Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Most Beautiful Years

most-beautiful

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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Blackberry and White Chocolate Macaroons

Attention coconut lovers! Tomorrow is National Macaroon Day, a perfect time to indulge in these delicious soft and sweet cookies. While I will never say no to a plain jane coconut macaroon, I do love experimenting with flavors and trying new and strange combinations, which has led me to create this delicious Blackberry and White Chocolate Coconut Macaroon.

blackberry-macaroons

Now, I know these look like something out of Wonka’s factory, but they’re actually pretty good. Very tangy and sweet and these would be super cute for a tea party or themed birthday party.

I’m also the proud owner of Wilton’s Treatolgy Flavor System, a collection of eight amazing concentrated flavors that have inspired me to come up with all kinds of recipes. This kit includes Crisp Champagne, Sweet Meyer Lemon, Fresh Basil, Warm Cinnamon Graham, Juicy Peach, Salted Caramel, Creamy Vanilla Custard, and Toasted Coconut. I used the Sweet Meyer Lemon concentrate with these cookies, as blackberries and lemon are a winning combination, but you could also use lemon extract if you’d like.

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If you want to try your own berry combinations, substitute blackberries for raspberries and add almond extract instead of lemon. You could also try strawberries and the Fresh Basil concentrate from Treatology! Hmm…I think I have some new experiments to try…

 

Blackberry and White Chocolate Macaroons

20160427_210250 Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. sweetened coconut
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract (I used 5 drops of Wilton’s Treatology Meyer Lemon Flavor Concentrate)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups fresh blackberries
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 6 oz. white chocolate, melted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In food processor, process coconut for 1 minute. Add sugar and process for another minute. Add extract, salt, and egg whites and process until blended.
  3. Add blackberries and pulse until berries are broken down. This might take a while. You may have to stop and push the berries down to the bottom to make sure they’re incorporated. I might even suggest pulsing them separately just to start the process of breaking them down before you add them to the coconut.
  4. Scoop batter onto parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake 25-30 minutes, or until tops start to brown.
  5. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes on pan. Transfer to cooling grid to cool completely.
  6. Once cooled, drizzle or dip (or both!) cookies in melted white chocolate.

These cookies stay fresh up to one week at room temperature. No need to refrigerate them.

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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My Ideal Bookshelf Book Review

13528388Any bookworm will tell you, the books on our shelves say a lot about who we are as a person. Sure there are books we check out and borrow and just read for fun, but the books we buy, the books we invest in, the books we display and read over and over again, those are the books that say something about our true nature.

In My Ideal Bookshelf, one hundred cultural figures, writers, chefs, fashion designers and more come together to reveal the books that matter to them most—books that reflect their obsessions and ambitions and, in many cases, helped them learn something about themselves and their passions.

Judd Apatow, Roseanne Cash, James Franco, Ben Fry, Atul Gawande, James Patterson, David Sedaris, and Ayelet Waldman are just some of the names on this amazing list of individuals who contributed to this title.

Perhaps the coolest aspect of My Ideal Bookshelf is the painted illustrations that accompany each spread. Artist Jane Mount showcases these book selections with colorful, hand-lettered book spines that showcase each contributor’s ideal shelf.

Here’s James Franco’s shelf, for example:

James-Franco

And here is Atul Gawande’s shelf:

Atul Gawande

Driven by first-person commentary drawn from interviews with the editors, these contributions are sure to grow any bookworm’s reading list. Each contributor walks you through their shelf, introducing you to new titles you wouldn’t hear about elsewhere and giving you new perspectives on some titles that might be sitting on your shelf as well.

The great thing about this book is that you can reference it, reading only those contributions that are of interest to you, or you can read it cover to cover and gain insight on books you may not have ever heard of before. When I read this collection, I read it cover to cover, absorbing all these amazing stories and taking note of these books that helped shape and mold some of the smartest minds in literature today. I found that I had several books in common with people like James Franco and Ayelet Waldman, but found new and amazing books suggested to me by the scientific mind of Atul Gawande and a few hilarious new reads from comedian David Sedaris. Before I knew it, my Good Reads To-Read list grew to more than 300 books. Not a bad problem to have!

Organized and laid out like a small coffee table book, My Ideal Bookshelf is a must-have for book lovers. Not only are the stories and artwork inspiring, but this book is sure to have all us bookworms thinking about what our ideal bookshelf would be…what books helped mold and change us into the person we’ve become…and what books we find ourselves going back to, again and again, like an old welcoming friend.

