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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wreath Salad

No secret that Great Escapers like to eat well.  A few years ago I created this Christmas party salad out of what I had on hand, and it went over big time - so big that I had to write up the recipe for everyone and to make it again to bring to one of the parties that my big family has every day between Christmas and New Years.  I took pictures this time and the full recipe is at the end. 
Wash three heads of romaine lettuce, and tear into pieces, discarding the tough spines and outer leaves.  In food processor fitted with slicing blade, thinly slice three large carrots and one large crisp apple.  Pile in middle of salad.
Cut one large ripe pear, quartered and cored, into thin slices and place in wheel shape around apples.
Place shredded cheddar on top of apples.  Sprinkle chopped nuts and craisins or pomegranate seeds over salad. 
Place olives around the edge of the bowl. Drizzle lemon dressing over salad, paying special attention to coating all of the apples and pears.  Then I wrap it well and take it off to the party.  The lemon juice keeps the salad fresh for several hours.

Christmas Party Salad

Make dressing and refrigerate. In a Mason Jar place:

¼ c. olive oil
¼ c. fresh squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons depending on juiciness. Don't scrimp here.)
2 tbs. sugar
2 tsp. oregano (or to taste.)
Sprinkle of salt and pepper (to taste)

Shake dressing until well combined and sugar dissolved.  Refrigerate until ready to dress salad, shake again.  Drizzle slowly and thickly over the whole salad especially the cut fruit.  (Lemon juice keeps the apples and pears fresh.)  Don’t toss until serving.  I have transported this salad 2 hours away!

3 heads romaine lettuce washed, dried and torn
1 large honey crisp or similar apple, cored and quartered (Braeburn ok too)
3 large carrots, peeled
1 large ripe Bartlett pear
Cheddar, shredded (I use sharp Wisconsin)
One bottle (5.75 oz) manzanilla olives, drained
½ c chopped walnuts
(optional) ¼ c dried cranberries (or pomegranate seeds –I used the seeds of ½ a large pomegranate.)

In large flat bowl, place torn romaine lettuce – I remove the spines of the outer leaves.  Cut apple and pear into rough quarters, remove cores.  Slice, thinly, in Cuisinart fitted with slicing blade, or mandoline, carrots and apple.  Pile into middle of salad.  Cut pear into small slices lengthwise and arrange around pile of carrot and apple as if they were spokes of a wheel.  Place cheddar (shredded by hand or in Cuisinart) on pile of carrots and apple.  Sprinkle nuts and cranberries/seeds on top of the whole salad.  Place olives around the corners of the bowl.  Pour the dressing over the whole, especially the cut fruits.

(I put the squeezed lemon halves in a bowl of water and microwave until well boiled.  Then clean the walls and top of the microwave with a paper towel.  Microwave will be clean and smell great, as will your kitchen!)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays

It's usually a given that a snowstorm will snarl traffic or delay flights during the Christmas season, but this year it's been very warm.  Sandals and short sleeves on Christmas Day - I don't think that's ever happened before.  I can remember one Christmas when it was -20 F at noon and the Massachusetts Turnpike was littered with frozen cars.  But we decorate 'seasonally' whatever the weather so I want to show you these frosty decorations.
All made by a talented artist (my sister) who even picked the grapevines for the third wreath, which is massive - four feet wide!

Hope you celebrated the holidays in style.  Happy Holidays from the Great Escape!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wreath Obsession - Part 3

I spend too much time and money drinking coffee (and tea and chai) either home made, or shamefully often, from coffee shops. (Although many Girl Scouts around here hold adult planning and recruitment meetings at coffee shops.) I frequent Panera, Starbucks, DD, any handy cafe, any time I feel the need of a pick me up.  In an effort to reuse the cardboard sleeves used to keep hands from burning, I've been saving them. DD and friends have donated theirs.  I cut them open and separated the unglued sides from the glued ones.  Sadly, Starbucks prints a date on each one, so they are not as useful as they might be, and have to be painted.  I fooled with whether to cut holly leaves, paint with thinned latex, acrylic or alcohol...but finally made this.
The ethereal tulle bow does not photograph well, but the streamers are long, and notched at the bottom.  Here it is before the bow.

I think the different textures are attractive, don't you?  I used unthinned latex paint, a .50 cent sample that I picked up in Florida at an Ace Hardware (always check the sample sale table!)

I hope this is the last wreath I feel compelled to make in 2014.  (Is there a support group for crazy crafters and Pinterest addicts?)

The GE committee will be meeting the first week of February to begin work on the workshop schedule for GE 2015, so if you have suggestions, requests, or you want to teach one, let us know by email or comment here!

