Deviled Egg Day: How to Make Basic Deviled Eggs

Deviled_EggsNovember 2nd is the day we set aside to honor the deviled egg — that delightful finger food we see during holiday parties and potlucks. According to history.com they’ve been gracing tables as far back as the first century and recipes for them have been appearing in cookbooks since the 13th centruy with a version claimed by just about every culture. People continue to try to reinvent the deviled egg, but if you’ve never made deviled eggs, you might want to start with a standard American recipe. Here is how to make basic deviled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • (Paprika for serving)

Deviled_EggsDirections:

Place your eggs in a sauce pan. Fill it with water until the eggs are just covered. Over high heat, bring the water to rolling boil. Turn off the and cover the pan. Let it sit for about nine minutes. Remove the eggs from the pan using a slotted spoon. Gently crack each egg and place them in a bowl of ice water. Let them sit until they’ve cooled completely — at least a half-hour. If you follow these directions, your yolks will be perfectly yellow (no green!) and the shells should peel off nicely without leaving any craters in the whites.

Deviled_EggsCut the eggs in half, lengthwise. Remove the yolks by popping them out of the white the way you would pop a piece of gum out of a blister pack. Place the yolks in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mash together and stir (vigorously) until it’s smooth. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Taste the yolks.  If it needs salt, add a pinch and mix well. If it’s too salty, you can adjust the flavor by adding a ¼ teaspoon of granulated sugar.

Deviled_EggsPlace the yolk mixture in a plastic bag. Squeeze out all the air, seal and snip the end with kitchen shears. You will use this to neatly put the yolks back into the egg. With your strong hand, squeeze the top and use your weak hand to guide the bag. Squeeze about 1 TB of yolk mixture into each egg half with a swirl motion. Sprinkle paprika on top. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve the eggs, but they should be consumed within 24 hours.

If you’re looking for an easy make-ahead appetizer for your holiday party or you need to bring something to serve for Thanksgiving, this is a no-fail recipe — it’s hard to mess up for even the worst cooks! Happy Deviled Egg Day!

Deviled_Eggs

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month: What to Think About When Adopting a Dog

dog

It’s Adopt a Shelter Dog Month — according to the ASPCA, almost 4 million dogs are taken in by shelters in the United States each year. Only about 1.4 million of those dogs are adopted. So many more need homes! And dogs are awesome companions. Here’s what to think about when adopting a dog:

Check with Your Landlord If you rent an apartment or house — before you start looking at any of those cute, furry faces — make sure pets are allowed in your building. Even if your landlord said pets were ok when you moved in, the policy may have changed. Shelters will call your landlord to check the pet policy. The shelter won’t let you take home that pup you have already fallen in love with if he’s not welcome in your building.

dog1Consider Monetary Costs Dogs can be expensive. Not including special costs like grooming, the first year of owning a dog can cost about $2,000. The costs go down after the first year, but there are still expenses. There are also other unexpected costs like an illness or injury and things we don’t think about like teeth cleaning. Make sure you can afford a dog before you take one home.

Consider Time Commitment Dogs need a lot of attention — not just affection. They need to be walked and have outdoor playtime. When you leave for work in the morning, you have to figure out how the dog will get walked or how he’s going to be cared for when you want to go out of town.

Consider Your Family Whether it’s a child, wife or roommate, everyone needs to be dog-friendly. This doesn’t just mean being nice to dogs, but consider allergies and ages of everyone in your home. If your husband is mildly allergic to dogs and you bring in a new pet and your husband’s allergies are aggravated by the new dog, you don’t want to be in a position in which you have to return the dog to the shelter.

If you’re not tripped up by any of the above considerations, here’s what you’ll need when you go to adopt a loving dog in need of a new home:dog3

  • A legal form of identification (license or state ID) proving you are at least 18 years old
  • All family members including any other pets and children to introduce to your new dog
  • To be able to take the animal home on the day of the adoption
  • An hour to talk to an adoption counselor to talk about what it means to give a dog a forever home

If you’re on the fence about inviting a dog home, consider the benefits of having a dog — they most definitely outweigh the costs.

Thanksgiving Decor: Simple Ideas to Decorate for Thanksgiving Without Effort

Polka-Dot-PumpkinWith all the things you have on your Thanksgiving plate, the last thing on your mind is the Thanksgiving decor. However, while you might be trying to avoid Thanksgiving disasters, you don’t want your house to be unadorned when your guests arrive. Here are some simple ideas to decorate for Thanksgiving without effort.

Outside You don’t have to worry about outdoor holiday lights just yet, but giving your outdoor space Thanksgiving and fall accents liven up your home and help welcome guests as they arrive for dinner.

  • Daytime Line your steps with pumpkins — big or small, carved or whole, real or artificial — they give your porch a fall flair. With a leaf wreath, stacks of hay, mums, and strategically places leaves, they make a stunning, end of year display. leaf-wreath
  • After Dark Make your walkway inviting and safe for friends and family with solar garden stakes. Decorative or plain white lights, they illuminate the path to your door with charm. With a yard and porch armed with fall’s bounty guests will be prepared for a festive gathering inside.

Inside When guests enter, you want the fall feel to continue. You don’t have to dress up the entryway for a grand entrance to make it a warm welcome —  a few simple tweaks to your everyday decor can give it an autumnal aura.

  • Living Room Guests don’t sit down at the dinner table as soon as they walk in, but they will want to sit and relax before the food is served. Adding a few fall colors to the living room helps guests unwind before filling up on turkey. Swap out your regular throw pillows for pillows in soft browns or fall designs. On end tables, add warmth with scented candles or vases with fall floral arrangements. For empty or white spaces, add fall leaves — leaf wreaths aren’t just for the front door, they can dress up any wall space. If you’re feeling crafty, you can create a wreath made with felt leaves. pillar-candle
  • Dining Room Decorations for the dining room don’t have to be too elaborate since the focus is on the food, but you still want to add some fall accents. Lovely LED candles give a table and buffet a warm glow without the risks and messy wax of real candles. Line the mantle or top the curio cabinet with simple fall leaf arrangements — now is the time to collect the beautiful yellow, orange and red leaves for extra embellishments! For ideas and tips on how to build great Thanksgiving table decor, check out our article on creating a Thanksgiving Tablescape.

Whether you’re dressing up your dining room for Thanksgiving or you need ideas for Christmas decorations, LTD Commodities has a wide variety of decor to give your home the warm holiday welcome as you usher in winter.

4 Breast Cancer Blogs You Should Read

Breast cancer touches the lives of millions of people each year. In 2014, the tally for deaths related to breast cancer is expected to be 40,000 in the United States alone. The good news is, there are survivors and thrivers. They share their experience with the disease, strength during treatment and hope to find a cure. Some of those women touched by breast cancer are spreading awareness by writing about their experiences in blogs. Here are 4 breast cancer blogs you should read.

Kim-Beckinglookingforwardlivinglife.com Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. She’s now cancer-free and writes about life after cancer and life is still challenging. She’s certainly been knocked down, but not even cancer could keep her from getting back up again. Cancer is only part of her story and anyone can walk away from her writing with a little more wisdom.

 

small-boobs-big-smilessmallboobsbigsmiles.com Jackie is incredibly inspiring. She was diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year ago, sharing her experience with treatment and the ups and downs along the way. Her blog is a bright light in the dark tunnel of cancer — whether she’s talking about her father’s pick-me-up notes she carries with her every day or how her toenail fell off because of cancer treatment, there’s sunshine beneath every word she writes.

kate-has-cancerkatebreastcancer.blogspot.com Kate has been documenting her life with cancer since 2012. She sugarcoats nothing and her writing is real and raw and leads you into the harsh reality of living with cancer — pills, shots, asthma inhalers — being a mother, a daughter, a partner while going through treatment and still gathering the energy to walk to raise money for breast cancer research. The purpose of her blog is not to raise awareness of breast cancer, but she’s being of service by sharing her experience, strength and hope.

funky-genesfunkygenes.org The odds were against Rachel, but she took action to beat those odds. She tested positive for the BRCA2 gene which, to sum it up, almost guarantees a cancer diagnosis. For years she ignored the idea of having a double mastectomy, but earlier this year, she went through with it and documented every step (with some help from her husband). She had an opportunity to avoid cancer and now she’s giving you the opportunity to read about that experience.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and these women took “awareness” to a whole new level and pushed it into action. While awareness is a great idea in theory, it’s action that makes a difference. Let them be an example of Breast Cancer Action.

 

6 Things to Do to Winterize Your Home

483590383We’re starting to feel the chill of fall and it’s only going to get colder. It’s just a matter of time before it’s time to turn on the heat and pull out the wool sweaters and layer discount bedding to keep warm at night. But our homes need to transition, too. Here are 6 things you need to do to winterize your home to save energy and money.

Insulation It’s easy to forget how much money we can save in heating costs with insulation. You may already have insulation in your walls and attic, but you may be able to add more to reduce energy consumption.  Energy.gov has a guide on where your house should be insulated to minimize energy use. If you want to take an extra step toward lower heating bills, you can also use a thermal insulation blanket for your water heater to trap heat and prevent it from escaping too quickly during winter months.

Roof Do a spot check of the rooftop. Check for wear and damage and if there are any missing shingles. Around the chimney, make sure the flashing is intact and that it’s not a source for drafts or leaks.

