Two of My Favorite Side-Dish Recipes for Tday: Part II

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As promised, here are the photos taken as I cooked up my two favorite side-dishes for Thanksgiving – as posted earlier this week for the Cranberry-Pear Chutney recipe and the Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic.  See HERE to get the list of ingredients and steps.

Cranberry-Pear Chutney recipe requires fresh cranberries, but of course!

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Love that red color.  And as noted in my prior posting of the recipes, the smell and popping noise as it simmers is wonderful.  What could be easier than putting cranberries in your pan with water and the brown sugar.  Talk about easy!  And if you have any cranberries left over that you did not use for the recipe, they can be used in decorating – double-usage, love that too.  I took photos of the nutrition information as well.

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Brown sugar. The recipe calls for 1.5 cups but I used one cup to cut down on the sugar.  And I buy the light sugar type.  I like the taste of tart versus sweet, so to me, it is better with less sugar for the taste factor as well.  There are enough sweet flavors at Thanksgiving during dessert!

Lime juice.  I realized this morning, I forgot to add the lime juice!  I hope it doesn’t mess up my recipe, we’ll see later.  The other ingredients (pear, raisins, jalapeno) are mixed in after simmering the cranberries in water with the brown sugar.  They are pear, jalapeno, and white raisins.

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Its kind of interesting – REDS and GREENS.  Just like Christmas!

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I’m the type of cooker that likes to chop all and put them into bowls before I toss them into my recipe.  Not sure why, but here is the photo I took of those 3 ingredients above (pear, jalapeno, raisins) all chopped and ready for the pan.

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The bowl I used when done is a …oh gosh, what do they call these?  Well, I like it is raised up cause it helps on a table to have it elevated, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space with all the other Thanksgiving Day dishes on the table.  Put this in the fridge over night, and chilled it is wonderful with roasted turkey as a side-dressing served cold, and on left overs – yummy on left over turkey for sandwiches!

For the SAUTEED MUSHROOMS WITH GARLIC RECIPE:

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Sno-White and Baby Bella are the types I typically use.  I used a total of 6 packages (3 of each) this year, but in the past, I’ve used up to 8 or even 15 to make a huge batch for large groups at Thanksgiving.

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As noted on the recipe posted this week, I also use lots of garlic – 6 cloves chopped up, and olive oil to get them started.  Then add the mushrooms in batches, later add fresh-squeezed lemon juice to moisten it if it looks dry.  This is the MIL secret, the lemon juice keeps it just right as it simmers slowly.

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I forgot to take a photo of the final image of the mushrooms all cooked up…, but you get the idea.  Oh – also, I forgot to mention in the prior post of the recipes, I toss this often as it simmers slowly, moving the juices and garlic around. until it is done.

Enjoy – let me know what you think if you decided to give these recipes a try – they are both Make Ahead types which can be refrigerated and warmed up for your Thanksgiving Meal.

CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Cathy Testa

Mini Snowman in a Jar with Buffalo Snow

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When babysitting my nephew, it hit me that I should keep some of the baby food jars on hand for an upcoming project – but I didn’t know what that project would be.  Perhaps the jars would be used to store some small items, or maybe I’d make a candle holder out of them, or they could have just ended up in my supplies for a long-time and not be used.

However, because my holiday decorating and fun juices are still flowing, I decided to create little decorations by using them to house a mini snowman.  These little decors could be easily used as ornaments (just attach a string on the top to hang) or as seating nameplate holders at a holiday table.  Whatever the use, sometimes its those “little” embellishments that are the most fun.

