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Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

DIY: Butterfly garden

Office workers know how easy it is for time to fly by as we spend our summer days indoors. Sure, sitting in a windowless cubicle before the phosphorescent glow of a computer screen for eight hours is glamorous, but do you ever find yourself wishing you were in a meadow somewhere chasing butterflies?

Who says the office can’t be your own special meadow?

Next time you’re stuck with a late-night deadline, instead of cursing friends and coworkers enjoying themselves at the beer garden — you can format those TPS reports in the midst of your own cubicle butterfly garden. This project is not only cathartic, it’s simple! Even young kids can help.

 

 

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Star Wars Fans: THIS.

So you think you’re the biggest Star Wars fan ever? You’re not alone. Apparently, Stephen Colbert and John Stewart think they are, too.  (But they’re misguided as CLEARLY they haven’t come up against uber fan, Rick Bentley.)

Disney is offering mega fans the opportunity to be in Star Wars: Episode VII via a donation contest in support of UNICEF.

THE BASICS: Go here, donate money, and be entered to win a spot in the film. The more you donate, the more entries you get, the larger your chances of winning. 

Regardless, check out the viral vid below.  

Update on two bearded chicks

For those that are curious… an update on my hatchlings…

Animals grow quickly. I’m sad to say that the very short period of the ‘Chick pic of the day’ has ended, as the little balls of fluff have grown into large, feathered, somewhat gawky things. They’re still small and technically still chicks, but at almost 7 weeks old, they are more like awkward preteens than sweet downy babies.

Sadly, one of the chicks had a very rough hatch (as in, from the egg), and passed at barely 2 weeks of age. The other two are quirky and growing beards and are, by all appearances, girls.

 

It’s NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY… isn’t it?

This is such a big deal, I had to announce it in CAPS.   We’ve all been preparing for months, planning, waiting, dreaming of National Chocolate Day and it’s finally here! In fact, we’re all celebrating this national holiday by…

*crickets*

chocolateHuh. You’d think when you give a major food group its own holiday you’d have scores of retailers supporting its inherent goodness. Sales of chocolate should be through the roof. Every home should have some kind of sculpture created out of and in honor of the blessed stuff. One would expect Starbucks to create a special drink for this day, at the very least.

But it’s not turning out to be the type of holiday I expected. Granted, I’d only learned about 2-hours ago that National Chocolate Day existed at all, and this via some obscure very reliable tweet. But when I went to verify the veracity of this info, a quick internet “National Chocolate Day” search revealed some incredibly troubling information, indeed. First, my search uncovered merely two whopping news stories announcing the day —  followed by several links that were wholly unrelated. And second, it gets worse.

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UPDATE: WIN: Grizzlies tix for Strawberry ice cream recipe

strawberry-ice-creamUPDATE: The winner of the Grizzlies ticket vouchers has been randomly selected. Congratulations, Charity! Thank you to all who submitted recipes. I will be trying out a few of them, for sure.

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I don’t want to shock anybody, but prepare for this punch in the face: July 4th is right around the corner. Literally, just over 2-weeks away.

Having the strong holiday associations that I do, for me, the fourth is about some kind of barbecued something or other slathered in sauce, corn on the cob, ice cold lemonade, my mom’s potato salad (which is the GREATEST ever) and homemade strawberry ice cream. (And then something about fireworks and ‘Merica. And baseball.)

I can explain away the barbecued goods, the corn, even the lemonade — but I have no idea where my July 4th/strawberry ice cream association came from. I just know it exists.

For years I have attempted to perfect a strawberry ice cream recipe: searching for the just-right combination of berries and cream, a recipe that churns out a concoction that is silky, smooth and sweet.

I’ve never once done it. Having failed miserably for a good 20 consecutive years now, I’d be happy to just end up with an edible batch of the stuff.

NO! Not this year! I’m asking for your help.  Does somebody, ANYBODY, have a good strawberry ice cream recipe?

Here’s the deal:

Want to win a family 4-pack of vouchers good for almost any  Fresno Grizzlies game of the season?

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Father’s Day: 10 things to avoid

fdgIt’s Father’s Day this weekend, which I believe I have previously touched on as the worst holiday EVER. My exhaustive list as to WHY this holiday is so stupid:

- I am terrible at giving Father’s Day gifts.

