You Are Your Best Thing Key Chain

Sometimes we all need a little reminder that we’re our own best thing.

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When I first read this quote in Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, I think I cried a little happy tear. It’s so easy for us to lose focus and find fault in ourselves, especially when times are tough or you’re going through a rough patch in your life…but we all need to remember and rejoice in our own beauty, knowing that we all are our own best thing!

You Are Your Best Thing Key Chain

Materials:

  • Clay in color of your choice
  • Glitter in color(s) of your choice
  • Small letter stamps
  • Common clay tools (roller, needle or pin)
  • Mod Podge glue or spray sealer

Directions:

Shape clay in color of your choice into large oval. Use the roller or a round ball tool to remove any fingerprints.

Using the small letter stamps, stamp your message. For mine, I wrote my message bottom to top, back to front…so I was stamping my message backwards, essentially. This allowed me to line up the end of the word with the edge of the oval.

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Bake your clay charm as directed.

Once totally cool, either dip other side of key chain in Mod Podge or use brush to apply glue. Add glitter. Let dry. Add another coat or two on entire clay piece to seal.

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This glitter comes from a set. Colors from left to right are: MARTHA STEWART Limeade, Sour Apple, Wintermint, Blueberry Slush and Sugar Plum.

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Show off your new key chain!

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I also made this square key chain using the same method, then covered the whole back with the leftover glitter.

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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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You’re Born Alone and You Die Alone

no-tomorrow

“I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.”
Mad Men

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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12 Sweet Peach Recipes for National Peach Month

August kicks off National Peach Month…and what better way to celebrate than with a meal filled with peaches?

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The great thing about peaches, and most stone fruit for that matter, is that it is sturdy and versatile. It can stand up to being cooked in an oven, on the grill, or in a skillet, and is a great accompaniment to a sweet or savory dish.

From breakfast to dessert, here are 12 sweet peach recipes to celebrate National Peach Month!

12 Sweet Peach Recipes

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Peach Cobbler French Toast

Grilled Steak Salad with Peaches

Rustic Stone Fruit Tart

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Chicken Peach Kebabs

Lemon Peach Fizz

Peach Shortcake

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Peach Galette

Prosciutto Salad with Peach and Mozzarella

Grilled Peach and Prosciutto Flatbread

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Peach Gin and Tonic

Peach Bread

Peaches and Cream Crumble

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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Around the World in 18 Cookbooks

Whether you’re craving traditional Indian food or your missing the delicious street food of Israel or Thailand, the next best thing to getting up and getting on a plane is to take a few steps to your kitchen.

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With this collection of amazing cookbooks from far-away places, you can easily re-create your regional favorites from the comfort of your own home.

Around the World in 18 Cookbooks

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Argentina
Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way, by Francis Mallmann

Brazil
The Brazilian Kitchen, by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

China
Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, by Fuchsia Dunlop

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Denmark
Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge, by Trine Hahnemann

Ethiopia
Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopian Cooking, by Kittee Berns

France
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child (I mean, duh)

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Greece
Ikaria: Lessons on Food, Life and Longevity from the Greek Island Where People Forget to Die, by Diane Kochilas

Iceland
The Nordic Cookbook, by Magnus Nilsson

Israel
Jerusalem: A Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

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India
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen: Traditional and Creative Recipes for the Home Cook, by Richa Hingle

Italy
Cooking with Nonna: Celebrate food and Family with Over 100 Classic Recipes From Italian Grandmothers, by Rossella Rago

Japan
Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, by Masaharu Morimoto

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Mexico
Mexico: The Cookbook, by Margarita Carrillo Arronte

Morocco
Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon, by Claudia Roden

Peru
Peru: The Cookbook, by Gaston Acurid

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Russia
Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking, by Bonnie Frumkin Morales

Spain
Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain, by Jeffrey Weiss

Thailand
Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen, by Leela Punyaratabandhu

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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28 Fun Facts about Louis Armstrong

From 1994 to 2007, I was a proud, well-trained, 100% bonified band nerd. I was in pep band, marching band, orchestra, concert band, and – my original love – jazz band. My instrument of choice was the trumpet and my goal in life was to play “Hail to the Chief” for the President of the United States.