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Here are the items used:

  1. Buffalo Snow (found in bags in retail stores)
  2. A miniature snowman florist pick
  3. Small baby food jars (find a new Mom!)
  4. Chenille wired pipe cleaners (12″ lengths used)
  5. Glue gun with glue sticks
  6. Red berries
  7. Golden metal leaf (or other fun small decor)
  8. GooGone Spray Gel
  9. Snips to cut pieces
  10. Tweazers as a tool

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The first step was to tear off the label from the baby food jar and clean them in soapy water.  To remove the remaining sticking material holding on the label, I used a product called GooGone Spray Gel which removes sticky or gummy materials from surfaces. Just spray it on the glue, let it sit for a minute, and use a cloth to rub it off.  It works pretty good.

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Cut the pick off the bottom of the snowman so he can stand level in the jar.  With a dab of glue from the heated glue gun, apply him to the bottom of the jar and hold in place for a few minutes.  After secured, take bits of the Buffalo Snow and place it gently around the miniature snowman.

From there, it was pretty straight forward, adding the little red berries and a metal jewelry gold leaf decor by just putting a dab of melted glue on the ends and pressing it into the Buffalo Snow in the jar.  I used a pair of tweazers for areas difficult to reach with my fingers.

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Using a 12″ piece of Chenille pipe cleaner, I decorated the top cover a bit.  To do this, be sure to put the cover onto the jar first, it is easier to work with this way.  Apply some heated glue around the cover’s rim (being careful to not allow the glue to drip onto the glass), and press the pipe cleaner around it.

After I was all done, it occurred to me how much easier the whole process would be if I turned the jar upside down and put all the materials on the inside of the jar cover.  This kind of reminds me of a snow globe homemade style.  This time I glued everything onto the inside of the cover, and then placed the jar over it.

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I decided to create mini candycanes with my left over pipe cleaners.  Taking one end and bending it over a nut cracker and then snipping the other end for the desired size.

With a dab of glue, it was easy to put the miniature candy cane into the Buffalo Snow.  It stood up with no problems.

Tip: Be sure you avoid placing the front of the snowman facing a seam in the glass jar.

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I feel like there should be something on the top to finish this little decor off.  Maybe a mini green tree, or a holder to insert a name tag if this were to be used for table settings.  As usual, there can always be more added.

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FYI:  For my class attendees reading this post, the miniature snowmen will be available at the December 7th class!

Cathy Testa

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Two of my favorite side-dish recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner

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Tomorrow will be my cooking day, but I have it easy because my sister is hosting our Thanksgiving celebration, and my only chore is whipping up two side-dish recipes which are always a big hit with my family.

The first is a Cranberry-Pear Chutney recipe I found in the Real Simple magazine a few years ago.  The other is Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic which I learned from my mother-in-law many years ago as well.  Both are extremely easy to do, fast, and yummy – And pair well with roasted turkey.

Before I begin, here is a collage I made of a turkey photo we captured last year under our bird feeders.  To see more about these wild turkeys visiting in my Connecticut yard, click HERE for a previous post.

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Recipe No.1: CRANBERRY-PEAR CHUTNEY

Makes 8 servings (I think it makes plenty more, for up to 12-15 people, because you only really need it as a side dressing to your roasted turkey. You take a scoop and that is usually enough on your plate.)

Total time: 25 minutes (hands-on and cooking – it is fast and easy, and smells great when cooking on the stove!)

“The sweet and spicy heat in this savory chutney makes it perfect for roast turkey.  It’s also great on leftover-turkey sandwiches.” – Real Simple.

I agree!  It has a very slight kick to it because of the jalapeno in the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (I’ve always used fresh for this, and I got fresh organic cranberries at Whole Foods yesterday sold in the clear bags.)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, tightly packed (Probably the only bad part of the recipe cause that’s a lot of sugar.  I cut this down, you don’t have to have it that sweet and it is still delicious – especially if you like the taste of fresh tart cranberries.)
  • 2 Bosc or Asian pears (peeled and cut into small dice (2 cups).  (I never really pay attention to the type of pears, just pick the ones that are firm and fresh looking and it works just fine.)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced. (Don’t rub your eyes when you are cutting it up – as I did one year – big mistake! Remember to wash your hands after mincing it).
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (Whenever possible, use fresh limes versus the stuff in the bottle).
Steps:

In a large saucepan, heat the cranberries, brown sugar, and 2 cups of water over medium-high heat to boiling. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries start to pop and release juices, about 10 minutes.  (I love the popping noise as the cranberries start to crack open, and the scent begins to release as well, which is very cozy in the kitchen.)

