Five-Minute Fudge for the Big Game

five-minute-fudgeFood, fun and football! We’re getting ready for football’s biggest game! It’s our favorite reason for a mid-winter celebration. For our Big Game party, people come for the football and stay for the food. Because there will be a lot of people to feed we want what we serve to be delicious and easy to put together. While wings and nachos are must-haves at Big Game parties, you need a little something sweet to break up all the salty snacks. We thought most of your entertaining energy should go to dips and spreads, so we’re sharing our easiest sweet treat to satisfy sugar cravings during the Big Game: Five-Minute Fudge! Here’s how you make it:

five-minute-fudge

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

 

Line an 8×8 casserole dish or cake pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.

Top it with the condensed milk.

five-minute-fudgePut the bowl in the microwave on high for one minute. Stir the chocolate and condensed milk until it’s well-combined.

If the chocolate isn’t completely melted, put it in the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir until it’s smooth.

Stir in the vanilla followed by the nuts. Spread the fudge into the aluminum foil-lined dish.

Place in the freezer for an hour or until it’s hard. Remove the foil with the fudge from the pan.

On a cutting board, flip the fudge over so the foil is on top.

Remove the foil.

five-minute-fudgeCut the fudge into one-inch squares. Serve at room temperature. Makes 49 one-inch pieces of fudge.

This fudge takes so little time to make, you’ll be able to concentrate on cheering for your team. In fact, this fudge is so easy to make, it’ll be your new favorite go to treat for parties even after the Big Game!

We have more ideas on what to do for your Big Game party — check out our Pinterest board for inspiration to make your Big Game party awesome!

five-minute-fudge

National Cuddle Up Day: Items for Cuddling Up

It’s January and that means we need to get warm any way we can! But the best way to get warm in the winter is to cuddle up with a loved one — and January 6 happens to be National Cuddle Up Day — in case someone needed a reminder! But even if we have someone special to cuddle up with, we still we need to be draped in all things cozy before we can cuddle! Here are five items for cuddling up we think you could use.

sock-monkey-pjGet silly and snug in the Women’s Sock Monkey Loungewear! You remember the stuffed monkeys from when you were a kid, and this outfit lets you pull a piece of the past to the present for you on Cuddle Up Day! The top is a hoodie with a sock monkey face, complete with pompom hat.. The pants have footies with sock monkey faces to keep your toes warm while you’re cuddling up to watch a movie. Comfy, cuddly and childlike, Sock Monkey Loungewear is just what you need in January!

fleece-sheetsWarm and fuzzy, these Fleece Sheet Sets make the end of a cold day pleasant and they’re perfect for cuddling in! They provide ultimate comfort to keep you cozy for the best night’s sleep possible. The exceptionally soft fleece fabric will keep you and your cuddler so warm all night you won’t want get out of bed in the morning!

flannel-pjCuddle up with your kids in these Matching PJs and Plush Sets! While you’re cuddling them, they’ll be cuddling their adorable stuffed animals in matching PJs! Even when you’re not there, your little ones will stay snug as a bug in a rug with this set.

Comfy-ThrowMake cuddle time fun with this comfy throw! Cuddle with the King, Batman, Superman or even Harry Potter! These throws are somewhere between a blanket and a robe made with soft fleece so you and your cuddlebug can move freely and still stay cozy.

open-front-sweaterIf you’re not ready to cuddle up, you can still stay cozy in the chunky knit of the Women’s Long Open Front Sweater. This snug cardigan works and looks best in layers over T-shirts and blouses with the shawl collar and ribbed trim. You’ll look stylish and be warm at work or when you’re out and about. At home on the couch in lounge pants, it’s the perfect accessory for cuddling up.

We only have a few months left of winter — after that, we won’t have an excuse to get cuddly! Cuddle Up with your loved ones now! You’ll need the extra warmth to get through January.

18 Fascinating Facts About Football’s Biggest Game

bears-ballWe have about a month until the Big Game! This will be the 49th Big Game — in those 49 years, an interesting history has built up around it. Here are 18 fascinating facts about football’s biggest game.

