Advent Calendar

Recycled Advent Calendar

Recycled Advent Calendar

The directions to this Advent calendar were featured in the November 2013 issue of Family Fun magazine.  It can be made in about an hour, uses recycled toilet paper rolls and is lots of fun for the kids.  I like that I can control what goes in the pockets.  I put trinkets & Legos, gum, candy, money, or slips of paper with a fun activity we are going to do on that day such as “Visit Santa” or “Bake Cookies”.

Luke and the Advent Calendar

My youngest “popping” his hole.

To make this you will need: 1 (16×10-inch) piece of foam board, 12 toilet paper rolls, scissors, paint, paint brush, hole punch, string or ribbon, Tacky glue, tissue paper, 24 small rubber bands, a template for a 3½ inch circle, 24 items to put in the tubes, and number stickers.

1. Cut the toilet paper tubes in half and paint them (some craft store carry paper rolls that are already pre-colored if you don’t have enough rolls or don’t want to paint)

2. Punch two holes in the short side of the foam board and attach a string or ribbon for hanging.

3. After the paint has dried lay out the tubes on the foam board.  Pour some Tacky glue on a paper plate and dip the bottom of each tube in the glue, then place it on the foam board.  Let dry.

4. Using the 3½ inch circle template cut the 48 tissue paper circles. You should be able to cut at least 6 at a time.

5. When the paint is dry on the tubes fill each one with the trinkets. Place 2 tissue paper circles over the top of each roll and secure with a rubber band. Put the number stickers on the tissue.

6. Surprise your kids!

Boys Advent Calendar

Cute Owl Craft

Owl Craft

How cute it this little guy?

To make you need:  White, Orange & Yellow card stock, 4 cupcake liners, toilet paper tube, scissors, tape, ruler, glue gun, black marker or wiggle eyes, pencil, large coin.

To make you need: White, Orange & Yellow card stock, 4 cupcake liners, toilet paper tube, scissors, tape, ruler, glue gun, black marker or wiggle eyes, pencil, large coin.

Cut 1 inch off the bottom of a toilet paper tube  (save the ring).  Fold in the top off the tube and tape it.

Cut 1 inch off the bottom of a toilet paper tube (save the ring). Fold in the top off the tube and tape it.

Cut the bottom ring off of a cupcake liner, cut it in half and glue it to the bottom of the roll.

Cut the bottom ring off of a cupcake liner, cut it in half and glue it to the bottom of the roll.

Add 2 more liner halves.

Add 2 more liner halves.

Using the ring that was cut off the tube as a template cut out eyes from the cardstock.

Using the ring that was cut off the tube as a template cut out eyes from the cardstock.

Using a slightly smaller object such as a large coin; cut circles for the whites of the eyes and draw the eyes and dots.  Cut a triangular piece from orange cardstock for the beak.

Using a slightly smaller object such as a large coin; cut circles for the whites of the eyes and draw the eyes and dots. Cut a triangular piece from orange cardstock for the beak.

For the wings cut a cupcake liner in half and flatten them.  Glue to the back.

For the wings cut a cupcake liner in half and flatten them. Glue to the back.

Decorate your Christmas tree!

Decorate your Christmas tree!

or your pumpkins in the fall.

or your pumpkins in the fall.

Originally published in Family Fun Magazine.

Canning Ring Pumpkin

WARNING: Cute Kid Alert!!!

I am not a crafty person. I wish I was and I attempt often and I fail often. However, this year I wanted a centerpiece for my Thanksgiving table. Nothing fancy, just something besides a salt and pepper shaker. So I headed to Pinterest and I found the PERFECT craft/centerpiece so simple, reusable, and I didn’t even have to go to the store.  The genius behind it is Kristin at Yellow Bliss Road.  So my 3 year old and I made it today.

Canning Ring Pumpkin 1

Supplies: 20 canning rings, string, 3 cinnamon sticks, fabric leaves, and a hot glue gun.

Canning ring Pumpkin 2

String canning rings on string.

Canning Ring Pumpkin 3

Tie string and insert cinnamon sticks in the center. Glue on leaves.

Ta Da!

Ta Da! Don’t you love the peanut butter on his face!

Canning Ring Pumpkin

How to Roast Pumpkin Seeds

I love carving pumpkins, I have done it every October for as long as I can remember.  We usually saved the seeds and tried roasting them but they never tasted right; usually they were soggy or not salty enough.  It was not until  we visited a pumpkin farm and I was given this recipe. I almost threw the recipe away because I have tried so many ways to roast pumpkin seeds with such lackluster results, that I just thought it wasn’t worth the bother.  I am so happy I tried it and I won’t use any other.  These are easy, guaranteed, and taste SO GOOD!

