Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Christmas Story…Where Are They Now?

Well, it’s official. Thanksgiving is over. Now it’s time to indulge in some left overs, put up the tree, and enjoy 25 days jam-packed with Christmas movies!

I love Christmas movies, and I never tire of watching A Christmas Story. Next to It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s maybe one of my favorite holiday films.

If Christmas just isn’t Christmas without Ralphie, Schwartz, Randy, and Flick, you’re going to love this post today!

After running my Power Rangers update a few weeks ago, I thought it would be interesting to catch up with the crew from A Christmas Story…so grab a few cookies and a nice hot cup of Ovaltine and catch up with your favorite holiday family!


A Christmas Story…Where Are They Now?

RALPHIE PARKER (Peter Billingsley):  By age 11, Billingsley had acted in more than 120 TV commercials  two feature films, two made for TV movies, and three TV shows.  Although he’s most well known for his work on A Christmas Story, Billingsley is also quite famous for playing little Messy Marvin in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup commercials.  Billingsley now works 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.  He currently resides in Los Angeles.

RANDY PARKER (Ian Petrella):  Thoughout his teen years, “Mommy’s Little Piggy” continued acting and studied improv at LA’s famous Groundlings Comedy Theater. At age 17, he was the youngest person ever to audition and be accepted to attend classes there. Curious to explore more outlets in the creative business, Petrella soon discovered a love for puppetry, and got great opportunities to work on The Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and even got to work with the master himself…Jim Henson. Today Petrella lives in San Francisco and continues his passion as a puppeteer.

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 (for which she was nominated for an Oscar) and Magnolia, as well as various TV shows.  Five years after her work on A Christmas Story, Dillon also appeared opposite John Lithgow in Harry and the Hendersons.  Dillion was once married to character actor Richard Libertini, with whom she had one child.

MR. PARKER (Darren 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 Hollywood films.  Perhaps best known for his role as heroic newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak in the TV series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Darren McGavin was a powerhouse of an actor, performing in more than 200 roles in his lifetime.  After his beloved role as Mr. Parker in A Christmas Story, McGavin played yet another stern, yet comedic father figure in the popular sitcom, Murphy Brown, for which he won an Emmy Award in 1990.  Several other film roles followed, including a part in Adam Sandler’s hit, Billy Madison.  Darren McGavin passed away on February 25, 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.  He has half a dozen direct-to-rental features to his name, but perhaps Robb’s most interesting project was Don’s Plum, the scandalous 1995 short film he directed, which featured Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire.  Robb and co-producer John Schindler tried to release the short as a feature-length movie, but were blocked by a law suit from DiCaprio and Maguire.  Robb has also appeared in The Brady Bunch Movie, Matilda, and a variety of TV shows.

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 ClarkWORLD, No Higher Love, Down the Road Again, and most recently, Moore ironically played Mrs. Claus in the made for TV movie, Mistletoe Over Manhattan.

FLICK (Scott Schwartz):  Since 1987, Schwartz has managed a sports and movie memorabilia collectibles store with his father, Dan Schwartz, in Woodland Hills, CA. In the 1990’s, Schwartz spent some time in the adult film industry in minor, non-sexual roles and behind the scenes in numerous administrative roles.

Still active in memorabilia and card collecting, Schwartz has helped create a line of celebrity-based trading cards and obtained celebrity autographs for companies such as Upper Deck and Razor.

Currently Schwartz is working on his memoir, to be published in the near future.

SCUT FARKUS (Zack Ward):  Zack Ward’s great portrayal of bully Scut 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.  You can see him on the FOX show, Titus, and has also appeared in NCIS, LOST, and Crossing Jordan.  Ward has also had roles in Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Freddy vs. Jason.  Currently, Ward is working on a film titled Last Stop.  Ward is the son of actress Pam Hyatt.

GROVER DILL (Yano Anaya):  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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9 Tasty Recipes Using Canned Pumpkin

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone. The leftovers have been recooked and rehashed in any and every way possible, and now the only thing you’re left with is a leftover can of mashed pumpkin…

…or maybe several cans.

