Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stop Household Clutter: Things to Get Rid of Right Now

Courtesy of HGTV
Photo By: Faith Durand, Elana's Pantry

Hi Friends,

Ready to rid your house of clutter? Start here with these items you're sure not to miss. Old Spices is a great start. Most ground spices should be replaced after 12 months. A simple test? Give each one a wiff. If there's no scent, there will be no flavor. Go ahead and toss it!

Your Toothbrush

The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush once every three months for maximum brushing power.

Unidentified Frozen Objects

Photo By: DK - House Works, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Toss any unidentifiable objects in the refrigerator or freezer.

Cookbooks You Never Use

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Give unused to your foodie friends who will get more use out of them.

Unidentifiable Keys

Most recycling centers have mixed metal bins you can toss old keys in. Make sure to remove any rubber coverings before you recycle.

Business Cards

From: Brian Patrick Flynn
Photo By: Shane Hawkins Photography

Congrats, you just got promoted! And now you've got 300 unused business cards with your old title. Go ahead and recycle them.

Old Chargers and Cables

Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Jones

A friend or relative might be able to use a spare USB cable or an old charger. Anything you can't give away can usually be recycled in electronic stores or online. Keep unruly cords organized by using media boxes that are divided into "cubbies" with scraps of cardboard. Label each section, so you'll never confuse the camera cord for the phone charger again, and give the boxes a bit of color by decorating the cardboard with scrapbook paper.

Old Paint

Photo By: malerapaso

If it's more than a year old, throw it out. (You'll probably have moved on to the next color sensation by then, anyway.)


From: Ellen Foord

If you think you might return it or need to keep a reciept for a warranty, try scanning the receipts and keeping copies online instead of an old shoebox.

Appliance Manuals

From: Ellen Foord

Most appliance manuals have an online version. Keep really important ones together in a folder.

Soap Scraps

From: Genevieve Gorder
Photo By: Chris Amaral

Unless you're really dedicated to melting down the slivers into one mega-soap, toss them out - now!

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Ultimate 1-Hour Kitchen Cleanse

Courtesy of Bridget Mallon
Photography by Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images

Hi Friends,

Get your cooking space in shape in 60 minutes flat...

So you've finished cleaning your closet, but still feel motivated to keep organizing? Don't worry, a one-hour cleanse is possible elsewhere, namely the kitchen.

That's right, even though kitchens are one of the most dreaded places to clean, you really can whip them into shape in just 60 minutes. All it takes is a clear plan, and the understanding that while this isn't going to be an extensive, deep cleaning, it will completely reset your space.

Just like the one-hour closet cleanse, the best way to approach a kitchen cleanse is by designating a set amount of time for each step of your cleaning and organizing process. And while you can certainly choose to change up the order in which you tackle each step, we're partial to the following setup.

Minutes 1-15

One of the biggest sources of kitchen clutter is expired foods and condiments that take up unnecessary space in the fridge, in cabinets or on your counter tops. Similarly, holding onto almost empty boxes or jars is a huge waste of space — case in point: when I did this cleanse, I found four separate jars of salsa and five bottles of hot sauce that each had about two drops left (what can I say, I like my food spicy). So this is the perfect opportunity to purge!

Now, I'm not in any way suggesting you toss perfectly good food that you know you'll use. Instead, you should spend these 15 minutes throwing out only expired foods or packages that are so close to empty you know you will never actually use them again. And if you find non-perishables getting close to their expiration date that you don't like or won't use, set them aside to donate.

Brian Patrick Flynn

Minutes 15-30

Now that you've got your food clutter all situated, it's time to move on to your dishes. And if you're anything like me, this is one area of your kitchen you tend to ignore while organizing. Most dishes already have their own designated spot, so it just becomes second nature to put them right back after they've been used or cleaned. But now's the perfect time to go through everything and tidy up your cupboards and get rid of those cracked or broken pieces.

Start with your glasses and mugs and recycle any that are cracked or damaged. If you come across pieces you don't use any more, but that are still in good shape, set them aside to donate. Then move on to your plates, bowls and utensils, and follow the same steps. If you have serveware, go through those pieces as well. When you're all finished, you should be left with just the essentials, organized to your liking.

Minutes 30-45

Now it's time to move onto your utility items, think: pots and pans, slow cookers, blenders, coffee makers, even all those cooking gadgets you impulsively bought on Black Friday. First things first, if you've never used an item and you've owned it for six months (or a year if it's something you only use seasonally) donate it. Now. That cake ball machine will continue to gather dust and take up precious space unless you take action.

Once you're left with the items you actually use, go through and purge the ones that are no longer in good shape, or that you've been meaning to replace. Holding onto your old non-stick pan that's completely lost its coating is doing you no good. Say goodbye to those pieces now and you'll feel so much better! After you're done, return everything to its proper place and marvel at all your extra storage space.