Add the pears, jalapeno, raisins, and lime juice and simmer for another 5 minutes. (EASY PEASY!)

Remove from heat.  Cool.

Cover and refrigerate up to 2 days ahead. (Another reason I love this recipe, you make it ahead, it is better that way, tastes wonderful with your roasted turkey, and the left-overs.)

The deep red color, sweet and tart flavor with a hint of heat, and wonderful scent of this recipe is a keeper in my recipe book.  Don’t forget to serve it in a pretty, glass or clear dish to make it look wonderful too.

Recipe No. 2: MIL’s SAUTEED MUSHROOMS WITH GARLIC

My mother-in-law has taught many of her recipes to me – all of them are easy, have a secret ingredient or style, and always taste spectacular.  Years ago, I suggested she teach cooking classes because she is so good at cooking and baking.  And she finds recipes that are easy requiring limited ingredients.  She has a knack for that.

So, here’s one side dish I learned from her.  It is super easy and requires literally only 3 main ingredients (unless you count the bottle of wine my mother-in-law stated you must open when you start cooking anything for the holidays.  Oh, she also taught me to take my time enjoying the wine and the process of cooking.)

Ingredients:

  • Chopped fresh garlic (My husband’s family is Italian, so I use a lot of cloves in this recipe, 5 to 6 chopped; sometimes more.  Depends how many mushrooms you want to cook up.)
  • 5-6 packages of button mushrooms, wiped clean (FYI, the only alteration I’ve made to this recipe is I don’t buy only the white type of button mushrooms, I add those brown ones (called?, I’ll check and add to this post after tomorrow, my cooking day).  I will use at least 3 packages of each type of mushrooms used, if serving a really large group.  Sometimes more – guess you have to judge for your group.)
  • Lemon juice (fresh preferred, get like 2 fresh lemons)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1 Tablespoon approximately)

Steps:

Slowly warm up the olive oil in your pan on low, add the chopped garlic and saute lightly.  (One of the first things I learned from my MIL is to not to allow the pan to get too hot because it will burn the garlic; this was years ago when I began cooking her recipes for my hubby.  She taught me to take it easy, don’t panic, and enjoy. Open the wine first, sip, then begin your cooking.  Another thing she always did was buy “fresh” herbs for her recipes – and this does make the big difference, of course.)

Add the chopped mushrooms.  (I chop them them into large pieces after cleaning and trimming the stems.  I don’t slice the mushrooms in thin pieces.)  Add a batch of the mushrooms in the pan and start tossing them around with the garlic, always on low or low-to-medium heat.  As they reduce in size, add more of the mushrooms.

SLOWLY sautee the mushrooms in the pan.  If they look dry, cut that fresh lemon you bought in half, and squeeze a bit of its juices over the mushrooms to moisten them. Keep the heat on low and simmer slowly.

When I say this saute recipe is slow, I mean take your time, let it slowly cook, not quickly and it can take an hour. Finish the wine as you wait.

So, when it looks all done with the yummy juices, transfer the mushrooms with juice to a container if you are taking it to your family Thanksgiving Dinner and let cool.  (When I get to my host’s home, I use a chafing dish with the warming candle to serve it but be careful the dish doesn’t get real hot, just warm it enough.)

Everyone devours these mushrooms.  And again – its extremely easy to make both of these recipes above ahead and refrigerate until you head out for your dinner.

Enjoy Everyone.  I’ll post photos later as I cook these up tomorrow.

