Here’s an experiment for you: Find the nearest East Coaster and utter the word ‘soda’ in front of them. Watch carefully as they do a double-take, sputter, and cough- staring at you as though you’ve uttered a curse word. You will find that you experience equally hilarious results if you find a Southerner and utter the word ‘pop’. Though there will always be a miniature civil war between the ‘pop’ and ‘soda’ regions across the U.S., that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy these fizzy delights. And, just like these words vary state to state, so do the specialty soda and/or pop choices. Check out our picks for some unique craft sodas across the U.S.:

Moxie soda

Photo Credit: Moxie

Moxie

Although this soda was originally invented in Massachusetts, it has been dubbed the official soft drink of Maine. Its bitter taste with a slightly sweet undertone could be called an acquired taste by some, but it has certainly been acquired by a lot of the east coast. Not only is this drink found in Maine, but it can also be found in states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and even Pennsylvania. It was created in 1876 and actually helped to popularize the term ‘moxie’- not the other way around.

Big Red

This soft drink originated in Texas in 1937 and was the first red-hued cream soda in history. The drink was originally called Sun Tang Red Cream Soda, which just rolls off the tongue so much easier than Big Red, right? The flavor is commonly compared to Bazooka bubble gum, though it is more technically a blend of citrus and vanilla. Today, Big Red is distributed by Dr. Pepper so it can be found in a few states throughout the South- including Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

Ski Soda

Photo Credit: Ski

Ski

Ski was invented in the 1950s during America’s soda boom in Tennessee. It is currently distributed by the Double Cola Co. and can be found throughout the Midwest and Southwest. Its inclusion of real orange and lemon juice sets it apart from it’s artificially flavored equivalents. There is also a cherry flavored variant of this summery soft drink called Ski InfraRED, which is slightly rarer and found in only select locations like Utah and Alaska.

Cheerwine Soda

Photo Credit: Cheerwine

Cheerwine

This soda was created in 1917 in North Carolina during the WWI-induced sugar shortage. Overcoming the odds, inventor L.D. Peeler created Cheerwine which was the world’s first bottled cherry soda. The business is still family-owned to this day, passed down through five generations. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Nectar of North Carolina’ it is the, “oldest continuing soft drink company still run by the same family,” according to the Salisbury Post. The flavoring is so popular in the South that is has inspired recipes for barbecue sauces, salad dressings, cakes, ice cream flavors, and even a Krispy Kreme donut flavor.

Faygo Soda

Photo Credit: Faygo

Faygo

Faygo was originally founded by two Russian immigrant bakers, Ben and Perry Feigenson, in 1922. At the time they’d only produced three flavors which were meant to go along with cake flavors- grape, strawberry, and fruit punch. Today there are over 40 flavors of the drink with increasingly distinct names, including Redpop, Black Cherry, Rock N’ Rye, Jazzin’ Blues Berry, and Ohana Punches. Though it was created in Detroit, it can now be found throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Central Southern regions.

Nugrape Soda

Photo Credit: Walmart

NuGrape

First invented in 1906 in Atlanta, Georgia, NuGrape became a commercial success in 1922. Although it has been acquired by various larger soda companies at this point (including Big Red and Moxie), they’re still using their original recipe which includes real sugar and artificial grape flavoring. Today it can be found in candy and grocery stores throughout the Southeast.

Boylan Soda

Photo Credit: Boylan

Boylan

This soda originated in New Jersey and is now 128 years old, having been invented in 1891. The bottles have kept their old school and classic design and the soda has a quality flavor that includes black cherry, ginger ale, and root beer. They also produce a line of diet sodas and seltzers that echo the same quality that they accomplished with their original recipe.

For some people, a scented candle is the gift that keeps on giving. When they open the package and see the ‘lavender blossom’ wonder sitting at the base of the box, their eyes shine like a kid on Christmas morning. To those people, you’ve just given them many relaxing evenings of knitting, reading, and binging their latest Netflix obsession in total Hygge bliss. But, for everyone else, this is the reason we rehearse our surprise faces. You may think of them as a safe choice, but there are many other classic gifts that don’t force the smell of Eucalyptus onto unsuspecting relatives and friends:

Mugs

1) Mugs

Mugs are a great option because…well… we all drink something, right? And even for the non-coffee, tea, or hot chocolate drinkers of the world (if there are any of you out there) mugs are a great decorative feature for a desk at your office. And there are so many out there that it’s very easy to find one that’s more personalized. Your friend a cinephile or TV junkie? Get them a Game of Thrones mug. Are they a sports fan? Get them a Steelers mug or whomever else they incorrectly support. Does your friend spend more time between pages than they do speaking to humans? There’s a Harry Potter mug out there with their name on it (no really, you could probably find one with their name on it. People love Harry Potter).

