Monthly Archives: March 2017

20 Books that Changed My Life

As readers, we all have an ever-growing list of favorite books.  Books we’ve lived in, books we’ve cherished, and books we’ve read again and again…and tucked in that long list of favorite novels and stories is a much shorter list of books that have shaped and molded us as human beings…books that have altered our thinking and opened our eyes to new ways of looking at life.  These are the books that will forever hold a place in your heart (and on your shelf!) and may even be the books you find yourself coming back to again and again, if not just to smell their familiar smell or run your fingers up and down the worn cover page.

I was recently asked what this list would be for me…and let me tell you, it was a challenging task.  I feel like every book I read stays with me and becomes a part of me…and to fine-tune that list to a handful of books that have had such a profound impact on me that they CHANGED MY LIFE…well, that’s a tall order!

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But I love a good challenge!  After many, many hours of thought and a few cups of coffee to help get me through, here is my list of 20 books that have changed my life.  A few of these are also on my list of favorite books, but not all of them.  Books like Eating Animals and Being Mortal, though well-written and thought-provoking, were not what I would call ENJOYABLE reads…but they had such an impact on me that I had to add them to this list.

If you love reading and enjoy being swept up in literature, this is a fun exercise to try!  Take a moment and think back on your times spent snuggled in bed curled up with a book and see if you can’t recount the books that helped shape and mold you into the wonderful person you are today.

 

Books that Taught Me About Love and Loss:

Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates
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A marriage that looks perfect from the outside is anything but on the inside. A story that completely broke my heart and taught me that things aren’t always as they seem, Revolutionary Road is a raw and realistic portrayal of the “ideal American family”.

It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken, Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrehdt
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Filled with inspiring stories and quotes, It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken was the book that got me through my first big break-up. Yes, it was super cheesy, but it told me the things I was unwilling to hear from my friends and family and it helped me get back up on my feet during a time I felt I had hit rock bottom.

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
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No book, no person, no song has so perfectly described what it’s like to live with someone who is terminally ill. I read A Monster Calls a few years after my dad died and the wound was ripped right the F open. I related to this book on a deep and emotional level…and it so perfectly described feelings I never thought could be put into words.

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande
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A book about dying with grace and dignity, Being Mortal tries to humanize the ultimate fate we all fear. Written by Dr. Gawande, this book takes readers into places like nursing homes and care centers to better understand how the elderly can age without losing their sense of humanity.

Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie
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A simple story about a boy who doesn’t want to grow up, Peter Pan meant so much more to me after my first experience with death. The story of Peter Pan is quite different from what Disney would have you believe, and after experiencing loss, I felt myself relating so much more to this little boy who just wanted to stay young and joyful forever.

Books that Led to Professional Development:

Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull
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I cannot praise this book enough. Creativity, Inc. is written by one of the founders of Pixar, Ed Catmull. In this management how-to, he discusses what it takes to be a good manager and a good employee. He lays the groundwork for what makes a productive business run and shows readers that it actually is possible to really love what you do. This is the book that inspired me to quit the job that had me in a near constant state of depression and to find something that challenged me intellectually and professionally.

The Artist in the Office, Summer Pierre
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An interactive book about how to have fun at a 9-5 job, The Artist in the Office helps readers find creative outlets throughout the day…encouraging imagination, inspiring creativity, and overall making happier and healthier employees…all while still making time for those dang TPS reports.

Books that Changed the Way I Think:

Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
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A brutally honest look at the cost of farming and eating meat, Eating Animals was a true eye-opener in the best possible way. Though Jonathan Safran Foer is a vegetarian, the point of his book is not to convert meat eaters, but to educate them. Foer pulls back the curtain on companies like Tyson to reveal what is really going on behind closed doors. This book made me sick to my stomach…and it forever changed how I eat and buy my food.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
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A truly inspirational story about listening to your heart and following your dreams, The Alchemist should be required reading for everyone. A story about a shepherd who yearns to travel the world, this book is equal parts fairy tale and spiritual enlightenment. Similar to The Little Prince in its message, The Alchemist – for me at least – was likened to a religious experience.