  1. In the first Big Game played in 1967, the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. It was broadcast by both NBC and CBS (only one network gets the honor today), but the broadcast was not recorded (sports were not preserved by the networks and VCRs didn’t become popular until the 1980s) and considered to be a lost treasure. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2005 a man came forward with video of the game that his father had recorded for a TV station. He donated it to the Paley Center for Media to be restored.
  2. Big Game I tickets were sold for up to $12 in 1967 — with plenty of empty stadium seats on a sunny day in Southern California. In 2014, people paid between $1,640 and $449,000 to watch the game outside despite the threat of snow and freezing temperatures in New Jersey.
  3. How times and commercials have changed: in 1967 it cost about $40,000 for 30 seconds of airtime during the Big Gamel broadcast. In 2014, 30 seconds was priced at $4.5 million — and advertisers don’t lose sleep over the cost. packers-pants
  4. The NFL loves to treat its players: the winning team receives up to 150 Big Game rings that cost $5,000 each. The losing team also gets rings, but they cost half as much as the winning team rings.
  5. In addition to rings, the winning team receives the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy (named for the Packers coach who led the winning team for the first two Big Game titles). The Trophy costs about $12,500. It’s made by Tiffany and takes 72 man hours to produce.
  6. In Big Game V, though the Dallas Cowboys lost, their linebacker Chuck Howley was named MVP — the only Super Bowl MVP named from a losing team.
  7. The team with the most Big Game MVPs is the Dallas Cowboys with seven.
  8. During the post-Big Game XXVIII celebrations, the helmet of MVP Dallas Cowboy Emmitt Smith was stolen. Teammates and officials looked for it high and low for two weeks until someone came forward and returned it… anonymously.
  9. The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers have made it to the Big Game more frequently than any other teams — each have made eight appearances.Football-steeler-flag
  10. Pittsburgh holds the most championship titles with six.
  11. Denver, Minnesota and Buffalo tie for the most games lost with four each.
  12. John Elway of the Denver Broncos was the oldest quarterback to win a Big Game at age 38.
  13. Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers was the youngest quarterback to win a Big Game at age 23.
  14. Only four NFL teams have never been to a Big Game: Cleveland, Jacksonville, Detroit, and Houston.
  15. No Big Game has ever gone into overtime.
  16. Dallas hosted the Big Game for the first time in 2011. To accommodate football fans, temporary seats were installed — but not adequately. Some of the seats were unusable and left more than 1200 ticket holders without seats. 800 people were given seats in other parts of the stadium and 400 others weren’t so lucky. The NFL promised refunds three times the face value of the tickets for those who were inconvenienced.
  17. In 2005, Animal Planet unveiled Puppy Bowl to compete with the Big Game for viewers. It’s a 12-hour marathon of puppies playing and being cute. In 2014, Puppy Bowl won over about 13.5 million viewers while the Big Game had about 111 million viewers.
  18. Even with the brutal winter of 2014, Big Game XLVIII, held in East Rutherford, NJ, was not the coldest Super Bowl ever played. The temperature for the 2014 game was 49℉ but at Big Game V in New Orleans, 39℉ was the temperature recorded at game time.

You still have plenty of time to get pumped for your team to make history! But remember it’s not just football that makes the game memorable — just celebrating in the middle of winter can earn a spot on a list of fascinating facts about the Big Game.

Best Places to Celebrate New Year’s Eve

NYEIt’s that time — time to say goodbye to 2014 and start fresh for 2015. As rituals go, millions of people blow horns, wear crazy hats and throw sparkling confetti and turn to Times Square as the ball drops at midnight. But there are plenty of places to be to make your New Year’s Eve memorable. Here are 7 of the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve that are not Times Square.

Las Vegas If you need glitter and glamour without the freezing temperatures, take a quick trip to Las Vegas! On New Year’s Eve the Strip is shut down to traffic for a block party to rival Times Square. 300,000 people turn out every year to see live bands and a spectacular fireworks display you can only see in the desert. If you do make it to Vegas for New Year’s Eve, you may get a rare glimpse of snow in Sin City — there may be a few snow showers this week.

Los Angeles Los Angeles is home to celebrity A-listers which means exclusive and expensive New Year’s Eve celebrations. But there’s an option for people like us — New Year’s Eve at Grand Park. The event is free to the public with streets shut-down around the park so revelers can walk around to enjoy live music, art and plenty of food.

champagneNew Orleans If you can’t make it to Mardi Gras, New Year’s Eve is the next best way to experience the Big Easy. The city puts on a rowdy party you can only find in New Orleans. In the heart of the French Quarter, instead of a ball, they drop a fleur de lis to countdown to 2015 with a 15-minute fireworks display over the Mississippi River. The party doesn’t stop at midnight — Bourbon Street bars are packed well into the new year.