I love pumpkin…so I find that I seem to have it on hand almost all the time. But we’re all guilty of overbuying around this time of year, and I know I have way more cans than I actually need…and as much as I love it, there’s only so much pumpkin pie I can handle…

Thankfully, there are thousands of other amazing pumpkin recipes out there for you to try. From savory to sweet, these recipes are filled with the flavors of fall and winter and even pack some nutrients from the pumpkin (which is why it’s totally okay to have that second donut)!

I know I’ve shared some of my favorite pumpkin recipes in the past–check out Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies and these delicious Pumpkin Cupcakes–but here is a great selection of recipes from other bloggers out there in the bloggerverse. Which one is your favorite?

Still find yourself with a few real pumpkins on hand? Read The Buzz On Pumpkins for helpful tips on how to use up or dispose of these fall staples.

1.  Pumpkin Applesauce from The Novice Chef

2.  Homemade Pumpkin Butter from Oh She Glows

3.  Pumpkin Pie White Hot Chocolate from Home and Hearth

4.  Self-Frosting Pumpkin Nutella Muffins from A Feast for the Eyes

5.  Pumpkin Cake Truffles from Made in Melissa’s Kitchen

6.  Perfect Pumpkin Roll from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

7.  Pumpkin Whoopie Pies from Dreamy Desserts

8.  Pumpkin and Maple Ice Cream Sandwiches from Cooking Light Magazine

9.  Mini Pumpkin Pie Croissants from Shaken Together

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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Stamped Clay Pendants

I don’t know about you, but for me this coming new year is all about frugality. I’m embracing my inner DIY goddess and I’m going to finish up those half-completed projects, clean up my craft stash, and challenge myself to try new and exciting techniques (time to take that sewing machine out of storage)!

As I made my way through my craft box, I realized that I had a ton of leftover clay pieces from various projects I’ve done in the past.  I didn’t have enough to do anything too extreme, so I thought I’d make these cute little pendants, perfect for gift giving, wearing, or even using as gift tags for holiday packages.

These Stamped Clay Pendants are so easy to make…and no one will believe that you did these yourself.  You could also make a bunch of these clay pendants and turn them into magnets, necklaces, earrings, and much more.  Personalize them however you’d like and hand them out to friends and family this year.

2013 better look out…it’s bound to be a year of DIY madness!

Stamped Clay Pendants


  • Clay (I used Sculpey, at least 2 squares per pendant)
  • Clay roller (optional)
  • Wax paper
  • Assorted rubber or plastic stamps
  • X-acto knife
  • Toothpicks (optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • Paper towels
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Mod Podge (optional)
  • String
  • Beads (optional)



  1. Condition 2 Sculpey clay squares (warm it up in your hands until it’s ready to work with) and roll out into a circle shape, about 3” in diameter. Press your stamp into the clay. You can work on a table or lay wax paper down, which will allow for easy removal of your clay.
  2. Here’s what I used to create my pendants.  As you can see, I used a variety of rubber stamps, but you can also use everyday items.  The blue pendant is made with a broken earring.  Use coins, beads, or other unique pieces of jewelry to create a unique look in your clay.
  3. Once your stamp is on, remove excess clay with a knife or a shape cutter. You can include writing on your pendant by using a toothpick to poke out the letters.  I wrote “Sing” in the green pendant.
  4. Remember to create a hole in the top of the pendant to allow for your necklace string!
  5. Bake your pendants on a metal or glass surface according to package directions. Let cool completely.
  6. This is the fun part! Lay your cool pendants on a paper towel or paper plate and paint over the pendant with regular fabric paint. Working quickly, wipe off the paint with a damp paper towel. Some of the paint will stay on the clay, which is what you want. Try different techniques like rubbing the paint in one direction, dabbing or sponging with the paper towel, or using your painting skills to paint directly on the clay. It’s totally up to you! Use like colors for cool shadows and opposite colors for contrast.
  7. Let your pendants dry completely.
  8. Once your pendants are dry, paint on a layer of Mod Podge. This step is optional, I just like the shine! Let that dry, too.
  9. When your pendants are dry, string your chain through the hole. You can add a bead if you’d like…I used beads from a bracelet that snapped a few years ago.

