Monthly Archives: July 2012

Zucchini fest …part 3…relish!

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So, we are still working on eating those zucchinis from the garden! Every time i think i am making progress there is another gigantic one, ready to be picked! I just looked this morning and noticed there are at least 5 more baby zucchinis starting! Although, i did hear some good news yesterday, when John’s mom told me that you can freeze zucchini… When it thaws it is a little watery, but good for sauces, soup and lasagna…i think we are almost at the end of our zucchini limit for this year… Although i have one last recipe to share with you tomorrow.

Today, i am going to share how to make a sweet zucchini relish.
You will need the following
6 cups of grated zucchini
1cup of onion, chopped finely
3 tbsp corse salt
11/4 cups vinegar
3 cups White sugar
Red pepper, chopped finely
3/4 tsp Celery seed ( I didn’t have celery seed)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1tbsp corn starch

Start with the 6 cups of grated zucchini, and cup of onion and add 3 tbsps of course salt. Let it sit in a non-metallic bowl or container overnight. Then, the next day, rinse the zucchini well and squeeze out all the water.
In a sauce pan, mix together all of the remaining ingredients until blended, then add the zucchini and onion. Bring to a boil then let it simmer for about half an hour.

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Now I am going to share how I sterilize and seal my jars when making jam and relish. I have been making jam for over 10 years now, and I have never had a jar go bad, or moldy yet. In my jam cupboard right now I have jars I made two summers ago that are still ok. Mind you, I will probably dump them and use the jars for new jam…but my point is, they haven’t gone bad.
To seal the jars, take the lids off of all of the jars you are going to use. Obviously, you have to make sure they have all been washed carefully. Then put the oven on to 300 degrees, and put the empty jars and lids into the oven.

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I leave the jars and lids in the oven for a maximum of about 15 minutes, or until whatever I am making is ready to go into them.
I use a funnel to fill the jars to about 1/4″ from the top.

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Then I screw the lids back on tightly…

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Then , I put them back into the hot oven, and leave them there until they have completely cooled, usually by the next day. If the oven has cooled significantly, I turn it on for 5-10 minutes at 300, then turn it off.
This method is so much easier, neater, and less room for error than the traditional way of boiling the jars. You can check your jars have sealed the next day by checking that the tops have popped. If they make a clicking sound when you press on the lid, then I would eat those jars first because it hasn’t sealed properly.

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This recipe made six jars of relish. I use all of the jams, relishes, etc. I make in the summer to use as gifts at Christmas time. A basket of jams and relishes makes a great teacher, friend, family, hostess etc. gift… I’ll make a few more batches of jam when I finish with all this zucchini!!

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Zucchini experiment…number two

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So, today we decided to try a different kind of zucchini chips, breaded zucchini chips. John’s mom shared this recipe with me.
The thing I like about this recipe is you don’t have to brown the zucchini before putting them in the oven, like you have to do with chicken, or veal. These go straight into the oven.
I had some seasoned bread crumbs, regular bread crumbs, eggs, and zucchini.

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We mixed the two kinds of crumbs together because we found the seasoned crumbs way too salty. We beat the eggs in a small bowl. Then, we sliced the zucchini.
We dipped each slice into the egg, then into the bread crumbs…

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Then placed them on a cookie sheet.

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I baked them at 400 degrees for almost 20 minutes…

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These were good, they turned out really well. Crispy on the outside, and cooked on the inside. We dipped them in ranch dressing, which the kids loved. I will definitely make these again because they were so easy to make.