Disney World For family-friendly festivities, Disney World puts on a great party for all ages. The park stays open until 1:00 am so families can take in all the performances and live entertainment starting with a Main Street Electrical Parade at 6:30.  There’s a sparkling fireworks display at midnight and hot chocolate and cookies are served until 1:30 am.

NYEAustin They do family-friendly New Year’s Eve in Texas if you can’t make it to Disney World. Austin’s New Year (ANY) is a way to ring in 2015 with art and culture. The event is interactive, but there is plenty of music and film for breaks between  making art and walking through glow-in-the-dark mazes. The festivities conclude with a fireworks display at 10pm. If you need to get wild, Sixth Street has enough bars with live music to keep revelers entertained until midnight.

Savannah Cute, coastal and friendly, Savannah hosts a street party to ring in the new year for everyone to enjoy. It’s free to the public with live music and a fireworks display. If street parties don’t appeal to you, there are riverboat cruises and dinner theater to entertain you in the remaining hours of 2014. If that’s still not exciting enough for you, you can do the annual Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day and jump into cold ocean water to start off your 2015.

Miami Miami boasts of putting on the biggest New Year’s Eve party south of Times Square — as it should. With the temperatures hovering around 75℉, it’s hard not to enjoy January 1st. Miami is known for its nightlife, so they do no less than dazzling for New Year’s Eve. Dancing downtown starts at 8pm and they kick it up a notch with a fireworks over Biscayne Bay at midnight.

Pinteresting Picks for December

Winter’s cold winds make it a perfect time to snuggle up inside or work on improving your indoors. Our Pinterest followers clearly had comfort on their minds in December. They dreamed of plush boot slippers to keep their toes toasty, as well as pillows and throws with mouth-watering novelty designs. In addition, they looked at inexpensive home updates to make their space work better than ever. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for December.

Make your bedroom or living space look crisp and delicious with a Bacon & Eggs Novelty Throw and Pillow.

Make your bedroom or living space look crisp and delicious with a Bacon & Eggs Novelty Throw and Pillow.

Knit Zigzag Print Boot Slippers take cozy to another level.

Knit Zigzag Print Boot Slippers take cozy to another level.

 

Prevent spills and dust collection in hard-to-reach places with a Set of 2 Silicone Counter Gap Covers.

Prevent spills and dust collection in hard-to-reach places with a Set of 2 Silicone Counter Gap Covers.

Protect your phone as it charges with this Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station.

Protect your phone as it charges with this Deluxe Smartphone Charging Station.

 

Ideas to Get into the Holiday Spirit When You Don’t Want to

523706659From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, we move at full-speed to get everything done. It can be exhausting and suck all of the holiday spirit out of us. But no one wants to be a Scrooge, so here are a few ideas to get into the holiday spirit when you don’t want to.

Treat Yourself The holidays put pressure on us to buy perfect gifts for our friends and families.  It’s draining to come up with a good idea, buy it and wrap it. What is easy is finding something you love for yourself. It’s the only gift that’s guaranteed to please the giver and the receiver. Don’t be afraid to get yourself something special.

Traditional Tunes Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? While you might not be in the mood for the holidays this year, putting on a few Christmas tunes may remind you of your favorite holidays from the past. Music is powerfully linked to our memories. Even if you’re not feeling jolly this year, reminiscing about holidays of yore may bring you good cheer.

ElfMagical Movies Whether it’s a true holiday classic like Jimmy Stewart’s It’s a Wonderful Life or a new classic like Will Ferrell’s Elf, a good holiday movie can take you to a joyful place. There are holiday lessons to be learned and spirits to be lifted — a good holiday movie might just be what Santa ordered.

Blissful Beverage Whether it’s spiced pumpkin latte, or you want your hot, spiced adult beverage to warm your spirit, the scent and flavors of nutmeg and cloves are powerful enough to bring you to a holiday state of mind.

This Little Light Turn out the harsh overhead lighting and the bright lamps and substitute them with the warm holiday glow of candles. It’s so dark this time of year and having the flicker of holiday scented candles can calm your nerves that are frayed from holiday shopping and bring a moment of joy in the midst of Christmas chaos.

