Monthly Archives: December 2012

Coffee Cake Muffins

First of all, I want to wish everyone a very happy, healthy, and prosperous NEW YEAR!!! I can’t believe we’re at 2013 already!

As a little treat for you before we all start our resolution to eat less and exercise more, here’s a recipe for some delicious coffee cake muffins. These muffins are great for New Year’s morning, since they’re super easy to make and cook up quickly.

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If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make “sour milk” by combining 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of milk. Just put 1 tablespoon of your acid in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 cup. Since this recipe calls for 1/2 cup milk, you’d obviously add 1/2 tablespoon acid to 1/2 cup milk. I actually used the vinegar/milk combo in the muffins I made and you couldn’t taste the vinegar at all…so don’t worry about ruining the taste of the muffins!

Here’s hoping 2013 is good to us all!

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Coffee Cake Muffins:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk (or “sour milk”…see above)

Instructions:

  1. Prepare muffin tin and set oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. For topping, in a small bowl stir together the 3 tablespoons flour, brown sugar, and the ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.  Cut in the 2 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in nuts; set topping aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the 1 ½ cups flour, sugar, baking powder, the ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and salt.  Cut in the ¼ cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In another bowl combine egg and buttermilk.  Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture and stir, just until moistened (batter will be lumpy).
  5. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each one-third full.  Top with half of the topping, the remaining batter, and the remaining topping.  Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

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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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23 Clever Uses for Tennis Balls

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  1. Cut an X in the top of each ball and put them on the bottoms of chair legs to cut down on noise and floor scuffs. You can even paint them the color of your chair so they don’t stand out as much.
  2. Donate them to a local nursing home for use on residents’ walkers.
  3. Hang one on string from the garage roof to help you park without running into things. When it touches the windshield or rear window (depending on which way the car is pointing), you know it’s time to stop.
  4. Keep certain types of gnats or flies away from you when you are outdoors.
  5. Just cover a tennis ball in Vaseline and hang it from a tree or bush.
  6. When packing something for shipping in a box that’s too large, use tennis balls as shock-absorbing cushions that will hold the item steady in the box.
  7. Use them to remove scuffs on floors. Many janitors use this trick by placing a tennis ball on the end of a broom so it’s always handy.
  8. Throw a few tennis balls into the dryer when you are drying comforters, fluffy coats, pillows, or anything else that could use a good fluffing.
  9. Tennis balls can also help any laundry load dry faster – just throw two or three in the dryer and your clothes will be done quicker.
  10. Hide stuff in them. Make a slit in a tennis ball, then squeeze either side of the slit to open it up. Place money or other objects inside, and release to close the opening.
  11. Cut a portion of the ball off so that it will fit over the sharp corner of your coffee table. Repeat for the other corners to baby-proof a room.
  12. Use this for all furniture with sharp or protruding bits to protect little foreheads.
  13. When you are seated, put a tennis ball (or two or three) under each foot and roll your feet around on them. They make wonderful massagers.
  14. Use tennis balls to anchor clusters of helium balloons at parties. Knot together a group of ribbons attached to balloons. Cut a small X in the top of a ball and insert the knot. Fill the ball with sand if you want extra security.
  15. Prevent your bike’s kick stand from sinking into soft dirt by cutting a small slit in a tennis ball and sliding it over the kick stand.
  16. Keep the yuckiness out of your pool by floating some tennis balls in the water. Supposedly, the balls will absorb body oils from people who swim in the water – but you need to replace them every few weeks to keep them fresh.
  17. Cut a tennis ball in half and use it to get a better grip when opening jars. Just place the ball half over the lid, and the rubber on the inside grips the lid to help you rotate it easier.
  18. To keep a door knob from smashing into and damaging an interior wall, cut a large slit in a tennis ball and slide it over the knob. This trick also works great to keep curious toddlers out of off-limits rooms…until they figure out how to squeeze as they turn.
  19. Protect a padlock. Cut a slit in a tennis ball with a utility knife and slip it over an outdoor padlock to prevent water from getting into it and freezing.
  20. Remove a broken lightbulb. The bulb broke off in the socket? No problem.
  21. Carefully clear away any shards of broken glass, then gently push a tennis ball against the light socket and twist it to remove the bulb’s embedded stem.
  22. Cushion the blow. Cut an X in a tennis ball and slip it over the head of a hammer so you don’t ding up walls, wood, or other fragile materials while you’re pounding away.
  23. Collect change for tolls. Cut a slit in a tennis ball and stash spare change inside. Keep the ball in your car so you don’t have to grope for your wallet when you’re at the tollbooth.

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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Crocheted Drawstring Bag

Seems like I’m a day late and a dollar short for getting this project out before Christmas, but such is life!

