Author Archives: Jackie McGraw

Valentine’s Day Recipes That Won’t Break the Bank

Valentine’s Day can be quite pricey for those that celebrate. American’s are expected to spend about $18.2 billion for the occasion according to the National Retail Federation. That’s an average of $136.57 per person. But just because others are going big for the occasion, doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money to celebrate.

One of the easiest ways to save money is by avoiding the crowds and the high prices of a restaurant, and cooking at home. We’ve pulled together some Valentine’s Day recipes that you can prepare at home to enjoy with your loved one. We even found a few healthy options for those who have stuck to their New Year’s resolutions.

Breakfast

Valentine’s Day Overnight Oats with Raspberry Chia Jam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 15 mins
Serves: 2

Ingredients

Raspberry Jam
1 cup frozen/fresh raspberries
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Overnight Oats
1 cup oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
3/4 cup almond milk
1 tbsp honey/other sweetener

Instructions:

For the jam, place your raspberries and coconut oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir until the berries have turned mushy and the juices are coming out, about 4-5 minutes. Add the honey/syrup and chia seeds. Keep stirring until it reaches your desired consistency (another 5-10 minutes) and then remove from heat. Allow to cool down and then scoop into a container/jar and place in fridge

For the overnight oats, combine the oats, chia seeds, almond milk and sweetener in a bowl. Mix together until everything is interspersed (especially the chia seeds).

Place in fridge for 6-8 hours.

Before eating, scoop about 1/3 cup into a mason jar. Add a layer of raspberry jam and another layer oats. Add a final layer of jam and top with fresh raspberries, cacao nibs, and whatever toppings you desire.

Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1(13 ounce) refrigerated Grands cinnamon rolls with icing
Optional: sprinkles

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Carefully unwind each roll into a long strip of dough, leaving center coiled.  Coil the unrolled end of each strip in toward center, making two equal coils.  Pull middle of strip down to make a point, forming a heart shape; pinch point.

Place in pan, points toward center.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.  Spread or drizzle over very warm rolls.  Optional: add sprinkles.

Lunch

Heart Quesadillas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Flour Tortillas
Shredded Cheese
Cooked Chicken (optional)

Instructions:

Use a large heart cookie cutter to create heart shaped tortillas.

Sprinkle cheese on one tortilla. Keep the cheese toward the center because it will melt outwards.

Put a second heart tortilla on top. Chicken can also be put in with the cheese.

Cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side.

Serve warm!

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Strawberries
Spring Mix
Goat Cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette (optional)

Instructions:

Cut strawberries into heart shapes using either a knife or small heart shaped cookie cutter.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Enjoy!

 

Dinner

Pasta with Burst Tomatoes and Mascarpone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1 (24-oz.) package frozen cheese-filled ravioli
3 pt. assorted grape tomatoes
1 large tomato, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup torn assorted fresh herbs (such as parsley and basil)
1 (8-oz.) container mascarpone cheese

Instructions:

Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler with oven rack 4 to 5 inches from heat. Stir together tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil in a 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Broil 5 to 8 minutes or until tomatoes are charred, stirring halfway through.

Transfer tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in butter, next 3 ingredients, and 1/4 cup fresh herbs. Spoon over hot cooked ravioli; dollop with cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup fresh herbs. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk-and-Honey Chicken Kabobs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup hot sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 small sweet onion, grated
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3 pounds skinned and boned chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
10 (6-inch) wooden or metal skewers
Vegetable cooking spray
Grilled lemon halves
Toasted Pecan Pesto or Romesco Sauce

Instructions:

Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until smooth; whisk in buttermilk, next 3 ingredients, and 2 tsp. salt until blended.

Place buttermilk mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal and chill 3 hours.

Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes. (Omit if using metal skewers.)

Coat cold cooking grate of grill with cooking spray, and place on grill. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread chicken onto skewers, leaving a 1/8-inch space between pieces; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp. salt.

Shrimp Scampi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

8 ounces linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound jumbo shrimp (16-24), shelled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Instructions:

Start cooking the pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and melt the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until frothing, add the shrimp, cook for 2 minutes, flip, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute before transferring to a large bowl.

Add the white wine and lemon juice to the pan, deglaze it, simmer for a minute and remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley and lemon zest before tossing with the shrimp and pasta.

Dessert

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

1 bag 16 oz Snyder’s Of Hanover Old Tyme Pretzels or Pretzel Rods
1 package 16 oz Chocolate or Vanilla Candiquik or other candy coating
Assorted Sprinkles

Instructions:

Melt chocolate coating according to package directions. Line two baking sheets with was or parchment paper.

Working one pretzel at a time, dip your pretzel into your melted Candiquik or other candy coating. Tap pretzel gently to shake off excess candy coating.

Sprinkle with sprinkles of choice.

Place on wax paper to allow to dry, approximately 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining pretzels.

Store in a covered container.

Raspberry Pink Champagne Floats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

2-3 scoops raspberry sorbet
1 cup pink champagne
fresh raspberries for garnish

Instructions:

Place scoops of sorbet in large wine glass.

Pour champagne over the sorbet.

Top with raspberries.

