
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno slices
  • one cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • one small tomato, diced
  • one cup shredded lettuce

Toppings:

  • olives
  • guacamole
  • taco sauces
  • sour cream
  • salsa

To prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In skillet, heat to combine chicken, taco seasoning and water.
  • Spread chips on parchment-covered sheet tray.
  • Heat chips in oven for 5 minutes.
  • Remove chips from oven.
  • Spread with refried beans.
  • Cover beans with chicken mixture.
  • Sprinkle corn over chicken.
  • Dot with jalapeno slices.
  • Top with shredded cheese.
  • Heat in oven for 7-10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and top with lettuce and tomatoes.
  • Serve with your choice of toppings.
  • Makes 6 delicious servings.

FIVE TIMES NEAT!

“I always thought it would be neat to make the Olympic team.”* Michael Phelps, five-time Olympian and 2016 USA flag bearer at the opening ceremonies in Rio on Friday.

FAMILY OLYMPIC ACTIVITIES

The Olympics make for great family television viewing. They also can be educational and fun! Here are a few ideas:

Geography: There are many websites online where you can find free maps to print. Print out maps and have your kids find host country, Brazil, and competing countries on their maps. You also can have a geography competition. As athletes and their countries are announced before events, who will win the race to find the athelete’s country?

Culture: Go online to explore the culture of the nations represented, including their foods, history and arts.

Inspiration: Use the Olympics to discuss goal setting and how working towards your dreams can be rewarding.

Athletics and fitness: Use the Olympics to encourage youngsters and yourself to be more physically fit and try new sports. Play and hold your own mini-Olympic games.

Here is a fun link from Real Simple about hosting your own Olympic games!

http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/olympic-games-kids

GARDEN UPDATE

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Its been quite hot lately and our garden is doing very well. We just picked our first batch of 15 tomatoes, and have had one each of our red and yellow peppers. We should have listened when the package said “spicy red peppers”!

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Our coleus is thriving, and we didn’t expect it to bloom! A nice surprise!

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The herbs are doing well, too. The flamingo is impressed!

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The “Let’s Grow” sign from our last blog has found its outdoor spot.

FOOD ART

Our first crop of tomatoes (can you find all 15?) with a fun background.

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JOKE OF THE WEEK

Q; Why does the Olympic torch always start in Olympia?

A: Because its hard to put out a Greece fire.

source: Chetchatblogspot.com

THE BEARS

The bears love the Olympics! They made their own medals from cardboard, ribbon, wrapping paper and scotch tape. Try this easy craft for all your winners!!! In what Olympic events do you think our bears will medal?

Enjoy the Olympics!

Roy & Kevin

*Quote source: Brainyquotes

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

All Things Spring!

Mark Twain wrote: “In the Spring, I have counted one hundred and thirty-six kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.” Source: QuoteGarden.com

Mr. Twain (or Clemons) had a point. Weather in spring is very changeable. The season started off nicely in Rhode Island, with some great weather for Easter. But last weekend, we got several inches of heavy, wet snow! This fickle weather makes it difficult to have a “springy” attitude. This week, we offer a couple of ideas to get in the spring mode, or mood, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

Hope you enjoy our shrimp pizza recipe, some basic tips on spring cleaning, a quick spring decor idea, a patio update, and, of course, the bears!

MINI SHRIMP PIZZAS ON ENGLISH MUFFINS

We did a web search for spring inspired recipes, and 2 items came up. The first was a white pizza, and the second, a shrimp dish. One of our long-time favorite recipes, our Shrimp Pizzas on English Muffins, combine these two ideas. Quick and tasty.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 whole wheat English muffins, split
  • 1 lb. bag raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 lb. package of shredded 4-cheese Italian blend
  • 2 tablespoons garlic & herb mix (we use Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 tablespoon (or to taste) red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

How to prepare:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375.
  • Place split English muffins on a parchment-paper covered sheet tray.
  • Bake muffins for 5 minutes until lightly toasted.
  • While the muffins toast, saute shrimp in olive oil for 2 minutes on each side until just pink.
  • Remove muffins from oven and top with cheese blend.
  • Top English muffins with mushrooms, spinach and shrimp.
  • Sprinkle with herb mix and red pepper flakes.
  • Bake muffin pizzas for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a salad for a tasty meal.

