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krista

Creating a Simple Sea Shell Wreath

Family By January 10, 2017 Tags: , No Comments

All the holiday gear is safely packed away for another year.  After I removed the green macramé Christmas tree I had hanging on my door, I realized it left a big empty spot.  Previously, I had a small wreath hanging there but it had seen better days, so I tossed it right before Christmas.

I wanted something I could leave up year round. Wreaths are usually what adorn the doors here in New England, I have never made (decorated) a wreath before but I felt inspired. Since I live close to the water I thought a sea shell theme would work. The shells around here aren’t especially interesting, mostly oysters and mussels.  So, I purchased a bag of sea shells from the craft store along with a wreath. I forgot to measure how big I needed it (and I usually guess too small) but it worked fine.

Too my surprise it went fairly quickly.  Sort the shells, arrange (then rearrange) and finally hot glue them on.  I felt really pleased with the result.  I made the mistake of attaching one shell to close to the hanger; you can see it in the photo.  It eventually fell off.  But even with freezing temps and opening and closing the door (quite a bit), everything has stayed put.

It was easy and inexpensive – wreath, sea shells and hot glue.  It took about 30 minutes.  It’s a simple design but I like how it turned out.

I follow a blogger who regularly creates wreaths out of recycled and repurposed materials.   Her creations are lovely and worth a look.  You can find her at The Boondocks Blog, http://www.theboondocksblog.com.

After I had finished and proudly hung my creation my husband mentioned to me that he heard that scallop shells once symbolized the voice of God or hearing from God.  Awesome.  Now I like my simple wreath even more.

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The Family Christmas Picture

Family By December 22, 2016 Tags: , , No Comments

How can taking a simple family photo be such an ordeal?  All I wanted was to snap a quick picture to include in my Christmas cards.  Of course, in order to do that you have to get everyone’s cooperation!

My oldest son has never liked (or been agreeable to) getting his picture taken.  As you can see, he is the one with his tongue sticking out.  You would think he was 6 years old, instead of a successful, well-respected manager and engineer with two children. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My oldest granddaughter also won’t cooperate getting her picture taken.  And, despite the fact that the youngest granddaughter has a great smile, she will only scowl in a staged setting. Sigh….it just shouldn’t be this hard!

After much coaxing and the promise of treats, my son got his tongue back in his mouth, the girls stop crying and agreed to face the camera.  However, I guess actual smiling comes at a higher price!  Next year I need to plan ahead…maybe the promise of a pony?!!!

Have a wonderful holiday!!!

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Cookie Decorating With a Pre-Schooler

Grandkids By December 14, 2016 Tags: 2 Comments

We had our 8th annual Cookie Baking Day last weekend.  This is what the event is called because of how it started but actually we don’t do any baking on the day.  It is more of a cookie decorating/cookie exchange party.  It’s an all day event.  This year we had 11 women and one 3 year old in attendance.   cookiedec-resized

My granddaughter attended last year but this time she added quite a bit more fun and personality.  She took her job (as a cookie decorator) very seriously, attacking the decorating with enthusiasm.  She crafted lovely 3-D creations. I think she out decorated all of us.  Her box was full by the time we were done.  We decorated for almost 4 hours and she hung in there with us to the end.

While we iced and sprinkled she entertained us with stories of her classmates, critiques on our finished cookies and she conducted a quiz on what our favorite toy was.  And of course, we discussed princesses…in depth.  It was a lot of fun.cookiedec7-resized

Here are a few of her cookie creations.

Merry Christmas!cookiedec5-resizedcookiedec4-resized

cookiedec3-resized

 

 

 

 

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The Fake Christmas Tree

Family By December 7, 2016 Tags: , 1 Comment

When my kids flew the coop…actually, when the first one went off the college, I decided to buy a FAKE Christmas tree.  I thought it was a reasonable purchase.  Real trees can be expensive AND the worst part is…they shed!  The shedding is annoying.  It doesn’t matter how fresh the tree is or how diligently you keep it in water, it just wants to drop spiky pine needles all over the floor.  Buying an artificial tree and then reusing it year after year sounded very budget friendly and “green” to me.  However, my teenage children (at the time) didn’t see it that way.  You might as well have called Mrs. Grinch. My youngest son was especially distraught and I heard about this betrayal of Christmas for the next few years.  They eventually got over it, declaring they would never, ever have a fake Christmas tree in their homes. Ever!

