4th of July Brie

4th of July Brie

We used a BIG wheel of brie for this video, which can be very expensive. You can get away with something about (or a little over) half the size. A little bit of brie goes a long way.

YIELDS: 8 SERVINGS       PREP TIME: 0 HOURS 15 MINS      TOTAL TIME: 0 HOURS 40 MINS

INGREDIENTS

1 (35-oz.) wheel brie
6 strawberries, tops removed and sliced
1/2 c. blueberries
1/4 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp. honey
Graham crackers, for dipping

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut off the top rind of brie then place brie in a skillet about its same size. Bake until brie is bubbling and totally melted throughout, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place strawberries and blueberries in separate medium bowls. Divide orange juice and honey evenly between each bowl and toss to combine. When brie is ready, arrange fruit in the pattern of the American flag. Serve immediately, with graham crackers for dipping.


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Happy 4th of July! 4 Tasty BBQ Recipes for Your Dog

Happy 4th of July! 4 Tasty BBQ Recipes for Your Dog

Happy 4th of July! Today’s the day we celebrate our nation’s independence. Checking out a parade, hanging out by the pool and protecting our dogs from fireworks are the only things on our agenda. Oh, and grilling, of course. BBQ food is an absolute must on the most patriotic day of the year. Because really, is there anything more American than hamburgers and hotdogs? We didn’t think so.

As you prepare to chow down with family and friends this afternoon, why not prepare something special for your dog? She’ll likely be waiting beneath the grill anyhow, hoping for human food to hit the floor. Unfortunately, most traditional BBQ foods are dangerous for dogs and can make them sick. Providing your pup her own tasty meal will keep her out of harm’s way and help her feel like she’s part of the celebration.

Check out a few of our favorite dog-approved Fourth of July recipes below!

Ingredients

1 cup water

8 strawberries

1/4 cup blueberries

Instructions

Rinse strawberries and blueberries.
Mix ½ cup water and strawberries in the blender. Blend until liquefied. Repeat with blueberries.
Pour strawberry mixture into star-shaped ice cube trays. Repeat with blueberry mixture.
Pop them in the freezer for 2-4 hours and serve!


Happy 4th of July! 4 Tasty BBQ Recipes for Your Dog
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Crocheted Turtle Plushy Toy – Free Pattern

Crocheted Turtle Plushy Toy – Free Pattern

My youngest grandson has a love for sea creatures.  He particularly loves turtles.  That’s why I recently made him 3 crocheted stuffed turtles.  He loves them!

These turtles are pretty easy to make.  The top shell is made with a hexagon shaped African flower in 4 colors.  The bottom shell or the turtle’s tummy is the same flower done in 1 color.  Then all you need is to make the head and the legs which are stitched on the bottom shell.

For my grandson’s turtles I used the same 4 color combination, I just changed up the arrangement to make each turtle unique.  Each turtle’s tummy is the African flower done in the color used on the last rounds of the top shell.  I coordinated the head and legs with the top shell round that is done in the same color, in this case the single round used to edge the flower petals.

I used 2 shades of green and beige as main colors and orange as the flower’s center as an accent color.  The orange really brightens up the turtles.  But you can you any color you want, I bet pink and purple would make a nice turtle too!

The turtles are pretty easy to make, it took me just a couple of hours to make each one.  But the first step in making them is making the African flower hexagon pieces.  Once you got those done the rest is just rounds of increasing and decreasing single crochets.

So I’ll give you the pattern for the African flower using 4 different colors you can adapt it to use however many colors you will be using.  Then I’ll give you the patter for the head and the arms.  Once you have those done you can stuff them, stitch them together, then embroider on the eyes and mouth.  I used french knots for the eyes and back stitched the smiling mouth.  You can sew on plastic googly eyes or button for the eye, I choose not to as my grandson is only 1 year old and buttons or google eyes are a choking hazard if they get pulled off the turtle.

I used a 5.5 mm crochet hook or “I” hook; #4 medium yarn, and a yarn needle.  The head and legs are made in rounds so using stitch markers to mark the end/beginning of the rounds is helpful.

So here’s the pattern for these adorable stuffed turtles.

