‘Tis the season to be merry! While “being merry” for some may involve the enjoyment of festive adult beverages, or perhaps cozying up to someone with a warm mug of tea,  it’s also important to remember to keep properly hydrated at holiday time. In efforts to keep hydrated and also provide more drink options for your guests and their kids, why not give holiday infused water a try?

There are many varieties of flavored water on the market, but sometimes they get their natural flavor in not-so-natural ways. But it doesn’t have to be that way. All you need is a simple flavor infuser, water and a few fresh ingredients of your choice to make a delicious holiday drink that’s as crisp and refreshing as a new layer of snow on Christmas morning.

Check out these tried and true holiday-infused water recipes or get creative with festive flavor combinations of your own.

Apple Cinnamon Ginger Water

Nancy Creative was inspired to create infused water that’s as fitting for fall as it is winter. Fresh sliced apples are delicious, especially when combined with cinnamon sticks as the perfect combination. Looking to spice it up ever so slightly? Adding fresh ginger root will do the trick. Combine all ingredients into an infuser ball, refrigerate overnight and enjoy the next day! As Nancy mentions, if you squeeze fresh lemon juice on your apple slices before putting them in the infuser, they won’t turn brown, so your water creation will look fresh as can be!

Cranberry and Mint Water

This cranberry and mint water is courtesy Oh So Delicioso and it is just that…oh so delicious! The red of the cranberries and green of the fresh mint simply pull in the colors of Christmas into one festive, refreshing drink of water that’s made extra refreshing by the cooling mint. Combine fresh cranberries and mint and feel free to serve immediately!

If you’d prefer something with a bit more citrus flavor, combine the mint with grapefruit instead! According to The Chalkboard, a grapefruit is a great option for flavor as it helps to boost metabolism (ideal considering the holiday feast we’re all about to eat!), strengthens our immune system and has the power to reduce stress – even the stress from holiday gift shopping!

Sometimes it’s not easy to meet all of your water-drinking needs during the holiday season, but these creative holiday-infused water recipes make drinking water a bit more merry and bright.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We’re all a little more grateful in the last few months of the year, so why not let someone know you appreciate them? There are some things in life that everyone should know how to do and today we’re going to make life easier by brushing up on our writing skills, thank-you note style. You may have been forced to write them as a kid, but now that you’re a grown-up, it’s time to revisit this lost art and learn to send a sincere note of gratitude.

For this task, we enlisted the help of an expert: Michelle Detwiler is a high school English teacher (and self-proclaimed grammar snob) that lives in Asheville, North Carolina.  Michelle teaches letter-writing every semester and gave us the following tips:

  1. Date your note. That being said, you need to write your note in a timely manner. If you get a gift, you should send a thank you note as soon as possible…but definitely within a month.
  2. “Dear (state their name),” is the correct salutation.  Oh, and make sure the recipient’s name is spelled correctly. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if your uncle spells his name “Stephen” and you write a note to your Uncle “Steven,” you’re not setting a very thoughtful tone.
  3. The first words on your note should be “Thank you.” Thank the person for the gift, mention the occasion, and talk about something specific you will use the gift for or like particularly enjoy.  “Someone took the time to get you a gift,” Michelle said, “Don’t write a generic note that doesn’t show the giver that you know what you’re talking about or that fails to mention that you enjoy the gift.”
  4. Thank them again for your gift.
  5. End with a closing (“Sincerely,” always works) and sign your name.

“And DEFINITELY don’t email a thank you note,” Michelle added. It’s true…everyone likes to get something other than a bill in the mail. Who knows? Maybe 2018 will be the year we bring handwritten notes back in style.

Rather give than receive? Stay organized with the Jokari Gift Wrap and Bag Organizer.

 

It’s a full-time job to raise a family. Whether you have another full-time job on top of parenting or not, getting dinner together for a family is sometimes a little too time-consuming…especially when you know pizza is just a phone call away. That’s exactly where Kendra Cundick of Idaho Falls found inspiration. “I wanted to find a way to help busy moms get a healthy dinner on the table for their families. So I started creating recipes to use in the crockpot directly from the freezer and Sliced Pepper was born. There is such a need to get wholesome, healthy meals on the dinner table. I was falling short and getting frustrated…so I came up with a solution.”

Kendra pictured with her family (from left): daughter Kella, husband Nate, and daughter Ashton.

Students come to a Sliced Pepper class and, two hours later, will leave with ten meals that go straight from the freezer to the crockpot. You can cater your recipes based on your family size and can make anywhere from 10-40 servings in a class. Meals range from Sloppy Joes to Thai coconut soup to one of her favorites: Sweet Pork.

Kendra’s Favorite Sweet Pork Recipe (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 3lbs boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 (10oz) can, red enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4oz) can, diced green chilis
  • 1/2c light brown sugar
  • 1/2t chili powder
  • 1/2t onion powder

Prep:

  • Combine all ingredients and freeze in a large freezer bag.
  • From frozen, cook in a crockpot 6-8 hours or Instant pot 2 hours quick release.
  • Serve on tortilla with black beans, jasmine rice, and any of your other favorite burrito toppings or on top of a bed of crisp kale and cabbage salad.