I have had this artificial tree for more than 10 years now. This proves my point about it being economical and green.  But I evidently, for some strange reason, had never assembled it by myself.  I had farmed that job out to whatever children were hanging out at the house at the time.  Now that everyone is busy, it falls on me to get it up and decorated. The tree is actually a colored coded puzzle, with many pieces.  Thankfully this year I knew what I was doing.  Last year was a different story.tree2-a

I put the tree up early this season, we were watching the grandkids on Black Friday and I wanted them to help decorate it.  That part went fine.  It wasn’t until the next evening when my husband and I were curled up on the couch, watching a movie that we heard the crash.  My decade old, fake Christmas tree had taken a nose dive in the living room.  Bummer.  Nothing broke, expect the tree stand, luckily I had only let the grandkids put on non-breakable ornaments.  But it was still a bummer.

I am hosting a big Christmas cookie decorated event in a few weeks so I needed (or felt like I needed) a Christmas tree . Otherwise, I probably would have waited until the after Christmas sales and looked for a new one.  The next afternoon, while I was pondering this, my youngest son, the one who years ago thought I was the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, showed up at my house with a brand new, easy to assemble, artificial Christmas tree.  I was shocked, surprised and touched.  He had a big grin on his face, shrugged and then put it together for me.   Long live my new, FAKE Christmas tree!tree-a

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A Little Travel Adventure

Family By November 17, 2016 Tags: , , 3 Comments

I had an interesting experience with the TSA last weekend, on my way home from a short vacation. First, I want to mention that I never get stopped in the security line at the airport.  I never have to go through scanning more than once.  My bags generally pass though on the belt with no problem.  Therefore, I gave little thought to going through airport security Sunday afternoon.

I was cleared to go through Pre-TSA but my husband was not, being the sweet, loving, supportive wife that I am, I hung out with him in the long security line instead of ducking out and taking the shorter, easier route.  This was a mistake.  When my turn finally came, my bags made it through fine but I did not. I obeyed the petite TSA agent working the body scanner, positioned myself on the painted feet and put my hands above my head. Then I walked out of the scanner and stood in front of the larger, more foreboding agent waiting for him to wave me on (daydreaming about finding an iced coffee somewhere).  As I stood there, the large, blond male agent was suddenly replaced with Olga, the ex-Russian wrestler, turned woman’s prison guard, now working for the TSA.  She completely blocked my exit and then motioned to a picture of my body scan (I am not sure she used words). The screen showed three large dots over my private parts (it looked like I was wearing matching yellow underwear) and one small yellow dot on my wrist.

I looked at her in disbelief and immediately held out my naked wrist for inspection.  She wasn’t impressed. I was speechless but she was not.  She immediately began telling me what was going to happen.  I listened to her, stunned and a bit embarrassed.  She went on and on and on in a low monotone voice explaining what she was going to do in order to “investigate” the yellow dots.   I am sure my mouth was hanging open and I was blinking.  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME….this is a joke, right?  A test to see how people react?  Understand, I wasn’t wearing any jewelry (no hidden body piercing under the yellow dots), nothing in my jean pockets…I wasn’t even wearing makeup!  I was pretty calm up until she asked me if I understood and if I wanted to go behind a privacy screen. OMG!  I declined, but now I am worried I didn’t fully understand what she was going to do.  Why else would you need a privacy screen?!

Then it began.  The pat down, which included lifting my top (twice) so she could feel around the waist band of my pants and of course, touching the rest of my body. She did seem to be quick and respectful which I was grateful for.  Especially since I was providing a good distraction and entertainment for the other passengers waiting to get through the line. Honestly, I always look, wondering who they caught.  I will never do that again!  My body search concluded with a hand wipe and scan.  Of course, nothing came up.

