Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Best Cut of Beef for Any Occasion

Not much says Memorial Day like a good ol’ fashioned BBQ…and nothing says BBQ like the perfect cut of meat.  So whether you’re on a tight budget, watching your weight, or feeding a crowd of people, I have a list of the best cut of meat for you this weekend (thanks to Rachel Ray!).

The Best Cut of Meat for You

I hope you all have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend!


Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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10 Clever Uses for Hairspray

“What gives a girl power and punch?

Is it charm is it poise?

No, it’s hairspray!”


That’s right…hairspray’s not just for hair anymore.  With all the random things hairspray can do, it might not be a bad idea to stock up on those Suave $1.99 specials…

–Not only will hairspray hold down flyaway strands, it will bring down those pesky houseflies!  Don’t worry about having dangerous chemicals on hand because hairspray will do the trick.  This also works on bees and wasps.

–If you’re wearing new pantyhose, spray trouble areas (toes, between the thighs) with hairspray to prevent runs.  If you have a run already, spray it with hairspray to prevent it from spreading.

–It’s been said that hairspray will help keep your wreaths and Christmas trees staying nice and fresh.  Just be careful…since hairspray is extremely flammable.  I’d play it safe and say that if you use hairspray on your tree, do not use lights and keep it away from candles, your fireplace, etc.

–Protect your children’s drawings by spraying it with a light coat of hairspray.  It will help them last longer and prevent smudging.

–Spray a very light coat of hairspray under the leaves and petals of cut flowers to help them last longer and postpone that dreaded wilting phase.

–Hairspray will also help remove crayon from certain surfaces.  I know when I worked at Hallmark we had a kids table and kids would color on the actual table all the time.  A little spray of hairspray and some scrubbing and it came right off.

–Loose zipper?  Spray it with hairspray to keep it zipped up.

–If you find yourself in desperate need of wrapping paper, grab your weekly newspaper and spray it with hairspray.  It will harden the paper, give it a nice shine, and keep the black on the page, not on your hands.

–Hairspray can also help get ink out of clothes and furniture.  While it’s not a guarantee that the stain will completely disappear, it will certainly help fade it away.

–Eliminate static cling by spraying some hairspray on the underside of your garments to keep fabric flowing free.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.


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DIY Envelope Sachets

With Memorial Day right around the corner, it’s probably safe to say that it’s time to start packing up those winter clothes.  Ensure that they come out smelling fresh by throwing a hand-made envelope sachet into your storage container.  These can also be used around the house, in cabinets and drawers, and are super cute and affordable gifts.  Having a wedding?  Throw in some spices of the season and hand these little guys out as party favors.  Use your new monogram for a template on the front.

If all you can find are white envelopes, don’t worry.  Simply glue funky paper onto the envelope or take a ride over to your local Hallmark store to see if they would donate some envelopes to your cause.  I know when I worked at Hallmark, we had tons (I mean, tons) of extra envelopes lying around.

Martha Stewart’s Envelope Sachets

Envelope Sachets

What You’ll Need:


–A thick needle (you can also use a sewing machine as long as you remove the thread—good tactic if you’re making a lot of them)

–A template of sorts

–Spices to fill the envelope

–Scotch tape

–Cutting matt, board, or cardboard

Once you’ve found a template you like and have your envelopes ready, use a small amount of tape to stick the template to the envelope.  Lay the envelope on the cutting matt, board, or cardboard and use your pin to poke holes along the solid lines.

Polk holes through the template and the envelope

Remove the template when you’re complete and fill your envelope with your scented ingredients. Use a small amount of tape (or glue stick) to close the envelope.

Remove the template


Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.


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Taste All the Apples You Can

This quote is taken from one of my favorite books, The Painted Drum.  I read this book in college and fell in love with its messages about love, family, and tradition.  Perhaps if I remember, I’ll talk more about it for the Friday section this week 🙂

The Painted Drum

“Life will break you.  Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either…for solitude will also break you with its yearning.  You have to love.  You have to feel.  It is the reason you are here on earth.  You are here to risk your heart.  You are here to be swallowed up.  And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.  Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.”

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.


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Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Good morning, everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  My weekend was quite emotional…as many of you LOST fans will understand.  What a beautiful and touching way to end one of the best shows ever to grace TV.  If you’ve never seen LOST, I highly recommend you check it out.  Okay, back to business…

Due to the fact that it’s been about a zillion degrees here in Chicago, and due to the fact that LOST was ending this weekend, I didn’t do much baking/cooking; however, I do have an easy chip and dip recipe for you today that’s both sweet and a little spicy and a great way to top chips, salad, chicken, or fish.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 envelope “Good Season Italian Salad Dressing and Recipe” mix

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 bag frozen corn, thawed

1 cup mango (about 1 mango), chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup red bell pepper (about half the pepper), chopped into bite sized pieces

1/3 cup cilantro

1/4 cup lime juice

1.  Combine all these ingredients in a bowl and mix…and there you have it!  Serve with chips, fish, chicken, etc.

Hope all of you are keeping cool wherever you are!

