National Pie Day: Tips for Making a Perfect Pie

 

PieJanuary 23 is National Pie Day — and there really isn’t a better way to warm up the house while we’re stuck in the pits of winter than making a pie. If you’re new to pie-making, pies can be intimidating, but we put together a list of some of the most useful tips for making a perfect pie.

Make It From Scratch The grocery store has loads of pie crusts ready to fill and bake, but none of them compare with what you can make at home. Pie crust only requires four ingredients: flour, salt, fat (butter, shortening or lard); and you don’t have to do a lot of work to turn it into dough for your sweet treats.

PiePea Size Chunks For a flaky crust, when you’re working the flour and butter together — either with your hands or in a food processor — make sure the fat doesn’t break down too much. Making sure your fat is very cold helps with that. For a top crust, the fat chunks should be about the size of peas. The bottom crust should be a mealy dough and the size of the chunks don’t matter.

Wash Though it doesn’t make much impact on how the pie tastes, a wash is very important. It can be an egg wash (beaten with a splash of water), buttermilk or cream to brush on the crust just before baking. Egg wash makes the crust shiny and golden, and cream or milk washes give the pie crust more color and texture to make your pie look more appetizing than it would with no wash.  

Edging Your pie dough should be cold to hold its shape. When you’re rolling out the bottom crust, keep the top crust in the refrigerator until you’re ready to roll. Once the two crusts are sealed and fluted, put your pie in the freezer for at least 30 minutes (if you want to bake it later, you can leave it in the freezer until you’re ready to bake). When you’re ready to bake, cover the edges with foil. Leave it on there for the first 20 minutes of baking. The edge bakes first and without the foil, it will burn before the rest of the pie is ready.

PieCrispy Bottom Taking a bite of cherry pie with a soggy bottom is a bummer, but there are a few methods to make sure your fruit pie doesn’t have a soggy bottom.

  • Cold Filling Let your filling cool before pouring it into your crust.
  • Bread Crumbs Before you pour in your filling, sprinkle bread crumbs in the bottom to create an unintrusive barrier between the moisture in the filling and the pie dough.
  • Pizza Stone Bake your pie on top of a pizza stone. With the weight of the filling, the pizza stone helps the bottom bake at the same rate as the top of the crust.

At LTD Commodities, we want to help you make Pie Day and every day a little bit better! From baking accessories for your culinary ambitions to whimsical decor to make your home brighter for spring, shop LTD for products priced for fun.

Wishful Thinking: Product Picks for An Early Spring

It’s the middle of January and we can’t help but dream about spring! Though the first day of spring isn’t until March 20, we’re holding out hope that our favorite prognosticator will grant us warm weather before then. So, with wishful thinking, we put together a hopeful list of products. Here are this week’s Items We Adore: Product Picks for An Early Spring.

wood-terrariumWood Terrarium Planter makes a beautiful, protective home for herbs and flowers. Resembling a mini greenhouse, its charming weathered look will complement different decor styles. The plastic front and back panels protect the herbs and flowers from direct rain and other weather elements, while the sides are open to let them breathe. The latch hook in the front and the hinged back allow you to open and close it with ease. Herbs, 8-5/8″W x 4-3/8″D x 11-1/4″H. Hope, 10-1/4″W x 5-1/2″D x 13-3/4″H.ltd-ruffle-maxi-skirt

Women’s Knit Ruffle Maxi Skirt instantly dresses up your look. Tiers of ruffles cascade down the entire skirt. Exuding a boho vibe, it’s perfect for a walk on the beach or a day of shopping. Fold-over waist for an easy fit.  Length of the waistband is 5-3/4″ and 35″ from the bottom of the waistband to the bottom of the skirt. Polyester. Machine wash. Made in the USA.

