Spring Bling Countertop Container

Glass marble decorated Countertop Container.

Glass marble decorated Countertop Containers.

1. Measure height and circumference of can.  2. Cut cardstock correct measurements to wrap around can. 3. Glue cardstock to can with white glue.

1. Measure height and circumference of can. 2. Cut cardstock to correct measurements to wrap around can.

Glue cardstock onto can.

3. Glue cardstock onto can.

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Let covered can sit for a bit so cardstock is secure before applying glass marbles.

4. Let covered can sit for a bit so cardstock is secure before applying glass marbles.

5. Apply glass marbles in rows  from the bottom up.

5. Apply glass marbles in rows from the bottom up.

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Applying glass marbles with glue gun.

Applying glass marbles with glue gun.

Creating a pattern with colors.

Creating a pattern with colors.

Creative Minds with their new Bling Storage Containers.

Creative Minds with their new Spring Bling Storage Containers.

Trying to come up with a new idea for my Creative Minds after-school class, I found this DIY craft on Creative in Chicago.  It was called “Bling Storage for the Bathroom,” but I don’t think these third and fifth graders are into makeup yet, so they will have the prettiest pencil cups in their grades.

These Countertop Containers were so fun to make!  We thought they would be a great party craft, party favors, or Mother’s Day gifts.  Creative In Chicago recommended lining the inside of the can with Cardstock paper, then covering that with Modge Podge, but we just worked on the outside of the cans.

Happy creating, hon!

Supplies:

–Soup Can (I took the top off with the kind of can opener that lifts the top off rather than slices it, so there were no sharp edges.)

–Cardstock paper in a color to coordinate with Glass Marbles

–Glass Marbles that are flat on one side (called “Decorative Fillers”in many colors at Michael’s craft stores)

–White Glue and Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks

–scissors, ruler, pencil

Steps:

1. Measure height and circumference of can.

2. Cut cardstock to correct measurements to wrap around can.

3. Glue cardstock onto can.

4. Let covered can sit for a bit so cardstock is secure before applying glass marbles.

5. Apply glass marbles in rows from the bottom up.  (We applied top down and bottom up, and bottom up is better because if the marbles stick up over the edge of the can it’s okay.  But if the marbles, stick over edge of bottom, the container will wobble.)

6. Sometimes there was a gap in the glass marbles, so I broke marbles in half to fill in gaps.

7. Glue Gun glue hardens instantly, but gets stringy.  We cleaned up the strings when container was done.

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

 

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

1. Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.

Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.

2. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pour dry ingredients into wet mixture and stir.

Pour dry ingredients into wet mixture and stir.

Prepare dried fruit and nuts.

Prepare dried fruit and nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Add dried fruit and nuts to oatmeal mixture.

Add dried fruit and nuts to oatmeal mixture.

Pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish.

Pour oatmeal mixture into prepared baking dish.

 

 

 

 

 

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Right out of the oven.

Right out of the oven.

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

Oatmeal On The Go Bars

I saw these homemade Oatmeal Bars at the pre-school where I work. A mom of a 3 year-old boy sends him to school with the most interesting and beautifully prepared lunches. She was nice enough to share this healthy recipe. I have to admit that substituting applesauce for sugar is not something I usually do, but these bars get their sweetness from the dried fruit. To up the sweet-factor, I may add chocolate chips next time. Did I hear you say that chocolate chips negate the healthy factor? To that I say, “Whatever works, hon!” To get my daughters to drink milk, I added chocolate syrup and called it “Cookie Juice.”

Ingredients:

2 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 cup milk (any kind of milk–rice, almond, soy, cow’s)

3 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup applesauce

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries, cherries, chopped up apricots–whatever you like)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans)

optional:  chocolate chips

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Combine first 5 dry ingredients in a bowl and stir.

3.  Mix the milk, applesauce, egg, honey, and vanilla in a separate bowl.

4.  Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stir to combine and then stir in the dried fruit and nuts.

5.  Pour the oatmeal mixture into a buttered or greased 7 x 11 baking dish.  (I don’t own a 7 x 11 baking dish, so I used a 9 x 11.  The result was a bar not at tall as the ones I originally saw.)

6.  Bake for 30 minutes or until thickened and golden.

7.  Cool, then cut into squared and serve.

*Oatmeal Bars may be frozen in a sealed bag in the freezer for up to 4 months.  When ready, allow to defrost in fridge for 24-48 hours.

*Refrigerated Oatmeal Bars will last up to 5 days.

Dinosaurs Dressed Up

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All Dressed Up and Somewhere To Go

I’ve spent a lot of time at the  American Museum of Natural History, especially when my kids were little. We marveled at the dinosaur bones, studied the amazing wall in the Hall of Biodiversity, and gazed into space at the Hayden Planetarium.