Cathy Testa

How to Make Snow Balls with Buffalo Snow

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The spirit of holiday decorating has hit me early this year.  This is the first time ever I have both Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations up at the same time. Part of this was due to the weather being relatively comfortable the past few weeks, except for yesterday, which was very cold and windy.  Putting outdoor lights up on a warm and sunny day is much more pleasant, so I did that before this cold hit us.

And of course, the other reason I started decorating early is because of my upcoming Cathy T Class on December 7th (you know which one).  Plus Thanksgiving is a little later this year, so time will be limited right after, at least for me, to get decorating tasks done.

So this weekend’s project was creating snowballs with Buffalo Snow.  It was easy and fun to do, and here are the items you will need if you would like to give this a try:

  1. Glue gun with glue sticks
  2. 3-4″ wooden green florist picks with wired ends
  3. Buffalo Snow (sold in craft stores in bags)
  4. Styrofoam balls (various sizes)
  5. 4″ zip ties (cable ties)

First step is inserting the florist pick through the center of your Styrofoam ball.  I used a 1″ ball for my first project. After it is inserted, bend the wire end of the pick to form a hook to be used as your attachment later to whatever item you wish to put the snowball on.  In my case, it was attached to a grapevine snowman’s hand.

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Get your glue gun warmed up.  I always set my glue gun into an aluminum tray because it drips when it is hot.  At first, I applied the glue to the ball, but once that glue gets really hot, it can actually melt the ball somewhat, so later, I started applying the glue to individual pieces of Buffalo Snow. (See below).

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It helps to have small portions of the Buffalo Snow ready on the table as you keep adding pieces of it to your ball.

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After the ball is completely covered, I was puffing and patting it.  It reminded me of making meatballs.  Where you have the ball in your hands and roll it, but instead of rolling, I was shaping it with just pats and pulls here and there until I felt it had a nice shape.

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After I had the ball done, I put it on my snowman using the wire and a zip tie to attach it to the hand of my snowman.  After I was done, another crafty idea hit me. Why not create a few different sizes of these snowballs or puffs to hang from the ceiling?

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So that was project #2:

  1. 3 balls or 5 balls of various sizes.  The largest in the photos is a 5″ ball, smallest is 1″.
  2. Same materials as above (glue gun, sticks, florist pick with wire, buffalo snow)
  3. 12″ lengths of chenille pipe cleaners (as hangers, or you could use ribbon or decorative string too)

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Again, I got my pieces of Buffalo Snow set aside.  First insert the florist pick into the center of the ball.  Start attaching the pieces until the ball is completely covered.  Pat, puff, and pull here and there until you feel the ball is the right shape or fluffed look.  Be sure to play a holiday CD while crafting – it makes it more magical!

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Attach the chenille pipe cleaners to the wired end.  Connect the pipe cleaners to form different lengths to hang the balls from the ceiling in a staggered pattern.  After I completed three different size balls, I decided to hang them.

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They looked rather “Whoville’ish” because of their whimsical nature and the candy cane pipe cleaners.  At this point, I decided 3 was good enough, and didn’t do the other two.  However, this set the tone of the rest of my decorations in this room.  Part of why I love to do some crafting during the holidays especially.  As you work and play, the ideas start to pop into your head!

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Hope you will have some time during or after Thanksgiving to get your craft juices going too.

Cathy Testa

P.S.  I know the balls aren’t “perfect” but I’m not Martha Stewart either.  😉

New Trophy

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Hey, I got a new trophy on my blog.  Thank you Likers!

I’m so very happy you are enjoying my posts, and your 100 clicks are appreciated.  It means so much.

As of Nov 16, 2013

As of Nov 16, 2013

And by the way, I can’t stop thinking about bows, ribbons, glitter and gold.  My mind is on my upcoming class on December 7th.  You know which one!  The class is currently full however, but if you wish to be placed on a waiting list, don’t hesitate to let me know.

And remember, Open Studio Days follow for holiday crafting.

Upcoming Holiday Class is Why!