ltd-spring-table-cloth

Add charming critters, fun patterns and vibrant colors to your home with the Welcome Spring Collection. Display appetizers, snacks and more on the Bunny Cake Plate (10-1/2″ dia. x 3-1/4″H). The Treat Jar (6-1/2″W x 10-1/4″D x 12-1/2″H) gives you quick access to a cookie or piece of candy. The Salt & Pepper Shakers (approx. 1-3/4″ x 2-1/2″ x 3-7/8″, each) are a practical addition to your dining area. Serveware and kitchenware, dolomite. All serveware and kitchenware, dishwasher safe. A Pastel Tablecloth adds beautiful colors for cheery table settings. Cotton. Machine care. Our exclusive 3-Pc. Easter Garland Set features 6 ft. of garland held on either side by 2 sand-weighted polyester bunnies (approx. 11-3/8″H, each). Add a pop of color to your walls the Bunny Ribbon Wreath (13-1/2″W x 24″L) with its wire frame that easily folds for storage. Polyester and metal. Ready to hang. All fabric items, imported.spring-quilt

The 3-Pc. Quilt & Sham Set adds a fresh layer of comfort to your bedroom. Each piece features elegant scalloped edges, a patchwork or floral print on one side and a coordinating pattern on the reverse side. King set includes king-sized shams. Full/Queen quilt, 86″ sq. King quilt, 102″W x 86″L. Polyester shell and fill. Machine care. Imported.frog-bird-feeder

Add some fun to your garden while also feeding your feathered friends with an Animal-Shaped Bird Feeder. It features a metallic finish that glistens in the sunlight and mesh sides that the birds can grip to get at the food. When a bird jiggles the feeder, it rings the bell that dangles beneath. Fill it with your own bird seed and hang it from a tree branch or shepherd’s hook using the attached hanger. Frog, 13″ x 10″ x 3″. Ladybug, 14″ x 7″ x 3″. Fish, 16″ x 13″ x 3″. Bird, 11-1/2″ x 8-1/2″ x 2-1/2″. Steel.

Penguin Awareness Day: Fun Facts About Penguins

PenguinsWhile we’re suffering through winter, birds are making their way south, and some are headed to the deep south — Antarctica! Yes, this time of year was designed for penguins. That’s probably why January 20 is designated Penguin Awareness Day — a day that matches their native environment. They’re funny little aquatic birds, so in honor penguins and their special day, here are 11 fun facts about penguins.  

  1. Penguins are not “arctic birds.” The Arctic Circle is at the North Pole, whereas most penguins live south of the equator.
  2. All penguin predators are water-based animals.
  3. Some penguins can stay under water without going up for air for 22 minutes! But those are the exceptions. Most penguins can go 4-5 minutes underwater without taking a breath.
  4. Penguins have a special gland to separate salt from seawater so they can drink it. The salt is expelled through their beaks.Penguins
  5. Penguins are not vegetarians. They make meals out of squid, krill and fish.
  6. Penguins mate in the spring and summer and, even though they have a rough migration, about 80% of the time, penguins return to the same mates year after year.
  7. Most birds have hollow bones to help them fly. Penguins do not have hollow bones; helps them swim fast.
  8. Those cute tuxedo-colored feathers penguins are known for are actually camouflage. When they’re in the water, the black on their backs make them difficult to see from above because they blend in with the dark water. Under water, they’re hard for predators to see because their white bellies match the bright light from the sun.  
  9. Typically, birds shed their feathers throughout the year to get rid of the old feather and grow new ones. But penguins are not typical birds. They have one “catastrophic molt.” That means they lose all of their feathers in one shot. While they regrow their feathers, they gain weight for insulation to stay warm.
  10. Penguin coats are dense with feathers. Emperor penguins have up to 100 feathers per square inch. with four layers to keep them warm.
  11. Baby penguins (chicks) can take three days to break through their shells. To put it in perspective, it takes chickens about a day.Penguins

Just like penguins, LTD Commodities can adapt to every season! Whether you need new blankets to keep you warm on a cold winter night or you’re looking for a breezy dress to fill out your spring wardrobe, shop LTD for unique products at discount prices.

Refresh for the New Year: Tips for Staying Organized

Color reminder note with pin on cork board big idea 2016.

Now that the holidays are over and we’re not focused on entertaining and buying gifts, we can turn our attention to starting off the year organized. It’s never easy to do, but with winter weather keeping us inside, we can tick off a few tasks before spring arrives. Here are 6 tips for staying organized for the new year.