Subway Art under the museum.

Subway Art under the museum.

Subway "fossils."

Subway “fossil.”

Subway "fossil."

Subway “fossil.”

At the museum a few years ago, I watched Tibetan monks build sand mandalas and meditated with  Abbot Khen Rinpoche Geshe Kachen Lobzang Tsetan Khen Rinpoche (Khen Rinpoche for short).

But, I’d never been to the museum in the evening, dressed up and as a guest at a fundraising gala.

A T-Rex, towering and fearsome.

A T-Rex, towering and fearsome.

The 94 foot long, fiberglass replica of a blue whale.

The 94 foot long, fiberglass replica of a blue whale.

Always impressive, the big blue whale seems to swim in mid-air.  At the gala, it floated above the tables and modern-day finery.

I had such a nice time at the Stephen Gaynor Gala, meeting Hubby’s colleagues, meeting Suzy B of Suzy B Jewelry, bidding on raffles, dining on a delicious dinner, and rocking to a set by Lauryn Hill.

And guess who I introduced myself to…

the MC of the night…

drum roll, please…

Anderson Cooper!

Anderson Cooper and me!

Anderson Cooper and me!

Anderson was gracious and friendly.  I shook his hand.  He asked if I wanted a picture and I said yes, but first I had some things to tell him.

I told him he was my favorite journalist, that I watch him almost every night, thought he did a great job covering the earthquake in Haiti, saw him when he was in the Ukraine, like the way he presents both sides of an issue but his panelists aren’t acrimonious, and wondered about the outcome of the Oscar Pistorius trial.  Anderson asked me (ME!) what I thought of the trial.  I seriously could have talked to him all night!  Then we had a photo taken.  My mom says, “No wonder he looks so happy in the photo.”

I am still thrilled thinking of it.

Hon, have you ever met someone you admired from a distance?  I’d love to hear about it.

Undersea Undergound

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Color, Composition and Creativity

I stopped in my tracks when I came across these beautiful undersea mosaics.  Along with the amphibians and insects featured in my previous post “Underground Art,” these glass and ceramic tile artworks are located under the American Museum of Natural History at the 81st Street subway station.

Still wondering who I met at the gala fundraiser at the museum last week?  If you follow me on Twitter, then you know.  If not, you’ll have to wait for the big reveal!

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I love the mosaic’s vivid colors, the detail in each scene, and the artistry.  It’s amazing that static material can evoke movement!

Hon, just imagine you’re scuba diving.

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Underground Art

Manhattan On My Mind.  

Last week, I attended a gala (very fancy!) for a private school in Manhattan. Who? The Stephen Gaynor School. What? A fundraiser. Where? The American Museum of Natural History. Hosted by? Well, that’s a surprise for later in the week.

I love the museum for many reasons, but I found another reason to delight in visiting. If you reach the museum by subway, specifically the 81st Street entrance, you will find gorgeous mosaic tiles.

Hon, happy hunting for underground art!

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My favorite?  Stay tuned…

Do you have a favorite?  

 

Naughty Dog! (Before and After)

Before the snow.

Before the snow.

After the snow.

After the snow.

Before the snow.

Before the snow.

After the snow.

After the snow.

In between.

Before the snow.

After the snow.

After the snow.

Hon, you know how much I love Lucy!

She’s my first dog and I think she’s the–umm–cat’s meow.  She’s a sweetheart, angel, practically my fifth child.  I’ve become one of those people who shows dog photos to just about everyone she meets.  She makes me happy and I want to share the joy.

But, one day she was so naughty that I debated a return to my former cats-only status. 

Every Sunday that’s not warm enough to bike, I run in the South Mountain Reservation.  Lucy is my running partner and she always has the best day running, playing with her doggie friends and swimming in the Rahway river.  Click here to see a video of her splashing and swimming with her friends.

I let Lucy off leash so she can run (and, let’s be honest, tire herself out).  She can be cagey about returning to me, but when I say, “Bye bye Lucy, Mommy’s leaving the store now,” she usually comes.  It may take a few minutes, and bikers may stop to watch and laugh at my attempt to use reverse psychology on a dog, but it’s all in good fun.  That was BEFORE THE SNOW.

AFTER THE SNOW, my sweet, little, black dog wasn’t such an angel!  One Sunday, we went on our usual run.  I let her off leash where the water runs over a dam.  Guess what she did next?

She ran far out on the frozen river, jumped off the edge of the ice and plunged into the freezing cold water!

I couldn’t believe it!  Horrified, I thought What should I do?  Should I go out on the ice?  What if its too thin and I fall in?  Should I call the fire department?  Does anyone have a long rope I can tie around my waist so I can slither over the ice on my belly to rescue my crazy dog?

