Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas!

As we come to the close of 2011, I just wanted to thank all of you for standing with me and being a part of The Hob-bee Hive “colony”!  🙂  I wish you all Happy Holidays and here’s hoping that 2012 is all you want it to be and more!

Merry Christmas!

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Baby Sock Advent Calendar

I love advent calendars!  I mean, who doesn’t, really?  You get to open a cute little gift every day leading up to Christmas (or Valentine’s Day, or your birthday, or what have you)!  Advent calendars make great gifts and are awesome projects to do as a family.

This adorable advent calendar is made with baby socks.  You can buy socks, knit them, or use the socks that have lost their “soul mate”.  Fill each sock with a little treat and count down the days until the big day!

You can use clothespins to attach the socks to the banner, but if you’re putting something heavy in the sock, they might slide off.  If that’s the case, use a needle and thread and sew the socks onto a thick banner for a little extra support.

This would be a great gift for a baby who is celebrating the first of many Christmas’s (or a gift to the parents if you fill each sock with something they may need to help care for the baby)…just be sure to give it to them before December 1!

Baby Sock Advent Calendar

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


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10 Every Day Tips and Tricks

I love discovering new ways to use everyday items…and today I have a conglomeration of tips and tricks for you regarding home goods, food tricks, and more!  Your life will never be the same!  Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the idea…

1.  Flip your toaster on its side to make grilled cheese!  This is awesome if you like open-faced sandwiches or you don’t want to take out the griddle to make a sandwich for one.

2.  On the sides of most aluminum foil wraps, there are fold-in tabs to make the tube stay in place.  I’ve always wondered what those were for!

3.  The color of the tab holding your bagged bread closed indicates the day it was baked.






4.  Cereal canisters make great trash cans for your car.  Just use a plastic bag from the grocery store as a liner.

5.  Take your bananas apart when you bring them home from the store.  They’ll ripen slower and won’t brown as quickly.

6.  Here’s one I use all the time–if you need to buy canned frosting, take it out of the container and whip it with an electric beater before frosting your cake.  It will nearly double in size!  You can also add a drop of vanilla or almond extract to get rid of that “canned frosting” flavor.

7.  Tis the season for holiday baking…and molasses.  Before you measure your molasses, honey, peanut butter, or other sticky substance, spray your measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray.  Your sticky ingredient will pour out like water.

8.  To prevent yourself from “Marilyn Monroe-ing” on a windy day, cut a few sections open in the bottom seam of your dress or skirt.  Insert a few washers or flat weights and sew it back up.  The weight will help hold the fabric down as the wind blows!

9.  Want streak free mirrors?  Turn the lights off when you wipe the mirror down.  I know it sounds strange, but I do this all the time!  Just spray them down, turn off the lights, wipe, and tah-dah!  Clean streak-free mirrors!

10.  I have short hair, so I have to style it all the time…therefore I know that cleaning the hairspray and other crap off the bathroom sink can be a pain!  Simple solution here, ladies:  use shampoo.  Shampoo is designed to clean that stuff out of your hair and it works just as easily on the sink and on the floor!  Plus your bathroom will smell amazing!

Do you have other helpful DIY tips?  Share them below!

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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Clever Storage for Yarn

Here’s a useful and decorative way to store your yarn in plain sight!  Gather some bottles, jars, or containers and wash them thoroughly.  Here’s the collection of bottles I used.

My collection of random jugs and bottles

Take your yarn and tie one end loosely around the top or bottom of the bottle and wrap it around until everything is covered.  Then take the remaining yarn and feed it into the bottle.  You can also just fill the clear bottles or jugs with the yarn, like I did here.

Jug filled with yarn!

With a cardboard circle and a piece of duct tape, create a top for the jug and feed the end of the yarn through the top…so now you can still craft with the yarn as it sits pretty on your shelf!

Top of jug

Now you have cool decorative pieces that are doubling as storage!  You can also adopt this idea when storing buttons and beads.  Use baby food jars or mason jars to store items of the same color and arrange on a shelf for a colorful (and organized!) display!

My collection!

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

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Ice Cream Snowmen Bombs

These are so cute and so fun to eat!  There’s no baking required, just freezing!  Serve with a hot cup of cocoa after a fun day sledding!

Snowman Bombs!


Vanilla ice cream

Flaked coconut

Pretzel sticks

Mini chocolate chips

Orange Starburst candy or orange fondant

1.  Pour about half a bag of coconut into a bowl.  Set aside.

2.  Place wax paper on a baking sheet and put in freezer.

3.  Let your vanilla ice cream sit for about a minute to soften.  Scoop balls of ice cream (one at a time) into the coconut and roll around to coat.  You can also use your fingers to shape the ice cream into a ball as you coat it with coconut.  Once it’s fully coated, put it on the pan in the freezer to refreeze.  Repeat for as many snowmen as you want to make (you may need to take a break and let your ice cream refreeze before making more snowman balls).