And there you have it. I’m horrible. No matter how much thought or effort or energy that goes into it, I invariably end up doing the exact WRONG thing. So I share with you some helpful hints — a list of “What not to do,” if you will —  to help mold your day into a triumph.

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Outlaw chickeners

egg… Deep in the heart of suburbia in a smallish backyard designed for more suitable and acceptable hobbies like barbecuing and ping pong and only the occasionally well-mannered dog, resides a woman with a dual identity. By day, she’s a mild-mannered DIY writer, who spends her time crafting and desk surfing, guiding readers in intriguing intellectual pursuits — such as, “Learn how to straighten out that wobbly table using a turnip!” or “How to redecorate your entire home with beer caps!” But by night, she’s an obsessed wanna-be chickener, reading all she can about raising her own small flock in Outer Urbia — the land of tract homes and concrete and crabby neighbors.

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DIY: Fresh cherry tart

cherriesWe here in the Central Valley are surrounded by deliciousness – and I know this because Bee food writer Robert Rodriguez  reminds me ON A WEEKLY BASIS of all the good that’s out there. A few weeks back it was strawberries; next up was  cherries;  and today, it’s ALL THE REST OF THE BERRIES.

If you haven’t been out to any of the Farmer’s Markets or farm stands (*thanks again, Bob*), do not delay any longer. Seriously don’t. Last weekend I bought 4 gallons — GALLONS — of jam berries (slightly overripe strawberries) for $8.  With any luck, that much jam will keep my family set for the next year AND make some nice gifts come Christmas.

There were plenty of blueberries at the stand and while I didn’t grab any this time, I can promise future breakfasts will be doused in them.

But of all the delish items I procured last weekend, the pound of sweet cherries — or really, what I did with them when pitted — was my favorite. I made the best fresh cherry tart. Super easy– highly addictive.

In fact, for all the cherry tartless out there, here’s the recipe.

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DIY: Photo garland

If you’re throwing a graduation party and planning on getting festive with your decorations, why go store-bought? You don’t have to invest in balloons, crepe paper and mylar cutouts.  Here’s a cute, easy to make and inexpensive photo garland idea.

clothespins
What you’ll need:

-photos of the grad through the years
- yarn
- mini clothes pins

This one doesn’t need much of an explainer, it’s so simple. Drape a long piece of yarn; attach photos to the yarn with the mini clothes pins (large clothes pins would work fine as well). DONE.  Hang your garland — or several garlands — in various places at the party space (behind a food table, against a wall, whatever).  They’re fun and interesting;  and, if you’re like me, use them to perfectly cover up smudges or other marks on your walls.

DIY: Mortarboard candy pops

finalI mentioned last week that I have both graduation AND desserts on my mind. One of the adorable elements I’ve decided to include on my graduation party dessert table are these  mortarboard candy pops I first  saw a few years back on Pinterest. Back then, I tried but couldn’t locate square chocolate… and I let it DESTROY ME sideline my idea.  Not this time, amigos. I not only located the chocolates, but created perhaps the most adorable confection I will ever make… until the next time I make an adorable confection.

If you’ve got a grad party to plan for, try this simple dessert table accompaniment that has three things going for it: it’s cute, it’s chocolate and it’s  pretty fast to make.  BONUS: They make people squee.

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DIY: Giving money

secretlondon_Gold_presentAt the top of my son’s gift list when he was 4 was a Power Ranger. It didn’t matter the holiday, it didn’t matter that he had all the Power Rangers already. I learned that one apparently could never have too many Power Rangers.

Same goes with another of my sons, except his “never can have too many” item was LEGOs.

When my daughter was 12, all she wanted was “Justin Bieber stuff.” Anything, everything, so long as it was purple and featured the singer.

Most of my children — who all come in different ages, colors, shapes and sizes with desires and opinions as equally varied — have arrived at the magic time when the top of their gift lists request the EXACT the same thing: money.

Ahhhh, money. The most boring and laziest gift to give, ever. Well, next to a bag of converted white rice and container of dental floss. I hate giving money. Zero thought goes into the gift, and yet, nothing is ever received so well.

And here we are, in the midst of graduation season. Did you know the word “graduation” is Latin for  “card with check”? It might as well be.

