The holiday season is a hectic time. We race around trying to make the holidays perfect and it seems there’s never enough time in the day. But rejoice! There are steps you can take to get the holidays in order by first getting yourself in order!

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “For every minute spent in organizing, an hour is earned.” Keep these tips and ideas in mind as simple solutions to get more organized for the holidays and upcoming New Year!

Space-saving stocking stuffers

It’s often hard enough trying to find the perfect gift for a loved one, so smaller items like stocking stuffers usually go by the wayside and end up being last-minute purchases. These last-minute purchases usually result in small gifts that don’t mean much of anything to that excited person reaching into the stocking on Christmas morning.

Think about the personalities and needs of the gift-receiver. Is that person a foodie? A wine connoisseur? A coffee or tea lover? There are many gift ideas to fit these personalities, including small, space-saving gadgets for the kitchen.

Declutter for the New Year

While there are plenty of kitchen gadget stocking stuffers, there are just as many stocking stuffers and gifts that relate to storage and organization for the rest of the home.

The closet is often a trouble spot when it comes to organization. There’s just never enough space! Be the best gift-giver you can be when you, again, think about the needs and personalities of the receiver. Do they collect a lot of baseball caps? Do they travel a lot and need a better way to keep clothing and accessories together?  Does mom have a million purses? Storage solutions that keep these organized and make life better for the gift-receiver show you get it!

Another great way to declutter for the New Year is to get prepared after the holidays with items to donate. Tear old clothing out of the closet that’s now replaced by new items just received and get ready to donate. It’ll be a fresh start for you and a chance to help those in need.

Holiday storage and organization

After the New Year hits, it’ll be time to take down all of the holiday decorations (seemingly after you just put them up!). Instead of loading everything back up into those tattered cardboard boxes used year after year, consider sturdier options that are as functional as they are pretty! Our Paula Deen Holiday collection will help you look forward to putting decorations away and greet you year after year when it’s time to put them up again.

And don’t forget to enter our annual Paula Deen Holiday Collection Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive the entire Paula Deen Holiday Collection as well as an autographed photo of Paula!  Contest ends December 17, 2018.

Happy Holidays from Jokari!

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.

 


Halloween is just around the corner and our kids are anxiously awaiting the mountain of candy that they’ll pour out onto the living room floor after a successful trip (or two) around the neighborhood during trick-or-treating.

If you’re trying to lose weight or keep extra pounds from creeping on during the holiday season, Halloween can be filled with scary temptations that can add pounds frighteningly fast if you’re not paying attention!

But it is possible to keep the Halloween binges under control. Here are three helpful tips to help you enjoy a healthy Halloween.

Fuel up before trick-or-treating


It’s a chilly October night and what’s more comforting than unwrapping a delicious melt-in-your-mouth candy bar? Though we do love to indulge every now and again, Halloween is a holiday that’s filled with excess calories, sugar, and fat. Rather than leave your house on an empty stomach before the night’s festivities, make sure to enjoy a healthy meal that will leave you feeling satiated and less tempted to eat candy along the way.


Be mindful

Though we’ll be surrounded with sugary goodness for the next few weeks, this doesn’t mean you have to take it upon yourself to eat your way through the Halloween candy bowl! Because you aren’t eating candy for its nutritional benefits, be mindful of what you’re consuming and why. We’re not telling you to put a padlock on the candy stash, but we are saying is that if you choose to indulge in a treat, take the time to really enjoy the taste. Also, choose candy you actually want, not the one that you think you should have because it’s the lesser of the two evils. If you deny yourself that treat you’ve been craving and opt for one that you really don’t want, you’ll be more likely to keep eating to fill that void.

Keep it out of sight and out of mind


Your kids don’t have to be penalized just because you’re trying to cut calories. Rather than getting rid of their candy stash, simply put it in a cabinet or a place where you can’t visibly see it all of the time. Another way to limit the over-consumption of Halloween candy is by portioning it out into small baggies for special occasions or trying to pair it with something healthy. If your kids want a piece of candy, they can enjoy a healthy snack to go along with it. Also, if you’re a holiday baker, save some of that Halloween candy for your holiday baking efforts.

It might take a little planning and willpower on your part, but you can have a healthy Halloween.  But don’t stress about it and give yourself permission to indulge. Just don’t eat all of your kids’ candy…they won’t like that, either.

SaveSave


We are huge fans of repurposing things here at Jokari. Sure, you can get a lot of use out of everyday products the way they were intended. But it’s incredible how many OTHER ways you can use things, too.

