Rustic Centerpieces: Low Or No Cost Spring Flower Arrangements

Thrill, Fill, Spill Flower Arranging



April showers bring May flowers. Enjoy them both indoors and outdoors.  Lilacs, azaleas, wisteria and the branches of flowering shrubs and trees bloom around the same time in mid to late spring.They continue the spring floral show after Narcissus, tulips and other early bulb flowers disappear.Together, they can make stunning low or no cost spring arrangements.Use them for a spring wedding and shower-related events to cut the cost of decorating with professional plant and tree service companies. An arrangement of spring flowers is perfect for Mother’s Day brunch and lunch tables. The thrill, fill, spill method is usually reserved for creating container gardens, but I find that the general structure works well in flower arranging also. Make a Low or No Cost Spring Flower Arrangement To make a spring flower arrangement using the thrill, fill, spill method, you will need:

 

    • an interesting vase 

 

  • floral foam

 

 

  • floral wire and tape

 

 

  • floral stakes ( I used wooden skewers)

 

 

  • assorted spring flowers (suggested list below)

 

 

For my arrangement, I used an old washstand pitcher from Russia that was slightly broken but repaired. The painted-on pastel flowers made it a great vase for my spring flower arrangement.

Flowers I used for my spring flower arrangement:

    • lilacs

 

  • pink and white azaleas

 

 

  • flowering cherry tree blossoms

 

 

  • wisteria

 

 

  • young grape vine

 

 

 

Steps for Thrill, Fill, Spill  Flower Arrangement:

First, place some floral foam in the bottom of a vase. Pick one to three flowers as the focal point or the “thrill.’ I used a stem of two lilacs. I anchored the stem to the skewer with floral wire and inserted it, pointed side down into the floral foam. 009 Next, I filled in around the lilacs with pink and white azaleas. I broke the azaleas off of the branches and wired them to the skewers. This gave me more control over the form of the arrangement. 010 Wrapping with floral tape gave  a neat finish. 015 I followed the same procedure with my flowering wild cherry tree blossoms, filling in behind the azaleas to add some height. The azaleas and flowering cherry completed the “fill” of my arrangement. 017 Drooping wisteria and fresh young grape vine made the perfect “spill” for my spring flower arrangement. 020 A spring flower arrangement also makes a welcome site on a veranda, porch or patio.

Where to Find Flowers?

Keeping the thrill, spill, fill flower arranging technique in mind, use your flowering shrubs and trees easily in arrangements by using the skewers as stems method.Check with neighbors, parks and locations around the neighborhood. Some flowers, such as wild dogwood can be found growing wild. Wild grape vines also grow in the wild, and can really add to the”spill”in a dramatic way.Wisteria,also a great spill flower grows on trees on empty lots. Most people don’t mind sharing a few flowers. I got my lilacs and pink azaleas from a neighbor. Our church had practically a grove of flowering cherry trees.Check local florist and fresh flower markets as well.Fresh local flowers are likely to be more inexpensive than roses, etc. After you have reached  your desired effect with the  spring flowers, add just enough water so that the floral foam doesn’t begin to float.

Get Creative

Just remember to keep an eye out for flowers that bloom around the same time. Bulb flowers such as daffodils and tulips will bloom around the same time as the flowering peach trees, Bradford pears and red bud. What can you find for vases and container? Think of Mason jars and other unique containers.  Creativity means using what is on hand. Get creative and make do with what is on hand to help with spring floral arrangement ideas. It promises to be a lot of fun, and both visually and financially rewarding! Just think thrill, spill, fill and look around at the flowers available!

Other Flower Suggestions:

 

    • pink and white dogwood

 

  • flowering peach

 

 

  • apple blossoms

 

 

  • Japonica branches

 

 

  • Bradford pear

 

 

  • forsythia

 

 

  • magnolia blossoms

 

 

  • early blooming stage hydrangeas.

 

 

  • daffodils

 

 

  • tulips

 

 

  • red bud

 

 

 

A Stroll Around the Neighborhood For Spring Flowers

Azaleas come in brilliant pinks, corals, and white spring glowers 008  Wisteria is the perfect “spill”. It grows on abandoned lots. 

 
spring glowers 002
 

White  dogwood can be found growing in many forests.   spring glowers 005 Pretty pink dogwood is a common site at homes, parks and all around the neighborhood.  spring glowers 001 Flowering peach blossoms arrive before the tree’s leaves do. 100_0022 Tulips and other bulb flowers should still be in.  spring glowers 010 Bradford Pear Blooms Early Along with red bud and daffodils. easter 113 Japonica trees also have early blooms that show before the leaves.  easter 119 Did you get some ideas for making a low or no cost spring flower arrangement? Just remember these four points: 1. A creative  vase 2. Flowers that bloom around the same time 3. The skewer and floral wire trick 4. THRILL, FILL, SPILL!

Tie-dyed Easter Eggs and A Dozen More Egg Decorating Ideas



Easter eggs have long been a symbol of new life, fertility and hope. In pagan times, god and goddess worshipers attributed the warm, welcome spring to Eostre, the goddess of spring. They decorated eggs to please her so that she would be sure to return again the next year.

The tradition of decorating eggs for Easter celebrations has survived for centuries. Today we dye eggs for the Easter Bunny to sneak in and hide. He leaves treats in return. Kids just love going to look for the colorful eggs hidden in the flower beds, behind rocks  and in the  growing spring grass.

