Monthly Archives: April 2011

Guenevere Book Review

First of all, I’m sorry I’ve been so random in my posts the last few weeks.  Things have been getting a little crazy, but I am really going to try to be more consistent now.  🙂

The Queen

Just like most of the gullible romantics around the US this morning, I’m barely awake, on my 4th or 38th cup of coffee, and just cannot stop smiling after watching the wedding of William and Kate.  Granted I’m not one who’s particularly interested in the workings of the Royal Family, but I don’t know how anyone could not fall in love with Kate Middleton.  Seriously.  First of all, she’s stunning…she has the most beautiful smile, and just seems like the most genuine person (if she’s not, I don’t want to know).  In light of what’s been happening all over the world, it seems like this wedding was the morale booster we all needed.  Should she become Queen, it seems that Kate would be “a Queen for the people”, a potential protege of the beloved Queen Victoria…and perhaps likened in beauty to one Queen Quenevere who, although fictional, still holds a powerful position in British literature, folklore, myth, and legend.

When she met a young man named Arthur who was destined to be king, Quenevere was simply smitten with him.  After the very recent death of her mother and the overwhelming responsibility to take her crown as Queen of the Summer Country, Quenevere found stability in Arthur…comfort in his firm stance, passion in his tender hands and loving heart.  He loved her wholly and completely and would stop and nothing to win her affections…that is until infidelity got the best of BOTH of them.

In this first book of a trilogy of novels chronicling the life of Queen Guenevere, Rosalind Miles attempts to tell this legendary story of love and passion through the voice of the woman who was “the center of the storm”.  Guenevere:  Queen of the Summer Country is a romantic and heart-wrenching narrative, complete with all the pageantry, politics, war, lust, love, and conflict the Brits so gallantly require in their legends.  Miles does a great job giving these characters flesh and blood, a heart and a soul.  These are not the simple archetypes of the King Arthur legends.  This story has great depth and respect for these influential players who have helped build the foundation of British literature.

Guenevere:  Queen of the Summer Country is not a challenging read.  Having knowledge of the King Arthur legends, I found myself developing a sense of respect and understanding for Guenevere, but even if you have no knowledge of this “fictional history”, there’s no need to take a crash course before jumping into this book.  It’s very easy to follow and understand.  I have not read the other two books in the trilogy, only because I found that this one stood quite well on its own.  I didn’t feel a need to dive into her story any further, but if the other two books are anything like this one, I’m sure they would be enjoyable (anyone wanting more dirt and Guenevere and Lancelot might want to invest in at least the first 2 books…).

NEXT WEEK:  Next Sunday is Yom HaShoah, or The Day of Remembrance…a day to commemorate those millions and millions of people killed in the Holocaust.  Next week will be spent honoring those who perished and hopefully giving hope that we as a people will continue to heal and grow.

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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8 Common Spatulas and How to Use Them

If you’re like me, you have tons of little gadgets in your kitchen…but little to no knowledge about what they’re actually made to do.  Today, we’re going to take a closer look at spatulas…one gadget that has completely taken over my little kitchen.  Not all spatulas will get your job done…so take inventory and use this list to help determine what stays in the kitchen and what can be flipped into the box marked “good will”.

for spreading…

CAKE SPATULA or STRAIGHT EDGED SPATULA

These spatulas look like long knives with a rounded tip at the end.  They are very flexible and are long and rectangular in shape.  These spatulas are awesome for frosting a cake.  They are also handy to help level off ingredients in a measuring cup and removing edges of a cake from a pan.

for serving…

PIE SPATULA

The pie spatula looks like a triangle and is often made of very thin metal, to allow for some flexibility.  They can also be made of plastic, wood, or glass, but these are often less flexible.  Some may have a serrated edge to help cut through pies or cakes.

for scraping…

RUBBER SPATULA

Rubber or silicone spatulas are awesome to have on hand.  They come in tons of sizes and shapes and are best used to help scrape the sides of mixing bowls.  They are also great for folding ingredients or mixing fragile ingredients together (folding in egg whites, for example).  I also use these to mix sauces on non-stick pans to prevent scratching on the pan.  They’re great for omlettes and stir fry, too.  If you bake a lot, have plenty on hand, including some small ones to mix ingredients in smaller bowls.

for mixing…

SPOONULA

Not to be confused with the rubber spatula, the spoonula is a rubber or silicone spatula with a concave head.  This design allows for easy mixing and folding.

for frying…

SLOTTED FISH SPATULA

This weird lookin’ flipper is great for controlling very fragile ingredients.  While it’s designed for delicate fish filets, it can also be used for other breakable foods, like crepes, eggs, and other foods you might fry (since the slotted design allows for easy draining).

for wok cooking…

WOK SPATULA

The wok spatula is specifically designed to be used with a wok.  It’s rounded shovel like appearance helps keep ingredients moving fast around the big bowl and helps “shovel” ingredients out for easy serving.  While it would be hard to use this spatula for much else other than wok cooking, it can be used as a serving tool for veggies, fruit, or other foods being served in bite sized pieces.

for flipping…

COOKIE SPATULA

These spatulas are often wide and thin.  They can be made of metal, plastic, or wood.  They are designed to slide under round items, so this spatula is also perfect for making pancakes, hamburgers, fried potatoes/eggplant, onions, and so much more.

for stirring…

WOODEN SPATULA

The great thing about these is that wood is a poor conductor of heat, making this gadget perfect for mixing things at very high temperatures (pasta sauces, for example…or stir fry).  However, keep in mind that wood retains flavor…so keep your wooden sauce utensils far away from your wooden dessert tools.  As you shop look for hardwood spatulas, like beech, cherry, or boxwood.  Stay away from pine (which splinters easily) or lacquered woods.