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Still more zucchini recipes to try….at least the pile of zucchinis on my counter is getting a little smaller…

The Zucchini Experiment part one

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As I have said in a previous post, we are drowning in zucchini right now! We have so much zucchini, I have been searching for recipes, and ways to cook it.
Here’s the zucchini that we have picked that couldn’t fit into the fridge last night…

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I picked a medium sized zucchini and cut it into the thinnest slices I could with a knife…

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Then I sprayed some oil on a cookie sheet, and spread them out…

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I sprayed a little more oil on top and sprinkled some salt and dried dill…

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The recipe I found on line said to cook them at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Here is what they looked like after 10…

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They weren’t burnt, but they cooked far too quickly. So I tried baking a few batches, turning the temperature down each time… 400 degrees is way too hot! I tried another batch at 300 degrees and they browned way too quickly again, and didn’t get crispy. I decided that the temperature was still too hot, and they needed to be sliced thinner.
So for the next batch, I used the food processor to cut the zucchini into thinner slices…

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Here is what the next batch looked like before I put them in the oven…I think they would be a lot nicer if I would have used smaller zucchinis, so the slices would be little circles, rather than moons…

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This time, I reduced the temperature to 200 degrees, and they cooked for almost an hour…

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Yahoo, it worked! The chips came out crispy and they tasted good too! The kids liked them too.
I ended up making one tray plain, and the other with the dill and salt. The dill chips were pretty salty, so I mixed them together with the plain ones, which balanced out the salt. Because they shrink so much when they are cooking, a little salt goes a long way.
I tried to save some overnight, but they do not stay crispy, so I had to toss them in the oven again. But, five or ten minutes in the oven and they were crispy and fresh again.
Stay tuned for more zucchini recipes…

Top Secret Zucchini Messages!

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All right, where I live right now it is zucchini season. My garden is producing more zucchini that we can eat! So I have been searching on pinterest and my next few posts are going to be about the creative ways we have eaten the massive quantities of zucchini!
But, for today, I want to show you something that the kids and I tried out. We have been keeping an eye on how quickly the zucchinis have been growing, and it’s pretty incredible how fast they grow!
So, we decided to do a little experiment.
We found a little baby zucchini…

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Then we took a BBQ skewer, and scratched the kids names into it…

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Here is what the zucchini looked like a couple weeks later…

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Pretty neat eh? This was a great little science lesson, especially so because they helped plant the seeds way back in may!

Ice cream sandwiches!

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I keep forgetting to share that I now have my own website! I decided to make the commitment and make the huge investment to have my own domain name! (it’s really actually quite cheap!)
So, if you want to share my blog with anyone, you may now use www.artzcool.net …exciting! (well, exciting for me anyways!) this means that I can advertise on my site… I calculated that with the amount of visits I get (which is over twelve thousand now) I could have made almost twelve dollars, yahoo! Don’t worry john, I’m not going to quit my job quite yet. Anyways, feel free to click on the advertisements at the bottom of each of my posts! Lol

Today I am going to share another summer party food idea that we have really enjoyed.
Homemade ice cream sandwiches! Yummy.
We made a batch of double chocolate cookies…I used the frozen dough, and made the cookies a little smaller than usual. Obviously, if you are a real keener or DIY freak, you can make the cookies from scratch!

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I put the cookies in the fridge after they had cooled down a little, and left them there for a couple hours. I made the mistake of trying to make the first couple sandwiches with warm cookies, and take my word for it, it was a mess.
After they had cooled, I simply took a scoop of vanilla ice cream, placed it on one cookie, then finished the sandwich by adding the second cookie. By the way, you will have to forgive some of the blurry photos. My photographer at the moment is my seven year old daughter, so I can really complain about the quality…she works for ice cream. I really have to figure a way to take photos when my hands are busy!

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I made about three cookies at a time, then put the three into the freezer on a tray, then made the next three. The idea here is that you want to keep these as cold as possible so the ice cream doesn’t melt. After I had made all of the sandwiches. I took three out at a time and added some chocolate sprinkles to the ice cream part. I just put a container under, and sprinkled them on a pinch at a time.

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If you can make these ahead of time so the ice cream can harden again, they are much easier to eat. Making them the day before you are planning on eating them is perfect.