The Best of Cooking Light, Cooking Light Magazine
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The Best of Cooking Light was the first cookbook I ever owned. I don’t remember where I got it, it may have been a gift or something I picked up in a budget bin at my local bookstore, but when I was living on my own, this cookbook was my bible. I lived off these recipes and I still use it to this day. It’s filled with food stains and the pages are crinkled from spilled water, but I still love it and cherish the memories of learning to cook with this book by my side.

Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, Jenni Ferrari-Adler
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Filled with hilarious and relatable essays about cooking for one and living alone, Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant was the friend I needed during a time when I felt so secluded.

The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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With such simple prose and a simple plot, The Little Prince digs deep into the psyche, unearthing thoughts about love, loss, friendship, responsibility, imagination, and so much more. I’ve read it several times, often in one sitting, and find myself smiling and crying time after time.

Books that Shaped My Childhood:

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss
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The Lorax was the first book I read about what it means to stand up for what you believe in. It was my dad’s favorite Dr. Seuss book and he would read it to me often when I was growing up. Filled with inspiring messages about believing in yourself, encouraging change, and giving a voice to those who don’t have one, The Lorax had a profound impact on my understanding of mindless progress.

The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg
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I still can’t read The Polar Express without crying. A magical story about the true spirit of Christmas, The Polar Express reawakens my love for Christmas every time I read it. The magic of hearing the bell is something I hold personally near and dear to my heart, as my dad had jingle bells all over the house all year long. Needless to say, I still hear the bells ring, year after year.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
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In all honesty, every one of the Harry Potter books could be on this list…but Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was my introduction into the Harry Potter universe. After powering through the first three novels, I went to the midnight release (in costume) of this book and stayed up reading it all night long. I took it with me to the Taste of Chicago the following day and walked all over the city with this 600+ book in hand. It was this book that swept me up into the magic of Hogwarts and was my first introduction into the Harry Potter fandom culture.

My Father’s Daughter, Tina Sinatra
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My Father’s Daughter was not the first Sinatra book I’ve ever read, nor will it be the last…but I found it to be the most truthful. Written by his daughter, Tina Sinatra, My Father’s Daughter is an intimate, honest, and loving tribute to a man the world rarely got to see. Parts of it broke my heart…and parts of it made me love Sinatra all the more. Told with genuine love and respect for her father and her family, Tina Sinatra’s memoir offers a peek into the private life of one of the world’s most popular entertainers.

The Book of Lost Things, John Connolly
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This is one of the only books I finished, then immediately started again. I’ve read this book so many times that the spine is starting to fray. A story similar to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but much, much darker, The Book of Lost Things is a story filled with evil monsters, big heroes, and journeys into worlds unknown. This book took me away and completely immersed me another world, something that rarely happens when I read fiction. The message of this book is quite simple, but the characters are so imaginative and interesting and I have a new experience with this book every time I read it.

Books that Shaped My Educational Development:

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
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The ultimate coming-of-age story about a young boy exploring the New York underground, The Catcher in the Rye is the book that made me fall in love with literature. I remember reading it in high school and again in college…both times it opened my eyes to the amazing character development and plot that this story lays out for the reader. Confused and disillusioned, Holden Caulfield searches for truth and honesty among a world of “phoniness” and finds it near impossible to place himself in this unforgiving culture. A novel that speaks to anyone who has struggled through their adolescence, A Catcher in the Rye remains one of my favorite books of all time.

Solar Storms, Linda Hogan
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It was this book that inspired me to follow a Native American educational path during my time in college. I read Solar Storms in one of my English lit classes and fell in love with the Native culture and views on life and death. I felt an instant connection with this novel and it opened my eyes to an educational outlet I never knew was there for me.

The Uses of Enchantment, Bruno Bettelheim
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A brilliant take on fairy tale criticism, The Uses of Enchantment was the book that inspired a life-long obsession with fairy tales. As if it couldn’t get any nerdier, I actually read this book the first time FOR FUN, then again for required reading in my Fairy Tale class in college. This book breaks down the classic tales we all know and love and digs deep into the deeper meanings behind the red cape, the wolf in the woods, the prick of the pin and so much more.

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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The Cast of Reno 911!: Where Are They Now?

You love it or hate it, but there’s no denying that Reno 911! was good for a laugh at least once or twice!  I have to say, the first time I watched this show, I just didn’t get it…the humor was way over my head…but in time, I came to love it…and now I can’t get enough!