Allow to melt while you sip or eat with a spoon, either way works!

Enjoy!

Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
10 Oreo cookies, broken into pieces
Red food coloring

Instructions:

In the body of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed.

Add the sugar and beat well.

Add in flour, a small bit at a time, beating in on low speed, just until incorporated. Fold in Oreos until evenly distributed.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes, and up to 2 hours.

30 minutes prior to baking, preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop out 2 tablespoon sized balls of dough, roll them into rounds, and place them on the cookie sheet. Lightly press down on each cookie.

Place pan in the oven to bake for 10-11 minutes, or until *just golden at the edges. They will still be very soft when you remove them from the oven – that’s a good thing!

Cool on the baking sheet for 10 full minutes, then very carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Enjoy

 

Did you try out one of these recipes with your special someone? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

Winter RV Camping Tips

The temperatures are plunging, and the sun is appearing less and less in the sky, but that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on one of your favorite hobbies. Campground availability is at an all-time high and the atmosphere is crisp, quiet, and relaxing. Best of all, no bugs. Winter camping can be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that your off-season adventure can’t happen. You’ll just need to take some extra precautions.

  1. Verify Seasonal Closings

Imagine that you are all packed up for your trip, your family is excited, and everything seems to be in order. Until you crest that final hill and approach your destination. Right there across the entrance, is a big closed sign. The campground you were planning on using is closed for the season and there is nothing you can do about it.  All your hopes of a winter vacation are dashed and now you have to explain to the rest of your family what has happened.

This scenario can be easily avoided by verifying that your destination is open for the winter season. It seems like such an easy step, but it can often be lost in the shuffle of planning a trip. Many campgrounds, such as those run by the National Parks, are open for parts of the winter season but on restricted hours or closed entirely. Make sure to call ahead and check on the parks hours before beginning to plan your winter getaway.

  1. Winter Maintenance

Making sure that your RV is ready for the trip is a top priority. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in unfamiliar territory with an RV that won’t do what you need it to. To make sure your trip is a smooth one, we have compiled a list of tasks you’ll want to double check off your to do list before hitting the road.

  • Check the Tires
  • Check Carbon Monoxide Detector
  • Check window seals
  • Consider purchasing an RV skirt
  • Test your furnace
  1. Top off Heating Fuel

This may seem like common sense but sometimes the best advice escapes us when we are busy preparing for a trip. Make sure that you are full of heating fuel before you leave. When planning, take extra precautions to check that you are either close to a refill station or bring extra tanks with you.

You’ll need more than just your RV furnace as a source of heat. If you rely on only the furnace, you’ll go through a ton of propane and risk running out. Consider bringing electric heaters to subsidize your propane usage.

  1. Prepare for Harsh Conditions

Be sure to protect your water and sewer lines from freezing.  By placing a heating pad over your RV water pump, you can prevent frozen pipes. Another option is to use heat tape to help warm the hose and keep water flowing.  Heat tape can be found at a RV supply shop or home hardware store.

Inside the camper you can leave your cabinet doors open to allow interior heat to reach the pipes in the walls.

If you are experiencing moisture in your camper you can use a dehumidifier to help regulate moisture. Another way to prevent excess moisture is to leave a roof vent slightly open. About ½ an inch should do the trick.

  1. Plan Larger Meals

Part of the camping experience is the meals that you get to cook over an open fire, or sometimes in your RV oven, depending on how adventurous you are feeling. Something that you might not think about when packing and planning meals is how much the cold weather revs up our metabolisms. Our bodies burn energy to keep us warm and we get our energy from our food. Be sure to pack enough food based upon your planned activities. If you plan on taking leisurely walks, you may not need as much as you’d need if you are planning on going cross country skiing.

  1. Pack appropriately

Just because you can be inside doesn’t mean that you’ll always be warm. Pack plenty of warm, dry clothes. Take care to pack extra socks and gloves. Your hands and feet are most likely to get cold while exploring your campground. Bringing along a heated blanket to stay warm in bed will help give your camper that cozy feeling.

  1. Driving in the Snow

Driving an RV in the snow is very different from your everyday driver. RV’s are rear wheel drive, meaning that most of the tools you use to control your smaller vehicle in the snow won’t work. If you start to slide, you’ll have to go back to pumping the brakes or steering with a slide. Applying power while driving your RV can make the situation worse. Honestly, your best plan if a snow or ice storm hits is to get off the road.

If you still plan to brave the snow, there are a few precautions you can take. First, make sure that you have good snow tires. Most RV’s don’t come with them, so you’ll need to make a trip to your local tire store. Once you are on the road leave plenty of space between you and the cars around you.

RV camping during the winter is not for the faint of heart. Conditions can be harsh and extra precautions need to be taken, but many of the winter instillations only need to be done once. It also allows you to see a whole new kind of wonder that nature only offers during the colder months. If you feel ready to take on the challenge, let us know about your experience in the comments below. Safe travels and happy camping!

 

To save this article for later, use this graphic for Pinterest!