When we were almost done, I felt semi brave and asked why I was flagged? Olga just shrugged and said sometimes its loose clothing.  I thanked her towards the end of our visit.  Why?  I don’t know.  Except, I appreciate their diligence to keeping the friendly skies safe.  I didn’t tell her that though, I didn’t want them to think I was trying to suck up or cause a distraction giving them any reason to detain me longer.  I did have on loose clothing, top and bottom.  I have lost weight and decided to wear my comfy loose jeans to travel in. However, I am now considering purchasing a pair of black leggings.  Then they wouldn’t have to pat me down, they could see everything!

My husband was moving our items off the belt when I was finished.  It felt like an hour but I guess it was only 5 minutes or so.  What was his comment once we cleared security?  With wide eyes he declares, “wow, that was intense!”  I have to agree. Next time I am leaving him in the dust and taking the Pre-TSA option.

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Almond Scones

Recipes By November 2, 2016 Tags: , 4 Comments

I have always wanted to make scones.  It is possible I am just caught up in a romantic English countryside fantasy, including the accent and frilly apron.  But for whatever reason, I decided to give it a whirl.  They came out great (even on my first try) and my scone eating son declared them delicious.  Here is the recipe for an almond version, icing optional but I really like them with icing!

Almond Scones Recipealmond-scones3-a

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In large bowl  mix together:

  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Cut in to flour mixture with pastry blender or knife:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter – cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup almond paste – broken into pieces

Add to mixture:

  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk (with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar added to it)

Stir mixture gently until flour is mixed in.  Place dough on floured surface and pat into a square about ½ thick (or as thick as you like). Using a sharp knife cut into squares.  Try to handle as little as possible.

Place squares on parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes then turn tray and bake for another 5 minutes.  Scones will be golden brown on the bottom and soft on top.  Remove from oven.  Let them set for a few minutes and then spread icing over the top.  Let them finish cooling. Place in sealed container.

Scone icing or glazealmond-scones2-a

  • I cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp cream or milk

Mix the above ingredients together to form the consistency you want.  I like to make it slightly runny – it’s easier to spread. You can adjust the consistency buy adding more cream or more powdered sugar.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Movies that Make You Hungry

Family By October 2, 2016 Tags: , 5 Comments

We recently watched the movie Chef.  This was the second time, the first time was in the theater – afterwards we were famished.  This time I was prepared.  I made heavy duty snacks to eat while we watched, which lead to a discussion afterwards about movies that make you hungry.  Our criteria?  You actually want to find or make the food you see on the screen.

Here are the top 5 foodie flicks we came up with that qualify as generating hunger while you watch:

Chef

I had never even heard of a Cuban sandwich before I watched this movie. All the versions they came up with made my mouth water (especially the one in Texas). I finally found a fairly authentic one in Las Vegas, it didn’t disappoint.  However, the best thing in this movie was the grilled cheese sandwich he made for his son.  OMG!  We have actually tried to recreate it at home.  In the bonus material, on the dvd, Jon Favreau discusses how he learned to make it from a real chef.

Ramen Girl

Despite the actually story of her trying to finding herself, this movie makes you crave a big steaming bowl of ramen noodles.  Not the dry kind in the package from the grocery store.  After some searching, we found a really good ramen shop in NYC (Ramen Setagaya), we’ve returned several times.  Their bowl of ramen looks like the one in the movie, which is probably just a typical bowl of ramen but that is what we were after.

East Side Sushi

I reviewed this movie earlier in the year, you can read that post here.  Not only did we want to eat sushi afterwards but it also gives you a craving for Mexican.  I even wanted to eat all the strange sushi combinations she came up with.

No Reservations

Every time I watch this movie I want to eat spaghetti.  Nick, the sous chef, makes some for Zoe in order to get her to eat.  It looks like just a bowl of noodles and sauce but you know (from the way they cook) it tastes amazing. Then, of course, there is the tiramisu he makes Kate for dessert. Hmmm.