Happy Monday!  🙂

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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7 Clever Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

Once in a while a recipe will call for this strange ingredient…and unfortunately will only require 1-2 tablespoons of it…so what do you do with the rest of the bottle, other than make the same recipe a million times?

Well, as luck would have it, vinegar will last a lifetime…so you don’t really have to worry about it going bad; however, there are tons of other things you can do with apple cider vinegar:

  1. ACV can be used to sooth sunburns and insect bites.  It’s 100 percent natural, so it’s a good alternative to other treatments.  Bonus, it can also be used to sooth skin ailments on our pets.
  2. Curve a craving by adding a teaspoon of ACV to a glass of water.  Add some honey for flavor and enjoy.  Simply adding ACV to water will help you feel healthy and will even give you skin a healthy glow.  Perfect for the summer!
  3. Upset stomach?  Mix 2 teaspoons of ACV in with a glass of water.  This has also been thought to help with morning sickness if you’re pregnant.
  4. Keep your hair glowing this summer by filling an old shampoo bottle ½ full of ACV and add a cup of cold water.  Pour through your hair after shampooing 3-5 times a week for a beautiful shine.
  5. Help treat acne and age spots by combining ACV in 2 parts water and dabbing it on your face with a cotton ball.
  6. Mix ½ cup ACV with 1 cup water.  Use this to clean microwaves, tiles, windows, and mirrors.  This will also work as a disinfectant.
  7. Use ACV as an aftershave for soft skin…or pour 1 cup of ACV into your bath water.

*While the health benefits of ACV are numerous, please check with your doctor before starting any ACV treatment.  There are high acidic levels in vinegar that may present a problem for people suffering from low potassium levels or other health issues.  Play it safe!!

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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28 Graduation Gift Ideas

5 points if you can guess what song that is… 🙂

Well, the time is upon us.  Saying goodbye to old friends and hello to new beginnings.  Walking down aisles, turning tassels, and throwing caps.  Celebrating a life that was and preparing for the life to come.  Embracing change, accepting challenges, and preparing for the journey ahead.

Today I bring you a very special edition of Creativi-bee…the Graduation Edition.  Whether you know someone who is graduating middle school, high school, or college, I have some great gift ideas sure to please.  So put that check book away.  Don’t run to the bank to give them a card of cash…just open your pantry and clean house…


–The key to a great gift is practicality.  If you know someone who is graduating middle school, help them out by making them a basket of school supplies.  Give them some folders, notebooks, pens, paper, etc.  Decorate the notebook covers or pencils to add a little personal touch to your gift.  On that same note, a good quality back pack is always a great gift.

–Get them the fixings for a memory book or box to add stuff to as they work their way through high school.  I know I have a couple boxes filled with old marching band drill charts, award certificates, medals, patches, and photos.  Decorate the box or book with their high school’s school colors to get them in the spirit!

–If you’re looking to spend money on something they’re sure to use, consider buying them a graphic calculator or a digital camera.

–Offer to take your graduate out on a shopping spree.  Buy them one new cool outfit for school while discussing high school stories of your own.  🙂

–A journal is a great gift for someone this age.  Start by writing the first entry for them, telling them how proud you are of them and what you hope for them in the future.

–Collect your 52 favorite inspirational quotes and put them in a jar.  Tell the graduate to pull out one slip of paper each week to help encourage and motivate them.

–Offer to give a graduate free music/dancing/singing lessons for a year.  Students often enter the fine arts in middle school and it’s so important to keep them active in the program throughout their educational career.  If you’re musically inclined, or you know someone who is, allow your graduate the opportunity to further their education in the fine arts.


–One of the best gifts I received when I graduated high school was a huge food basket.  It was filled to the brim with all kinds of snacks and goodies and lasted me a good while in college.  Along those lines, enroll your graduate in a “Cookie of the Month” club or the like, sending him or her a new batch of cookies every month, straight from your kitchen.

–Most high school grads are college-bound…meaning life in a dorm.  Help them out by buying (or donating) linens, towels, furniture, dishes, and appliances.

–Again, if you’re willing to spend the money (or want to go in with a group of people), consider the following:  digital camera, laptop computer, or iPod.

–Donate some of your scrapbooking supplies and invite your graduate over to make a high school memories collage to decorate their dorm room.

–Cash, gas cards, gift certificates, restaurant certificates and the like are also great gifts.  It may seem heartless to give cash as a graduation gift, but I assure you it will be put to good use.

–Offer to buy one of their college text books.

–Donate some of your cleaning supplies to help keep the dorm in tip top shape…or make some eco-friendly cleaning materials by mixing lemon juice and ammonia.

–Use up some of your left over yarn and knit your graduate a mixed scarf.

–Offer to help them write up their resume or admissions essay.  I know I dreaded that part of the college process…so offer your wisdom and support.

–Having a summer garage sale?  Offer your graduate the chance to scour your goods first and pick out their favorite items, free of charge, to help decorate their new living space.

–Everybody loves care packages.  Offer to mail something to your graduate once a month to help brighten their day.

–Leaving high school is hard for a lot of students.  Friends they spent the last four years of their lives with spread out all over the country to further their education.  Using computer software or scrapbook supplies, put together a stationary set so your graduate can keep in touch with his/her friends.  Include paper, envelopes, pens, and stamps.