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Supplies:

5.5mm or “I” Gauge Crochet Hook

#4 Medium weight yarn in the colors of your choice

Polyfill for stuffing

Yarn Needle

African Flower Hexagon

First Flower Hexagon is made in Single Color for the turtle’s  tummy

*CH 3 at the beginning of each round counts as the 1st DC of that round

Color 1 – CH 4; join last chain to 1 chain with a slip stitch to form a ring

Rd. 1 – All stitches in will be worked in the ring.  CH 3 (counts as first DC), DC, CH 1; *2 DC, CH 1*, repeat * to * 4 times; Sl St to top of CH 3 at the beginning of the round.  You will have 6 groups of 2DC with CH space between each group.

Rd. 2 – Work in the 1st. CH 1 Space in previous round CH 3, DC, CH 2, 2 DC, CH 1; *in next CH 1 Space work 2 DC, CH 2, 2 DC, CH 1*, Repeat *to* 4 times; Sl St to top of CH 3 at the beginning of the round.  You will have 6 groups of (2 DC, CH 2,  2 DC) with a CH space between each group.  These groups are the bottom part of your flower petals.

Rd. 3 – Work in the first CH 2 space of the previous round CH 3, 6 DC, CH 1; *in next CH 2 Space work 7 DC, CH 1* Repeat *to* 4 times.  Change to Color 3.  You will have 6 clusters of 7 DC in each CH 2 space.  These clusters are the tops of your flower petals.

Rd. 4 – This is the row that edges each petal made in Rd. 2 & 3.  It is worked in SC with a long SC between each petal.  Starting at the side of any petal work SC around the petal ( 7 SC) when you reach the CH 1 Space which from Rd. 2 & 3, insert the hook into the the CH 1 space in Rd. 2 and pull up a loop; yarn over and pull thru both loops to complete your long SC.  Continue to work 7 SC in each petal cluster and long SC between petals.  Sl St to SC at the beginning of the round.

Rd. 5 – CH 3, DC in next 2 St, in next St work (DC, CH 2, DC) (1st. corner of the hexagon), * DC in next 7 St, (DC, CH 2, DC) in next st * Repeat from * to * around ending with a DC in the last 4 st after the 6 corner is worked.  Fasten off and set aside.

Now make the 2nd. Flower hexagon using 4 colors for the top shell.

*CH 3 at the beginning of each round counts as the 1st DC of that round

Color 1 – CH 4; join last chain to 1 chain with a slip stitch to form a ring

Rd. 1 – All stitches in will be worked in the ring.  CH 3 (counts as first DC), DC, CH 1; *2 DC, CH 1*, repeat * to * 4 times; Sl St to top of CH 3 at the beginning of the round.  You will have 6 groups of 2DC with CH space between each group.  Change to Color 2

Rd. 2 – Work in the 1st. CH 1 Space in previous round CH 3, DC, CH 2, 2 DC, CH 1; *in next CH 1 Space work 2 DC, CH 2, 2 DC, CH 1*, Repeat *to* 4 times; Sl St to top of CH 3 at the beginning of the round.  You will have 6 groups of (2 DC, CH 2,  2 DC) with a CH space between each group.  These groups are the bottom part of your flower petals.

Rd. 3 – Work in the first CH 2 space of the previous round CH 3, 6 DC, CH 1; *in next CH 2 Space work 7 DC, CH 1* Repeat *to* 4 times.  Change to Color 3.  You will have 6 clusters of 7 DC in each CH 2 space.  These clusters are the tops of your flower petals.

Rd. 4 – This is the row that edges each petal made in Rd. 2 & 3.  It is worked in SC with a long SC between each petal.  Starting at the side of any petal work SC around the petal ( 7 SC) when you reach the CH 1 Space which from Rd. 2 & 3, insert the hook into the the CH 1 space in Rd. 2 and pull up a loop; yarn over and pull thru both loops to complete your long SC.  Continue to work 7 SC in each petal cluster and long SC between petals.  Sl St to SC at the beginning of the round.  Change to Color 4.