4.  After about 5 hours, stick mini chocolate chips in the ice cream for eyes, pretzels for arms, and the Starburst candy or fondant for the nose (just cut a little piece off and work it into a triangle).  For best results, let sit in freezer at least 24 hours before serving.

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 Tao of Pooh Book Review

The Tao of Pooh

Winnie the Pooh has a certain way about him, a certain simplicity that makes him irresistibly the world’s most beloved bear.  He loves honey and friendship and is almost adorably forgetful and naive.  So who better to explain an ancient Chinese philosophy than Pooh Bear, right?

Yes, I was skeptical at first, but The Taoism of Pooh has a certain sweetness to it, a special innocence and simplicity that reminded me of a bear I once met at Pooh Corner…

Through witty dialogue between himself and the beloved Winnie the Pooh, author Benjamin Hoff explains the ideas and methods of Taoism in his short book, The Taoism of Pooh.  Referencing real situations from A.A. Milne’s brilliant collection of stories, the principals of Taoism begin to come to life.

Why use Winnie the Pooh, you may ask?  Because Pooh is simple…he just is.  Pooh represents the innocence in all of us, the desire to know and learn.  He’s what Hoff calls the “uncarved block”…he enjoys simplicity and daily progress.  Hoff then compares Pooh to other characters at Pooh Corner, each of which represent a type of person, making every reader able to associate with at least one of the characters.  Hoff then uses those characters to explain the basic principles of Taoism.

Sound confusing?  I thought so, too.  While I didn’t LOVE this book, I can say that it did leave me feeling a little more serene…a little more at peace.  If you’ve ever been interested in Eastern philosophy, this is a great intro into the basics of Taoism, without going too much into detail.  This would be a great stocking stuffer for someone who’s looking to simplify their life or who may be questioning their beliefs.

All in all, The Taoism of Pooh is perhaps subtle proof that many children’s stories, like A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh Collection, are not always written for the audience that adopts them…

NEXT WEEK:  The Dude doth abide.

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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26 Cheap (or Free!) Gift Ideas for the Holidays

As we all know by now, I’m all about the DIY craze.  It’s fun, budget-friendly, and guarantees originality!  This year I’m really trying to watch my spending…so I’ve created this list of great DIY gift ideas that are either free or super cheap to buy/make.  Hope one or two of these ideas work out for you this year!

DIY Christmas

A.  Adopt an Animal:  Defenders of Wildlife, as well as many other animal charities, have programs where you can adopt an animal in someone’s name.  I did this last year for my brother and he was so touched.  For about $25.00, you can get a certificate for the receiver indicating the type of animal they’ve “adopted”, a picture of said animal, and a stuffed animal…all wrapped up in a little gift bag!  This is a great idea for animal lovers or those one or two people on your list who are insanely hard to buy for.  You can find out more about Defenders of Wildlife here.

B.  Baked Goods:  Who doesn’t love homemade cookies and cupcakes?  This is a guaranteed win as a gift, especially since the receiver knows that a lot of work was put into it.  If you feel like your baked goods need a little something extra, try pairing biscotti with two coffee mugs, or homemade cookies with a handmade recipe book.

C.  Coupons:  Everyone is clipping coupons these days…so create some coupons for days out, lunches in, foot massages, or shopping adventures.  These are great to give to parents or neighbors.

D.  Dough Roll:  Forget those cookies in a jar!  Now you can make the cookie dough ahead of time, wrap it up in wax paper, and let the receiver slice and bake it (or just eat the dough from the log!).  Here’s an idea of how to decorate it.

E.  Entertainment:  Instead of handing out gifts to friends and family, why not share YOUR gift and have a family talent show?  Sing a song, do a magic trick, or act out a scene.  This is a great idea for a large family or a work party.

F.  Family Cookbook:  Gather recipes from grandmas, aunts, moms, sisters, and your own personal collection and create a family cookbook for everyone.  Add personal stories and photos to make ti even more personal.  This is an easy and meaningful book that everyone is sure to love.

G.  Greeting Cards:  Scrapbook or illustrate a collection of holiday greeting cards for friends and family.  Place 6 cards in a box with colorful pens and a book of stamps.

H.  Handmade Trivia Game:  I LOVE this idea!  Create a trivia game about people in your family and play it when you’re together for the holidays.  This encourages family conversation and bonding…and who knows, you might even learn something new about these people you’ve known forever!

I.  iCozy:  Knit, crochet, or sew a little cozy for iPods, iPhones, iPads, and all those other little electronic gizmos that people are crazy over.

J.  Jarred Candles:  Have half burned candles all over the house?  Don’t toss them!  Heat up the wax and layer it into a clean jar to make your own layered candles!  Try to use scents that work well together, otherwise I suggest layering unscented wax between scented layers.