  1. Scoop out pumpkin seeds.
  2. Rinse seeds and let them in a dry in a single layer overnight on a towel.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together:

    • 2 cups seeds
    • 2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon garlic or onion powder (I like both so I add ½ teaspoon of each).
  5. Spread seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350° for 20 minutes.  Stir and re-spread half way through baking.  Seeds are done when they are a nice golden brown color.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Store or give away in jars 🙂

Fall Planting Calculator

Attempting Green

I know summer is not even a month old but before you know it Autumn will be upon us and the garden will be depleted of all of its produce if some planting does not occur NOW!

Thank fully Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a super handy Fall Planting Calculator on their website. This downloadable Excel file is so awesome because you can type in your first frost date and it will calculate the dates for you!!!! Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!

To download the calculator go to www.johnnyseeds.com and the link is on the right side.  While you are there go ahead and check out their other helpful tools and calculators. Did I say, “Thank You”?!?!

How to make a Strawberry Ginger Shrub (cocktail, not plant)

Summer Cocktail

Refreshing!!!

When summer is in full swing I find myself looking for a savory refreshing cocktail to replace all the boozy, Kool-Aid clones that are so synonymous with hot days. This year I found one… a shrub. A shrub is a drink based on vinegar and it sounds like it would be horrible but when mixed with fruit it is absolutely refreshing after a day in the garden. This drink is very versatile and can be experimented with using different liquors and garnishes.

Shrub Syrup

“Alpine White” Strawberries were used for this syrup.
See note below.

First make the Shrub syrup
Syrup Ingredients
2 cups Strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
2 cups sugar
2 cups unfiltered apple cider vinegar*
1 inch ginger skinned, sliced into coins

Syrup Directions
1. Combine the strawberries, sugar, ginger, and vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Watch it carefully; it can boil over.
2. Once the mixture is boiling, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook for 10 minutes uncovered.
3. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
4. Once cooled strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a sealable glass jar.
5. Refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep for at least two weeks.

Simple Syrup

Keep refrigerated

Now you can make your drink(s):
Cocktail Ingredients
2 oz. shrub syrup, chilled
2 oz. Vanilla Vodka**
Club soda, chilled
Ice
Mint spring***

Cocktail Directions
1. In a tall glass add ice, shrub syrup and vodka
2. Stir well
3. Top with club soda
4. Garnish with mint sprig

*Do not use a filtered cider.  Most grocery stores carry Bragg a high quality unfiltered vinegar. You may have to find it in the organic section.
**Many liquors work well with this drink including spiced rum, gin, bourbon, and plain and other fruit flavored vodkas.
***Basil, thyme, and sage can also produce great results depending on the liquors you choose.

I found this recipe in Edible Cleveland Magazine, Spring 2013. Recipe is by Jon Benedict.

"Alpine White" Strawberry

Alpine Strawberry

The strawberries used in this recipe are “Alpine White”. I was given some of these plants last year and they have proven to be quite prolific. Another perk is that their color does not seem to attract the birds so they don’t eat them.  The fruits are small, soft, and seedy. The flavor has a bit of a grape aftertaste. Due to the size and soft texture I found that they are perfect for cooking with as long as I strain out the seeds with a cheesecloth.

2 Recipes for Broccoli Stalks

Broccoli Stalk Salad

Broccoli Stalk Salad

Broccoli is in season right now and there are lots of ways to use the florets but what about the stalk? Until recently I hated the stalk but felt so wasteful tossing it in the compost bin. However, with the help of a mandolin slicer, (pictured at the bottom of the blog) I now use the whole plant! Here are 2 quick recipes for you to enjoy:

Broccoli Stalk Salad
Ingredients:
3 Broccoli Stalks, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch crushed red pepper

Directions:
1. In a colander mix stems with salt. Let sit 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix garlic, vinegar and sugar; add oil and red pepper.
3. Rinse salt off stems and toss with dressing.
(From Rachael Ray Magazine, Dec 2011)

 

Thai Noodles

Thai Noodles

Thai Noodles
Ingredients:
1 (16 oz.) box spaghetti
1 Tablespoon oil for sautéing
3 Tablespoons fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
4 Broccoli stalks, julienned or 16 oz. bag broccoli slaw
4 large carrots, julienned or 10 oz. bag julienned carrots
1 (12-14 oz.) bottle Thai Peanut sauce (I like Target’s Archer Farms brand)

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and return to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a nonstick skillet and sauté ginger 15-30 seconds, be careful not to burn it.
3. Add the broccoli and carrots to the skillet and sauté until warm but still crisp about 4 minutes.
4. Add the veggie mixture to the spaghetti in the pot.
5. Stir in the peanut sauce to coat and serve.

 

Borner Slicer

Borner Slicer