Ways To Decorate Easter Eggs

Easter eggs in pastel colors are pretty, but it’s fun to get creative and make tie-died Easter eggs. There are other fun ways to bling your Easter eggs. Here is how to make tie-dyed Easter eggs and a dozen other creative ways to decorate Easter eggs.

Basic Egg Boiling Tips

  1. Bring eggs to room temperature
  2. Cover eggs with adequate water, at least 2 inches over eggs
  3. Start with cold water, and a Tbs. of white vinegar
  4. Bring to boil slowly
  5. After intensively boiling turn off heat
  6. Let sit 12 minutes
  7. Remove eggs and place in cold water
  8. Cool 10 minutes

 

An ice cream scoop makes a good egg dipper
An ice cream scoop makes a good egg dipper

Egg Dyes

  • Vibrant red, pink, blue, yellow and green colors can be achieved with egg dye
  • Add one cup boiling water to 6-8 drops of the food dye
  • Add 3 Tbs. white vinegar
  • For orange and purple shades it is best to use egg dye tablets
  • Natural dyes can be made with onion peels, blueberries and canberries

#1. Tie-died Easter Egg

Everyone loves the tie-dyed look. Use rubber bands, just like on a tie-dyed t-shirt!

Tie-dyed Egg
Tie-dyed Egg

 

Tie-dying an Egg
Tie-dying an Egg

 

    • Pick two colors, one dark and one light, like purple and yellow.
    • Wrap the egg with rubber bands
    • Dye egg in the dark color first
    • Let dry and then dip in lighter color just long enough to get a light color
    • Let dry and then snip away the  rubber bands

#2. The Proverbial Golden Egg

Gold paint and iridescent glitter make a fun egg. Use it for the grand prize in an egg hunt!

The Proverbial Golden Egg
The Proverbial Golden Egg
  • Use un-dyed hard boiled egg
  • Spray with gold spray paint and let dry
  • Brush on a solution of white glue and water
  • Sprinkle with iridescent glitter (Pixie dust)

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#3. Decoupage Egg

This is so easy. Mod Podge and a picture cut from a magazine is a pretty effect.

Decoupage Egg
Decoupage Egg
  • Find a picture of small flowers in a magazine
  • Decide on a good egg color for it’s background
  • Cut out the flowers and apply with Mod Podge using a small brush
Decoupage Egg
Decoupage Egg

#4. Easter Chick Egg

Kids will be delighted with an Easter chick egg.

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  • Use a soft yellow for the Easter chick egg.
  • Cut feet from orange craft foam
  • Cut a triangle for the beak from orange paper
  • Make 3 orange tissue paper balls (wad them up) for the cockscomb(top of head)
  • Attach feet, beak, cockscomb and googly eggs with hot glue gun
  • Draw on eyelashes with a black Sharpie

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#5. Blinged-out Egg

Add some Hollywood bling with tiny stick-on “jewels”

Egg With Bling
Egg With Bling
  • Use a vivid, deeply-colored egg
  • Attach tiny rhinestones stick-ons (from craft or sewing department)
Blinged egg
Blinged egg

#6. Egg With Appliqué

All it takes is a pretty sew-on applique and a dyed egg to create this pretty pastel egg.

Egg With Applique
Egg With Applique
  • Look for sew-on appliqués in the sewing department
  • Dye egg a color to compliment the appliqué
  • Attach with hot glue when the egg is dry

#7. Crayon-resist Egg

The egg dye doesn’t adhere to the waxy crayon and creates an interesting effect.

Crayon-resist Egg
Crayon-resist Egg
  • Before dying, draw flower, bird or other object on a hard boiled egg with crayons
  • Dip in desired color of dye
Crayon-resist egg
Crayon-resist egg

#8. Natural, Sustainable Egg

Onion peels steeped in boiling water and vinegar on a sustainable nest. Wouldn’t a whole basket of these make a lovely centerpiece?

Natural,Sustainable Egg
Natural,Sustainable Egg
  • Boil water. Add onion peels and 3 Tbs white vinegar
  • Steep 20 minutes
  • Add boiled uncolored egg. (It takes a little longer to color than with other dyes)
  • Attach a little “nest” of Spanish moss or other sustainable material with hot glue gun
  • Rub the egg with a bit of olive oil
Onion peels are a natural dye
Onion peels are a natural dye

#9. Two-tone Easter Egg

A bi-colored egg is created by covering one side with masking tape. The dye ran under the masking tape during the second dip. Not to worry. It created a neat marbled effect.

Two-toned Easter Egg
Two-toned Easter Egg
  • Wrap one-half of hard-boiled egg in masking tape
  • Dip in desired color just long enough.( Don’t leave long, or the tape will get too wet and come off
  • Let dry and then take off the tape
  • Dip in second color
  • Add rick-rack or ribbon to separate the colors
Use masking tape for making two-toned Easter eggs.
Use masking tape for making two-toned Easter eggs.

#10. Ribbons and Baubles

Ribbons and Baubles Easter Eggs.
Ribbons and Baubles Easter Eggs.

A pretty ribbon and some stick-on “jewels” give this egg plenty of bling.

  • Choose a color and complimentary ribbon
  • Dye the egg a pastel shade.
  • Dry. Add pretty ribbon around the middle with a little hot glue
  • The “jewels” are stick-ons from the crafts department.
Ribbons and Baubles Easter Eggs
Ribbons and Baubles Easter Eggs

#11. Mosaic Egg

Bits of brightly colored tissue,  Mod Podge  and a small brush make this egg have a stained glass look.

