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The articles you see here are current as of the most recent website update.  To jump to the article you're interested in, use the Page Contents box to the right.  To see past, archived articles, go to the drop down menu under the Articles' main menu choice and select a subject. 

       GRANOLA: A BREAKFAST TREAT

This is a great recipe for granola. Some might find it a tad too sweet. Feel free to play around with it - I often add more nuts and trim the sugar. It's supposed to be sweet and salty, but I have cut the amount of salt by quite a bit from the original recipe.  I consider this a treat for breakfast - or any time of day. Perhaps not as healthy as a bowl of oatmeal, but just fine from time to time.

And don't forget to add fresh berries.

Servings: about 6 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 3  cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup nuts - any combination of pistachios, almonds, walnuts - roughly chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/3  cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3  cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2  cup light brown sugar (or a bit less)
  • 1/3  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3  cup maple syrup
  • 3/4  cup dried sour cherries or other dried fruit

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and salt.

In a small saucepan set over low heat, warm the sugar, olive oil and maple syrup until the sugar has just dissolved, then remove from heat. Drizzle this liquid slowly into the dry mixture, stirring to make sure the dry ingredients are coated well.

Spread mixture thinly on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake until crisp and lightly golden, and a deliciously sweet aroma is wafting throughout your kitchen, about 35 to 40 minutes, stirring granola a few times along the way.

Remove granola from oven. Allow to cool to room temperature before mixing in dried fruit and transferring to an airtight container for storage. The shameful secret of this granola maker: I can never wait for that. It tastes great warm, mixed with plain yogurt. The granola can be stored up to 3 weeks without refrigeration, but trust me, it won't last that long.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

1/24th of recipe; approx 1/4 cup

  • Calories: 190
  • Total Fat: 12 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 100 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 19 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugars: 9 g
  • Protein: 4 g

excerpted from KaiserPermante.org

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Summer Time Fire Safety

School is out for the summer!!! (or will be soon!) Throughout the year your students have practiced what to do if there is a fire at school…. Now that school is out, do they know what to do if there is a fire at home? Here are some tips:

  • Make a home fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year with your children.
  • Have a fire escape plan for young children who cannot get outside by themselves. Talk about who will help each child get out safely.
  • Children should know what to do when they hear a smoke alarm and there is no adult around. Help them practice going to a meeting place outside.
  • Teach children to never go back inside a building until they get the "ok" from an adult.

We hope everyone has a fun and safe summer!

Source:  Public Information and Education Officer Heather Chadwish, Snohomish County Fire District 7

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Can't Miss Tips for

Clean Gutters

Remove gunk from your gutters and clean downspouts with our quick-and-easy tips.

You’ve been dragging your feet on it for quite some time­--and we understand. Cleaning your gutters is not exactly the most thrilling way to spend your weekend. But showing your gutters a little attention can go a long way to keeping your home in good repair. And besides, if you think a little proactive maintenance is a chore, consider the alternative – clogged gutters eventually giving way to the bulk of decaying debris until they loosen and begin to rot the siding and trim of your home. And we haven’t even mentioned the carpenter ants and mosquitoes that thrive in clogged gutters!

Don’t worry. We’ll share some of our best practices for making short work of a big mess.

Suit Up

We’re going to be upfront with you on this – you’re probably going to get a little messy. Rain-soaked dead leaves, bits of branches, dirt….it can be a filthy task, so dress for the job. That means a long-sleeved shirt, rubber gloves, and safety goggles. A disposable face mask is a good idea if you have one available.

First

Your first instinct is going to be to grab your ladder and get going--we like your enthusiasm! But you’re going to want to slow down and take a moment to consider safety. That means making sure your ladder is well-footed at all times. Consider using ladder horns or standoff stabilizers to make sure your ladder doesn’t damage your roof.

You’re going to want to bring your high-pressure nozzle up with you to blast out any debris—be sure to place it somewhere within reach that won’t get in the way of your footing.

The Dirty Work

Did you know about the gutter scoop? This handy instrument is available at nearly all hardware stores and will help you get in there and remove all of your gutter garbage. Don’t have a gutter scoop? Want to skip the hardware store? You can always use an old spatula or even a child’s toy shovel. If you’re going green, you can use this organic material for your compost pile.

Use your hose to spray away remaining gunk, paying careful attention to your downspouts. You’ll want to blast loose any clogs. If the hose doesn’t cut it, you can try an auger. Avoid power snakes, while they can clear metal pipes, they can easily damage lightweight plastic pipes.