Now where the heck am I going to put this?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wreath Obsession - Part 2

One small problem with the wrapped styrofoam wreaths is that they take up room to store.  I started seeing a lot of art on Pinterest that used old book pages, and scrapbook paper that looked as if it were covered with faded script.  Combining those two things with the leftover sheet music and a set of star-shaped cookie cutters, I came up with these totally flat wreaths, of which I made 7 last Christmas. Dollar store ribbon (from the wedding and baby sections) and paint dipped pine cones (yes, I saw that on Pinterest) finish them off.
 I gave all but one of the Christmas wreaths away.  On to Valentine's Day with more cookie cutters as stencils and doilies as a background.
 I found some heart shaped doilies at the store, added wrapping paper and hearts cut from bulb catalogs, and heart shaped resin 'jewels' sold at the dollar store as 'table scatter.'

Spring, Easter and Patriots' Day followed in their usual order.

Back to the stars and music, picks from the Dollar Store, ribbon from stash.
DD graduated from college.  This one stayed on the door all summer!  BTW, she had a wreath of some kind on her dorm door all year long. Every time she came home or we visited I gave her a new one.She made the first one herself using an old grape vine wreath, some shells she collected, sea stars we got as wedding favors, and lavender and hydrangeas that she picked from our garden.  That apple didn't fall too far!
Finally, fall came around again.  Leaves, nuts and pine cones dominated my thoughts.  Note the orange bow and apples which were recycled from the previous year's wrapped wreath.  I take the bows off to store the wreaths and reuse them.

The book page leaves on the second wreath are sprayed with alcohol ink.

As winter rolls around, all thoughts turn to holidays once more.  Last year I gave star wreaths to my wonderful service unit cookie and fall sale chairs.  This year, my rocking parade coordinator got this for Hanukkah. She said is her first wreath ever!
I made a few that I forgot to photograph as well.

As we start to think about workshops for Great Escape 2015, I'm thinking I might want to teach one on wreaths.  Ya think?

Next post; combining two obsessions, coffee and wreaths.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Wreath Obsession - Part 1

For almost three years now I've been obsessed with making wreaths.  I don't know why - I think it's something about the form of a circle within a circle.  I find the symmetry comforting.  (Why yes, plane geometry was my best math class ever!)

I challenge myself to make them from free/almost free materials.  I had some photocopied sheet music sitting around (it had been in the basement for years - took it out of a recycling bin) and I saw a wreath on Pinterest made of cones of music on a cardboard base.  That was in October 2012.  This was the result.  It's on my bedroom door right now.

I used the same stash to make these folded and cut ornaments.

The following Thanksgiving, I made these using garden center catalogs, a few scraps of watercolor paper, and some hickory nuts.
At the same time, I decided I wanted to use up some odds and ends of fabric by making these "Rapid Wrapped Wreaths."  Fabric wrapped over a styrofoam base, but I use pins to attach everything so that they can be rapidly changed to be used for other occasions.
The holly leaves and berries are cut from paint chips.
On a bedroom door for a girl's room.  I have to put wreaths on every door in the house - even the laundry!

The bunny is from the dollar store; the ribbon was in my stash. Felt left from a project so old I can't remember it!
The plastic heart/dove is from a chocolate box.  I added the cardstock and doily.  The fleece is left over from making Christmas stockings about 16 years ago.
Two flower picks from the dollar store, cut and reformed with floral tape into two nosegays.
More flowers and leaves from the dollar store.

Pumpkin from the Dollar Store plus tulle left over from last high school reunion.
With one red and one yellow wreath, you can redecorate for a full year.  Red for Christmas, Valentine's Day and Patriots' Day, Memorial Day and 4th of July.  Yellow for St Patrick's Day, spring, summer and fall.

Then I started making wreaths out of old books, pizza boxes and other paper - those will have to wait for a separate post or two!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What's Your Destination?

Know some teen girl scouts?  Remember to tell them about destinations!

Formerly known as "wider ops" destinations are travel, adventure and service trips for girls aged 13 - 18.  They can go far away (Costa Rica! India!) or stay close to home.  They can learn, camp, climb, paddle or just have fun.

See them all here:  destinations!

GSEM is sponsoring a destination this summer called Whales, Tales and Trails.  It will take place on the North Shore of Massachusetts, in and around Boston, with one side trip to New Hampshire!

Experience Massachusetts from the shores to the woods, through the eyes of settlers, sailors and some of America’s most important writers. Walk in the footsteps of Americans of many heritages while exploring Boston’s neighborhoods and coastline. Debate whether the witches persecuted in Salem were really witches or just citizens caught up in local disputes.  Journey to the sea, and watch mighty whales breech and blow. Take action as we provide service in a coastal fishing community. Find unique treasures in Boston shops and in small coastal boutiques. With imagination and creativity, our stories of the past and present will help you create an exciting chapter in your life-long journey of discovery.

Girls should submit their applications ASAP for the second round!  See the website for all of the details!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Outdoor Badges - Final Voting!

It's time to vote on the next and final stage of Girls' Choice!

The votes have been tallied and your voices have been heard. The next set of badges - one each for Brownies through Ambassadors - will be based on an Outdoor Recreation theme!

Now is your chance to vote on the type of badge activities you will get to earn next year! Voting ends December 31st, so be sure to get your votes in!


Which set of badge activities appeals the most to you?* (choose one)