Stained Glass Easter Eggs
Stained Glass Easter Eggs
  • Cut out tissue shapes
  • Brush on with a brush dipped in the Mod Podge.
  • Fill in small spaces with small shapes to avoid too much over-lapping
Stained Glass Egg
Stained Glass Egg

#12. Marbled Eggs

Cooking oil added to one color helps to achieve a marbled egg effect. Roll the dyed egg in another color with oil added in a shallow dish.

Make a marbled egg
Make a marbled egg
  • Dye hard boiled egg in a light color
  • Add a couple Tbs of cooking oil in a darker color of dye.
  • Put the dye with oil in it in a shallow pan
  • Roll the egg around to get desired amount of marbling.
How to make marbled Easter eggs
How to make marbled Easter eggs

#13. Pretty in Polka Dots

How to make a polka dotted egg? Think sponge painting. Use the tip of a new pencil eraser and acrylic  paint. The acrylic dries quickly, so you don’t have to lay the egg down and smear the spots before you are finished painting on the polka dots!

Polka Dotted Egg
Polka Dotted Egg

 

  • Dye egg in desired color, either vibrant or pastel will be pretty
  • Dip new pencil eraser in desired color of acrylic paint and “sponge” paint the polka dots on.
How to Make a Polka Dot Egg
How to Make a Polka Dot Egg

Saint Patrick Day Cakes: Make a Lucky Leprechaun Fruity Rainbow Cake



Saint Patrick’s Day Desserts

All of the Irish and those who are only Irish for one day love to celebrate with great Saint Patrick’s day desserts. Shamrock shakes and floats are popular all over town for the whole month of March. 

Rather than just something green like green iced cupcakes or lime sherbet, why not make something really cute that honors the luck of the Irish and packs a little nutrition too.

This adorable Saint Patrick Day cake is topped with kiwi, blueberries, diced peaches and raspberries.

Lucky Leprechauns and Rainbows

The little leprechauns are tiny little elfin shoemakers who have a pot of gold hidden at the end of rainbows.  Legend has it that if you can spot a rainbow and catch a leprechaun at the same time, you will win the pots of gold. But leprechauns are hard to catch. They live deep in the forest and are very sly and very fast.

How to Make a Lucky Leprechaun  Fruity Rainbow Saint Patrick’s Day Cake

Step 1. Follow directions for making a cake from a confetti cake mix. Or make your own favorite yellow cake from scratch and add rainbow sprinkles to the mix.

Step 2. Cool the cake.

Step 3. While the cake cools, prepare the rainbow fruit topping. Slice and dice kiwis. Use diced canned peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and pink and green mini marshmallows. 

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Step 4: Ice the cake. I like using Duncan Hines starter icing in blue cotton candy. The flavor compliments the confetti cake.

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Step 5. Starting from each end and working to the top, begin the fruity rainbow starting halfway up the cake.

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Step 6. Attach 3 regular-sized marshmallows to toothpicks to form “clouds”.

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Attach 3 marshmallow “clouds” with toothpicks

Step 7. Add gold foil-covered chocolate coins at the end of each rainbow.

LAST STEP: ENJOY THE SAINT PATRICKS DAY LUCKY LEPRECHAUN FRUITY RAINBOW CAKE!

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Spring Flowers: Simple Low-Cost Flower Arrangements Using Daffodils And Jonquils



What is the Difference Between A Daffodil and A Jonquil?

There is not much difference in a daffodil and a Jonquil except for subtle variances in shape,size and texture. Members of a huge family called Narcissus,  there are literally hundreds and thousands of family members. They got their name from the Greek God of vanity because they appear to have their heads down, admiring their own reflection in the pond.

These lovely golden flowers are very hardy and are one of the first signs of spring in most places. In fact, in more temperate climates, Narcissus has been known to pop up in January and can often be seen peeping over the snow.Sometimes  called March Flowers, these hardy bulb plants produce golden heads and green stems that are always a welcome relief from winter.

These  perennials  are so hardy they will grow with years of neglect, and can often be found growing on long-abandoned lots, albeit a little scrawny. Fertilized and cared for, Narcissus can grow big blooms on long, healthy stems. They are long-lasting as cut flowers, making them great for both outdoor and indoor beauty. 

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abandoned homestead.

Using Daffodils and Jonquils in Cut Flower Arranging

Daffodils and jonquils can be used creatively in little or no-cost cut flower arrangements. It just takes a little planning and thinking outside the box to come up with ways to show off these classic flowers. Check what you have on hand to work with. What containers do you have  to show them off? What other blooming plants are blooming this time of year to pair them with?

Eight Ways to Show Off Daffodils and Jonquils

# 1. Mixed Daffodils and Jonquils in a Mason Jar

Casual daffodil arrangement

Achieve a lovely country look with just an empty Mason jar and a red-checkered table cloth. This is good for an outdoor event. Make several for long tables. It’s the perfect arrangement for that first warm spring day’s picnic. It would work indoors as well if the weather is still too chilly for outdoor or patio dining.

There is a mixture here of  smaller jonquils, daffodils with lighter colored petals  and ruffled daffodils.

#2.  Long-stemmed Daffodils With Spring Buds

A more formal arrangement using long-stemmed daffodils.

 

A tall glass vase is perfect for pairing a few long-stemmed larger daffodils with some green buds that are opening up on a branch. This arrangement tells the story that the daffodil helps to usher in the beginning of spring.