The thing I love about Reno 911! is that you can just watch any episode at random and still enjoy the show.  There are some continual storylines but, for the most part, everything wraps up nice and neat in about 30 minutes.

Starring an amazing cast of comedians, writers, and improve actors, Reno 911! introduced the world to actress Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids, The Goldbergs) and helped put the writing team of Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant (Night at the Museum, The Pacifier) on the map.

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Before it was ultimately cancelled, Reno enjoyed a nice run on Comedy Central and still has a cult following of those who just can’t get enough of Lieutenant Jim Dangle and the gang.

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about what ever happened to the cast of Reno 911!, so I decided to dive in and find out!  Still writing, acting, and making us laugh, here’s what Dangle, Trudy, Travis, Jones, and the rest of the crew are up to these days…

The Cast of Reno 911: Where Are They Now?

Thomas Lennon
Lieutenant Jim Dangle

A native of Oak Park, IL, Lennon was a born comedy writer and performer.  He met fellow co-worker, Kerri Kennedy-Silver while at theatre camp at Northwestern University and the two later attended NYU together, where Lennon joined a comedy troupe called The New Group.  He later joined forces again with Kennedy-Silver and writing pal, Robert Ben Garant, to write and star in Comedy Central’s Reno 911!.  After Reno ended, Lennon went on to appear in dozens of TV shows, including New Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, and Friends.  He also appeared in several films, including Memento, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and The Dark Knight Rises.  In 2008, Lennon started doing stand-up, occasionally playing guitar and incorporating music into his routine.  Currently, Lennon is working as a screenwriter and script consultant.  Most of his screenplays are written in collaboration with Garant and their films (Night at the Museum, The Pacifier, Let’s Go To Prison) have earned more than $1.4 billion worldwide.  He and Garant also wrote a book (Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can Too!) and they continue to work on various projects to this day, most recently writing Hell Baby, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.  Lennon can also be seen occasionally performing with the ‘Sweet and Tender Hooligans’, a The Smiths tribute band, as a guest guitarist.

Robert Ben Garant
Deputy Travis Junior
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A native of Tennessee, Garant is best known for his role on Reno 911!.  As stated above, he’s partnered with Thomas Lennon on several projects and screenplays, including the box office hit, Night at the Museum.  Most recently he’s serving as the director for the comedy series, Bijillion Dollar Propertie$, and was a writer on the 2016 film, The Veil.

Kerri Kennedy-Silver
Deputy Trudy Wiegel
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Having worked with fellow co-stars Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant on several projects before Reno, Kennedy-Silver was no stranger to comedy.  The daughter of a popular voice actor, Kennedy-Silver did some voice over work after her run on Reno 911! and went on to appear in a few TV shows and movies, including Still Standing, All About Steve, Balls of Fury, Role Models, and Wanderlust.  In 2015, she began voicing the character of Miriam in the Nickelodeon series Harvey Beaks and can currently be seen in in the Netflix original series, Love.

Niecy Nash
Deputy Raineesha Williams
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A beloved, loud, and exuberant character on Reno 911!, Nash made audiences fall in love with her with her portrayal of Raineesha Williams.  An outspoken activist for anti-violence in schools after the shooting death her younger brother, Nash has made several guest appearances on various TV shows and programs.  She also played civil rights activist Richie Jean Jackson in the historical film, Selma.  Nash was also on the tenth season of Dancing with the Stars and left taking 5th place in the competition.  In 2013, Nash starred in the HBO comedy series, Getting On, a role which scored her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, as well as a Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.  Nash has also made appearances on The Mindy Project and Scream Queens, a role she holds currently.

Cedric Yarbrough
Deputy S. Jones
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A native of Burnsville, Minnesota, Yarbrough attended high school and college in his local home state.  After his hilarious portrayal as Deputy Jones on Reno 911!, Yarbrough went on to appear in a variety of TV shows and movies, including Arrested Development, Meet the Fockers, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Get Smart, The Penguins of Madagascar, and BoJack Horseman, among many others.  Most currently he’s worked with fellow co-star, Robert Ben Garant, in Bijillion Dollar Propertie$ and can be seen on the ABC sitcom, Speechless.