The reasons behind this have been explained on my blog before (it involves Abraham Lincoln and Bug Hall and nothing related to today’s post), but in an effort to improve my skills and become worthy of playing for the Prez, I had to study the greats…

And as any self-respecting jazz trumpeter will tell you, there’s really no one better than Louis Armstrong.

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I grew up listening to Satchmo, even before I decided to dedicate my life to playing the trumpet. I loved his unique voice, his stylistic playing, and his overall joy for life. He is one half of one of my all-time favorite records, Ella & Louis Together, and stars in one of my all-time favorite movies, High Society (which also stars my one and only Frank Sinatra!).

Born August 4, 1901, Armstrong had a rough life, growing up in the deep south at a time that made life challenging for anyone of color. As luck would have it, a simple twist of fate set Armstrong’s life in motion, and he would go on to record some of the most influential jazz albums of all time.

He is often called “The Father of Jazz” and is even credited with inventing the popular ‘scat’ technique. He’s created jazz foundations, served as a jazz ambassador for the US, and developed a sound so unique that anyone could pretty much identify a song by ol’ Pops pretty much instantly.

Armstrong died of a heart attack in his sleep on July 6, 1971, a month before his 70th birthday. Even after his passing, Armstrong continues to influence the music community, receiving several honors, including induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, posthumously.

In celebration of the impact Armstrong has had on the music industry and on the lives of musicians all over the world, including mine, here are 28 fun facts about Louis Armstrong!

28 Fun Facts about Louis Armstrong

Armstrong was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father abandoned his family after Armstrong’s birth and his mother was a prostitute who frequently left Armstrong to his maternal grandmother.

While growing up, Armstrong did assorted jobs for the Karnofskys, a family of Lithuanian-Jewish immigrants. They gave him monetary compensation, a hot meal every night, and regular invitations to Shabbat dinners. They even gave him a $5 advance so he could buy his first horn. In honor of that family, Armstrong wore the Star of David around his neck throughout adulthood.

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After being arrested at the age of 11 for firing a gun into the air, Armstrong was sent to the Waifis’ Home for Boys, where he received his first cornet lesson.

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For nearly 10 years, Armstrong did not play in his hometown of New Orleans because it did not allow integrated bands. He returned in 1965 after the Civil Rights Act passed and “…triumphantly played with an integrated band in the city’s Jazz Museum.”

The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, established and funded by Armstrong in 1969, was devoted to providing education in the history of music and jazz.

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Armstrong was famously very quiet about race issues in the United States and refused to speak on the topic until he heard the news about the Arkansas National Guard refusing to let black students from entering Little Rock High School. He told the media, “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell!”

Armstrong pronounced his name ‘Louis’, but adopted and answered to the nickname, ‘Louie’.

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Armstrong’s wide smile earned him the name “Satchelmouth” when he was a kid. This later became “Satchmo”, when a reporter mistook the name when he met Armstrong. Armstrong liked the revised nickname so much that he used it for an autobiography and had it engraved on some of his instruments.

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Armstrong was married 4 times throughout his life. Though he loved kids, he never produced children with any of his wives.

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Armstrong was one of the first celebrities to be arrested for drug possession. He made no secret of his fondness for marijuana, which he described as “…a thousand times better than whiskey.” He served 9 days in jail after being busted with the drug outside the Cotton Club in California.

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But that didn’t stop him from smoking a joint now and then. Armstrong said that smoking weed “…makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro.” He continued using the drug for the rest of his life.

Before Armstrong married his fourth wife, Lucille, he made sure she could make his favorite food: rice and beans.

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He actually loved rice and beans so much that he signed his letters, “Red Beans and Ricely Yours”.

He loved performing so much that there were some years he appeared in more than 300 concerts.

One of Armstrong’s most well-known songs, “What a Wonderful World” didn’t even make a blimp in America until nearly 20 years after Armstrong died (thanks to its inclusion in the Good Morning, Vietnam soundtrack).

