Monthly Archives: October 2010

Alice in Wonderland-Inspired IKEA Table

So my latest creative venture has involved a beat up table from IKEA and an old copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  It’s not quite finished yet, but I thought I’d share how it’s coming along…because knowing me it will take forever for me to actually be satisfied with it.  🙂

Alice in Wonderland table

This table’s creation happened in many stages.  First I had the checkerboard pattern you see there, made from squares of tissue paper.  I let that sit for about 3 weeks and then I was bored with it.  I found a tattered copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a free box at my local library and ripped out all the pictures, as well as my favorite quotes from the book.  I mod podged them all around the table and called it good…for about another 2 weeks, anyway.

One weekend while relaxing at home, I decided to bust out some old paints I found hidden in my closet.  I added some color to some of the pictures on the table and eventually decided to paint them all.  And there you have it.  My Alice in Wonderland table.

This is a fun project that can be done on any cheap table.  Mod Podge photos, quotes, paper, etc. and make it your own.  The only bad thing about Mod Podge-ing is that once you start, it’s impossible to stop!

Here’s some other views:

With my “painted roses” from last week! 🙂

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

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Guinness Cupcakes

I saw a picture of Guinness cake a few days ago and was inspired to try something similar.  Here is a recipe for Guinness cupcakes with Irish coffee flavored frosting.  Delish.

Guinness cupcakes!

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Guinness (Extra Stout, DO NOT use draft)

1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into slices

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa

2 cups sugar

¾ cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking soda

FROSTING RECIPE TO FOLLOW

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line or grease your cupcake tins.
  2. Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan.  Turn on medium heat and add the butter.  Heat until butter is melted.  Whisk in cocoa and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Turn the heat off the Guinness and slowly add about 1 cup of the batter into the sour cream mixture, whisking continuously (to temper the eggs).  Add the sour cream mixture into the Guinness mixture ad finally whisk in the flour and baking soda.
  5. Pour cake batter into tin and bake about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely before frosting.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into slices and at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream (any flavor is fine)**

**I personally do not like Bailey’s, so I used 2 tablespoons Irish coffee flavored ice cream.  I let it melt to a liquid and it worked just fine.  This would also be delicious with cold coffee.

Cream the butter on high speed for about 3 minutes.  Add the Bailey’s (or liquid of your choosing) and mix thoroughly.  Slowly add powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until well blended.  If your frosting is too hard, add more liquid…to runny, add more powdered sugar.

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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Because God Loves Stories Book Review

A Book for those who love stories

There are two things that Jewish people love above all else:  talking and eating.  My aunt, who lives in Israel, always says, “it wouldn’t be Jewish if we weren’t all around a table talking, laughing, and eating.”

Because God Loves Stories:  An Anthology of Jewish Storytelling is the result of 36 Jewish storytellers sitting around a table and telling stories, each of whom spin tales of old to express his or her own visions of Jewish culture.  Stories from the Bible are carefully woven through family accounts of Jewish summer camp, Holocaust stories, and stories about the core of the religion itself.

I often found myself talking back to these storytellers, saying out loud how I agree or disagree with their point of view…how their story reminded me of something my great-grandfather used to say…and how I can relate to the pain and confusion that goes along with not knowing where you belong.  This is a brilliant look into Judaism and the blood that keeps it thriving.  It’s also a great guide for those who are, for whatever reason, separated from their roots, lost in religion, or need some reminder of what anchors them to their ancestors.

For those who are not Jewish or are not familiar with the stories of the Jewish people, do not pass this book up.  Chances are there’s at least one story in this anthology that will touch you, inspire you, or motivate you.  They are each told with such love and care that it would be impossible not to be somewhat spiritually renewed and regenerated after reading them.

One of my favorite stories in Because God Loves Stories was brought up by storyteller Nina Jaffe.  “The Most Precious Thing” is a story with the backbone of a tale from the Talmud spun with themes almost all of us can relate to:  love, marriage, and divorce.