Carlos Alazraqui
Deputy James Garcia
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You may not recognize Alazraqui’s face, but his voice acting resume will certainly bring back all the warm and fuzzy memories of your childhood.  Most notably, Alazraqui is known for his role as the voice of Rocko and Spunky in Rocko’s Modern Life, and has also voiced the Taco Bell Chihuahua, Bobbi Fabulous on Phineas and Ferb, and has done work for Family Guy and The Fairly OddParents, as well as a whole slew of popular Nickelodeon cartoons (CatDog, Cow and Chicken, I Am Weasel).  After Reno 911!, Alazraqui went back to his roots and can now be heard voicing the character of Tio Tortuga in the new Disney Junior show, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West.

Wendi McLendon-Covey
Deputy Clementine Johnson
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A native of The Groundlings Theater company, McLendon-Covey was classmates with Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig during her time with the troupe (she would later work with both of them again in her blockbuster film, Bridesmaids).  Hard to believe, but Reno 911! was actually McLendon-Covey’s first professional acting gig, and she’d go on to star in the Lifetime comedy show, Lovespring International and provide commentary for E!, TV Guide Channel, and VH1.  Besides Bridesmaids, recent projects have also included The Office, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and Cougar Town.  In 2014, McLendon-Covey was cast in the lead role of the ABC series The Goldbergs, a role which earned her a nomination for a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.  McLendon-Covey has a variety of films coming out in 2017, including Speech & Debate and Felt, a film that’s also set to star Liam Neeson, Diane Lane, and Kate Walsh.

Mary Birdsong
Deputy Cherisha Kimball
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A former correspondent on The Daily Show and Crossballs, Birdsong felt right at home when she was brought on as Deputy Kimball on Reno 911!.  A popular voice actress, Birdsong has offered her voice to such shows as Goldie and Bear, Stroker and Hoop, T.U.F.F. Puppy, as well as the video game, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.  From July 2006 to January 2007, Birdsong performed alongside Martin Short in the comedy musical, Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me and won a Theatre World Award in 2007 for her role in the show.  In January of 2008, Birdsong joined the Broadway cast of Hairspray, playing the role of Velma Von Tussle and has also done one-woman shows and performed in comedy showcases.

Nick Swardson
Terry Bernadino
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The recurring troublemaker, Terry, has to be everyone’s favorite goof ball.  Constantly getting under the skin of the Reno squad, Swardon’s Terry character has become one of his most famous roles.  After his great work on Reno 911!, Swardson went on to partner with friend Adam Sandler on the 2006 film Grandma’s Boy.  Four years later, he came out with a sketch comedy show, Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time, on Comedy Central, which was run by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions.  His recent projects have included Pixels, The Do-Over, and Sandy Wexler, which is due for release in 2017.

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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Stacked Marauder’s Mugs

Every true Harry Potter fan knows about the four Marauders.  A group of Gryffindor friends made up of Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and James Potter, the four attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the 1970s and had a serious knack for rule-breaking…

The truest of friends during their time at Hogwarts, Pettigrew, Black, and Potter all became unregistered Animagi (a wizard who can turn into an animal) in order to protect their friend, Lupin, who was a werewolf.  Pettigrew’s Animagus was a rat, making him small enough to slip under the Whomping Willow so the group could go to the Shrieking Shack, where Lupin would stay during his time as a werewolf.  Black – a dog – and Potter – a stag – were both big enough as animals to help control Remus during his monthly transformations.

In order to protect their identity, the four Marauders gave each other names that nodded to their animal counterparts.  Throughout the Harry Potter series, these four are known as Moony (Lupin), Wormtail (Pettigrew), Padfoot (Black) and Prongs (Potter).

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Towards the end of their education, Remus, Peter, Sirius, and James created the Marauder’s Map, a small, bewitched roll of parchment that displayed the castle grounds and inhabitants of Hogwarts – including all staff, ghosts, and students – in great detail.  It showed where everyone was in the castle so the boys could continue their mischievous ways without getting caught, as well as help Lupin escape the castle when the full moon rose and he would begin his transformation.

At an unspecified point in time, the map was discovered and confiscated by Hogwarts caretaker, Argus Filch…and remained in his custody until Fred and George Weasley stole the map in their first year and later passed it on to James’s son, Harry, in 1993.