Rd. 5 – CH 3, DC in next 2 St, in next St work (DC, CH 2, DC) (1st. corner of the hexagon), * DC in next 7 St, (DC, CH 2, DC) in next st * Repeat from * to * around ending with a DC in the last 4 st after the 6 corner is worked.

Rd. 6 – CH 3, DC in each st until you reach the 1st. corner, make 1 DC in the CH 2 Space of Rd. 5; DC in each st to next corner, make 1 DC in CH 2 Space of Rd. 5; Continue around and Sl St to top of CH 3 at the beginning of the round.  DO NOT Fasten off.  (The hexagon should cup a bit giving it a bit of height)

Rd. 7 – Place Belly hexagon on top of the Top Shell Hexagon wrong sides together.  Join top and bottom hexagons together by making a round of SC, hook should go thru Round 6 of top shell and Round 5 of belly hexagon.  Stuff before ending Rd. 7.  Join with Sl St to beginning SC of the round.

Ruffle Round – *(CH 3, DC) in first st of Rd. 7, Skip 1 st, sl st in next st*.  Repeat this pattern all the way around.  Sl St to bottom of CH 3 at the beginning of the round.  Fasten off and weave in ends.

Head & Legs

The head and legs are made in rounds, do not join after each round.  Using a stitch marker is helpful to keep track of rounds.

Head – Make 1

Make a magic circle – the first round is worked in the circle

Rd. 1 – 6 SC in the circle

Rd. 2 – 2 SC in each SC around (12 SC)

Rd. 3 – *2 SC in next SC, 1 SC in next * repeat around (18 SC)

Rd. 4 & 5 – SC in each SC around (18 SC per round)

Rd. 6 – 2 SC in next SC, 1 SC in the next 2 SC; repeat pattern around (24 SC)

Rd. 7 – SC in each SC around (24 SC)

Rd. 8 – dec SC over next 2 SC, 1 SC in the next 2 SC; repeat pattern around (18 SC)

Rd. 9 & 10 – SC in each SC around (18 SC per round)

Rd. 11 – dec SC over next 2 SC, 1 SC in next 2 SC; repeat pattern around (12 SC)

Rd. 12 to 14 – SC in each SC around (12 SC per round)

Stuff and close opening by pressing both sides together and making 5 SC across.  Leave long tail for sewing head on to body.

Leg – Make 4

Make a magic circle

Rd. 1 – 6 SC in circle

Rd. 2 – 2 SC in each SC (12 SC)

Rd. 3 – 2 SC in next SC, SC in next: repeat pattern around (18 SC)

Rd. 4 to 6 – SC in each SC around (18 SC per round)

Rd. 7 – Dec SC over next 2 SC, SC in next SC; repeat pattern around (12 SC)

Rd. 8 & 9 – SC in each SC around (12 SC per round)

Stuff with polyfil

Rd. 10 – Dec over next 2 SC, SC in next SC; repeat pattern around (8 SC)

Rd. 11 – SC around (8 SC)

Close opening by pressing both sides together and making 3 SC across.  Leave long tail for sewing legs on to body.

Assembling

Stitch head and legs on to body.  Refer to the picture below for placement.

Embroider on Eyes and mouth

Weave in all loose ends.  And you’re done!

 

Keeping An Eye On Your Dog When He’s Exploring

Keeping An Eye On Your Dog When He’s Exploring

Did you know that dogs have 300 million olfactory receptors in their nose? That is a staggering 40 times greater than human beings. Is it any wonder that dogs just go around sniffing anything and everything? Can you imagine literally being led by the nose all your life? This is why dogs are so amazing, but they can be a danger to themselves as well. They’re such amazing creatures but even a normal trip to the park can end up being very serious. Dogs like to chew, bite and lick things they find stimulating and this can lead them into having a sore stomach, sneezing a lot, getting watery eyes and even vomiting. Keeping an eye on him while he explores is something you need to get used to.

Do they eat plants?