After a brief brainstorming session, my ideal bookshelf would probably look a little something like this:

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • The Harry Potter series
  • Heckedy Peg
  • The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and THE BIG HUNGRY BEAR
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
  • Lord of the Flies
  • Macbeth
  • Peter Pan
  • The Princess Bride
  • The Alchemist
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Book of Lost Things
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Girl With No Shadow
  • The Little Prince
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • The Odyssey
  • The Painted Drum
  • Solar Storms
  • The Polar Express
  • The Story of Babar
  • Through the Looking Glass
  • Where the Wild Things Are

I’d clearly need a big shelf.

 What books would be on your ideal bookshelf? Share in the comments below!

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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50 of the World’s Largest Things

My family never went camping. We never went to theme parks or beaches. We never took cruises or flew to far off exotic locations. Nope, my family was a road trip family.

Every summer we’d all pack up in my dad’s Toyota Camry, fill the trunk with luggage and snacks, and head out on an adventure to find weird abandoned cemeteries, strange historical markers, and our favorite, the World’s Largest things.

I don’t know what the magic was about us finding and seeing the World’s Largest Indian, Ketchup Bottle, Can of Beans, Ball of Yarn, or Penny, among so many others, but we loved it. As is often the case with traveling, it was really about the journey, not the destination, but knowing that the largest turkey in the world was waiting for us at the end of our road trip to Minnesota, well, somehow that made it all the more fun.

If you’re thinking of taking a road trip this summer, I highly suggest you go off the beaten path a little bit and check out these ridiculous roadside attractions. There’s at least one in every state, so no excuses!

What other attractions are out there? Let me know where we should travel next in the comments below!

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So let’s plan a road trip, shall we?

Alabama – Georgia

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  1. World’s Largest Boll Weevil, Enterprise, Alabama
  2. World’s Largest Santa Claus, North Pole, Alaska
  3. World’s Largest Cow Skull, Amado, Arizona
  4. World’s Largest Spinach Can, Alma, Arkansas
  5. World’s Largest Monk, Hillsborough, California
  6. World’s Largest Fork, Creede, Colorado
  7. World’s Largest Jack-in-the-Box, Middletown, Connecticut
  8. World’s Largest Frying Pan, Wilmington, Delaware
  9. World’s Largest Bowling Pin, Tampa, Florida
  10. World’s Largest Peanut, Ashburn, Georgia

Hawaii – Maryland

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  1. World’s Largest Telescope, Mauna Kea, Hawaii
  2. World’s Largest Potato Chip, Pocatello, Idaho
  3. World’s Largest Wind Chime, Casey, Illinois
  4. World’s Largest Preserved Steer, Kokomo, Indiana
  5. World’s Largest Popcorn Ball, Sac City, Iowa
  6. World’s Largest Hairball, Garden City, Kansas
  7. World’s Largest Baseball Bat, Louisville, Kentucky
  8. World’s Largest Ronald Reagan Statue, Covington, Lousiana
  9. World’s Largest Revolving and Rotating Globe, Yarmouth, Maine
  10. World’s Largest Decoy Collection, Salisbury, Maryland

Massachusetts – New Jersey

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  1. World’s Largest Clam Box, Ipswich, Massachusetts
  2. World’s Largest Indian, Ironwood, Michigan
  3. World’s Largest Turkey, Frazee, Minnesota
  4. World’s Largest Rocking Chair, Gulfport, Mississippi
  5. World’s Largest Underwear, St. Louis, Missouri
  6. World’s Largest Penguin, Cut Bank, Montana
  7. World’s Largest Porch Swing, Hebron, Nebraska
  8. World’s Largest Firecracker, Amargosa Valley, Nevada
  9. World’s Largest Candy Counter, Littleton, New Hampshire
  10. World’s Largest Tooth, Trenton, New Jersey

New Mexico – South Carolina

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  1. World’s Largest Pistachio, Alamogordo, New Mexico
  2. World’s Largest Kaleidoscope, Mount Tremper, New York
  3. World’s Largest Bureau, High Point, North Carolina
  4. World’s Largest Buffalo, Jamestown, North Dakota
  5. World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock, Sugarcreek, Ohio
  6. World’s Largest Driller Statue, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  7. World’s Largest Caveman, Grants Pass, Oregon
  8. World’s Largest Shoe, Hellam, Pennsylvania
  9. World’s Largest Termite, Providence, Rhode Island
  10. World’s Largest Peach, Columbia, South Carolina

South Dakota – Wyoming

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  1. World’s Largest Pheasant, Huron, South Dakota
  2. World’s Largest Rubik’s Cube, Knoxville, Tennessee
  3. World’s Largest Rattlesnake, Freer, Texas
  4. World’s Largest Fishing Fly, Logan, Utah
  5. World’s Largest Filing Cabinet, Burlington, Vermont
  6. World’s Largest Gorilla, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  7. World’s Largest Lava Lamp, Soap Lake, Washington
  8. World’s Largest Tea Pot, Chester, West Virginia
  9. World’s Largest Penny, Woodruff, Wisconsin
  10. World’s Largest Jackalope, Douglas, Wyoming

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 Wonderful Watermelon Crafts

Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means…SUMMER IS COMING!

katy perry pool watermelon

And nothing quite says summer like watermelon. Get your home ready for summer entertaining with these super cute and fun watermelon crafts! I mean, how cute are those little tennis shoes?!

