Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy New Year!

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15 Clever Uses for Crayons

Once upon a time, when I was young and stupid, I accidently left my huge collection of crayons in the back seat of my dad’s car one warm day in July.  I probably don’t need to tell you what happened, but let’s just say that Jerry Garcia would have been proud.

If you have worn out and broken crayons, don’t toss them.  Get ready to create some beautiful home decorations with your kids.

crayon-collage

1.  Shave your broken crayons and arrange the shavings into a shape between 2 sheets of wax paper.  Melt the wax with an iron and cut out ornaments or even jewelry from the warm wax.  Remove the paper and let cool.

2.  Make them into new crayons!  Place pieces and shavings into muffin tins and melt in the oven just until the colors run together.  Pop out and you have a multi-colored crayon kids will love.  You can also do this in the microwave by putting crayons in dixie cups.

3.  Hold on to those “Evening Wonder” Blacks and “Forest Brown”‘s because they work great on scratched furniture.

4.  If you have carving skills, you could make some wicked crayon sculptures.  Make them out of brand new crayons if you’re really talented, or create your own crayon and carve that…since you’ll have a little more meat to work with.

(http://inventorspot.com/articles/crayon_art_12379)

5.  Use crayons to add life to white taper candles.  Arrange your crayon rejects in a tin can and place it in a bowl of boiling hot water (once the water begins to boil, turn the heat off and let the crayons sit in the water until they melt).  Do not stir it, or else the colors will run together.  Once the crayons have melted, dip the candles into the melted crayons and you’ve got a rainbow style candle.  This is a great idea for birthday candles, too.  Just be sure to hold the candle by the wick when you dip it in the wax.

6.  Sidenote to #5, you can make your own candles with melted crayons by sticking a wick in an assorted collection of crayons and letting the wax melt.  Shave it to create the desired shape.

7.  Crayons make great fill material for small gouges or holes in resilient flooring. Get out your crayon box and select a color that most closely matches the floor.  Melt the crayon in the microwave over wax paper on medium power, a minute at a time until you have a pliant glob of color.  Now, with a plastic knife or putty knife, fill the hole.  Smooth it over with a rolling pin, a book, or some other flat object.  You’ll find the crayon cools down quickly.  Now wax the floor, to provide a clear protective coating over your new fill.

Feeling crafty?  Check out these other awesome crayon crafts that you can easily do with your kids!:

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 Ways to Have Fun on New Year’s Eve

Traffic.  Crowds.  Dangerous People.  Drunk People.  Loud People…

If this isn’t the way you want to spend New Year’s Eve, consider spending this new year’s at home.  Here are some ideas to ensure that the fun is brought to you without the fuss.

KEEP IT CLASSY:

There’s something glamourous about having a formal New Year’s Eve party.  Ask your friends to come over in their old prom attire (or at least dress nicely!) and turn it into a potluck.  Less cooking for you and a great opportunity to have a “last meal” before everyone begins their New Year’s diet.

KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY:

Some of my favorite New Year’s memories are just staying in with my parents and siblings and playing games all night.  We would literally dig up every board game we own and would plow through all of them.  It was a great bonding experience and a fun way to spend the time.  We’d dine on finger food and finally watch the ball drop before all crashing on the floor!

SINGLE?  GET READY TO MINGLE!:

Let’s face it, being alone on New Year’s sucks.  Why not follow the ol’ misery loves company rule and invite your girlfriends over for a pajama party?  Pour some wine, dig into a premade cake from Walmart and pop in some old 80’s chick flicks.

KEEPING YOUR RESOLUTION…SERIOUSLY THIS TIME:

Are you making a life-changing resolution this year, or simply ready to make a change, once and for all?  Consider having an awakening New Year’s evening.  Invite some people over, light a fire, and have everyone write down their New Year’s resolution on a piece of paper.  On a different piece of paper, have your guests write down one thing they regreted in the past year or one thing they want to let go.  Go around the room and have everyone talk about their regret, then throw that paper into the fire.  Then talk about your resolutions.  Put these in a container and bring them out next New Year’s and you can all talk about how you’ve changed in a year’s time.

TRAVEL FOR FREE:

Ever want to spend New Year’s in an exotic place?  Write down the places you’d like to spend New Year’s and draw one of them from a hat.  Do some research and see how they spend New Years, what they eat, what they wear, etc. and host a “Destination New Year’s” party.  Celebrate, eat, and live like you were anywhere but where you are.

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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Spicy Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Well, the days of holiday eating are coming to an end.  I’m already feeling the need to eat carrots and celery for the rest of my life, so here’s a little something different for your palate (sorry I haven’t put pics up recently!  My camera is somewhere in a box in my new place and I have yet to find it.  The hunt begins today).

SPICY BEEF AND BROCCOLI STIR-FRY

1 pound sirloin steak, cut against the grain into 1/4″ x 1/4″ strips

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 large broccoli stalks

1 cup reduced sodium beef broth

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger

2 large garlic cloves, minced

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

4 cups hot cooked white rice

1.  Place the beef in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and toss to coat.  Set aside.

2.  Cut the broccoli crowns into florets.  Peel the stalks and slice them crosswise into the rounds.  Set aside.

3.  In a small bowl, stir together the broth, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, cornstarch and crushed red pepper until the cornstarch dissolves.  Set aside.