Place decorative pebbles in the bottom of the vase. And just enough water for the daffodils to drink without going thirsty.

# 3. Tie-dyed Jonquils in a Whimsical Arrangement

Daffodils colored with food coloring

Remember when your fourth grade science teacher put celery stalks in food dye? It was to show how the main function of the plant’s stem is to transport water. I tried it with daffodils and jonquils and got a lovely tie-died effect.

Tint jonquils one color (I used green) and daffodils the other color. Thinking of blue? Don’t bother. It turns out green.

#4. Daffodils With Flowering Shrubs

Daffodils and flowering quince make a contrasting arrangement
Daffodils and flowering quince make a contrasting arrangement

There are a few flowering shrubs and trees that bloom around the same time as the Narcissus. Bradford pears have lovely white blooms and Forsythia, probably the first shrub bloomer is covered with yellow trumpet-shaped blooms. But for more drama, I like using flowering quince. The red blooms appear on the thorny stems before any green color.

The thorny deep red blooms contrast with the dainty daffodils. This is a more formal arrangement so I used a lead Crystal flute-shaped vase.

 

 

#5. Structured Jonquil Arrangement in Tea Pitcher

 



A tea pitcher can make a great vase. Here I used a cheerful striped one for my long-stemmed jonquils. This is more structured than the whimsical one. The stems are cut all one length. Fit them to your container and then cut the stems the same length. They may need to be tied together with floral wire or string to display better.

 

Again, see what containers you have on hand that would go well with these “tie-dyed” jonquils.  You can create lovely spring floral arrangements at little or no cost.

#6. Clear Tea Pitcher

IMG_20140323_182155A clear vase or perhaps a glass tea pitcher shows off the Narcissus’ pretty green stems as well as the showy yellow blossoms. Note the double-headed ones in this arrangement.

#7 A Bowl of March Flowers

IMG_20140323_190947For a bowl arrangement, cut the stems short and all the same length. I  used smooth, round pebbles in the bowl to stick the stems in. Narcissus stems are not strong enough to stick in floral foam.

IMG_20140323_184657

#8. Small Arrangements in Pretty Mugs

IMG_20140323_191411Pretty coffee mugs can make good containers for tiny arrangements. Place one on each table at banquets and dinner parties.

Skunk Remedy: Removing Skunk Odor On Dogs And In Homes

 SKUNKED!

Isabelle and Penelope are country girls now.

Country Dogs Verses City Dogs

After moving out to the country from the suburbs, I  learned that the country dog lives a different life.

If you have dogs and live in the country, there is a good chance that someday what happened to me might happen to you.  It can also happen if you like to take your dogs out on camping and hiking trips and let them run off-leash.

If your dogs are trained to obey voice commands and stay close by you (which is easy if you give them all your love), there is nothing more enjoyable for your dog and you than letting them run free for a short time in the fields and woods, back where there are no roads or traffic to pose a danger .

A Close Encounter of the Stinky Kind

It was an unseasonably warm, sunny late winter day. My daughter, her daughters, and dog were over for a visit.We decided to take the three of them on a walk with us in the wilderness behind my home. Bobbejaan, the four-legged grandson and my two girls Penny and Bellie started out. It was my birthday, and I had my two-legged and four-legged loved ones with me. Life was good. 

A  beautiful walk at any time, winter is best for a distant view of part of the Appalachian Mountains, as the trees are bare.

 

Great mountain view, Appalachians, North Georgia

 Paths, trails, old roads, woods…there is much to explore for  hikers and  their dogs behind my house.  It was the first time we had ventured that far since I had moved out to the country.

 It was the beckon of what appeared to be an old slave cabin that sits on an abandoned southern plantation that made us trudge through the field above to get a closer look.

Old slave cabin in the distance.

 

Old Slave Cabin on abandoned plantation

After a good close-up look of the old cabin, we turned to start for home. It was while walking back through the field when dog number one was “skunked.” Moving to the country first, my daughter had heard about washing the dog in tomato juice or tomato sauce. I had a big can of tomato sauce in the cupboard for making veggie chili. It was, after all, winter. So much for veggie chili.

We washed Bobbejaan from head to tail with tomato sauce. We threw in a little baking soda, too along with Dawn dish detergent. The combination of acid and alkaline seemed to work.

Be careful not to get the tomato sauce in their eyes. Poor Bobbejaan!

SKUNKED AGAIN!

All was well in the country. No matter what anyone claims on-line, the tomato sauce and baking soda worked. Incident forgotten. Life went on. Then Murphy’s law kicked in early the next Monday morning.  My black Lab Bella went out to “potty” before  Mommy left for work. Pepe Le Pew was close by home and Bellie  just had to check him out.

This time, there was no time for a bath in tomato sauce. It was not a lovely, unseasonably warm Saturday. It was a chilly, back to reality manic Monday. I had to leave Bella in the house and head for work.

While I knew it probably was not the best solution, did I really have a choice?

Gosh, yes! If I had known, I would have called in with any number of excuses not to show up on the job. …car got stolen, house on fire, you name it. I just didn’t know. And I would never dream of leaving the house with the dogs not inside.

Removing Skunk Odor from House and Clothes

Removing skunk spray from the house is no easy task. Although the house did not get sprayed directly by the skunk, the odor that my dog brought in and rubbed against the carpet and furniture was atrocious. It called for action. There are skunk odor neutralizers available on line. There was no time for that. Home remedies to remove skunk odor would have to do.

