Archive for the ‘ Home & Garden ’ Category

8 Essential Summer Must-Haves

Technically, summer is a few weeks away but with longer nights and higher temps headed our way, I’m gearing up with these great finds below:

*Zoku Quick Pop Maker – Now you can create your own customized frozen pops, including cream-filled varieties, in as little as seven minutes.

*Chef’s Case – Five Sauces: Pomegranate Teriyaki, Lemon & Mint Chili, Garlic Chili, BBQ Figs and Red Wine Onion plus three professional spice blends that can be used in a myriad applications, from the exotic to the everyday.

*CPX 6 High Tech LED lantern –  Stays lit for 25 hours, comes with a 4D battery pack or you can purchase 6V rechargeable battery pack.

*Watermelon knife – Microserrated blade quickly cuts through tough rind and slices cleanly through the delicate, delicious flesh.

*Flower Ball Vase – A clever alternative to the quintessential vase which lets each beautiful cut flower (from your gorgeous garden) enjoy its space.

*Ready, Set… GLOW!Read the rest of this entry

“Hear’s the Thing”

After years or borrowing my family’s headphones, I finally went in search of my very own. I promised myself that good headphones would be the key to  start exercising. Here are ones, plus a few accessories, that made the final cut:

  • Zipbuds earphones – Tangle resistant zipper integrated cabling keeps your cables in line so you spend less time untangling your earbuds and more time listening to your music.
  • Vers earphones –  individually crafted with sustainably sourced hardwoods & Bamboo, and produce that familiar, natural sound quality Vers has become known for. Also, for every tree Vers uses in production, they re-plant 100 through their partnership with the Arbor Day foundation.
  • iFrogz EarPollution Plugz with microphone
  • Skullcandy earphones – IF I was a sports fan OR badas*
  • Modcloth funky headphone splitter
  • fredflare GIANT earbud speakers

Let’s Get Cookin’

Admittedly I’m not the most comfortable in the kitchen but with the help of two new (to me) cookbooks & some dandy accessories, I’m at least starting to feel mildly competent & have some fun.

Squeaky Gourmet is the first cookbook that I have truly loved. Don’t get me wrong, I can spend hours flipping through beautiful 20lb cookbooks, but never have I found one small cookbook so fitting to my most basic needs & skills. Let me warn you that there are NO pictures and this delighted me to no end – nothing to show how sad my food looked compared to professional photos. What I’ve enjoyed best about this little book is that I have most ingredients on hand for every recipe.  It’s all of 138 pages, contains great nutritional info, and as stated on the cover,  Simple – Clean – Food.

One of my other hesitations in the kitchen comes from the fact that you have to clean up afterwards. Elizabeth Yarnell’s Glorious One-Pot Meals removes all such concerns. Now there’s a lot of chopping involved but then you simply layer proteins, vegetables and sometimes rice /pasta in your Dutch Oven and walk away. Her book does contain lovely photos but when everything is tossed together mine looks just fine too. For a limited time, Elizabeth will personally inscribe a book to the recipient of your choice when purchased on her site.

Also check out these practical & fun kitchen gadgets:

Thanks to Lisa & Vann Knight who recommended these great cookbooks!

Coffee or Tea, part deux

One of my first posts just over a year ago was called I’m Thirstea as I was slowly trying to make my way into the world of tea from my comforting coffee cosmos. While I still haven’t declared an overall winner, I do find that I’m easily swayed by the cool accessories & additions by both sides.

Blue Q Tea has won me over with their fun flavors such as ‘Be A Better Parent’ or ‘Erase Your Past’ tea in addition to their fantastic tea tumbler which lets you drink tea bagged or get it all loose. But as we head into summer, I have to make a fuss about Rooibee Red Tea! I was fortunate to be served this deelish tea by my sister, Ashley, when I was back home in Kentucky this past week. Currently available in 19 states, and hopefully they’ll keep growing as I had to load up on a case before I left. Flavors such as Watermelon Mint, Vanilla Chai and Honey Lemon combined with the fact that the tea is naturally caffeine-free, low cal, rich in antioxidants, full serving of Vitamin C, gluten free & organic makes it my new go-to drink.

Though some may claim that my blood type is espresso, I actually try to stick to 1-2 cups/day. I typically use a french press and pour it into my favorite  porcelain travel mug which fits in my cup holder, can be warmed up (as I sip on it for hours) and has a section where I can write myself erasable reminder notes. My other latest obsession is Inbru coffee flavoring. Pick up any delicious flavor such as Cinnamon Hazelnut, Pumpkin Pie or Peppermint and add a scoop to the ground coffee in your brew basket which adds fantastic flavor to a cup or a pot of delicious coffee at home or work. Addictive!

What a Waste!