4.  Place a large well-seasoned  cast-iron skillet over medium high heat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the beef and stir fry until it loses its pink color, about 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a clean bowl and set aside.

5.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the skillet.  When it is hot, add the broccoli and bell pepper, cover and cook until the veggies are just tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Stir the broth mixture and add it to the skillet.  Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the skillet.  Cook until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute.  Serve immediately over the rice.

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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A Christmas Story…Where are They Now?

It’s just not Christmas without Ralphie, Schwartz, Randy, and Flick.  Ever wonder what happened to the good ol’ Christmas Story gang?  Well, you’re in luck.

RALPHIE PARKER (Peter Billingsley):  America’s little boy is now all grown up and working behind the camera, knocking out films like Iron Man, Four Christmases, and Couples Retreat.  He also had a small role in Vince Vaughn’s comedy, The Break-Up.

RANDY PARKER (Ian Petrella):  Mommy’s Little Piggy is giving Kermit a run for his money, spending his time in animation and puppetry…specifically working as a puppeteer on various Jim Henson projects.  He’s also appeared in a few TV shows since wiping all that food off his face.

MRS. PARKER (Melinda Dillon):  A steady career in Hollywood has kept Dillon working since her days baking mashed potatoes and red cabbage.  You can see her in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Magnolia, as well as various TV shows.

MR. PARKER (Darrin McGavin):  The Old Man gave up on the furnace business and spent the last of his years dancing around the camera, starring in various films and TV shows and producing and directing various Hollywoof films.  McGavin passed away in 2006 at the age of 83.

SCHWARTZ (R.D. Robb):  Maybe it was the guilt of forcing his friend to stick his tongue to a pole that convinced R.D. Robb to stay behind the camera for a while, but Robb has sure made a name for himself as a famed Hollywood director and producer.

MRS. SHIELDS (Tedde Moore):  The no fuss teacher with the joke drawer has retired from the classroom and went on to be a part of various other film projects.  Look for her in Down the Road Again, coming out next year.

FLICK (Scott Schwartz):  Flick got his tongue removed from one pole and went to work on another, starring in his fair share of adult movies.  He recently broke out of the industry in 2000, hoping to get a fresh start.

SCOTT FARKUS and GROVER DILL (Zack Ward and Yano Anaya):  Zack Ward’s great portrayal of bully Scott Farkus was just the beginning of a crazy career in film.  Since A Christmas Story, Ward has gone on to star in a slew of horror movies, as well as appearing in some TV shows.  Yano Anaya spent most of his time away from the camera, only recently returning to work on a few documentaries.

Still can’t get enough of A Christmas Story?  Heat up some Ovaltine and hop in the car and head on down to Cleveland, OH to The Christmas Story Museum, located in the actual house where the movie was filmed.  There you can find Randy’s bib (and buy one of your own!), the cozy bunny suit, and even the famous Leg Lamp.

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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6 Clever Uses for Christmas Cards

While going through boxes of stuff in my new apartment, I came across a pile of old Christmas cards.  Now, as a previous Hallmark employee, I know that people take great care in picking out cards for people, so I feel terrible throwing them away.  Therefore, I have decided to recycle them so that they may live forever in my various craft projects.  Here are some ideas to put those cards to use after Christmas is over.

1.  Make them into ornaments.  There are tons of origami style ornament patterns online.

2.  Cut them up to create gift tags, scrapbook embellishments, or turn them into new cards!

3.  If you have various scenes that you’re a fan of, frame them and hang them in the winter for some seasonal art.

4.  Cut them up and decoupage them onto coasters.  Wrap up your coasters with some home made cookies and hot cocoa mix and you’ve got one cozy gift.

5.  You could also glue them onto wooden blocks to create a puzzle.

6.  If you’re not feeling particularly creative, you could always donate them to St. Jude’s Hospital or other various organizations.  At least you know they will be put to good use.

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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Christmas Morning Scones

I love baking for people.  I find it much more satisfying to give gifts I’ve created myself rather than give people stuff that they don’t need…so to help spread holiday cheer to all my faithful readers, I’m giving you a delicious recipe for Christmas scones.  This recipe is great because you can add whatever you’d like to it.  Cranberry and orange zest, raisins, cinnamon and apples…whatever you’d like.

Diane’s Scones

2 cups flour

¼ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter, chilled

½ cup cream

1 egg

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup cranberries, raisins, or whatever you decide to add

Put first four ingredients in food processor with motor running, add butter.  Process until crumbly.  Mix egg, cream, and vanilla with motor running and add to flour mixture.  Process until a ball forms.  On a lightly floured board, knead in cranberries/other filling and pat into a 1” thick circle.  You can cut into wedges or use a juice cup to cut out circles.  Circles are great because then your scones bake evenly.  Cool on wire rack.

To create a glaze for your scones, combine 8 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar with a flavored liquid that will complement your scones.  I created an orange glaze by doing the following:

Glaze:

Freshly grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

8 heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar

Juice from 1 and ½ oranges

1 teaspooon vanilla

Combine everything and stir until desired consistancy is achieved.  If the glaze is too thick, add more juice.  Too runny, add more sugar.  A little goes a long way in both directions, so be patient 🙂

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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