Edible Gardens: 5 Plots to go from the Garden to the Table

vegetable-garden

Image credit: irrigationdirect.com

Winter is finally starting to wane and it’s time to think about what we want in your garden. A fun way to do that is to plan your garden around what you want to eat. It’s a simple idea and you’ll know exactly what to do with your vegetables once they’re harvested. Here are five edible gardens with vegetables that grow well together and taste great together, too.

American Garden:

What goes better with your barbecued chicken and ribs than creamy cole slaw? Not only is that grill in the backyard but so are the main ingredients for your slaw. All you need from the garden are cabbage, carrots and onions. The rest you can pick up from the store.

FYI:

  • Carrots and Cabbage are both biennial plants and fall crops can be easily stored during colder months.
  • Onions are harvested in late summer and can also be stored during winter months.
Pico-de-gallo

Image credit: yankeemagazine.com

Mexican Garden:

Chips and salsa are a great no-cook snack that you can eat throughout the summer. Salsa is best when it’s made fresh, but imagine if the ingredients — tomatoes, jalapenos, onions and cilantro — were picked from out your back door – it can’t get more delicious or easier than that. The recipe for salsa or pico de gallo is straightforward and if you add a mashed avocado and a couple of squeezes of lemon to the mix, you’ve got guacamole.

FYI:

  • Harvest cilantro weekly to keep the leaves growing and fresh.
  • Both tomatoes and jalapenos should be staked.
  • Tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro all work well as potted plants.

Italian Garden:

One of the best possible ways to taste fresh basil is in a caprese salad. It’s simple and tomatoes and basil love to grow together; they’re also the base for a margherita pizza. The recipe is easy (there’s no shame in using a store-bought crust!)  and if you have the other ingredients (onion, garlic, parsley and oregano) on hand or in the garden, you’ll be serving up Italian food all summer long.

FYI:

  • Basil is an annual and grows best in warm weather and should be harvested if temperatures are expected to dip below 40°F.
  • Tomato plants can handle temperatures as low as 30°F, but a frost could kill a tomato plant, so keep an eye on the forecast.

French Garden:

ratatouille

Image credit: makebetterfood.com

If you’re feeling a little French, you don’t have to go to Paris to get fresh ratatouille. Though there is debate on how to make authentic ratatouille, it can certainly be made on the stove top so you don’t heat up the entire kitchen during hot summer months.

FYI:

  • Zucchini (or squash), eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers all grow very well in hot weather.
  • Stagger your seedling start dates – start eggplant seedlings six weeks before your last frost date and give zucchini just a two week head start – will help you synchronize your harvest times and you can get your first summer dinner planned.

Spanish Garden:

For a cool soup in the summer, a cucumber, tomato, bell peppers, onions will deliver a good gazpacho. It requires little more than fresh vegetables and a good blender. And, if you’re feeling dangerous, you can steal a jalapeno from your pico de gallo garden to spice up your soup.

vegetable-gardens

Image credit: sharpercut.com

FYI:

  • Cucumbers should be picked every other day or so. Cucumbers left on the vine too long will make it harder for the plant to produce more cucumbers.
  • Both cucumbers and peppers love the sun and are thirsty  – as are onions – but water moderately and cover the soil around the plants with mulch to keep the moisture in.

Quick tip: Remember that most plants will probably need to be started indoors if you’re starting with a seed  and they shouldn’t be planted in the ground until after the last frost.

I have more ideas to share at LTD Commodities. Click here to find out more about me and the garden products I can’t do without.

Green Inspiration this St. Patrick’s Day

Fleece-Footed-pajamasDon’t know what you want to do this St. Patrick’s Day yet? Don’t worry, we’ve started a March into Green board on Pinterest to help you in your journey. Here are some of our favorite finds.

It doesn’t quite feel like spring yet, but you can keep warm with the luck of the Irish in these green footed pajamas for adults. They’re exactly like the fleece jammies you had when you were a kid – complete with elasticized ankles and rubber grips on the bottom. From neck to toe in green, you won’t have to be the size of a leprechaun to feel like a leprechaun!

In the grand tradition of St. Patrick’s Day, adult beverages are on the menu of most celebrations. While some revelers might be celebrating with green beer, Irish stout or Irish whiskey, a welcome break from the typical drinks might lead you to something greener.  The Shamrock Shooter and the Irish Frog are a sweeter treat than the typical drinks using green Midori as a base. If you’re ambitious, you can try to make the Irish Flag Shooter by layering crème de menthe, Baileys Irish Cream and Grand Marnier. However you decide to mix it, it’s sure to be a good time.

Your coffee doesn’t have to be Irish coffee to celebrate St. Patty’s Day. A green M&M mug will keep your Irish spirit awake as you take your coffee to go. The double wall will keep your beverage warm, and if you don’t have the luck of the Irish, the travel lid will work with you to keep you from spilling your drink.

If you’re celebrating with the underage Irish, a Shamrock Shake might be in order. This is a copycat recipe so you can make it at home.  It’s not magic, but with a little green food coloring and peppermint extract, it might taste like a pot of gold.

If you have an out-of-town destination for St. Patrick’s Day, you can be bold and be green with quilted luggage. There’s no way this will get lost on the sea of black suitcases at the baggage claim. The lightweight design allows you to move freely as you travel while the interior pockets and full-zip closure makes room for everything you need and keeps them intact.

It ain’t easy being green, but snuggling up with this frog pillow might just make being green softer.  Not only is this green guy adorable, but he’s filled with thousands of micro-beads to make him soft and squishy. For kids, he’s a stuffed frog. For adults, he’s a travel pillow.

And, finally, it just wouldn’t be a holiday if we didn’t throw in a “Keep Calm” poster, so have a happy St. Patrick’s Day and shamrock on!Keep-Calm

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks For The Week

magnetic clipboardsWe are officially one week into March, the month of green, Mardi Gras, and Irish pride! While you’re settling into the third month of the year, we’ve decided to list a few of our favorite tools for home organization. Check out these items we adore to help you organize your home before heading into spring-cleaning in the next couple of months.

Magnetic Clipboards

So here’s the thing: when you have kids, your life becomes a chaotic mess for eighteen plus years, and we get that. Despite stains on the hardwood floors and crayon all over the walls, we think these magnetic fridge clipboards can help you begin carving little pockets of organization in your home. Start with meal planning, to-do lists, grocery store lists, events, and weekday schedules. With this back of four, each family member can even have their own clipboard notepad for their own use. Just a little organization goes a lot way, and maybe this small success will permeate through the rest of your home.

Ladder Shelf Storage

Time to marry form and function in your living room or dining room design with this creative ladder shelf storage unit. You can display knick-knacks and books or store wine glasses and extra dinnerware in this stylish storage system. It’s a great place for organizing both attractive and unattractive home items, such as beautiful candles, or unsightly mail. Organize and conquer clutter!

Hanging Travel Organizer

Summer holidays and trips are right around the corner, and we absolutely love this hanging travel organizer. Perfect for keeping everything in one place and simultaneously saving space in small bathrooms, this organizer is a lifesaver! Imagine spending a few weeks in small hotels in Europe and looking around for counter space. Not even a thought with this great organizer that hangs on the towel hook, door knob, or right on the shower rod.

Neoprene Cable Sleeves

Cables are the bane of any home office organization, but with this clever zip-up neoprene cable sleeve, you never have to worry about loose cables again. You can use these sleeves to organize the cables in your home or work office, as well as those in your entertainment system, cables from your stereo system, or even your electronics chargers. And if you’ve got lots of chargers in your car, attach a piece of Velcro to the outside of the sleeve and secure it in place. So simple!

Popular Pins: LTD’s Favorite Pins From February

It’s time for the end-of-month round up of February’s popular pins! We expected a lot of lovey-dovey pins, but there was more variation than anticipated! A surprising number of people were far too excited for the prospect of spring to get hung up in hearts and roses all month. There are also plenty of fun Irish-inspired pins for St. Patricks’ Day, which is always a fun time. Check out some of our favorite pins from February!

LOVE-Signed Wedding Frames

LOVE frame

We expect these kinds of pins throughout February, as lovers and spouses come up with ways to celebrate their love throughout the month. Well, these Wedding Frames by Marla Rae are a creative way to do just that. The most popular frame has each letter of the word “LOVE” shaped with hands and silhouetted against the distressed brick background. It’s the perfect frame for an 8×10 wedding or engagement photo, which is why everyone loved it last month! It is also available in red with hands shaping a heart instead.

Hot Dog Slicer Kitchen Gadget

hot dog sliverIt looks like our Pinterest followers are more than ready for barbecue season! Despite February being the month of love, this hot dog slicer was one of the most popular pins for the entire month! Perfect for quickly cutting up kids’ hotdogs this summer, you can even put these fun Dachshund-shaped gadgets out for a funny display. Simply place the hot dog in the base of the gadget, and slice down with the dog! Add ketchup to the condiment bowl and you’re done! Kids are happy.

Anger Management Novelty Mug

novelty mug anger management

Anger knows no season, which might be why this hilarious Anger Management Mug had a following all month long! These great novelty mugs come in four shapes and styles, all to add a little more humor to your morning brew. Got a grouchy coworker? We propose gifting this “I flunked anger management” mug to lighten the mood in the office and keep things fun. Maybe wait to fill it with hot coffee though.

St. Patrick’s Day Magnet Art

Shamrock Design Magnet

Everyone in the U.S. is gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day, since it’s one of the only holidays without too much drama. Everyone can celebrate it, whether you’re Irish or not, and it’s a holiday surrounded by parties, drinking, and green treats! This seasonal magnet art is always popular for March, and the shamrocks are perfect for decorating your dishwasher! This large one-piece magnet fits the front of most dishwashers, but can also be used to decorate the fridge or freezer, or cut into smaller squares and shamrocks to decorate all three!

Kids’ Owl Packs and Lunch Bags (Insulated)

kids' owl bags

How adorable is this owl design? These cute owl backpacks and insulated lunch bags are the perfect accessories to your kid’s day. Pinners love sending healthy lunches to school with their kids, especially at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, it’s hard to send much more than a sandwich unless you’ve got an insulated pack to keep it cool! We love these insulated bags and matching backpack in the adorable owl print. In fact, we like this print so much we’d understand if you got these bags for yourself!

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks For The Week

why limit happy to one hourAnother week is over and it is finally time for the weekend! We think Fridays should be reserved for fun and relaxation, which is why we’re highlighting the perfect happy hour essentials for Friday happy hour at home. You don’t have to get dressed up; you don’t have to worry about crowded bars, and you don’t even have to put on real pants! Change out of those uncomfortable shoes immediately and kick up your feet for a fun happy hour at home. Now’s the time to send the invitation around to your favorite happy hour crew and have them join you at home for a relaxing night with your favorite friends.

Frosted Fun Stem-Less Wine Glasses

Stems make your glass look classy and elegant, all while trying to disguise the fact that you’re going to down that Chardonnay long before it gets warm. Ditch the stem and opt for these fun stem-less wine glasses instead. They’ve got great phrases like, “Why limit happy to one hour?” and “Drinks well with others.” The frosted sheen is perfect for hiding drying water droplets so you don’t have to worry about polishing them before placing them out on the table. They’re also great for serving fruit juice on the rocks and soda for the drivers.

Prescription Bottle Kooler

We love these great novelty coolers for keeping your beer cold and the mood light. Perfect for hiding a cheap-o bottle of beer, or for enhancing the humor of any beer you’ve got! We love the Prescription Bottle cooler, because self-medicating is what happy hour is all about, but you can grab the whole set of four and let your guests decide.

Playing Card Set Tin

Start up a friendly game of cards with The King himself this weekend using these great playing cards. Go ahead and make up a drinking game, or just play a few rounds of everyone’s favorite poker game. You deserve the opportunity to unwind with a little interesting competition.

Can Dispenser Shelves

If things are getting really out of hand on Friday, you’re sure to run out of classy wine and bottled beer. You might want to grab a box of wine just in case, and you’re definitely going to need back-up cans of beer. Well, what better way to keep those cans of beer cold than nestled together in the fridge on these can dispenser shelves? And, if you’ve got a few designated drivers in the bunch, this is a good place to store the soft drinks for the sober ones.

Party Snacks Cookbook

No happy hour is complete without the right spread of delicious snacks, and we recommend checking out this Party Snacks Cookbook for some great ideas at a bargain! With great snack-attack selections like stuffed mushrooms and veggie quesadillas to BLT bites and sweet peanut butter cup popcorn, you’ll never want to leave the house for happy hour again! (And, if you’re a guest for an at-home happy hour, all of these Party Snacks recipes travel well!)

Hors D’oeuvres Baking Set

Last but not least, you can make anything into fun bite-sized happy hour snacks with this great hors d’oeuvres baking set. Make your own little brownies, mini muffins, baked Brie bites, or stuffed spinach-artichoke sliders for your happy hour get-together. Everyone will love the tiny hors d’oeuvres and this baking set makes preparation a breeze! Now get outta here and enjoy your Friday!

Kitchen Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Need

corn kernelerThere are thousands of kitchen gadgets on the market, and plenty of people hoard these single-use items like it is their job. Any visit to a home with fun gadgets will make you wonder why you don’t have them all! Well, we’re here to help. We’ve got a list of 5 fun kitchen gadgets you didn’t know you need (and where to find them!).

5-Piece Corn Accessory Set 

Barbecue season is right around the corner, and with copious amounts of grilled meat as the entrée, you’re sure to have a lot of corn on the cob on the side. We love this corn accessory set for everything from huge barbecues to simple family dinners. You can easily de-kernel the cob to eat with a fork, serve to the kids, or mix into a fun corn salsa or salad. These butter spreaders are perfect for keeping your hands clean while getting just the right amount of butter on your corn! Butter the cob, remove the kernels, and enjoy. Everyone should have this great kitchen accessory.

 

Ice Cream Sliders Makers

Another great addition to your summer menu, ice cream is an American pastime. These slider makers take it to the next level. Rather than buying an ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck, you can make your own with your favorite homemade cookies and ice cream! You simply place one cookie in the bottom of the slider-maker, add ice cream, top with the other cookie, and press all the ingredients together. Pop them out and you’ve got the perfect summer snack!

Electric Hands-Free Can Opener

This can-opener is especially good for those of you who hate struggling with those manual openers. Simply place the opener on the top of the can and press start. Watch it spin around to open the can, and pull the lid away using small magnets. So easy! Whether you’ve got arthritis, carpal tunnel, limited dexterity, or none of the above, this electric opener is the perfect simple solution.

Onion and Potato Cutter

When you’re cooking for a crowd, cutting ten pounds of potatoes is sure to give you a hand cramp, and if you’ll been cutting onions, you’ll be crying all over yourself. To avoid this tragedy, check out this great onion and potato cutter! You simply push the food down through the stainless steel blade and it’s sliced! It is so simple, and with a container on the bottom to catch the sliced pieces, you won’t even need to dirty a cutting board.

Pineapple Slicer

One of the reasons we don’t eat as much fruit as we should often has to do with the difficulty of preparing it. Well, when it comes to pineapple, this great slicer removes all impediments, making it easy to enjoy this great tropical fruit all year! This great gadget peels, cores, and slices a fresh pineapple in less than one minute! Now you can make pineapple salsa, fruit salad, or even pineapple Hawaiian Sloppy Joes!

Items We Adore: LTD Product Picks For The Week

silhouette garden planterWe see clearer skies and warmer days ahead, so today’s picks are all about your garden! It’s time to start thinking about the best ways to get things blossoming this year, and LTD Commodities can help! Here are our weekly picks for items to spruce up your garden this spring!

Silhouette With Wagon Planter

Set the right tone in your garden with this perfectly adorable silhouette with wagon planter! You can choose from either a boy riding a tractor or a girl with a bonnet pulling the wagon. You simply attach the silhouette to the planter and it looks like he or she is pulling your planter! We love the cute nostalgic charm this planter brings to the garden, and think everyone should have one on his or her spring decorating list!

Solar Metal Garden Birds

Want to get a little tropical in the yard without resorting to plastic flamingos? How about these cute solar metal garden birds instead? You have the choice of a cool blue peacock or a warm coral flamingo, both with glowing orbs that run on solar power! The panels save up the sunlight during the day, and then the solar power is used to light the orbs at night. This is the perfect addition to gardens that do a lot of evening entertaining!

Boy & Girl on Bench Garden Statue

We just had Valentine’s Day, but how cute is this bench garden statue? Reminiscent of the old Precious Moments knick-knacks, this statue is a cute addition to any garden décor. This detailed statue is durable cold cast ceramic, so it will surely outlast every plant in your garden! Set it up near your flowerbeds for the perfect effect.

Hanging Animal Bird Feeders

Do you like the sound of birds chirping in your garden? Are you always trying to feed your feathered friends? Whether you’re a bonafide bird-watcher or not, these great hanging bird feeders are perfect for every bird lover. Coming in a number of different animal shapes, including a frog, fish, and ladybug, these great feeders add the perfect touch of fun to any garden design.

Pocket Hose Ultra

Now that we’ve got the garden décor items covered, it’s time to talk about function! We love this pocket hose, which is available in both 50-foot and 75-foot versions. This clever hose features and expanding accordion design, so it fits perfectly in small spaces, but expands when in use. Made from rubber, nylon, and plastic, it is stronger than traditional hoses, and never kinks or knots while you’re trying to use it! When the dry summer weather arrives, you’ll be so glad you ordered one of these!

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

Happy Valentine’s Day! The day of love is here, so how could we not focus on our favorite fun and romantic items today? We really hope that you aren’t scrambling for gifts and ideas this morning, because you should already have everything wrapped and ready for a big night ahead! Here are some of the great items we’re using today for a romantic evening, or gifting to our loved ones tonight.

owl always love you!Give a Hoot Sentiment Wall Art

We all know that owls are adorable, and these cute sentiment wall art pieces are a great gift for your significant other, your kids, or your fun-loving parents. We love these as gifts for ourselves too! Choose from “Owl Always Love You,” and “I Love You To The Moon and Back.”

Marla Rae Wedding Frames

This creative Love Frame is a great gift for the newlywed couple still trying to frame a few of their wedding pictures! It’s a really unique way to display any 8×10 photo at home. We really love this one as a gift for your sweetheart no matter how long you’ve been married. You can choose from the sign language LOVE or the hands making a heart for whichever fits your home best.

Kitchen Krumblers Apple Cinnamon Dessert Candles

What better way to set the mood than by turning off the overhead lights and lighting a few scented candles? We love the soft glow of the flickering candlelight and the amazing scents available with the Kitchen Krumblers Dessert Candles! Who needs to make cinnamon apple pie when you’ve got these amazing candles?

Simmering Fragrance Chips and Warmer

Not into the whole flickering candlelight thing? Many of us have young kids and pets wandering around the house, so an open flame just isn’t going to cut it! You can still have the beautiful scent of candles for a romantic evening without the actual flame with these simmering fragrance chips and warmer! You can even trick your loved ones into thinking you’ve baked oatmeal cookies with their Oatmeal Cookie scent!

LOVE Sheets Sets

Seasonal sheets are such a fun way to spruce up the bedroom, and we are digging these adorable LOVE sheets sets for young girls this February! Pair it with an ombre pink comforter, or even a white duvet to keep the pink a little more muted. Fun and funky!

Peace, Love, & Cupcakes Beauty Sets

We love these adorable Peace, Love, & Cupcakes sets of lip-glosses, shower gels, or body mists for the young girls in our lives. These beauty sets are our go-to gifts for nieces and daughters this Valentine’s Day, and we’ve even seen girls split them up to pair with a Valentine’s Day card for all their female friends. You can get a single pack, or grab the whole bunch!

If you see something here you love – you can always order it to give as a late gift, or pack it away for next year’s Valentine’s Day!

3 Ways to Battle the Cold Winter Air

It’s bad enough winter brings in super cold temperatures, but the cold wind can do a number on your skin. We’ve got a few tips up our sleeve to help you battle the cold air this winter.

lotion cream

1) Upgrade Your Face Masks & Lip Balm

Super windy conditions in places like Chicago cause a lot of cracked lips and dry faces. Rather than hoping your normal moisturizers and creams will protect you, supplement them with rejuvenating facemasks to replenish your skin’s moisture barrier. Look for those that contain healthy-skin ingredients like honey, rose hip oil, beeswax and purified bee venom, and Shea and cocoa butters.

