Best Places to Celebrate New Year’s Eve

NYEIt’s that time — time to say goodbye to 2014 and start fresh for 2015. As rituals go, millions of people blow horns, wear crazy hats and throw sparkling confetti and turn to Times Square as the ball drops at midnight. But there are plenty of places to be to make your New Year’s Eve memorable. Here are 7 of the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve that are not Times Square.

Las Vegas If you need glitter and glamour without the freezing temperatures, take a quick trip to Las Vegas! On New Year’s Eve the Strip is shut down to traffic for a block party to rival Times Square. 300,000 people turn out every year to see live bands and a spectacular fireworks display you can only see in the desert. If you do make it to Vegas for New Year’s Eve, you may get a rare glimpse of snow in Sin City — there may be a few snow showers this week.

Los Angeles Los Angeles is home to celebrity A-listers which means exclusive and expensive New Year’s Eve celebrations. But there’s an option for people like us — New Year’s Eve at Grand Park. The event is free to the public with streets shut-down around the park so revelers can walk around to enjoy live music, art and plenty of food.

champagneNew Orleans If you can’t make it to Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve is the next best way to experience the Big Easy. The city puts on a rowdy party you can only find in New Orleans. In the heart of the French Quarter, instead of a ball, they drop a fleur de lis to countdown to 2015 with a 15-minute fireworks display over the Mississippi River. The party doesn’t stop at midnight — Bourbon Street bars are packed well into the new year.

Disney World For family-friendly festivities, Disney World puts on a great party for all ages. The park stays open until 1:00 am so families can take in all the performances and live entertainment starting with a Main Street Electrical Parade at 6:30.  There’s a sparkling fireworks display at midnight and hot chocolate and cookies are served until 1:30 am.

NYEAustin They do family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Texas if you can’t make it to Disney World. Austin’s New Year (ANY) is a way to ring in 2015 with art and culture. The event is interactive, but there is plenty of music and film for breaks between  making art and walking through glow-in-the-dark mazes. The festivities conclude with a fireworks display at 10pm. If you need to get wild, Sixth Street has enough bars with live music to keep revelers entertained until midnight.

Savannah Cute, coastal and friendly, Savannah hosts a street party to ring in the new year for everyone to enjoy. It’s free to the public with live music and a fireworks display. If street parties don’t appeal to you, there are riverboat cruises and dinner theater to entertain you in the remaining hours of 2014. If that’s still not exciting enough for you, you can do the annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day and jump into cold ocean water to start off your 2015.

Miami Miami boasts of putting on the biggest New Year’s Eve party south of Times Square — as it should. With the temperatures hovering around 75℉, it’s hard not to enjoy January 1st. Miami is known for its nightlife, so they do no less than dazzling for New Year’s Eve. Dancing downtown starts at 8pm and they kick it up a notch with a fireworks over Biscayne Bay at midnight.

Pinteresting Picks for December

Winter’s cold winds make it a perfect time to snuggle up inside or work on improving your indoors. Our Pinterest followers clearly had comfort on their minds in December. They dreamed of plush boot slippers to keep their toes toasty, as well as pillows and throws with mouth-watering novelty designs. In addition, they looked at inexpensive home updates to make their space work better than ever. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for December.

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.

Knit Zigzag Print Boot Slippers take cozy to another level.

Knit Zigzag Print Boot Slippers take cozy to another level.

 

Prevent spills and dust collection in hard-to-reach places with a Set of 2 Silicone Counter Gap Covers.

Prevent spills and dust collection in hard-to-reach places with a Set of 2 Silicone Counter Gap Covers.

Protect your phone as it charges with this Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station.

Protect your phone as it charges with this Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station.

Ideas to Get into the Holiday Spirit When You Don’t Want to

523706659From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, we move at full-speed to get everything done. It can be exhausting and suck all of the holiday spirit out of us. But no one wants to be a Scrooge, so here are a few ideas to get into the holiday spirit when you don’t want to.

Treat Yourself The holidays put pressure on us to buy perfect gifts for our friends and families.  It’s draining to come up with a good idea, buy it and wrap it. What is easy is finding something you love for yourself. It’s the only gift that’s guaranteed to please the giver and the receiver. Don’t be afraid to get yourself something special.