Home Remedies for Removing Skunk Odor

 



I am sure that should an actual skunk get into your house that the treatment might be more intense. But I  can’t imagine any worse smell than what Bella brought in that day. Problem was, I HAD to get to work, or so I thought. During the day, I was able to grab a few minutes to do some research. The tomato sauce remedy had about a 50/50 approval rate.

Other suggestions included a combination of apple cider vinegar and baking soda. Still another remedy was hydrogen peroxide and baking soda with a little Dawn.

Following is a combination of the  home remedies for skunk odor removal that worked for us.

PETS:
  • Do not let the dog in. Rub her down with fabric softener sheets.
  • Give a bath in tomato sauce or juice and baking soda and Dawn.
  • Try hydrogen peroxide and baking soda and Dawn . Use a cup of peroxide to each quarter cup baking soda and a teaspoon of Dawn.
  • Bath in one cup each of apple cider vinegar and baking soda. 
I found that the tomato sauce works very well IF you wash the dog right away. Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda work fairly well.  I had the best luck with the apple cider vinegar and baking soda remedy for washing the odor off of Belle. But I will have to go with a tomato sauce bath, done immediately, as the most effective. 

HOUSE:

  • Wash everything washable in the washing machine with one cup each of baking soda and apple cider vinegar
  • Line-dry the laundry outdoors, preferably on a cool, sunny and breezy day.
  • Sit anything not washable outside to air.
  • Spray carpets, drapes and furniture with a mixture of water, apple cider vinegar and baking soda.
  • Vacuum carpet with a pet odor neutralizing  vacuum cleaner bag. 
  • Spray carpet, drapes and furniture with Febreeze. Squirt the dog too!
  • Give a final spritz of rosemary-lemon water (recipe below).
  • Tape fabric softener sheets over the dryer vents.
  • Make dried rosemary-lemon sachets for drawers, closets.
  • Place fabric softener sheets over coat  hangers all through the closets.
  • Open doors and windows to air out as much as possible.
I didn’t try to wash everything in the same day. I bagged up clothing, stuffed animals. cushions, bedding…anything that was machine washable in black plastic trash bags.
Wait until a sunny, breezy cool day and wash “first needed items first.” Wash in COLD weather and LINE DRY, as heat reactivates the smell.
Toss fabric softener dryer sheets in the bags. As your clothes, etc. get washed and dried,  tie them up in black trash bags until the smell in the carpet, drapes, etc dies down.

Rosemary-lemon Water

  1. Grate zest from a lemon
  2. Chop up 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary ( use dried if you have no rosemary bush)
  3. Add to two cups water.
  4. Bring to a bowl. simmer 20 minutes.
  5. Cool. pour into sprayer bottle.

Lemon-rosemary Sachets

Use the dried lemon-rosemary mixture to make sachets in little net bags. Toss them around everywhere. Skunk spray is an oily substance, and the lemon-rosemary is oily as well, making it good for combating the skunk smell.

Getting rid of skunk odor is not fun at all. But if you, your dog or God forbid your house ever gets SKUNKED! I hope this guide for getting rid of that gawd-awful odor helps. And if anyone has TIPS to SHARE please do. 

Bobbejaan,  the first dog in the story. Doesn’t he clean up well? 

 Stock up on one of these odor removal products
before it happens to you!


About Skunks

Skunks are not bullies. They can only  produce enough of their stinky spray for 6 or 7 squirts during a lifetime. They typically live about 3 years.  Therefore, they will stomp and beat before squirting their foul-odored spray. When they do, it is a last resort and the spray comes from sacs near the anal area.

Skunks can grow to be as large as 18 pounds. These are called hog-nosed skunks. All have stripes down the back. They may brown, black or beige colored. All have the classic white stripe down their backs. They are omnivorousness (eats both plants and animals). They have been known to get into human garbage when their habitats are invaded.

 

DIY Valentines: Six Cute Card Ideas

Homemade Valentine Ideas

Imagine getting an old-fashioned homemade valentine from your significant other. Just like every other holiday, Valentine’s Day has become highly commercialized. Back in the old days, valentines were made by hand of paper and cloth. Later on, they were made of old photos, real lace, and ribbons. There were no factories to mass produce die-cut valentine cards.

As valentine card making advanced, the real lace and ribbons turned into  lace  and red, pink and white paper. Purple paper grew popular as a “valentines color” too. Then, in the early 1800’s, Valentine cards began being mass produced and assembled in factories. Gone was the innocence of a sweetly-made Valentine card. Now a girl is lucky to get a Valentine  other than an eCard. It is hard sometimes to beat technology. Don’t let the valentine card become a thing of the past.  

Wouldn’t it be romantic to begin an old tradition anew? Here are six cute homemade valentine card ideas to get started with. Copy them as is, or alter them to use watever you have on hand. Or, maybe these will spark a new idea for your own design.

Materials needed for cute homemade Valentines besides red, white, pink and purple paper can include ribbon, lace, fuzzy pompoms, yarn, fabric, stickers, scrap-booking material and imagination. It is good to have a hot glue gun on hand  for gluing on heavier objects like poms or buttons. Otherwise, some very pretty Valentines can be created with  only paper,scissors, glue, markers or crayons. Just be sure to use paper thick enough that the markers you use don’t bleed through. I hope the following ideas inspire someone to make homemade Valentine cards this year.

