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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9 Clever Uses for Candles

  1. Have a sticky drawer issue?  Remove the drawer and rub a candle on the runner.  Place the drawer back inside the compartment and you should be good to go.  Another enjoyment, a beautiful scent every time you open your drawer!  PS—this process can also be used on sticky and squeaky doors by rubbing a candle on the hinges.
  2. If you’re going camping, pack along some of those trick birthday candles.  If you are having issues lighting a fire or stovetop, the candle should keep relighting itself and save you from using tons of matches.
  3. If the plastic ends on your shoelaces come off, simply dip the ends in melted candle wax and let dry.
  4. If you have various candles that are scent-friendly, burn down some of the wax and pour it into various containers and insert a wick into each to make your own candles.
  5. Rub a candle over your weather address labels to prevent them from smearing.
  6. A wide candle makes an ideal pincushion.  The wax will help pins and needles glide more easily through fabric, too.
  7. Dip tips of pinecones in melted wax to create a beautiful home décor piece.  Use cinnamon and vanilla scented wax and place your pinecones in a vase on your table for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  8. Tie up pieces of fragrant candle wax in cloth and put it in dresser drawers, hampers, etc. for a nice (and not overbearing!) fragrance.
  9. Stuff toilet paper rolls with lint from your dryer and tip them in candle wax for awesome fireplace starters.

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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Clay Peas in a Pod Figurine

So we’ve already established that I LOVE those Peas in a Pod from Toy Story 3.  When my boyfriend saw them, he told me how much he wanted a set for himself…but alas, they are completely sold out everywhere (except EBAY, where they were selling for $65.00 each.  Um, wrong).

So I put my creative skills to work and made him a set of Peas in a Pod out of Sculpey clay.  I had no idea what I was doing, but by the time I was done, I considered keeping them for myself and giving him my plush peas.

I finally made my “pea”ce (sorry!) with letting these little guys go and my boyfriend LOVED them.  They’re sitting on his dresser as we speak 🙂  Wanna make your own?


What You’ll Need:

1 package STUDIO by SCULPEY “Clover”, #6461

1 package STUDIO by SCULPEY “Avocado”, #6446

1 package STUDIO by SCULPEY “Peapod”, #6452

1 package STUDIO by SCULPEY “After Midnight”, #6900

1 package STUDIO by SCULPEY “Blush”, #6316


1 package STUDIO STYLE and DETAILS TOOLS by SCULPEY (three dual purpose tools each with 1 ball end, stylus, and 1 flexible tip shaper)

1 package CLAY TOOL VARIETY SET by SCULPEY (three double-ended tools to shape, texture and detail)



  1. Break apart “Clover” into the little squares and start working the clay in your hand.  Start with two or three pieces and keep adding squares until the entire block is workable in your hand.  Shape it into a peapod shape by rolling it on a flat surface and flattening the two edges of the roll.  Once the pod is shaped to your liking, place it on a hard surface and press the middle down softly to create a flat surface on the bottom of the pod.
  2. Using your knife from your variety set, cut your peapod down the middle, but be careful not to cut it in half…a ½ inch slit will do you just fine.  Carefully pry the pod open with your fingers and reshape to your liking.  Set aside.
  3. Break off half of your “Avocado” log and do the same as you did with the “Clover” clay.  For best results, wash your hands between clay mixing to prevent colors from spreading.  Once your Avocado clay has warmed up, use the rolling pin and roll it until it’s about ½ inch thick and long enough to comfortably cover your pod.  Place the Avocado sheet over the opening on your pod and press it into the hole you’ve created in the pod.  Using your knife, remove the excess Avocado clay and use your fingers or the large ball roller to tuck the edge of the Avocado sheet into the peapod edge.
  4. With the excess Avocado clay, roll a log about ¼ inch thin and long enough to go around the edge of the Avocado sheet.  Wind the clay snake around the edge and gently push it down with the large ball roller or your finger.
  5. Place the peapod in the palm of your hand and use the large ball roller to rub the fingerprints out of the clay.  You can also give the pod as much texture as you’d like with this tool.  Once the fingerprints have been removed and the pod is to your liking, set it aside.
  6. Break off six squares of “Peapod” and separate them.  Work each square individually to create three peas (two squares will give you one pea).  Roll peas in the palm of your hand and place inside the peapod when you’re done.  Don’t press them into the pod, they will stick to the pod and to each other while baking.
  7. Once your peas are cozy in the pod, use the pointed needle tool to mark where you’d like the eyes of the peas to be by literally poking eye holes in each pea.  Break off one square of “After Midnight” and create eyes by ripping off small pieces at a time and rolling them between your fingers to make small circles.  Wash your hands after this step.
  8. Finally, break off a square of “Blush” and roll it into a thin log.  Cut the log into three ½ inch strips and, using a small ball roller, softly press the strips onto the peas to create a mouth.
  9. Bake your peas according to the package directions and be careful not to go over 30 minutes or else your clay will burn.

As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about the crafts I post here.  And please know that this project can be done with any brand of clay…I’m just partial to Sculpey clay.

I also understand that buying clay tools may sound like a waste of money…since you may not make clay crafts very often.  No need to worry.  Here’s a budget friendly solution:

Instead of using the ball rollers, use the back of a spoon to smooth surfaces of your clay.  You can also use a clean pencil eraser to achieve the same effect.

Instead of a knife, use your fingers, a butter knife, scissors, or a kabob stick to slice the clay.  If you use utensils for clay projects, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, make sure you take extra care to wash them well after use.

Instead of the acrylic roller, place your clay between two sheets of wax paper and use your kitchen roller or refrigerated biscuits to roll out your clay.  Covering your clay with wax paper will help prevent clay from sneaking into your wooden roller.

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


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Well, the time has come.  College calls and kids are loading up and taking off.  Now, we all know that dorm living is not the most exciting thing in the world, but playing around with can make it super easy and convenient. allows readers to arrange and decorate their dorm room online…so they can have a “floor plan” for move in day.  Roommates can arrange where things will go, what they need, what will fit, and what should stay at home.  All you need to do is create a free account and find your college from the extensive list DesignYourDorm provides.

Do you need a new lamp?  Desk?  Chair?  Bob Marley poster?  Simply add it to your shopping list on and you have the option to simply print it out or buy what you need right there.  Once it’s in your cart, the item appears in your room so you can check to see if it will fit and plan accordingly.

Have fun and happy rearranging!

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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