Crock-pot Thanksgiving Recipes

Most people can agree that Thanksgiving Day is a glorious time of fun, family, and, most importantly, food. But if you are the one preparing all that food, you might have other thoughts. In fact, you might be having visions of waking up in the early morning to begin defrosting and cooking, only to have your vision turn into a nightmare when you realize you are going to be left with all the dishes to clean up.

Why not make your day a little bit easier by using a crockpot or slow cooker to make part of the meal? You can throw together the ingredients, let it cook until you are ready for it, and be left with minimal cleanup. To assist you in your Thanksgiving festivities, we’ve pulled together a smorgasbord of crockpot recipes including everything from breakfast to dessert, and if you are brave enough, even the turkey.

 

Cinnamon Roll Casserole

  • 2 12 oz tubes of cinnamon rolls cut into quarters- divided
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Spray your 6-quart crock with cooking spray.
  2. Place a layer of cinnamon roll pieces to cover the bottom of your slow cooker completely. (Reserve icing packets)
  3. Beat eggs, cream, maple syrup, vanilla and spices until blended well.
  4. Pour evenly over the rolls in the slow cooker.
  5. Place remaining roll pieces on top and spoon one packet of icing evenly over rolls.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 2½ to 3 hours or until sides are golden and rolls are set.
  7. Drizzle remaining icing over top and serve warm.

Spiced Wine

 

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp whole allspice berries
  • 4 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice and 1/2 cup whole fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, slit down the center (if you save pods this is a good time to reuse one)
  • a good grating of fresh nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp)
  • garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Put the water and sugar in the crock pot and turn on high. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the cranberries to the pot.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until the wine just gets to a simmer. Then turn the dial to the ‘keep warm’ setting and let it sit for about 30 minutes before serving.
  3. You can strain the wine before serving, or not.

Slow Cooker Thanksgiving Stuffing

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cup chopped sweet onions
  • 1 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 12 ounces unseasoned dried bread cube stuffing (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the butter in a large skillet and set over medium heat. Once melted add the chopped onions and celery, then sauté for 3-5 minutes to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, chop all the herbs and whisk the chicken broth and eggs together. Pour the dried bread cubes into a large slow cooker.
  3. Once the onions and celery are soft and sweet, scoop them over the top of the dried bread cubes. Add the chopped herbs, dried cranberries, 2 teaspoons of Diamond Crystal® Kosher Salt, and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Pour the broth and egg mixture over the top. Gently mix to coat.
  4. Cover the slow cooker and turn on high for 2-4 hours, or low for 4-6 hours. If you leave the stuffing on too long, and it starts to dry out, add a little more chicken broth to soften.

Turkey

  • turkey, thawed and small enough to fit in your slow cooker (or almost small enough)
  • water, enough to barely cover the bottom of your slow cooker
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Italian seasonings or flavorings as desired
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Barely cover the bottom of your slow cooker with water.
  2. Place the turkey in the crock-pot.
  3. Place oil between skin, and season as desired.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours depending on the size of the bird. You could start this the night before and free up oven space, and you’ll be ready for an early afternoon feast if desired. The turkey is done when an internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached in the breast and thigh.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 5 pounds russet potatoes
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, optional
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups milk, or a mixture of milk and cream
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes: Lightly grease the slow cooker insert with butter or cooking spray. Peel the potatoes and chop into small pieces about 1 inch to a side. The smaller the potatoes, the faster they will cook, obviously. Transfer the potatoes to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the seasonings: Smash the garlic cloves, if using, and drop on top of the potatoes. Stir in the salt and a generous quantity of black pepper.
  3. Pour in 1 1/2 cups milk: Pour in 1 1/2 cups milk and stir the potatoes once.
  4. Cook until tender: Cover the slow cooker and cook 4 to 5 hours on HIGH or until the potatoes are very tender and soft. Turn the heat to WARM.
  5. Melt the butter: When the potatoes are done, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  6. Warm the dairy: Stir 2 cups milk, or a mixture of milk and cream, into the melted butter and warm gently over low heat.
  7. Mash the potatoes: If you used garlic but don’t want the potatoes super garlicky, remove the garlic cloves and discard. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard any browned bits on the sides of the pot. Use a potato masher or ricer to mash the potatoes right in the pot.
  8. Slowly stir in the dairy: When the potatoes are as smooth as you like, slowly stir in the warmed dairy and butter. The potatoes will look soupy at first but the potatoes will quickly soak up the liquid. Add an additional 1/2 cup of milk or cream if you want them to be even creamier.
  9. Taste and season: Taste and season with additional salt or pepper if desired.
  10. Keep warm: To keep the potatoes warm, leave in the covered slow cooker on the WARM setting for up to 4 hours.