Clean out gutters and downspouts so they’re free of leaves and debris; with clean gutters, rain and melting snow won’t get trapped on your roof and cause water damage. The downspouts should drain at least five feet from your home’s foundation to prevent water from leaking into your house.

winter-curtainsDoors and Windows Caulking and weather stripping your windows can cut down on energy costs significantly. Alternatively, indoor window insulating kits work very well for the winter to keep cold air out of your home. They require a lot less work than caulking and weather stripping, but plastic may not suit your home décor. Consider heavy drapes or curtains to mask the plastic for the winter months. Plastic insulation doesn’t work for exterior doors; weather stripping at the sides and bottoms of doors is your best bet.

Heating System Before it gets cold, turn on your heat to make sure it’s working properly. If it doesn’t kick on, you can try to figure out what the problem is on your own with a little bit of troubleshooting, but if you’re not confident with your home improvement skills, call a service technician to check it out before it gets cold and he gets busy. If it is working properly, make sure to change your air filter once a month and clean the heating vents.

Plumbing In cold weather climates, frozen pipes are a serious problem. When pipes freeze, they sometimes burst, causing costly damage. It’s not as much of a problem in the middle of the house where it’s generally warm in the winter, but in colder parts of your home like the basement and crawlspaces, insulate your pipes with foam insulation. For exterior pipes and faucets, drain the pipes and shut off the water supply. Automatic sprinkler systems require a professional to drain the underground pipes.

When you travel for the holidays and you turn off your heat, remember to also turn off your water. This might save you from coming home to expensive repairs.

fireplaceChimney and Fireplace Chimneys attract critters during the summer months; make sure squirrels and pigeons haven’t made a home there and it’s clear of any other obstructions. Make sure the flue opens and closes properly. When both of those things are done, make sure your chimney draws out smoke. You can do this by burning a few newspapers to create smoke. If your living room fills with smoke, there’s likely creosote buildup and you’ll need to bring in a professional chimney sweep to clean it out.

Winterizing is a big project. You can save time by having an energy audit done on your home. Though it costs a little bit extra, having a certified professional come in and figure all the leaks and areas you missed may save you a lot of money on energy costs in the long run.

LTD Commodities has everything you need to make your home cute and cozy this winter. From baby toys to quilts to keep you warm, shop LTD Commodities for the best products at the lowest prices.

National Cookie Month: 5 Indulgent Cookie Recipes

October is National Cookie Month and we could not be celebrating something more fun and delicious. We’re all familiar with chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies — but there are so many cookies that go above and beyond the standard. Here are 5 of our favorite, deliciously indulgent cookie recipes.

smores-cookiesS’Mores Stuffed Cookies S’Mores + Cookies = True Love. It’s the campfire treat without the campfire! But with gooey, chocolate yumminess, draped in marshmallow, wrapped in graham cracker goodness you can make at home, why would you ever go camping? This recipe comes from cookienameddesire.com and it couldn’t be more indulgent.

rolo-cookiesRolo Cookies Lollyjane.com brings us delight and deliciousness in the form of a Rolo wrapped in a cookie. This Rolo Cookies recipe is so easy, it might make you a little resentful you were introduced to it because you’ll make it again and again for any and every occasion – and still show up empty-handed.

cookies-n-creamCookies & Cream Cookies Cookie made from a cookie? Sounds impossible, but butterwithasideofbread.com takes the idea of indulgent and runs with it (just as the blog title suggests) with the Cookies & Cream Cookies. We put Oreos in everything else, why not return it to its original purpose and make a glorious cookie from an already spectacular cookie? We say “Why not?”

turtle-cookiesInsanely Delicious Turtle Cookies These cookies are appropriately titled Insanely Delicious Turtle Cookies by thekitchenismyplayground.com. She gives you the play-by-play on how to make cookies that will bring you to your knees. With chocolate, caramel and pecans, you will never want to get back up again after you make these!

tagalongsTagalongs The list just wouldn’t be complete without a Girl Scout copycat recipe! Girl Scout cookies only come around once a year, so we have to make them ourselves in the off months! Betsy from betsylife.com makes almost all of them, but our favorite is the copycat Tagalong – cookie topped with peanut butter and dipped in chocolate? Yes, please! And more, please!

Now that you have your recipes, it’s time to get baking and perfect your cookies before the holidays roll around! Enjoy National Cookie Month!

Holiday Gifts You Can’t Forget About

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

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

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

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

A homemade pumpkin spice latte is straightforward:

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

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

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

 

9 Things to Enjoy Now that it’s Fall

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

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

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

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

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

fall leaves

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

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

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

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

fall leaves

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

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

4 Fun Ways To Decorate A Locker

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

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

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

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

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

 

locker

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

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