Monthly Archives: August 2010

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So we’re all looking for little ways to save money.  While doing some research on the topic the other day, I came across Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website:

You can go here and search tons of little jobs to do that will take no more than an hour (most of them).  Depending on the task, you get paid anywhere from $0.01 to $10.00 per task.  It may not seem like a lot, but do one $1.00 task every day and you’ve got $30 extra bucks at the end of the month.  I got paid $0.05 just for asking a question about financing.

The only downside is that you only get “paid” by Amazon when you make $10.00…so all of your money will roll over month to month until you reach $10.00.  But if you do one a day, you’ll see results in no time!

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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Baked Caprese Salad

Hard to believe that Labor Day is right around the corner!  How fast did this year fly, right?

Anyway, here’s a great appetizer for your Labor Day picnic…or any day of the year.  It’s light and refreshing and, if it’s too hot, you don’t even have to bake it.  Just assemble as necessary and eat cold.

Baked Caprese Salad

Baked Caprese Salad

  • 1 loaf baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 30 to 36 slices)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, stemmed


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Arrange the sliced baguette bread on a baking sheet. Brush with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven. Top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each slice of tomato with a slice of mozzarella and sprinkle with salt. Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are warmed, about 5 minutes.

Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Top each toast with a basil leaf. Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

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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The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise Book Review

Summer Reading Book #9

The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise tells the story of one Balthazar Jones, a Beefeater working in The Tower of London who is continually grieving the loss of his 11-year-old son.  When Jones suddenly finds himself the curator of a large menagerie of exotic animals belonging to the Queen, he must learn to manage his time between a host of beasts and birds and still make time to mend his failing marriage to a wife who doubts his loyalties.  Throw in a chaplain who wins an erotic fiction award, a Ravenmaster who is as naughty as the birds he watches over, and one barmaid with a big secret and you’ve got yourself one romp of a good time…or so I thought.

When I first read about this new novel from British author, Julia Stuart, I simply couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  Many reviews described it as a “whimsical real-life fairy tale”, “a dream of a novel for history buffs and animal lovers”, and “a true to life love story”.  In other words…right up my alley.  When it arrived in my mailbox I dove right in, knocking out the first 30 pages in a little less than 30 minutes.  It was slow going from then on to the end.

The historical references were interesting…only because I didn’t know anything about The Tower of London before reading this book.  Hearing about the history of this location and what went on there centuries ago had me more captivated than the current story of Balthazar Jones.  As for the menagerie of exotic animals, they didn’t get their due at all.  If you’re picking up this book for the cute animals on the cover, you’re going to be disappointed.  One of the things I did like about this book was its take on marriage, love, and loss.  If this novel is anything, it’s a look into a broken family.  It’s a glimpse of what happens when the one thing that holds a marriage together is taken away…and how a husband and wife must cope and rebuild.

The story picked up a little bit at the end of the novel, finally answering the major questions the reader had from the beginning of the book…but even getting those answers wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped.  For such a long build up, the answers we receive weren’t worth the wait.

Maybe it was because I was letting my imagination wander a bit while reading this novel, but I think The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise would almost make a better movie than a book.  Everything about the plot seems to be so visually stimulating that a 60-minute cartoon telling this story would completely change my mind about it.

NEXT WEEK: “It was a dark and stormy night…the moon was shining bright…giving not a hint of what’s in store…”

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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16 Clever Uses for Newspaper

Here’s my predicament.  For whatever reason, my apartment does not recycle paper.  I don’t know why this is, but I hate throwing paper away…so I’m always looking for ways to reuse it before having to drive to the recycling center to drop it off.  Therefore, I have found tons, and I mean tons, of ways to get rid of old newspaper.

Save Me!!

Help items like shoes, hats, and purses, retain their shape in storage by stuffing them with old newspapers.

Use old newspaper as a paint guard around crafts, window trim, doorframes, and more.  You can also cover furnature and other items around your house with newspaper if you’re doing a lot of painting.

Check out this clip from the British TV show, Mr. Bean for more thoughts on this:

Add more cushion to your table by putting a few sheets of newspaper between the table and the table cloth.

If you’re getting a cold draft under your door, stuff some newspaper under the door to act as a blockade.

Use newspaper to dry windows in your home and on your car for a streak free shine.

Newspaper is a crafters best friend.  It can be used for paper mache, making kites, costumes, wrapping paper, jewelry, and much more.  And don’t throw those comics away!  They can be a great addition to any craft project, too.

If you have a fireplace, newspaper makes great kindling material.  Keep a few sheets by the fire in the wintertime to insure a nice cozy fire.

Shred newspaper for cheap and environmentally friendly cat litter.

Newspaper can also be used to mop up grease, drain fried food, and line your table for a summer seafood feast.

Use newspaper as garden mulch or a weed blocker.  Dampen 5 or 6 sheets and lay under grass clippings or soil to keep from blowing away.

Stuff smelly work boots with newspaper and the odor disappears.

Here’s a good one for us Midwest gals…if your car is stuck in the mud or snow, a hefty section of the Sunday edition placed under your wheel should give you enough traction to get out of the rut.

This is a tactic we used in my creative writing class quite a bit.  Cut out random stories that catch your eye or entertain you in some way.  Put them in a folder and randomly pick one out and use it as a writing prompt.  Or, along the same lines, cut up random headlines and put the words in a bag.  Pull out 10 words and write a story that includes all those words.

Grab an orphan sock from your drawer and stuff it with newspaper.  Instantly you have a new play toy for your puppy or kitten.

The uses for newspaper are practically endless…so before you toss it in the blue bag, consider what else you can do with yesterday’s old news.

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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5 Easy DIY Bangles

Bangles are a great addition to any outfit.  They’re big and colorful and, with some left over wrapping paper and mod podge glue, you can completely reinvent them for any ensemble!

Here are some examples of decoupaged bracelets.  Just make sure that the bracelet is a little big on you to begin with…because when you start adding layers of paper, it will shrink in size.

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

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How to Make Party Lights Using Cupcake Liners

Wanna add some color and decoration to your end-of-the-summer outdoor BBQ?  Check out this idea:

Cupcake Wrapper Lights

Simply poke white lights through the bottoms of colorful cupcake wrappers for an instant chic light display.  Hang them from the roof of your gazebo, patio, or wrap them around tree trunks to instantly change the mood and look of any outdoor gathering.

Look for adorable and colorful cupcake wrappers at these Web sites:

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

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Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

I have a new appreciation for oatmeal.  I used to love those little instant packets but, after trying the real deal with warm brown sugar and raisins, there’s just no going back.  As a result, I’ve been on the hunt for new and delicious oatmeal ideas.  I came across this one a few years ago in a cookbook and marked it because I thought it sounded delicious.  Well, this weekend I finally got around to making it.  Let me just say that this may be a weekly staple.

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal

  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cherry jam, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup 1 percent low-fat milk

Put water, oats, salt and cherries into a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and cherry jam. Put into serving bowls and pour 2 tablespoons of milk over each bowl.  Pour a cup of coffee, open the paper, and indulge.

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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