2) A Watch

Another classic gift that anyone would enjoy is a watch. Yes, we know everyone can tell time on their phones now. And they have calculators, too so our high school math knowledge is now also utterly useless. However, watches are still a stylish accessory that any person can enjoy- from lovers of vintage style to those who want to feel like James Bond with the latest in watch tech. You can even find watches customized with various engravings, fandom images, and even people’s birthstones- you know, because people love knowing you remember their birthday.

3) Wine/Whiskey/Beer Glass

We’re going to make a bold statement and say that virtually any drinker can be split into one of these categories: wine drinker, whiskey drinker, or beer drinker. If you know your friend well enough (and we’re assuming that you do since you’re buying them a gift in the first place) you’ll know which of these three categories they’ll fall under. And, again, this is another category of gifting where you can find a lot of more personal pieces. Whether you want to get them a really sleek and classic whiskey set or a wine glass with a Shakespeare sonnet- it’s out there and ripe for the drinking.

Plants

4) A Plant

Ask yourself one simple question before proceeding: How responsible is your friend? If you just wrinkled your eyebrows and shrugged, this may not be the classic gift for your friend. Even if your friend is responsible, there’s still an 80% chance that the plant will die within the first month- yes, that is a totally real statistic. But, if given to the right person, it’s the perfect way to brighten up a room and fill a home with a sweet and relaxing aroma. Who needs essential oils or candles when you can have a real lavender plant? And, for the less responsible friends, there are plants like Aloe Vera that will match their low maintenance personalities.

5) Tea or Coffee

Again, we’re making a large generalization, but the world can typically be split into these two groups (if you disagree, fight us). If you have a friend who is especially enthused by either category, a great gift would be to get them an assortment of various higher quality flavorings or even from their favorite brand (if you can remember the name… it’s on the tip of your tongue). Arrange them into a cute little gift basket and you’ll have them smiling for oolong time.

6) Desserts

Another classic gift that people can’t get enough of- food. Here’s the first question you need to ask: can you get away with making this your whole gift? Depends on your relationship with the person. If they’re an acquaintance then you definitely can, but for close friends (unless you make a giant basket filled to the brim with sweet confections), probably not. And even then your friend will probably get mad at you for trying to kill them with cookies. But this is a great mini-addition if you’re having the anxiety that you didn’t get someone enough gifts is setting in.

7) A Throw Blanket

It’s soft, warm, cozy, and cuddly- who wouldn’t want a throw blanket? We honestly can’t imagine anyone ever feeling like they have enough of these lying around. And, presuming that you’ve been to this person’s house before, you’ll likely be able to find one the perfect color to complement their living room. If you’ve been there before, but your brain is refusing to recall what color their couch is- white, brown, or gray are typically safe options.

8) A Wallet

This is an amazing gift because no one wants to spend money on one of these themselves. A wallet is for putting money in, but no one wants to put money into purchasing one. If this is the route you think you want to go, though, you’ll need to start paying attention when this friend pulls out their wallet. The last thing you want to do is get the wrong size for their needs so check to see if they have cash spilling out over it or if they have a bunch of unused space. CAUTION: If you’re not stealthy enough, your friend may think you’re trying to steal money from them.

Board Games

9) A Board Game/Card Game

This is an especially fun option because it’s not simply a gift, it’s several nights worth of memories yet to come. And there are a lot of really quirky options you can find nowadays, from What Do You Meme to Exploding Kittens.

Just make sure you keep in mind the prospective person’s number of friends and friend group dynamic when you’re searching for the best option. If you purchase a game made for 6-12 players and your friend only has 4 good friends, this gift suddenly becomes an unwelcome reminder which will gather dust on their shelf.

10) Cash

People may call this gift impersonal, but we ask you this: name one person who has ever been upset when handed money. Go on, we’ll wait.

11) Socks

Before you groan or chuckle, hear us out. Socks have been stereotyped as the ‘bad gift’ for years now and, honestly, we think they just got a bad rep because of bratty kids in movies. What adult wouldn’t want a nice, cozy pair of socks to hug their feet all warm and snug? Also, there are so many great and personalized sock options out there nowadays, you can get anything from Taco socks to Breaking Bad socks. You may scoff, but never underestimate the power of good sock game.

As a parent, we all know the difficulties of trying to magically transform boring into fun. We all know the impossible struggle of making broccoli taste like candy, of turning clean-up into play time, of making reading feel like screen time, and even of turning tooth brushing into a party in their mouths. Although we’ll never be able to make veggies taste like cupcakes, we do have the power to transform toothbrushing time into a fun activity. So, parents, pull out your magic wands and let’s get started:

parent and child brushing teeth

1) Make it a Game

One way to make brushing fun for your child is to invent a game around it. Standing around brushing for two minutes is boring, but what if your child was a superhero fighting off the plaque monsters or the sugar bugs? All of a sudden, what was once a chore becomes a hero’s mission. To add to the fun, give your child a cape and mask to dawn on when brushing time comes around. It’ll make them not only want to brush but excited to do it. And the best part- once you establish what the game is, it’ll stick and become an easy part of your daily routine. Also, if your child happens to have a sibling, you can create a little friendly competition to see which of them can defeat the most plaque monsters.

