Fireworks for the Fourth!

You know me, I’m a big decorator for the holidays. Any holiday.

Yet I’m just not big on the 4th decorations. Sure, I’ve put out my patriotic door hanging, but other than that, there were no 4th items in the apartment.

Maybe it’s because there aren’t a ton of decorative items for the 4th that come to mind. Maybe it’s because it’s summer time and I’m always on the go. Whatever the reason, I took a few minutes and made some cute and festive fireworks out of tissue paper and bamboo skewers.

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This was quite possibly the easiest craft I’ve ever made.

To start, measure out how long you want your skewer to be. I cut mine down, but you can leave yours standard length.

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Next, grab some tissue paper. I went with the traditional red, white, and blue.

Cut 2 pieces of each color into 8 inch x 16 inch rectangles. They don’t need to be perfect.

Fold them in half, lengthwise. Start cutting into the tissue paper on the non-folded side. Don’t cut all the way up.

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Put a small dab of glue on the end of the tissue paper and put your skewer down on top of it.

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I waited a minute or so, for the glue to start to dry, then I began rolling the tissue paper around the skewer.

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Glue the end of the tissue paper in place.

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Pick up the skewer and the fringy part of the tissue paper should fall into place.

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Here’s a close up of all 3:

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I put my little fireworks sticks in my hurricane jar.

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And there is my one 4th of July craft for the year.

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

I love my ice cream machine. It makes yummy treats for the summer.

This time, I tried a new kind of ice cream – honey lavender.

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Yep, lavender.

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It was actually fun to make.

For my last birthday, a friend got me this cool ice cream recipe deck.

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I had always been meaning to try a more exotic flavor since I usually do vanilla or pumpkin. I had some extra culinary lavender that I wanted to use up, so the honey lavender ice cream caught my eye.

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I had to tweak the recipe a bit, as the recipe yielded about half of my ice cream maker’s capability. I doubled the batch.

I come to find out, perhaps the lavender shouldn’t have been doubled, maybe more like left the amount the same. The flavor was so powerful that I could only eat the ice cream in super small servings. It helped me not eat too much at once, but next time, I think I’ll increase the honey, but leave the lavender as it is in the original recipe.

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Pizza Quesadillas

That’s right, pizza quesadillas.

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Kind of a weird blending of Mexican and Italian foods I thought, but I gave it a try. The result was a quick and simple dinner that was actually really good.

The time saver here is using tortillas (instead of dough). You don’t have to cook the quesadillas for that long at all, which makes these faster than baking a whole pizza.

To start, saute whatever veggies you want to put in the quesadilla. Go crazy. We only used mushrooms and onion, since that’s what we had around the house.

Next, take two tortillas and brush a teeny amount of sauce onto them. I’m talking a very small amount of sauce. So little that if you hold a tortilla up, the sauce shouldn’t run down the side at all.

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Put your ingredients on top of one of the tortillas. I added the mushroom, onion, some salami, cheese, red pepper flakes, and pizza seasoning.

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Make a sandwich by placing the other tortilla, sauce side down, onto the one with all of the toppings.

Have a skillet warmed, spray a little bit of cooking oil in it, and drop the quesadilla into the pan. Cook for a few minutes on each side, basically just until the cheese melts.

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Serve with a dipping bowl of pizza sauce.

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Under the Sea

Check out this cute piece of summer wall art I made for free:

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I was inspired by this lovely print on etsy.

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It just screamed summer to me with those bold colors and playful beachy print.

Since my husband is so wonderfully talented at Photoshop, I knew he’d be able to replicate this print for me, costing nothing more than printer paper and toner. Here’s our version:

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I wanted to put it on the shelf above the couch, but I thought it would look too small on the shelf. It did.

Dan and I got to thinking and we decided a set of 3 matching prints would look great together. We brainstormed and thought an octopus and a mermaid would round out the beach/sea theme we had going.

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I wish I could tell you how Dan did it. I know he googled to find the images we ended up using, then created a silhouette of them. He said the chevron wasn’t too difficult to make either. You know, because he spends a lot of time in Photoshop.

As for the frame, we’ve long had it in our hall closet. We got it as a wedding gift with a cut out mat that spelled “Wedding Day,” but didn’t have anywhere to put it. Until now.

Is it perfect? No. Does it add color to the room? Definitely. Is it fun for a quick summer living room update? Absolutely.

Father’s Day Desserts

Last weekend, we got to spend a lot of family time. We saw Dan’s family on Saturday and mine on Sunday to celebrate Father’s Day. Both were low key events filled with food and family.

I made the dessert for each gathering.

For Saturday, I tried out this recipe for root beer bundt cake (I make one large cake instead of many smaller ones).

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We paired it with some homemade vanilla ice cream. It tasted exactly like a root beer float, which was quite refreshing on a hot summer day.

For Sunday, I decided to make these summer fruit tarts with the large amount of fruit we have around the house.

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I did a mixture of peaches, strawberries, and blueberries. To top it off, I put a dollop of Cool Whip on each tart.

I only made 4 of them, so I cut the recipe down significantly. I had one tart where the walls didn’t stay up as much as the others, but all tasted delicious (and sort of healthy).

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Hope everyone had a great Father’s Day!

More Summer in the City

Here’s another sort of Summer Fun checklist update. Lots more has been crossed off the list, which means I’ve been busy making the most of the short summer months.

1. Drive In

We saw MIB3 and The Chernobyl Diaries at Cascade Drive In in West Chicago. I wouldn’t recommend Chernobyl Diaries, but MIB3 was cute. The drive in itself was a blast – big screen,

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tons of blankets in the car (with a Phoebe),

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popcorn, and a Mountain Dew.

2. Picnic

As part of our anniversary celebration, we packed up a cooler, put a leash on Phoebe, and headed to a nearby park for a small picnic. No photos from the day, but we feasted on tuna fish sandwiches, sesame sticks (from Trader Joe’s), and strawberries for dessert.

3. Movie in the Park

Last night, a group of us headed to see Ferris Bueller’s Day off at a local park. I made some classic chocolate chip cookies (using Dan’s mom’s recipe) to munch on during the movie.

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Here’s Dan and I before it got dark enough for the movie to start.

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4. Book club

From Monday’s post, you saw we read Hunger Games and enjoyed an apple and goat cheese tart.

5. Make fresh fruit pancakes

It only half counts, because the blueberries were from Jewel and not a Farmer’s Market, but last weekend, we indulged in some whole wheat blueberry pancakes. Yum.

I really feel like we’re making the most of this summer, and we have lots of fun summer plans to come!

Grilled Shrimp Bowl

When it’s hot out, I do everything I can to keep the meal cooking outside on the grill. This dish has quickly become one of my go to dinners when it’s just too humid to turn on the stove.

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I use this recipe from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart, but sub in pineapple for the mango. Not that I don’t like mango, it’s simply that I have canned pineapple on hand way more often than I have fresh mango in the house. Additionally, we had extra broccoli laying around, so I steamed it in our rice cooker while the rice cooked.

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It’s pretty easy. Just start by skewering the pineapple and shrimp.

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I did have to use the stove to make the rum glaze, but it didn’t take long, so the kitchen didn’t heat up too badly.

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I brushed the shrimp with a medium coating of glaze, and Dan continued to put glaze on while shrimp grilled.

In the end, we ended up making a sort of rice bowl with the food.

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You could just eat the shrimp kabobs on their own with a salad or other side dish though. Whatever’s easiest and whatever you have in your pantry, I say.