Did you know you can use plastic grocery bags to make beads? And it’s not hard, either!

 

Materials needed:

  1. Clean plastic bags
  2. Parchment paper
  3. Iron
  4. Crafting Glue
  5. Toothpicks
  6. Scissors
  7. Ruler

How to:

  1. Place two layers of your plastic bags between two sheets of parchment paper.
  2. Heat iron to low/medium setting (no steam) and run the iron over the parchment paper.  I recommend running the iron five times over each side (it will be hot when you flip it! So be careful!)
  3. Cut long triangles out of the fused bags. If you cut a wide triangle, you get a long bead. If you cut a narrow triangle, you will get a short, fat bead.
  4. Apply a small amount of glue on one side of the triangle, about ¼ inch from the bottom. DO NOT PUT GLUE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BEAD.  
  5. Roll the bead onto the toothpick, wide end first.  (Be careful not to glue toothpicks to the beads. This is why you don’t have glue at the bottom of the bead.)
  6. Stand toothpicks upright and allow beads to dry (Overnight is always best)
  7. Enjoy your new beads!

So now you have a way to re-use your plastic bags. If you need a place to store your bags, check out our bag holder! 

 

We are huge fans of repurposing things here at Jokari. Sure, you can get a lot of use out of everyday products the way they were intended. But it’s incredible how many OTHER ways you can use things, too. This week we went a little bananas. Literally.

There are several uses for bananas for that have nothing to do with eating them. Here are seven sensational uses for bananas:

Gardening. Plant a whole banana by the roots of your rosebush to help your roses grow.  You can also use the peel to help your tomato plant absorb nutrients, or use the peel in compost.

Shine your shoes.  Yup. You can shine dark leather shoes with the inside of a banana peel.

Remove splinters. Because banana peels can soften skin, you can use them to help get a deep splinter out of your skin. Cut a chunk of the peel off, tape it to the area with medical tape overnight. In the morning, remove the peel and you will see that the splinter has worked its way out and should be sticking to the pulp of the peel!

Relieve poison ivy itch. Rub the peel over poison ivy to reduce itchiness and encourage healing.

Whiten your teeth. Simply rub the inside of a banana peel on your teeth every night for two minutes, then brush your teeth as usual. Just make sure to use a new peel each night!

Use the skin for…better skin. While we’re on the subject of nightly beauty rituals…you can also rub the inside of a banana peel on your face every night.  Rinse your face in the morning when you wake up.

Polish silverware. Crazy, right? But you can rub a banana peel on your silverware and restore its shine. Just make sure to remove any stringy material from inside the peel before you start. Finish by buffing silverware with a paper towel or cloth.

Of course, eating bananas is also encouraged. Try our banana hook to keep your bananas fresher, prevent bruising, and lasting longer.

Diagnosis: Chronically Messy

Definition: A person who is unable to keep a house, apartment or room neat, clean, organized, or sanitary.

Symptoms: Clothes and dishes all over the place, unpleasant odor, tripping constantly, inability to locate important items, frustration, rationalization, and procrastination.

Cure: Unknown

Sadly, there may never be a complete cure for this affliction. There are, however, steps you can take to get your illness under control and vastly improve your lifestyle.

frustrated woman with mess

1. Surround Yourself with Pro-Organizers

We’re not suggesting that you’ll succumb to peer pressure, but you’ll see how much easier their lives are and that will motivate you to get more organized, too. Not only that, but pro-organizers can be a helpful resource for pro-tips. They’re the best sources for hacks from how to fold best to how to budget and keep a calendar. Who knows, they love it so much they may even offer to help you straighten up from time to time.

2. Do One Chore Per Day (not all at once)

Doing your cleaning all at once is a bad idea if you hate doing it. It may be nice to have every single thing clean (for once), but it’ll make you a lot less motivated to do it next time. You’ll think back to when you had to do it last and say to yourself, but that took so long… and it was so terrible… I’ll do it another day. That’s why it keeps getting pushed off in the first place. Breaking it up into smaller chunks is a lot less time consuming and it keeps the place from every digressing into total messy chaos.