2) When in Doubt, Dance it Out

If your child loves music, make brushing something they’re excited about by making it a dance party. Put on your kiddo’s favorite music and dance it out while you brush your teeth together. Having you also participate helps because kids tend to mimic their parents and it’ll be something the two of you can bond over as well. There are even some fun Youtube videos you can dance along with:

There are also some Apps you could use to make the party more fun. One app called “Brush DJ” plays music for you while your child brushes. It plays for the duration of the recommended two minutes and you can race against the clock to get all the brushing and dancing done before the time’s up. There’s also an app called “Star Teeth” which allows your child to pick a character who encourages them as they brush their teeth.

girl brushing teeth

3) Offer Rewards

We know bribery can be a bit sketchy. If you were rewarding your child with a toy everytime they brushed, you’d go broke in a month. But don’t worry, there’s an easier way to reward your child. Purchase or print our a fun calendar and buy a pack of stickers you think your child will enjoy. Then tell them that you’ll be giving them a sticker everytime they brush their teeth. After they’re given a sticker, have them place their sticker on that day on the calendar. Finally, decide what type of reward system you want to do. So, for example, you could say that everytime your child completed a full week of stickers he/she would get a new toy. Or after a month of full stickers, they get to go to their favorite amusement park or restaurant. This way your child gets to strive toward a larger goal and toothbrushing become a means of earning things that they love.

4) Use Toys

We all know that our kids have their favorite toys that they can’t go anywhere without, so why not get them a fun toothbrushing toy? Jokari’s Sprouting Whale Faucet Fountain is perfect for this. Every time your child brushes, you can attach the whale to the faucet to get them ready for a toothbrushing adventure.

You could also purchase your child a toy that you know they’ll love- perhaps one of their favorite television or book characters as well as a new toothbrush. When you present the toy to your child, let them know that the toy will be a toothbrushing buddy for them. And then it becomes a nightly ritual where your child and the toy go in and brush their teeth together (though you’ll probably have to give the toy a little help).

Father and daughter brushing teeth

5) Let them be in Charge

As a child, you’re constantly feeling like everything is being done for you when all you want to do is proclaim your independence. There’s no better way to make something more appealing than by making it feel like it’s something they can do on their own. Let your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Try to find one that has one of their favorite characters or an animal that they love, and try to find toothpaste with a flip top instead of a screw top (just make sure you monitor them when putting toothpaste on themselves). Then, once you have taught them to brush on their own, don’t help them, just stay close by to cheer them on. Let them do every step- picking up their brush, putting the toothpaste on, running water, brushing, etc. Maybe even do it along with them on your own as well. This helps your child to feel independent and capable, which is something kids don’t get to feel very often.

Although the activity of standing in front of a mirror and brushing for two minutes can be rather boring, with your magical parental powers you can transform it into something your child will look forward to each day. And that’s the tooth!

Here’s a riddle for you: What contains everything from painting cans to cars, from toys to tools, and from treasured memories to trash bins? Give up? It’s your garage. Having a space to store all of your excess junk is extremely helpful, but you also have a whole room of your house that is completely going to waste. It could become that woodworking space or workout room that you’ve always wanted–but how? What if we told you that it’s possible to make your garage a fully functional space without sacrificing your storage abilities? Here are the top ten ways to get the most out of your garage:

Organized Garage

1) Conquer Clutter

If you’re considering re-organizing your garage space, it’s likely somewhere between a hodge podge of miscellaneous items and a borderline hazardous waste dump. Before you figure out how best to divide your space, you have to sort through what you have. Figure out what’s needed and what goes straight in the trash. Start by creating three piles for your things: keep, donate/sell, and trash. A good rule of thumb is that you should only be keeping items that you’ve used within the past two years. The only exception to the rule would be any items that have sentimental value (within reason).

As you’re starting to figure out what you’re keeping, begin to sort those into piles too. So, for example, hockey equipment in one area, workshop tools in one area, workout equipment in another, etc. The categories may become more specific or broad when you get into sorting, but this will help you see what you have and the potential for various storage options.

2) Organize into zones

Now that the clutter is removed, think about the specific different functions you’d like for your garage to have. Would you like a part gym/part workshop garage? A part parking spot/part band rehearsal space? Write down all of the various functions you’d like the garage to serve. Next, draw up a small diagram of your garage space. Think about which corners or spaces would be good for storing the equipment needed for each activity or function. Use your diagram to sketch out various sections of the space for the storage of the various items. This will also help you figure out what equipment you’ll need to create the adequate storing space.