Our sheet tray of English muffin pizzas look like one big pizza because we like cheese!

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SPRING CLEANING THOUGHTS

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We are not cleaning experts by any stretch of the imagination, but this spring we’ve developed a more focused cleaning routine. Here are a few things that work for us. Extra benefit – cleaning is good exercise!

Do something daily

Make a point of cleaning every day for 45 minutes to an hour, or whatever amount of time you have available.

Timer

Set a timer for your desired length of time and clean until the timer goes off.

Hit list

Make a list of those areas and tasks which could use some attention.

Wear cleaning clothes

Lesson learned: If you are using products with bleach, make sure you wear clothes that you don’t mind getting bleach on. Nothing is more annoying than spotting a pair of jeans or shirt with bleach because you were cleaning!

Put on music and lights 

What? It’s not a disco! Put on some of your favorite music to keep you moving and turn up the lights so you can see what you’re cleaning.

Good motto for cleaning 

Improvement not perfection.

A TOUCH OF GLASS (SPRING EDITION)

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For Easter, we decorated using glass bowls and vases filled with plastic eggs. For spring, we use artificial flowers the same way. Wow – a vase with flowers, what a concept!!!

We prefer using monochromatic displays of various types of flowers. Above, we filled a trifle bowl with some pretty blossoms and surrounded it with other flowers, glass and lights. Forsythia and daisies make a taller display in the photo below. With the weather in Rhode Island so far this spring, artificial flowers suffice; of course, the same ideas work beautifully with fresh flowers.

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PATIO UPDATE

This photo was taken this past Monday, 04/04/16. Not too spring-like!

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Coming soon – an interesting addition to the patio! The bee seems curious!!!

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FOOD ART

The asparagus at the top of the page makes a great centerpiece, and delicious side dish! Check out the link below from our 2015 post, “Spring into Spring” for a delicious asparagus recipe:

https://funclesarts.com/2015/04/12/spring-into-spring/

THE BEARS

The bears are using the Easter lily plant for shade. The plant is hanging in there, and all of the buds have bloomed. The bears seem to like it!

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SPORTS UPDATE

Congratulations to the UCONN Huskies women’s basketball team for winning their 4th straight NCAA National Championship!!! Record-breaking accomplishment!!! GO HUSKIES!!!

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

 

Happy, Bunny-Filled, Colorful Easter and Spring!!!

This week, we share some colorful Easter and Spring ideas. Check out our Easy Easter Cupcakes, quick holiday decorating tips, a plant update, our healthy Bunny Dip Crudite Platter, one of our special Easter traditions, and of course, the bears!

EASY EASTER CUPCAKES

Get the kids involved in this easy holiday dessert. The Peep Bunnies seem intrigued!

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Prepare your favorite flavor of cake mix according to package directions for cupcakes. For Easter, we use carrot cake. Frost them with canned white frosting. Of course, you can make your cupcakes and frosting from scratch, but the cake mixes and canned frosting are quite tasty and save time. Save even more time – decorate store-bought frosted cupcakes!

To make the “grass”: mix 2 or 3 drops of green food coloring into one cup of shredded coconut.

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Sprinkle the frosted cupcakes with the dyed coconut and top with jelly beans, malted milk eggs or the candy of your choice. The Peep Bunnies add whimsy to the plate! Fun for kids!

Bonus tip:

If you’re Easter Cupcakes are travelling and you don’t have a cake cover, invert a dutch oven over your dish of cupcakes. Great in a pinch!

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 A TOUCH OF GLASS

Plastic Easter eggs make a simple, fun display in various glass containers. Mix and match the colors you want. Use white or clear lights to add a little more sparkle. Festive!

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The forsythia is not yet in bloom, but this faux forsythia adds a touch of Spring to this early Easter holiday. The hummingbird on the pillow is looking for nectar!