Ratatouille

Yes, I realize this is a cartoon, but I had never heard of the dish ratatouille before this movie came out.  It looks so delicious and then, the restaurant critic has an out of body experience when he eats it – why would you not want to try it? After searching the web for a recipe that looks like the one in the movie (someone actually posted a Disney version), I made it and it does taste good.  However, mine didn’t look as good as it does in the cartoon!

I am sure there are other delicious, mouthwatering movies out there that I haven’t seen…yet.  One of them, that I missed in the theater but hope will come out on dvd soon is The Hundred-Food Journey with Helen Mirren. I have heard it would rank right up there on my list of best food movie.  I will have to wait and let you know.

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The Calculator Phone

Grandkids By September 18, 2016 Tags: , 4 Comments

I watched my two granddaughters over the weekend.  In preparation for their visit, I picked up a couple of cheap calculators.  They were identical so I distinguished them with a drawing on the back. This way they each knew which calculator was theirs.  It actually helped prevent fights.

Immediately the 18 month old got “on the phone”.  I have no idea who she was talking to but she spent quite a bit of time with them.  I believe the three year old was texting, although I am sure I heard her take a call as well.

The funniest thing they did was insist on taking them with us to the zoo.  I figured it wasn’t worth the fight so I tossed them into the bag with the snacks and water.  I took a few pictures of the kids and the animals.  Next thing I know the oldest is digging though the bag – what is she looking for?  Her phone! She begins taking pictures of her surroundings or maybe she was taking video – I’m not sure. phone5a

Once the youngest was released from her stroller (because I wanted them to walk and get tired) she found her calculator and began snapping pictures as well.  Very enthusiastically, I might add. phone2a

phone3aIn the evening I asked my son what the time was.  My oldest granddaughter jumped up, found her calculator (to get the time) but then announced, it was out of charge!  Honestly, we were having a hard time not cracking up.  Then she found a short rope and said she would charge it when she went to bed.  Oh. My. Goodness.phone6a

So much fun from two cheap little calculators!

 

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Making Memories on Purpose

Family By September 4, 2016 Tags: , , 8 Comments

My mother-in-law came for a visit recently.  This was her second visit since our latest granddaughter was born.  She is called Gigi by her great grandchildren. She has to travel two thousand miles to get here so her visits are infrequent.  My oldest granddaughter loves Gigi, even though they have only spent a handful of times together.apple tree-resized

I don’t remember my great-grandmother (my mother’s grandmother).  All pictures, only black and white, portrayed her as severe looking.  That could have been the popular pose of the time but the stories I hear about her agree with the pictures!  Yikes.  Even though she was alive for several years after I was born, there are no pictures of her holding me or even with us together.  That is not the kind of memory I wanted my granddaughters to have.mack and gigi-resized

Before Gigi arrived I made a plan to have her spend some quality time with them. Last year the oldest one was 2 1/2, we went apple picking, feed the ducks and had a picnic.  This year I arranged to take both of them but on separate days so they could enjoy Gigi without competition.  It worked out well.  I planned a visit to the beach, lunch and shopping.  Both the girls and Gigi enjoyed it.

I made sure to take pictures, then I framed one so they could put it on shelf in their room. I feel like I am documenting history.  Today it might not mean much to them or their parents but when they are much older they may treasure a photograph of them and their great grandmother. I would have (especially if she was smiling!).grandkids-resized

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Peach Crisp

Recipes By August 28, 2016 5 Comments

This sounded so delicious the other night, I just had to make it.  I didn’t have any fresh peaches so I used canned.  I actually think peeling and slicing slippery peaches while trying to remove the pit is not all that fun.  Thus, I was fine having to resort to using canned peaches.

This is a simple and quick recipe.

Heat oven to 350 degrees

In a oven proof, 2 quart casserole dish – stir together:

  • 1 large and one small can of sliced peaches – drained (I like the ones in pear juice)
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

In another bowl add:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (I used Old Fashioned because that is what I had on hand)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Stir together – then add 1 stick of cold butter, cut into pieces.  Cut butter into flour mixture with a fork or pastry blender. Add a tablespoon or two of water to make mixture crumbly.  Spoon on top of peaches.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Filling should be bubbly and crust slightly brown.

Enjoy!

 

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