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

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A Mother’s Eyes

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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Pork with Lentil, Orange, Avocado, and Basil Salad

The great thing about this dish is that it contains two of my absolute favorite foods:  oranges and avocados.  Although I love both of these foods individually, never did I think to put them together!  What results is a heavenly topping to pork, chicken, or even fish or shrimp.

This avocado basil orange salad would also make a great “salsa” when served with tortilla chips.  Although it was a little summery to have to late in the fall, it was still a delicious mix of flavors and textures…and it goes perfectly with grilled pork.

The lentils add a unique texture to this salad.  If you’re not a fan of lentils, you could easily use quinoa or couscous instead.  This is definitely a great recipe to hang on to for those late summer evening meals when oranges and avocados are in season and flourishing.

Pork with Lentil, Orange, Avocado, and Basil Salad


  • ½ lb. lentils, I eyeballed about half the bag
  • 3 ½ cups water
  • 4 boneless pork chops, about ½ to 2/3 inch thick
  • 2 navel oranges
  • ½ cup roughly torn or chopped basil leaves
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 avocado


  1.  Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add lentils, and reduce heat.  Cover with a lid and gently simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain lentils and let cool.
  2. Cook pork chops to your liking.  You can place them in a hot pan with some olive oil and cook them on the stove or if you have an indoor grill like we do, you can grill the pork chops.  You can also bake them if you prefer.  Any method will work here.
  3. Meanwhile, finely grate 1 teaspoon zest from 1 orange.  Juice the zested orange and save the juice in a medium sized bowl.  Cut and peel the remaining orange.  Cut your orange into slices, and then cut each slice in half, so you have small ½ inch pieces.
  4. Add oranges to the juice you just made, then mix in minced shallot, basil, zest, and cooled lentils.
  5. Half, pit, and peel avocado.  Halve each half and continue cutting into small bite-sized pieces.  Fold avocado into the orange salad.
  6. Plate your pork chop and cover with orange salad.

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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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my loyal readers!  Eat and be merry this holiday season!!

With love,


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Amigurumi Crocheted Snowman Ornament

I’ve always been a little scared of amigurumi…partly because I didn’t know how to say it…and partly because I’m still very new to the world of crochet.  However this little snowman (it turns out to be about the size of your hand) was just too cute to pass up…and as it turns out, it’s not as hard as it seems! Crochet amigurumi is the Japanese technique of crochet that literally combines the word “ami”, meaning to crochet or knit, with the word “nuigurumi”, meaning stuffed animal or doll.  These crocheted toys have taken the industry by storm, and people are finding all kinds of crazy people, animals, and characters to make (check out this amazing Matthew McConaughey amigurumi design). For beginners, this crocheted snowman is a great pattern to start with.  You can turn it into an ornament or use it as a gift tag for the upcoming holiday season.  You could even embellish this little guy with the name of the recipient for a gift tag they’re sure to treasure.

Amigurumi Snowman Ornament


  • 1 ball Red Heart Yarn – White
  • 1 ball Red Heart Yarn – Heather
  • 1 ball Red Heart Yarn – Turquoise
  • 4.5 mm crochet hook
  • Scissors
  • Fork
  • Tapestry needle
  • Filler (you can use stuffing or cotton balls)

Directions: Snowman Body

  1. With white, ch 3, sl st to form ring.
  2. Round 1: 2 sc in each ch around (6 sc)
  3. Round 2: 2 sc in each sc around (12 sc)
  4. Round 3: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc) around (18 sc)
  5. Round 4-7: Sc in each sc around.
  6. Round 8: (sc2tog over next 2 sc, sc in next sc) around (12 sc)
  7. Round 9: Sc in each sc around.
  8. Round 10: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc) around (18 sc)
  9. Round 11: (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc) around (24 sc)
  10. Round 12-16: Sc in each sc around
  11. Round 17: (sc2tog over next 2 sc, sc in next 2 sc) around (18 sc)
  12. Round 18: (sc2tog over next 2 sc, sc in next sc) around (12 sc)
  13. Round 19: (sc2tog over next 2 sc) around (6 sc)
  14. Fasten off, leaving tail for sewing. Stuff and sew opening closed.