SOME OF OUR OTHER DECORATIONS

This bookcase is filled with rabbit figurines we’ve collected over the years. The hanging ornaments in the back row on the top shelf never come down – Red Sox, Patriots, UCONN, sand dollar and rainbow flag. (On a side note – UCONN women’s basketball team going for 4th straight national championship. GO HUSKIES!!!)

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LIKE A FINE WINE, LAST YEAR’S IDEAS GET BETTER WITH TIME!

Check out our post from Easter 2015 – some fun ideas for Easter baskets.

https://funclesarts.com/2015/03/29/baskets-for-both-easter-and-the-final-four/

PLANT UPDATE

Our beautiful Amaryllis blooms are gone, but the leaves stand strong and our patio is being prepped for Spring planting.

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FOOD ART/BUNNY DIP CRUDITE TRAY

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This week’s food art is a great appetizer for Easter celebrations. To balance out Easter’s sweet treats, we created this Bunny Dip Crudite Tray. Place a bowl of dip on a sheet tray covered with parchment paper and decorate it to look like the Easter Bunny.

Details as follows:

  • Ears: Endive, split, rinsed and sprinkled with chili powder.
  • Nose: Olive
  • Eyes: Capers
  • Eyebrows: Celery leaves
  • Mouth and whiskers: Chives
  • Bow tie: Bell pepper and a cherry tomato
  • Dip: one 16 oz. container of fat-free sour cream and 2 – 3 tablespoons of Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Mix. This is one of our favorite, healthy and quick dips. Any light-colored dip will do.

Surround with celery, carrots and other veggies.

EGG CRASHING GAME:

Kevin’s family plays this every year. It is traditional holiday game with roots in many cultures. Read more about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_tapping

A TRIO OF EASTER JOKES:

You’ll be the hit of the party with these comic gems!

Who is the Easter Bunny’s favorite actor? Rabbit DeNiro!

Where do the Easter bunnies go for new tails? The re-tail store! (When Roy asked this question to Kevin, he said the tuxedo store – take a minute.)

Why is Easter like whipped cream and a cherry? Because it’s always on a sundae!

Source: Fundootimes.com

The bunnies, er, we mean the bears, shown above, have gotten into their Easter baskets!!!

HAPPY EASTER!!!

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

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

Super Weekend!

It just doesn’t seem right that the Patriots are not in Super Bowl 50. Still, it’s a great event, and we will be tuning in for Lady Gaga’s national anthem, the game (go Broncos), the commercials and Cold Play’s halftime show.

Food is always a great part of Super Bowl Sunday, and in this week’s blog, we share our Crispy Baked Shrimp, served with our Amped-up Coleslaw.

We also feature this week’s Amaryllis report, our indoor/outdoor garden update and, of course, the bears!!!

CRISPY OVEN-BAKED SHRIMP

This tasty, oven-baked shrimp looks and tastes fried, but has a lot less fat and calories. Easy!

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Delicious as a sandwich, too!

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Ingredients;

  • 1 lb. bag large, raw, deveined shrimp, 31- 40 ct.
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs, separated – 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic Herb Mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

How to prepare:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Defrost shrimp, peel and remove tail.
  • Pat shrimp dry and place in bowl.
  • Mix flour, chili powder and Mrs. Dash.
  • Coat shrimp thoroughly with dry mix.
  • Add beaten egg to shrimp mixture and toss.
  • Add 3/4 cup bread crumbs to the bowl and toss to cover shrimp completely.
  • Place coated shrimp on parchment-lined sheet tray.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup crumbs over shrimp.
  • Bake 10 minutes.
  • Flip with spatula.
  • Bake 5 more minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Hearty Coleslaw

This coleslaw is delicious. The broccoli slaw adds crunch and fiber.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a 12 oz. bag of Dole’s Classic Coleslaw
  • 1/2 of a 14 oz. bag broccoli coleslaw (we use Mann’s)
  • 1 cup of light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard

How to prepare:

  • Mix the 2 coleslaw blends together.
  • Combine mayo, mustard and lemon juice.
  • Toss dressing with slaws and chill.

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Great with the crispy baked shrimp!

ST. VALENTINE’S DAY IS COMING!!!