WATERMELON

  1. Watermelon Doormat
  2. Watermelon Shoes
  3. Watermelon Serving Tray
  4. Watermelon Napkins
  5. Watermelon Garland
  6. Watermelon Sunglasses
  7. Watermelon Tote
  8. Watermelon Coin Purse
  9. Watermelon Coasters

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

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The Creative Adult

creative-adult

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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Baked Penne with Spicy Chicken

This yummy pasta recipe is so easy to make and tastes delicious! This recipe gives you enough to make two casseroles, so you can cook up one tonight and freeze the other for later in the month.

Filled with sun-dried tomatoes, provolone, and Parmesan cheese, this pasta dish explodes with great flavor. Cooking the mushrooms ahead of time also add a depth of flavor that’s really tasty.

I like a little spice in my food, so I seasoned my chicken with some cayenne pepper to add a little heat. You could also add red pepper flakes right to the sauce if you’re looking for something with a bigger kick.

Served with a Greek salad, this casserole makes a wonderful and easy dinner for any night of the week.

 

Baked Penne with Spicy Chicken

*Adapted from Marta Stewart’s Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes recipe.

baked-penne-spicy-chicken-recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 pounds penne rigate
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken tenders (you can also use chicken breasts, but tenders cook up quicker and are usually more budget-friendly)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 (8.5 oz.) cans oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups shredded provolone cheese
  • 1½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter two shallow baking dishes. In a large pot of boiling salt water, cook pasta just short of al dente. Drain and return to pot.
  2. In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Season chicken as desired. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from heat and let cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. OPTIONAL: I pre-cooked the mushrooms here because I like getting a nice brown on them. You don’t need to do this if you don’t want…but it does add great flavor to the pasta! I just cooked them in the same pan I cooked the chicken in to pick up that great flavor.
  4. In a Dutch oven or heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and garlic; cook, whisking, for 1 minute. While whisking, gradually add milk. Bring to a simmer, whisking frequently. Add mushrooms and tomatoes; cook 1 minute.
  5. Remove pot from heat and add provolone and 1 cup Parmesan.
  6. Add chicken and pasta to pot; season with salt and pepper. Divide pasta mixture between baking dishes. Sprinkle each with ¼ cup Parmesan.
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  7. Bake, uncovered, until top is golden and bubbling, about 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

To Freeze: Prepare your casserole through step 6; let cool. Cover dish tightly with foil and freeze. Pasta will stay up to three months. To Bake: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place covered dish in oven and bake until center is hot, about 1½ hours. Remove foil and bake until top is golden, about 15 minutes.

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 Boy Who Drew Monsters Book Review

Though I have an ever-growing list of books on my to-read list, sometimes I just like to get out of my zone a bit, try something unexpected, something off the grid. Every time I visit my local library, I head to the Recently Added section and, GASP!, judge all those books by their covers. Yup, I do it. I judge ‘em and I judge ‘em hard. I don’t read the synopsis, I don’t leaf through the pages, I literally look at the cover and, based on that alone, decide whether or not to dive in.

It’s risky, I know. But I limit myself to “judging” only one book at a time. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve finished every book I’ve ever “judged”…though some were more difficult to finish than others. This exercise has introduced me to some very weird books, including:

Only the Animals

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Ladies of the Gothics

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A Blessing on the Moon

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And, once in a while, I get lucky and find something totally unique and interesting. The Boy Who Drew Monsters was one such find.

Traumatized by a drowning accident that happened when he was seven, now 10-year-old Jack Keenan is deathly afraid to venture outdoors. From the inside of his home located in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack spends his time drawing monsters. When those drawings begin to take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. Jack’s parents, Holly and Tim, along with Jack’s best friend, Nick, all become helplessly entangled in the terror and horror brought on by Jack’s illustrations. Why are these drawings coming to life and causing havoc on Jack and his family? Only Jack knows…

This book had me hooked from page one. Though slow to start, I found myself engrossed in this strange psychological thriller and couldn’t stop reading until I found out the secret behind this crazy plot. I can’t give too much away here, but if you love a good horror story, the ending will send chills down your spine.