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Much of the history of the Four Marauders is introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and continues to come up now and again throughout the remainder of the story.

Designed to pay homage to the four Marauder’s, these stacking bowls each feature the name of one of the Marauder’s, as well as the footprint of their animal counterparts on the back.

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Great for holding snacks, treats, or just odds and ends on your desk, these stacking bowls are a must for any Harry Potter fan, and are available for purchase at my Between the Pages Etsy shop!

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

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Living Inside a Story

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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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Arroz con Pollo with Cilantro and Jalapenos

For the past two years, I’ve hosted a little Oscar viewing party, complete with themed foods and a comfy-clothes-only policy…it’s a very exclusive shin-dig 😉

I try to serve foods themed around the Best Picture nominees, and for the amazing film, Moonlight, I decided to create my own version of Kevin’s (Andre Holland) chef special, Chicken and Rice.

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Served with fresh cilantro and black beans, this Arroz con Pollo recipe is a light and refreshing dish that has a bright burst of citrus flavor.  You can use brown or white rice (make sure to cook it ahead of time!) and you can add a deeper chicken flavor to this dish by using chicken thighs and legs instead of breasts.

A spicy and tasty dinner that’s big enough to feed 6-8 hungry mouths, this Arroz con Pollo recipe is a great one to have in your back pocket for last-minute dinner parties or gatherings.

Arroz con Pollo with Cilantro and Jalapenos

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinless
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1 white or sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 lemons, zest and juice
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 bag frozen corn (or canned corn)
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (for garnish)

Directions:

  1. Cut chicken into 1 in. cubes.  Heat oil in pan and cook chicken on all sides until lightly browned.
  2. Add onion and garlic; stir until fragrant and onions have softened.  Add chopped jalapeno, chicken broth, chopped cilantro, lemon zest and juice of lemons, and lime zest and juice of limes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked.
  3. Add cooked rice; mix to combine.  Add corn and beans.  Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes, or until heated through.
  4. Serve in pot or transfer to casserole dish.  Garnish with additional chopped cilantro and sliced jalapeno.

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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This Time Together Book Review

Back when my whole family lived under one roof, I remember spending many a sleepless nights watching The Carol Burnett Show on On Demand.  Always entertaining and filled with an amazing cast of guest stars (including Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, and Julie Andrews, just to name a few!), The Carol Burnett Show was always a joy to watch.  I loved how much the cast loved each other…and how much they loved and respected Carol herself.  It was a beacon in the realm of TV comedy and won an impressive 25 Emmys during its long 11-year run.

One thing I really enjoyed about The Carol Burnett Show was Carol’s genuine love for what she did.  Just watch one show, one scene even, and it will be so clear to see that this woman lives to make people laugh.

Unlike several of her colleagues, Carol Burnett is one of the most authentic actresses on film and TV today…what you see is what you get.  That same funny, irreverent, and irresistible person you see on The Carol Burnett Show, Annie, Noises Off!, and Glee is the same funny lady off-screen, too…she’s just as sweet and warm as you’d imagine…and the proof lies in her most recent autobiography, This Time Together.

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A heartwarming memoir filled with hilarious and touching stories, This Time Together is a collection of Carol’s most cherished memories from her personal and professional life.  Filled with adorable photos of Carol and her posse, this book feels like sitting down with an old friend who has amazing stories and photos to share.

From her life-long friendships with some of the world’s most well-known entertainers to her heartbreaking story of losing her daughter to cancer, Carol’s poignant look back at her amazing legacy will leave you laughing and crying alongside her.  By the end of the book, she’ll feel like an old friend, a soul mate, a dear companion who, despite all odds, reminds us that laughter really is the best medicine of 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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45 Fun Facts About Breaking Bad

Let’s face facts…Breaking Bad is easily one of the best TV shows ever.

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Starring Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, Breaking Bad was part of the golden age of AMC, airing alongside such classics as The Walking Dead and Mad Men.  A story with a simple plot (a cancer patient decides to make meth to raise money for his treatments), Breaking Bad set the bar for amazing television programming, combining tormented characters with intoxicating storylines to keep viewers addicted to the program week after week.

Set and filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad was a modern day western, complete with good guys, bad guys, and a heavy dose of casualties.  In its short 5 seasons, Breaking Bad took viewers from this…

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…to this…

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…and by the end, we were just hoping we’d make it out alive.