Jackson Design and Remodeling

Minutes 45-60

Whew, you've made it to the final 15 minutes, and you'll be done with this cleanse in no time! For this last step, all you need to do is give all of your surfaces a quick rubdown — this is not a deep clean, just a little refresh to make everything sparkle (and smell like cleaning supplies, natch).

Finish up by sweeping the floor before treating yourself to a relaxing Netflix binge or homemade cocktail.

Instead of Dinner and a Movie, we'll do Movie and a Cocktail, Cheers!

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Ultimate 1-Hour Closet Cleanse

Courtesy of Bridget Mallon

Hi Friends,

Because who has a full day to dedicate to cleaning, especially a closet, right?

The first week of January may be when resolutions get the most attention, but most of us actually make and break resolutions throughout the year. Think about spring cleaning: it's just another resolution. Same with your summer diet and your deep winter cleaning.

Here's the thing, though: Making a resolution doesn't somehow magically change who you are as a person. So if you've never worked out before, resolving to hit the gym every single day just won't happen (trust me, I've been there). And if you tend to be a little lax with the house cleaning, you won't magically become hyper-organized overnight just because it's your resolution.

That's why I'm a fan of micro-resolutions, or small changes that you can build upon throughout the year. And one of my go-tos is a great way to kickstart your journey to become more organized at home. I call it the 1-hour closet cleanse. (You know how dieters use cleanses to reset their bodies in a short amount of time? It's like that, just for your closet.)

The secret to a successful closet cleanse is understanding this isn't a complete overhaul of your wardrobe (or life) but a way to get you moving in the right direction. Oh, and having a plan going in is also key. So read on for the 3 steps you'll need to take, conveniently broken down into 15 minute increments.

DK - House Works, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Minutes 1-15

Use the first fifteen minutes of your cleanse to remove everything from your closet (yes, seriously). Create one pile for clothes, another for shoes, another for bags and luggage and a final pile for miscellaneous items. Pat yourself on the back for completing step one, and try not to freak out about the mess now taking over your room.

If your closet is bursting at the seams, consider doing a half or a quarter of your wardrobe at a time to truly make this a one-hour project. It's all about progress!

Minutes 15-45

Step two is basically a sped up version of that scene from the Sex and the City Movie where they clean out Carrie's closet, just without the champagne and '80s designer duds. To start, grab three trash bags and designate one for things you can donate, another for items that genuinely need to be trashed and a final bag for the pieces you need extra time to consider.

Instead of tackling each pile item by item, you'll start by quickly pulling out the pieces you know you want to keep — trust your gut on this one — and setting them aside. Next, you'll look through the remaining items in each pile for pieces you can donate. Grab things that are in good condition, and that you don't mind parting with, to add to the donation bag. At this point your remaining piles will (hopefully) be much smaller.


Now it's time to pull out the pieces that are in poor condition. Add each of these items to your bag of stuff to throw out or recycle. Any remaining items get added to your third trash bag, which you'll keep out of sight for the rest of the month. If you find yourself thinking about any of those pieces, or wanting to wear or use them, feel free to add them back to your closet. Everything remaining in the bag after four weeks can be donated.

Minutes 45-60

At this point you've probably broken a sweat, but hey, that's okay, you're almost done! It's finally time to put your beloved items back in your closet. Start with anything that you keep on the floor — but don't just throw everything in willy-nilly — keeping everything neat now will encourage you to stay organized in the future. Next put back the items you keep on hooks or shelves, and finish by hanging your clothes back on the rack.

Finally, stash your bag of items you're unsure about in a hidden spot, and decide on a time to drop off your donations.

Now go pour yourself a glass of wine — you deserve it!


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Summer Peach Salsa Recipe

Courtesy of Mick Telkamp
Photo by Mick Telkamp

Hi Friends,

Spanish for “sauce,” salsa comes in many forms. Pico de gallo, an uncooked salsa made with tomatoes, onion and peppers, comes to mind quickly, but salsa can be made with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, including corn, mangoes, beans or tomatillos. At the peak of summer, tomatoes are plentiful in our garden, but another summer favorite can be used to make a sweet and spicy salsa of a different color. Fresh peach salsa adds spectacular flavor when used as a condiment on chicken, seafood or vegetables, but this blend of peaches, tomatoes, pepper, onion, and fresh herbs may quickly become your favorite chip dip in a season that is all too brief.

Select peaches and tomatoes at their peak of ripeness with vibrant flavor and firm flesh. Blanch carefully to remove the skin of the fresh produce without cooking the flesh, which will impact the texture of this fresh, delicious salsa.

Here's the Peach salsa recipe.

  • 2 pounds peaches
  • 1 pound tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 jalapeño seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
In a large pot, blanch peaches and tomatoes for one minute and immediately transfer into a large bowl of ice water to cool.

