Tag Archives: Independence Day

Happy Birthday, America!!!

 

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

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

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

GIFTS FOR KIDS

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

DESSERT

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Patriotic ice cream sandwich sundae

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

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You will need:

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

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

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

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

More good stuff:

Last years 4th of July post:

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

GARDEN UPDATE

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

The whole thing!

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Another angle!

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The bee is fond of the pink Impatiens!

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Peppers and tomatoes!

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Blooming beautiful!

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FOOD ART

Be fruitful!

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A TRIO OF HOLIDAY RIB (not BBQ) TICKLERS!

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

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

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

Source: academictips.org

THE BEARS

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

 

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

*Quote source: ibtimes.com

Enjoy!

Roy & Kevin

Let’s Be Independent Together!

We both have wonderful 4th of July memories of fireworks at Blunt Park in Springfield, MA, and Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT, picnics and celebrations with family and friends. We are pleased that our featured image is a combination of our holiday decor and some we inherited from Kevin’s mom, Irene. She shared our love of decorating! This year, we are especially glad to salute our country, in light of the recent historic Supreme Court decision granting marriage equality to all!

HOLIDAY WREATH      

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We made this easy wreath by attaching inexpensive artificial red, white and blue carnations to a wire wreath form. We trimmed the stems to 1- and 2-inch pieces and used them to attach the blossoms to the two rings of the form, then embellished the wreath with a patriotic bow. Using dollar store materials, we made this decoration for about $8.00!

 

 

 

POTATO SALAD

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We have developed this potato salad over the years. It’s a tasty and healthier version than most recipes. The big change came a couple of years ago when we were making a batch of potato salad and realized we had only about 1/2 of the potatoes needed. We improvised by defrosting a bag of frozen cauliflower and adding it to the potatoes. We have seen recipes for cauliflower as a potato substitute for years but, frankly, we really weren’t interested. We made the salad and it was delicious, better than expected. Now cauliflower is a regular part of our potato salad, resulting in fewer carbs and calories. This recipe makes a big batch. The picture of the finished dish is only half of the recipe!

You will need: 3 lbs. Yukon gold or white potatoes, 1 lb. frozen cauliflower, 6 hard-boiled eggs, 2 stalks celery, 1 small onion, 2 and 1/2 cups mayo (we use low-fat Hellmann’s), 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard, 1 tablespoon white vinegar.

  • Peel and chop potatoes into 3/4 inch pieces. Cook potatoes and frozen cauliflower in the same pot until fork tender. They should be ready 15-20 minutes after they come to a boil.
  • Drain and spread potatoes and cauliflower on sheet pan and place in the refrigerator (shown). This is a great way to quick-cool these items.
  • Put quartered onion and halved celery into food processor. Pulse 8 times or until roughly chopped. Combine in bowl with mayo, mustard and vinegar and set aside.
  • Peel and chop eggs.
  • When potatoes and cauliflower are cool, combine with eggs and dressing/veggie combo.
  • Allow to cool 2 hours.
  • Mix well, serve cold. Enjoy!

PATRIOTIC CHIP & DIP

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Red pepper/chickpea dip and white bean/rosemary dip served with blue tortilla chips make a tasty, patriotic appetizer combo that salutes America’s melting pot!

Our Red Pepper/Chickpea Dip is similar to hummus but has no sesame paste (not that there’s anything wrong with it)!

You will need: 1/2 of a 24 oz. jar of roasted red peppers; one 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed; 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest; juice of 1/2 lemon; 1/4 cup olive oil; hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste.

Place all ingredients into food processor, process until smooth (about 10 seconds), chill and enjoy!

Check out this link for a great white bean dip. Kevin likes it with extra rosemary. We use 1/2 of the raw garlic listed.

http://www.food.com/recipe/white-bean-and-rosemary-garlic-spread-dip-140369

These dips go great with blue chips and/or crudite!

HOLIDAY DESSERTS

Here are some red, white and blue desserts which would make great endings for any Independence Day celebrations!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/food/wp/2015/06/26/red-white-blue-and-cool-desserts-for-your-fourth-of-july-cookout-no-flag-cake-required/

GARDEN UPDATE

We picked the first 3 full-grown Shishito peppers from our garden. We had 4 mature peppers, but, unfortunately, a bird or some other creature got to one before we did. We sautéed the three peppers whole and combined with zucchini slices – a delicious side dish!