I’m currently rewatching Breaking Bad for the 3rd or 4th time now, and thought I’d share some interesting facts I’ve learned about this amazing show.  If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen Breaking Bad, note that there are spoilers ahead…you’ve been warned!

With a large fandom that continues to binge watch this amazing series, I think it’s safe to say that Breaking Bad will continue to be a cultural phenomenon for years to come…and whether you love Walt or you hate him, you can’t deny that man’s got us all by the…well, you know…

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45 Fun Facts About Breaking Bad

The name Walter White gives to his alter ego, “Heisenberg”, is a shout out to Werner Heisenberg, one of the most important physicists of the 20th century.  He won the Nobel Prize for developing the theory of quantum mechanics.

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The cast of Breaking Bad is filled with comedians. Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman), Bill Burr (Kuby), Lavell Crawford (Huell), Steven Michael Quezada (Steve Gomie), and Javier Grajeda (Juan Bolsa) have all done stand-up or comedic acting.  Even front-runner Bryan Cranston (Walter White) spent a few years doing stand-up before making it in Hollywood.

Gus Fring’s death was actually based on a real story. Rocket scientist John Parsons came to an unfortunate end when he was making up a batch of mercury fulminate for a special effects project.  Something went wrong and the batch blew up in his face.  He supposedly survived several hours with half of his face peeled off before finally succumbing to his injuries.

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Lovers of Breaking Bad and AMC’s other amazing show, The Walking Dead, know that there are several parallels between the two shows…one being that famed zombie artist, Greg Nicotero, who is the mastermind behind the zombies on TWD, was brought on to help create the final look of Fring’s blown off face. According to producer Vince Gilligan, it took months to get it right.

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Actress Julia Minesci, who plays the meth addict and hooker Wendy, is actually much healthier than she looks. She’s done the Hawaii Ironman six times, the Germany Ironman once, and has run countless marathons in between.

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Gale’s complete karaoke video is on YouTube.

Several of the residences in Breaking Bad are real family homes, including the homes of Walter White and Hank and Marie Schrader. You can see both homes, and many other famous Breaking Bad filming locations, on the Albuquerque Breaking Bad tour.

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The coordinates that Walt hides on a Lotto ticket reminding him of where his money is buried actually point to Q Studios in Albuquerque, where Breaking Bad was filmed.

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Los Pollos Hermanos, the restaurant of Gus Fring, is actually a real chicken restaurant in Albuquerque. Named Twisters in real life, the restaurant still sports the painted chicken brothers logo on the inside.

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Vince Gilligan and Bryan Cranston actually first met on the set of The X Files. Gillian wrote an episode called “Drive” and he needed to cast an actor who “could be scary and kind of loathsome but at the same time had a deep, resounding humanity”…hmmm…sound familiar?  Cranston got the part and Gilligan would later approach him again to star in his new show, Breaking Bad.

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The now famous Heisenberg Hat was originally given to Cranston to prevent sunburn on his shaved head.

Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn (Skyler White), Bob Odenkirk, and Jessica Hecht (Gretchen) were all guest-stars on Seinfeld.

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The science behind Breaking Bad is flawed for a reason. Show creators felt that viewers might try to emulate Walter’s recipe based on what happens in the show, so Gilligan had a real DEA crew on set to advise him on what science to include and what to leave out.

Besides the popular Breaking Bad tours, New Mexico also offers blue meth candy, blue meth doughnuts, locally brewed Heisenberg beer, Heisenberg Pez dispensers and much more.

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After watching Season 5, Episode 14 – “Ozmandias” – George R.R. Martin called Walter White “a bigger monster than anyone in Game of Thrones”.

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Besides winning three Primetime Emmy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, A Critics’ Choice Award, and having slew of other wins and nominations under his belt, actor Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman) has never had one acting class…just a natural heart-breaker!

breaking bad

Nearly two decades before Breaking Bad, Cranston was in the original Power Rangers!, voicing the character of the Twin Man. The Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston) was also named after him…kind of had to be the blue one, right?

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Jesse Pinkman was actually supposed to be killed off at the end of the first season…however, the chemistry between Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston was so strong and Paul was such a joy to work with that Gillian said it would be a “colossal mistake to kill off Jesse”. Yeah, bitch!