Yes! Dogs eat plants when you’re not looking. They do this when they’re stray dogs or ‘in the wild’ because they may have an upset stomach. Naturally, they know what to eat but sometimes they can make a mistake. Dogs will sometimes eat stinging nettles because it helps them digest, but too much can harm them. This is also why we make nettle soup because it calms your bowels. However, they can end up eating things they shouldn’t. For example, toxic flowers like lilies and daffodils. The petals are harmless and even quite sweet, but the bulbs are toxic. Ingesting them can cause your dog to puke and convulse. The next time you go to the park, keep your pooch away from the flower patch.

Keep out of the soil

Now we all know what it’s like to try and get our dog out of a muddy puddle. It’s one of life’s hidden challenges. Dogs love to roll around in the muddy water because they’re having fun. You find that many animals in the wild roll around in mud too. It could be the texture on their fur, perhaps the stickiness or maybe it could be how it cools them down on a hot day. Regardless, you shouldn’t encourage your dog to roll around in dry soil or mud because worm eggs can become trapped in their paws. The larvae will hatch and make their way into your dog and this can make your furry friend very sick. But you can give your dog a chewy antiparasitic treat from it.nexgardspectra.com. This small treat helps your dog by fighting off 5 different types of parasite at once, worms being one of them.

Straying too close

Not all dogs like the water and not all dogs are good swimmers. If you have a dog that is short, stumpy legs such as a British bulldog or poodle, you should keep an eye on them while in the park. If the park has a pond or perhaps a river running through it, your dog will be tempted to jump into it due to his own reflection or perhaps the fish swimming underneath the surface. Call him back if you think he is about to jump in!

Dogs are sometimes too inquisitive for their own good. They have huge hearts and even bigger noses that can sometimes lead them astray. But as long as you’re keeping an eye on them, let them explore.

Last Minute DIY Father’s Day Gift – Decoupage Coasters

Last Minute DIY Father’s Day Gift – Decoupage Coasters

Decoupage Coasters

Father’s Day is coming up this year it’s on June 21!  Make Dad a special gift this year.  This decoupage boxed photo coaster set took about an hour an a half to make and was very inexpensive.

The boys had already made gifts for Dad, Grandpa, and Uncles, (Comic Strip Frames & Boxes), but I ran into a sale on wooden boxes at our local craft store that was just too good to pass up and we had lots of  Mod Podge, spray paint, and photos left over from other craft projects, so really this project cost  a whopping $3 for the box and coaster set.  It will make a perfect gift for my husband, it has photos of all the grandkids.  I made it just before we went to the blockbuster movie, Jurassic World, it was dry by the time we got home; from start to finish, including drying time in between coats of Mod Podge it took about an hour and a half.

Do ditch the tie this year and give Dad or Grandpa something they’ll love and use!  Here’s how!

Materials:

Decoupage Coasters

1 Wooden boxed coaster set – you can get this from most craft stores, they’re very inexpensive, the regular price at our store was $5.99, but we picked it up on sale for $3!

Mod Podge Matte – I prefer to use matte finish when working with photos to reduce the glare

Mod Podge Acrylic Sealer Matte Spray

Sponge brush

Spray paint – I used red gloss I had left over from another project

Black & White Photos Matte finish

Masking or painter’s tape

Directions:

1.   Cover metal hinges & lock with tape as best as you can.

Decoupage Coasters

2.  Spray paint box and coaster edges.  I found the easiest way to spray the coaster edges was to stack them on top of each other and spray.  Don’t worry if you get paint on the coaster itself, the photos will cover them up.

3.  Wipe off any paint that seeped on to the hinges and lock if you want to.  I started to but decided it wasn’t that bad and actually looked good so I didn’t put too much effort in to wiping off the paint.

4.  Let paint dry about 10 – 15 minutes or until it’s no longer tacky to touch.

Decoupage Coasters

5.  Remove tape from hinges and lock.

6.  Place coaster over section of photo you want to glue to the box.  Turn it over and trace the coaster on to that section.

7.  Cut photo INSIDE the lines you just made – cutting outside or on the line will make it too big.  Place photo on to the coaster to check the fit, you may have to trim photo closer to the coaster edge.