3) Clear the Air

One of the main reasons you haven’t used your garage as a functional space in the past? The air. It’s either too hot, too cold, or too stuffy down there- it’s hardly a space that you could spend hours of your time. Well, even if you remodel the space, you’re not going to use it if you don’t feel comfortable. Purchasing a heater or air conditioner (or both) for the garage will easily transform it into a much cozier and more habitable area.

garage shelves

4) Use the walls and ceilings for storage

When it comes to getting the most out of your garage, guess what is your worst enemy? The floor. Yes, the floor is there for a reason, but cluttering up the floor space with items leaves you much less room for the functions and activities you’d like your garage to hold. You have many options in this regard, from purchasing some shelving units to building your own shelves along your wall. And, if you’re someone who’s constantly changing your mind about spacing, you can create pegboard walls and use hooks to add or remove your shelving. Don’t waste any space in your garage- that includes your ceiling. You can either purchase or build your own ceiling shelving units as well. Ceiling storage can be used for anything from storing small tools to a sturdy bike rack. After utilizing these techniques, you’ll be shocked by how much bigger your garage looks.

5) Fold-away furniture

Another important technique to utilize for a multi-functional garage is to purchase fold-away supplies. For example, if you’d like for your garage to be a part workshop/part gym, purchase or build yourself a fold-away workbench. And buy workout tools like adjustable weights, which can easily be rolled up and stored away efficiently. If you’re currently storing equipment like a ladder, look into purchasing one that folds up and is easier to store than your current ladder. You’ll create so much more space simply by modifying the items that you build or buy.

6) Outlets and Wiring

In all likelihood, if your garage is multifunctional then you’re going to have more plugs and, by deductive reasoning, more outlets. If there are open studs in your garage, you can run wire and add outlets as long as your garage stays up to code. This means making sure you’re doing things like using the right circuit breaker, using a neutral wire, etc. In addition, when you’re using large amounts of wiring the garage can very quickly begin to look cluttered. Try to strategically place items that need to be plugged in near any outlets available. And, if there aren’t many, run the wiring necessary around the perimeter of the room or over the ceiling and make sure it’s secured. This way it won’t interfere with the floor space and you’ll be able to use all of your devices.

Wall storage

7) Protective covers

In order to make sure every function of your garage space doesn’t interfere with one another, you’ll need to make sure they’re each sectioned off in the best way possible. For example, if your garage is doubling as a wood-working space, things can get pretty messy very quickly. That isn’t an easily contained activity so, even if you section off your other items, it’s likely they’ll be buried in wood dust within a fortnight. Use shelf coverings to make sure your items stay clean and undisturbed by the various goings on in your garage.

8) Add Outdoor Storage

If you’ve added all of your wall and ceiling shelving and you’re still not getting the space you’d like out of your garage, perhaps consider adding some outdoor storage. A small shed for outdoor equipment like gardening gear can go a long way to getting out that unnecessary clutter.

9) Epoxy the Floor

If your dingy garage floor is another thing keeping you from enjoying your time there, we recommend adding an antiskid floor coating. It will resist oil stains and wipe away dirt in a much easier way. The key to accomplishing this well is doing it when you’ll have a few days of 50 to 80-degree weather for accurate drying time.

10) Magnetic Board for Small Items

If there are some smaller items or tools lying around that you’re afraid will go missing, we recommend getting a magnet board or two. It’s perfect for tacking up some tools in a workspace and smaller ones can be used for bobby pins or pins in case your garage is doubling as a sewing studio. This way, the space’s next user doesn’t get an unpleasant surprise in the form of a pin in their foot.

Typically, we come to the conclusion that our purse has reached its expiration date for one of four reasons: a) Zippers or snaps are broken, canyon-sized holes are made, and it’s just generally falling apart at the seams; b) We’ve run out of ways to store our unhealthy surplus of bags; c) Our lives have evolved to the point where the purse size no longer works for us; or d) We’re addicted to buying them and the ‘new purse’ excitement has worn off the one we’re currently using so… onto the next one. If Option C is your reasoning, we can definitely empathize with the struggle. When things like work, family, friends, relationships, etc. change, so too does your purse size. A working mother of two is going to have very different bag needs than a single college student in her twenties. We all know and abhor the struggle of switching our purses on an almost daily basis. Constantly digging through the three or four bags that you use on a regular basis because you left your favorite chapstick behind again is the bane of your existence. But how do you find the perfect sized bag for all of your needs? Here are some tips to help:

woman holding purse

1) Consolidate and Get Organized

Prior to choosing your perfect bag, you need to consolidate your belongings and figure out what you really need. This means tossing all of the three-month-old fast food receipts, loose change adding an extra two pounds, and lonely earrings missing their other halves. The last thing you want to do when you get a new purse is transfer the mess from your old one. In addition, it’s extremely difficult to tell what size purse you need when half of your current purse is lipsticks. You may even be someone who needs to go down a size in your bag to keep yourself more disciplined. If you’re someone who’s carrying a bag that’s much too big for your needs, your bag may become 50% purse, 50% trash purely so that you’re not carrying a big bag of nothing.

2) What is the bag for?