Well, enough. Don’t let the fear of lazy get in the way of giving the one gift that makes everyone smile.  Check out these creative ways to give cash.

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DIY: The dessert table

Graduation season is upon us, which means I’ve been obsessing about party planning. With two graduates in our household and two more in the extended family, my sisters and I opted to combine forces and have one large family party.

Via Creative Commons

Via Creative Commons

My current obsession (which is to say, the one I have been completely absorbed with for the last 3 hours) is the dessert table, and incorporating the concept of a candy buffet — a bar or food area dedicated to CANDY. Well, that and other sweets.

Candy buffets have been rising in popularity for years; and as every high school has its own specific colors, the dessert table can now have a dual purpose: it’s the spot where the sweet stuff is, WHILE being an integral part of the decor. Plus, with a candy buffet you can offer so much more than just sheet cake (not that there’s anything wrong with sheet cake*).

Check out these amazing displays of sugary perfection after the jump.

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DIY: Hot Toddy

A recent congressionally mandated study asserts that climate change is already affecting us.  According to the AP article:

“…climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways.” Those include smoke-filled air from wildfires, smoggy air from pollution, and more diseases from tainted food, water, mosquitoes and ticks. And the ragweed pollen season has lengthened.”

Photo via Creative Commons

Photo via Creative Commons

Notice that last line refers to the RAGWEED POLLEN SEASON? That’s longhand for allergy season. It’s embiggened — which is a clever way of saying “more bigger than it used to be.”  I don’t care what detractors of climate change or scientists or anybody else has to say — my watery, itchy eyes and ridiculously drippy face is all the proof I need that I DON’T LIKE HAVING ALLERGIES.

That said, guess what kind of surprise misery I was in this week? I mean, right as we Beehivers were putting together the last few details and HOSTING The Scoopys (go vote in the People’s Choice award category, btw) , RIGHT as I needed to be healthy, happy and on my game…  I wake up suffering from melt face. Oh, the joy.

Allergy sufferers know what I’m talking about: The need to sneeze arises, is stifled, you breathe carefully while staring at a light, hoping to trigger the darn thing… and instead, your eyes start to gush. Or, you’re sitting calmly, when a slight tickle in your throat erupts into a dry, all-out hacking, wheezy-like cough. And when you do sneeze, finally, blessedly, then annoyingly constantly, it erupts with a powerful force that pulls upward from your toes and snaps through the base of your neck.

That was me, for several days.  And what, you ask, delivered me from such horror? My coworker and pal, Toni, who reminded me of the magic of the Hot Toddy.

Typically a winter cocktail, the Hot Toddy is also a restorative for colds, allergies and utter boredom. So as you head into your pollen-filled weekend, keep this recipe for this simple cure-all in mind. And then make one.  Recipe after the jump.

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Show & Tell: Duct tape-ery

Duct tape: that silver-colored, polyethylene-covered cloth tape that is a handyman’s best friend.  In fact, it’s been said: “If it can’t be fixed with duct tape, then you’re not using enough duct tape.”

And then at some point, crafting mavens and high schoolers began using the stuff  in creating art and functional items, like wallets and prom dresses.

Reader and avid DIYer Arlean Brown reached out to share a sample of her duct tape creations, which she makes for fun — and profit.  Among the items:

photo 1A custom-designed tote bag

photo 2A votive candle holder

photo 3Art

Arlean says she’s been taping for over 3 years and has over 1000 rolls of tape! Keep an eye out for her taped wares at an upcoming sales event at Sierra Vista Mall, where Arlean says she’ll be donating a portion of proceeds to the Community Food Bank.

Are you a DIYer? Want to share your work? Send me snaps! tarbios@fresnobee.com.

ICYMI: The Scoopys

Last weekend, the Beehive hosted The Scoopys, The Fresno Bee’s first-ever high school film festival.  It was a fabulous event, filled with fabulous films and fabulous people. Even more fabulous? This film, capturing the CRAZY EVENTS just prior to the festival.

WANT MORE SCOOPYS? Check out the  winning films — which proves this area is rife with young cinematic talent.

YOUR VOTE NEEDED: There’s one more award to give out — the People’s Choice. Help make that choice and vote by “liking” your favorite films from the festival on The Fresno Bee’s YouTube page.