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!

Paula Deen Tree Storage Bag Design Sketch

Another sign that 2019 is officially off and running? Most of us begin taking down our their holiday decorations and packing them away for another Christmas to come (except that ONE neighbor. You know the one. Christmas ’till July….) With National Take Down the Christmas Tree Day just around the corner on Sunday, January 6, we wanted to take you behind the innovation of a particular storage and organization item related to this holiday. The  Tree Storage Bag within our Paula Deen Holiday Collection was created o help (festively) Make Life Better.

Begin with a concept sketch

Every product starts with a problem, followed by a solution. The big question we always ask is, “How can we Make Life Better?” After sketching out several concepts, it’s an amazing feeling for our team when we reach that “Aha!” moment. We analyze a design sketch and come to the conclusion that, “That’s it! This is the solution to the problem.” Check out one of the design sketches for our Tree Storage Bag!

Think about the features and benefits

A new innovation doesn’t hold the power to Make Life Better unless it has various features and benefits that not only make it unique but also make it useful. In designing the Tree Storage Bag, as with any new item, we went back to the basics. What were the problems we were trying to solve?

Bulky Christmas trees are often difficult to fit back in the same boxes they came from the store in. Plus, over time, those cardboard boxes simply don’t stand a chance…they will inevitably start to deteriorate. A sturdy bag of cloth fabric construction would help solve that problem.

So, now we have a sturdy tree bag, but how can we make it easy for end-of-Christmas elves to carry and store it away for another joyful holiday season? By incorporating carry handles and a drag handle, this provided two easy carry options. A sled plate with glide wheels makes the bag easy to pull (much like a wheeled suitcase), even up the stairs.

Adding a personal touch.

With the Tree Storage Bag as part of our Paula Deen Holiday Collection, we wanted to work with our friend and celebrity Paula Deen to add her own personal touch to add to the design aesthetic. The holidays are about celebrating and enjoying time with friends and family, so the red and white toile fabric was designed to pull in that aspect.

“The pattern was inspired by my family’s decorations from years past,” said Paula Deen. “I hope you love it as much as I do!” From a Christmas wreath to sketches of ornaments that hung on Paula’s very own family tree, to her signature “Hey, Y’all,” the toile fabric used throughout the holiday collection is a perfect reflection of Paula and her signature style.

Goodbye holidays. Hello New Year!

When do you take down your Christmas tree? Let us know if you could use a little bit of this kind of innovation in your life by using the hashtag #MakeLifeBetter! Best wishes for a Happy New Year. 2019 is your year to Make Life Better.

Whether it’s a Christmas gift or a birthday present, something for Hanukah or even just because, wrapping a gift perfectly is almost impossible. You could always use a gift bag–especially if the object is oddly shaped–but being able to use wrapping paper properly is important. And there’s always the risk of not having quite enough paper to wrap your gift. What to do, what to do?

 

The first step to wrapping presents beautifully is being well-organized. Our Jokari Gift Bag Organizer will help you keep your supplies organized. Clear pockets let you know what you have and you can store everything from gift wrap and ribbon to tissue paper, scissors and scotch tape.  You can hang it in your closet and never have to worry about finding all of your supplies again.  Just another way we help Make Life Better. Once you have all of your supplies in front of you, you’re ready to go. Here are a few foolproof methods to ensure a perfectly presented package each time.

METHOD ONE (Great for when you’re either running low on paper or you didn’t quite cut enough…)

1. Lay out your paper and place your gift diagonally so the edges of your gift create the third side of a triangle with the wrapping paper.

2. Fold over the top two corners and tape them down.

3. Continue folding and flipping as needed before tapping the gift shut.

METHOD TWO (For cylindrical objects)

  1. Measure the object. Add about four inches to the circumference. Use a tape measure for best results. Also, measure the height from top to bottom and the diameter of the flat side (if it has one).
  2. Cut out tissue paper or wrapping paper using the dimensions you just measured.
  3. Place the object in the center of the paper.
  4. Wrap the paper around the cylinder.
  5. Twist both ends to close, adding a ribbon if you so desire.

For other oddly-shaped presents, try giving your giftee an item related to it- gift wrap a hockey puck if you’re giving them a stick, for example. Consider using double-sided tape for a cleaner presentation. Work on a smooth surface. Hardwood floors are much easier for gift-wrapping than plush carpet. And don’t forget to get creative with bows, ribbons, and tinsel for bigger objects like bicycles or train tables. Creativity is key to making presents perfect. Just remember even if you run out of paper or it turns out a bit sloppy, all that matters is that it comes from the heart.

 

 

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.

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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!