Act Now Beating out the habit of procrastination can put you on the fast track to organizing every facet of your life. This means completing tasks as they arise like doing dishes as you dirty them, putting away laundry as you fold it and putting the cap back on the toothpaste when you’re done with it. These are small tasks that are easy to tackle on their own, but when we let them pile up, it takes a lot more time and energy to get them all completed. We have the power of efficiency at our fingertips, we just have to use it.

ltd-storageCompartmentalize Everything in your home and office needs a spot of its own. Whether it’s gloves in a basket or files in a cabinet, find a place for everything you see scattered about your living and working spaces. When you have a place for things, it takes them out of site to declutter your space and mind. Though these things may not make sound disruptive, they can create mental noise that leads to stress. By putting them in their place, not only will you be more organized, you’ll also be more calm.

Use Your Computer It seems like a no-brainer, but using your computer can probably save you more time and energy than you’re letting it. Accept the electric company’s offer for paperless billing so your house doesn’t get cluttered with useless paper (and you have one less thing to shred!), use a password manager to save you time creating new ones and trying to remember old ones (and they increase your security!) and use calendar alerts for all the tasks you’ve been keeping track of in your head.    

 Create Procedures Most, if not all, of us have bedtime routines like washing our faces or brushing our teeth — these types of good habits can be applied to other parts of our lives to make us more organized and productive, we just have to isolate the activity and come up with a policy that makes sense to complete it. It can be anything from putting your shoes in the basket at the door to washing dishes as you dirty them. Starting good habits is tough, but once they become habits, you’ll discover the work is worth it.  multi-tasking

Once You Start, Don’t Stop When you set out to complete a task, finish it before you start a new one. There are a couple reasons for this one: 1) having several unfinished tasks creates mental and physical clutter — when you complete one task you can put away everything it requires to complete 2) not only does multitasking make us less efficient, but it also damages our brains. When you have a lot on your plate, break up your tasks into digestible pieces and work out one piece at a time. 

Timing is Everything Audit your time both at work and at home. Figure out what periods you’re most productive and then do your most difficult and time-consuming tasks at those times. It saves you a lot of time and frustration in the long run and you’ll ultimately be more relaxed and organized.

LTD Commodities has products and ideas to make this year productive! From storage solutions to gadgets to get your home in order, shop LTD for great products at unbeatable prices.

Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Six More Weeks of Winter

We are officially in the pit of winter, but we’re just a few weeks from the day it’s decided if we’ll get an early spring or if winter will be extended. Here at LTD, we hope for the best but we also want you to be prepared for the worst. With that in mind, here are this week’s Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Six More Weeks of Winter.ltd-frozen-socks

Toasty Toes They’ll love this 12-Pair Girls’ or Boys’ Frozen Socks. The Girls’ set features Anna, Elsa and Olaf, while the Boys’ set has Olaf, Sven and Kristoff. Low-cut styling gives these socks a sporty look. S/M fits sock sizes 4-6 and shoe sizes 7-10. M/L fits sock sizes 6-8 and shoes sizes 10.5-4. Polyester and spandex. Machine care. Imported.

Giant-Educational-Activity-BooksCure for Cabin Fever This Giant Educational Activity Book helps kids prepare for school with fun activities. It helps build academic skills that are critical for school success. The book has 8 characters who engage your child through key learning disciplines. 16-1/2″W x 12-3/4″L. Softcover, 63 pages. Preschool, for ages 3 to 5. Kindergarten, for ages 4 to 6. 1st Grade, for ages 5 to 7.Embroidered-Sham

Homey Heat Update your bedroom with the feminine Embroidered Florence Quilt or Sham. These accents give your room a simple and refreshing touch. The quilt features traditional floral embroidery and keeps you warm on chilly nights. Full/Queen Quilt, 86″ sq. King Quilt, 100″W x 90″L. Sham, 26″W x 20″L. Polyester. Machine care. Imported.Soft-Plush-Cat-Cuddle-Bed

Creature Comfort The Soft Plush Cat Cuddle Bed provides luxurious comfort for your pet. This deep bed with raised sides keeps your beloved feline warm and cozy. Cushioned on the bottom and sides for extra softness, it invites your cat to curl up and rest. 18″ dia. x 11″H. Polyester and polyfill. Machine care. Imported.

popcorn-makerCold Night, Tasty Treats Recreate that cinema feel in your own home with this Microwave Popcorn Maker. Pop and serve popcorn in the silicone box to enjoy healthier popcorn without excess oil. Just pour 1/4 cup of kernels into the popper, put on the lid and microwave for 3-4 minutes. Pops approx. 4-6 cups. Great for flavored popcorn, too. 6-1/4″W x 6″D x 5-3/4″H. Dishwasher safe.

LTD Commodities has hundreds of products for every season! Whether you need throws for winter nights on the couch or you’re looking for breezy dresses for spring, shop LTD for great products at practical prices.

Refresh for the New Year: DIY Bubbles for Bubble Bath Day

The holidays are over and it’s time to treat ourselves after all the gifts, parties and family time. And with Bubble Bath Day coming up, we thought you could use a good bath to help you relax. Though there are bubbles you can buy, you can also make them yourself! Here are 5 ideas for DIY bubbles for Bubble Bath Day.

ltd-bubbling-bath-saltsPost-Workout Bubbles If you’ve been trying to keep up with your resolution to exercise more, your muscles could probably use a little TLC. Everything Pretty made bubbling bath salts with Epsom salts which are good for muscle recovery. She adds body wash and essential oil to make it fizzy and smell good for the kind of bath you need after a hard run.

ltd-doterraFragrant Foam The scent of a bubble bath is almost as important as the bubbles. Do Terra combines essential oils with natural soap to create gentle bubbles that help your body relax in the bubbles and ease your mind with the essential oils.

diy-bubble-bath-paintTub for Tots If you want to do a special bath for the kids, take the bubbles a step further and create bubble paints for the tub! Meet the Dubiens combines body wash with corn starch and food coloring to make bubbles your kids can paint the bathtub with or themselves with as they get clean.honey-bubbles

Bee Kind to Yourself Honey bubble bath is about the easiest way to treat yourself to a scented spa after a hard day. Live Laugh Rowe whipped up honey, baby oil, vanilla extract and shampoo to make a bubbles that are exactly what you need to make bath time more relaxing.ltd-idle-wife

Bubble Bombs For fantastic fizz, a bath bomb is your best bet for an effervescent bath. Idle Wife used ingredients from her pantry to make a gift for herself in the form of a bath bomb. Corn starch, cream of tartar and baking soda are a few of the ingredients for a carbonated cleansing at a fraction of the price of what you would spend at a bath shop.

LTD Commodities has everything you need to make January the vacation you need after the holidays! From ideas for homemade bubble bath to comfortable loungewear to enjoy a night in, shop LTD for great ideas and fantastic products.

Pinteresting Picks for December

It’s the first week back to work in the new year and it looks like our Pinterest followers are taking their resolutions seriously. They’re all about organization and saving time! Here are our Pinteresting Picks for December.

ltd-beer-lovers-decorDecorate your home bar or rec room with our Beer Lover Decor. Hang the Bottle Cap String Lights (8’L) for a festive salute to booze. Includes a 24″ lead wire and an end-to-end connector plug. Each of the 10 oversized, plastic caps is 3″ dia. UL-Listed. Pop off caps using the metal Wall Bottle Opener (4-3/8″W x 2-3/8″D x 13-1/2″H), shaped like a beer bottle. The included cap catcher swivels for easy emptying. Ready to hang. Showcase your brewed conquests with the metal Bottle Cap Holder (6-1/4″ dia. x 6″H), shaped like a beer mug.

ltd-vent-extenderSimply place a Vent Extender onto a blocked vent, and it will redirect the air to a more open area of the room. Use the included pieces of double-sided tape to hold the extender in place. Household vents frequently are blocked by furniture, which prevents the air from properly circulating. By moving the air more efficiently, the Vent Extender can help lower your energy bills, and you’ll spend less time adjusting the thermostat. Made of clear plastic, it extends from 20″ to 35-1/4″ long. Measures 11″ wide and is 1-1/2″ high.

ltd-dump-mealsLife is too busy to spend time slaving over the stove! Serve a home cooked meal without a lot of effort using the Crock-Pot® 5-Ingredient Dump Meals Cookbook.With over 100 recipes from trusted chef and bestselling author, Cathy Mitchell, this book will have you feeling good about the delicious, made-from-scratch meals you put on the table for your family. Includes full-color photos. 6″W x 9″H. Concealed spiral-bound hardcover, 144 pages.

ltd-laundryLighten the load on laundry day with a funny yet functional Laundry Room Wall Hanging. Each wooden sign features a visual accent that can also come in handy as you work. The Laundry sign (15-3/4″H x 7-7/8″W x 1-1/2″D) has 3 knobs to hang small articles of clothing as you fold or sort. Keep the Change (10″H x 8″W x 3-3/4″D) has a glass mason jar attached with a raffia tie that you can use to hold coins found in pockets, buttons that have come loose and other small objects left in the hamper. Lost Socks (15-7/8″H x 9″W x 1″D) has 3 clothespins to hold separated socks while you look for their mates. Each comes ready to hang.

ltd-inflatable-kiddie-bedsGive them a comfortable place to sleep while away from home with an Inflatable Kiddie Bed. It has a 2-piece recessed center design that provides a secure sleeping area. Simple to inflate using your own pump, making it ideal for sleepovers, camping and more. Includes a heavy-duty repair patch. Weight capacity of 110 lbs. 30″W x 52″D x 8″H. PVC. For ages 3 and up.

5 Favorite Favorite New Year’s Eve Movies

With New Year’s Eve just a couple days away, we’re all thinking about how we should change our ways to start the new year right! But some of us are better at watching others get a fresh start than actually making resolutions for ourselves. So along that vein, we put together our list of favorite New Year’s Eve movies to inspire you for a new beginning.

When Harry Met Sally The “You’re the one for me” speech Harry gives Sally on New Year’s Eve is a hard speech to forget. Being on the receiving end of “When you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” is the perfect way to start a new year — especially after 8 years of friendship. But it’s not just about New Year’s Eve; it is the perfect romantic comedy that no other rom-com can match — and one that even men like.

Trading Places Trading Places is an example of Eddie Murphy at his best as a hustler turned millionaire. It’s all part of a game two wealthy men play on another wealthy man played by Dan Aykroyd. The two wealthy men reconfigure Aykroyd’s life so that he doesn’t exist, and put Murphy in his place. New Year, New Life with a lot of laughs and twists in between.

Bridget Jones’s Diary Poor Bridget. She just can’t seem to get much right in life. She’s perpetually trying to improve herself, basically making New Year’s resolutions every day of the year. She lost her man, lost her job and tries to pick herself up again only to be pummeled by life one more time — but that one more time opened up doors to a brand new life, vastly different from the previous ones and full of things to celebrate.

Waiting to Exhale People and relationships are constantly renewing themselves — sometimes it’s pleasant and sometimes it’s down right ugly and Waiting to Exhale is a perfect example of that. It’s about four women that are in different places in their lives. But it’s all about change and improving ourselves whether we want to or not.

Ghostbusters II After their initial success, the Ghostbusters fall on pretty hard times and, basically abandon their ghost-exterminating business for other opportunities — including performing at children’s birthday parties. But, like we get a fresh start every January 1, the Ghostbusters get a second chance at saving their city from evildoers beyond the grave. It’s a silly movie about redemption, but Bill Murray is still funny 26 years later.

Happy New Year from LTD Commodities! Whether you go out to a party or stay home and watch movies to ring in the new year, we wish you well for the year to come.

4 Ideas for Repurposing Your Christmas Tree

Christmas-TreeIt’s not quite time to take down the holiday decorations — we need a little more time with the twinkling lights and the scent of evergreen bows before we give in to January’s chill. But when it’s time to dim the lights on the tree for the last time, we want to make sure we do what’s best for the Christmas tree, us and the environment. Here are 4 ideas for repurposing your Christmas tree.  