In this tale, a couple experiences great sadness after living many years without having children.  At that time, the law stated that the couple had grounds to divorce if the woman was unable to have a child…and this thought was brought up by the couple many times over the years.  When they finally agreed that a divorce would be the best thing, they sought the advice and help of one Rabbie Simeon Bar Yochai.  They told him about their inability to conceive and how they thought a divorce would be the best thing…that way at least the husband can find a woman with whom he could reproduce.  The rabbi, who was a very wise man, looked at the couple and could tell that a divorce was really not what they needed.  What they needed was each other.  He told them to go back home and cook a splendid Sabbath dinner and celebrate the many years they have shared.  They agreed and left for their home.

On the way home, the husband turned to the wife and told her how much he loved her and how he was so appreciative of her being faithful to him for so many years.  He told her that before she was to leave the following day, she could take the one thing in the house that was most precious to her.  She agreed.

That night the couple feasted to their hearts content.  The husband ate and drank and eventually fell asleep, exhausted and full.  When he awoke, he was in a place he did not recognize.  He saw his wife and asked her where he was.

“Don’t you remember your promise to me?” she replied.  “You told me before we parted that I could take with me the most precious thing I could find…I looked over all we owned, but I could find nothing as precious as you.”

When he heard those words, the husband smiled and took her in his arms.  He brought her back to their home where they continued to do as they have always done…living life happy and content with one another.

Like all Jewish stories, this one has many versions and endings.  In one ending, the couple return to their home and shortly after are blessed with a child.  In another version, the couple return and live the rest of their years together, always knowing that the only thing they need is each other.

“The Most Precious Thing”, like so many other stories in this collection, could reach anyone of any religion.  Because God Loves Stories is solely a collection of the stories we all know…with a few more “oye veh’s” and sprinkled with Yiddish wit.

NEXT WEEK: “IF YOU CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES, WE DISAPPEAR.  YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.  WE WILL BE WATCHING.  WE WANT TWO MILLION DOLLARS.  GET THE MONEY READY.  GO HOME AND WAIT.  THERE WILL BE NO SECOND CHANCE.” Eeep!

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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6 Clever Uses for Calendars

Well, it’s hard to believe but it’s almost time to start calendar shopping for next year.  Before you toss your old one, consider some of these ideas:

Reuse old calendars

  1. Turn your old calendar into unique wrapping paper…best part is that you can use the dated side as well as the photo side.
  2. Get crafty by cutting up the photos and using them to decorate your scrapbooks, frames, coasters, etc.  The possibilities are endless.
  3. Donate them to schools or nursing homes.  They’ll gladly take these off your hands to help teach students and adults alike how to count and to help train their memory.
  4. Use the photos as writing workshop tools.
  5. Plan ahead and look for a calendar with photos that would complement your decor.  When that year/month is over, frame the picture and hang it up.
  6. Cut the squares out and rearrange to make a new calendar!  Bonus—all the birthday and anniversary notes you wrote down last year won’t change.

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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8 Dollar Store Halloween Costume Ideas

So you think you have to go out and spend $60.00 on a Halloween costume you or your kids are going to wear once?  Not so.  Here are some ideas for you and your kids that are high in creativity and low in price:

A Bunch of Grapes!

WHAT YOU NEED:

Purple or green sweatsuit, purple or green grapes, green cap, and masking tape to attach the grapes

Bubblegum Machine:

I was going to do this last Halloween but didn’t think I’d be able to sit down at work in a bubblegum costume 🙂

WHAT YOU NEED:

Red sweatsuit, clear garbage bag, water balloons

Blow up the water balloons.  Make two holes for your legs in the clear garbage bag and two holes for your arms.  Insert the balloons through the top hole and either tie it off behind your neck or tuck it under your sweater.

Smartie Pants!

WHAT YOU NEED:

Comfy pants, tape, Smartie candies

Laundry Basket/Bedroom Floor:

WHAT YOU NEED:

Clothes, socks, safety pins

Pin various pieces of clothing to your clothes.  Mismatched socks, undershirts, and underwear are great because they’re light and won’t weigh you down.