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On the final day of filming the show, Cranston got a Breaking Bad tattoo on the inside of his finger. Aaron Paul also has “No Half Measures” tattooed on his arm.

Image result for bryan cranston, breaking bad tattoo

Image result for aaron paul, breaking bad tattoo

According to Anna Gunn, Cranston cried for 15 minutes after filming the scene in which Walt watches Jesse’s girlfriend Jane die.

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The first, fourth, tenth, and thirteenth episodes of season 2 all have black and white teaser intros. When you combine the titles for those episodes, you get Seven Thirty-Seven/Down/Over/ABQ – foreshadowing the plane crash at the end of the season.

breaking bad

The iconic “roof pizza” scene was shot on the very first take.  #pro

breaking bad

Ironically, Christopher Cousins (Ted Beneke) needed a stunt man to film his neck-breaking scene because Cousins himself was recovering from spinal surgery.

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While RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.) does have cerebral palsy, he walks without crutches and had to learn how to walk with them for his role on the show.

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There are 62 episodes total of Breaking Bad. The 62nd element on the periodic table is Samarium, which is used to treat pain in lung cancer patients.

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Walt Jr. is the only major character that Jesse Pinkman never meets or encounters throughout the entire series.

breaking bad bullshit walter jr

There are 270 deaths throughout the five seasons of Breaking Bad.

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Walt Jr.’s site, http://www.savewalterwhite.com, is a real website. Donations made on the site go to the National Cancer Coalition.  Click on the banner to check it out!

Save Walter White

The final episode of the series, “Felina”, can be broken up into three elements: Fe, Li, Na – iron, lithium, and sodium…or blood, meth, and tears.

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In the premiere episode of the 5th and final season, the camera lingers on Walt’s New Hampshire plate, showing the state motto, “Live Free or Die”. This is the name of the season 5 premiere and also foreshadows the outcome of the two main characters.

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Before signing with AMC, a lot of networks passed on Breaking Bad, including HBO, Showtime, TNT, and FX.

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Whenever you see the blue meth on screen on Breaking Bad, what you’re actually seeing is blue rock candy…specifically blue rock candy from The Candy Lady, a boutique candy store in Albuquerque. They now have a whole line of Breaking Bad-inspired treats, which they sell under The Bad Candy Lady line.

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Jesse Pinkman says his famed “Bitch!” 54 times throughout the series. That’s roughly once per episode.

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Marius Stan, who played Walter’s boss, Bogdan, at the car wash, has a PhD in chemistry and is a Senior Computational Energy Scientist at Argonne National Lab.

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Jonathan Banks (Mike Ehrmantraut) was beloved by cast and crew alike. On his last day on set, everyone wore black armbands in his memory.

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Gilligan’s one regret about the show: Jesse’s teeth.  Jesse took a lot of beatings throughout the show and obviously used meth and other drugs.  In real life, Jesse’s teeth would have probably been terrible.  But…dat smile…SWOON.

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Aaron Paul was once a contestant on The Price is Right. Hold on to your ovaries, ladies…

Aaron Paul also auditioned for the role of Francis in Malcolm in the Middle, meaning he would have played Bryan Cranston’s son 8 years before Breaking Bad.

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Another Walking Dead Easter egg…The car that Walt buys Walt Jr. is the same car Glenn drives in The Walking Dead.

Furthermore, the general manager who sold Walt the car was named Glenn.

There are also a bunch of fan theories that Jesse Pinkman was the drug dealer for The Walking Dead character, Merle Dixon.

Shooting the series in New Mexico pumped about $1 million per episode into the local economy.

jesse pinkman

The term “breaking bad” is a southern colloquialism, referring to someone who has taken a turn off the path of the straight and narrow.

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Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris (Hank Schrader) also appeared in Little Miss Sunshine, which was also filmed on location in Albuquerque.  Cranston was the agent Stan Grossman and Norris was the police officer that investigated the bus after the horn on the bus broke.

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Image result for bryan cranston, little miss sunshine

It should come as no surprise that the bromance between Cranston and Paul is alive and stronger than ever.  They still talk often and Cranston was even a groomsmen in Aaron Paul’s wedding.

Breaking Bad guys:

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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