Traditional Tunes Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? While you might not be in the mood for the holidays this year, putting on a few Christmas tunes may remind you of your favorite holidays from the past. Music is powerfully linked to our memories. Even if you’re not feeling jolly this year, reminiscing about holidays of yore may bring you good cheer.

ElfMagical Movies Whether it’s a true holiday classic like Jimmy Stewart’s It’s a Wonderful Life or a new classic like Will Ferrell’s Elf, a good holiday movie can take you to a joyful place. There are holiday lessons to be learned and spirits to be lifted — a good holiday movie might just be what Santa ordered.

Blissful Beverage Whether it’s spiced pumpkin latte, or you want your hot, spiced adult beverage to warm your spirit, the scent and flavors of nutmeg and cloves are powerful enough to bring you to a holiday state of mind.

This Little Light Turn out the harsh overhead lighting and the bright lamps and substitute them with the warm holiday glow of candles. It’s so dark this time of year and having the flicker of holiday scented candles can calm your nerves that are frayed from holiday shopping and bring a moment of joy in the midst of Christmas chaos.

Christmas-TreeDeck the Halls Adding a little bit of sparkle to your decor isn’t something you can do in June. Putting up tinsel and garland may raise your spirits, and inject some jolly into your mood.

Wrap Gifts The gifts are all purchased, the last step is to get them wrapped. It’s a chore, but while you add colorful paper and curly ribbon to your impossibly cute gifts, think of all the joy each present will bring to each of your family members you got gifts for. Giving is always better than receiving when you know you got the right presents.

Christmas and Hanukkah only come around once a year — it’s a time everyone should be feeling joyful. Doing a few cheerful activities may adjust your mood and make everything a little more cheery! Happy holidays!

Last Minute Holiday Checklist

Holiday-ChecklistOnly a few days left until Christmas! Are you ready? Here’s a quick, last minute holiday checklist to help you out.

Eats and Treats 

  • Make your grocery list no later than December 21. Include items for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner. Remember the grocery store is going to be packed between now and Christmas morning, so include staples like milk, fruit, bread, and anything your family needs to eat daily.
  • Go grocery shopping no later than December 22. This will give you some room for errors — you’ll still have a day or so to get anything you forgot to put on your list.
  • Start dinner prep on December 23. Christmas Eve will be hectic enough without having to think about every detail of Christmas dinner. Cutting up vegetables and peeling potatoes ahead of time will save you from stress on Christmas day.
  • Bake your desserts on Christmas Eve. You won’t have oven space on Christmas Day to do all the cooking and baking.

send-a-giftGifts and Stockings

  • Wrap the gifts for your family no later than December 21. Pull everything out of hiding and cloak your presents in glitter and ribbons to dazzle your kids before their favorite day. Remember to be clever enough with the wrapping that they can’t sneak a peek at what you bought.
  • Test stuffing. Make sure you have enough goodies to fill out the stockings by December 22. If you don’t have enough trinkets to make the stockings swell like Santa’s belly, you’ll have time to buy a few more souvenirs.

Cozy-Cuddler-Lighted-PillowKids 

  • Keep the kids busy. Plan a few crafts for the little ones — they’ll need activities while school is out and you won’t have time to entertain them. If your kids are old enough, involve them in the holiday preparation.

Cleanup 

  • If you haven’t done a thorough house-cleaning yet, it’s too late, but it’s not the end of the world. A quick wipe-down of the bathrooms, vacuuming and dusting should be easy enough to complete alongside your other tasks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

You may not be ready yet, but you will be! Just remember to prioritize and check tasks off your list as you go. Happy holidays!

Chocolate Covered Anything Day: Unusual Things Covered in Chocolate

ChocolateDecember 16 is Chocolate Covered Anything Day! Just about anything is better when it’s dipped in chocolate, but there are some chocolate lovers out there that take it to the extreme. Here are some of the more unusual things covered in chocolate you might find on world travels or right here at home.

Bugs Some people love a little texture to go with chocolate, but while we add texture with almonds or peanuts, in Thailand, some may opt for the crunch of a cricket with their chocolate. In general, bugs are a common snack in Thailand and you can find all sorts of chocolate-dipped insects — scorpions, super worms, grasshoppers — if it’s creepy and it’s crawly, it can probably be covered in chocolate.

chocolate-covered-potato-chips

Image Source: Scanna283 via Flicker

Spuds We love potatoes in all forms — crunchy chips, hot fries, boiled and mashed. There’s no shortage of delicious ways to eat potatoes, but someone out there decided to gild our potato lily by dousing it in chocolate.  The salty and sweet snack of chocolate covered potato chips made it to market last year for a limited run. In case you didn’t get your hands on any, you can mix your chocolate and potatoes at home — The Food Network has a recipe for Chocolate Covered Potato Eggs you can try.

chocolate-covered-bacon

Image Source: John via Flickr

Pork Two great tastes that taste great together: pork and chocolate! At Coor’s Field in Denver, the concessions stands serve chocolate covered bacon to go with your beer and ball game — a fan favorite. But you don’t have to go all the way to Mile High City to get your pork and chocolate fix; you can make your very own chocolate covered pork rinds to tide you over until you get a Rockies ticket.

chocolate-covered-squid

Image Source: Ryan McBride via Flickr

Seafood A lot of Americans are landlocked, so we may not be as adventurous with our seafood as some of our island friends who get pretty creative with their seafood snacks. In Japan you can find such delicacies as squid dipped in chocolate. Or, if you find yourself in South Korea, rather than getting your salty-sweet craving satisfied from chocolate covered potato chips, you might select something with a taste of the ocean like chocolate covered seaweed.

chocolate-covered-pretzelsVeggies Midwesterners love their state fairs and it’s become a favorite place for culinary adventures like the deep-fried Twinkie or Mars Bar. But in Minnesota, they see your fried food and raise you chocolate covered: fried pickles dipped in chocolate. In Wisconsin, where they’re known for the cheese, they fry cheese bites breaded with Cocoa Puffs served with a side of chocolate. Head east and you don’t have to wait for the state fair to try something exotic with your chocolate — in Philadelphia, you can sample the chocolate covered onion year-round.

You don’t have to dip any weird food in chocolate to celebrate Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Chocolate covered pretzels or even peanut cups keeps you in the spirit of the day.

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

Keeping warm in winter’s chill is on everybody’s mind, and LTD Commodities is full of things to keep you cozy or get you up and moving. Curl up in fleecy tights, or bundle up and head outdoors to play games and explore the season’s wonders. Here are our Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week.

Step out in style with <a href=

online casino a pair of Women”s Faux-Fur Lined Wedge Boots.” src=”http://blog.ltdcommodities.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/womens-faux-fur-lined-wedge-boots-252×300.jpg” width=”252″ height=”300″ /> Step out in style with a pair of Women”s Faux-Fur Lined Wedge Boots.

 

Our 3-Pair Assorted Fleece-Lined Tights are comfortable and fashionable.

Our 3-Pair Assorted Fleece-Lined Tights are comfortable and fashionable.

 

This 6-Pair Kids

This 6-Pair Kids” Glove Set features vibrant designs your children are sure to love.

Your kids will love this dual player Discovery Kids™ Spaceship Laser Tag shooting game!

Your kids will love this dual player Discovery Kids™ Spaceship Laser Tag shooting game!

7 Tips to Get Through the Holidays without Overeating

holiday-foodWe’re full of cheer from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, but with all the parties and holiday dinners, we’re also full of food. From the office party to a friend’s cocktail party, it’s hard not to overindulge on rich desserts and caloric hors d’oeuvres and, by January, we’ve overextended our bellies. We don’t have to eat everything during the holidays — here are 7 tips to get through the holidays without overeating.

Create a Game Plan Plan your meals around your parties according to your party. If you’re the type of person who eats even if you’re full, eat smaller meals that will keep your metabolism going and eat at the party. If you don’t eat a lot when you’re full, try eating a filling healthy meal before you go to the party so you don’t feel a need to eat heavy foods.

Take it Slow When you get your party plate, pause between every action. Take a bite, chew it and pause. Drink a glass of water and pause before you start eating something new. Before you fill your plate again, pause. This will keep your brain and your stomach at the same pace. You’ll notice that you’re full before you eat everything at the party.

holiday-foodBe Picky When you get to the party, don’t eat just anything that’s on the buffet table. Pick out only the things you really want to try and skip all the things you might want to try. Treat yourself because it’s the holidays but don’t eat something just because it’s there.

Hydrate Drink plenty of water throughout the party. It will help you feel full and, with a full stomach, you may not want to eat as much.

Socialize If you’re at a party where you don’t know many people or you’re at a party with a large group, grab someone and start a conversation. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd, but it’s hard not to overeat to keep yourself busy. When you’re talking to someone, you’re likely not going to put something in your mouth while you’re telling a story.

Holiday-FoodFill Up on the Good Stuff Just like eating those bread sticks at restaurants and getting too full for the meal, you can fill your plate with fruits and veggies before you get to the saucy, cheesie, starchy appetizers. The more you fill your stomach with healthy food, the less room you’ll have for the fatty food.

Cut Yourself Some Slack Allow yourself some indulgences… with limits. For instance, if there are 15 desserts on the buffet, don’t tell yourself no, just declare a number of desserts you allow yourself to eat and stop when you hit that number. Or limit yourself to one trip to the buffet table.

Although the holidays are packed with fun fare for two solid months, they’re not as bad as you might think. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, on average, Americans don’t gain a significant amount of weight during the holidays — we just feel like we do. But what you feel is what counts the most and if that means curbing your appetite during the holidays, it’s not a bad idea to restrict your holiday indulgences.

Favorite Holiday Gift Ideas For Cats

cat-tunnel-towerThe holidays are right around the corner, and there’s no better way to celebrate than showing your cat how much you love her! Thankfully, cats are easy to please—a few treats, the right toy, and a little attention from you makes for a happy holiday. Here are our favorite holiday gift ideas for cats.

Toys A busy kitty is a happy kitty! In addition to being fun, playing helps cats exercise. It gives them a way to let their inner predators out. Plus, playtime gives you the chance to bond. Work them into a frenzy with a Jaws Laser Collar Pet Toy. Interactive toys like Hide and Seek Pet Toys will keep them going for hours.

CAt-Holiday-Pet-HouseBed Or Pet Cave Winter weather makes kitties want to curl up with you, but they still need a nap spot all their own. Give their snoozing seasonal flair with a Holiday Pet House. You can turn any sofa or chair into their special snuggle area with a quilted pet throw. In addition to being soft, it will protect the furniture from fur and damage.

Cat-TowerScratching Post/Play Gym Even if your cats do not have claws, they instinctively feel the need to stretch and scratch. Give them a place to do that while they climb and explore with a play gym. In homes with more than one feline, the 4-Ft. Multilevel Cat Tower with Scratchers is essential. It ensures that every cat gets room to play and scratch. Give them three levels of fun with a Cat Tunnel Tower. A Complete Cat Play Gym has a sisal post and two dangling toys for them to swat at.

No matter what you decided to give your cat for the holidays, make sure to also include the present of your time. While your pet may seem very independent, even the coolest kitty likes a cozy lap to sit in from time to time. Give them some attention, and they will be purring in no time.

7 Holiday Cocktail Party Essentials

From now until January our schedules are sparkling with holiday activities — between the big dinners and gift shopping, it’s our duty to throw a holiday cocktail party. Anyone can throw a great cocktail party, but here are 7 Holiday Cocktail Party Essentials to make your party memorable.

LED-Plate

Add glitz to your holiday table with an LED Charger Plate. The elegant metallic plate has 16 gleaming LED lights decorating the rim. Set a centerpiece, wrapped treats or nuts on this plate to brighten your snack table!

Buffet Caddy frees up space on the serving table by keeping all of your dinnerware in one spot. The top section organizes your flatware in 4 round baskets, the center section holds napkins, and the bottom section keeps dinner plates easily accessible. The metal frame has a scrolled design and durable balled feet to keep the caddy in place on any surface.

Party-ServerMultifunction Server with Lid is a 6-in-1 hosting essential! The clear server looks like a cake stand with a dome cover, but the cover can be turned over and set in the stand for use as a bowl. The center section also serves as a dip bowl. From snacks to salads, appetizers and desserts, this versatile server makes hosting a holiday party simple with elegance.