Upcoming Holiday Class is Why!

Thank you,

Cathy Testa

Three Easy Ways to Use Mesh Ribbon for Holiday Decorating

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Project No. 1: Grape Vine Wreath with Mesh Ribbon and Decor

This is super easy to do, and no glue gun is required!  Select mesh ribbon (or Ruban en maille in French) with the colors you like and just make sure your decor colors work well with your ribbon choice.  This project can be done in less than an hour easily.

Here is what you will need:

  1. One grape vine wreath (20″ size was used)
  2. 4″ and 8″ green zip ties (a.k.a, cable ties)
  3. Roll of Mesh Ribbon (20.5″ width was used).  Length is dependent on how big you want to make the puffs.
  4. Your choice of matching ornaments (holiday balls, florist picks, etc.)
  5. One large tin decor (snowman face with hat used)
  6. Sharp scissors or snips

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First step is gathering the end of your ribbon and attaching it to the wreath.  Zip ties work extremely well for this. They are strong, easy to connect, and durable.

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Once you have your starting end attached to the wreath and secured tightly by pulling the zip tie closed (left above photo), determine how big you want your puffs to be.  You will be gathering the ribbon at the next interval (right above photo), and how much you space each interval is dependent on how big you want that puff to be, or you can place your zip ties at even intervals/spacing first so you can judge before you start attaching the next puff.

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NOTE:  For the interval places you will attach the ribbon, be sure you do not pull the zip ties completely tight at each interval as you pinch and attach.  Leave a little slack because at each interval, you will attach your decor items (so you need some gap or space at the zip tie to attach the decor items after you are done.)

Move to your next gathering location.  Gather and pinch the mesh ribbon at the next spot, and attach with the zip tie (loosely closed).  It helps if you insert the zip tie first at your next position, so it is ready for you.  You may also want insert the zip ties before you start attaching the ribbon at intervals to estimate the spacing so it is at equal intervals for each puff you will make on the wreath.

At the last tie, leave a long strip of the mesh ribbon to serve as your tail ends.  Using the scissors, cut it in half length wise, so you have two tails.  The length of the tails is up to you.

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Now it is time to attach your decor.  Florist picks, decor with stick ends, and regular holiday ornaments are easy to secure.  Grab another zip tie, and slide it through the ball hook end, then attach it at the intervals to the zip ties used to secure the ribbon.

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Position a large focal point element where you feel it is well balanced and easily secured.  In this case, a snowman with hat was used.  The hat tip had a hook on it so it was super easy to use the zip tie (my favorite attaching mechanism!) to the top end of the wreath.  At the base of the tin, luckily the back had a little hook too.  (P.S. Holiday tins and decor shown in these projects are available at my December 7th Evergreen Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations class!)

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After you have all the ornaments on and other decor, go around to pull each of the zip ties tightly closed to get everything secured.  Snip off the tail ends of zip ties that are sticking out.

NOTE: The florist picks with a shiny silver gold flakes and the red leaves were very easy to insert because of their wired ends. Just tuck them in and secure with the wired end. Or just stick in the pick end (like on the snowflake) into the grape vine wreath.  

The grape vine wreath base works great for this project, but you could use other types of wreath frames.

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Hang on your door and enjoy!

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Project No. 2: Big Ball Bunch with Mesh Ribbon

This is something I did last year, but this year, I decided to try it out with the mesh ribbon.  I love hanging this ball bunch from an overhead light fixture at my entrance.

Items need:

  1. Large weather resistant holiday balls
  2. 4″ and 8″ zip ties (a.k.a., cable ties)
  3. Mesh ribbon (20.5″ width used)

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The first step is connecting all the balls together.  Zip ties are awesome for this (gotta love those zip ties!!).  Run a tie through each end of the individual balls and then attach them together with a central zip tie.  You may want to hang them somewhere after to access if you like the look of how the balls are positioned before you attach the mesh ribbon.  The balls are gathered together but not super tightly because you need those gaps and wide open areas of the ties to pull through the mesh ribbon in your next step.