Slough peels from tomatoes and peaches.

Dice peaches and tomatoes and place in a large bowl.

Add chopped bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, basil, salt and lime juice.

Toss to combine.

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips or use as a condiment for fish, chicken or vegetables.

Fresh favorites team up in this sweet and spicy seasonal salsa...

This Peach salsa can be used as a condiment for chicken or seafood, but is all that with a bag of tortilla chips.

Bon Appétit...

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

5 Custom Cocktails You Need This Summer

Courtesy of Liz Gray

Hi Friends,

There’s something about hot weather that makes an icy beverage seem not only nice but practically essential, don’t you think? For your next summer party, upgrade from plastic coolers and drink mixes to custom cocktails that are easy to make and even easier to enjoy. Here are 5 versatile options you’ll sip all summer long including our featured Coastal Citrus Punch.

Essential qualities: This summery take on sangria makes enough for a crowd, so you won’t be running up and down the hill playing bartender all day. Mix up the day before your party, chill and serve on ice. It’s easy to double if you anticipate extreme thirst…or more than 8-10 guests. Make it your own: The recipe calls for grapes, pineapple and strawberries, but try throwing in blueberries, peaches or honeydew melon.

Serve it with: Grilled fish, a summer clambake, tea sandwiches — this drink is incredibly versatile.

Here's the Coastal Citrus Punch Recipe, compliments of Matthew Mead.

  • 2 medium lemons, sliced thin
  • 3 oranges, sliced thin
  • 1 lime, sliced thin
  • 1 dozen green grapes cut in half
  • 3 750-ml bottles off-dry white Riesling wine, chilled
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed and chilled, 4 to 5 lemons
  • 3 cups white grape juice
  • 3 cups pineapple juice, chilled
  • 4 cups sparkling water, chilled
Juice the lemons and oranges. Strain the juice.

At least 3 hours and up to 6 hours before serving, combine the syrup, lemon juice, grape juice, pineapple juice, wine and strawberries in a large bowl or pot. Chill in the refrigerator.

Just before serving, pour the punch into a large chilled punch bowl or glass bottle. Add the sparkling water and gently stir.

Serve punch over ice with additional cut fruit.

Frozen Mint Julep

Essential qualities: If you have ever tried to grow mint, you know the biggest dilemma isn’t keeping it alive, it’s keeping it from choking out the rest of your garden. Keep it at bay (and keep your guests cool) with this slushy take on a classic Southern cocktail.

Serve it with: Barbecue, grilled lamb or vegetables and pretty much any dish hailing from the South.

Here's the Frozen Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe, compliments of Stephen Phillips.

This is the perfect Southern way to celebrate and cool off this summer.

  • 3 oz. Makers Mark, Heaven Hill or Knob Creek bourbon whiskey
  • 1-1/2 tsp. simple syrup
  • 1-1/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup crushed ice
  • 1 sprig of mint for garnish
Place mint leaves, bourbon, simple syrup and lemon juice at the bottom of a glass. Muddle (mash) the mint with the liquids until blended together. Pour this mixture into the blender. Add 3/4 cup of crushed ice and blend until slushy.

Pour into a chilled, large old-fashioned glass or large goblet.

Mellow Melon Margarita

STEPHEN MURELLO, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Essential qualities: Margaritas can be delicious, but they usually aren’t. That’s because margarita mix is, well, just not very good. Fix that with this simple cocktail recipe: Just mix together high-quality silver tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and a seasonal twist — cubes of juicy watermelon. Repeat after me: I no longer need margarita mix. Putting it down. Now.

Serve it with: This summery drink pairs well with farm-fresh produce — think corn on the cob or roasted pepper and mozzarella bites.

Here's the Tom's Mellow Melon Margarita Recipe, compliments of Stephen Phillips.

  • 1-1/2 ounces Patron Silver tequila
  • 1 ounces fresh lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 ounces orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 5 watermelon cubes
  • 1 small watermelon wedge
Muddle the watermelon cubes in the bottom of a shaker glass. Add ice, Patron, lime juice, orange juice and agave syrup. Give it a good shake for approximately 10 seconds. Strain and pour into large rocks glass. Garnish with a watermelon wedge.

The Michelada Cocktail

Essential qualities: This drink makes what’s already a quality beverage — beer — a little more refreshing for summer. Take your favorite Mexican beer (a light lager is best) and mix in a squeeze of lemon, hot sauce and salt and pepper. Pour it into a chilled glass rimmed with salt. It might sound a little weird, but trust me, it tastes delicious.

Serve it with: Big, bold, flavorful dishes, like spicy tacos or bacon cheeseburgers.

Here's the The Michelada Recipe, compliments of Stephen Phillips.