Butterfly Homemade Valentine Card

Cute Butterfly Card

This valentine butterfly is made of two red paper heart cut-outs. Cut the inside of each one out to leave a heart outline. Glue a square of pink tissue paper (or color of choice) inside and then trim. Glue in a butterfly shape onto the front of the card. Paint on spots with white acrylic paint. The butterfly’s body and antenna are formed from black chenille stems .

The inside is reserved for a personal message.

A dab of hot glue from a glue gun will hold heavier materials like pipe cleaners and googly eyes better. 

The Birds and the Bee

Cute Bee My Valentine Homemade Card

The birds and the bees have long been the subject of love. This cute card is made with red paper. A  bee of yellow paper  has black marker stripes. It has white heart-shaped wings, tiny googly eyes, pom pom stinger and a red smile cut from felt.

Write a personal message inside.

My Love Grows and Grows 

Love Grows With A Three-tiered Fold-out Card.

A growing flower with pink and purple heart-shaped petals grows taller and taller as the card unfolds. Do this by folding the paper in thirds. Put the parts on each section as shown. The flowers center is a little yellow pom pom, but you could use a wad of yellow tissue or simply a yellow paper circle.

Berry Much Love 

Heart-shaped Berry for a Cute Valentine card.

 

This cute card is a strawberry shaped like a valentine with  little green leaf valentines on the stem. This is all done with paper and marker. Outlining in rick rack adds a nice effect.

 

Squeaking Heart Mouse

 

My Heart Squeaks For You!

 This squeaky mouse is a half of a heart cut from white paper. His ears are a little pink valentine. His curly tail is gift-wrapping ribbon. He has a hot pink pom pom nose, a googly eye and drawn-on whiskers. Add stickers or cut hearts from paper to embellish the card.

Write a message inside.

 

     Soaring Love                                              

A Valentine Kite on a String of Red Ribbon

 

A heart-shaped kite is being flown on a red ribbon string. It is soaring high towards the blue marker clouds. Tiny pink tissue paper ruffles give it some bling. Make the ruffles by inserting a pencil point inside the tissue square.  Twist, remove and glue in place. This is a bit tedious, but the rest of the card is really simple.

 

 

Not crafty? Try vintage Valentines.


Valentine Cupcakes: Make Sweetheart Teddy Bear Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day Celebrations

 

Make Sweetheart Teddy Bear Cupcakes for Valentine’s Day Celebrations.

Valentine’s Day isn’t just for sweethearts, engagements, and marriages. The whole family can have fun getting involved in honoring the Saint of Love. There are cards designed for all family members from grandmothers to aunts. School kids have either made or bought and traded valentines for generations. Remember that tissue covered and decorated shoe box in grade school? And who doesn’t just love a heart-shaped box of chocolates?

Cupcakes are popular Valentine’s Day treats. Pretty red, white and pink decorated cupcakes make any Valentine’s Day celebration better. They can also make a great homemade gift.

There are lots of fun ways to decorate Valentine’s Day cupcakes: red, white and pink sprinkles, candy hearts, white or pink frosting. Don’t ignore chocolate frosting and decor either. After all, chocolate is the elixir of love.

Teddy Bear Sweetheart Cupcakes

Best Valentine Cupcakes

This year, out do all the other Valentine cupcakes with sweetheart teddy bear cupcakes. Almost too cute to eat, they are sure to be a hit with everyone. They aren’t just adorable, they taste divine. These sweetheart teddy bear cupcakes are made with a moist red velvet cake mix.

A moist red velvet cake mix is perfect for sweetheart teddy bear cupcakes.

Romantic Idea: Make Homemade Valentines

 Baking Teddy Bear Cupcakes

Fill the cupcake liners a just little bit fuller than normal. This gives the cupcakes a nice round shape that will be cuter for the teddy bear sweetheart cupcakes. Don’t overfill though, or you will end up with something that resembles a nuclear explosion mushroom cloud!

Fill cupcake liners just a little fuller than normal for nice round faces to decorate.

Decorating Sweetheart Teddy Bear Cupcakes

The cream cheese frosting for these cute valentine cupcakes is lightly tinted pink. The cupcakes are then sprinkled with finely shredded coconut. This gives the teddy bear cupcakes a fuzzy, cuddly look.

Sweetheart Teddy Bear Cupcakes

Sweetheart Teddy Bears Muzzle and Nose

Kraft now markets Strawberry-mallows. These pale pink strawberry flavored marshmallows are available in a regular marshmallow shape and in valentine shapes. They are perfect for creating the sweetheart teddy bear’s muzzle and ears.

Sweetheart Teddy Bear Creation Station

Sweetheart Teddy Bear Cupcake’s Flavors

Add the flavor of a Maraschino cherry nose and semi-sweet chocolate chip eyes for a sensational tasting cupcake. The tastes of coconut and cream cheese frosting  complete this delectable treat.  Yum!

For  delectable, delicious and really cute Valentine cupcakes give sweetheart teddy bear cupcakes a try!

 

Get set to make sweetheart teddy bear cupcakes!

Food Crafts For Kids: Winter Treats To Make And Eat

Winter Food Crafts for Kids to Make

January doesn’t have to be a boring month. Winter snack food crafts can quickly chase away the post-holiday blues. Make these cool snacks with kids on those cold winter days.

These  snacks are fun for kids to make and healthy to eat. Make these winter food crafts at home, daycare or school. What a good break for home-schooled kids to make and eat winter food craft snacks!