Then Lucy’s head bobbed up, she hoisted her front paws and torso over the ice, and found the strength to scramble up and out of the water.  Boy, was I was relieved!  And mad!  (Parents, you know how our kids wonder why we yell when they get hurt?  I tell my kids it’s because we’re scared, and that’s just how we react.)

Lucy, dripping wet and shivering, stood for a few seconds on the ice.  I thought she’d run into my arms but, instead, she seemed to forget the whole “I almost drowned in sub-zero water” incident and bounded down to the snowy rocks below the dam!  That naughty dog!  I yelled, “Lucy, bye-bye, Mommy’s leaving the store!”  No luck.  I yelled, “Lucy, yum-yum’s” while holding out dog treats.  No luck.  I screamed, “Lucy, get over here!”  Still no luck.  Even though the temperature hovered around 20 degrees, I was steaming!

Twenty minutes later, I caught her and yelled, “That’s it!  You’re done!” and “You naughty doggie!”

The next day, my daughter ran into a mom she babysat for and told her about the “Lucy Incident.”  That mom said she saw the whole thing from the other side of the river.  She saw a dog run out on the ice, recognized my voice, and knew the naughty dog was Lucy.

Lesson Learned:  Lucy is not allowed off leash if the river’s turned to ice.

Also:  Carry fresh turkey in my pocket; she always comes for that.

Also:  My voice carries.

But, how can you stay mad at a sweet angel when she looks at you like this?  

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And this?

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London Broil

London broil, roasted potatoes and gingery sauteed carrots.

London broil, roasted potatoes and gingery sauteed carrots.

London Broil

My son was coming home for the weekend. What to make for dinner? Something hearty, of course! First I picked up London broil from the butcher, then I searched for a recipe. I found this Paula Deen recipe on the Food Network website.  Controversy over Paula Deen aside, this was an easy-to-follow, not-too-time-consuming, delicious recipe.

Happy cooking, hon!

Approx. 3 pound London broil.

Approx. 3 pound London broil.

Prep the meat with salt and pepper.

Prep the meat with salt and pepper.

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Reducing glaze.

Reducing glaze.

Slather meat with reduced glaze.

Slather meat with reduced glaze.

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Use a meat thermometer while broiling to determine desired doneness.

Use a meat thermometer while broiling to determine desired doneness.

Let London broil rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Let London broil rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

Dinner's served!

Dinner’s served!

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Ingredients:

1 (3-pound) London broil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled

1 bay leaf

Directions:

Preheat broiler and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Season meat with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over a low heat, combine  vinegar, brown sugar, garlic and bay leaf.  Simmer until liquid has reduced by half and is syrupy in consistency, about 5 minutes. Discard garlic and bay leaf.

Put meat on baking sheet and slather with glaze.

Broil meat 4 inches from the heat until it reaches desired level of doneness*, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. When using the broiler, crack oven door open so meat doesn’t burn.

Remove from broiler to cutting board and let about 10 minutes** before cutting.  Thinly slice against the grain.

*Desired level of doneness means how well done do you like your beef?  Using a meat thermometer, take the London broil out of the oven when it reaches the desired temperature.  The meat will still cook for a few minutes when it’s out of the oven.

Chart of Meat Temperatures and Doneness

**Let the London broil rest before cutting it.  If you carve it right away, the juices will run out and the meat will be dry.  Let it rest, and the juices get reabsorbed.

Recipes for roasted potatoes and gingery sauteed carrots coming soon…

Hello Dolly

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My Aunt Jessica adopted a 12 week-old kitten a couple of years ago from a man who rescued kittens from under the  Atlantic City, NJ boardwalk.  Dolly had a severe ear mites infestation, a bacterial infection and needed to be spayed, but she had found her “forever home.”

About a year ago, it became apparent that Dolly had a more serious health issue.  One kidney was obstructed, filling with urine and ballooning to three times its normal size.  The vet said the choices were to remove the kidney and save Dolly’s life or do nothing, in which case Dolly wouldn’t make it; her condition was life-threatening.  The operation was expensive, but my aunt decided to proceed–there was really no choice when it came to Dolly.

Dolly, all better now, is shy with strangers.  Visitors might see a blur of caramel-colored fur streak past.  Before you finish saying, “There she is,” she’s gone.

With Aunt Jessica, she’s—well—a doll!  She’s so affectionate (umm, clingy), that she craves constant physical contact.  She loves tennis on television, walking behind the T.V. to find the tennis ball.  Snowflakes are fascinating!  She’s the first to “tell” my aunt when it snows.  She chirps, squeaks, purrs and mutters.  Clothes on a drying rack, especially undergarments are fair game.  Dolly will knock down her prey, dragging it around the apartment like a lion parading her kill.

