Holiday Gifts You Can’t Forget About

It is not too early to start your holiday shopping. Family is at the top of your list, but there are people on your list you can’t forget and if you wait too long, you probably will forget. Here’s a list of people to buy holiday gifts for that you can’t forget about.

PonchoChildcare Provider This includes nannies, au pairs and babysitters. You leave your little ones in their care, so it’s important to take care of them! (This does not include teachers because they are not personal service providers – gifts to teachers are up to you.) How much and what you give them depends on how often you use the services. If you use your babysitter regularly (more than twice a month), a small gift and/or the equivalent to an evening’s pay is sufficient. Au pairs and nannies should get a small gift and the equivalent of a week’s pay. Gift Idea:  Health and beauty accessories are always a welcome gift for young ladies but if you are confident you know their personal style, new clothes or outerwear might be appropriate.

Home Healthcare Worker Don’t forget about the people who take care of your aging loved ones! Healthcare/elder care workers make sure your parents and grandparents are comfortable when you can’t be there to give them your loving attention.  If your healthcare worker is employed by an agency, check to see if there is a policy for holiday gifts and tips, but  the standard holiday gift is one-week’s pay or an equivalent present. Gift Idea:  Those workers do a lot of physical labor, think about giving them the gift of relaxation; massagers, heating pads or beauty products make their nights off something to look forward to!

NFLHandyman/Custodian/Maintenance Man He is on call all the time. If your dishwasher doesn’t work, he’s there. If your water heater isn’t heating up, he’ll fix it. When your roof is leaking, he seals it up. Your handyman solves your home problems and does the things you don’t know how to do. A gift equivalent to $15-40 is acceptable.  Gift Idea: If you prefer to give him something more personal, think about NFL memorabilia for the sports fan or tools for the guy who likes to take work home with him.

Personal Care This includes the lady who blows out your hair, your nail technician and the lady who gives you a facial. These are the people who make you look good and feel good – it’s important to make them feel good, too! The standard holiday gift is the equivalent of what you would pay for one visit. Gift Idea:  You don’t have to give her cash – perhaps a sentimental gift is in order like frames to show off her kids at work or inspirational artwork.

gift-packsPet Care Our pets are part of our family – taking care of the people who take of our pets is important. Groomers are easy — they should get the equivalent of one grooming session. For the vet, it’s a little bit trickier because it’s an entire office that takes care of your furry family. Gift Idea:  Try getting them gift packs or edibles everyone can appreciate.

Remember that gifts for employees and service providers are a token of appreciation. Don’t forget all the people you don’t see regularly throughout the year who helped make your life a little easier or your day a little brighter.

Pinteresting Picks for September

Autumn is finally here in full force, and our Pinterest followers already are in the Halloween spirit. They are sharing pins of some of LTD Commodities most popular harvest decor, as well as some fun ideas to make the indoors cozy and fun. Here are the Pinteresting Picks for September.

Bring your seasonal decor to the bathroom with this Halloween Witch Bath Ensemble.

Bring your seasonal decor to the bathroom with this Halloween Witch Bath Ensemble.

 

Admit your weakness for your four-legged friend with a Quilted Pet Throw or Shaped Pillow.

Admit your weakness for your four-legged friend with a Quilted Pet Throw or Shaped Pillow.

Make your bedroom or living space look crisp and delicious with a Bacon & Eggs Novelty Throw and Pillow.

Make your bedroom or living space look crisp and delicious with a Bacon & Eggs Novelty Throw and Pillow.

 

Make food preparation fun with these kitchen gadgets.

Make food preparation entertaining with these Fun Kitchen Gadgets.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

latte2October starts next week and with October comes an influx of pumpkin flavored everything. It’s something people are obsessed with – particularly the pumpkin spice latte that coffee shops re-introduce to the public every fall for a limited run. One man went so far with his obsession, he made it his mission to put pumpkin spice syrup on everything: pizza, bacon, yogurt, curry. Pumpkin spice is good, but we’ll stick with the coffee idea! Here is a recipe for DIY pumpkin spice latte:

When people refer to pumpkin spice, what they really mean is pumpkin PIE spice. Pumpkin pie spice is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of spices mixed together (you can buy it premixed) to add to pumpkin and other ingredients to make our Thanksgiving pumpkin pies:pumpkindishes

  • 4 parts ground cinnamon
  • 4 parts ground nutmeg
  • 4 parts ground ginger
  • 3 parts ground allspice

A homemade pumpkin spice latte is straightforward:

  • 2 cups milk (whole milk works best)
  • 2 TB pumpkin puree
  • 2 TB granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup espresso
  • Whipped cream for topping
  • Pumpkin pie spice for sprinkling

latte1Directions: In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, bring the milk, pumpkin puree, sugar, and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice to a simmer, whisking slowly to combine the ingredients evenly and so the milk doesn’t burn. For frothy milk, transfer the milk to a blender, add the espresso and vanilla and carefully blend on medium-high speed (do not close the lid all the way, the heat from the milk will cause the lid to pop off when you blend). If whipped cream is enough froth for you, stir the espresso and vanilla into the sauce pan and whisk well. Divide between two mugs, top with whipped cream and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

The homemade pumpkin spice latte goes well with homemade apple muffins. If you can’t get enough pumpkin, the latte also goes well with pumpkin rolls, pumpkin muffins or even pumpkin pie. Enjoy your lattes!pumpkins

 

9 Things to Enjoy Now that it’s Fall

fall-leavesAt 7:29pm on September 22nd, we officially enter autumn. As we say goodbye to our sundresses, beach towels and fun in the sun, remember there are so many things we can do in the fall that we couldn’t do during the summer. Here are 9 things to enjoy now that it’s fall.

Go Apple Picking The selection of types of apples at the grocery store starts to ramp up in September, but moving your cart through the produce section isn’t as grand of a fall experience as going to an actual orchard to select your own apples. It’s a grocery shopping trip in which you’ll want to take pictures and there’s no checkout line.

pie-pansBake Pie & Make Soup It’s finally time to let the oven heat up your house! And what better way to do it than by making soup to warm you up before making an apple pie with apples from your trip to the apple orchard?

Drink Spiced Apple Cider It has a short shelf life and it’s only made when the apples are harvested in the fall. Aside from seasonality of cider, it’s also delicious and it warms you up while the temperature outside starts to dip.

flannelSleep in Fleece P.J.s and Flannel Sheets   Fleece and Flannel are soft enough to want to touch all year, but it’s just too warm and insulating to sleep in during the summer; swapping out the crisp cotton sheets that kept you cool in the summer for fuzzy flannel is a welcome chore.

fall leaves

Jump in a Pile of Leaves We have pools to jump in during the summer, but it’s not quite the same as having a cushion of autumn’s finest leaves to break your fall. The scent of leaves is much better than chlorine, too.

Scarves, Sweaters and Jeans There’s something about covering up to cancel out the cold with a cozy sweater, scarves and jeans that’s so comforting. Making the switch from bright colors of summer to snug clothes in subdued oranges and earth-tones always comes at just the right time.

Go for a Drive and Instagram the Fall Colors Yellow, orange and red move through the countryside almost as fast as you drive. It never lasts as long as we want and documenting it with photos never gets old.

Tailgating Being outside, grilling brats and enjoying the spirit of football fans only happens for a brief period between September and October. Even if you don’t like football, snacking and socializing in the cool air and the sun is still shining is as — if not more — lively than a summer barbecue.

fall leaves

Carving Pumpkins 80% of pumpkins in the United States are available in October. That means you only have about a month to go to a pumpkin patch to select the best pumpkin and go for a hayride before putting your creative efforts into carving the perfect scary face. And don’t forget to save the seeds to roast for a uniquely fall snack.

A final farewell to summer doesn’t have to be a sad occasion; there are so many things to enjoy about fall we should embrace it while we wait for Old Man Winter to arrive.

4 Fun Ways To Decorate A Locker

lockerA locker is a student’s room away from home. It is a small bit of personal space you visit throughout the day, and it is a prime place for you to show off your own style. Personal expression aside, a decorated locker is easier to keep organized to keep you on track so you make it to class on time. Here are 4 fun ways to decorate a locker:

Clean It The first step is to start with a clean locker. Then, check on the school’s locker policy before purchasing accessories. Some allow students to do everything up to painting lockers, while others permit little to no personalization. If your school has a policy, it should be in the student handbook or just ask an administrator.

Light It Up While the school’s hallways are well-lit, the lockers in those hallways can be dark caves. Put some light in there and it will be easier to find the right books and supplies in a hurry. Battery operated LED candles can go almost anywhere and they’re designed for energy efficiency. For extra bling, use string lights to dazzle your locker. You can even coordinate the light with a curtain that hangs over the locker opening.

locker2Magnetic Personality The metal walls and doors of lockers practically beg to be covered with refrigerator magnets. Funny ones or inspirational ones, they can hold up personal pictures, to-do lists or reminders to help you get you through the day.

Artwork and Photos The quickest way to personalize a locker is to fill it with pictures. Print and hang up single Instagram photos of friends, or create a big collage. Tuck in some magazine clippings, artwork, postcards, and mini posters. Don’t forget to save space for your own creations, too. Sports and trading cards are a cool touch, as well.

