Monthly Archives: May 2011

Summer Egg Rolls

Here’s a delicious and satisfying way to enjoy Chinese egg rolls without the guilt.

Summer Egg rolls with avacado and mango


Egg Roll wraps (7-8)

1 mango, sliced very thin

1 avocado, sliced very thin

1 cup chopped cilantro

Asian noodles, cooked, drained, and cooled (optional)

oil for frying

1.  Lay out all your ingredients in an assembly line.  Fill each egg roll wrap with noodles (if desired), cilantro, and 3-4 slices of mango and avocado.  Roll up tightly and dab the end with water to keep it together.  Set aside.  Repeat until completed.

2.  Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add the egg rolls 2 or three at a time, watching constantly because the wraps cook extremely fast and are easy to burn.  Flip once and cook on other side.  Remove and let drain.

3.  Sprinkle your rolls with salt and serve with spicy peanut sauce or just eat as is!

Thinly sliced ingredients

Ready for frying!

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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American Indian Myths and Legends Book Review

Stories and legends often represent the heart and soul of a culture.  They tell tale of creation of life, the supernatural, higher beings, and even explain such miniscule things as why the crow is black and why a beaver’s tale is flat.

Perhaps the greatest storytelling culture is that of the American Indian…a culture so committed and dedicated to oral history, myths, and legends.  In Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz’s colorful collection, American Indian Myths and Legends, nearly 200 stories help give reason to creation, life and death, spirits, love, human and animal relations, and thoughts on war and warrior code.  People familiar with traditional Native American stories might recognize some of these stories, and will definitely remember familiar faces like Iktome, Glooskap, and the ever so clever Coyote.

As is the case with most myths and legends, these stories are meant to teach a lesson; therefore, many of the tales in this collection deal with more adult themes, such as sexual intercourse, rape, incest, and murder.  While those tales are few and far between, the remainder of the book is filled with comical and meaningful tales meant to teach children and adults how to be good people.  Even those with no knowledge of the Native American culture will find it easy to take something away from one, if not all, of these stories.  You may even recognize themes from your own cultural history, such as mass floods, mystical saviors, and the creation of man and beast.

American Indian Myths and Legends is a great read for any story lover.  It is easily organized into major themes and each story is no more than 2-3 pages.  Since these are the tales of a culture solely based on oral history, many believe that one cannot get the full effect of a Native American legend without reading it out loud…so gather friends and family around the campfire and pass the book around.  You might be surprised at what you learn…

NEXT WEEK:  By the time Jenna Massoli was 16, she had accomplished more in her life than many 30 year olds.  She was making thousands of dollars a night performing, had numerous modeling jobs with various magazines, and had already starred in a few movies.  Never heard of her?  Well, you won’t find her movies on Netflix, that’s for sure…

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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5 Common Cooking Clamaties and How to Fix Them

We’ve all been there…grease splatters in the microwave, food explosions on the stove…luckily the solution to these common kitchen problems is as easy as overcooking your rice.



Not to worry.  Bust out a package of powdered drink mix (like Kool-Aid) with 2 quarts water.  Let it sit for 10 minutes and then wipe down the microwave with the rough side of a sponge.  Look for mixes that include citric acid, which is a grease fighting super hero.


Okay, just calm down.  Grab a handful of Cheerios and grind them up in the machine for about 30 seconds.  You could also place a charcoal briquette in the grinder and cover it with a paper bag.  Let it sit overnight so the porous surface of the charcoal can swallow the smell-causing agents.


For a quick clean up, fill the pan with water, bring it to a boil, simmer for 15 minutes, and then drain, coaxing off any stubborn food with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.  You could also coat the pan with vegetable oil and let it work its magic overnight.  Mop up the mess/oil with paper towels or a clean cloth.


Simply fill the pan with hot water and toss in a fabric softening dryer sheet and let it sit overnight.  The softening agents in the sheet will help the rice separate from the pan.


Not to worry.  Sprinkle some mustard powder on a wet board and rub it in with a sponge before washing it as normal.  Mustard is an awesome odor eater.  Yellow mustard can help remove the garlic smell from jars, too.  If you purchase pre-chopped garlic and want to recycle the jar, just place about 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard in the jar and fill with hot water.  Stir/shake for 30-60 seconds and then rinse it clean.

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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Roasted Chicken and Veggies

This is a great springtime recipe…even though we seemed to have skipped over spring this year… 😉

Roasted Chicken with veggies


4 chicken quarters (bone in, thawed and rinsed clean)

Salt and pepper to taste

8 Yukon gold potatoes

1 bunch of scallions

2-3 handfuls baby carrots

1/4 cup chopped thyme

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place cleaned chicken in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 20 minutes.