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Cut a length the ribbon to get started.  It is difficult to judge how long you want that length to be cause you will be tucking and inserting it into the zip tie between the big balls based on the look and size you desire.  I started with like a 4 ft length, and cut more later as I worked.

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Gather the starting end of the mesh ribbon and tighten the top of one of the zip ties to secure the starting point. Once secured, move a few inches down to the next gathering point.  Again, how many inches is up to you – how big do you want that puff to be. Once you know, pinch and gather, and use a zip tie around that point to secure the pinched area (top right photo). And then from that point, bunch up your next gathering point on the ribbon with a zip tie and pull it through another zip tie that is on a ball.  Repeat the process, and tuck and pull the ribbon around the balls to form the look desired.  Leave a tail end to hang from the base to cut in half length wise when done.

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When all completed, remember to add a zip tie to hang the whole bunch from.  Here it is shown hung on an overhead light structure.  I wish I could have taken a better photo, because the cast of the shade was making the photo dark – but in the sunshine, this big bunch of balls with beautiful mesh ribbon is so sparkly.  I just love it!  And it is so easy to assemble.  This project took only about 30 minutes or so.  Very easy.

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Project No 3: Urns with Big Red Ball and Mesh Ribbon

So since I was on a roll, I thought I would dress up my two urns outside.  Again, super easy with the mesh ribbon.

Items needed:

  1. Container of your choice, filled with soil
  2. Stakes (bamboo pole used)
  3. Loppers to cut bamboo stake
  4. Big Holiday Ball (needs to have an open end or hole)
  5. 4″ and 8″ zip ties (a.k.a., cable ties)
  6. Mesh Ribbon (20.5″ width used)
  7. Wire (ends of coat hanger wire used)

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Step one is cutting the bamboo stake to the desired equal lengths.  Insert the stake into the soil.  Position it in the center.

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Attach the beginning end of the mesh ribbon to the stake with a zip tie tightly closed so it is secured to the bamboo stake.  Then wrap the ribbon around the pole to create another “puff”. Keep repeating attaching each puff to the center stake/pole.  After you have your puffs in place, use the wire to push the mesh down in the center so it is level. You can bend the wire into a U shape to do this.

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Insert the ball to the top of the stake end.  Later, I plan to add live evergreen cuttings and tips.  It’s got a thriller or focal point (the ball), a filler (the mesh ribbon), but it still need something else to spill around it, which will be the live evergreen cuttings later.

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Mesh ribbon is so incredibly easy to use.  It beats struggling with regular ribbon and it creates such a nice large and showy display.  You can make the puffs as large or small as you like.  There are endless uses for mesh ribbon during the holidays.

And if you select a mesh ribbon with a little sparkle, it will shine in the sun too.  My recommendation is you get a roll at least 10 yards long – you will use it – believe me – because it is so much fun meshing around.  For these three projects, I used approximately 15 yards of ribbon total.

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Written by Cathy Testa

Great Hooks to Hang Kissing Balls for the Holidays

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Class Attendees – This one is for you – Just a quick Post.  I saw these plant hanger hooks at Home Depot in Enfield on Friday.  They make wonderful hooks for kissing balls during the holidays if you don’t have a hook already.

Just wanted to share with you because the price was wonderful – they are on sale.

Look in the garden center section for them – only a few were remaining.

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Thanks – Cathy Testa

Living with Wild Turkeys in My Connecticut Yard

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Eastern wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo silvestris) have routines and rituals in my Connecticut yard during every season.

In the spring, summer, and winter, the flock walks up from the woodlands into my open yard behind my house in single file. Their first stop is the bird feeder.  They hit up the fallen seeds near our lower deck by scratching the ground for leftovers.