Green Bean Casserole

 

  • (3) 10 3/4 ounce cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • (10) 14.5 ounce Cans Del Monte Cut Green Beans (drained)
  • (2) 6 ounce canisters French’s French Fried Onions (note- one is mixed in, one is the topping)
  • Non-Stick Cooking Oil Spray

Instructions

  1. In a very large bowl, add the cream of mushrooms soup, milk, black pepper, and onion powder, whisk until smooth.
  2. Add the drained green beans, and 1 of the canisters of french fried onions into the large bowl with the soup mixture you just made, and with a spatula, fold everything together, being careful not to break the green beans up.
  3. Spray the slow cooker with the non-stick cooking spray, and add the green bean mixture to the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on HIGH for 2.5 hours.
  5. After cooking time is done, add the other canister of french fried onions onto the green beans. Take the slow cooker insert out of the heating element, and put into the oven (without the lid on!). My oven was set at 350 degrees. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are browned.
  6. Set the insert back into the slow cooker heating element, replace the lid, and set the slow cooker to WARM until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Candied Sweet Potatoes

 

  • 6-7 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into slices
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows

Instructions

  1. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Spread chopped sweet potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar.
  4. Pour over the top of the sweet potatoes and place lid on the slow cooker.
  5. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 2-3.
  6. Once cooked, pour all the contents from your slow cooker into a baking dish.
  7. Top with marshmallows and broil in oven until marshmallows are golden brown.

Apple Crisp

 

For the topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • Butter or cooking spray, for coating the slow cooker
  • 6 medium apples (about 3 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

Place the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and stir until the butter is completely incorporated into the dry ingredients and the mixture is wet and crumbly; set aside.

Generously coat the insert of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray or butter.

Add the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice to the slow cooker, stir to combine, and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the oat topping evenly over the apples.

Place a large sheet of paper towels over the slow cooker, making sure it completely covers the top of the slow cooker, but does not sag down onto the crisp. Cover with the slow-cooker lid. Set the slow cooker to HIGH and cook for 1 1/2 hours, or cook on LOW for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Remove the lid and paper towels and cook, uncovered, until the topping is browned and crisp and the fruit is tender, about 1 more hour. Let the crisp cool at least 15 minutes uncovered before serving.

Adirondack Chair Color Combinations for Every Style

  • Aruba blue and white are the perfect combination for a coastal area with its major beach vibes. When the bright and cheerful Aruba Blue is combined with the clean lines of white poly lumber it has a nice, carefree aesthetic.

We have gathered some unexpected color combinations for poly lumber furniture that might be perfect for your home.

Fast Fall Décor Ideas for Busy Moms

Having a child can be challenging on a good day, let alone as we head into the busiest time of year. The pressure to be the mom who has it all is stronger than ever. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of quick DIY fall décor to have your home ready for the season, without having to spend all day in your craft room. As a bonus, no glue guns are involved, some your kids might even be able to help, and all of these project can be done in the time it takes for a good solid nap!

Mat

Life is all about making a good first impression, your house is no different. A great place to start is with a fall/Halloween-themed door mat.

Materials:

Outdoor mat
Paint (outdoor acrylic is recommended)
Stencil
Paint Brush
Scissors or X-Acto Knife
Cardstock

This project is very versatile and can be turned into a DIY for almost any season. First, you’ll need an outdoor mat that can be found at your local Target or Lowe’s. Next, find a design you’d like to recreate. Once you find the design print it out onto a piece of cardstock and cut it out so you can use it as a stencil. Place the stencil on top of the mat. Use your brush to paint your design. Try to avoid using a stroking motion when you’re painting over a stencil, instead, use more of a pouncing motion. Once you have filled in your stencil completely, remove it. Finally, allow your mat to dry overnight. Be sure that it is completely dry before using.

 

Vase

This simple idea can make the transition from Halloween to fall without needing any adjustments, making it the perfect DIY for moms.

Materials:

Glass Vase
Small Pumpkins in a variety of colors
Fairy light (optional)

For this simple DIY all you’ll need is to use a cylindrical vase in your home to place the miniature pumpkins in. It really is that easy and can be used as both a Halloween and fall decoration or centerpiece. If you want to add some light you can artfully place some fairy lights around the pumpkins and use it as a fun night light.

 

Ghosts

These little ghosts are a great outdoor decoration and they take very little time. Plus, they are so light weight once the wind starts to blow they will move eerily in the breeze. They are also a great project for the kids to help with.

Materials:

White balloons
White trash bags – make sure they don’t have colored drawstrings
Black Sharpie
Fishing line
Twist ties – preferably white

Once you have all your materials in one place, begin blowing up the balloons. You will need one balloon per ghost that you hope to create. Once your balloon is at the desired size, take your trash bag and put the balloon in it. You want your balloon positioned so that one of the corners of the bag sticks up like a little ghost top notch. Next, use the twist tie to secure the balloon in the bag. Then, take your sharpie and give your ghost a face. Repeat until all your ghosts have faces. Finally, you can hang your ghosts from trees or your porch by using the fishing line to secure them. When tying the fishing line to your ghost secure it around the corner piece above his head. If you secure it near the twist tie it will look like he is hanging by his neck, which isn’t quite as cute. Once they are hung they will move with the wind, giving your home a cute, yet haunted appearance.

 

Apothecary Bottles

Are you looking to add some bone-chilling décor to your home? Consider creating these easy apothecary bottles. They bring to mind a more traditional Halloween feel without being too creepy for the kids.