On a recent visit, Dolly and I bonded, sort-of-ish.  I took these pictures with my phone which is why they’re grainy.  Still, I think you can see Dolly’s personality shining through.

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Curious enough to come out of hiding.

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Do you have a pet rescue story you’d like to share?

I’d love to  hear it, hon!

Comfort Food Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup isn’t just comfort food.

“The Science of Chicken Soup,” an article written by Tara Parker-Pope, reporting on several studies, explains why chicken soup has healing properties. This batch was especially delicious which, I think, was due to the addition of a sweet potato. I usually double the recipe and freeze* half so I can serve up a little comfort/ homemade medicine at a moment’s notice.  Whether you’re cold, sick, or just sick of the cold, try a bowl-full. C’mon, it’s good for you!

Happy cooking, hon.

Cheese cloth and kitchen twine.

Cheese cloth and kitchen twine.

Chicken bouillons.

Chicken bouillons.

Veggies for soup.

Veggies for soup.

Chickens tied up in cheese cloth.

Chickens tied up in cheese cloth.

Soup pot.

Soup pot.

Soup anyone?

Soup anyone?

Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 large chicken, approx. 4 to 5 pounds or 2 smaller chickens, approx. 2 pounds each. I served these chickens for dinner and saved the carcasses for soup. I created a cheese cloth bag by wrapping each chicken in cheese cloth and tying the top closed with kitchen twine, leaving enough cloth on top so it would drape a little over the edge of the pot.

1 large onion, peeled

2 cup stalks celery

5 carrots, quartered

1 sweet potato, peeled

2 garlic cloves

2 to 3 quarts of cold water, depending on the size of your soup pot

chicken bouillon cubes that are the correct ratio for the amount of water you are using

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Directions:

1. Prepare chicken carcasses by creating cheese cloth bags and tying shut.  Place in soup pot.

2. Add crushed bouillon cubes to water and stir.  Pour bouillon water to pot and stir.

3. Create another cheese cloth bag for all the vegetables except the carrots.  Place in soup pot.

4. Add carrots and spices to pot.

5. Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil.

6.  Lower heat to simmer and cook for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Removed chicken and vegetable bags, letting the liquid drain from bags before discarding.

8. Serve soup with carrots.

Yield:  6 to 8 servings.

*Freezing:  Portion off the amount you want to freeze in a freezer-safe container, making sure not to fill to the top.  (Liquid expands when it freezes).  It’ll stay good in the freezer for months.

Another Snow Day? Valentine’s Marshmallow Snowmen

Valentine's Marshmallow Snowman

Valentine’s Marshmallow Snowman

Another Snow Day?  Kids are home?  Run out of ideas?

Here are mine.

Valentine’s Marshmallow Snowmen (and Snowladies):

My K-2 After School Enrichment class made these Monday and, believe it or not, they waited to taste the “art supplies”…ummm, candy….until everyone was finished.

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“Art Supplies”:

–large marshmallows

–lollipop sticks (or assemble these on a plate w/o sticks)

–icing (or “glue”)

–red candies, such as red M & M’s, red hots, red candy melts, licorice, sour belts, etc.

–candy melts for hats and noses, other options:  candy corn, cherries

–food coloring and toothpicks (or “paintbrushes”) and/or edible markers

–edible candy eyes

–pretzels (for arms, we used brown food coloring to paint the branch arms)

–OR use whatever you have in the house.

Orange candy melts, which are just white chocolate with food coloring.

Orange candy melts, which are just white chocolate with food coloring.

Cut orange candy melts into small, narrow triangles for carrot noses.

Cut orange candy melts into small, narrow triangles for carrot noses.

Assembling Snowman.

Assembling Snowman.

Assembling:

Each child got a plate with a glob of icing, marshmallows, a plastic knife and candy eyes. The rest of the candy was in bowls, so they could choose how to decorate their red-candied Snow-people.  Easy peasy!  The kids made Snow-families, some carrot noses stuck out and others were iced to the side of the face.  Branch arms were drawn on with toothpicks dipped in brown food coloring.  Pretzels make nice branch arms, too.

Warning:   Eating too many Marshmallow Snowmen in one sitting will cause a sugar rush!

Snow-family.

Snow-family.

  

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Other ideas:

My other ideas are mainly food related because one of my mottos raising triplets plus one is “If all else fails, bake!”

Valentine’s Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Melted Snowman Cookies 

Melted Snowman Cookies

Melted Snowman Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Cup.

Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Cup.

Indoor Spa Day

Tween Daughter with avacado mask

Tween Daughter with avacado mask.

Happy Snow Day, hon.