Last year, around this time of year, I thought about how the lower deck is a great place to position our motion sensor outdoor camera because it would capture images of the flock as they were eating seeds from the ground.

It worked.  The camera captured images of male turkeys puffing out their feathers and strutting their stuff.

November 2012

November 2012

And as you can see from these photos, it is truly astonishing how large they look when fully puffed out.  The male toms can reach 4 feet tall, but they look even larger at this stage.  And you will notice, its blue head and red caruncle at the neck is in full color.  I guess this occurs as another way to “show off” to the female turkeys in the group.  It is just incredible what these guys do for their females.  They put on quite a show.

Side View - Massive!

Side View – Massive!

After they are done snacking on the birdseeds, the flock will slowly and cautiously walk past my side door over the driveway, and then proceed down my long driveway to the road.  As they strut along in single file, it is quite amusing.  I always think to myself, “Well, there they go, off to work again for the day.”

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They probably have a routine of visiting every feeder or garden on our street, but by late day, you can guarantee, they come right back down my driveway – in single file – to return to our birdfeeder for their last snack before retreating into the woods again for their evening roost.

Once, in the very early morning, I could see several turkeys perched way up high in tall pine trees.  Eventually, they fly down again, and it is something to see a big turkey gliding through the sky to land on our lawn.

There’s been times when the turkeys have stood on a railing of our deck or on the edge of the pool.  Usually there is one turkey “on guard” being careful to look around for potential threats.  The guard turkey won’t eat with the others while on duty, and sends out warnings sounds if something, like me, comes by.

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But this past summer, there were many times when the turkeys would also sit in the yard and relax.  They are getting comfortable to say the least.  And a few times, in fact, this summer, when I was on my deck sitting in a chair, they would extend their necks up to look at me, but they didn’t run away. Until I got up.  Then they would feel threatened and take off or at least move a distance away until they felt it was safe again.

One year, I witnessed three toms standing side by side and shoulder to shoulder during their mating season.  They were completely puffed out and turned together in unison as if they were locked together.  If you can imagine it like an airplane turning slowly around, it looked like that.  Remarkable.  I wished I caught that one on camera as they turned slowly together to face the females in their surroundings.  I guess they were looking for a threesome. LOL.

Another time, I saw two toms in a serious battle in my front yard.  Their necks were wrapped around each other – and each pushed and tussled the other as they were locked into this position for at least a half hour or so.  At times, I was sure one would have their neck broken by the other.  I felt sorry for them, but best to let nature do their thing as they continued into the woodlands to duke it out.  I didn’t witness the end of their wrestling match.

In early June, the young baby poults arrive.  There are many with the female hens.  It does not take long for them to grow up and look like full sized adult turkeys. And then there are times when I see a solo turkey in the yard.  He wanders the yard by himself.  But, I guess they do this until they find a mate.  Or he thinks I’m his mate, he seems to like hanging around.

Another year, we had an injured turkey visiting – walking with a hobbled leg.  Because he was weak, the other turkeys would be a little aggressive towards him.  However, he wouldn’t give up and continued to stay with the group as much as he could.  The turkey pecking order is strong, and part of the wild scene you have to accept, even though it seems cruel at times. It is wild turkey bullying.

We don’t directly feed the wild turkeys, but allow them to take what they find from our yard.  They have never damaged our gardens, and sometimes will peck at the blackberries, but overall, they have been harmless.

Our cat inspecting the hidden camera, notice her ear moves in second shot!

Our cat inspecting the hidden camera, notice her ear moves in second shot!

And as close as they get to us proximity wise, no real danger has ever come to us ever since we’ve been witnessing them here in our yard.  They only bring us joy because they seem so comfortable here and offer an occasional laugh, like when they chase off our cats.  It doesn’t take long for the cats to realize who is in charge.

When I find turkey feathers left behind in the yard, I collect them to use in decorations, like I did with a pumpkin this year, or I’ll put them in my Thanksgiving Day arrangements or on Christmas wreaths.