Materials:

 Glass bottles
Corks if desired
Pipe cleaners
Dried mushrooms
Paper feathers
Flour
Silver glitter
Gray wool
Colored water
Label paper

Once you gather your materials, print out your apothecary labels onto label paper using this template provided by liagriffith.com.  Simply peel the labels from the paper and place them on the desired bottles. Then use the rest of our materials to fill your bottles. Black pipe cleaners make great tarantula legs, dried mushrooms for toadstool clippings, paper feathers cut from black paper for crow feathers, white flour makes great bone powder, silver glitter for the unicorn horn dust, gray wool for werewolf fur, and colored water for snake venom and arsenic.

You don’t have to use those materials. Part of the fun is being creative and adjusting as you see fit.

 

Book Covers

Do you have any hardcover books in your home? Do you have a printer and some paper? Great! You have all the supplies needed for these traditionally spooky book covers. Place these books around your home for total Halloween vibes.

Materials:

Hardcover Books
Standard Brown Packing Paper

Cut your brown paper into A4 sized pieces of paper. Then insert the paper into the printer and print the prepared templates. Once they are printed, you can trim the paper to fit the size of your books.

The template created by littlehouseonthecorner.com can be found here.

 

Pumpkin Drawing

Carving pumpkins are a standard of Halloween but the minute that you start carving your pumpkin begins a countdown towards decay. Nothing puts a damper on the festivities quite like a moldy pumpkin. With this mess-free option your pumpkins will last past Halloween all the way to Thanksgiving.

Materials:

Pumpkins
Sharpies
Paint Brush (optional)
Mod Podge (optional)

For this decoration the first thing you are going to want to do is give your pumpkin a good washing. Nothing worse than creating a masterpiece to then realize you drew right over a muddy patch. Next select either a saying or a design that you wish to put on your pumpkin. Use your sharpie to draw your design or saying. You can stop their if you want but if you feel that you want to put a final layer of protection you can paint a thin layer of Mod Podge on top to create a barrier.

 

In an age were social media makes it easy to see the lives of others through rose colored glasses, the pressure to be the mom who does it all is substantial. With our quick and easy DIY décor ideas you can create the perfect subject for an Insta without investing hours of your time, freeing you up to spend more time with your kids.

Choosing the Right Furniture for Your Rental

Buying furniture for your permanent residence can be worlds different than buying it for your vacation home. Chances are if you’re renting your home out, you’re in a vacation or tourist-laden area and your goal is to bring future tenants in. By creating a memorable outdoor space, you can make your patio just as cozy as the inside of the home and even attract more renters!

So what furniture is right for your rental?

The type and construction of your furniture is something that will depend a lot on your location. If you’re in a coastal area that has lots of wind and potential for severe weather, sturdy materials that can withstand water and salt spray are ideal.  For example, you won’t want to pick a wood table top at the beach; wood can easily warp if not kept in a climate-controlled space. Instead, try using a poly lumber dining set to satisfy the same need without cracking or blowing away on a windy day. Make sure that you choose the best material for your region to avoid future issues.

Pro Tip: In addition to being built tough, our poly lumber furniture has color throughout the extrusion that will keep your furniture looking new throughout its lifetime.

To maintain your outdoor furniture’s warranty, proper maintenance is essential. Whatever material you decide on, make sure that it’s simple to maintain, saving you and your tenants time. The less you need to worry about how the patio furniture is holding up while you have renters there, the better! If you have a lot of furniture crowding your outdoor space, making it power wash-friendly can also save you time. If your rental home is in a northern climate, it may be important for you to winterize your outdoor furniture in the colder temperatures.

Pro Tip: If you have expectations for your guests to clean and maintain the furniture during their stay, make it part of your rental agreement so both parties are aware.

In addition to durable and easy to maintain chairs, you’ll want to keep with the mood with your rental. If you have a rustic cabin, perhaps use rocking chairs to keep the look going. If you have a coastal cottage, bring the beach to your patio with Adirondack chairs. Even contemporary city lofts can stay true to concept by using neutral color palettes and furniture with modern profiles. No matter your location and style, there’s outdoor furniture that will match perfectly.

Creating the perfect outdoor space not only can help your rental home feel homier, it can increase the chance of your home getting rented. Considering material, the maintenance level, and the mood of how you want your patio to feel can help you make the best decisions when outfitting your rental.

The Outdoor Bar You Didn’t Know You Needed: The Lake Shore Bar

With our new Lake Shore Poly Lumber Bar, you can take your outdoor entertaining to the next level. Ideal for mixing the perfect cocktail, or simply enjoying a meal outdoors, this bar makes hosting a breeze. With shelves for storage and plenty of counter top space, guests won’t have to make constant trips inside to refill drinks and possibly create a mess inside the home.

Like most of our outdoor furniture the Lake Shore collection is made using poly lumber instead of traditional lumber. Poly lumber is an eco-friendly material well suited for outdoor use. This wood alternative is created using nearly 100% recycled materials, mostly plastic jugs. This waste goes through a compounding process to produce a strong, durable, lumber-like substance that can be used as a building material. From there our Amish craftsmen use it to construct only the best of outdoor furniture.