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Marigold bloom!

One of our marigold plants, which we started from seed, has bloomed!

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JOKE OF THE WEEK  

What did Polly the Parrot want for the 4th of July? A firecracker!                                              source: Jokes by kids

ENJOY!!!

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Roy and Kevin

SPORTS UPDATE: The U.S. women’s soccer team has reached the finals of the World Cup after beating #1 ranked Germany, 2-0, in the semi-finals. They will be in the finals on Sunday against Japan in a re-match of the last Cup finals, which Japan won. A U.S. win would be the perfect ending to the Independence Day weekend! GO USA!!!

 

What a week! On to the 4th!

On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down their historic decision ensuring marriage equality for same-sex couples. What a great way to wrap up June, which is LGBT Pride Month, and to kick off 4th of July celebrations. For Independence Day, we are sharing our rocket craft ideas and baked bean recipe. Of course, we also include our garden update. Photo source: Bing images/WH.gov

ROCKET CRAFTS! 

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We first created the wine rocket pictured on the right as a hostess gift years ago. It was inspired by Roy’s work on two productions of the classic play, “You Can’t Take It With You”. The family in that play – the Sycamores – make fireworks in their basement – with explosive results! Roy did double duty (both times) on that show, making the prop rockets (among other things) and acting. We used the same design idea to create this fun “wine rocket”. It’s a great way to bring a bottle of wine or other item as a hostess gift to 4th of July celebrations. We also created the rocket on the left from a paper towel tube for smaller gifts (think lottery scratch tickets). Fun!

WINE ROCKET

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You will need: One cylindrical wine gift box; red, white or blue construction paper; white poster board; scotch tape and a bottle of wine or other gift of your choice that fits in the gift tube.

To make: Use poster board to wrap wine box like a gift, folding and securing paper at the bottom and cutting slits in the sides if needed for the string holding the top to container. Decorate with contrasting paper. We used 1-inch stripes, but a spiral design would work well, too. Attach pipe cleaners or wired garland to base to create wick or tail.

For the cone top:

  • Trace a 10-inch dinner plate onto construction paper to get a circle.
  • Cut circle in half. Each half makes a perfect cone when you join the sides.
  • Use tape to fasten to bottle holder.

PAPER TOWEL ROCKET

A paper towel tube is perfect to make this smaller rocket.

You will need: An 11-inch paper towel holder, a 5×5 inch napkin with a July 4th or flag pattern, double stick tape, construction paper.

Open napkin and place with design side down. Center tube on napkin as shown below with one side flush with napkin and one side hanging over. Draw a line on the tube where it hangs over the napkin and cut slits in that end. Tuck slits into tube to make a base. Using double stick tape, attach napkin to tube. Cover base with circle of napkin.

To make the top: Follow same directions as cone for the wine rocket above, but use 7-inch plate to trace the circle onto the construction paper.

Secure cone over open end with tape and create flames for base of rocket by attaching strips of construction paper.

These rockets are easy crafts to make with your kids and work great to hold candy, lottery tickets or whatever small gift you like! Also make great, simple 4th of July decor.

 

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BAKED BEANS

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Baked beans are a delicious, traditional side dish for picnics, but the canned ones can be a little bland. We like to doctor them up to them more interesting and tasty.

You will need: 28 oz. can baked beans (we like the vegetarian style), 2 tablespoons yellow mustard, 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1/2 cup sautéed onions, 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs.

How to make: Mix mustard and ketchup into beans, top with onions and breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.

Experiment with your own baked beans by adding ingredients like bbq sauce or your favorite veggies. Yum!

GARDEN UPDATE

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PEPPERS Our Shishito peppers, which reach 3-4 inches in length when fully mature, are doing great! We are close to picking 2 of them.

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TOMATOES We have lots of cherry tomatoes in various stages of growth on our two plants. (Kevin stopped counting at 30 on the Super Sweet 100 variety pictured on the left.) On the right, two nearly ripe tomatoes on our Husky Cherry Red plant are almost ready for a salad.

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BASIL Our basil survived a big soaking. We solved a drainage problem by drilling holes in the bottom of the container, and are now sheltering the pot during heavy downpours.

JOKE OF THE WEEK 

What kind of socks does a gardener wear? Garden hose!                                                                 (source: thegardendigest.com)

More Independence Day food and decorating ideas in the next blog!

This week, and every week, we are proud to be Americans!

Roy and Kevin