Category Archives: side dishes

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

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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

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

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

 

St. Patrick’s Day 2016

We love St. Patrick’s Day, and this year we came up with some fun things suitable for the whole family. Find out about our easy shamrock cake, a traditional potato recipe, a simple holiday drawing tip, some gifts for the wee ones, a garden update and, of course, the bears!

EASY SHAMROCK CAKE

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This no-bake cake was easy to create. We were going to stencil the shamrocks onto the cake with green decorating sugar, but early attempts didn’t go well. After looking around the candy aisle for an alternative, we thought that mint dark chocolate M&M’s would make perfect shamrocks. They did!

For the shamrock cake we used:

  • store-bought angel food loaf cake
  • 1 can white frosting, dyed with 2 drops green gel food coloring
  • green, dark chocolate mint M&M’s
  • 1 tube green cake decorating gel
  • green decorating sugar

How to prepare:

  • Place cake on plate lined with pieces of parchment paper (will keep plate clean).
  • Frost thoroughly with green frosting.
  • Sprinkle entire cake with green decorating sugar.
  • Arrange M&M’s in groups of three as shown above.
  • Create shamrock stem with decorating gel.
  • Remove parchment from beneath cake.
  • Clean excess frosting from plate with a paper towel.
  • Surround cake with leftover M&M’s.

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OH, AND WE LEARNED SOMETHING:

Shamrock tip

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To draw a shamrock: Left over St. Valentine’s Day hearts can be used to make shamrocks. Trace 3 foam heart stickers and add a stem. Instant shamrock!

POTATOES

Here is a traditional Irish recipe.

http://chefgeorgehirsch.com/dailyfood/colcannon.html

GIFTS FOR THE WEE ONES

We love to send little holiday fun packages to our great and great-great nieces and nephews. They enjoy getting mail and having special items to celebrate the holidays. We are now sending holiday-themed photos of ourselves in the mailing so the little ones can know who sent the packages.

For St. Patrick’s Day, the mailings include barrettes, stickers, sunglasses and green toy cars. Candy would be a great addition, but we decided to skip it this time.

A fun and inexpensive surprise.

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TRIVIA

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was not in Ireland but in Boston in 1737.

PLANT UPDATE

We have had a great time with our Amaryllis plant!!!

Here it is in full bloom.

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FOOD ART

Brussel  O’Sprouts!

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JOKE OF THE DAY

Why should you never iron four-leaf clovers? Because you don’t want to press your luck!            Joke and trivia source: Examiner.com

THE BEARS

The bears (above) have decided to wear a bit o’ the green for St. Paddy’s Day and so have we!!!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Enjoy!!!

Roy and 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

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