Evaluation

Now that you’ve got everything clean and clear, this is a perfect chance to examine your gutter system. Check out your gutter spikes, these items go through your gutter into the rafter behind it. If these items are impaired or withered, you may want to consider replacing to avoid damage.

Take advantage of the moment and look for any possible leaks caused by holes in the seams. A new bead silicone can help secure the area between the gutters and potentially rotting boards. Also, check the rivets on your downspout and make sure they’re secure.

What's Next?

Well, now that you’ve conquered your gutters, maybe consider gutter covers? These helpful items can help increase the time between cleanings by providing a barrier between your gutters and gunk. Want to tackle another weekend home project? We have a few suggestions. 

Excerpted from American Home Shield


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Pruning Trees in Spring

As you’ve been admiring all the fresh green growth in your yard this spring, perhaps you’ve noticed something else, too. Like excessive growth of a tree or shrub that you want to cut.

Generally, the best time to prune most trees is when they’re leafless in winter. But as you know, with each rule of thumb, there are exceptions.  Read on to learn more about spring tree pruning.

If you can prune your trees before they begin growing in the Spring, that still counts as dormant pruning and is the ideal time to prune because of these benefits. 

Once trees start budding or blooming in spring, though, double-check that pruning now won’t put your tree in harm’s way.

Can I do any pruning after trees have leaves and buds in spring?
In general, pruning in spring can limit the tree’s bloom potential for the year. Plus, trimming in spring can leave cuts on trees that leave them more vulnerable to an insect infestation or disease.

But, you can safely do some tree pruning in spring–as long as you don’t remove any more than 10 percent of the tree’s branches.

Your goal with spring pruning should be one of two things.

Pruning for safety: Remove any dead, dying or decaying branches to keep your tree (and home) safe.

Minimal pruning for aesthetics: Cut or remove branches to shape your tree a bit.

Are there any trees that are better to prune in spring?
Yes! If you’ve just planted a new tree, cut off any broken, defected or damaged limbs, then learn how to prune young trees to improve their structure.

You can also prune maple, walnut and birch trees in late spring or early summer. When pruned in winter, they tend to ooze sap. The sap does little to no harm, but some people think it’s too messy! Trimming these trees after they have all their leaves for the season reduces sap bleeding.

And, finally, prune these trees once they’re done blooming for the season in spring:

  • Apricot trees
  • Chokecherry trees
  • Crabapple trees
  • Dogwood trees
  • Flowering cherry trees
  • Flowering plum trees
  • Juneberry trees
  • Lilac trees
  • Magnolia trees

Are there any trees I should never prune or trim in spring?Remember: pruning trees in spring can leave them more vulnerable to insect infestation and diseases.

That’s why you don’t want to prune these trees in spring, summer or early fall:

Excerpted from Davey.com

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Freezer Ice Cream Recipes

All you need is a functioning freezer to make ice cream. Discover how to make ice cream in a freezer with vanilla, chocolate and blueberry ice cream recipes. 

Making ice cream is simpler than you might think — you don't need bags of ice and salt or even a special ice cream machine. All you need is a strong arm for whisking or an electric mixer, a few simple ingredients you probably already have on hand, and a freezer. Just be sure to keep your freezer in great condition  — you'll want to use it to make these tasty ice cream recipes all summer long.

Of course, you'll need to know the basics of how to pack your freezer in order to fit your new creations into storage. After all, you're going to have a hard time just trying one flavor!

Velvety Vanilla
Vanilla isn't bland when it's in homemade ice cream. This recipe for no-churn ice cream from Add a Pinch features just three simple ingredients. It's easy to whip up and will keep you cool all summer. 

Ingredients:

2 cups (16 ounces) heavy whipping cream
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Instructions:

1.    Whip whipping cream until stiff peaks form, about three minutes.

2.    Pour in condensed milk and vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste and gently fold into whipped cream until well-combined.

3.    Pour into a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer until the ice cream firms.

Cocoa Chocolate
This creamy pick from the Minimalist Baker is dairy-free, naturally sweetened with dates and perfect for hot, summer nights — no machine necessary! Just stay close to your freezer, as you'll want to be ready when this is.