Tip: Skip the face toner and harsh face wash and use a gentle cleanser instead.

When it comes to your lips, you might want to skip the lipstick altogether, because it has a tendency to dry out those beautiful puckers of yours. Instead, go for standard jellies like Vaseline and Carmex, or tinted and flavored balms that use essential oils. The oils will nourish and moisturize to avoid cracked lips, to leave them feeling firm and soft.

2) Rich Body Cream

Although you might not have many inches of arms and legs exposed while outdoors, the cold winter air can still do a number on your skin. Invest in a high-quality concentrated body cream with Shea butter, honey, oatmeal, almond butter and natural oils. The best way to get more moisture into your dry skin is to lather it up with natural balms and products, and let the lotion sit on your skin to soak in, so only rub it in about 80-90%. Many chemicals in beauty products have the opposite effect – they end up drying out your skin, or leaving a greasy film.

Tip: Skip the shower gel during winter if it contains alcohol, and opt for Maternity skin care brands with coconut milk and other creams.

If your hands and feet are really feeling the effects of the cold winter air, lather them up with either a gentle aloe lotion or an all-natural body cream, and then wear socks and gloves for 30-60 minutes or overnight to let the moisture really set in.

3) Bundle Up – Beauty Before Fashion

Sure, that awesomely warm pea coat looks fantastic, but is it protecting your skin from the cold? Look for winter jackets and snow-coat shells that are specifically meant to block the wind. We recommend layering an outer shell from a ski jacket over your fashionable coat to keep out the wind and protect your skin, then just remove the outer shell and tuck it away when you get to your destination.

Tip: Buy a size-too-big windbreaker or raincoat to wear over your winter coat to make sure the wind stays out. You might feel excessively bundled, but your skin will thank you!

When you bundle up to head out the door, make sure you remember to take care of your neck, chest, hands, and head! Scarves can really help protect the majority of your face if you walk to public transportation, or you can always go for the ninja look with a high-end facemask. Hats are a great (and fashionable) way to keep your hair and scalp from drying out completely in the wind.

Image Source: TheBestMakeUpProducts

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks For The Week

patriotic heartAnother week over, so we’re highlighting some of our favorite picks this week! It may be warming up in some places around the globe, but it’s the very beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics. We’ve decided to compile a list that combines patriotism, Olympic-watching parties, and a little inspiration to host your own family Olympics in the next few weeks.

Glass Spinner Stakes – Patriotic Heart

Get your patriotism off to a strong start with this fun red-white-and-blue glass spinner heart. With 230 Americans off to the Winter Olympics, this is the time to show your American pride, watch today’s opening ceremony, and do so by displaying our nation’s colors and flag!

Set of 4 Tumblers

Coming in four different colors, including red, white, and blue, this set of 4 tumblers is the perfect addition to any Winter Olympics celebration. Serve cocktails and kids’ drinks in these great insulated mugs to enjoy the games, no matter where you are!

Handled Casserole Dishes

Again, if you’re entertaining for this year’s Winter Games, make sure your tools are up to the task. We like this three-piece round casserole dish set for both cooking and serving. You can make warm Kale-Artichoke Dip in one, and serve cool pita chips and baby carrots in the other.  With three sizes, these multi-purpose dishes are ideal for serving up a storm! Stay warm together watching the Olympics and enjoy dips, soups, casseroles, and more!

Giddy Up Racing Horse Hoppers

There may not be any horse-related events in the Wither Olympics, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own backyard competition with these kids’ horse hoppers! If you want to make it similar to traditional Steeplechase, consider adding hula-hoops the kids have to hop into and cones they must hop around. Other easy ideas for backyard Olympics events include running races, egg toss, obstacle courses, and shortened variations of croquet or mini golf.

Sports Superstar Gold Cards

And finally, now that you’ve got your own Olympic Games in your home or living room, you need to have some sort of medal or prize, right? We think these collectible gold trading cards are perfect. Honoring sports icons like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, they certainly fit in with the sports theme! Use the same medal for each event, or get the whole set.