Monthly Archives: March 2011

9 Clever Uses for Marshmallows

I love marshmallows.  They’re one of my favorite snacks.  I especially love the ones with toasted coconut on them.  HEAVEN!  But the little marshmallow can do so much more than satisfy a sweet tooth…

Clouds of Delicious-ness

1.  Sooth a sore throat with 2-3 marshmallows.  The gelatin in the marshmallow helps take care of that irritation…just be sure to chew the marshmallows first.

2.  Summer is coming and it’s time to get your first pedicure of the season.  Out of cotton balls?  Hate those stupid toe-separating torture devices?  Use marshmallows!  They’re soft and will separate your toes without causing major discomfort.

3.  Use melted marshmallows as an edible glue.  It can help hold decorations on cakes or gingerbread houses.

4.  Throw one or two marshmallows in your sugar canister to help get rid of those pesky sugar clumps.  This works for brown sugar, too.

5.  Decorate them with food-safe markers!  Great rainy day activity for kids.  Look for the extra large marshmallows for more decorating fun!

6.  Summer also means ice cream.  Stop annoying drips by placing a marshmallow at the bottom of the cone before you add the ice cream.  If you’re a Popsicle person, slide a marshmallow on to the bottom of the Popsicle stick to stop drips.

7.  Hate waxy birthday cake?  Stick birthday candles in marshmallows and then put the marshmallows on your cake.  The wax will drip onto the marshmallow, which you can simply toss without ruining your beautiful birthday cake.

8.  Have a photo shoot!  Marshmallows come in tons of varieties, flavors, sizes, colors, shapes, etc.  Assemble them into creatures with toothpicks and edible marshmallow glue and create some very unique photos!  By the way, The Washington Post has an annual PEEP photo competition for those who are photographically minded.  Check out The Peep Show for more info.

9.  They are also just a great snack!  I love mine with pretzels and chocolate chips.

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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3D Butterfly Wall Art Tutorial

Okay, so you can only hang so many pictures, right?  And sometimes when you have a large wall space, a framed picture is just to0, well, in the box.  If you want to break free of the wood frame, consider this idea:

Mature Book Worms!

As most of you can tell by now, I have a thing for butterflies…and I also love books.  So what I did here was print out a variety of old book covers and cut out large butterflies that I simply taped on my wall.  Boom.  Unique wall art that’s totally metamorphasized.

Other View…

Close Up

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

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The Sweetness of Doing Nothing

Getting back to the original purpose of Tuesday posts…words of wisdom.  I came upon this quote while watching Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts.  I thought the movie was pretty good (I often prefer the book…especially when the movie is based on the book), but I couldn’t get this quote out of my mind:

“Dolce far Niente”

In Italian, this gem of a saying means, “the sweetness of doing nothing.”  I love this.  I took an intercultural communications class in college and we had a guest speaker from Africa come in and talk about African culture and how it differs from “American” culture.  He stared at us for a few minutes and then simply said, “Americans have watches…but we have time.”

In a culture that’s so fast-paced and goal-oriented, we often forget to stop and acknowledge what’s really important:  love, family, friends, food, prayer, faith, our souls.

My goal for this year is to embrace “dolce far niente” and really savor every moment.  I want to learn to enjoy doing nothing instead of feeling guilty about relaxing.  I want to learn how to turn off my brain when I’m trying to sleep.  I want to eat good food and make time for those I love.  This is it, guys…one chance to live your life.  As my main man, Sinatra, would say:  “I’m gonna live till I die.”

Amen.

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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Cranberry Orange Almond Cake

Happy Monday, everyone!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

I have a delicious new cake recipe for you.  I made this cake on Saturday for a little family get-together; however, since I decided to make it in a shaped cake pan instead of the round 10″ pan I should have used, it didn’t look too pretty when I took it out.  This is a very moist cake…so shaped pans are not the way to go.  If you have a 9 or 10″ round pan, stick with that.

While my cake didn’t look all that nice, it tastes amazing.  And when it’s cooking in your kitchen, you won’t be able to restrain yourself from stealing a few smells as it bakes in the oven.

This is what it SHOULD look like…

CRANBERRY ORANGE ALMOND CAKE

Topping:

1 C sliced raw unsalted almonds

2 Tbs regular butter, melted

2 Tbs brown sugar

Cake:

2 C all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

3 large eggs

2 C sugar

¾ C regular butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp pure vanilla

zest of 1 orange

juice of 1 orange

12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 300° F.  Grease 10 inch spring form pan with butter.

Topping:  Combine almonds, butter and brown sugar in a bowl and refrigerate.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium high speed until mixture is lighter in color and has increased in volume.  About 5 minutes.  Turn mixer to low and slowly add butter.  Turn mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla, zest, and orange juice and stir.  Slowly fold ½ C of the flour mixture at a time into the egg and sugar mixture.  Add cranberries and stir gently to incorporate.

Pour into pan and top with almond mixture.  Bake on middle rack  for 1 hour, then place a piece of foil on top of the cake to prevent burning and bake for another 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on cooling rack for 10 minutes and then remove pan and cool cake on cooling rack.