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Nice, easy, and tasty

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Here is another little snack I have tried for one of our summer get togethers. It is simple, easy, and the best part was that I got the kids to make them for me!
You need tomato, basil, bocconcini, and skewers. I found these cute little bamboo skewers with a little knot on the end…

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Wash the basil and tomato, and rinse the bocconcini. Then I cut the bocconcini in half, it seemed too big, next time I would like to find a smaller sized bocconcini.
Anyways, then I called the kids and on the skewers, they put on a cherry tomato, half a leaf of basil, bocconcini, basil, the finished with another tomato.

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We kept making them until we ran out of tomatoes… Here is what they looked like…

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They were easy to make, they tasted good and looked nice… I will make them again!

ARTZCOOL'S BLOG!

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I love drawing letters, and I love picking and downloading fonts too. Actually along with publishing a book, designing a font is on my bucket list! As a teacher, I have spent many hours drawing, and choosing lettering styles and designs for worksheets, borders, posters for the classroom, and so on. Here is a quick and easy way that i use to draw block and bubble letters.
Materials needed
Pencil
Paper
Eraser

Step One -lightly write your words
The most important part is drawing your letters LIGHTLY. You should just be able to see the letters, no darker. You also want to get your spacing right, making sure all of your letters fit, and are the same size, and centered. So, clearly and neatly print your letters leaving space in between each letter. If you need to erase, now is the time!

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Step Two- Trace around each letter
Make sure…

View original post 151 more words

The best shower cleaner ever

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Hello! And happy summer! I am loving this time of year because i am a teacher…i guess i dont have to explain more than that right?
Anyways, we just got back from renting a cottage for the week, so I haven’t had a chance to get much done at home. But, Starting in about April, I start making a list of all of the things I want to do over the summer…but, this job has been on my to do list for a long time…
I am going to swallow my pride a little and let you see a dark and very dirty secret I have been hiding since we moved into our house… Our shower. I have tried scrubbing and scrubbing, using very toxic chemicals, and nothing has worked to clean it. But the thing is, it is a closed little cubicle with not much air circulation, and I have just never been able to get it clean.
So, when I was searching for chemical free cleaners, I came across this recipe. I would have just skipped it except I kept seeing it again and again, with every one saying how amazing it was, so I thought, why not try it…
So here’s the secret……
Dawn liquid soap and hot vinegar…

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Now I don’t know how important it is that you use Dawn, and not Palmolive, or ivory…. But every recipe I read says to use Dawn, so for a couple dollars, I bought a bottle of Dawn. If you try another brand, let me know if it works for you…
Anyways, the other thing I read was to use hot vinegar, not cold, but hot vinegar. Mix the hot vinegar and Dawn in equal parts…

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Then, pour into a spray bottle and spray onto your tiles and grout. Because the liquid Dawn is a bit thicker, it drips down a little, but is thick enough to stick to the grout. FYI, I would recommend using glasses or goggles if you have them, I kept getting the spray in my eyes, and trust me, soap and vinegar doesn’t feel good in your eyes!

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Sorry my pictures aren’t so great, as I said, it is a closed tiny space…
Now for the easy part….leave it for a few hours…
Then, when I came back, i used a scrub brush to rub the soap off, but I barely had to scrub…

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Then, I used the shower head to wash to soap off. Of course, I had to see the difference, so I just sprayed half the shower. This picture shows the half a sprayed (the right side) and half I left (the left side). It is a little tough to see, so check out the next few photos.

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Here is the before (please don’t judge me…on the dirty tiles, or the tiles themselves…they are going soon!)

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And here is the after…

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Here they are side by side…

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I was very impressed at how little effort this took, I will be using this again! The best part is that it is so cheap, and chemical free.

A treat for adults only…no kids!

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We do a lot of entertaining over the summer… I think the combination of john and I both being on holidays for the summer, and the fact that we have a pool means we get a lot of visitors. Which is a big part of our decision to buy our house. So I think I will share some of the things I have been trying for entertaining this year…I am all about preparing things ahead of time. I really try to avoid being stuck in the kitchen, missing the party. Here is something I tried yesterday that was sooo easy, unique, and delicious.