Ingredients:

  • 2 14-ounce cans coconut cream OR full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in the fridge
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder powder
  • 14-16 ounces pitted dates (if not sticky and moist, soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

Optional add-ins:

  • 1 ounce espresso, cooled
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Cacao nibs

Instructions:

  1. Place a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.
  2. Add moist, pitted dates to a food processor until small bits remain. Then add hot water until it forms a thick paste. Set aside.
  3. Scoop out coconut cream, discarding or reserving the clear liquid for other purposes. Place in chilled mixing bowl.
  4. Using a mixer, whip until creamy and smooth. Then add cocoa powder, vanilla, almond milk and half of the date paste. Whip until fully incorporated.
  5. Taste and adjust flavors as needed by adding date paste.
  6. Transfer to a parchment-lined freezer-safe container and cover loosely with plastic wrap, then foil to help freeze.

Buttery Blueberry Cheesecake
Who doesn't love blueberries? They're one of summer's best seasonal ingredients. Pick some up at the grocery store or farmer's market and whip up an icy treat. You don't need a machine — just let your freezer do the magic with this no-churn ice cream recipe from Just Putzing Around the Kitchen.

Ingredients:

Ice cream base

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 7 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Blueberry swirl

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Combine blueberries, sugar and lemon juice in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook until berries burst and release juices.
  2. Allow berry mixture to simmer for a few minutes until mixture thickens. Remove pan from heat, pour mixture into a bowl then into the fridge to chill.
  3. In a large bowl, beat your cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth.
  4. Slowly add condensed milk and vanilla, and whisk mixture until smooth.
  5. Add heavy cream and keep whisking until stiff peaks form.
  6. Spoon about half of your whipped cream mixture into a standard sized loaf pan.
  7. Remove your chilled berry sauce from the fridge and spoon about half of it over your whipped cream mixture in the loaf pan.
  8. Cover with your remaining whipped cream mixture, and top with your remaining berry mixture.
  9. Use a butter knife to drag/swirl your blueberry mixture into your cream mixture.
  10. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and stick it in the freezer for about six hours, or until ice cream is firm enough to scoop.

These recipes prove it's easy to make ice cream during those hot summer days, even without a machine. All you need is a reliable freezer and a few ingredients to make a few frozen concoctions your family is sure to love.

Source:  Home Shield
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The Most Fun Things to do on
4th of July 

Is it your turn to host the 4th of July party this year? Have no fear! While you’re getting your grillin’ on, let your guests — both big and small — celebrate the occasion with these five must-do activities.

Make One-of-a-Kind Refreshments

Before your guests pour their first drinks, get them to decorate their glasses with red, white and blue paint. Simply set up mason jars, acrylic paint and craft sponges (cut into strips, stars, etc.) next to the drink station area, and see what kind of patriotic designs the guests come up with. (Don’t worry, the paint will dry quickly.) For added customization, let them also paint chalkboard labels on the glasses so they can personalize them with their names.

Have a Lawn Decorating Contest

If yours is truly a “home of the brave,” consider letting your guests compete in a festive lawn decorating contest. Divide the participants into two teams, provide them with cardboard and scissors to make stencils, as well as red, white and blue grass-friendly construction marking spray paint and see who can create the most patriotic look on their half of the lawn. The cool part about it? Because it’s paint, you get to admire the artwork long after the party’s over. What’s even cooler? When you are tired of looking at it, all you have to do is give the grass its normal summertime trim.

Tip: Unless you want to draw attention to your home, we recommend doing this activity in your backyard versus the front.

Play a Quick Game (or Two) of Patriotic Bingo

Whether the players are young or old, bingo never fails to be a hit with the crowd — especially if there are prizes involved. Want to take the game up a notch?Consider testing the winners’ American knowledge by asking each of them to answer a trivia question (for example, “What are the words to the Pledge of Allegiance?”) before picking a prize.

Take Bubbles to a New Level

Sure, the little ones would be amazed with regular bubbles. But it’s the 4th of July. Regular bubbles won’t cut it. Instead, kids of all ages are sure to enjoy making patriotic bubble blowers of different shapes and sizes and blowing red and blue color bubbles. The best part is that, since the blowers and bubble solution are so easy to make, the fun can continue as long as the supplies last.

Go Out with a Bang

When it comes to fun things to do on 4th of July, you can’t go wrong with fireworks. However, for safety reasons, many communities have a ban on igniting the explosives. Who says you need fire to have fun with fireworks, though? Try these non-explosive — but sure to make a pop! — fireworks instead.


Source:  Home Shield
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