Once you’ve removed all of the excess items, ask yourself- what is this bag for? Is it an everyday purse? A bag to take hiking? Shopping? Work? To the coffee shop to work on your screenplay? All of the above? Trying to have one purse for every occasion can be extremely difficult and likely impossible. If you get a huge purse, there will still be days where there’s barely anything in it. If you get a tiny one because you don’t carry a lot day-to-day, you’ll likely need a big one more often than you think. If you’re trying to find one that you can use as often as possible, we recommend making a list of the activities you do on a normal weekly basis and what items you bring to those events. And if there was ever a time to be completely honest with yourself- this is it. People tend to talk themselves into thinking they’re more minimalist or needy than they actually are when they’re buying a new purse. This is how wrong-sized purses are bought, only to gather dust in the closet.

woman holding small bag

3) What do you need every day?

As a general rule of thumb, your purse should be big enough to fit what you need with you on a daily basis with a little bit of wiggle room in case you need to add one or two things throughout the day. So, in addition to your previous list, make another small list of the things that you need with you everywhere you go. You could be a more minimalist person who just needs their phone, wallet, and keys and they’re good to go. On the other hand, you could be someone who likes to carry their makeup bag, phone charger, and a book with them (just in case). Now consider both lists and what type of bag would suit those items. If you generally only need your phone, wallet, and keys, for example, a small purse or wristlet would be the best option for you. If there are a few extra items you need on a daily and weekly basis, however, a medium-to-large sized bag would work best.

Make sure you go with a size that would suit you most often according to your weekly schedule. For example, if you made your list and you see for 6 days a week you’d need a tiny bag, but on Sunday you’d need a bigger bag to take to the gym, go for the tiny bag. It’s much better to have a tiny bag that works perfectly 6 days a week than a huge bag that works for 1 day.

4) Organization, Space, or both? Get the most out of your bag’s size!

Now that you have a general idea of what size bag you need, the next thing to consider is storage space. The interior of a purse is extremely important when it comes to shopping for size. You may not believe it, but (by some bizarre magic trick) there are some tiny purses that can fit more items in them than some medium-sized ones. How, you ask? Well, it’s all about the interior.

When a purse has no interior organization, your items tend to get squashed in a weird pile. We all know the struggle of trying to re-organize your items because they only fit into your purse if they’re each in specific spots. If you’re someone who often looks like they’re wrestling their purse, we recommend looking for bags with organized interiors. They’ll have pockets for your phone, wallet, makeup, and an outer pocket for easy access to your keys. This way, you’re never wrestling your bag because there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place! Beware, though, bags that go overboard with their organization pouches and dividers end up limiting the space in the bag rather than creating it. When you’re shopping for a new bag, we recommend trying it on and putting your essentials into the bag to see how efficient its space usage is and how much is leftover. Who cares if you get weird looks if you walk away with a fly new bag?

woman holding large bag

5) Shape and Weight Distribution

The last thing to consider when buying a new bag is the shape and weight distribution. Like we said earlier, the wrong purse can make your items a weird mish-mosh of pieces. If your items fit in the wrong way, there will be weird pieces jutting out and it may make the bag uncomfortable to wear. When you try on the bag with your items inside, make sure when you walk that you aren’t getting stabbed by your lipgloss or that your phone isn’t smacking right against your arm or hip. That may seem fine initially but think about that happening every day over and over. We can almost feel the bruises. And keep an eye out for any zippers that may end up ripping some of your clothes because that purse will end up costing so much more money than it’s worth.

In addition, make sure you consider how the weight is distributed on your body. For people with a lighter load of items, for example, an over-the-shoulder bag would be an excellent fit. However, for those who have several heavier items to carry each day, possibly including a laptop or camera, an over-the-shoulder bag can be grating. You’ll constantly have to switch back and forth the side you’re carrying your bag on as each shoulder grows unevenly more painful. For those who carry heavier items on a day to day basis, we recommend a stylish backpack in lieu of a traditional purse. As they become increasingly more fashionable, there are several adorable styles to choose from and you can say goodbye to shoulder pain. For those who this applies to, make sure you bring your heavier items (laptop, camera, etc.) to shop or measure them beforehand because the last thing you want is to get home to find that they’re the wrong size.

If you take each of these points into consideration as you shop, finding your perfect purse should be a snap!

Ah, the joys of cooking.  There’s just something about the food we make ourselves…it simply tastes better.

In this blog, we’re focusing on one ingredient, in particular: lemon extract, and how it can be added to your baking routine this year. As they say, when life gives you lemons, Make Life Better with homemade lemon extract!

Lemon extract can be used in recipes that need that lemon-infused flavor. Bundt cakes, cookies, muffins, and various other loaves of bread are some of the more common recipes that would require lemon extract.

We want to give you a brief rundown on this zesty ingredient. Lemon extract is a concentrated form of oil that’s derived from lemon peels and alcohol. Given the fact that oils often contain active ingredients from herbs and plants, there are health benefits that are associated with this ingredient:

  1. Stress reduction – Lemon extract is full of essential oil compounds that could help reduce both psychological and physical stress.
  2. Immune system booster – Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which can help strengthen the immune system and prevent various respiratory system infections.
  3. Detoxification – Lemon extract has many diuretic properties that make this oil a viable solution for detoxing. Furthermore, the detoxification properties of lemon extract can help prevent urinary system infections.