After reading The Boy Who Drew Monsters, I did some research to see what other people thought of it. Most die-hard horror/thriller fans found this book mediocre at best, slow to start and not really that engaging…others found it fascinating and original and related it in nature to classic Japanese thriller novels (I also found several reviews that spoil the ending so, reader beware!). However despite its slow progression, I found The Boy Who Drew Monsters an entertaining and exciting read unlike anything I’ve read yet.

Complete with stormy weather, troubled characters, and things that go bump in the night, this book rattled my emotions, playing ever so gently with those unsettling feelings of the unknown.

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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21 Fun Facts About Frank Sinatra

Hard to believe it’s been 18 years since the world lost Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Warner Archive smile smiling thinking blinking

Not many of you may know, but no singer, actor, or performer has touched my life the way Frank Sinatra did. I don’t know what it was that originally drew me to him, but for as long as I can remember, his music has been the soundtrack to so many pivotal moments in my life, from my first heartbreak to my wedding day.

The passing of Frank Sinatra was my first experience with death, what it felt like to loose something so close to your heart. Ironically it would be Sinatra’s music that would help me cope with the loss of my father, my two grandfathers, and my great-grandparents. His music has a way of speaking to me, of saying so perfectly what it is I often cannot say.

Frank passed away May 14, 2008 and was laid to rest May 20th. So today, on the near 18-year anniversary of Sinatra’s passing, I share with you a few of my favorite Sinatra Fun Facts!

21 Fun Facts You Might Not Know About Frank Sinatra

The U.S. Congress passed a resolution on May 20, 2008, the day of Sinatra’s burial, designating May 13th as Frank Sinatra Day to honor his contribution to American culture.

Frank almost died during childbirth. The doctor had trouble removing the 13½ lb. baby from his mother, scarring him with forceps and puncturing his eardrum. Frank’s grandmother, Rose, noticed the baby wasn’t breathing and held him under cold running water until he finally began to breathe.

The difficult birth left Frank with severe scars on his left cheek, neck and ear. It also perforated his eardrum, leaving it damaged for the rest of his life. A later operation on his mastoid bone left him with major scarring on his neck. All his life, Sinatra hated to be photographed from the left side.
classic film 1956 frank sinatra celeste holm high society

Favorite color: Orange.
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Favorite drink: Jack Daniel’s. Two fingers of whiskey, four ice cubes, and a splash of water, to be more specific.
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Despite his immense musical success, Frank did not know how to properly read music.

A tremulous relationship with Ava Gardner and a deep dip in his popularity resulted in several suicide attempts and deep bouts of depression.
ava gardner frank sinatra

Frank collected and operated toy trains.

Frank had his first U.S. Billboard #1 hit in 1940 with the Tommy Dorsey Band. The song “I’ll Never Smile Again” held the #1 spot for 12 weeks.

In 1945 Frank was awarded an honorary Academy Award for his part in the short film, The House I Live In.

Nine years later, he was awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his part in From Here to Eternity.

He completed his Academy Award journey by hosting the award show in 1963, and co-hosting in 1975.
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You can fly to the moon on Sinatra 7934, an asteroid named after Frank, discovered in 1989.
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Throughout his career, Frank won 11 Grammy Awards, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Legend Award, and 13 Grammy Hall of Fame Awards. Furthermore, he was awarded 31 gold, 9 platinum, 3 double platinum, and 1 triple platinum albums.
happy dance gene kelly frank sinatra 1949 take me out to the ball game

Favorite holiday: Christmas.

Frank attended only 47 days of high school before he was expelled for his rowdy behavior. Frank never returned to complete his education.
frank frank sinatra 1944 step lively

Sinatra’s grave reads, “The Best is Yet to Come”.

Frank was married four times in his life, but was romantically involved with several women, including Lauren Bacall and Judy Garland.
kiss comedy classic romance 1960s

Frank was so thin when he filmed Anchor’s Aweigh that they had to add padding to his uniform to give him more bulk.
gene kelly frank sinatra anchors aweigh

A genuine family man, Frank loved his children and grandchildren.
Look at this cute magic trick!
magic frank sinatra arnold stang the man with the golden arm

The FBI kept Frank under surveillance for almost 50 years. Beginning in the 1940s, rumors spread that Frank had ties to the mafia. The Feds kept more than 2,000 documents on Sinatra. Although he denied any involvement, the rumors never waned.
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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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5 Fantastic Liz Lemon Printables

So, I know 30 Rock is old news now, but today is the wonderful Tina Fey’s birthday! Happy birthday, Tina Fey!

CraveTV 30 rock tina fey liz lemon werk

To celebrate this wonderful witty woman of comedy, I’ve created some fun little printables for you…inspired by the wonderful wisdom of Liz Lemon:

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everythingstheworst

imgonnagotalktosomefoodaboutthis

suckitnerds

whatthewhat

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

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