This crocheted drawstring bag is a unique and fun way to give gifts for any reason or holiday.  Perfect for beginners, this bag works up quickly and easily, and is a great way to use up that leftover yarn that you have lying around in your craft box.

You could also use this bag to help organize items around your house.  I keep extra makeup in it, but you can also use it for holding jewelry, money, or even use it as a purse.

This bag is worked in one piece and it folds inward to create a nice secure close.  You can use a ribbon or cord to secure your bag, or simply create your own by making a large braid, as I did in the photo.

Drawstring Bag

Materials:

  • 1 ball of yarn, your choice of color
  • 5 mm [US H-8] crochet hook
  • Yarn needle
  • Cord (optional)

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Instructions:

  1. Ch 2.  Join with sl st to form a ring.
  2. Ch 1, 8 sc in ring.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  3. Ch 1, 2 sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc. (16 sc)
  4. Ch 1, sc in first sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (24 sc)
  5. Ch 1, sc in each of first 2 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 2 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (32 sc)
  6. Ch 1, sc in each of first 3 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 3 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (40 sc)
  7. Ch 1, sc in each of first 4 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 4 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (48 sc)
  8. Ch 1, sc in each of first 5 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 5 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (56 sc)
  9. Ch 1, sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  10. Ch 1 sc in each of first 6 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 6 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (64 sc)
  11. Ch 1, sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  12. Ch 1 sc in each of first 7 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 7 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.  (72 sc)
  13. Ch 1, sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  14. Ch 1 sc in each of first 8 sc, *2 sc in next sc, sc in each of next 8 sc, rep from * to last sc, 2 sc in last sc.  Join with sl st to first sc. PLACE MARKER HERE (80 sc)
  15. Ch 1, sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc.  Rep until work from marked round measures 5 inches.
  16. Eyelet round:  Ch 1, 1 sc in each of first 5 sc, *ch 3, sk next 2 sc, sc in each of next 8 sc, rep from * to last 5 sc, ch 3, sk next 2 sc, sc in each of last 3 sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  17. Ch 1, sc in each of first 5 sc, *2 sc in next ch 3 sp, sc in each of next 8 sc, rep from *, ending with 2 sc in next ch 3 sp, sc in each of last 3 sc.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  18. Ch 1, 1 sc in each sc around.  Join with sl st to first sc.
  19. Rep last round twice more.  Fasten off.
  20. Fold your bag like you see in the picture (corners go inward).  Tie it with a cord or ribbon…or make your own by braiding some yarn.

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

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Heart to Heart and Hand in Hand…

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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Mini Felt Cinnamon Rolls

One of my absolute favorite memories of Christmas morning is the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven. The delicious scent of cinnamon, bread, and icing would slowly drift into our bedrooms and wake us from our slumber, and as my brother, sister, and I made our way downstairs, the scent of cinnamon rolls would become stronger and stronger, and would begin mingling with the smells of pepper bacon, hash browns, fresh bagels, Christmas cookies, and mulled apple cider (clearly we’re a carb-lovin’ family!).

So a few days ago as I watched A Christmas Story and began planning out my holiday shopping list, I became nostalgic for those Christmas morning treats and decided to head on into the kitchen and make some of my own.

Well, clearly that didn’t work out so well.

So instead I made some felt ones! They’re simply adorable for hanging on the tree or turning into a necklace, gift embellishment, garland, or magnet. And, best of all, they’re calorie free!

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Felt Cinnamon Rolls

Materials:

  • 2 8×11 felt sheets, one light brown and one dark brown
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

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Instructions:

  1. Start off by cutting your felt in half hamburger wise.Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls2
  2. Then cut those halves in half again, so you have 4 smaller squares (8 squares total with both sheets of felt).Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls3
  3. Fold those squares in half again so you have 8 smaller squares (16 squares total with both sheets of felt).Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls4
  4. Fold those squares in half, this time hot dog wise, to yield 16 long pieces (32 total with both sheets of felt).
  5. Fold those squares in half hot dog wise one final time, to yield 32 strips that are about 1/2″ wide (64 strips total with both sheets of felt).Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls5
  6. You’re going to be using 4 strips per cinnamon roll, two of each color. Layer three pieces together, starting with a light brown, then dark brown, then light brown again.Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls6
  7. Begin rolling the strips to form a cinnamon roll shape.Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls7
  8. Take the last dark strip and wrap it around the cinnamon roll to hide the ends. Hot glue in place.
  9. With your thumb, carefully push up on the center of the cinnamon roll to make it look like it has risen in the oven. A little pop is all you need!
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  10. Repeat until all your cinnamon rolls are done.Felt-Cinnamon-Rolls10

This “recipe” yields 16 calorie-free cinnamon rolls!