 

locker

Organizers, Mirrors and Magnets A mirror on the inside of the locker door will give you a place to primp in between classes and list pads and small wall bins help with organization.  Bins provide catch-all storage for pens, pads, art supplies, and more.Nothing is too heavy to put on a locker door; keep everything secured with inspirational magnets or double-sided foam tape. Add shelves to multiply the space for books, but they can also be a good place to hold your gym bag. 

However you decide to decorate your space, remember the decor is a reflection of you. Make it personal and it will be a welcome picture during your breaks between classes.

National Punch Day: 4 Punch Recipes

 

Punch

Image source: Mel McC via flickr

September 20th is National Punch Day! Of course, we’re celebrating the fruity beverage and not what you do in the boxing ring.

Punch actually has an interesting history. According to Wikipedia, punch was brought to England from India in the 17th century. It was a drink made up of five ingredients – originally, they were alcohol, sugar, lemon, water and spices, but recipes have evolved since then and now it’s a generic term for a party drink served in a big bowl. Today, we have 4 recipes we call “punch.”

Non-Alcoholic Punch

Holiday Punch

  • 1 liter ginger ale
  • 1 liter seltzer water
  • 2 liters cranberry-apple juice
Punch

Image source: Stuart Webster via flickr

Combine ingredients over ice in a punch bowl, gently stir and serve. If you are concerned about ice watering down the punch, you can freeze half of the juice in ice cube trays and use those to supplement the ice.

Serves 8-10.

Orange Sherbet Punch

  • 1 liter cold orange juice
  • 1 liter ginger ale
  • ½ gallon orange sherbet

Combine juice and ginger ale and gently stir. Fill glasses with ice. Top each glass with a scoop of sherbet. Pour juice mixture over sherbet.

Adult Punch

Rum Punch

  • 3 cup dark rum
  • 2¼ cups lemon juice
  • 1½ cups grenadine
  • 1½ cups sparkling wine

Combine the first three ingredients and mix well. Gently stir in sparkling wine. Ladle over glasses filled with ice.

Serves 10-12.

Warm Holiday Spiced Punch

  • 2 liters cranberry apple juice
  • 1 can (6 oz) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 cups bourbon

In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine first four ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon.  Serves 12.

Punch

Image source: Tymesynk via flickr

Snapshot: Selfie Contest!

Selfie You read it while drinking your morning cup of coffee, while taxiing on the runway or while you’re nibbling your sandwich on your lunch break at work – you read the LTD Commodities catalog everywhere and we want to see you in action! This week you have a chance to win a $50 coupon by taking an #LTDSelfie for our catalog selfie contest!

SelfieIf you’re not familiar with the term “selfie,” it’s a self-portrait. People have been doing it since the first pictures were taken in the 1800s. As cameras evolved, so did selfies – first they were taken with tripods for a steady shot with a heavy camera and then slowly, as photo technology improved and cameras got smaller, people started to pick up cameras and point the lenses back at themselves to take selfies. The term “selfie” was first used in 2002, but it didn’t start to blow up until a few years ago with the boom in social media. Now it’s so big Kim Kardashian is releasing a coffee table book composed solely of her selfies and there’s a TV show called Selfie on ABC starring John Cho (of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) which is scheduled to debut in the fall TV lineup.

SelfieBut we don’t want to see Kim Kardashian — we want to see you!

SelfieStarting September 16, 2014, we want you to send us your #LTDSelfie — an #LTDSelfie is a picture you take of yourself with the LTD catalog and you can submit it through facebook until September 23, 2014. Make it interesting. Make it creative. Make it about you and the catalog. Anyone who submits an #LTDSelfie gets a coupon for $10* off their next order. We’ll be poring over all the photos to select the best one – we’ll pick our favorite on September 25. The winner will receive a coupon for $50 off their next order.

You don’t have to use facebook to submit a photo with you and your LTD Commodities catalog – use the hashtag #LTDSelfie to submit your pic through Twitter or Instagram. Start snapping!

*$10 off orders of $75 or more. Coupons will be sent on 9/26/14.  

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week

Fall is a perfect time to gather friends for the big game or get back in touch with neighbors. Make your favorite casserole, desserts, and hot dips and toast to the beauty of the season. Here are the Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week.

Celebrate your team with this NFL Framed Super Bowl Collectible.

Celebrate your team with this NFL Framed Super Bowl Collectible.

Go from oven to tabletop with this Set of 3 Handled Bakers. This 3-pc. set features half-loop handles on each side for easy lifting and nests for storage.

Go from oven to tabletop with this Set of 3 Handled Bakers. This 3-pc. set features half-loop handles on each side for easy lifting and nests for storage.

Share your favorite drink with a little countrified flair with this Set of 4 Mason Jar Shot Glasses.

Share your favorite drink with a little countrified flair with this Set of 4 Mason Jar Shot Glasses.

