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Valentine’s Day cards and crafts

1 Feb

Valentine’s Day is a sweet holiday, especially if you keep it simple.  Here are some ideas for cards and crafts that you can make for your family and friends.  And if you have kids, they will love making them with you too.

I thought these tea bags were adorable and very simple to make. I am making a box for my friend with different inspirational and Valentine’s Day messages.  They will be a nice start to her day!

Write a special tag for each tea bag!

Create a special tag for each tea bag!

 

These homemade cards are super cute.

You glue a miniature envelope to a piece of card stock, decorate it with hearts and sayings and tuck your gift into the envelope.  Movie tickets, tickets to a play or a favorite restaurant gift certificate are all excellent gift ideas.

Miniature envelopes hold your gift for a friend!

Miniature envelopes hold your gifts for friends or family!

Handmade soaps are fun to make and always appreciated. Here are some ideas for heart-shaped ones with messages of “Love”.

"Love" soaps

Soaps made with love!

And for only $10 each, you can send these sweet E-Valentines from NRDC that help save wildlife while bringing joy to everyone on your list.  My daughter is sending her grandfather the “Glad You’re In My Pack” card that helps protect wolves.  And for my Mom, she will love the “You’re Purrfect!” card that helps keep bobcat kittens safe.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

My Dad will love this one!

My Dad will love this one!

Purrfect for my Mom!

Purrfect for my Mom!

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Biking in Italy

16 Jul

Charlotte and I just got back from a 7-day bike trip in Northern Italy! We started in the small town of Mantova, staying in a beautiful hotel, Ca delle Erbe and we ended the trip in the spectacular city of Venice!

There were 13 of us plus others from the US and Europe (Switzerland, Norway and England).  We had some ups and downs along the way (my mother liked to say Charlotte had a “crash” course in bike riding) but we had a lot of fun and laughed a lot — especially at dinner each night on the boat after riding our bikes 40-50 kilometers!

And we were definitely inspired by the good food! We all loved a mediterranean barley salad so here is my version:

Cook 1 cup of pearl barley in 3 cups of chicken broth for about 50 minutes. Toss in chopped tomatoes, persian cucumbers, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, pinenuts and olive oil.  Olives would be another good addition.  Or some basil pesto.

Protected: Lessons from grandparents!

12 May

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Healthy Thin Mints

23 Apr

My daughter asked for thin mints the other day so we decided to make a healthier version of them than the ones you can buy in a box.

Here is our recipe, adapted from Handle the Heat:

Makes about 24 cookies

4 ounces (or 1 stick) of unsalted butter (we used organic)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened organic cocoa

1/4 tsp (plus a bit more) sea salt

3/4 cups whole wheat pastry

Chocolate Peppermint Coating:

1/2 pound good quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (we used Scharffen berger)

peppermint extract to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Make the dough:

In a mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add the honey and continue to cream.  Add in vanilla, salt and cocoa. Mix until creamy like frosting.  Add flour and mix until batter no longer dusty.  Don’t overmix.

Knead the dough, using flour on your surface, and place in plastic bag.  Flatten to 3/4″ pancake and put in freezer for 20 minutes.  Using a lot of flour, roll out dough to 1/8″ thick and use 1-1/2″ to 2″ cookie cutters (round or heart-shaped or whatever shape you like).  Place them on parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

Let cool completely on wire rack.  In the meantime, melt the chocolate and add the peppermint one drop at a time to taste.  Don’t overdo it on the peppermint.

Drop the cookies into the melted chocolate for a thin coating.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet and place in freezer or refrigerator until set.

The original recipe called for powdered sugar instead of honey.  Our dough was a bit sticky so next time I may try to use an organic powdered sugar instead.  Another thing to try might be putting the peppermint in the dough instead of the coating.

Enjoy!