3. Clean Smart

Remember: Cleaning everything at once is a bad idea. So, if you’re looking for a place to start, you need to clean smart. Start with the area in your room or house that is causing the most inconvenience in your life and work backwards from there, gradually getting to the least intrusive messes you’ve made. Seeing the immediate difference that cleaning one mess makes in the convenience of your life will motivate you to keep going.

having fun cleaning

4. Make it Fun (sort of)

If you hate cleaning, you probably won’t ever describe it as something ‘fun’, but there are ways to improve the experience. What would you be doing during your downtime if you were putting off cleaning? Probably listening to a podcast, watching Netflix, listening to music- something along those lines? Well, do that while you clean. This way you don’t feel like you have to take a break from your life to clean and focusing on something you enjoy will experience more fun (or at least less painful).

5. Identify Your Worst Habits: They’re Now Off-Limits

It could be hoarding dishes in your room, leaving dishes in the sink, leaving shoes laying around, leaving clothes all over the floor- whatever it may be, it has to stop. But, again, baby steps. Just identify the top two or three mess-creating actions you do. How you want to rank them is up to you: whether it’s by what creates the biggest messes or the most inconvenient messes. Force yourself stop those habits. You may never eliminate your messiness all together, but honing in on one or two behaviors is doable and will greatly improve your lifestyle.

woman vacuuming

6. A Place For Everything, Not a Place for Anything

If you’re a disorganized person by trade, you’ve probably once uttered the phrase, I hate cleaning because then I never know where my stuff is. It sounds crazy, but even though your room might be a mess, there’s often a method to your madness. So cleaning can sometimes have the opposite effect that it should, actually making it harder for you to locate your belongings.

We recommend finding a place for everything, but if you’re worried about messing up your messy system, organize things so simply even you won’t forget it. Use labels and invest in clothing or purse racks. When you’re organizing your closet, do it by color or season (or both). Even keeping a master list of where everything important is may help, just until you get used to the new system. If at any point you find yourself asking, Will I remember that I’m putting this here? -find another place for it. Let’s face it: if you have trouble finding your things, it’s not going to be long before they end up back where they were. Mainly on your floor.

With the summer season in full swing, everyone wants to feel good and healthy. Any summer diet would be incomplete without one ingredient: fresh veggies. They’re incredibly healthy for you, low calorie, and filling- perfect for keeping you feeling energetic in the summer heat. But finding fresh veggies isn’t an intuitive process, it takes some serious research. And you don’t want to be googling avocados all day- you want to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Well, you won’t be-leaf how easy it is to find fresh veggies with these tips:

Artichokes: When choosing artichokes, look for ones that have tight leaves and feel heavy for their size. One neat trick is to rub the leaves together and listen. If they squeak- it’s good!

Asparagus: You’ll want ones that have smooth, firm, and brightly-colored stalks. Make sure to get ones that have stalks of equal thickness to ensure even cooking times on all sides. Avoid ones with limp stalks.
avocados

Avocados: Avocados are one of the trickier veggies when it comes to ripeness. Choose ones that feel slightly soft to the touch. Slightly avocados may be ripened at home (similar to bananas), but avoid rock-hard ones and ones with dents.

Broccoli: Choose broccoli with firm stalks, tight florets, and green leaves. Avoid those that have yellowed or flowering florets.

Brussels Sprouts: Avoid brussel sprouts with loose or wilted outer leaves. Instead, choose ones with firm and bright green heads.

carrots

Carrots: When choosing carrots, look for ones that are firm and smooth- without rootlets.

Celery: Look for unblemished and green stalks and leaves- avoid any with yellow coloring.

Corn: Corn should have bright green husks and slightly moist silk. Make sure you also peel back the husk and check that the kernels are plump.

Cucumbers: When choosing cucumbers, just make sure you’re picking ones that are uniformly green (again, no yellow).

Green Beans: Choose slender beans that aren’t bendable. Ideally, they should snap rather than bend.

Kale: When it comes to veggies, yellow is typically your worst enemy- with Kale it’s no different. Avoid yellow leaves and instead choose those that are crisp and deeply colored.

lettuce

Lettuce, Spinach, and Other Leafy Greens: Look for greens with fresh, crisp leaves- stay away from those that are wilted or slimy.

Peas: The pods should be crisp and green. Avoid dried, bulging, yellow (again, worst enemy), or white pods.

Peppers: These should be shiny peppers and should also feel heavy for their size.

Potatoes: Good potatoes shouldn’t have green spots, bruises, or sprouts. Look for ones that are both smooth and firm.

Radishes: Choose radishes with unblemished roots and green tops.

Tomatoes: This is one where you’ll get weird looks in the grocery store- but it’s worth it! Tomatoes should be fragrant with an earthy smell at the stem end. They should also feel heavy for their size and the skin should be smooth.