Monday, December 5, 2016

FESTIVAL OF TREES - BOISE, IDAHO

 
The Festival of Trees in Boise, Idaho is in it's 33rd year. The event is sponsored by the Saint Alphonsus Foundation. I had the good fortune to attend this wonderful event last week.  Talk about getting you into the Christmas spirit - boy what a fun event.  Each year there is a beneficiary of the proceeds and for 2016 it is the Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.  The NICU is very near and dear to the hearts of our family because we have twin grand-babies who spent the first several weeks of their premature lives in the NICU at Poudre Valley Hospital in Ft. Collins, CO. It is not only the preemies who need the NICU, one in ten babies born will need care in a NICU.  One of my favorite things (besides all the creative and beautiful trees, wreaths and other decorative items) was a group named "The Prime Time Swingers," a wonderful band with interesting musical instruments. Did I mention that this is a group of senior citizens - they make some awesome music with their eclectic instruments and a very good singer.
 They were just so much fun!
I will start off with what I found to be the most interesting tree, the wine tree!

I am going to share several of the trees as I thought they might offer some inspiration to you viewers.  This is just a sampling of the beautiful trees at the festival.


I do have to comment on these three photos of the award winning (first place in their division) Harry Potter tree. This years entry from St. Joe's Catholic School in Boise.  My dear DIL, Dawn, chaired the committee for this tree and she and her committee and the children at St. Joe's worked so hard to put this tree together.  They were thrilled with their first place!

This beautiful tree was up for raffle and I bought some tickets - I am hoping to win (fingers crossed) so I could donate to my neighborhood fire house.


Don't  you think these are wonderful?  I am filled with insperation and ideas for Christmas decorating.

Thank you for stopping by.


Thursday, December 1, 2016

NUTTY COCONUT BANANA BREAD


I remember reading that the #1 item sold at Walmart was (who knew?) bananas!  After giving it a little thought it made very good sense to me.  I go to Walmart often and will admit to most of the time when I leave there are bananas in my cart.

Bananas are the #1 fruit consumed in the United States. I am someone who grew up on a farm that had all kinds of fruit, and commercially grew stone fruits (plums and peaches) I would have not guessed bananas were #1.  I would have probably guessed the #2 fruit, apples, would have been #1.

I decided some years ago that I would just freeze the bananas when they were beyond the stage to eat as a snack or on cereal. I cut them into chunks and put them a freezer Ziploc bag, three bananas to a bag and write "3 bananas on the Ziploc."  I pretty much have bananas for this bread in my freezer at all times. They are also good for smoothies, etc. If you want to make this bread and do not have over-ripe bananas you can place your bananas in a 300° oven for 30-50 minutes.  Just keep an eye on them and when they are black they are ready to cool and be mashed for the bread.

I have been making this bread for  a few years and it is hubby's favorite banana bread.  I think that old adage "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" tends to be true.  Take note young girls - it does not say "the way to a man's heart is through the drive-thru."



The two things that make this recipe a little different are coconut and toasted pecans. I do not like to use the most popular brand of sweetened coconut as it is so sticky and tends to stick together in the dry ingredients.  I love this one from Trader Joe's but know that Trader Joe's is not everywhere so you might look at the bins in your store that sells nuts, etc. in the bins as I can usually find sweetened coconut there that is not sticky.
If you don't purchase already chopped pecans, this is about the chop size you want to have.
Makes one nice big loaf.


Sprinkle the topping evenly over your mixture and into the oven.

Just out of the oven - this is such a pretty loaf and smells so good! The crunchy top and the nut and coconut inside the bread is a nice and yummy surprise. Beware this loaf may disappear very quickly!

Recipe: Nutty Coconut Banana Bread

Ingredients



  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt (if using unflavored yogurt add ¼ tsp vanilla)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 cups mashed bananas (usually about 3 bananas)
  • 3 T canola oil
  • 1 cups King Arthur AP flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1cup chopped pecans, toasted (will use about 2/3 in the mix)
  • ½ cup shredded coconut
Nutty-Coconut topping
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut
  • Other 1/3 cup of toasted pecans from the above ingredients list.