  1. With grey, ch 3, sl st to form ring.
  2. Rep rounds 1-6 of body.
  3. Round 7: Change color to turquoise. Sc in each sc around. Fasten off. Weave in ends.
  4. Wrap blue yarn around fork prongs about 20 times to from a pom pom. See tutorial here.
  5. Attach pom pom to hat and attach hat to head. Secure hat with a few stitches that go through hat border and snowman head.


  1. With turquoise, ch 31.
  2. Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, and each ch across. Ch 1, turn.
  3. Round 2: Sc in each sc across.
  4. Work 1 sc in end of each row, then continue along opposite side of beg ch, working 1 sc in back of each ch, ending with 1 sc in end of each row. Fasten off and weave in ends.


  1. Tie scarf in a knot around neck. Add eyes if desired and loop on top for hanging, if desired.

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


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Be What You Would Seem to Be

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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Eggplant Parmesan Deconstructed

I’m a girl with Italian in her blood.  I am from Chicago, after all.  And as any true Italian Chicago girl knows, there’s nothing better than eggplant Parmesan on a cold fall or winter day.  It’s warm and delicious in every way, but despite the fact that the main ingredient is a hard core veggie, the way eggplant parm is traditionally prepared turns this delicious dish into a heart attack on a plate.  Not to mention that it can take an entire day to make!

So I began thinking of other ways to enjoy eggplant Parmesan without having to work out extra hard the next day…and the day after that.  So here I give you my deconstructed eggplant parm recipe.  This eggplant is baked in the oven, rather than fried in oil…and dare I say the baked version is much better!  If you’re craving a traditional eggplant parm dish, you can also throw these bad boys onto the stove in a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Cook them for about 5 minutes per side and you’re good to go.

I also omitted the pasta and turned this into more of an open-faced sandwich.  You can easily omit the bread, too and enjoy the baked eggplant as is.  It’s a hearty dish that takes a quarter of the cooking time of traditional eggplant Parmesan so it’s great for a weeknight meal.  We served ours with a quinoa mushroom risotto (yum!) and some delicious Three Floyd’s Broo-Doo beer!  This was a Chicago meal if there ever was one!

Eggplant Parm Deconstructed


  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 eggplant, sliced crosswise on an angle, about ¼ inch thick
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 2 12-inch sub loaves
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


  1. In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and pepper.  In another shallow dish, whisk eggs and milk.
  2. Dip eggplant in egg mixture, then crumb mixture.  Transfer to a greased baking sheet.
  3. Once all your eggplant is done, bake it in a 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.   Flip eggplant half way through so it browns on both sides.
  4. Lay your bread out open faced on the plate.  Top bread with cheese slices and top cheese with warm marinara sauce (we made our own sauce from tomatoes and seasoning, but any ol’ sauce will do).  The warm sauce will help melt the cheese.
  5. Top sauce with cooked eggplant.  You could top your eggplant with more sauce, if desired.

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 Power Rangers…Where Are They Now?

Take a look at this colorful group of characters.  Look familiar?

They’re a bit older now…but if you were a kid or a parent of a young one in the 1990’s, you might recognize them back in their hay day:

That’s right!  Like many young kids, my brother and I were glued to Fox Kids every weekend, ready to watch Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!  It was a tradition that was seldom missed, and we even had plastic versions of all the weapons so we could fight the evil Putties in our back yard.

I had forgot about the Power Rangers until someone at work mentioned that Thuy Trang, the actress who played the Yellow Ranger, passed away in a car accident in 2001.  I had no idea that it happened, so that inspired me to see what the other Rangers were up to…


Jason Lee Scott/Red Ranger
played by Austin St. John

St. John as been a practitioner of martial arts since he was 5 years old. He holds a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a first degree black belt in Judo, and he also practices several other forms of martial arts.