There are some ways to weave a little learning into these cute kid’s food for winter. We’ll talk about the ways as we go.

Banana Raisin Bears

Banana Raisin Bears

Banana raisin bears are made with toasted slices of wheat or raisin bread. The kids can spread the slices with peanut butter or Nutella. Banana slices are ears sprinkled lightly with cinnamon. Raisins are eyes. Place a raisin on top of a third banana slice. This is the bear’s muzzle. Give him a row of juicy raisins to finish his face.

Learning Connection:

Bears hibernate in winter, sort of. Black bears really just doze on and off during the winter months. They are not very active and don’t require a lot of food. Use this snack while learning how some animal behaviors change in winter. Include humans!

A Book to Share: 

Read Sleep, Big Bear Sleep by Maureen Wright

 

Veggie Snowman Snack

 

Veggie snowman is made of crackers spread with cream cheese.

Make veggie snowmen with different sizes or shapes of snack crackers and cream cheese spread. Spread the crackers with ‘snow’ and decorate the veggie snowman. He has earmuffs made of a green pepper strip and tiny broccoli florets. Cut a thin sliver of carrot for the nose. The rest, coal buttons, and face, are little pieces of chopped, ripe black olives. Use sliced pimentos for the veggie snowman’s scarf. This is a fun way to get a picky eater to down some veggies.

Learning Connection:

Sequencing and following directions are skills that making veggie snowmen can help teach. Talk about the different steps in creating this healthy snack. List them on a big piece of chart paper.

Kids can snack on veggie snowmen and enjoy some really cool snowman stories for read-aloud time.

A Book to Share:

Read The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll

Feed the Snowbirds Treats

Treats for the Snowbirds are seeds and raisins on a cream cheese snow-covered ground.

This winter food craft for kids is made by spreading  cream cheese on a whole graham cracker. The graham cracker represents the ground and the cream cheese is the snow. Feed the birds and sprinkle a handful of shelled sunflower kernels and raisins across the snowy ground.

Learning Connection:

Animals make adaptions to the different seasons. Some species of birds migrate south to escape snow that covers their food supply. Sometimes surprise snows may make it hard for these birds to eat. Teach the kids to help out our feathered friends in winter. They will really relate with this winter snack craft that represents a snow-covered ground with handfuls of food that birds ( and kids) love.

A Book to Share:

Read Animals in Winter by Berta Hader

Snow Buddies

Yogurt and fruit snow buddy snack.

This healthy snow buddy is a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt. He has a strawberry winter hat, a cherry nose, and a strawberry slice smile. His eyes are blueberry bright.

Learning Connection:

Have the kids name their snow buddy.They can write a story about a snow day and playing with this pal.

The youngest students can dictate the story to the teacher and “read” it back. This is the language experience strategy for teaching reading.

Older kids can use inventive spelling to write their snow buddy stories.

A Book to Share:

Read  A Snowy Day, a classic story about a boy on a snowy day. Written by Ezra Jack Keats

 

 

Melting Snowmen

Kids will love watching Frosty melt atop their hot cocoa

Spear two marshmallow on a toothpick. Use decorator icing to add features. Keep a supply of these for kids to top hot cocoa with. They will love watching Frosty melt.

Learning Connection:

Make these for the kids to have at snack time with some hot cocoa after a science lesson about the weather or the three states of matter. Ask them what causes the marshmallow snowman to melt. Then ask what causes real snow to melt.

A Book to Share:

Read Snowmen at Work by Caralyn Buehner

Be creative this winter. Recommended by My Creative Palette: See also Winter Art and Learning Center Ideas 

 

Organizing An Elementary Classroom

 

 

Elementary Classroom Arrangements

An elementary classroom specifically refers to a class of grades 3-5. Needs for a good functional classroom for this age group are a bit different from the early childhood classroom arrangement. Kids in this age group are expected to become more self-directed in their learning. But they are not ready for a middle school organization.

These students have unique needs as they are between primary and middle school.  A critical time, many school systems have third grade reading testing as a best practice. Students not on grade level at this point are provided with remediation and/or retained.

Arranging a classroom for this special age group can require some unique planning. The following organizational ideas can help the elementary classroom operate smoothing. This smooth operation saves valuable time for the elementary teacher and provides a secure environment for students.

Classroom ArrangementFlat table top desks are preferable over tables and slanted desks for the elementary classroom. These desks can be moved around, grouped and lined up in functional order. In this classroom, the table top desks form a sort of  double square horseshoe shape. This is the preferred arrangement for whole-group instruction, but they can easily moved together for peer tutoring and cooperative learning activities. These students are at an excellent stage for shared learning. A round table and four chairs at the back of the classroom invites group work.

Counters and a clean-up area are shared characteristics of the early childhood and elementary classroom. These kids still love to paint and make creative projects, and that is an important part of their development. Separate tables provide areas for self-directed learning centers, another important aspect of elementary classrooms.

Teaching aides and charts turn cabinet doors functional

Using Pocket Charts as Teaching Aides

You will notice that pocket charts are used a lot in this elementary classroom. The clear pockets make them a great visual organizational tool. These charts and teaching aids make the cabinet doors attractive and functional. Incentive charts attractively displayed can really go a long way to reward achievement. Pocket charts provide really durable materials. The teacher won’t have to keep making these sort of teaching tools from poster board and laminating.

