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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.

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!

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.

 

 

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

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

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

Apple Cinnamon Ginger Water

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

Cranberry and Mint Water

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Despite a somewhat warm transition into the season, September 22nd  was actually the first day of fall. As cooler weather settles in, scraping frost off of our car windows and zipping up jackets once again becomes part of our daily routines. Cool weather also means eating more comfort food to help keep us feeling warm and cozy. Here are three ways to maintain healthy eating habits this fall, even though pumpkin-spiced lattes and other calorie-laden foods are inevitably on the horizon.


Don’t let life throw you for a loop.

The kids are back in school and with that comes after-school activities, practices and more, which doesn’t leave you a lot of time to make or serve a healthy meal – or so you thought! Rather than becoming a regular at your favorite fast food chain, take the time to plan ahead and meal prep your weekly meals. Not only will this help you stay organized, but it will also help you stay healthy as you make a conscious effort to find recipes that are full of nutrients and won’t add on the extra pounds.


Fall into produce.

Watermelons, berries, peaches and the like are saying goodbye for another year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the delicious fall varieties of produce. Fall lends itself to healthy fruits and vegetables, like crisp apples, Vitamin A-packed pumpkin, Brussel sprouts and more! Fruits and vegetables with dark, rich colors are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients and can help you avoid piling on extra pounds. Kale is also an extremely nutritious and versatile vegetable to add to your repertoire. Here’s a simple Lemon-Garlic Kale Salad recipe from the New York Times to get you started!


Stay hydrated.

In the warm summer months, you are constantly aware of your thirst, so much that it may seem like you can never have enough water on hand. As the temperatures start to cool off, you might not be as cognizant of your daily water intake because you might not be feeling as parched. However, staying hydrated is very important in keeping your body running at an optimal level and keeping your immune system strong. Make sure you’re getting at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water every day.

 


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.