K.  Knitted Crafts:  When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing better than a hat, scarf, gloves, and slippers…and they’re even better when they’re homemade!  Knitting scarves is a great project for beginners and will definitely be appreciated as the winter turns nasty!

L.  Letters:  Words pack a lot of weight, so why not tell people how much you love them by, well, telling them?  My good friend wrote hand-written letters many years ago and that letter meant more to me than any gift she could have purchased.

M.  Magnets:  Reuse old milk lid bottles, bottle caps, and much more to create magnet sets.  Create a set for The 12 Days of Christmas, favorite characters from holiday movies, or recipes for Christmas cookies.

N.  Necklace:  Make paper beads out of leftover Christmas wrapping paper and make necklaces for your friends.  Or make a larger string and create beautiful tree garland.  Learn more about making paper beads here.

O.  Offer Something:  Offer to help paint the house, clean the bathroom, go grocery shopping for elderly family or neighbors, or help at a soup kitchen.

P.  Personalized Calendars:  I love making these!  Create a calendar for a friend or family member by finding various photos, clippings, etc. and “scrapbooking” a blank calendar (you can find these at many craft stores).  Write in fun holidays and throw in some cute stickers!

Q.  Quilt of Photos:  Here’s a super fun idea.  Print various family photos on fabric transfer paper or iron on paper and then iron on the photos to scraps of fabric.  Quilt the pieces together and you’ve got one heck of a family album!

R.  Road Trip:  Instead of buying gifts, pool money together and take a family vacation!

S.  Silhouette Picture: Get a photo of whoever you’d like to feature and cut out the shape of the head.  Use that pattern to cut out a silhouette on black construction paper.  Frame it and you’ve got an elegant and striking art piece.

T.  Teach Someone:  Teach someone something you love to do.  Not only might you find a new hobby buddy, but chances are it will be great time spent together.  Likewise you could take a class together and both learn something new at the same time!  Pasta making, anyone?

U.  Give the Gift of U:  Visit relatives you hardly ever see, spend time at a nursing home, or take your parents or grandparents out for dinner.

V.  Video Montage:  Create a video of everyone’s favorite Christmas traditions, or what they love about the holiday.

W.  Write a Story:  One year my cousin wrote unique stories for everyone in the family…we were all so touched!  All the characters were family members and all the stories interwove with each other.  It was a really cute and creative gift…and I was totally bummed I didn’t think of it first!

X.  X-treme Adventures:  Ever been sky diving?  Rock climbing?  Taken a cooking class?  Why not explore one of these crazy adventures with a friend as a gift?  With awesome sites like Groupon offering deals all the time, this would be a fun and meaningful gift for both of you!

Y.  Yankee Swap:  Also known as white elephant, nasty Christmas, or bring your junk to exchange for other junk!  This is one of our family traditions that’s so fun and easy…and best of all, free!  The idea is that you bring something you already own, but no longer want.  Everyone puts their gifts in a pile and picks a number.  Number 1 gets to pick the first gift.  Then number 2 can pick a new gift or steal the gift person number 1 picked.  This is a great tradition that anyone could adopt…and it takes all the pressure off buying the “perfect Christmas gift”.

Z.  ZZZ’s:  After all that shopping, wrapping, and traveling, sometimes all we really want is a good night’s sleep.  Create little lavender packets from dried flowers and card envelopes.  Lavender helps sooth and relax the body, so tell everyone to slip these little packets under their pillows for a relaxing night’s sleep.  All you need to do is slip dried lavender into an envelope, seal it closed, and use a needle to prick holes in the front.  You could even make creative designs if you wish.

So there you go…a slew of free (or cheap) gift ideas for everyone!  Have more to add?  Feel free to comment below!

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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Turkey Cinnamon Chili

Despite the fact that this was not a good weekend for the NFL (sorry, Bears fans!!), this WAS a good weekend for kitchen experimentation!  Since we are in the process of moving, we’re trying to eat up whatever random things are left in the kitchen…so this weekend, we whipped up some slow cooker turkey chili.  We threw in some odds and ends and created some of the best chili I’ve ever had!  It was so good, I wasn’t even able to take a picture of it because it was here and gone in a matter of minutes!

But I am going to try to remember how we made it, because it was just too good not to pass along…


1 lb. ground turkey, cooked and drained

1 can red kidney beans

1 can black beans

1 can hot chili beans

1 large can stewed tomatoes

1 green bell pepper, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Dash of garlic salt

Dash of cumin

2 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 5 hours.  Feel free to adjust the flavors to suit your tastes.  We literally went through our spice rack and just threw stuff in…but don’t omit the cinnamon!  I’m telling you, it tastes delicious!

We didn’t do it, but I think this chili would taste AMAZING with gingerbread.  If you’re feeling adventurous and you try it out, please let me know how it goes!

Keep warm, readers!  🙂

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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