These Humorous Wine Accents display witty sayings that get the holiday cocktail party conversation started! The Set of 3 Bottle Stoppers look great on your favorite bottles of wine and provide a laugh each time your guests go for a drink.

Wine-Bottle-CharmThe Get Jingly Wine Bottle Jewelry turns any wine bottle into a part of your holiday decor! The charm loop — with 9 red and green bells — fits over the neck of the bottle for a little twinkle and a lot of jingle! A silvertone plaque is inscribed with a jolly message for the festive season.

Buffet Iced Serving Collection takes the work out of hosting a cocktail party! You don’t have to worry about keeping the cold food cold  — each piece has a tray at the bottom for holding ice! Serve dip or sauce in the stainless steel Dip Bowl, which nests inside its plastic ice holder. The plastic 8-Pc. Serving Bowl Set can be used for anything from a veggie snacks to salad. 4 Servers clip to the side of the bowl to hold garnishes. The Egg & Appetizer Tray has a stainless steel insert that holds 24 deviled egg halves over ice. The plastic tray can also be used alone as a 4-section serving platter for appetizers.

Cocktail-Party-essentials7The Holiday Wine Bottle & Glass Holder is an adorable way to dress up a bottle of wine for your cocktail party! A finely detailed, cheerful face tops a spiral body that fits around a standard wine bottle while two arms hold your wine glasses.

We’re all bubbly with cheer for the holidays, but there’s no reason we can’t add a few more accents to our cocktail party — no one ever complained about having too much joy! Shop LTD Commodities for more entertaining and holiday gift ideas to make your holidays brighter!

Cranberry-Apple Fritters

Cranberry-Apple FrittersWe’re making fritters here at LTD! In case you don’t know what a fritter is, it’s delicious. It’s basically little bits of food battered and fried to make a sort of biscuit (savory) or donut (sweet) — either way, it’s irresistible! Our favorite at LTD is the apple fritter, but since we’re knee-deep in the holidays, we’re sharing our recipe for cranberry-apple fritters. They’re fairly easy to make — and worth the time and effort to make a festive breakfast treat. Here is how to make cranberry-apple fritters at home:

Cranberry-Apple FrittersCranberry-Apple Fritters

  • 1 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 TB melted butter
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ cup fresh cranberries
  • vegetable oil for frying (amount depends on the size of the pan you are using, but make sure you have a few cups)

Cranberry-Apple FrittersGlaze

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch salt
  • splash vanilla
  • 2 TB milk

Cranberry-Apple-FrittersInstructions:

For the Batter:

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients with a fork. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg and add the remaining ingredients except the apples and cranberries.

Add the dry mixture to MiniTool Mac best-data-recovery.com Recovery includes four data recovery modules – Undelete Recovery, Damaged Partition Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery and Digital Media Recovery. the wet mixture and stir together until everything is just combined. Do not over-mix — it should be lumpy. Fold in diced apples and cranberries.

In a heavy bottomed pot or a deep skillet, heat about two inches of oil over medium heat to about 350℉. To test if it’s ready, drop a pinch of the batter in the oil. If it spits and spatters, it’s ready.

Cranberry-Apple-FrittersFor the Glaze:

While you’re waiting for the oil to heat, whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk to make the glaze. Set aside.

Cranberry-Apple-FrittersTo Par Bake:

To make the fritters the way you might find them at a donut shop, you par bake them — if you don’t, you’re limited to making a lumpy donut hole. Par baking them lets you make them big and flat. To do this, pre-heat your oven to 350℉. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop about ¼ cup of the batter and plop it on the cookie sheet — this makes six piles of batter on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

The fritters should be baked just enough that you can slide a spatula underneath them and lower them in the hot oil — one at a time.  Fry for one minute on each side until they’re golden brown. Scoop them out with the spatula or slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined platter to drain for a minute. 

Place your hot fritters on a cooling rack (with a pan or parchment paper underneath to catch oil or glaze). Spoon the glaze over the fritters. This recipe makes just enough glaze for this method, but you can double the amount of ingredients for the glaze if you want to dip the fritters in the glaze.

Apple fritters are delightful, but cranberry-apple fritters are divine and December is a perfect time celebrate this as a dessert or a rich breakfast. Happy holidays!

 Cranberry-Apple Fritters