 

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

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Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Book Review

201209-book-review-abraham-lincoln-vampire-hunter-by-seth-grahame-smithThought to be one of the greatest presidents the United States has ever seen, Abraham Lincoln broke down barriers and united a nation once torn through its very center. In his short term in office, he oversaw the passing of one of the most important amendments in US history and witnessed, first hand, the bloodiest, most gruesome war on American soil.

He was a father, a leader, a husband, and a friend…and, oddly enough…a vampire hunter.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is the tale of President Lincoln’s battles and run-ins with vampires.  After witnessing several of his closest family members succumb to these blood-sucking monsters, Lincoln goes on a quest to rid the U.S. of every remaining vampire.  With the help of some close friends and a vampire willing to turn on his own kind, Lincoln embarks on a journey that would forever change the rest of his life.

Throughout his journey, Lincoln keeps a journal, documenting every kill, every meeting, every thought, every plan.  This epistolary-style novel is written as  a biography of Abraham Lincoln, based on this set of diaries.  The diaries are handed to the author at the beginning of the novel by a man named Henry Sturges.  Henry offers him these books and tells him that the only condition of this offer is that he (the author) will, at last, tell the truth about Abraham Lincoln.

In these well-kept journals we begin to learn the true history of Abraham’s life, from his first battle with a vampire to the reasoning behind his vicious murder. Complete with plenty of blood, gore,and photographs that could easily pass for the real deal, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a wild ride through the life of a man so few truly knew.

As a fan of Seth Grahame-Smith’s other literary titles, (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monters), I found Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a fun easy-to-read book.  And as a fan of Abraham Lincoln, I was curious to see what role vampires would play in his biography, and I think Smith did a great job of sprinkling a bit of folklore into the life of a man who loved storytelling.

Pleasing for those who love Civil War history, vampire fiction, or those who just like reading something strange and unusual, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a quick and easy read that will entertain, enlighten, and open your eyes to a man who, as Henry Sturges put it, “…is just too interesting to die.”

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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9 Clever Uses for Tuna Cans

It just seems wasteful to me to throw away tuna cans.  These cute little aluminium canisters can be used for all sorts of things (after a hot bath, of course!  You don’t want your crafts smelling fishy)!

From gift giving to organizing, tuna cans can be put to use in several ways.  You can use them to store small items in a drawer (I’m thinking office supplies, jewelry, small craft materials, and even nuts and bolts).  You could convert them into adorable tea light holders that are perfect for setting the mood for an outdoor party or wedding.  You could also use them in the summer to help build sand castles!  The possibilities are nearly endless for what you can do with these little tin cans.

On a quest to find some clever uses for these little tin treasures, I came upon all these amazing ideas for how to put old tuna cans to use.  I love the idea of turning it into a pin cushion…and I think those tea light holders are precious!

A few tips for you as you begin crafting with tuna cans…or any tin can for that matter:

  • As most of us know, aluminum can be very sharp…and aluminum cuts are no fun at all.  To prevent nicks and cuts, be sure to sand the edges of your can before you begin crafting.  If you’re lucky enough to find a can that has a pull top lid, you might have better luck with smoother edges.  For tuna cans, you often have to use a can opener.  Cut all the way around the lid to prevent little pieces of metal from sticking out of the side of the can.  I also recommend tossing the lid, as it is very sharp as well.  If you do use the lid, be sure to sand or cover the edges carefully so you don’t hurt yourself!
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  • If you’re having trouble removing the smell from the can (especially if you’re using canned dog food or cat food tins instead of tuna cans), here’s a helpful trick:  Wash your tins thoroughly with hot soapy water to get as much of the smell off as you can.  Dry and add a dollop of yellow mustard…just the general stuff that you put on burgers.  Wipe it around the can and add a splash of very hot water to the tin.  Cover it with your hand or a plate and slosh it around for a bit.  Let sit for at least 10-30 minutes and rinse and wash again.  It sounds strange, but I’m telling you…it works!

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for reusing tuna cans!  What else can you do with them?

Tuna Can Crafts

1.  Tuna Can Clock from Recyclart

2.  Recycled Candy Containers from Skip to My Lou

3.  Tuna Can Pin Cushion from Madigan Made

4.  Tuna Can Ornaments from Mel Designs

5.  Color My World Thank You Gift from Kim’s Kandy Kreations

6.  Tuna Can Fire Starters from Happy Go Puppetry

7.  Tuna Can Candle Holders from Crescent and Old Lace

8.  Tuna Can Baskets from Don’t Eat the Paste

9.  Tuna Can Organizers from Messy Mimi

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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