Burrito!

Here is my crazy sister dressed up in tin foil!

WHAT YOU NEED:

Creativity and tin foil 🙂

Also, some Chipotle’s will give you a free/discounted burrito if you go in on Halloween dressed in tin foil.  Check with your local restaurant and see if they participate (my sister is a Chipotle freak…thus this tin foil getup.  She gets free burritos at her branch for dressing in tin foil!).

OTHER IDEAS:

*Weave rubber snakes through your hair.  If they need to be secured, hot glue hair pins under the snake to attach it to your hair and keep it from moving.

*Use skin-safe glue (or theatre/makeup adhesive) to attach toy spiders and bugs to your legs, neck, or arms.  One little bug crawling up your leg is probably enough to freak anyone out!

*Mix and match costumes from various years and see what you can create.  You could probably make an awesome Whoville costume or you could be a ghost of Halloween’s past…

You can find more fun kids ideas here:

http://kidsstuffworld.com/tag/halloween/

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

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Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

I love oatmeal just as much as the next size 12 girl who longs to be a size 8, but I can only eat so much of it before my taste buds start getting board and long for something a bit more creative…therefore, I’ve added one simple ingredient to my morning meal and have fallen in love with oatmeal all over again.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Oatmeal 🙂

PUMPKIN SPICE OATMEAL

What You Need:

1/2 cup quick cooking oats

2-3 teaspoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons raisins or dried cranberries

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Add water (based on the measurements placed on your oatmeal container) and microwave for about 1 minute.  Stir and devour.

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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Armchair Reader Goes Hollywood Book Review

The Stars are out tonight! 🙂

I’m a sucker for non-fiction—especially books about people I respect and admire, movies and TV shows I love, and the history behind creating some of the brightest stars on the silver screen.  So when I drew the title Armchair Reader:  Goes Hollywood out of my jar of book titles, I got a little too excited.  I jumped into the book right away and finished it in a couple days.  If you are a fan of current or classic cinema, you’ll want to check this out.

Armchair Reader:  Goes Hollywood is similar to the Uncle John series, where the articles can be read at random and the book does not have to be read cover to cover.  Search around for information about your favorite movies and stars and read articles that may convince you to add some movies to your Netflix queue (who would want to pass up on a movie called Frankenhooker?  I mean, come on!)

Armchair Reader:  Goes Hollywood is chock full of Hollywood secrets, stories, scandals, set stories, and even advice on how to get your puppy into show business.  Here’s a little peek at what you’ll find in AR:  Goes Hollywood:

*Hollywood was originally built as a preservationist society where modern excesses would not be tolerated.

*Marilyn Monroe studied literature at UCLA while under contract with FOX.

*The Wizard of Oz, one of the most viewed films of all time, only cost 2.8 million dollars to make.

*Blow up dolls were used to fill the stands in some scenes in Seabiscuit.

*The cast of Casablanca had no idea how the movie would end until they were shooting it, so what you see on screen is the actor’s true reaction to the script.

*Clint Eastwood’s first movement as Mayor of Carmel, California was to legalize ice cream parlors.  They were previously banned because the ice cream was making the sidewalks sticky.

*Steven Spielberg applied to the university of southern California’s film school and was rejected three times.

*You know the famous HOLLYWOOD sign?  Of course you do.  Did you know, though, that various Hollywood stars have “adopted” the letters to keep the sign from being knocked down?  Proud parents include Hugh Hefner, Gene Audry, and Alice Cooper.

*Jaws was the first ever summer blockbuster, rolling in 129 million dollars; however, the production of the movie was about as disastrous as a shark out of water…and thank goodness it was, because if everything went according to plan, the movie we know would not exist.

AR:  Goes Hollywood is a great gift for any lover of current and classic cinema.  Keep it handy as you work your way through your movie collection and experience your films on a whole new level.

NEXT WEEK: ATTACK OF THE TALKING KUGEL!  No, it’s not an upcoming Yiddish monster movie…as amazing as that would be–

All of my Jewish readers, take note…you’re going to want to be here next week.

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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