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Armstrong is also said to have invented ‘scat’, the art of making musical instrument noises with the human voice.

Armstrong’s personality won him fans of all races and religions, something rare for his time.

When he met the Pope Pius XII in 1949, the Pope asked him if he had children. Armstrong replied, “No, daddy, but we’re workin’ on it!”

Armstrong is quoted with saying, “Without jazz, there wouldn’t be any rock n’ roll.” For his early influence on the rock n’ roll genre, Armstrong was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Armstrong was deemed ‘America’s Jazz Ambassador’, traveling to Africa, the Middle East, and Europe on Goodwill missions arranged by the US State Department.

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Armstrong did not show his face at many race rallies or marches; however, he did donate money to the civil rights movement after the attack in Selma, Alabama.

During Armstrong’s lifetime, only one of his recordings ever reached the No. 1 Billboard spot in the US: his 1964 cover of “Hello, Dolly”, which pushed the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” from the top spot on the Hot 100 List.

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Armstrong also won the Male Vocal Performance Grammy Award for “Hello, Dolly”.

One year after Armstrong passed away, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Armstrong recorded more than 60 records, several of which have been named some of the most influential jazz records in history. He recorded them all in a span of 3 years.

The home Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, lived in for nearly 30 years is now a museum about the entertainer, called simply the Louis Armstrong House. It’s located in Queens, NY.

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When Armstrong died of a heart attack at the age of 69, an estimated 25,000 people attended his funeral.

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Among the honorary pallbearers were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie.

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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“Constant Vigilance!” Bracelet

It’s no secret that Hogwarts can’t hold on to one damn Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Every year it’s a new crazy loon hired to offer life lessons about how to fight off the evils of dark magic.

While each teacher had their moments, I think it was Alastor Moody – the Auror turned professor in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – who had some of the best advice for young wizards: “CONSTANT VIGILANCE.”

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As a matter of fact, I feel like this is helpful advice even us Muggles could use. It never hurts to be on the lookout and this little clay bracelet is a great reminder to always keep one eye open!

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As an added dedication to one of my favorite Hogwarts professors, I also added a little clay eyeball, reminiscent of Moody’s “mad eye” to embellish this bracelet. This is a super easy project to make for anyone new to clay crafting and can be made in any color you’d like.

Constant Vigilance Bracelet

Materials:

  • Clay in color of your choice (for bracelet)
  • Gold, white, blue and black clay (for eye charm)
  • Basic clay tools (knife, roller, pin, small round cutter)
  • Small letter stamps
  • 3-5 jump rings
  • Chain or string for bracelet
  • Basic jewelry tools (pliers, etc.)

Instructions:

To make eye charm, roll out gold clay to about 1/8 in. thickness. Cut small circle using cutter or knife.

Roll ball of white clay, measuring about the same size as the inside of the gold circle. Using a knife, cut a flat side on the ball. Attach to gold circle.

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Using finger, gently flatten dome part of eye.

Create iris with blue and black clay. Attach to white dome. Using needle or pin, poke small hole in top of gold circle to attach jump ring later. Set aside.

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For bracelet, roll out clay in color of your choice to about ¼ in. thickness. Using small letter stamps, stamp message in clay. Use a ball tool to gently remove any intents, if necessary. Using pin, poke two holes in bracelet, one on each side to attach chain or string. Gently form around wrist.

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Bake clay charm and message band according to clay package directions. Let cool completely.

*If you want to make the letters stand out, you can use paint or ink to help highlight the letters.

If desired, you can seal your charm and message band with Mod Podge or sealing spray.

For the band, I used an assortment of embroidery string. I just threaded it through each hole and braided it. Easy, peasy!

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I added my clay charm to the right side of my bracelet, but you can add it wherever you like.

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Enjoy your new bracelet!

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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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I’m No One’s Little Puppet

hey-hey-hey

“Hey, hey, hey
You think that I’m a little baby
You that I am fragile like a Faberge
You think that I am cracking but you can’t break me
No-o-o-o-o no way!”
–Katy Perry, “Hey, Hey, Hey”

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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