Keep Moving Mama is a blog, whose author, Wendy, writes to help reach moms with her message that focuses on food, fitness and the confidence to find balance in both.

This influential blogger wrote a blog that was dedicated to making a homemade lemon extract, and she just happens to use our Citrus Pro 4-in-1 multi-tool in the process! Here’s her recipe:

Homemade Lemon Extract

  • Lemon peels from 3 lemons
  • 6 oz. Vodka
  1. Peel zest from clean lemons. (Just the yellow peel, not the pithy white.)
  2. Add lemon peels to a jar.
  3. Fill the jar with vodka and seal.
  4. Store in a cool, dark place for 4-6 weeks. Shake about once per week.
  5. Strain peels and store in a jar. Use in your favorite recipes.

Rather than choosing the store-bought variety, which can cost you more money than you’d probably like to spend, consider taking the time to make your own lemon extract.

Being an adult can be a series of neverending inconveniences. Laundry, vacuuming, doing the dishes, cleaning your closet, paying bills- all while trying desperately to find time for work, exercise, family, friends, and…well… you. It’s hard to find even a second in the day that’s not already occupied and, on the rare occasions you do, the last thing you want to do is make a complicated dish. Yes, you deserve to treat yourself, but if it comes down to whether you’re going to spend two hours cooking after a long day or eat a bowl of cereal… well… we both know which you’re going to pick.

You admittedly have some easy recipes nailed, but they can get boring after a while if you’re not ‘changing things up’. But usually, when you hear that phrase it means adding an extra three hours onto your already tightly choreographed routine. Well, what if we told you that simply basting some new sauces onto the various meats you use would spice up (literally) your cooking? Here are some of the best store-bought sauces to help make your meals exciting again without adding any extra time to your cooking routine:

1) BBQ Sauces

A genuinely delicious BBQ sauce can be hard to find straight out of the bottle. Luckily for us, some celebrity chefs and experts have made public their favorite versions so we can get that finger licking taste we love without the hassle of following a complicated recipe:

stubb's bbq sauce

Photo Credit: Amazon

a) Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce

Giada De Laurentiis, host of the Food Network’s show Giada At Home, told The Today Show that this was her favorite store-bought barbeque sauce because it’s the “Perfect balance of sweet and tangy with just a touch of warmth so everyone in the family can enjoy it….It’s so versatile I even use it in on eggs in the morning.”

sweet baby ray's sauce

Photo Credit: Target

b) Sweet Baby Ray’s Original BBQ Sauce

This little number appears fairly regularly on any top ten barbeque sauce list- and for good reason, too. Chef Lawrence Page of WE tv’s “Hustle & Soul” told Today, “I like the fact that the sauce is sweet, hence the name, and doesn’t have a heavy ketchup-like taste. For every cup of Sweet Baby Ray’s, I add two pinches of cayenne pepper, 1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon, 1 teaspoon ground white pepper and 1 teaspoon of dark Vermont maple syrup. The maple syrup really adds a nice sweet and smoky flavor to ribs when grilling!”

c) Trader Joe’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce

Another sauce that’s made its rounds on various platforms, including coming in as the number one ranked sauce on The Kitchn. It has a solid deep flavor that is just a tad bit sweet, perfect to add to your meat of choice. According to The Kitchn, some native southerners who tasted the sauce described it as feeling like home- doesn’t get much better than that!

2) Marinara Sauces

Any Italian grandmother will tell you how tough it is to find a good marinara sauce. In fact, if she found out you were getting them store-bought, she’d probably smack you with a wooden spoon. But, despite what Nana thinks, you can actually find some great marinara sauces pre-made.

a) Trader Giotto’s Traditional Marinara Sauce

This sauce is described by Thrillist as, “A hearty sauce, with strong, unabashed flavors — black pepper, fennel, oregano, parsley, fresh-cut basil — and large chunks of stewed tomatoes that maintained their dexterity from start to finish. It smelled wonderful poured over hot pasta, its barbecue-like sweetness cut with the lovely acidity of an aged Cabernet.”

Rao's homemade marinara

Photo Credit: Amazon

b) Rao’s Homemade Marinara

Rachel Ray Every Day ranked this sauce it’s number one spot among store-bought sauces, stating, “Rao’s Homemade Marinara has a complex flavor (spiced, but not too spiced) and a smooth texture we keep going back to. This splurgy sauce is great on its own, but to make it even more impressive, add meatballs or some fresh herbs.”

riserva marinara

Photo Credit: Walmart

c) Classico Riserva Marinara Pasta Sauce

The Chicago Tribune did their own taste test for several pasta sauces and this sauce ranked among the top three that they tried. They described the sauce as having a ‘bold, earthy flavor’ and a hint of sweetness.