He starred as The Red Ranger for 79 episodes and reprised his role in a spinoff series, as well as a Power Rangers movie. He remains active in the Power Rangers world, appearing on various specials and participating in fan events.

Since his run on the popular TV series, St. John has authored a book on martial arts, Karate Warrior: A Beginner’s Guide to Martial Arts, and starred in a martial arts film in 1995.

St. John now works as an EMT and firefighter in Washington D.C. He’ll be 39 next year.


Trini Kwan/Yellow Ranger
played by Thuy Trang

Thuy Trang was a Vietnamese-American actress trained in the art of kung fu. She originally planned to go into civil engineering at the University of California, but a chance run-in with an agent in Hollywood sparked an interest in acting.

She was on Power Rangers for about one and a half seasons, and left the show with fellow castmates Austin St. John and Walter Emanuel Jones. She went on to play Kali, one of the lead villains in the 1996 movie, The Crow: City of Angels.

She also appeared alongside St. John in the documentary, The Encyclopedia of Martial Arts in 1995.

In 2001, when she was only 27 years old, Trang and a group of her friends were involved in a terrible accident that left Trang dead, one girl paraplegic, and the other badly injured.

The Power Rangers episode “Circuit Unsure” was dedicated to Trang’s memory.


Zack Taylor/Black Ranger
played by Walter Emanuel Jones

Walter Emanuel Jones was the black ranger for about a season and half, before being written off the series due to contract disputes.  He returned to voice the characters of a few Power Rangers villains and also made appearances in several specials and fan events for the Power Rangers franchise.

You can also see Jones in The Dogwalker, where he had a major role, a small part on Season 4 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and he made an appearance in the Disney Channel movie, Brink!. He’s also done several TV appearances, including roles on Family Matters and The Shield.

Today Jones can be seen occasionally on various commercials  He is a black belt in Eshum-ru, a form of Tae Kwon Do, and is a black belt in shiru karate. Jones will be 42 next year.


Kimberly Hart/Pink Ranger
played by Amy Jo Johnson

Amy Jo Johnson was the beloved Pink Ranger for the first 3 seasons of the Power Rangers series.

Not only does she act, but Johnson also dabbles in singing, songwriting, and gymnastics. Her TV acting roles include spots in Flashpoint, Wildfire, Felicity, and The Division. She is one of the few original Power Rangers to continue with acting after leaving the show.

Johnson released her first song, Puddle of Grace, while she was on Felicity. She has released a few solo albums since then and was even nominated for the 2009 Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role for her work on Flashpoint.

As a gymnist, Johnson almost made it to the Olympic Games, however she was forced to abandon gymnastics following a severe injury.

Johnson is married to Olivier Giner and they have one child together.


Billy Cranston/Blue Ranger
played by David Yost

David Yost was born in Iowa and moved around all over the United States, winning a variety of gymnastics competitions nationally, including the state championships in Iowa and Montana. He won the part of Billy, the Brains of the Power Rangers team, after only 3 months living in California.

Yost continued his work on Power Rangers for four seasons. He was the only Ranger to appear in every single episode of the original series, and thanks to his commitment to the role, the Blue Ranger remains one of the most popular in the franchise.

Yost revealed in a 2010 interview that he reason he ended up leaving the series was because he could no longer handle harassment by the production crew that targeted his sexual orientation.

After leaving Power Rangers, Yost had a leading role in the 1996 movie, Ladykiller. He also did some production work for the Sci-Fi Lab, headed by the Sci-Fi Channel.

Since then, Yost has done work to help benefit The Children’s Hospitals AIDS Center and NOH8.


Tommy Oliver/Green Ranger
played by Jason David Frank

Jason David Frank is not only an actor, but a martial artist and professional mixed martial arts fighter. He has been involved in martial arts his whole life, beginning his training at 4 years old. By 12 he was teaching other children and at 18, he was running his own martial arts school.

Frank was the Green Ranger for a bit of time, and was eventually transformed into the White Ranger.

Most of Frank’s time now is spent in martial arts. He created his own blend of American Karate, Toso Kune Do and was inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame in 2003.

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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