2.  While your chicken is cooking, chop potatoes and scallions and mix with carrots, salt and pepper, and olive oil.  Remove chicken from oven and add veggies to the roasting pan.  Let chicken and veggies cook an additional 20 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and veggies are tender to the touch (the meat might be done before the veggies…if so simply remove the chicken).

3.  Sprinkle with chopped thyme and enjoy!


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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In the Heart of the Sea Book Review

Row, Row, Row Your Boat…

What if you were stranded on a boat for 90 days with no food or water?  Would you succumb to your fate and join Davy Jones…or would you stop at nothing to ensure your survival…even if that meant resorting to cannibalism?

In 1820, in the middle of the unforgiving Pacific Ocean, the 20 sailors of the whale ship Essex found themselves in such a situation.

When the Essex took off from Nantucket, the crew of the little whaling ship was ready, willing, and able to take on any whale that got in their way.  While their journey started off rough, they soon gathered hundreds of dollars worth of precious whale oil, meat, and blubber.  However, the whales weren’t going to go down easy.

As is true in many situations, the Universe is quick to even the score when things start going your way.  For the crew of the Essex, the Universe acted by proxy…in the form of one 80-foot sperm whale that was out for a little blood of its own.

In the Heart of the Sea is a chilling and epic tale of survival.  Nathaniel Philbrick recounts this horror story that motivated Herman Melville’s much less interesting book, Moby Dick, and doesn’t skimp on any details.  With nearly 50 pages of footnotes alone, Philbrick proves his knowledge of this tragic story, yet doesn’t bore you or bog you down with useless information.

What becomes of this 20-man crew?  What becomes of the whale that fiercely destroyed their boat?  How does a small island recover from such a major tragedy?  All these questions and more are answered in the final pages of In the Heart of the Sea.  This is a great accompaniment to Moby Dick (or replacement, for that matter).  Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing, crying, and cringing along with these brave men who took on the biggest battle of them all…survival.

NEXT WEEK:  Gather around for story time!  But these aren’t your grandma’s stories…they’re not even your great-grandma’s stories…these are the stories that started them all…

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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7 Clever Uses for Toothbrushes

Ideally you should only use a toothbrush for about 3-4 months before it needs to be replaced.  Seems like such a waste to let this little power cleaner spend the rest of its existence in the garbage!  Next time you replace your toothbrush, consider giving the old one a new job…

1.  Naturally toothbrushes are awesome cleaning tools.  Use them to clean hard to reach places around the house and everyday items, such as jewelry, computer key boards, cheese graters, buttons, waffle irons, and so much more.

2.  If you’re an out-of-the-box hair dyer, use an old toothbrush to apply color around your hairline.  It will limit the amount of color you have to scrub off your skin.

3.  Use toothbrushes to apply stain remover to clothes and car interiors.  Keep one in your glove compartment to remove dirt and rocks from tires.

4.  With summer just around the corner, it’s time to do some major cleaning!  Use an old toothbrush to get all the dust out of your air conditioner and fans before turning them on.

5.  Glue labels to them and stick them in the garden to identify plants and herbs.

6.  Use toothbrushes to exfoliate all over your body.  Rub it on your lips, face, elbows, knees, etc. to help remove dry dead skin.  Also great for a mani/pedi kit.

7.  If you’re creatively minded, you can turn old toothbrushes into really unique jewelry.  Read about making fun bracelets here.  Toothbrush bristles also make very unique paint strokes.

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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Round Tee Shirt Rug

Put them to good use!  I have saved all of my marching band tee-shirts from back in the day and they are literally just sitting in a drawer.  I feel terrible throwing them away…but I never wear them and have no idea what to do with them.  Then I came across this brilliant idea to turn tee shirts into a one of a kind floor rug.  Sounds like I have a fun weekend project coming up!

One of a kind summer rug!

All you need are several old (or new) tee shirts (about 12 should do the trick), scissors, and a 33″ hula hoop.  Get full directions here.

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


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8 Common Logos and What They Mean

Everyone nowadays is trying to be organic, green savvy, healthy, energy efficient, earth friendly, super human environment saving heroes…and it can be exhausting!  There are so many organizations and companies out there trying to convince buyers that they’re all about chemical free and earth friendly products.  But how can you be sure?

I came across this list about a month ago and thought it would be great to pass along.  Here you will find a few of the most trustworthy eco-certification stamps that check out as being legit…for the most part…

The US Department of Agriculture

 The US Department of Agriculture:  You’ll find this label on various food and personal care items.  When you see this label, it means the product is free of hormones, antibiotics, genetic engineering, synthetic fertilizers, and most synthetic pesticides.  According to their rules, if a product bearing this label has multiple ingredients, at least 95 percent of them must be certified organic.  HOWEVER:  Some products still may contain certain synthetic pesticides.  There are loopholes in everything and many farmers can use certain chemicals on their products and still get the USDA seal of approval.

Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance:  You’ll find this symbol on various food and produce.  The Rainforest Alliance is a nonprofit organization that “works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods.”  This label shows that various companies take actions to reduce water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, and waste.  If the RA finds out certain pesticides were used, the company may be disqualified.

Energy Star

Energy Star:  Energy Star is a branch of the EPA, created to reduce energy consumption.  You’ll find this symbol on appliances, electronics, and many lighting fixtures.  Seeing this on your product means that a third-party agency has tested the product for energy efficiency.

Green Electronics Council

Green Electronics Council:  This nonprofit organization brings “focus to the special issues of electronics and sustainability.”  This logo is found on electronic devices, such as computers and monitors.  Products bearing the EPEAT logo must help in reducing toxic materials and must have a long life cycle.  Products are awarded a gold, silver, or bronze seal based on their efficiency.

Marine Stewardship Council

Marine Stewardship Council:  This organization creates standards for sustainable fishing and traceability, so naturally you’ll find this on seafood packaging.  This label means your food comes from fisheries that don’t contribute to over fishing or environmental degradation.  HOWEVER:  The factors that determine what “sustainable fishing” is have been criticized for being too broad and general.

Forest Stewardship Council

Forest Stewardship Council:  The FSC dedicates their efforts to the responsible care and maintenance of forests.  Various paper and wood products will bear this symbol.  Seeing this means the paper or wood company are acquiring their goods from suppliers that use sustainable forestry practices, such as erosion control and habitat preservation.


WaterSense:  WaterSense is an EPA program that promotes water efficient products, programs, and practices.  Water fixtures will bear this symbol if the fixture helps save on water costs.  HOWEVER:  Ironically, WaterSense partners with KB Home, a housing manufacturer that the EPA fined for violating the Clean Water Act.

Green Seal

Green Seal:  Both products and companies can bear the Green Seal logo.  Paper, paint, restaurants, hotels, and many other goods and services bear this symbol.  What it means depends on the product or service, but Green Seal has been helping organizations learn to be green…whether it be through energy efficient means or using less chemicals in products such as soap and paint.

Courtesy of Sierra Magazine.

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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Night Book Review

In my years in public and religious school, I have read my fair share of Holocaust literature…but nothing has ever hit me quite like Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night.

In this slim and terrifying book, Wiesel recounts the horrors he and his loved ones had to endure in the “genocidal campaign” that ultimately robbed him of his family.  On top of the physical torture, Wiesel—a religious boy from birth—finds himself questioning his own beliefs.  Why would G/d do this to us?  What is he trying to tell us?  What did we do to deserve this treatment?  All these thoughts and more continuously swim around the head of this young boy as he tries so hard to accept the Holocaust as a challenge, a test, if nothing more than to convince himself that G/d really does exist.

What Night lacks in girth it makes up for in raw power.  This book will stay with you for a long time.  The anger you’ll feel, the hurt, will resonate.  If I had my way, Night would replace The Diary of Anne Frank as the traditional Holocaust required reading of the public school system.  This is the truest most honest account I have ever read…and unfortunately is probably a common enough story where any survivor could insert their name and the outcome would be the same.

Perhaps the most challenging part of Wiesel’s journey, and the journey of all the survivors for that matter, is how to move on.  How to reconnect with G/d, how to learn to love and accept people, and perhaps most importantly, how to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

NEXT WEEK:  Okay, I admit it.  I HATED Moby Dick.  I don’t care that it’s on everyone’s top ten list of classic literature.  I hated it.  But the story that spawned the classic tale of the white whale…now, that’s a crazy read…

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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Paperclips Movie Review

Carry one with you…to remember them all…

When I first saw Paperclips, I was blown away.  This touching and poignant documentary chronicles a small Tennessee school’s journey to collect 6 million paperclips, one for each person who perished in the Holocaust.  Children of a Whitwell middle school write to friends, family, celebrities, foundations, etc. explaining their project and asking them to send in a paperclip.  What happens as a result is something so moving, so miraculous, that I have chills just writing about it.

I encourage you with all my heart to add this movie to your Netflix queue…or search around and see if you can watch it online.  I am almost willing to guarantee that you will love it, or at least be inspired by it.

At a time when our world seems to be falling apart, Paperclips appears as a beacon of light, a hope and maybe an assurance that the world CAN change…one small step at a 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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