My biggest weakness, bar none, is candies. So when I saw this I had to try it!
Please note…these candies are for adults only. I had to save some in a separate bowl for the kids to eat.
Basically you need gummy bears and vodka.

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Here’s where it gets tricky… Pour the vodka into the gummy bears and leave it… I even poured the vodka right into the container…That’s it. I tried a couple after about 5 minutes, they tasted pretty good…strong. But after I let them sit overnight, they soaked up all of the excess vodka. I ended up adding about a cup and a half of vodka in total! They did get a little sticky, and slimy, so I spread them out on a tray…

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I just passed out them out like that, but if I wanted to be fancy, I could serve them like this…

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I had some left over and i have added a little more vodka a little bit at a time, and they are still soaking it up! They are very slimy and sticky though…next time I am going to serve them with some fancy tooth picks…

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The absolute best way to cut a watermelon!

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When the kids were about three years old, one of the few foods they would always eat was watermelon. So, I spent a lot of time cutting watermelon, and I have to say that I now have the fastest, most efficient way of cutting watermelon! I can seriously chop a watermelon into cubes in less than three minutes. (now that I am bragging about it, I’m going to have to time myself, I’ll keep you posted!)
First, cut the watermelon in half, then cut the halves into halves (or I could just say, cut it into quarters)…

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Next, separate the rind by slicing right between the rind where it turns pink…

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Then, cut parallel vertical slices from the corner, right through to the rind…

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Spin the watermelon so one of the corners with the rind is facing you. Then hold the vertical slices in place with your hand, while you cut slices horizontally…

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Then, spin the watermelon around so that the opposite corner of the watermelon is now facing you. Repeat the same horizontal cut, with your hand holding the slices in place again. This will cut the watermelon into cubes…

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Then, simply dump the perfectly cut watermelon cubes into a serving bowl.

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You can easily cut smaller cubes for smaller mouths, or larger cubes for larger mouths (I am trying really hard not to crack a joke about my husband here…) Cutting the watermelon into cubes is a much easier and neater way for kids to eat watermelon. I even sometimes give the kids toothpicks, or those fancy swords, or umbrellas to use to pick up the watermelon cubes… Great for when there is a crowd, or no place to properly wash hands…

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Our Budget Build-a-Bear Party

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Our family was busy preparing for Samantha’s birthday party last weekend. She has been talking about having a build a bear party since last year, but after looking into it, they are crazy expensive! Not to mention that the nearest build-a-bear store, is a half hour drive, and about 25 dollars per kid not including cake or food…i did look into home parties and i found kits online where you can make them at home, but the were still 20-30 dollars plus shipping! Needless to say, I have tried to persuade her into having another type of party, but she really wanted this.
So, this is what we came up with…
We found these adorable puppets at the dollar store for two dollars each…

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We pulled out the stuffing and lining…

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Then, I bought a couple bags of polyester stuffing. When the kids came over for the party, we spread out all of the stuffing on the table. The kids were very excited! (I don’t have parent permission to use their photos, so I just took pictures of their hands, not the excited expressions on their faces)

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They picked their stuffed animals and began stuffing. I forgot to take a picture, but I did dig up some fabric embellishments to put inside of the animal, like roses and stars, to make their animal’s “heart”.

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Then, the kids went for a swim while my mom and I used a needle and thread to stitch the bottoms closed.

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We had just enough time to sew all of the animals, however, without my moms help, I would have been tight for time. (thanks mom!) So if you are going to do this, I would suggest you line up two sewers.
Overall, the idea worked really well! It was the right skill level for 8 year olds, it took the right amount of time, the cost was fantastic, and most important the kids were really happy that they “made” their own stuffed animals. Also, in terms of the lootbags, we bought bags big enough to hold the animals, and just added a couple extras, but the animals were a great lootbag filler too!

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