Feathers in Pumpkin

Feathers in Pumpkin

The gobble noises and sounds made by the wild turkeys can be quite loud at times, especially during their breeding season in the fall.  I’ve read you can hear it from a mile away.  I’m not surprised. I often hear them in my backyard from the house.  I love the noises they make because it is interesting.  The different tones and cackles represent every action or purpose.  One of these days, I will know them all.

But the most interesting thing I think I saw in regards to wild turkeys was when one was helping an injured turkey across the road.  A large turkey had a small one under its big wing, and was carrying it away.  At first I wasn’t sure what was going on, but as I approached closer, it appeared the mature turkey was carrying away an injured smaller turkey, perhaps hit by a car.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalImages.net/boulemonademoon

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalImages.net/boulemonademoon

Nature never ceases to amaze me.  And with Thanksgiving approaching, talking about wild turkeys seems a bit appropriate.  Unless you like to eat them.  In that case, I say stick with the store-bought or farm raised types.  I suffer from the Bambi syndrome.  I prefer to watch the wild types, and can’t seem to eat meat from wild deer, turkey, or rabbits.  No matter how many times my hunting relatives tell me it is good.

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalImages.net/nongpimmy

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalImages.net/nongpimmy

It is only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you have a very pleasant holiday and spot some turkeys in your surroundings.  If not in your yard, perhaps on your plate!

Gobble, Gobble,

Cathy Testa

Turkey Links:

http://nwco.net/PDF/turkey.pdf

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/wildturkey.htm

http://www.nwtf.org/conservation/bulletins/bulletin_1_9-9-09.pdf

Camera Used:

We purchased our camera from Cabela’s.  It is called RECONYX Hyperfire model, and it has worked very well at capturing motion in the woods or other areas of our surroundings as we have moved it around from place to place. We have also captured photos of deer, a bobcat (Lynx rufus), coyote, fox, racoons, beaver, skunks, our male cat, other stray cats, rabbits, birds, and even a man with a machete.  Turns out it was a neighbor (phew).  One very interesting shot was when a deer bed down to sleep right in front of the camera – very cool.  And moving trees, leaves, even sunshine casting down, showing shadows moving across the ground during the day, is photographed. Snowstorms are fun too as you can see the level of the snow rising over time in sequential shots, so long as it doesn’t bury the camera. Maybe even YOU were snapped – a friend captured when you came by to visit – Bet you didn’t know that, did ya?  LOL!!!

Evergreen Decor Inspiration

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Just some more inspiration for the upcoming Evergreen Kissing Ball and Holiday Creations Class on December 7, 2013.  These are examples of items created last year, and samples of decor available at the class to dress up the holiday creation you elect to make as a registered attendee to this event.

Photos by Cathy Testa

Photos by Cathy Testa

Red and white themes are bright and cheerful!  Add the “I believe in Santa” and you have a fun wreath with lots of cheer.

Photos by Cathy Testa

Photos by Cathy Testa

Adding fuzzy little bears or other tiny felted stuffed animals is a perfect embellishment for a wreath or kissing ball you may make in honor of the special little one in your life.  Little felted decor will be available at the class.

Photos by Cathy Testa

Photos by Cathy Testa

Natural decor like shown on this candle centerpiece speaks to me.  I love cones, pods, berries in the brown and natural tones.  And note the lighted Kissing Ball (bottom right) made by an attendee last year – great idea to add the lights.

Photos by Cathy Testa

Photos by Cathy Testa

Little ideas here and there with felted decor, or a wreath made with one type of evergreen can be simple but stunning.

Photos by Cathy Testa

Photos by Cathy Testa

Bundling ornaments and natural elements from raffia to preserved moss is fun, or go with with glitter and glam!  Make it your style.

Many of the embellishments shown here will be available at the class along with glittered florist picks, sticks, cones, ribbons of various styles, berries, and more.

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you,

Cathy Testa