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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Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters Book Review

Friday’s post has been moved to today…since I’m going to be out of town this weekend and will be unable to enter the blogosphere.  Enjoy and a happy Easter to all!

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Elinor and Marianne are distressed.  Not only are they dealing with the unfortunate and gruesome hammerhead attack that left their father nothing but fish food, but they’re being kicked out of their house by a jealous sister-in-law who is also robbing them of their finances.  Scrapped for money and time, Elinor and Marianne’s mother, Mrs. Dashwood, decides to whisk them and their younger sister, Margaret, off to Pestilent Island…where they remain under the care of “pirate”, Sir John Middleton.  The four Dashwood women quickly become acquainted with the island and her mysterious secrets.  Death, romance, betrayal, mystery, and fear all await these women as they often find themselves fighting for their lives, their honor, and, by golly, a little self-respect!

Graphic Illustrations leave nothing to the imagination!

When I first saw Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters on the bookshelf at Borders, I simply couldn’t wait to start reading it.  For one, Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Jane Austen novel and anyone who knows me knows I’m all about the pirate scene.  Expecting nothing and hoping for everything, I found myself completely engrossed in this delightful story…well, maybe delightful is the wrong word…

Graphic illustrations leave nothing to the imagination!

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters retains the same basic frame of the original Austen novel; but is seasoned with vicious sea monsters, huge flesh-eating lobsters, underwater worlds, and, yes, pirates.  Lovers of Pirates of the Carribean’s portrayal of Davy Jones will find Colonel Brandon especially entertaining…since he seems to be cursed with the same “octo-face” problem– but for a much different reason…

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters is a great read to take to the beach.  It’s witty, fun, romantic, and often very humorous (I was laughing out loud at least once every chapter).  In this war of land and sea, it’s only the best swimmers who will find the heart’s true desire…

NEXT WEEK:  A love story like no other…a story that has been told and retold hundreds of times…a woman torn between two men, two duties, two titles, and two worlds.  Hers is an epic tale of love, fortune, destiny, and sacrifice.

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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Embroidery Hoop Ceiling Art

Sewing seems to come in and out of “style.”  The art of being able to make your own clothes is something I still can’t grasp (I’m about at the level of being able to hem my drapes and pants…).  However, regardless of what’s fashionable, you can always put those strange wooden sewing circles to use by hanging them from your ceiling.  Check it out–

Sweet Idea!

I found this on Apartment Therapy and fell in love!  I want to create a nursery just so I can borrow this idea.  If you don’t want to hang these from the ceiling, you can also arrange different sized wooden rings on your wall.  They’re very light and can easily be hung with a push pin or a small nail.  Use up various scraps of fabric you have lying around or recycle that old well-loved tee shirt that is either too small or too loved to wear in public 🙂

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

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Asian-Inspired Salad

This salad is not skimpy on the flavor.  I meant it to be a wrap, but it kept falling apart…so a salad it is!  🙂  If you’re more organized than me and can eat a salad wrap, try that.

Spicy-ish Asian salad

ASIAN SALAD

2 celery stalks
4 scallions (most folks call them green onions, but they’re really scallions)
1 package grill mates Hawaiian Luau marinade
¼ cup oil
¼ cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lb ground turkey
Salad
Coconut
Ground Ginger

Chop celery and scallions.  Set aside.

Combine marinade, oil, orange juice, honey and soy sauce.  Mix until combined and set aside.

In a skillet on the stove, cook ground turkey until no longer pink.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Pour in marinade and bring to a simmer.

Place salad on a plate and top with celery, scallions, and meat.  If desired, top with coconut and ground ginger.

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 Five Books of Miriam Book Review

For thousands of years, the Torah—The Five Books of Moses—has been at the center of Jewish life.  It contains our history, our culture, and has been scrutinously studied by learned men since its creation.  Hard to believe, but it’s only recently that women have been involved in the study and discussion of Torah.  In her stunning book, The Five Books of Miriam, Ellen Frankel finally gives the women of the Torah their due…as they discuss the Five Books of Moses from the women’s perspective in a round-table setting.  Hear Miriam’s thoughts on Moses, slavery, death, sex and much more.  Rachel, Leah, Sarah, Esther, and Eve make appearances as well, as do many other nameless women who helped build Judaism into what it is today.

The Five Books of Miriam is broken down by book (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).  In each section, the women of the Bible discuss lessons, quotes, meanings, men, and much more.  While this book can be read front to back, it would be much more beneficial to use as a guide while reading the Bible or to help stimulate conversation in a book club.

As Passover approaches, it’s so important to remember the sacrifices these women had to make…the lessons they helped teach and the stories they helped create.  Miriam herself may be the unsung “Passover Hero”, and what better way to honor her than to tell her story in her own words?

NEXT WEEK:  “Sisters…sisters…there were never such devoted sisters…”, that is until man-eating lobsters, sea monsters, and vicious flesh-craving sea life reek havoc on a quaint English island and utterly destroy all hope of happiness.  Oh, what is a girl to do?

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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Easy DIY Spice Container

Spring has sprung!  That means summer is not far away…and camping season is almost upon us.  While it’s always fun to have weenie roasts and PB&J sammies around the campfire, nothing says you can’t have a little culinary fun, too!  Put your favorite seasoning spices in an old pill box for easy and organized out-of-kitchen cooking.  Tape the names of the spices over the days of the week and you’re good to go!

Weekly pill boxes like this can be found at Walgreens, CVS Pharmacies, Walmart, and many dollar stores.

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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