48-Pc. Boxed Greeting Card Set is an upscale card collection for a fraction of the price you'd expect to pay.

48-Pc. Boxed Greeting Card Set is an upscale card collection for a fraction of the price you’d expect to pay.

Behind the Scenes: LTD’s Food Stylist

JasonAs LTD Commodities customers, you know we have a wide variety of products – from garden tools to Superman Socks – but you wouldn’t know what we have without great pictures. To make those pictures great, we have different stylists for different products and we have one stylist – Jason — who devotes his days to food. We stopped in behind the scenes at the photo studio to ask Jason a few questions about his work while he put together some Halloween-themed dishes.

LTD: How did you get into food styling?

Jason: I was a visual merchandiser for a retailer for many years where I was responsible for setting up scenes in my store to make shoppers want to buy items. I like to cook, so I used my visual background to take pictures of the food I make and it turned into a career.

LTD: What do you use to inspire you?

Jason: I use my favorite magazines to inspire me. There’s an Australian food magazine that I look at where the food photos are absolutely amazing. I strive to be as precise and creative as their stylists.

LTD: What is the most difficult part of food styling?

Jason:  Working with food that’s not camera-friendly is difficult. I have to make ingredients do what they’re not supposed to do. For example, I have to make whipped cream stay perfectly fluffy for the entire shoot when normally it would melt into the mug of hot chocolate it is sitting on top of.

JasonLTD: What are the three most important things to remember when styling?

Jason: 1. If it doesn’t work the first time, try again.

2. What I’m looking at is not what the camera sees. I have to style from the camera’s point of view, not mine.

3. Be open to other people’s suggestions; sometimes great ideas come from others’ input.

LTD:  Do you have a favorite product you styled for?

Jason:  I love styling for cookbooks because I can make the dishes in the book and that’s what I love doing at home.

JasonLTD: What is the most satisfying part of food styling?

Jason:   Those shots where after I see the finished product, I can say “wow, that makes me hungry.” That and seeing the smiles on coworkers faces when I get to serve them the food I just worked on.

We’re excited to be on Jason’s team — he makes great food look even better. Keep your eye out for his work — with the holidays coming up, he’s staying busy to show you our favorite holiday gifts.

5 Ideas for Easy Tailgating

It’s football season! That means the party is headed to the parking lot. Here are 5 ideas for easy tailgating.

tailgating

Image source: slgckgc via Flickr

Fan Frills Proper tailgating etiquette suggests you get to the designated parking lot early enough to find a parking spot. If you find a spot, that means you have several hours of time to eat, drink and play before the big game. Since you have a lot of time to kill before the game, make sure you are comfortable. Bring plenty of collapsible chairs for you and guests – both invited and for guests passing through the lot.  For dedicated fans, a tent or canopy is a luxury for when the sun is bright or the rain and snow aren’t accommodating outdoor entertaining. Blankets, sweatshirts, ponchos, umbrellas, and stadium seats are also must-haves in case the weather is not on your side for game day.

Fan Fun If you do it right, your party will last all day and because it’s a party, you need entertainment. Tailgaters are always up for a good parking lot game. “Bags” and a ring toss game are a must for younger tailgaters while older tailgaters might prefer card games or bocce ball.

tailgating

Image source: transplanted mountaineer via Flickr

Fan Fizz For drinks, keep it simple. Bring beer, limit the liquor and wine and keep the soda selection to a minimum. You can bring a lot, but you don’t have to bring everything. Label the coolers according to beverages so your guests don’t have to dig into a bin of ice packed with the wrong drinks. As a devoted fan, get in the spirit with spirits. Consider making a team themed drink to mix in a sealable container the night before the big game to make setup and dispensing easy.

Fan Fare Be aware of how much food you are bringing and how much table space you have. When you’re thinking of what you’re going to bring, consider exactly how you plan on serving it. If you’re having burgers and brats with chips from the grill you might only need cooking utensils not forks and spoons, but if you’re having pie for dessert, don’t let your guests eat it with their hands. A mini-grill is a must have for your meats, but don’t be afraid to get creative. Break out the cookbooks and come up with appetizers or side dish ideas that are a local tradition for your team – or even the opposing team. It’ll mix things up and make your tailgate party that much more fun. And, of course, do everything you can the night before – pack a condiment caddy, put together a container for burger toppings, marinate and skewer kebabs – so when you get up in the morning, all you have to do is put the coolers together and pack the car.

tailgating

Image Source: Illinoisstatehomecoming.com via Flickr

Fan Fundamentals There are bound to be mishaps at any party and a tailgate party is no different. Be prepared for anything – plenty of napkins, toilet paper, water, ice, fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit. There are likely emergency services at the stadium, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

Tailgating is the sport to celebrate sports, but the season only comes around once a year; do it right and you’ll do your team proud.