–Offer to host a graduation party at your home or rent a larger location.


–Money, money, money.  I know I told you to put your checkbook away, but I revoke that comment for the time being.  Every college graduate is in need of financing…and every little bit helps.

–College graduates often have no idea what to do when they return home from school.  Offer to help with the job search.  Help them find leads, learn how to apply for a job, and practice interviewing.

–If you have some nice business clothes you no longer wear, consider donating them to your graduate.  Suits are not budget friendly and even if they never have to wear one for a job, it’s important to wear one for an interview.

–Donate your old car or furniture.

–Are you artistically inclined?  Paint your graduate a picture to hang in their new apartment.

–Write a recommendation letter.

–Offer to drive to campus and help move them back home.  If you have some extra space, suggest they store some of their stuff with you until they find their own place to live.

–Offer your graduate a part time job working for you while they look for something more stable.

For all of you who are graduating this year, the very best of luck to you in whatever it is you decide to do.

“The world is waiting…so get on your way!”

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Do Good Anyway

Zero Church, by The Roches

Today I share with you a song from one of my favorite CD’s, Zero Church by The Roches.  While I’m not a religious person by any means, this album earned a permanent place in my CD collection with its honesty and simplicity.

The song “Anyway” is one of my favorites on the album.  It is based on a poem that was supposedly written by Mother Theresa; although there’s no proof that she’s the actual author.  It talks about forgiveness, kindness, and giving the world the best version of you.  At a time when I thought I couldn’t sink any lower, this song helped raise my spirits…and is one of the few songs that I can say has changed my life.


People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;

Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;

Build anyway.

And if you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, it may never be enough;

Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You’ll see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

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Chocolate Bowls with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Good Monday morning, everyone!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  I have a super delicious and figure friendly dessert for you today…perfect for parties (since you’ll most likely have everything you need already!) of the birthday, bridal, or baby variety…

Chocolate Bowls with Strawberries and Whipped Cream

Chocolate bowls with Fruit and Whipped Cream

What You’ll Need:

1 bag of dark chocolate chips (or milk chocolate…whatever you like)

10-15 fresh strawberries, washed and cut in halves

whipped cream

mini balloons (one for each bowl)

**One bag of chocolate will make roughly 12-16 bowls…depending on the size of your balloons

1.  Melt your chocolate in either a double boiler or the microwave.  If you use a double boiler, make sure the pot on top is much larger than the pot on the bottom to prevent steam from getting in your chocolate.  Once steam or water enters your chocolate, it’s over.  Keep the heat on medium to help control the steam.  Stir milk chocolate occasionally and dark chocolate when needed.  Once all the pieces of chocolate are melted, turn the stove off and remove the pot of chocolate.

Double Boiler

2.  Let the chocolate come to room temperature by transfering it into another bowl.

3.  While your chocolate cools, blow up your balloons to about the size of your hand.  Rinse them off with cold water so your chocolate doesn’t taste like latex.  Dry them off.

Balloon size

4.  Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and dip the bottom of each balloon into the chocolate.  Let it sit on the wax paper.  Repeat until you have your desired amount of bowls.  Keep them on the baking sheet and place them in the freezer for at least 1 hour…if not more (best to do this the night before).  NOTE, I didn’t have wax paper…so I used aluminum foil and gave it a little spray of cooking oil…which works just the same.

Ready for the freezer!

5.  When your bowls are ready, take them out of the freezer and cut a small hole in the balloon.  Let the air deflate and slowly pull the balloon away from the chocolate.  Now you have a chocolate bowl!

Slowly pull the balloon away

5.  Fill the bowl with your strawberries and add a dollop of whipped cream to the top and you’re good to go.  You can also use these bowls to serve fruit salad, ice cream, or pudding.


Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 


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8 Clever Uses for Lemons

I don’t know if it’s the fact that summer is right around the corner or it’s just my life-long love of yellow, but I have been obsessed with lemons recently.  I redecorated my kitchen to accommodate my obsession, retiring my retro kitchen décor for that of photos of bright lemon desserts and sunshine colored towels.  Doing so got me thinking of what other possibilities could be in store for these little tangy fruit jewels…

Dirty microwave?  Leave a glass of lemon juice and water inside the microwave and turn it on for one minute.  It will smell good as new.

Rub half a lemon on your stainless steel sink to help remove lime scales.  Let it sit for a while and rinse.

Add equal parts lemon juice and water to an atomizer and create a wonderful chemical free air freshener for your home.

Combine lemon juice and baking soda into a paste and rub it on chrome or copper.  Rinse and buff with a soft cloth or paper towel.

Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to your dishwashing detergent to boost grease cutting power.

Use hot lemon juice and baking soda to de-clog drains.  On that note, throw some lemon peel in your garbage disposal unit once in a while to keep it smelling fresh.

Add 4 tablespoons of lemon juice to a half gallon of water for an effective and eco-friendly way to clean your windows.

Mix lemon pulp with sugar to exfoliate your feet.  Rub and rinse and you’ll smell of summer!

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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