Christmas-TreeDeck the Halls Adding a little bit of sparkle to your decor isn’t something you can do in June. Putting up tinsel and garland may raise your spirits, and inject some jolly into your mood.

Wrap Gifts The gifts are all purchased, the last step is to get them wrapped. It’s a chore, but while you add colorful paper and curly ribbon to your impossibly cute gifts, think of all the joy each present will bring to each of your family members you got gifts for. Giving is always better than receiving when you know you got the right presents.

Christmas and Hanukkah only come around once a year — it’s a time everyone should be feeling joyful. Doing a few cheerful activities may adjust your mood and make everything a little more cheery! Happy holidays!

Last Minute Holiday Checklist

Holiday-ChecklistOnly a few days left until Christmas! Are you ready? Here’s a quick, last minute holiday checklist to help you out.

Eats and Treats 

  • Make your grocery list no later than December 21. Include items for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner. Remember the grocery store is going to be packed between now and Christmas morning, so include staples like milk, fruit, bread, and anything your family needs to eat daily.
  • Go grocery shopping no later than December 22. This will give you some room for errors — you’ll still have a day or so to get anything you forgot to put on your list.
  • Start dinner prep on December 23. Christmas Eve will be hectic enough without having to think about every detail of Christmas dinner. Cutting up vegetables and peeling potatoes ahead of time will save you from stress on Christmas day.
  • Bake your desserts on Christmas Eve. You won’t have oven space on Christmas Day to do all the cooking and baking.

send-a-giftGifts and Stockings

  • Wrap the gifts for your family no later than December 21. Pull everything out of hiding and cloak your presents in glitter and ribbons to dazzle your kids before their favorite day. Remember to be clever enough with the wrapping that they can’t sneak a peek at what you bought.
  • Test stuffing. Make sure you have enough goodies to fill out the stockings by December 22. If you don’t have enough trinkets to make the stockings swell like Santa’s belly, you’ll have time to buy a few more souvenirs.

Cozy-Cuddler-Lighted-PillowKids 

  • Keep the kids busy. Plan a few crafts for the little ones — they’ll need activities while school is out and you won’t have time to entertain them. If your kids are old enough, involve them in the holiday preparation.

Cleanup 

  • If you haven’t done a thorough house-cleaning yet, it’s too late, but it’s not the end of the world. A quick wipe-down of the bathrooms, vacuuming and dusting should be easy enough to complete alongside your other tasks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to ask for help.

You may not be ready yet, but you will be! Just remember to prioritize and check tasks off your list as you go. Happy holidays!

Chocolate Covered Anything Day: Unusual Things Covered in Chocolate

ChocolateDecember 16 is Chocolate Covered Anything Day! Just about anything is better when it’s dipped in chocolate, but there are some chocolate lovers out there that take it to the extreme. Here are some of the more unusual things covered in chocolate you might find on world travels or right here at home.

Bugs Some people love a little texture to go with chocolate, but while we add texture with almonds or peanuts, in Thailand, some may opt for the crunch of a cricket with their chocolate. In general, bugs are a common snack in Thailand and you can find all sorts of chocolate-dipped insects — scorpions, super worms, grasshoppers — if it’s creepy and it’s crawly, it can probably be covered in chocolate.

chocolate-covered-potato-chips

Image Source: Scanna283 via Flicker

Spuds We love potatoes in all forms — crunchy chips, hot fries, boiled and mashed. There’s no shortage of delicious ways to eat potatoes, but someone out there decided to gild our potato lily by dousing it in chocolate.  The salty and sweet snack of chocolate covered potato chips made it to market last year for a limited run. In case you didn’t get your hands on any, you can mix your chocolate and potatoes at home — The Food Network has a recipe for Chocolate Covered Potato Eggs you can try.

chocolate-covered-bacon

Image Source: John via Flickr

Pork Two great tastes that taste great together: pork and chocolate! At Coor’s Field in Denver, the concessions stands serve chocolate covered bacon to go with your beer and ball game — a fan favorite. But you don’t have to go all the way to Mile High City to get your pork and chocolate fix; you can make your very own chocolate covered pork rinds to tide you over until you get a Rockies ticket.