Native Restoration Trees are a natural habitat for all sorts of wildlife when they’re alive — and they can be a habitat even after they’ve been cut. Prop it up in your backyard for birds and squirrels to use temporarily. If you have a pond or a friend with a pond, you can create a semi-permanent habitat for fish. You have to anchor the tree and fully submerge it in the water, but it’s an excellent way to return your tree to nature.


Christmas-TreeChristmas Conversion  
Many communities support Christmas tree recycling. There are drop-off centers who will take your tree off your hands — some cities even have curbside pick-up. The trees will likely be chipped into mulch to cover hiking trails and park paths.

Signature Scents Christmas trees have a fabulous natural fragrance and it can fill your home well beyond Christmas. You can put the needles in sachet bags and scatter them around the house or simmer a few small branches in water with a cinnamon stick for potpourri. 

Green Gardening If you have a garden, remove the branches of your tree to created a natural cover for your vegetable and flower beds. The pine needles will help the ground stay moist. If you have narrow but sturdy branches, you can save these for the spring to make a trellis for a vertical garden or stakes for plants. Evergreen stakes work to give indoor plants support as as well.  

LTD Commodities has ideas and products to make every day of the year productive. Whether you need ideas for repurposing your Christmas Tree or you need products to make your home more organized, look to LTD for great ideas and awesome products.Christmas-Tree

Holiday Spirit: Curious Facts About Christmas

ltd-tree-pinkChristmas has evolved quite a bit over the centuries. Santa certainly didn’t deliver gifts at the first Christmas and candy canes weren’t a seasonal candy available in Bethlehem — these customs and traditions were picked up along the way and spread from culture to culture. Here are 5 curious facts about Christmas you didn’t know.

When in Rome Conventional wisdom suggests the Christmas tree tradition was started in Germany because of the seasonal song “O Tannenbaum,” but decorating evergreens for the winter holiday can be traced back to Ancient Rome. Ancient Romans dressed boughs of evergreen trees with fruits and nuts for their Saturnalia celebrations each winter. Early Christians may have adopted the evergreen tree as a symbol of rebirth and renewal to make the holiday feel more familiar to Roman converts to Christianity. The German tradition dates from the 1700s, but it didn’t catch on in England and America until the 1800s when Queen Victoria wrote about her happy memories of decorating trees as a princess.

nativity-ornament-setX Marks the Holiday Most people believe the “X” in Xmas is a way for advertisers to shorten the name of the holiday, but the nickname has a long history that has nothing to do with marketing and commerce. It’s a deeply religious symbol that got its start in monasteries. First commonly used in religious texts in the 1400s, the letter “X” signified the cross and was the first letter of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet. For monks who spent hours toiling over manuscripts, finding a way to write quickly and efficiently was vital. When they replaced Christ’s name with an X, they were using what linguists call a Christogram.

American Revolution Christmas was once illegal in Boston. Until 1681, celebrating Christmas in Puritan Boston would cost you a five-shilling fine. Eventually, civic leaders loosened up and allowed Christmas celebrations, but even then, early Americans weren’t big on the holiday; in fact, some Puritans considered it a holdover from Catholicism. It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1870, in part because the Puritans disapproved.

Little People Louisa May Alcott, the author famous for writing Little Women and Little Men, penned many short stories, novels and non-fiction articles, but a lesser known fact is that she’s responsible for giving Santa his elves. One of her short stories in 1856 mentioned Christmas elves, pointy-capped creatures who helped Santa Claus care for his reindeer and make gifts for good children. Although the story wasn’t published in her lifetime, she shared it with other writers, and a few years later, a story about Santa’s elves appeared in a copy of the magazine “Godey’s Lady’s Book,” one of the most influential publications of its time. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy are enduring characters, but Alcott’s most famous literary creations might be Santa’s little helpers.ltd-pet-hats

Merry Petmas! Most people who have pets consider them part of the family. About 64% of American pet owners buy their pets gifts — some even hang the requisite stocking over the fireplace. Extra treats, a squeaky toy or a pet bed, we want to bring holiday cheer to every member of the family, four-legged and otherwise.

Happy holidays from LTD! Whether you’re celebrating with extended family or you’re having a quiet holiday with your pup, we wish you well this season and for the year to come.