3) Burger Sauces

When done well, burgers are one of the tastiest food groups around. But, when you’re making them at home, it can be easy to get stuck in a routine when you like what you’re doing. You have to change it up sometime though and simply adding these sauces to your routine can help you get out of your burger funk.

Photo Credit: Target

a) Aoili

Adding any variation of an aioli (whether it’s a garlic aioli, chipotle aioli, etc.) will add a creamy texture to the burger. This one, in particular, is made with chipotle peppers and has a very natural flavor- perfect for burgers, fries, or even sliders.

thousand island dressing

Photo Credit: Walmart

b) Thousand Island Dressing

This dressing may make you think more of a salad than a burger, but according to Saveur, “The classic blend of mayonnaise, pickle relish, and chili sauce goes beautifully with the flavor of charred beef.”

vermont maple sriracha

Photo Credit: Vermont Country Store

c) Vermont Maple Sriracha Sauce

If you’re an avid spicy food eater and you’re looking for your next favorite flavor, add a little bit of sweet to your spicy with a maple sriracha sauce. This one is made in Vermont (as you could probably guess) and has a mouthwatering balance between a medium-heat spiciness and a touch of sweetness. If this one, in particular, doesn’t appeal, look around in your local grocery store for a creamy maple sauce or some other sweet sauces to add to your burger. You’ll thank us for it.

Feathered hair, blindingly bright colors, shoulder pads, bulky jewelry, and scrunchies. All we have to do is name a few fashion pieces and you’re now thinking of an entire generation of people. It’s crazy to think about how much fashion can define eras and culture itself–that a feathered hairstyle could represent a whole generation or that a hat could represent an entire culture…but it can. While wearing your favorite hat, you could discover anyone from a fellow sports team enthusiast to someone from your home town when you’re on vacation in another country. In fact, some hats have come to represent cultures not only on a national scale but on a global scale as well. Let’s go on a-head and take a look at some hats that have become a symbol for their culture:

sombrero

1) The Sombrero

Although the sombrero has become a colorful and decorative head accessory, it was originally created for the humble purpose of keeping the sun from the wearer’s eyes. Its signature wide brim accomplishes this very effectively, and even the name ‘sombrero’ comes from the Spanish word for ‘shade’ or ‘shadow’. The exact origins of the hat are a mystery, but it has long been associated with wealth, economic status, and Spanish culture.

2) The Fez

Variations of this tiny bright red hat can be found all over, from Cyprus to Serbia. It is most commonly associated with Morrocan and Middle Eastern Men’s dress, and rightly so since Morroco is responsible for originally giving it that signature shade of red using dye from crimson berries. The hat became popular during the Ottoman Empire because, in an attempt to modernize the uniforms, Sultan Mahmud II banned turbans and made the fez part of the standard military uniform. Now, the hat can be found everywhere from the Middle East to making loving appearances on Doctor Who.

3) The Tam O’ Shanter

This hat has been the long since chosen accessory to the kilt for Scottish men all over their country. In fact, the hat was worn exclusively by men until the 1920s until comparable hats called ‘tams’ were introduced into women’s fashion. But this wasn’t the first iterations of the bonnet since Scottish men had been wearing variations of these hats since the 16th century. The hat was officially given its name in the year 1790 when Robert Burns published a poem using the name and it’s stuck around ever since.

Man Wearing Ushanka

4) The Ushanka

Even if you didn’t know its name, you’re sure to recognize this stereotypically Russian head accessory. One of the most reliably warm and cozy hats around the world, it’s most known for its characteristic ear flaps and actually gets its name from the Russian word for ‘ears’ (ushi). What was once a political and cultural symbol of the Soviet Union is now worn casually by both its citizens and those in other countries during their respective winter months.

5) The Tyrolean Hat

Coming to you straight from Central European countries like Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, this little forest green hat originated in Tyrol which is located between present-day Italy and Austria. We may not see too many of these walking around in the U.S., but you’re sure to recognize it from films like Sound of Music. Even in its native countries it’s no longer considered stylish day-to-day wear, but it’s still seen as a symbol of Tyrolean and Bavarian culture, popping up a few times a year including the Oktoberfest season.

6) The Conical Asian Hat

According to Matador Network, this hat isn’t specific to one country or region, but hats of this style have cropped up in several countries between East and South Asia. Similar to the Sombrero, it was designed to keep the wearer safe from the sun, but the Conical Asian Hat has the added benefit of protecting the wearer from the rain. This made it an excellent choice for farmers and it remains both useful and cultural to this day.

woman wearing beret

7) The Beret

You may notice some similarities between the Beret and the Tam O’ Shanter. Similar floppy hats have been popping up all over Europe as far back as the Bronze age, with different countries creating their own variations. However, you may be surprised to learn that the actual Beret wasn’t mass-produced until the 19th century. To the surprise of no one, it became extremely trendy and the military beret was adopted by several armies after the first world war.