Woven Paper Heart Baskets

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Roy learned these woven paper heart baskets from the PBS show “ZOOM!” Here is a link with details on how to make these baskets:

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

Check next week to see how we decorate and fill these charming hearts for St. Valentine’s Day.

PATIO & PLANT UPDATE

The bears ventured out onto the patio during today’s snow storm to clear off a sign!

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Good thing they were able to warm up afterwards.

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Weekly Amaryllis Report

The Amaryllis we received as a gift is thriving!!!  It travels with the light throughout the day – early morning light on our office printer; mid-day light on the office counter and sunset in the apartment. Amazing growth in one week! Thanks Chris and Bernard!

This is where we started:

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Here is this week’s growth! (Feed me Seymore!!!)

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FOOD ART

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The Bears

The bears have packed up their PATS gear and said goodbye and thanks for a great year! Now, they are focussing their energy on the UCONN Huskies! (The bears are always so um … subtle… with their decorations! (Yeah it’s the bears who do that!) GO HUSKIES!!!

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Enjoy!!!

Roy and Kevin

Let’s Play! Creativity, food and football – GO PATS!!!

After an unseasonably warm December and beginning of January, winter finally has arrived. With Rhode Island bracing for its first measurable snow storm, we share our warm artichoke dip with homemade bagel bites (perfect for the Patriots game on Sunday), offer thoughts on restocking art and craft supplies, playing creatively, a patio update and, of course, the bears!

WARM ARTICHOKE DIP

Here is one of our favorite recipes. Great for halftime! GO PATS!!!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 and 1/2 cups light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best, but the green can works)
  • one 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic herb mix
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

To prepare:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all the ingredients, reserving 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese.
  • Sprinkle mixture with reserved parmesan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.
  • Serve with chips, including those shown below.

Bagel bites

Slice 2 whole marble rye bagels into quarter-inch rounds. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. These crispy dippers are great paired with the artichoke dip. (They also make great croutons for your favorite salad!)

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We also enjoy the artichoke dip with our easy, healthy pita chips. Here is the link :

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

 RESTOCK AND PLAY

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Winter is one of our favorite seasons for crafting, but most of our craft materials were used prepping for the holidays. January is a great month to take inventory and re-stock your supplies. Good timing, because craft stores are offering deep discounts. Take a look at your supplies and, if you need to, restock! Don’t forget to use craft stores coupons, easily found online.

 When you do restock, why not play?

Just playing with craft materials can be inspiring. One of the goals we have for this blog is to create new things, and sometimes the best ideas come during play, when one idea leads to another. The “Create Peace” collage and the “Let’s Grow!” patio sign from last week’s blog evolved from this technique – covering your work space with a variety of materials and playing creatively.

In the photo above, Roy tried out our new Sharpies and crayons on a big sheet of newsprint. It was just for fun, sort of like the new adult coloring book trend. We probably won’t use the paper for anything (although Kevin thinks it would be cool gift wrap) but either way, that’s ok. Have fun – you just might create something!!!

Take some pictures

Speaking of playing, we continue to play with and learn about our new(ish) camera.

Still looking for Tippi Hendren from Hitchcock’s, “The Birds”!

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PATIO UPDATE

We got some snow earlier this week. The Flamingo looks cooold!!!

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PLAY AND PLANTING

We received an Amaryllis bulb as a Christmas gift and planted it this week. Turns out we didn’t need our potting soil. Who knew the small brown disc in the picture on the left would become three cups of the nutrient-rich soil pictured on the right!

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Amaryllis updates to come. Looking forward to some beautiful blooms to brighten our indoor winter garden! Thanks, Chris and Bernard!

New door

After some false starts, we are pleased that our new sliding glass door is installed. We’re looking forward to spring and summer, when the screen door will allow us to enjoy our patio garden even more!

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FOOD ART (Roy played with photo editing on this one – background is actually a gray cabinet!)

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THE BEARS

The bears are enjoying browsing through our recent library finds. Hmm . . . shouldn’t they be hibernating?

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No!!! They are too excited to sleep! GO PATS!!!

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Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin!