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

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.

Football Season Begins: 4 Man Cave Essentials

mancaveEveryone needs a place to call their own, and that includes the man of the house. The man cave creates a space where he can relax and do as he pleases without fear of interference from the ladies. It is a place where he can enjoy an adult beverage, yell at the TV, play games, and hang out with the guys. It can be the basement, attic, a rehabilitated office, or a shed. A man cave does not need to be fancy, but here are a few things a fully functional “mantuary” needs. Here are 4 man cave essentials.

mancaveSeating The main point of a man cave is to create a comfortable place to relax. That requires plenty of seating. No man cave is complete without at least one recliner. Nothing makes a guy feel like the master of his domain like putting his feet up. Take the recliner one step further with a reclining sofa or sectional that provides seating for visitors. If your man cave has a bar, stools are mandatory. Beanbag chairs are classics, and you can opt for sofa-sized ones or special designs that convert to guest beds.

Refrigeration Since no one wants to constantly run back and forth to the kitchen for drinks and snacks, the man cave needs a place to keep them chilled. It can be as simple as an old refrigerator or mini fridge appropriated for the room. If beer is your beverage of choice, try a fridge with a built-in tap . There even are appliances specifically designed to hold and cool a keg, as well as dispense beer. DIY kits help you convert a fridge to a drink dispenser. Keep your drinks and food even closer at hand with a coffee table with a built-in cooler.

Entertainment The crown jewel of any man cave is its entertainment system. Often, the entire point of establishing a man cave is to have a place to host game day parties or to watch favorite movies and TV shows. A flat screen TV, as large as you can afford and the room can hold, and a DVD player are absolute musts. Include a game console for days when nothing is on. Don’t forget tables and equipment for other pastimes, like pool, foosball, darts, and poker.

mancaveDécor The thing that really sets the man cave apart from the rest of the house is its décor. It is a spot where a man can escape from the pastels, floral prints, and matching furniture that fills most homes. A sign on or near the door should make it clear visitors are entering a male sanctuary. Look for one with the logo of your favorite team, or get a personalized one with your name. Beer-themed decorations are very popular, but do not limit yourself to that. Show off your sports memorabilia, or transform the space into a tribute to your favorite pop culture icons. Do not forget posters from your favorite movie. A man cave with an attached bathroom is the ultimate in luxury. If you are so blessed, make sure to extend the décor into the bath.

 

Cheese Pizza Day: 6 Tips for Homemade Pizza

cheese-pizzaMark your calendars: National Cheese Pizza Day is September 5th. There are few foods that can instantly put your smile on a face the way pizza does. It’s the food for all ages – young and old enjoy pizza in all shapes, temperatures and texture. Frozen, delivery or homemade, even when pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good. But, of course, when you’re making homemade pizza, you want it to be better than pretty good, so here are 6 tips for great homemade pizza.

Weigh it Baking is a science. All professional bakers measure ingredients by weight using a digital kitchen scale. Using a scale makes measuring more accurate and, in turn, more tasty. It’s not a must for making great pizza, but it certainly makes a difference. Besides, learning to measure opens up a new world of professional recipes you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.

Plan Ahead Just about every pizza dough recipe you find requires it to be refrigerated overnight. When you’ve mixed together the yeast, water, salt, and flour, kneaded it and let it rise, it’s very tempting to skip the refrigeration step – don’t! Pizza dough ferments while it’s in the refrigerator. One night of fermentation is great, but three nights makes it super. This is how they do it in New Haven. If you’ve ever had New Haven apizza (that’s not a typo – that’s what they call it in New Haven), you’ve had some of the best pizza in the world.

cheese-pizzaRoll it Out In movies and TV shows you see people spinning and tossing pizza dough out over their heads to make a perfectly circular pie; what you don’t see is that it takes years of practice to make it look that easy. Tossing pizza dough is really hard. Don’t be ashamed of using a pin. It’ll make nice circles and it won’t take you years to do it.

Keep it Loose Professionals and serious pizza makers toss the dough, top it and slide it into the oven with the help of a pizza peel (like a big paddle) and a lot of semolina or cornmeal to make it loose so it doesn’t stick to the peel. To do that without everything falling off into your oven in one big lump also takes a lot of practice. But you can skip the practice and the equipment (unless you’re aiming for authentic). Parchment paper or bake mat work just fine to replace the cornmeal and the pizza peel. Roll your dough out on the paper, top it, carry it to the oven and lower it onto the pizza stone. Easy-peasy, pizza-cheesy.

cheese-pizzaKeep it Flat The best homemade pizzas are made with pizza stones, but you don’t have to have one to make a pizza good. Flip over a cookie sheet and use the bottom for your flat surface. Make sure you preheat the oven with the pan inside (as you would with a pizza stone) so it’s hot when you slide your pizza in. Alternatively, you can assemble it all in a cast iron skillet and bake it just like Pizza Hut.

Get it Hot! Turn your oven up as high as the temperature can go – most ovens won’t go much higher than 500°F. The dough has to be baked all the way through without burning the cheese on top. The high temperature for a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) allows the pizza crust to get crispy and the cheese just hot enough to bubble and melt.

Pizza is hard to make – which is why there are so many alternatives to making it at home. But eating a pizza you created yourself is way more satisfying than anything you can buy. Happy Cheese Pizza Day!

Pinteresting Picks for August

While the weather still is warm, there is no doubt that autumn is creeping into the air. Fall is a time of change, and our fans on Pinterest definitely have the transition from warm days outside to cool evenings indoors on their minds. They are thinking of cozy lounge wear, treasured artwork and more. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for August.

Stylish Women's Camo Cargo Sweatpants are cute and fun! They're great for everyday wear or a casual night out.

Stylish Women’s Camo Cargo Sweatpants are cute and fun! They’re great for everyday wear or a casual night out.

Forget magnets on the refrigerator and use Easy Change Artwork Frames to give your child's artwork the attention it deserves.

Forget magnets on the refrigerator and use Easy Change Artwork Frames to give your child’s artwork the attention it deserves.

Protect outdoor electrical connections for a holiday display or at a job site with a Set of 2 Extension Cord Safety Seals.

Protect outdoor electrical connections for a holiday display or at a job site with a Set of 2 Extension Cord Safety Seals.

Enjoy pleasant accent lighting with the timeless look of an Enduring Candle Jar.

Enjoy pleasant accent lighting with the timeless look of an Enduring Candle Jar.

5 Last Minute RV Destinations for Labor Day Weekend

RV-tripThis is it. The end of the summer. If you haven’t already planned your Labor Day weekend RV getaway, you still have a little bit of time. Here are 5 last minute RV destinations for Labor Day weekend.

California Borrego Springs, California is an RV destination about half-way between Palm Springs and San Diego. Hike the desert trail leading to the third largest palm oasis in California, golf or take a tour of the more than 100 giant sculptures of Ricardo Breceda. At night, with the big, open sky, stargazing is an essential desert experience.

Texas Kerriville, in the heart of Texas Hill Country, is an RV hot spot surrounded by Texas nature. A park-lined river runs through the RV-triptown where you can swim, fish and kayak or go tubing. If you’re looking for a spectacular adventure, just about an hour away is the Lost Maples State Natural Area. Limestone canyons, springs and grasslands make up this preserve. Whether you’re sightseeing, bird watching or fishing, Lost Maples is a nature lover’s paradise.

Florida An idyllic RV destination, Ocean Pond is a 1,700-acre lake in the middle of Osceola National Forest – not far from Jacksonville. The plentiful longleaf pine surround the inland swamps and provide shelter for endangered animals, but it’s also a harbor for hunters. Whether you want a leisurely horseback ride or swimming is at the top of your list of Labor Day activities to check off, Ocean Pond is just a drive away.

Ohio Sailing, exploring caves and golf are all on the list of things to do in Delaware County, Ohio. This RV destination has the largest inland beach in all of Ohio. The Midwest has a relentless winter, and with Delaware’s 11 nature preservation parks, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy Labor Day weekend weather. But in an RV in Ohio, you’re never too far from fun.

RV-tripPennsylvania History, nature, shopping — Mercer County has just about everything you need for a last minute RV trip to end the summer. Kayaks and canoes can be rented for excursions in the surrounding waterways, Hell’s Hollow has miles of trails where you can explore the history and nature of Western Pennsylvania and if you want a challenge, check out the Cool Spring Corn Maze.

If you haven’t started planning your last RV trip of the summer, you’re not running out of destinations but you are running out of time.

5 Back to School Organizing Tips

Back-to-schoolThe first week back at school is here and it’s hectic. No one is ever prepared for the chaos that comes with that first week. Take it easy and go with the flow with these back to school organizing tips.

Review Think back to the last school year and how mornings were carried out. Remember what worked and what didn’t work. Eliminate practices that slowed mornings down and improve the ones that helped move mornings along. Tailor new routines to fit personalities and habits of your growing children. They’re evolving, so their routines should evolve with them.

Back-to-schoolVisualize It Make a list of things for each person to do in the morning and a list for the evening. Most tasks will be repeated daily, so you don’t have to recreate lists every day, but you may have to add to them. Do it on a chalkboard or dry erase board so everyone can see what they’re responsible for. When you and your family follow what’s written on the agenda, it will be harder to miss something.

In Box, Out Box Next to your daily schedule, set aside a basket or box for school papers going to you – report cards, permission slips, etc. Look at it before you sit down to breakfast and make sure to sign or read everything before the day starts. It will save you the time and energy of looking for papers at the last minute when you’re rushing to get out the door.

Plan Ahead If there’s anything you and your children can do the night before, do it. Put cookies and chips in lunch bags, lay out clothes for the next day or set aside breakfast food and dishes for the morning. Set up everything so the only thing you have to do in the morning is execute the task. It will shave time off the morning routine and you’ll walk out the door a little less frazzled.

Back-to-schoolSchedule Schedules are the key for a smooth morning. For shared bathrooms, mornings can feel frantic. Allot each person a certain time when they can be in the bathroom for their morning mirror time. With set times, the risk of conflict is greatly reduced. Set a time for everyone to be at the breakfast table to eat and get lunches sorted. With everyone operating the morning machine, getting out the door and to school and work on time will become a habit.

Starting the day never feels as good as we want it to, but it doesn’t have to be crazy. Getting things sorted ahead of time with plenty of communication helps develop positive patterns to begin the school day and leads to a great school year.