If you’re having a bad day or feeling just a little under the weather, a soothing cup of tea could just be what the doctor ordered. No, literally: certain varieties of herbal tea contain plenty of health and medicinal benefits. These ten are our favorites.  Sometimes all you need is a hot cup of tea, a blanket, and a Netflix binge to help you feel better.

PEPPERMINT 

  • Supports digestive health
  • Fights off cramps
  • Ends stomach pain
  • Possible antibacterial and antiviral properties (not tested in humans)

HIBISCUS

  • Effective against high blood pressure
  • Fights oxidative stress

Note: hibiscus tea shouldn’t be consumed when taking aspirin or hydrochlorothiazide due to interactions.

SAGE

  • Improves mood
  • Improves blood lipid levels
  • Improves cognitive functions and memory
  • May protect against colon cancer

ROSE HIP

  • High in vitamin C
  • Effective at reducing inflammation
  • Good for weight management
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Reduces stomach fat over a prolonged period
  • Fights aging skin

CHAMOMILE

  • Excellent sleeping aid
  • Antibacterial effects
  • Fights diarrhea and stomach ulcers
  • May relieve premenstrual symptoms
  • Could improve insulin levels

ROOIBOS

  • May benefit bone health
  • Lowers cell toxicity
  • Prevents heart disease
  • Lowers cholesterol

LEMON BALM

  • Improve elasticity of the arteries
  • Increase in natural enzymes in the body
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduce anxiety

PASSIONFLOWER

  • Relieves anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Promotes calmness

GINGER

  • Remedy for nausea
  • Prevents stomach ulcers
  • Reduces inflammation
  • May help with diabetes

ECHINACEA

  • Boosts immune system
  • May shorten the duration of the common cold
  • Soothes sore throats
  • Clears stuffy noses

 

Remember to use our Jokari Tea Infuser for best results. It can hold bagged or loose leaf teas and the built-in plunger lets you press your tea for a more intense flavor, without the mess.

 

As we get further into 2019, we reflect on the previous year’s happenings – the highs, the lows, the successes – and hone in on things we want to do better in the New Year. How can we Make Life Better?

When you look back at 2018, many of us tried to Make Life Better each day, at least in a tasty and healthy way, as food culture and healthy living propelled the kitchenware category. In a HomeWorld Business magazine article, Senior Editor Lauren De Bellis outlined the highlights of previous years:

“Foodie culture propelled the kitchenware category into the spotlight this year. Between the increased sophistication of tastes, a continued interest in at-home meal prep, as well as a renewed confidence in their cooking skills, consumers actively turned to the kitchenware category for innovative tools and gadgets,” said De Bellis.

These are themes we expect to continue in following years. After all, now that we’ve all developed a sophisticated palate keen on the tastes of healthy and delicious foods we might never have thought to try, why not continue with goals that not only make us healthy, but happy?

Whether you began this positive journey this year or are ready to jumpstart a happier, healthier life next year, follow these tips on how to cook and eat better this New Year!

Meal prep.

The whole point of “meal prep” or meal preparation is to make life easier, and ultimately better, for you during the week. We all lead busy lives and sometimes that busy gets the best of us. This leads us to make unhealthy choices when it comes to our meals.

While the new year may be here fast and furious, take a moment to slow down in the kitchen. Take some time to plan before you begin your actual prep as this will make the process simpler and smoother and save frustration in the kitchen (nobody wants that ingredient in the mix!).

While it’d be great to meal prep for seven days of the week right away, don’t feel you have to jump right into the process. As fitness expert Kayla Itsines said, “If you are just starting out with meal prep, don’t overwhelm yourself! Cooking up a whole week’s worth of meals is a big task and even the best of us can struggle with that. My biggest tip is to ensure that it is manageable. I recommend sticking to a few days at a time to help you get used to the process.”

Allow yourself a little help

Asking for help is important for a lot of things in life, healthy cooking and meal prep is no exception.

You’re only one person. You only have two hands. It may seem obvious, but we understand the conflicted struggle we all sometimes feel about it because we want to tackle everything ourselves! Even if you’re going to be that independent go-getter, go at it in a way that makes it easy and efficient for you. Our Baggy Rack provides a hands-free way to fill baggies with all of your ingredients or freezer meals. Also, Erasable Food Labels are good tricks of the trade when it comes to meal prep.

Get in check with proper portions.

We developed our Healthy Steps Collection to provide the tools of the trade when it comes to healthy eating. So many of us struggle with proper portions. We get that! That’s why we created each item in this collection to easily measure single servings.

Coolest Gadgets recently highlighted our Healthy Steps Pasta Basket as a way to “keep your pasta cravings in check.” Each basket helps you measure a single serving of any type of pasta. Fit up to four baskets in one pot; this even allows you to cook everyone’s favorite pasta at the same time! Time-saving and possibly life-changing.

What are your goals for next year? Share it with us by using the hashtag #MakeLifeBetter!