  • 12 oz. Mexican beer
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash soy sauce or Maggi seasoning
  • 1 dash Tabasco or chile sauce
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • A dish of salt to rim the glass
Rim the lip of a tall serving cup with salt and fill with ice. Mix in all the ingredients except the beer. Pour in your beer slowly. Stir gently and serve generously.

Spicy Raspberry Lemonade

Essential qualities: Okay, so you have four delicious alcoholic cocktail options, above. Avoid being that person who offers margaritas and juleps but has only lukewarm tap water for non-drinking guests. The new plan: Serve this grown-up take on lemonade, spiked with spicy ginger beer and topped with fresh raspberries.

Serve it with: Ice. No, seriously…drink this all summer!

Here's the Spicy Raspberry Lemon Cooler Cocktail Recipe, compliments of Wes Martin.

A grown-up take on lemonade, this non-alcoholic drink combines the fruitiness of raspberries with spicy ginger beer.

Ginger beer, non-alcoholic despite its name, can be found in the beverage/soda section of your supermarket. It has a much stronger bite than plain ginger ale and is great for mixing mocktails; it adds a spicy punch to anything you mix it with.

  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 bottles ginger beer
  • fresh raspberries or lemon wedges for garnish, optional
Put the raspberries, honey, lemon juice and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the fruit has completely broken down, about five minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until cool. Pour the mixture into a fine mesh strainer set over a pitcher. Press the fruit solids with a rubber spatula to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard the fruit pulp.

To serve, fill a Collins glass with ice and pour three tablespoons of the raspberry syrup into the glass. Fill with ginger beer, stir, garnish with raspberries or a lemon wedge and serve immediately.

Makes about six drinks.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

4 Fun Themes for Kids' Birthday Parties

Courtesy of Laura Fenton

Hi Friends,

Make your child's next birthday party a blast with one of these creative theme ideas. Totally Nautical; let your little one's imagination set sail with a nautical-themed birthday party. Start with a red, white and blue color scheme, add some seaworthy decor like flags and knots, and serve nautical-themed snacks like Goldfish crackers and Life Savers. Use some of your 4th of July decorations to really go big with Red, White and Blue...

Baseball Bonanza

If your child is a baseball lover, take the kids out to the ballpark for a game of baseball, softball or T-ball. Make the birthday boy or girl his or her very own baseball T-shirt with iron-on transfer paper. If you're ambitious, you can make shirts for every one of your guests in lieu of favors.

A Day at the Circus

Make your child's birthday the greatest show on earth with a circus-themed party. Serve popcorn, peanuts and other snacks from a tray as if you were a vendor at the circus. For activities, try face painting or classic games that fit the circus theme, like pin the tail on the donkey.

The Great Adventure

A scavenger-hunt birthday party, complete with a treasure at the end, will keep kids entertained for hours. Set the stage for an exciting escapade by printing invitations on parchment-like paper and mailing them in classic airmail envelopes. Don't forget to include a map to the party, marking its location with an X.

The kiddos will love these awesome birthday themes; have fun...

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Live well,

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

15 Vegetables You Can Plant Now for Fall Harvest

Courtesy of Debbie and Mark Wolfe

Hi Friends,

Plant these hearty vegetables now for a bountiful harvest come fall. Beets are a great fall vegetable. Soak the seeds overnight for quicker germination.


Dorling Kindersley Limited

Green beans are fast producers. Choose from the full gamut of varieties for your favorite fall recipes.


Enjoy this vitamin-packed vegetable this autumn. Sow directly into the garden in late summer for a fall harvest.

Brussels Sprouts

Dorling Kindersley Limited

Brussels sprouts are not always the most popular vegetable at the dinner table, but they are a perfect addition to a fall garden. They will hold up well in an early frost.


Turnips are easy to grow and delicious to eat.


Dorling Kindersley Limited

Not the most attractive root vegetable in the world, but it is tasty! Celeriac needs time to grow—get a head start for a fall harvest by planting in late summer.


Mary Beth Shaddix

Collards are packed full of vitamins and taste great in stir-fries. These hearty greens taste best after frost exposure.

Green Onions

Dorling Kindersley Limited

Green onions can be direct sown in late summer and will survive winter if not harvested.


Dorling Kindersley Limited

Kohlrabi is a fast grower for the cool season. It only takes six weeks to mature.


Blackberry Farm

Lettuce loves cool weather! Plant in late summer to early fall to enjoy in an autumn salad.


Dorling Kindersley Limited

Direct sow parsnips in the summer and plan on harvesting after frost when the flavor improves.


Dorling Kindersley Limited

Cauliflower is a cold-tolerant member of the cabbage family. Plant them now to use in soups or mashed with potatoes this fall.


Peas grow well in cool weather. Choose a short season variety for an autumn harvest.


What's a fall garden without pumpkins? Sow in mid summer for an autumn harvest.


Radishes are one of the quickest maturing crops at 4 weeks from seed to harvest.

Have a bountiful fall...

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Live well,