The thing about using wood to build outdoor furniture is that every year it needs waterproofing, staining, or painting. The whole process can be quite the undertaking, especially when you’d rather be enjoying your days off and not doing more work. With poly lumber you don’t need to worry about any of those issues. You also don’t need to worry about moisture, insects, fungi, or fading. The most maintenance that any poly lumber furniture needs is a little bit of soap and water to wipe away dirt.

We offer our poly lumber products in 24 different colors. With the Lake Shore bar having the option of being a two-toned product, we are confident that we can create the perfect combination to accentuate your home. To go with the bar, the Lake Shore Collection has several bar stool options including a backless bar stool and a bar stool with arms, for maximum comfort.

If you would like to shop our Lake Shore Bar or the entire Lake Shore collection visit us at adirondackchairs4less.com or by calling 800-986-5352.

 

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Ways to Step Up Your Outdoor Entertaining Area

When the weather warms and you want to move your parties outdoors, having an area that you are proud of is essential. Not only is a well-designed outdoor area crucial for entertaining, but it can ultimately increase the value of your home. There are a few things you can do to make your backyard the go-to space for outdoor entertaining. Whether the changes are big or small, anyone can have a yard that makes them happy to play host.

Preparing

The first step in creating your outdoor entertaining area is to evaluate. Take time to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the area you want to use. Is it spacious? Does it have spectacular views? Is the landscaping beautiful? Try to think of ways you can accentuate these strengths in your designs.

After you have evaluated your space, think about your goals. Do you want to create a relaxing oasis perfect for settling your mind after a long day? Perhaps a large outdoor area for hosting dinner parties is more what you envision for yourself.  Or, do you want a kid friendly environment for your family to enjoy during the summer off from school? All outdoor areas should be a blend of relaxation and utility.

If you do have a large space, consider creating different zones. Perhaps one area is a fun zone for the kids to play on, another is a peacefully landscaped garden, and one spot is a covered dining area for enjoying a nice meal. Not only does this make for a fun backyard, but it also helps reduce the amount of grass and plants to mow and maintain. Having less yard work allows for more relaxation.

We have gathered a variety of ideas on ways to take your backyard to the next level.

Wow Factor

When designing your area, decide upon a focal point. Something to give that “Wow” factor is crucial in drawing your guests from indoors to out. A wow factor can be anything from a fountain, to a sculpture,  fire pit, or even a particularly beautiful outdoor furniture set.

Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are great for entertaining large groups of people and are so convenient; you aren’t running back and forth from the table to the house for food, plates, or drinks. Everything you need is in one area for easy access and encourages a sense of togetherness. It can get crowded in an indoor kitchen when everyone is hanging out near the cook, but outside there’s much more space to allow for cooking and conversing. Installing an outdoor kitchen also helps to expand your living space and add value to your home. A win-win for everyone!

Fire Pit

If you are looking for something to keep your guests entertained after all the food is cleaned up, consider installing a fire pit. Mesmerizing in its own way, the fire can become a focal point to sit around and chat with friends or cook s’mores for dessert.

Constantly needing to feed wood to your fire can be such a hindrance. Another option can be to use colored Fire glass. Fire Glass is made from tempered glass allowing it to withstand extreme temperatures without losing its color, shape or shine. As an added bonus it does not emit any smoke or fumes. It is also a great alternative for homes that have kids as the stones don’t become too hot. Please note that Fire Glass is not the heating element. It is often paired with gas fire pits and is used to obscure the plumbing.

Pergolas

Adding a pergola can adds visual interest to your space, and provides a light, airy, structure to protect you from the elements. One advantage pergolas have over a standard patio roof is that the home owner determines how much sun and shade the pergola provides based upon the angle of the rafters. Pergolas also work particularly well if you have flowering or fragrant vines that can grow up and over the rafters and down the posts. Pergolas can be easily customized by draping all-weather fabrics, plants, or soft lights to create ambiance.

An Outdoor Theater

Almost everyone loves a good movie night, but it feels like a waste of the nice weather to spend summer nights indoors. So why not bring your movie outdoors with a projector and a screen? You can purchase an inflatable screen and a projector on Amazon and enjoy your favorite cinematic masterpieces outdoors. Great for families with kids, an outdoor movie screen allows kids to be able to wiggle around while adults enjoy the entertainment.

A Bar Cart

A bar cart is a great way to have adult beverages handy while entertaining outdoors. Stocked with all the necessities for mixing a drink, a bar cart can be easily transported to and from the house. Bar carts can also help to bring a unique décor piece to the yard. If you don’t want to have alcohol you can always store lemonade or iced tea on the cart. For a kid friendly version you could even make it into a s’mores station!

Lighting

While it might seem like a minor detail, lighting can really change the way you view an area. By hanging some romantic string lights or installing recessed lighting into your pavilion, you can increase not only the usability of your outdoor area, but create a whole new mood. To get the best of both worlds consider purchasing a dimmer for your lights, that way if you want bright light to see an outdoor card game, or soft romantic lighting to dine by, you can have both.

No matter your price point, with a few changes any backyard can be taken to the next level in outdoor entertaining. Now that you have your inspiration, head out to your yard and create the space of your dreams.

 

 

 

Which Adirondack Furniture Speaks to Your Design Style?

