Monthly Archives: May 2014

Greek style beans…mmmm

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Greek style beans…mmmm

In our house, we eat a lot of vegetables. It was a battle at times, especially at the 3 to 5 year old stage, but to not eat entire food groups has never been a option we have given our kids. We have always provided them with choices, and allowed them to like and not like certain foods, but we have always had the expectation that eating your dinner is just something everyone is expected to do. (How many of us grew up with the rule that you didn’t get up from the dinner table until your whole plate was finished… we turned out ok, right?) Another good strategy is to wait until they are hungry, then give them a bowl of vegetables first. Save the meat and other foods for after they have finished their vegetables, it’s amazing how they will eat when they are hungry. Sometimes, we even used to bring them a bowl of veggies to eat before dinner when they were watching tv. They were so in the “TV zone”, they would often just eat, and forget to even complain! Sorry, see what happens when I get started talking about food issues and parenting?? Anyways, now, that they are 9 and 10 years old, it’s not really an issue anymore, but we still have our favourite foods, but I also like to change it up a little once in a while.
Our usual way of serving green beans is to steam them in about an inch of water, then toss with a bit of oyster sauce. But, today I thought I would try something new!
I cooked the beans the same way as usual. I cut off all of the ends, washed the beans then cooked them for about 10 minutes in a pot with about an inch of water.

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Then I got out some feta cheese, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and greek seasoning.

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I added about a tablespoon of lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. A few tablespoons of feta cheese, and sprinkled a generous amount of greek seasoning on top. Tossed it all together and voila… green beans, greek style!

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They were delicious! I think they would even be really good cold, as a side salad. I can’t wait until we can use beans from the garden too. Did I already mention that this year, I planted all of my vegetables in pots beside the pool deck? If it works well, next year I might build planter boxes.

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How to Train your tree

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I have been working on my gardening skills lately, but let me tell you, I am by no means, by any stretch of the imagination a skilled gardener. Nor do I pretend to have any sort of knowledge about plants, or what to plant where. John and I sort of follow a trial and error gardening philosophy. I try planting new plants every year, and whatever doesn’t die by the end of the summer, I buy again (or it comes back on its own).
I tend to try to make up for my lack of gardening skills by adding other features, like little animals, or fancy stepping stones. This way your attention is drawn towards the cute little decorations, not the plants! Last year, I added a dry riverbed to our front garden. Who ever came up with that idea was a genius (no, I can’t take credit, but I love that you can landscape using things other than plants)
Here is what my front garden looks like now: (sorry, don’t know why the second pic is sideways)

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Look at the little hippo I found at the dollar store!

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Anyways, back to my lack of gardening skills….I’m just going to tell it like it is. Last year at some point, this bush started growing just through the bottom of our fence. So, I just let it grow to see what it would look like…you never know, right?

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It turns out that it was actually pretty ugly. But, it also grows incredibly fast. So, I thought why not try to train it to grow in a nicer shape. It is pretty flexible.
So, I pulled out a few scraps of wood I bought for something last year. I think they are bannister railing pieces for a deck. I laid them out and added a couple screws to each corner.

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Then I screwed it to the fence using a couple of screws.

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I split the branches into two and wired them to the frame. I used some plastic wrapped wire for plants from the dollar store.

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Then, after I tied the branches down in a few places, I started getting really creative… I screwed a couple more boards underneath because there was still a lot of branches sticking out.

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I tied the branches down, and using my pruners, I cut off any branches that were sticking out or facing the wrong way.

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Here is what it looked like after…

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The last thing I did was loop the ends together using some more wire.
I think it looks cute! I will post another picture in about a month or so after it has filled in some more. But here is what it looks like now…

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If anyone knows what kind of tree or bush this might be, let me know!

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Fortune Cookie Raffle Draw Tickets

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Fortune Cookie Raffle Draw Tickets

I volunteer at my kids school on the parent council, and this week, the parent council helped with planning for a guest speaker. So one of my jobs was to a design raffle for parents attending. (We were hoping to recruit a few new volunteers too!) Six of the tickets were supposed to be winning tickets, where they would win a prize such as an autographed copy of the speakers book. Anyways, I though it would be fun to do something a little different. So, why not make fortune cookie raffle tickets? I started by drawing the design out in a circle shape, scanned it on the computer, and added a big “NOT” to the non-winning tickets. I designed it so that four circles would fit on each page.

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Then, I went down to my partially organized basement (still a work in progress) and I dug up some brightly coloured paper and printed out a bunch of pages. We decided to go with a hundred raffle tickets, so I printed 25 of the “non winner sheets”. Now here is my tip for the day, which took me years to figure out, but has changed my life (OK, that may be a tad dramatic, but as a teacher, it has saved me hours of time!) To cut out multiple layers of paper, just staple the papers together! Duh. This way the papers don’t slide, and your cuts are always accurate on the bottom piece as well as the top! I have found that depending on the scissors you are using, 5 or 6 sheets together is the best amount, any more than that, and your edges start to look ragged.

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So, I cut them all out.

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Notice that I kept the winning tickets and non-winning tickets in two piles. I did accidentally mix them up and I had to sort through them all, because I made too many winning tickets.
To make the circles into fortune cookies, I started by rolling one loosely around my finger.

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Then, I folded the roll in half, as close to the middle as I could.

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My original plan was to staple them, but I had made them a little small, so my stapler wouldn’t fit. So, I decided to break out my trusty glue gun.
I added a tiny drop of glue to the fold to hold it in place.

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And, that’s it! Tada! As I said earlier I ended up making over 100, and I easily cut them out, and assembled them in a night.

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They went over pretty well, we even got a couple new recruits for parent council!
Thanks for reading!

Fancy Smancy Jars

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I have been busy cleaning out the basement…Every spare moment I have had, I have tried to go down and sort out a box. I have also been working on bringing stuff from all over the house down. After four years in this house, I have accumulated “crafting stashes” all over the house, so I am working towards putting everything back down in the basement. And, I also have to get making some stuff so I can write about it! But, I didn’t figure me cleaning out the basement was the most exciting thing to read about.
Here was a quick little craft I made last weekend when I came across a box of jars in the basement. Here is what they looked like before…

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I took off the lids and placed them inside a paper bag.

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I dug up some silver metal spray paint…

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And gave them a few coats of paint. I sprayed a light coat, waited about 20 minutes, they added another coat. I think I had to do four coats to fully cover each lid.

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I had some drawer pulls that I bought at a garage sale last summer that worked perfectly as handles. I was going to drill a hole in the lids to screw the pulls on, but then I realized the screws were way too long, and I thought about the food inside the jars, so I decided to just glue the pulls on with a hot glue gun.

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Then, I added a little rhinestone to cover the hole.

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They turned out really cute! I think I will use them for white and brown sugar, tea bags, that sort of thing.

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That’s it for today!