8.  Repeat step #7 for the other side of the coaster and for both sides of all the coasters.

9.  Brush a light coat of Mod Podge Matte on to one side of the coaster and the back side of the photo.  Be sure you brush Mod Podge all the way to the edges.  Keep brush strokes in the same direction, it looks neater on the finished product.  Allow to dry for 5 minutes.  while you are waiting for the coaster to dry do the same to the other photos and coasters.

10.  Place photo on to the coaster.  Adjust photo so it is matched up to the coaster edges.  Light press down on photo and smooth out any bubbles.

11.  Brush a coat of Mod Podge on the photo from edge to edge.  Apply a good amount of Mod Podge, but don’t soak the photo.  Repeat with all the coasters.  Allow to dry about 10 minutes.

12.  Brush 2 – 3 more coats of Mod Podge on coasters allowing them to dry 10 minutes between coats.

13.  While waiting for coasters to dry cut out photos you want to glue to the box.  Trim photos to fit around the hinges and lock.

14.  Repeat steps #9 – 12.

15.  Turn dry coasters over and paste photos on them like you did in steps #9 – 12.

16.  When coasters and box are dry spray them with 2 coats of the sealer, allowing them to dry 10 – 15 minutes between coats.

17.  Let the box and coaster dry for at least an hour before placing coaster in the box.  You may have to lightly pry the box top open as some sealer may have lightly glued it together.

Decoupage Coasters

 

Time-and-Money-Saving Recipes for a Tasty Weeknight Meal

Time-and-Money-Saving Recipes for a Tasty Weeknight Meal

So many of us love to cook but don’t always have the time (or the money) to make elaborate, fancy meals. Luckily, there are easy ways to make truly scrumptious meals that don’t take hours in the kitchen and don’t cost a fortune in random ingredients. With a little creativity and know-how, you can make delicious and fun recipes in a snap that use ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Here’s a few of our favorite ideas:

Creative Salads

Salads are a lot more than just a random handful of romaine, a few slivers of carrots and a tomato or cucumber wedge. Salads can be bright, crunchy, crispy, fruity, spicy, and topped with creamy dressings or a drizzle of oil and vinegar. Spruce them up with your favorite herbs, chunks of cheese, crunchy nuts, or nutritional yeast. Eat them atop brown rice or quinoa for added bulk, or throw them on top of leftover pizza. Salads can be the perfect accompaniment to a grilled meal, or eaten on their own for a quick and healthy lunch.

In summer, a simple cucumber and tomato salad with a wedge of crispy cornbread is the perfect meal. This salad recipe from Budgetbytes.com is a perfect version that you should definitely try. For something a little classy that goes great with chicken dishes, try a strawberry and spinach salad, adorned with crunchy honey-almonds and feta cheese. No need to hit up the fast food joint for that amazing asian salad – you can create your own with fresh steamed edamame, chow mein noodles, crisp spring onions and your favorite store-brand spring rolls.

Stir Fries

Stir fries don’t have to be boring. The truth is, stir fry is incredibly versatile and the only thing you need to take them out of a rut is a great sauce. Whether you love veggie stir fry over rice, quinoa, grits or a bed of mashed potatoes, whipping up a delicious stir fry sauce is the key to keeping things fresh and new. Try a spicy orange sauce, a lemon-basil vinaigrette, a savory french onion sauce, or a sweet, spicy sriracha honey sauce to brighten your meats and veggies and turn your stir fry into something the whole family will love.

The One Pot Craze

The instapot and slow cooker are all the rage for a reason – they save you so much time in the kitchen and the results are delicious. Yes, they’re perfect for that traditional pot roast or pot of chili, but your slow poker or instapot can be used for a whole lot of other creative recipes, too. Fun ideas like slow-cooker lasagna, pho with tofu, and even low country boil can all be made in your favorite trusty appliance while you’re at work or out running errands, and you’ll be shocked at how delicious they are.

Breakfast for Dinner

Whether you enjoy your breakfast for dinner or your breakfast for breakfast, it’s easy to make your favorite morning staples in a flash. From three-ingredient pancakes (that happen to be gluten free), to bacon-in-the oven, to a make-overnight strata to wow last-minute guests, there are easy hacks to make breakfast a snap.

With just a few simple, creative tricks, you can have food on the table in no time flat, without spending a fortune.