Today is World Water Day which was created by the UN in 1993 to bring awareness to the global issue of water. The object of World Water Day 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems. It’s also a great opportunity to take a personal look at how we’re using our most precious natural resource.  Did you know the average American household uses 2,000 gallons of water a day? That’s TWICE the global average.

I had blogged last summer about our crazy dependence on bottled water – ‘There’s Something in the Water‘ which provides a great list of resources to help you kick the habit. My only addition to the article would be my own new personal favorite reusable bottle made by Contigo! This fabulous bottle is BPA free, can be used with one hand (nothing to flip, unscrew or turn), fits in cup holders, and has an autoseal lid, built in carabiner clip & wide mouth for ice cubes.

To further assist you to say, ” NO to wasting H2O”, greenfeet is offering 30% off select water conservation products on their site.  Also, spend a quick minute checking out any of these sites for easy, water (and money) saving tips for your home. What are you waiting for?

6 shopping sites NOT to miss

This past year I stumbled across the six following sites and ended up wasting, I mean conducting extensive research for hours. I know that in this economy that the last thing on my mind should be shopping & I don’t need a thing but I dare you not to fall in love with something on every site.

Umbra – “decorate the way you want”

black + blum – creates products for the home and office, combining ruthless practicality with a mischievous and intellectually-satisfying design aesthetic

AREAWARE – If appreciation for beauty is central to what it means to be alive, then we want to embody this principle in even the simplest of things.

French Bull – melamine but with a modern spin.

A+R Store – Global design. Edited.

The Conran Shop – “Well Considered” products

Nature’s Air Freshener

This is my daughter, Sadie, reading to our plants and this explains why we have plants that thrive now as opposed to all those that I sent to an early grave before my daughter came along. But honestly, anyone can care for indoor plants and all they really need is light, water, air and soil according to Emily of Life Renewed and then let nature take its course.

Emily recently posted a simple, straight forward article called “Creating A Healthy Home with Houseplants” on green your way. The benefits include:

  1. Plants provide life & energy – Bringing plants into your home can help you to feel happier and more calm. Plants in office spaces help people to be more creative and productive.
  2. Plants increase humidity levels – Plants help to increase humidity levels and refresh the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
  3. Plants improve indoor air quality – A NASA study showed that houseplants can remove toxins (formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, ammonia, benzene, xylene, and chloroform from the air) in the air by up to 87% in just 24 hours.

Some of the best plants to grow are Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm, Peace Lily, Rubber Plant & Boston Fern. My advice is to toss all those “plug ins” from your walls and freshen up your space naturally. (And if you have kids, put them in charge of the watering – and reading!)

Lighten Your Load

I’m slow on the execution of resolutions each year and try to trick myself into making small changes which is actually the very same thing but it’s all in the way I present it to myself. My friend, Lucy, said she is committing to giving away something every day for all 365 days this year (from 365lessthings.com) Family Circle also published a good article this month on 18 Things You Can Get Rid of Today. I did make the statement that I wanted to “lighten up” this year (in a lot of areas) so this has become my starting place.

Since I’m already way behind Lucy, I started with the 18 things from Family Circle and so far so good. I’ve bagged up unwanted kitchen utensils, coffee mugs, plastic containers (I already tossed most of these a few years ago with all the BPA “leeching” and moved to glass), Little-Used Kitchen Stuff (goodbye bundt pan), vases ( do I really need more than 3), & food / spices (yikes, hello expiration 2008).

Multiple others I already stay on top of such as magazines (I trade my US Weekly and Entertainment Weekly with a neighbor for her Peoples’), mail (I read standing next to the recycling bin and stopped all the unsolicited mail through the DMA), kid’s clothes (we get hand me downs and keep handing them down), and kid’s art (they’re not all picasso’s).  Check out the rest of the list for yourself and let me know if you have additional suggestions to help me lighten my load.

New York State of Mind

If you have someone on your holiday list that LOVES their home-state, here are a few items that I’ve seen this year that I love. Personally, I’ve already gifted myself this state necklace where you can personalize and pinpoint your hometown with a star. For you Kentucky fans, notice that I wear it with the  appropriate shade of blue. Found at signals and currently on sale. For those of you that like a little more bling (and have a bigger budget) check out State of Mine.

What I’m hoping to see under my tree this year is this fun and functional state-shaped cutting board. Here’s my current state of Missouri and I love that you can choose from 3 sizes. Uncommongoods also has a great array of state and city gifts from plates to dish towels. No matter what your state of mind is this holiday season, there’s plenty of great goodies to be found.

I know I put it right here!

Big thanks to my sister, Ashley, for turning me onto I Can’t Find My Phone.  No frills, no surfing through pages or ads, simply type in the phone number of the cell phone or home handset that you have lost track of and they will ring it for you. I just tried it and it’s brilliant. With so many people giving up landlines for cellular service only, it’s hard to call yourself when you’ve misplaced your phone. Now if they could just manage to help me find my keys!