Instructions
1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan.
2.   In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, pecans and coconut.
3.   In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, egg, oil and bananas. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened and all combined. Pour into pan.
4.   Combine topping ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle them evenly over batter.
5.    Bake 55-65* minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*as oven temps vary – I start checking this bread at about 50 minutes – in my oven the top is getting perfectly brown but the center is not done, so I loosely place some aluminum foil over the bread so that while it continues to bake the top will not get too browned. Depending on the oven this step may not be necessary.


Thank you for stopping by.

Monday, November 28, 2016

CHRISTMAS BOX

Often times the grand-kids stockings overflow on Christmas morning/eve and items will sit outside the stocking.  With this in mind I decided to make our fab five little round boxes for their stocking treats.  I am using the same process I used for the Thanksgiving hostess gifts, Link.
First thing I did was to go to The Graphic's Fairy and select my graphic, Link.

You see the image behind the box.  After printing out the image (I  printed it on a full sheet label) I cut around the image.  This step is not necessary as you may want to print an image and just trim it down to fit your box.

I had cut the box down using a box cutter - not an X-acto knife, the paper the boxes are made from is very stiff and after drawing a line around your cut area, very carefully cut off the portion you do not want.  If your blade is sharp it will not be necessary to do anything to the edge but if the edge looks a little ragged, use a little sand paper to clean the edges.  Again, the cutting of part of the box not necessary, but is easy to do. I used the part I cut off to sample my paint.  My image was lovely with muted colors so I chose moss colored chalk paint, then after drying went over with a silver color.
Painted the top and the bottom and put them in my oven "paint booth." I turn the oven on to the "warm" temp, then turn it off and leave the oven light on - amazing how much heat builds up with just a light bulb.  Don't worry paper will not ignite until 450° and the heat from the light bulb while effective, will not harm your project.

Once dry, I went over the edge only of the top with some green paint, back into my paint booth to dry and then I  added some Cricut images and letters that I had cut out with my machine.  If you don't have a machine you could use stickers.  You always have the option to just hand paint at anytime.
After the stickers applied, go over the top and sides with the chalk paint, back to the paint booth (oven) and when dry take a straight pin and gently lift a corner of the sticker and pull them all of and voila you have the design you desired.
I simply dipped the end of a paint brush to make the red berries - just make sure you dip the end each time so that the berries will be uniform in size.  If you try and get more than one berry out of a dip, each time the image gets smaller.
The final step is to use either a matte finish water based product - I used Mod Podge.  Mod Podge will give you a nice matte finish and it will also help adhere your image.  If you see bubbles start to happen on the image, simply use the back of a nail (like your index finger) and press down to get rid of the bubble.  You may have to do this several times.
Beautiful image and the silver second coat was worth the effort - a little shimmer but not shiny.
I used some green sizzle to line the box and give a cushion for the little gifts to nestle in and not move around.
Some fun Christmas candy, a $1,000,000 candy bar, some gold President Kennedy .50¢ pieces, candy cane with Skittles, a Pocket Posh Christmas puzzle book - these fun books are from the UK and they make a zillion different ones and are good for kids and adults alike.  I will had a few more things I am sure - like some $2 bills, maybe a little iTunes card - point is there is room for some more in this little "stocking box."

One down and four to go!

This is a fun and easy project and you don't have to do the extras as you could simply go to The Graphic's Fairy and pick a graphic and adhere to your painted box.  The stickers make for an easy way to add some more charm to your box but you could do the same thing by painting yourself or not. Just be sure not matter what you choose to do to end with the Mod Podge (or other product) because it is important to seal your image and paint.

Resource

Graphics, The Graphic's Fairy
Cricuit Cartridge used, Joy's of the Season
Silver overcoat, Folk Art, 662E, Sterling Silver, craft stores
Dark green, Americana, Deep Teal, craft stores
Chalk paint, first coat of paint, Waverley, Moss, craft stores
Berries, Americana, Santa Red with a little white mixed in, Craft stores.
Paper Mache boxes, craft and hobby stores  
Pocket Posh, Christmas puzzle book, Link 
Full sheet labels, Link

Thank you for stopping by.