In this elementary classroom, the times tables are cleverly displayed for students to learn. This is a critical step in mathematics for this age, and the responsibility for memorizing the times tables falls on the student. For achievement  testing, these visual aides have to be taken down. Studies have shown that long-term exposure to these teaching aides remain in a student’s visual memory even if they are removed.

Calendar Math Bulletin Board

Instructional Bulletin Boards

Again, pocket charts help to create a really organized Calendar Math instructional area. So many math concepts can be taught with a calendar! Ordinal numbers that students can relate to transform into other numerical expressions like decimals and money.

Notice the patterning for this month. Colors and shapes help continue the important patterning concept the students learned in Kindergarten. The patterns just become more complex.

The Calendar Math bulletin board is a cheery red with small white polka dots. It is a cloth covering, and will not have to be replaced because of looking ragged. The Calendar Math bulletin board introduces many opportunities for whole group instruction and independent work.

Classroom supplies that are organized in categories and containers will help to make a smoothly operated classroom.

Storage, storage storage

That saying about location, location is a great way to explain storage for the elementary classroom. It’s all about storage. Having equipment and supplies in ‘apple pie order’ can mean the difference between an effective and non-effective classroom.  Have plenty of plastic bins, jars, baskets and pans for storing classroom materials and game pieces. This type of classroom sorting can help facilitate learning by organizing visual and conceptual  input.

Speaking of organized information, notice the hundreds board that is arranged on the Calendar Math bulletin board. It helps elementary-aged students see patterns in numbers, an important future algebraic concept.

 The Numbers System

Use cardboard  file holders for student materials such as notebooks, workbooks and folders. paint them white and decorate with a number sicker on the side. Each student has a number. This allows the student to learn to independently keep up with materials with minimal assistance. They are stored neatly on a shelf in numerical order. This efficient method saves time that is used for more instruction and less ‘housekeeping tasks’.

Cardboard file holders and a number system for organization
Cardboard file boxes help keep student notebooks and folders organized.

The Numbers System and Behavior Charts

The same numbers used to organize classroom supplies for the elementary classroom can be used to notate daily behaviors. In this way, a system of rewards and consequences can be implemented with less confusion. Student reward coupons are placed in numbered pockets. These coupons list special privileges like computer time.

A numbers system allows the teacher to give rewards in numbered pocket holders

 

A levels system with student names on clothespins is an effective semi-public method to encourage cooperative and respectable behavior in the elementary classroom. again, cabinet door displays add attractiveness and functionality to the classroom.  The teacher places clothespins for behavior levels as infractions occur. The students should have been taught these rules and consequences from day one. They also need to be reviewed often.

Behavior incentive charts take up less space on cabinet doors.

Small Group Instruction in the Elementary Classroom

Small group instruction area

In an elementary classroom, students will invariably have differing levels in both reading and math. Reading in the content areas will soon get more difficult. A  half circle or kidney-shaped table is ideal for small group instruction.

Organizing Classroom Supplies

The teacher can think of  creative ways to organize materials. Here we see the  acronym  BUILD as a way to incorporate independent learning activities into the elementary classroom organization. Again, storage, storage, storage!

Creative ways to organize materials

 

Sweet Potato Fries Recipe: My Secret For Home Fries

Spicy and Steaming sweet potato home fries
Spicy and Steaming sweet potato home fries

My Special Recipe for Sweet Potato Home Fries

Now that Thanksgiving and Christmas have  past, everyone is putting  the pumpkin and sweet potato recipes back in the file boxes. There were yummy pumpkin and sweet potato pies topped with whipped cream, pumpkin loaves and rolls, pumpkin squares and marshmallow-topped sweet potato casseroles. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands of pumpkin and sweet potato recipes.

Sweet Potato Fries

Although most consider sweet potato and pumpkin recipes to be seasonal dishes, garden-grown sweet potatoes are available all year. Lots of folks enjoy just tossing one in the microwave for a sweet and healthy treat. They have become increasingly popular for making a healthier alternative to french fries. Like other sweet potato dishes, there are several variations. The sweet potatoes can be julienned (cut into thin strips), cut fat or cubed for sweet potato home fries.

My Sweet Potato Home Fries Recipe

The first time I had sweet potato home fries, I was teaching at a technology academy that had a culinary arts department. The students sometimes fixed gourmet meals for the staff and sold them dirt cheap. Their sweet potato fries were cubed and cooked home style. I remember that there were onions and bacon bits in those yummy things, but there was a gourmet flavor that I just loved.

I set out to  re-create the flavor and eliminate the bacon for a healthier, yet still delicious version. After some thinking and experimenting, I came up with the following recipe for sweet potato home fries.

I used olive oil and a little butter rather than the bacon. Lemon juice adds a tang to the flavor, and a dusting of sea salt, sugar and cayenne pepper completes the gourmet flavor for these tasty sweet potato home fries morsels.

Ingredients For Sweet Potato Home Fries

  1. 2-3 medium sweet potatoes
  2. 1/4 cup olive olive
  3. 2 TBS lemon juice
  4. 1 TMS sugar
  5. 1/4 cup butter, melted
  6. sea salt
  7. cayenne pepper

 

Sweet potato home fries are great to add to a  healthy dinner like lemon rosemary chicken or salmon dishes. They make a good alternative to potatoes,  pasta and other starches. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin B-6, which is known to break down homocysteine, a substance that causes hardening of the arteries. They are chock-full of beta-carotene, or vitamin A, a potent cancer-fighting antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins C,E and manganese. Manganese has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels. Eat more sweet potatoes!