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. Patrick’s 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!

The Perfect Guide for Chocoholics

Chocolate sales for Valentine?s Day reach more than one billion dollars in the United States each year, Americans eat 12 pounds of chocolate each year, and more than 58 million pounds of chocolate and chocolate candies are sold during Valentine?s week.

chocolate-heart

If you?re a chocoholic you definitely don?t need a holiday to get you thinking about this delicious dark concoction. We?ve got a quick and simple guide to help you see the major differences in chocolates, and figure out what type of chocolate pairs best with wine, fruit, and more. Now you can really perfect your Valentine?s Day dessert.

Cacao vs. Cocoa?

We?ll start with the trickiest question: what?s the difference between cacao and cocoa? Well, nothing. They?re actually the very same thing, just with different spellings and pronunciations. When you see cacao nibs and cocoa powder, you?re seeing the very same thing in different forms. Now that you?ve got that out of the way, let?s look at the three common types of chocolate: white, milk, dark.

White Chocolate

White chocolate is more commonly referred to as a chocolate derivative, because it doesn?t contain chocolate solids.? White chocolate is much sweeter than traditional chocolates, and is made with cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. It pairs well with more delicate flavors, including apple, peach, and strawberry.

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is exactly what it sounds like. Made from cocoa, sugar, and the addition of dairy, milk chocolate is lighter in color and taste, creamier, and sweeter than dark chocolate, but not as sweet as white chocolate.

Dark Chocolate?

Simply made from cacao or cocoa butter and sugar, dark chocolate has the highest concentration of antioxidants, and a slightly bitter taste. An emulsifier or flavor enhancer like vanilla is commonly added, but dark chocolate never contains milk. The percentage of cacao denotes the flavor, and can range from sweet (30%) to bitter (80% or higher).

Chocolate Pairings?

And now onto the fun stuff: the best pairings for chocolate! Take notes so you can bring chocolate to your Valentine?s Day celebration! There are three important things to consider: amount of sugar, consistency and fat content, and preference. If you know beyond a doubt that your significant other hates dark chocolate, just don?t use it!

Wine: The standard rule of thumb with wine is: the darker the chocolate, the darker the wine. Dark chocolate is the recommended wine pairing in most situations. The bitter components of dark chocolate will bring out the sweeter aspects of the wine, but a sweeter option, like milk or white chocolate can bring out the bitter aspects of the wine. (Not a great idea.) Here are a few quick tips to help you choose.

  • White Chocolate: Riesling, Port, Moscato, Tokaji, Sweet Ros?
  • Milk Chocolate: Shiraz, Port, Sparkling Semi-Dry Ros?, Oaked Chardonnay
  • Dark Chocolate: (Most red wines) Red Zinfandel, Bordeaux Blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tawny Port

Strawberries: This comes down to both personal preference, as well as the quality of the strawberries. Since you should be melting the chocolate pieces in a double boiler with butter, you can control the consistency, meaning the sugar or cocoa butter content of the chocolate isn?t as important. If you have super ripe and sweet strawberries, bittersweet chocolate works best here, but for lighter or more sour strawberries, both milk and white chocolate will bring extra sweetness for a more balanced bite. For pairing chocolate with other fruits, check out these fruit and chocolate tips!

Ganache: Most people recommend dark chocolate for ganache. When ganache is made, the flavors and sugars are concentrated, so a chocolate with less sugar to start, such as dark, is your best bet. Additionally, ganache is usually paired with something creamy and high in fat, so dark chocolate performs best here.

Fudge: Any! You can use any type of chocolate to make fudge, but if you?re making it at home from scratch, it?s best to use a pure cocoa powder flavor that you love, such as Special Dark or regular Milk chocolate. Just adjust the added sugar to balance the sweetness of the chocolate.

Cookies: Finally, what chocolate to use with chocolate chip cookies? There are diehards out there who will only make their beloved chocolate chip cookies with semi-sweet chocolate chips (milk chocolate), but we say: experiment! That?s the best thing about cookies. They?re already sweet and savory and sometimes a little salty, so you can actually pair most cookies with each type of chocolate, depending on your preference. Try those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with dark chocolate chunks, and try white chocolate with savory options like Rosemary Brown Butter cookies, Molasses cookies, or Earl Grey Tea cookies.

Image Source: Lulas

Valentine’s Day: Are You Ready?

i love you moreWe?re less than a month away from the most romantic holiday of the year, so here?s the question: are you ready? If you really want to make your significant other happy, it?s a good idea to show a little forethought for this day, which is why we?ve compiled a short checklist to help you along. With 3 weeks to go, these are the things you should be taking care of right now

Gift

Some say the gift is the most important part, while others think it?s just an added bonus if you get it right. Either way, there?s no point in dropping a few hundred dollars if the recipient isn?t going to like or use your gift. Make sure you?re paying attention to something they might want. It?s early enough that she probably won?t get suspicious if you snoop through her clothes or check ring sizes around now, so find out what you need to know as stealthily as you can.

 

Dinner and Reservations

Whether you?re planning to hit the hottest restaurant in town, or you?d like to prepare a nice dinner for two at home, special meals take some sort of preparation. Now is the time to call potential restaurants and find out what kind of menu they?ll have for Valentine?s Day, and see if they have slots available for the time you?d like to eat. If you?re thinking of planning a nice meal in, you should start looking up recipes, or checking local delivery menus. If you?re cooking at home, think about testing out the recipe around now to see how hard or easy it really is, and to make sure you have all the kitchen accessories you need to create the meal.

Transportation

Transportation is often overlooked, but is an essential part of creating a successful evening. Are you thinking about wine pairings at the restaurant, or grabbing a cocktail before dinner at home? Will you have far to travel or should you plan to walk? But if you want to walk, will that change your outfit or your wife?s high heels? Make sure you have a back up plan in the form of a designated driver or a cab driver on call. It?s always better to be prepared, than to find yourself a few martinis deep without a cab on the way.

Babysitter

Finally, if you?ve got kids, now is the time to book your babysitter! Whether you?re asking your younger brother to sleep over with the kids, or you need to hire another sitter for the night, it?s important to lock that in before it gets close to the big day! When it comes to major holidays like New Year?s Eve and Valentine?s Day, babysitters are harder to get than reservations at the most popular restaurant in town! Be willing to pay a little extra than usual if necessary, and make sure you?ve got a confirmed sitter for the night before finalizing your plans.