Everyone has experienced one of those days. You started your morning by spilling coffee all over your white shirt and had to try and subtly hide the stain from your coworkers or risk being teased incessantly. Then your boss decides to completely scrap that big project you’ve been working on. Once you do make it out of the office you hit traffic on the way home and you’re frustrated all over again. But then you have that glorious moment. The one where you step over the threshold of your home and everything just seems that much better. It is your safe space, your haven, everything is just the way you like it. The pictures on the wall, the décor, and especially the furniture are all just the way you like it. It is the first time all day that you feel like you can fully take a deep breath and relax.

Home is the one place where your personal taste and style can truly shine. Homes are all about creating a comfortable, relaxing place for you, and your outdoor area is no different. The challenge in creating an outdoor area that fits with your style is that comfortable outdoor furniture has a tendency to look all the same. That’s why we have pulled together different styles and decor to accentuate the furniture to make it one of a kind and just the way you want it.

Modern

If clean lines and breaking from tradition are your thing, then the Lake Shore Collection could be a great option for your backyard. For that modern look, some great color options would be all white or white paired with dark gray. Ultimately, any neutral colors will help to accentuate the already crisp lines this furniture boasts.

Depending on the look you are going for, a few accessories can really complete the look you are looking to achieve. A glass centerpiece filled with seashells is a simple, yet effective way to bring some interest to your furniture. As a bonus, seashells are also a very low-maintenance centerpiece as opposed to flowers that would need watering or replacing. Using simple linens and glass drink ware that also have clean lines helps to not only complete the look but are functional as well.

Eclectic

Looking for something that is just a little bit different from the usual? Consider our Captain’s chair. While the chair has its roots in traditional Adirondack design, the back design has a big more of an edge to it. Instead of the well-recognized rounded back of the Adirondack chair the Captain’s chair features a straighter back for a different look. This chair is an embodiment of a traditional style blending with newer design trends to create an entirely unique composition.

Available in 24 different poly lumber colors, this chair can be made in bright colors to become a statement piece or more muted to accentuate other décor. Pairing this chair with funky but mismatched pillows or unusual plants can add to the eclectic appeal. Interesting lawn art such or wind chimes can bring the whole thing together.

Bohemian

Are you a person who enjoys mixing and matching? Or perhaps bright colors? Then consider adding outdoor furniture that is unusual in color.  Not many people think to use bright orange or aqua blue furniture in their outdoor design but those people just might not be as adventurous as you. With our Outer Banks collection you have plenty of styles to choose from that allow you to mix and match both colors and furniture pieces.

This collection lends itself well to two-tone designs, making customization a fun and easy process. Make sure that you don’t go too crazy with your designs. Try to choose one common denominator; either keep every piece the same colors and play around with the style of the furniture or vice versa. By doing so your outdoor area will still look put together even if some of the pieces don’t match perfectly.

To achieve this look consider pairing your furniture with bright intricate patterns, such as paisley or henna inspired pillows or blankets. A tapestry also makes a great backdrop while offering privacy from any neighbors that might be peaking in. Plants such as cacti or succulents can really contribute to the bohemian feel.

Classic

Classics become classic for a reason; they are pleasing designs that have stood the test of time, not to mention the passing fads. Nothing is more classic than the traditional Adirondack chair. First crafted in 1903 by Thomas Lee while vacationing in the Adirondack region of New York, the Adirondack chair has become an American favorite. While hemlock and pine are the traditional woods used in crafting the chairs, our poly lumber is an eco-friendly alternative engineered from recycled plastics and is long lasting, easy to maintain, and is even resistant to bugs.

Made in traditional wood tones this chair is a great way to accentuate almost any outdoor area, from a dock on a lake, a porch, or even beach front while maintaining that classic feel. Even just adjusting the way you arrange your furniture can give it more of that classic Adirondack look. Consider purchasing multiple chairs and facing them in a circle around a fire pit or a table to promote lively conversation.

To accentuate that feel of comfort and home, have fuzzy blankets and outdoor pillows at the ready. If you don’t have room for a fire pit, adding a few candles to the area can also contribute a romantic feel perfect for a night outdoors.

Coastal

One style that is relatively unchanging is coastal. Somethings are as unchanging as the ocean and the style that it inspires.

The first thing that comes to mind with coastal design is the use of light neutrals, and pastels paired with an interesting texture. A great way to accomplish that is by getting an Adirondack chair in Birchwood or Driftwood Gray. These colors are still made out of poly lumber but have a more pronounced wood grain to give the look and feel of real wood. Or in this case, real driftwood. Bring out a towel and these chairs will make a great spot for getting some sun or finally tackling your to-read pile.

Team Pride

Do you have a diehard sports fan in your family? If you are trying to turn your outdoor areas into game worthy seating, or let your neighbors know exactly who you are rooting for, consider doing it with right on your patio. With 24 different color options for your Adirondack chairs, you can bring your team colors to your backyard in a subtle way.

Pair this setup with an outdoor bar and you’ll have the perfect spot to host a watch party or just enjoy the game without the crowds.

The best part about folding Adirondack furniture is that if it is game day and you have tickets, there is no reason you can’t take this representation of team spirit to your tailgate party.