Courtesy of kitchenrunway.com

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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Blackberry Wine Book Review

Blackberry Wine

Sometimes a book is so perfectly intoxicating that you can literally engage all your senses into the story.  You can taste the foods, smell the odors, and even hear your own feet walk upon the cobblestone path that leads through the main part of town.  This utter indulgence in a book has only happened to me a few times; ironically, three of those instances were thanks to author, Joanne Harris.

In 1999, Harris published Chocolat, one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in a long time.  The sequel, The Girl with No Shadow, was equally, if not more, invigorating than the story that preceded it…and sitting in between these two delicious novels is a touching and heroic tale of a renegade winemaker by the name of Jay Mackintosh.  While Blackberry Wine is not really part of the Chocolat timeline, it does include some of the characters and helps fill the gap between the long hiatus between Vianne’s departure from the dreamy French town of Lansquenet and her eventual return.

Blackberry Wine is the sweet story of a man with a dream, a passion, a mission.  Jay Mackintosh, a one-hit wonder of an author, spent the majority of his childhood growing up with his neighbor, Joe Cox.  Joe was a winemaker, combining exotic fruits and spices to create some of the most unique wine Jay has ever tasted.  Jay was so inspired by Joe’s life and stories that he decided to write a novel about him, Jackapple Joe.  The novel was a huge success and Jay spent many years basking in the glory; however, as the craze for Jackapple Joe dies down, his publisher starts demanding another story.  Uninspired and unmotivated, Jay throws all caution to the wind and impulsively buys a little cottage in France, hoping inspiration is waiting for him there; however, Jay soon discovers that this little house holds more than just dust and discarded furniture…it holds stories, spirits, and secrets.

Blackberry Wine is not my favorite of Joanne Harris’s novels.  It took a while for me to get into it, but once the book released its flavor, I couldn’t get enough.  Uncork your favorite bottle of wine, cozy up with a comfy blanket and get ready to go on one romantic and eye-opening adventure with Jay Mackintosh.

NEXT WEEK:  Every kid has a dream.  When I was three, I wanted nothing more than to be a veterinarian.  Next week, we’ll follow the many adventures of one of the most famous veterinarians on his many quests to change the lives of hundreds of people…one pet at a time.

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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10 Clever Uses for Wine Corks

To get us in the mood for tomorrow’s book review, I thought I’d share some ideas about how to reuse those pesky wine corks…since they never seem to want to get back in the bottle (and why should they, quite honestly!).  So here are some clever ideas on how to put those cork stoppers to use:

Wine Corks

1.  Make trivets and coasters.  These cork wonders are great for setting down hot plates, pans, and mugs.  Arrange them vertically or horizontally and simply hot glue them together.

2.  Glue them onto a hard surface to make a bulletin board.

3.  Glue several corks together in a large square or circular shape and use it rest your muddy wet boots on during the spring.

4.  My grandmother has an Italian-themed kitchen.  If she drank wine, the corks would make a great baseboard or headboard around the kitchen.

5.  Not feeling crafty?  Shred up those corks and mix them in with your soil to create mulch.  They retain moisture, so your soil will remain soft and wet.

6.  Attach corks to a piece of wood to create a coat/hat/apron/necklace/bracelet/yarn/string/scissors/utensil holder.

7.  Turn those corks into a beautiful bath mat for your bathroom.  It will look stunning in a simple white bathroom.

8.  Use them to hold your pins while sewing.

9.  Need a fishing bobber?  Wine corks to the rescue!

10.  An elegant dinner party will look all the more beautiful when you use those wine corks as place holders.  Cut a slit in the wine cork and stick a cardstock piece of paper with your guest’s name on it into the slit.  Tie a ribbon around the cork and tah dah!

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 Dollar Cupcake Liner Wall Art

Call me crazy, but I really do not like cupcake wrappers.  I love cupcakes…I love everything about them…but I just think those wrappers are a waste of paper…not to mention they don’t give me the smooth edges I’m looking for when I bake in a pan.

So, what to do with all these wrappers?  How about hanging them on my wall?  Here’s a super cute way to add a splash of color to a white wall (use colored wrappers or wrappers with patterns for a striking piece) or a way to draw attention to a colorful wall.  All you need are a variety of wrappers, a hot glue gun, 4 tiles or canvases, and some creativity.  I think I found a new way to decorate my dining room…

cupcake wrappers!

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

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Egglings Review

It’s hard to believe, at least here in Chicago, that spring is indeed coming (hopefully!).  I’m more than ready to welcome March with open arms in the hopes that it will bring with it a beautiful spring season.

To get in the spirit, I want to show you these adorable little planters I discovered a few years ago.  You can find them in many novelty magazines and can also order them directly from the Eggling website.

A spud that sprouts!

You can get little Egglings that look like animals, eggs, potatoes, and more.  While most of them only grow grass, others grow herbs…and you can easily use the planters once the plant is finished growing.

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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