Pinteresting Picks For February

New looks for the home are on the minds of LTD Commodities’ Pinterest followers. This month’s most popular pins are of unique accents that personalize a room in minutes. Create a spot for your beloved pet with a decorative gate, and get a start on this year’s outdoor renovation with a charming solar planter. Here are the Pinteresting Picks for February.

Store and display ticket stubs from movies, concerts, sporting events and more with a Ticket Memento Storage Box.

Store and display ticket stubs from movies, concerts, sporting events and more with a Ticket Memento Storage Box.

Show family pride or personalize any space with a Monogram Wall Hanging.

Show family pride or personalize any space with a Monogram Wall Hanging.

Protect your furry friend and keep your furniture safe with a Fashionable Expanding Wooden Pet Gate.

Protect your furry friend and keep your furniture safe with a Fashionable Expanding Wooden Pet Gate.

Put an elegant finishing touch on your home with a Solar Garden Post.

Put an elegant finishing touch on your home with a Solar Garden Post.

6 Ideas for Upcycling Your Old Sweaters

Less than a month until spring and we’re ready for the new season — even if the cold weather isn’t ready to go quite yet. Spring cleaning is underway and the first things to go — as soon as the weather permits — is that big bag of sweaters. But before you decide to give send them off to the thrift store, consider getting a little more use out of them in another form. Here are 6 ideas for upcycling your old sweaters.

sweater-blanketBlanket While your sweaters may be taking up too much closet space, you can never have too many blankets! Right now is the perfect time to get started on projects to get ready for next winter. Seamstress Erin has an excellent, detailed tutorial on how you can spin your old sweaters into a new throw!

sweater-bootsLeg Warmers Here’s an easy-peasy way to make use of that sweater you desperately want to replace: leg warmers! The Farmer’s Nest has a super-cute, super-easy, fashion-forward tutorial to take the sleeves of your sweater to add flair to your boots. With the weather ahead, you might be able to use these now for your rain boots! And, as a bonus, she has a quick how-to on using the rest of the sweater to make a throw pillow cover.

Mittens Here’s a favorite for LTD — because we’re in Chicago, our winters are brutal and there are never enough mittens or gloves to keep up with the cold weather. The Renegade Seamstress gives stitch-by-stitch instructions on making super-snug mittens out of that favorite sweater you don’t want to let go of… but have to give up. Armed with this pattern, you will never run out of mittens!

sweater-bagShoulder Bag Get ready to start crossing off people on your Christmas list now! With an old sweater, you can make a stylish shoulder bag that costs little to nothing to make with an old sweater. Sweet Grace takes you through the steps to create a one-of-a-kind bag that so awesome you’ll want to keep it for yourself, but it’s a secret you’ll want to share. The trick to what makes this idea so fashionable is that it’s felted. That means, if you want to make this exact bag, the sweater you use has to be made of 100% wool (this one is alpaca wool).

 

sweater-heartsSweethearts Of course your upcycled sweaters don’t necessarily have to be wearable. Jess from If Only They Would Nap made her old sweaters into adorable felted hearts. She hangs them from a branch, but there are other ways you can use them: wedding shower or party favors, stocking or Easter basket stuffers, bunting for Valentine’s Day, or everyday decor.

sweater-slippersSlippers Here’s another idea to get started on for next winter: slippers! Kat at We Can Re-Do It put together an easy, step-by-step tutorial magically transform a striped sweater into adorable striped slippers. Comfy and cozy for cold nights — these will come in handy especially if next winter is anything like this winter or last winter!

Upcycling sweaters is just one of the things we’re thinking about here at LTD! Keep checking back on our blog and the website for more products and ideas to get your home projects started.

St. Patrick’s Day Crafts to Get You Through February

Winter is winding down and we’re warming up thinking about spring and all of the fun holidays that come with it. While we’re stuck indoors for a few more weeks, we’re all about crafting for spring! With St. Patrick’s Day and spring on their way, we’re thinking green… here are a few of the crafts we’re using for inspiration.

shamrock-braceletPlayful Pipe Cleaners When life hands you green pipe cleaners, make shamrocks! Lacy from Catholic Icing twists and shapes pipe cleaners to make adorable favors to hand out on St. Patrick’s Day. To take it a step further, turn the shamrocks into something wearable! Beinglds.blogspot.com has a sweet step-by-step on how to make shamrock bracelets with those pipe cleaners. With these awesome accessories, no one will get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day.

3-d-shamrock3-D Magic If you got a lot of practice cutting out hearts for Valentine’s Day, you’re primed for a fun and easy shamrock craft! Crafty Morning came up with a simple way for children to craft paper into a piece of 3-D art! All you need are green construction paper, glue, scissors and a paper mount for your masterpiece.

shamrock-menShamrock Whimsy If the idea of spring has you feeling a little whimsical, help your little ones change toilet paper rolls into little shamrock men! This will keep their hands and brains concentrated on carving shamrocks out of green construction paper to dress up the cardboard tubes for playful decor on St. Patrick’s day. Follow Sweet and Lovely Crafts detailed instructions for a craft-filled afternoon.

pot-o-gold-hatPot-O-Gold This is probably the most fun craft-turned-party-favor you’ll find for St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a leprechaun hat that doubles as a pot of gold! A few plastic food containers, paint, construction paper, and a bag of chocolate gold coins will make you look like a crafting hero and entertainer extraordinaire. For a tutorial, check out Paper Plate and Plane’s blog.

shamrock-votiveSt. Patrick”s Day Glow Extra jars or upcycled glass candle holders can be the object of a delightful St. Patrick’s Day craft! With craft glue and green tissue paper, your shamrocks will give your St. Patrick’s Day decor a warm glow! Mess for Less takes you through each step to make these simple yet classy crafts that children will love to make.

felt-shamrockPinch Protection For easy pinch-protection, a felt shamrock is the go-to embellishment for any outfit! This is another craft that will make use of your heart-making skills. Splendid Amy guides you through a few snips, a couple of stitches and the tiniest bit of hot glue to make the sweetest shamrock to put on a hat, a headband or to wear as a pin! This craft will have you counting down the days to March 17!

shamrock-cardShamrock Salutations For faraway Irish friends, send some shamrock salutations with homemade cards! A heart rubber stamp, glue, glitter, and paint turns a simple piece of paper into a St. Patrick’s Day keepsake for loved ones you want to reach out to on March 17. Child Made Tutorials lays out all of the instructions on how to make a heart into shamrock as well as shows you the sparkling finished product.

Love Your Pet Day

dog-loveFebruary 20 is National Love Your Pet Day! Whether you share your life with a cat, dog, hamster, or another critter, it is a perfect time to express your affection for them. Go for a long walk, spend some extra time playing, or give them a lot of cuddles today. To help inspire you, here are 20 fantastic quotes that will make you want to hug your pet.

  1. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”—Anatole France
  2. “Time spent with cats is never wasted.”—Sigmund Freud
  3. “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”—Groucho Marx
  4. Pet-love“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”—Winston Churchill
  5. “Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.”—George Eliot
  6. “I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time.”—Neil Gaiman
  7. “Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.”—Colette
  8. “Happiness is a warm puppy.”—Charles Schultz
  9. “If you don’t have a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you. But there may be something wrong with your life.”—Vincent Van Gogh
  10. “The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man’s.”—Mark Twain
  11. “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction.”—Mark Twain
  12. “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”—Jean Cocteau
  13. “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”—James Herriot
  14. “Perhaps the greatest gift an animal has to offer is a permanent reminder of who we really are.”—Nick Trout
  15. Kitten“The smallest feline is a masterpiece.”—Leonardo da Vinci
  16. “The dog was created especially for children. He is the god of frolic.”—Henry Ward Beecher
  17. “I can’t imagine God not allowing my dog into heaven.”—Rick Warren
  18. “I’ve met many thinkers and many cats, but the wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.”—Hippolyte Taine
  19. “I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”—Gilda Radner
  20. “A dog is one of the few things in life that is as it seems.”—Mark J. Asher

Chinese New Year: Year of the Goat

baby-goat February 19 marks the Chinese New Year. 2015 is the year of the goat — what that means might be a mystery to you, but we’ll break it down for you. Here is what the year of the goat means:

Aside from 2015, according to the Chinese zodiac, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, and 2003 are all years of the goat. That means if you were born in one of those years, you share certain characteristics similar to other people in that sign.

People born under the sign of the goat are considered to be calm, gentle and humble. They are comfortable being alone and are introspective. Though they don’t like to lead, they are good workers and fast learners with a strong sense of creativity.

Because of their calm demeanor, goats don’t have many health problems. However, their health is determined by a content state of mind and heart. Their health can quickly decline when they are unhappy. For 2015, goats should take extra precaution as goats are accident-prone this year.

Though goats like high-quality goods, they are not extravagant. However, for goats, 2015 will be a bumpy year financially. Goats should be careful with spending and investing as there will be unexpected expenses.

The year’s outlook isn’t spectacular for goats except in romance where there may be changes — finding love or ending a relationship will keep things interesting and test your emotions, but it won’t last for long.

According to China Highlights, goats can manage 2015 with a little luck:

  • 78776644Lucky colors: brown, red and purple
  • Lucky flowers: carnations, primroses
  • Lucky numbers: 2, 7
  • Lucky days: the 7th and 30th of any month

And what goats need to steer clear of are:

  • Unlucky colors: green, blue and black
  • Unlucky numbers: 6, 8

The Chinese zodiac isn’t something we all believe in and, in case you’re a non-believer, there’s one thing we can convince you of: goats are cute. Just click on the link and the year of the goat might get a little brighter for you.

 

Random Act of Kindness Day

February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day — it’s a day set aside for people to be kind to strangers. According to an article published in Psychology Today, when someone does a kind deed it for someone else it makes both people feel good. It’s a great idea in theory, but you have to do it right. Paying for someone’s latte may only push that person to buy someone else a latte and the act of kindness loses its meaning. We’ve come up with a few random acts of kindness you’ll feel good performing — and you don’t need to spend a lot (or any) money.

  1. garbageTake your neighbor’s garbage to the curb while you’re taking yours. It’s an easy task that no one wants to do — your neighbors will appreciate the gesture.
  2. Offer to go to the grocery store for an elderly neighbor. Going to the grocery store is just a chore for the young and strong — as an elderly person, it can be a struggle. What takes you 20 minutes could take them an hour. Not only are you doing a difficult chore for that person, you’re also giving them time to do other activities.
  3. Help a parent struggling with a stroller. Whether it’s single dad or a mom out on her own for the day, taking care of kids alone can be tough. Even the smallest gesture can make a huge difference in that person’s day.
  4. Help someone who looks lost with directions. The gratitude they’ll feel is immeasurable.
  5. waitressBe a generous tipper. The service industry isn’t for the faint of heart. Waiting tables is a tough job — it’s physical labor and also requires someone to be sharp. And with all that work, they don’t get health insurance, paid vacation, sick days or bonuses. A big tip could mean a lot more than just getting their bills paid.
  6. Send a thank-you note to someone who has improved your life. Take a few minutes to write out how much someone means to you — for someone to hear that you’re grateful that you know him or her is priceless.
  7. Take an hour of your week to spend time with the elderly at a nursing home. Taking time to talk to elderly people could make their day, week or month.
  8. Leave a kind note for your mail carrier or garbage collector. They’re part of what makes our community run — they deserve a little gratitude.
  9. Send a care package to soldiers. Whether they’re on a tour or they’ve just returned, a gift from a stranger to thank them for their service isn’t something they get from every American.
  10. dog-poundTake a bag of pet food, toys or pet beds to your local animal shelter. Homeless dogs and cats need food and comfort. Every little bit of kindness helps keep them from going hungry. If you have extra time, stop in to give a few pets some love.

Being kind isn’t hard — if someone’s having a bad day or a bad year a kind deed from a stranger may be a small action that has a big impact. Start looking out for ways to be kind every day, not just Random Acts of Kindness Day.

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

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your family and great values from LTD! Our customers are making Valentine’s Day a family affair, and it shows in our most popular items of the week. Teens will love little gifts like an animal print frame, and all ages will be proud to wear a sophisticated pendant that comes with a message of devotion. Decorate your kitchen for the holiday, and spend some time at home with a nostalgic puzzle. Here are the Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week.

Animal Print Frame and Box Gift Set stores your trinkets and displays a special photo in leopard and zebra prints with rhinestone accents.

Animal Print Frame and Box Gift Set stores your trinkets and displays a special photo in leopard and zebra prints with rhinestone accents.

This Love Pendant Gift-Boxed Set is the perfect way to show someone how special they are to you.

This Love Pendant Gift-Boxed Set is the perfect way to show someone how special they are to you.

Holiday Kitchen Coordinates add festive cheer while you cook and clean.

Holiday Kitchen Coordinates add festive cheer while you cook and clean.

Inspire new memories while piecing together the good old days with these 1,000-Pc. Nostalgic Puzzles.

Inspire new memories while piecing together the good old days with these 1,000-Pc. Nostalgic Puzzles.

National Cherry Month: Cherry Cobbler

cherry-cobbler

We know you’re mind is on Valentine’s Day right now, but February also happens to be  National Cherry Month! And we love cherries at LTD.They’re not in season — they have a short growing season that lasts just the month of June. To celebrate cherries, we’re going to share our favorite, easy cherry recipe: Cherry Cobbler.cherry-cobbler

Cherry Cobbler

Cherries:

  • 3 14.5 oz cans cherries in water (tart or sweet cherries both work)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

cherry-cobblerCombine all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes. Set aside.

Topping:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TB  sugar
  • cherry-cobbler1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • cherry-cobbler1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 TB cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk

cherry-cobblerWhisk together the dry ingredients. Add the butter. Mix and squeeze the butter in the flour mixture until it looks like chunky sand (the butter pieces should be the size of small peas). With a fork, gently stir in the buttermilk. Mix until it’s just combined. It should be lumpy.Pour the cherry mixture into an 8”x8” casserole dish or a 9” pie plate or divide them among two ramekins. And drop scoops of the topping on top of the cherries. Bake for about 20 minutes or the cherries are bubbly and the top is golden brown.

Cherry cobbler is so easy to make and so easy going down, we had to share the recipe with you! Happy National Cherry Month and enjoy your cobbler!

cherry-cobbler

 

 

Valentine’s Day: The Candy Connection

chocolate-heartsCandy — especially chocolate! — is one of our favorite things to eat so it’s no surprise that Valentine’s Day is an exciting day for candy and chocolate lovers. It’s one day we throw our resolutions for disciplined diets out the window and we can indulge in our favorite treats. The tradition of candy and chocolates on Valentine’s Day had to start somewhere, so we did a little bit of digging to figure out why we give our sweethearts sweets on Valentine’s Day.

Romance We know St. Valentine as the Roman bishop who, in the third century, performed secret marriages for soldiers when it was forbidden. St. Valentine was jailed for this and wrote his jailer’s daughter a letter and signed it “Your Valentine.” This where it is believed the Valentine as we know it was born, but it was hundreds of years before candy became part of the tradition.

Sweets to the Sweet The idea of Valentine’s was preserved through word of mouth and tradition for the next few hundred years — and then literature set the word in stone. Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century poem “Parliament of Fowls” was the first literary reference to Valentine’s Day, but it was Shakespeare who made the reference “sweets to the sweet” in Hamlet in the early 1600s.

chocolate-heartsFood of Love Chocolate has a chemical in it called phenylethylamine. It’s a stimulant that’s released in the brain when people fall in love. The Aztecs, who discovered the cocoa bean, recognized this quality early on. In the early 15th century, Aztec leader Montezuma allegedly indulged in cocoa beans for his romantic  rendezvous. Aztecs also used it as gifts and served it at weddings.

Chocolates for Boxes After chocolate was introduced to Europe, it was initially only consumed as a beverage until the 1840s when manufacturers figured out how to make it into solid candies. Many credit chocolatier Richard Cadbury for Valentine’s Day chocolates. It’s a popular theory that he was the person behind the heart-shaped boxes when his father’s chocolate recipe evolved from drinking chocolate to eating chocolate in the late 1800s. While Richard Cadbury did design elaborate boxes for fancy chocolates, the company doesn’t claim he was the person who popularized Valentine’s Day boxes of chocolate. However, according to the New York Times, confectioners started selling Valentine’s Day chocolates in heart-shaped boxes in the 1890s.

conversation-heartsCandy Chat About the same time Cadbury was perfecting chocolate, a Massachusetts company was innovating other types of sweets. New England Confectionery Company (NECCO) designed the first candy machine in 1847. In 1866, they started producing “Conversation Candies,” a precursor to conversation hearts. It was around 1902 Sweetheart conversation hearts began production. Those conversation candies are still made today with updated phrases. This year’s new phrases include “BFF” (Best Friends Forever), “TE AMO” (I love you in Spanish), “JE T’AIME” (I love you in French), and “Pugs and Kittens” (for animal lovers).

While there may not be an actual connection between sweets and sweethearts, Valentine’s Day is an excuse to eat chocolate and candy guilt-free. Whether you use the day to feed your sweet tooth or you take the day to honor your sweetheart, the tradition of sending Valentine’s Day candy will live on.

Our 10 Favorite Valentine’s Day Movies

HeartsOn Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing quite like making some popcorn, curling up with your sweetie, and watching a great romantic movie. In addition to being incredibly cozy, a movie night is an easy and inexpensive date night. To help you plan, here are our 10 favorite Valentine’s Day movies.

Enchanted A rare romantic movie that can be enjoyed by all ages, Enchanted takes the fairy tale idea of love and plants it on its head. Amy Adams plays Giselle, a princess from an animated world banished to New York City (“where there are no happy endings”) by a wicked queen (Susan Sarandon). Giselle’s prince is on his way to save her, but meanwhile, she befriends a lawyer (Patrick Dempsey) and his young daughter. Can Giselle’s ideas about storybook love survive the real world…not to mention a dragon attack? Released in 2004, Enchanted has a lot of PG laughs, making it perfect if your romantic evening must accommodate some younger viewers.

Patrick-Swayze

Image source: Alan Light via Flickr

Dirty Dancing Set in 1963, this 1987 movie was a low-budget box office smash that introduced the world to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey. The coming-of-age drama follows a privileged teenage girl’s relationship with a dance instructor she meets during her family’s summer vacation. The soundtrack from Dirty Dancing is almost as popular as the movie, ensuring a fun nostalgic trip for your Valentine’s Day.

Somewhere in Time Somewhere in Time is an unusual romance that weaves in hypnosis and time travel. Christopher Reeve plays a young writer who becomes fascinated by an elderly woman he has never met who approaches him and acts as though she knows him. He becomes convinced that they did meet…over 60 years in the past. He studies the idea of time travel through the power of self suggestion. What follows is a story that has made this 1980 movie a true cult classic.

Empire-State-Building

Image source: Roger via Flickr

An Affair to Remember Fate is a complicated thing in this 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. A playboy and a singer meet on a cruise ship and fall in love—despite the fact they both are engaged to other people. They agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building and see if their feelings for each other have not changed.  An Affair to Remember is a wonderful reminder that while true love’s road is never smooth, it is worth the effort to travel it.

The Princess Bride It boils down to those three little words we all long to hear on Valentine’s Day: “As you wish.” The Princess Bride from 1987 is a rare combination of romance, comedy, fantasy, and adventure that actually makes the mix work. Buttercup (Robin Wright) and poor a farm boy Westley (Cary Elwes) are in love. He disappears while seeking his fortune. Buttercup becomes engaged to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Will Westley return in time to save his true love from her murderous fiance? A flop when it premiered, this film has developed a wide following with its quirky blend of comedy and adventure, not to mention its incredible cast that includes Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, Andre the Giant, Fred Savage, and Peter Falk.

Ryan-Gosling

Image source: Gordon Correll via Flickr

The Notebook Based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook captured the imagination of a generation. It tells the love story of Noah (played by Ryan Gosling) and Allie (played by Rachel McAdams). In 1940, the young couple is torn apart by class differences, but they never forget each other. This 2004 movie tells their story in a series of flashbacks as an elderly man reads the tale out of a notebook to a fellow nursing home resident.

Better Off Dead If pure romance movies sound a little mushy to you, try Better Off Dead from 1985. It stars a young John Cusack as Lane Meyer, a teenager whose girlfriend just dumped him for an arrogant bully. While he deals with his feelings and tries to get her back, Lane must manage his weird family, wacky friends, and an obsessed paperboy. Through a mix of imaginative dark comedy, attitude and a hint of romance, the movie reminds us we are better off moving on rather than dwelling on a love gone wrong.

When Harry Met Sally… Can men and women just be friends? This 1989 romantic comedy hit tried to answer that question. Along the way, it gets in plenty of laughs over the relationship problems of Harry Burns, played by Billy Crystal, and Sally Albright, played by Meg Ryan. With a snappy script by Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally… introduced concepts like “high-maintenance” people, as well as the notorious line, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Meg-Ryan

Image source: David Shankbone via Flickr

Sleepless in Seattle Set up a Meg Ryan double feature with When Harry Met Sally… and this romantic comedy from 1993. It also stars Tom Hanks as a recently widowed father whose son calls into a radio talk show to help his dad find a new love. Reporter Annie Reed (Ryan) is touched by their story, and she writes a letter to try to meet them. This film also makes a wonderful double feature with An Affair to Remember, because it directly references the classic film, complete with a meeting at the Empire State building.

Casablanca A classic from 1942, Casablanca is, perhaps, the ultimate romance movie. Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid set up a crackling love triangle in a desert outpost on the edge of a world at war. As the forces of Nazi Germany close in, difficult choices and sacrifices must be made in order to keep love and hope alive.