Whether you are looking to take some design risks or stick with what you know, the Adirondack style is versatile enough to accommodate many different types of taste. By taking the time to select different accentuating décor the same space can be made to feel completely different. Whatever your style is we hope this guide has started you on your path to creating an outdoor haven that makes you breathe a sigh of contentment.

 

5 Margaritas Recipes You Need For Cinco de Mayo

Margarita RecipesAlmost every culture has a signature cocktail; for the people of Mexico that drink is the margarita. Over the years the traditional margarita has evolved into many different, yet delicious, variations, from the traditional margarita to margarita popsicles.  We found five of the best recipes the internet has to offer to help you celebrate Mexican culture, or just relax after work.

Classic Margarita

Classic Margarita RecipeThis drink is a classic for a reason. The mixture of lime and tequila is a perfect thirst quencher on a hot day.  For an authentic feel salt the rim and add a lime!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ounces tequila

1 ounce orange liqueur

¾ ounce freshly-squeezed lime juice

Lime wedges (optional)

Salt (optional)

Directions:

If you want salt-rimmed glasses, begin by running a lime slice around the top part of the glass. Fill a shallow bowl or plate with salt, dip the rim in the salt until it is coated with a desirable amount of salt. Set the glass aside. Add tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur to a shaker and shake until combined. Finally fill the previously set aside glass with ice and pour in the margarita mixture. Serve immediately with a lime for garnish if desired.

Recipe found at: gimmesomeoven.com

Pink Lemonade Margarita

Pink Lemonade Margarita

This margarita blends (pun intended), together the American staple of lemonade with the Mexican powerhouse that is tequila, to create a delicious hybrid. As a bonus it is such a fun shade of pink how could you not love this drink!

Ingredients:

2 cups of pink lemonade

½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1 cup triple sec

1 cup tequila

Lime Wedges (optional)

Salt (optional)

Directions:

Combine lemonade, lime juice, triple sec, and tequila in a pitcher and stir. When ready to serve put the mix and some ice into a shaker and shake until mixed (usually about 30 seconds). Serve over ice. Feel free to add a lime wedge for garnish!

Recipe found at: the2seasons.com

 

Margarita Float

Lemon Margarita

If you are looking for a margarita that is a little sweeter than the traditional cocktail, a margarita float is a perfect alternative. It uses sorbet to add a sweeter flavor and unique texture to the drink. As a bonus you have many flavor options as any flavor of sorbet can be used.

Ingredients:

1 oz Water

1 oz Tequila

3 Scoops sorbet of your choosing

Salt (optional

Lime (optional)

Directions:

If you’d like to salt the rim of your glass do that first by running a lime slice around the top part of it. Fill a shallow bowl or plate with salt, dip the rim in the salt until it is coated with a desirable amount of salt. Mix together water, tequila, and sorbet. For ours we used a limoncello sorbet. Mix together thoroughly. Pour mixture into salt rimmed glass and add garnish if desired. Finally, enjoy your drink!

Recipe found at: julieblanner.com

 

Beergarita

Beer Margarita

Are you more of a beer lover? Don’t worry, we’ve got a margarita just for you. Instead of using extra sweeteners this drink is mixed using a beer of your choosing to give it the flavor of a beer but with the added buzz of tequila!

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz.) bottle of beer Corona Light

6 oz. frozen limeade (defrosted)

4 oz. Tequila

Lime slices (optional)

Salt (optional)

Directions:

Combine beer, tequila, and limeade in a pitcher. Mix well. Do not shake mixture as it will cause the beer to foam. Run a lime around the rim of a glass and dip the glass into salt. Fill glass with crushed ice, and pour picture over top. Serve with lime garnish.

Recipe found at: hellolittlehome.com

 

Margarita Pops

Margarita Pops

These margarita pops are perfect for when it is so hot out that a regular margarita just won’t cut it. They do take some extra prep time, so if you see a heat wave coming be sure to get these delicious popsicles in your freezer because they take about 5 hours to freeze.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. fresh lime juice (about 8 limes)

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 c. water

1/4 c. tequila

2 tbsp. orange liquer

2 c. Frozen Mango

2 c. Fresh or Frozen Strawberries

4 limes, sliced 1/4″ thick (15 slices)

15 3-oz. paper or Dixie cups

15 wooden spoon or popsicle sticks

Margarita or coarse salt, for garnish

Directions:

Make the margarita base in a large glass or pitcher. Stir together lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, water, tequila, and orange liqueur. Divide 1/3 of the mixture between five paper cups. Pour 1/3 of the base into a blender and blend with frozen mango, adding water if necessary, until mixture is creamy and smooth. Pour into 5 more paper cups. Rinse the blender and pour the last 1/3 of the margarita base into the blender and add strawberries. Blend and add water as needed until smooth. Divide mixture into the last 5 paper cups. Insert a Popsicle stick into the center of each slice of lime and place on each cup. Make sure that there is no room between the lime slice and the margarita mixture. Freeze until solid. When you are ready to serve your margarita pops cut open the cups with scissors and peel away from the pops. Sprinkle with margarita salt if desired.

Recipe found at: delish.com