“When a person attends one of my classes, all they bring is a cooler. I provide everything else from the food to the apron you wear when you’re preparing your meals. I do all of the meal planning, shopping, and even the clean up afterward. It is a fun get together, whether it’s a group of family and friends or people who come alone and make new friends here.”

Sliced Pepper was born about a year ago, but Cundick discovered the Jokari Baggy Holder a year earlier. “I was scanning Amazon, trying to find a better way to hold my freezer bags open while putting food in them. They are amazing and everyone that attends my classes agrees. They are always asking what they are called and where to purchase them.”

There is an art to making large amounts of food ahead of time. Cundick recommends getting as much air out of the bags as possible and, if your recipe is using potatoes, to make sure there is liquid covering them or they’ll turn black. Also, when you’re storing bags in your freezer, place wax or parchment paper under them so they don’t freeze to your grates…or each other. Most meals will keep for up to four months in the freezer.

Kendra’s best advice for meal prep? “Just do it. Most people think of meal prep as a huge task and to be very time-consuming. It saves so much time in the long run. It’s easy to put it off and keep putting it off but when you actually take the time (less than 2 hours at a Sliced Pepper class) to do it, the result is amazing and you will be so glad you di! Your body will thank you for feeding it wholesome, healthy food instead of spur of the moment, fast, greasy, unhealthy food.”

 

Now that we’ve been in fall for a while, you’ve probably swapped your shorts and flip-flops for leggings and boots and chances are you are anxiously planning the next time you can take a beach vacation when you’re scraping frost off your car in the morning. Did you also retire your grill for the colder months? You don’t have to!  Just because the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are turning colors doesn’t mean that you have to part ways with your best friend of the last four or so months.

When it comes to fall grilling, you can add a bit more creativity to your endeavors. New produce is available and the flavor combinations are very robust. That being said, here are three ways to keep an open flame this fall.

  1. Roasted vegetables – Grilling your vegetables helps to eliminate any messes in the kitchen. Keep the roasting pans in the cupboard because all you’ll need is the grill and some foil. Squash, onions, carrots, and potatoes are all delicious vegetables that you can cook right on the grill. Prep with your favorite produce tools, toss them in some olive oil and the spices of your liking, then place them on heavy-duty foil to begin the roasting process on the grill.
  2. Get creative – There’s nothing wrong with classics like grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, but the fall lends itself to a bit more creativity when it comes to marinades! Dark, seasonal beers are not only good for drinking; they’re good for marinating as well. Find a recipe that tickles your fancy. Reserve a portion of the marinade on the side and use our Bottletop Baster to brush on a final coating before serving!
  3. Fruity ideas – Apples, bananas, figs, peaches, and pineapple are just a few fruits that are delicious on the grill.  After you initially grill them, can coat them in a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and return them to the grill. The sugary mixture should crystallize. Once you see the beautiful amber coloring on your fruits, remove and serve over ice cream.

Have you ever watched the TV show Extreme Couponing? It’s absolutely insane in the most wonderful sense of the word. Families have a coupon clipping system in place that basically gives them hundreds of dollars of groceries for pennies on the dollar. Most people that are extreme couponers seem to treat it like a full-time job and spend their entire day gathering coupons (sometimes going through the garbage to add to their stockpile), clipping, printing online offers, and organizing their coupons in a way that truly lets their Type-A personalities shine. But it all pays off that moment they are at the checkout and the clerk tells them their $500 grocery trip is going to cost them a mere twelve cents.

Now, let’s be honest: there are a few issues with the show and the idea, because it seems like a lot of the things they buy aren’t necessarily things they need. One episode had a woman buying cat food, but she didn’t have a cat. Interviews with many extreme couponers discuss how they have to throw away a lot of their products because they expire. Often, you’ll see shoppers buying pretty unhealthy foods to feed their families.  Enough Hamburger Helper to feed a family of four every night for a year? Probably not the best dinner decision.

All of the couponers, however, do seem to share some common strategies when they go shopping that can help make the most out of your time at the grocery store.  Here are five tips for how to not only clip coupons effectively but also organize your shopping trip:

  1. Organize your coupons. Many people clip coupons and “put them away”–which usually means losing them or forgetting to use them before they expire. There are lots of ways to organize, and you have to find what’s best for you.  Some people organize their coupons based on category (baby food, spaghetti, soda, etc), others by the coupon’s expiration date. 

    The Jokari Coupon Holder

    Depending on how many coupons you clip, you may want to use a binder, a school supply box or even a coupon holder that you can fasten to your shopping cart when you go to the store.

  2. Get to know your grocery store. Organize your shopping trip based on the layout of your store. This way, you’re not running back and forth trying to find what you need. 
  3. Know the best times to shop. Don’t go to the grocery store on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon and expect to be in and out. Wake up early up or go late on a weeknight. Grocery stores are ghost towns after 9 pm.
  4. Talk to people in the produce department or the meat department.  Be nice. Ask the butcher about his family or the cake decorator about her recent vacation.  It may not save you time, but being friendly and having people who smile when they see you always make a shopping trip better.
  5. Use grocery store apps for extra savings. Many grocery stores have a weekly free product for people who use their app.  It may not be something that interests you, but you never know unless you get it.

What tips help make you a grocery shopping and coupon clipping champ? Share in the comments section below! The Jokari Coupon Holder helps take the stress out of grocery shopping. Just another way we help you make life better.