chocolate-covered-squid

Image Source: Ryan McBride via Flickr

Seafood A lot of Americans are landlocked, so we may not be as adventurous with our seafood as some of our island friends who get pretty creative with their seafood snacks. In Japan you can find such delicacies as squid dipped in chocolate. Or, if you find yourself in South Korea, rather than getting your salty-sweet craving satisfied from chocolate covered potato chips, you might select something with a taste of the ocean like chocolate covered seaweed.

chocolate-covered-pretzelsVeggies Midwesterners love their state fairs and it’s become a favorite place for culinary adventures like the deep-fried Twinkie or Mars Bar. But in Minnesota, they see your fried food and raise you chocolate covered: fried pickles dipped in chocolate. In Wisconsin, where they’re known for the cheese, they fry cheese bites breaded with Cocoa Puffs served with a side of chocolate. Head east and you don’t have to wait for the state fair to try something exotic with your chocolate — in Philadelphia, you can sample the chocolate covered onion year-round.

You don’t have to dip any weird food in chocolate to celebrate Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Chocolate covered pretzels or even peanut cups keeps you in the spirit of the day.

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

Keeping warm in winter’s chill is on everybody’s mind, and LTD Commodities is full of things to keep you cozy or get you up and moving. Curl up in fleecy tights, or bundle up and head outdoors to play games and explore the season’s wonders. Here are our Items We Adore: LTD’s Product Picks for the Week.

Step out in style with a pair of Women's Faux-Fur Lined Wedge Boots.

Step out in style with a pair of Women’s Faux-Fur Lined Wedge Boots.

 

Our 3-Pair Assorted Fleece-Lined Tights are comfortable and fashionable.

Our 3-Pair Assorted Fleece-Lined Tights are comfortable and fashionable.

 

This 6-Pair Kids' Glove Set features vibrant designs your children are sure to love.

This 6-Pair Kids’ Glove Set features vibrant designs your children are sure to love.

Your kids will love this dual player Discovery Kids™ Spaceship Laser Tag shooting game!

Your kids will love this dual player Discovery Kids™ Spaceship Laser Tag shooting game!

 

7 Tips to Get Through the Holidays without Overeating

holiday-foodWe’re full of cheer from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day, but with all the parties and holiday dinners, we’re also full of food. From the office party to a friend’s cocktail party, it’s hard not to overindulge on rich desserts and caloric hors d’oeuvres and, by January, we’ve overextended our bellies. We don’t have to eat everything during the holidays — here are 7 tips to get through the holidays without overeating.

Create a Game Plan Plan your meals around your parties according to your party. If you’re the type of person who eats even if you’re full, eat smaller meals that will keep your metabolism going and eat at the party. If you don’t eat a lot when you’re full, try eating a filling healthy meal before you go to the party so you don’t feel a need to eat heavy foods.

Take it Slow When you get your party plate, pause between every action. Take a bite, chew it and pause. Drink a glass of water and pause before you start eating something new. Before you fill your plate again, pause. This will keep your brain and your stomach at the same pace. You’ll notice that you’re full before you eat everything at the party.

holiday-foodBe Picky When you get to the party, don’t eat just anything that’s on the buffet table. Pick out only the things you really want to try and skip all the things you might want to try. Treat yourself because it’s the holidays but don’t eat something just because it’s there.

Hydrate Drink plenty of water throughout the party. It will help you feel full and, with a full stomach, you may not want to eat as much.

Socialize If you’re at a party where you don’t know many people or you’re at a party with a large group, grab someone and start a conversation. It’s easy to get lost in a crowd, but it’s hard not to overeat to keep yourself busy. When you’re talking to someone, you’re likely not going to put something in your mouth while you’re telling a story.

Holiday-FoodFill Up on the Good Stuff Just like eating those bread sticks at restaurants and getting too full for the meal, you can fill your plate with fruits and veggies before you get to the saucy, cheesie, starchy appetizers. The more you fill your stomach with healthy food, the less room you’ll have for the fatty food.

Cut Yourself Some Slack Allow yourself some indulgences… with limits. For instance, if there are 15 desserts on the buffet, don’t tell yourself no, just declare a number of desserts you allow yourself to eat and stop when you hit that number. Or limit yourself to one trip to the buffet table.

Although the holidays are packed with fun fare for two solid months, they’re not as bad as you might think. According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, on average, Americans don’t gain a significant amount of weight during the holidays — we just feel like we do. But what you feel is what counts the most and if that means curbing your appetite during the holidays, it’s not a bad idea to restrict your holiday indulgences.