St. Patrick’s Day: Fun Facts About Shamrocks

ShamrockStart thinking green! St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and we’re thinking about all the ways we can work green into our outfits so we don’t get pinched! Of course the simplest way to do that is to pin a shamrock to our shirts — they’re cute, classy and subtle. We only think about them once a year, but they’re so cute, we thought we’d try to get to know them a little better. Here are 5 fun facts about shamrocks.

Shamrocks and Clovers Shamrocks are young clovers. In fact, that’s where we get the word shamrock or seamair óg which means “young clover” in Gaelic.  Basically, clovers are shamrocks in March and later in the year, as they grow and reach the reproductive stage, they flower. Ireland is the perfect climate for clovers because they can’t handle hot summers or cold winters — cool and wet weather is what makes them thrive.

Shamrock2Shamrocks As Plants There are many types of clovers and they’re very common. If you’re a dedicated gardener and you find them in your flower bed, you’ll likely pull it as it’s widely considered a weed. However, some farmers keep them in their fields intentionally as they help with fertilization.

The Great Shamrock Shortage In 2010, a severe winter caused a shortage of shamrocks. To remedy the supply shortage for St. Patrick’s Day, plants similar to shamrocks were used instead. However, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen made sure to deliver a real shamrock to President Obama.

The Shamrock and St. Patrick St. Patrick was a 4th century Christian missionary. The shamrock has three leaves — St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. It is now the most prominent symbol of St. Patrick’s Day as well as Ireland.

St-Pats-wreathDrowning the Shamrock  On St. Patrick’s Day, you drown your shamrock for good luck. According to Irish Culture and Customs, this is only to be done with the last drink of the evening, perhaps after your big Irish feast: take the shamrock you’ve been wearing, put it the glass of whatever you’re drinking (perhaps Guinness or Irish whiskey), make a toast, drink your drink and throw the soggy shamrock over your shoulder.
Now that you have a frame of reference for the honored shamrock, you can decorate with shamrocks and wear your young clover with pride and knowledge! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Pinteresting Picks For February

Spring is finally here, and home decoration is on the minds of our Pinterest followers. The Lakeside Collection is full of accents that will make your home one-of-a-kind. After you are done renovating your home, invite everyone over for some homemade treats. Here are our Pinteresting Picks for February.

A Set of 2 Window Tie-Backs creates a different look for your existing curtains.

A Set of 2 Window Tie-Backs creates a different look for your existing curtains.

This groovy Peace Sign Night Stand will add style to any girl's or boy's room.

This groovy Peace Sign Night Stand will add style to any girl’s or boy’s room.

Rest your flat screen TV on a wooden Ladder TV Stand with handy storage shelves above and below.

Rest your flat screen TV on a wooden Ladder TV Stand with handy storage shelves above and below.

Save time and look professional with these Stainless Steel Kitchen Gadgets.

Save time and look professional with these Stainless Steel Kitchen Gadgets.

Peanut Butter Lover’s Day: Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

peanut-butter-cookiesFebruary is almost over! We’re excited — not just because we’re that much closer to warm weather and sunshine, but because we’re one day closer to Peanut Butter Lover’s Day! That falls on March 1, so we’re making anything and everything we can with peanut butter! Today we kept it simple and made our best peanut butter cookie recipe.

peanut-butter-cookiesPeanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky is fine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Bowl of granulated sugar to roll your cookie dough in (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375℉.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the  flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt (you can use a fork). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl fitted to a stand mixer combine, the brown sugar, butter and peanut butter. Using the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream together the ingredients until they are well-combined. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until it’s smooth. Reduce the mixing speed to low. Slowly add the dry ingredients until it’s all incorporated. peanut-butter-cookies

Scoop the batter into 1” balls. Roll each ball in the bowl of sugar so they’re coated with sugar. Place each ball on a cookie sheet about 2” apart. Smash down each ball with a fork twice so it makes hash marks.

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Bake for 7 minutes. Let stand for about three minutes before transferring them to the cooling rack. Makes about 34 cookies.

These are classic peanut butter cookies — they’re perfect the way they are but you can add your own twist to them by adding chocolate or butterscotch chips. And if you’re a serious peanut butter lover, you can add peanut butter chips!

Enjoy your peanut butter cookies! Check back with The Lakeside Collection for more recipes, ideas and products for all your favorite quirky holidays!

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Getting Ready for St. Patrick’s Day: Product Picks

We are counting down the days until spring — it’s still a little too far away for us, but we have a few things to distract us from the lingering cold weather. Luckily, St. Patrick’s Day will give us something to get excited about to break up the cold days before spring officially arrives. Here are a few St. Patrick’s Day product picks to bring some whimsical cheer to our homes before the snow melts.

st-paTS-GARLAND

Give your whole house pinch protection by draping shimmery Lighted Holiday Garland on your bannisters and doorways! Adding a little green tinsel gives your house a festive look without doing too much work.

St-Pats-wreath

Ireland is known for being fun and friendly and here’s a wreath to match! While you may not be able to get to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, you can certainly bring a little Ireland to your home.

st-pats-leprechuan

Give your home a little Irish curb appeals with these adorable Die-Cut Garden Flags! Before your guests even reach your doorstep, they’ll be feeling the Irish warmth of your home.

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Holiday Kitchen Coordinates add festive cheer while you cook and clean. Dress up your kitchen for St. Patrick’s Day with these charming pieces. Whether you’re planning a day of crafting or a you’re whipping up St. Patrick’s Day treats, these accessories will add a little luck o’ the Irish to your afternoon in the kitchen.

st-pats-door-mat

Welcome guests with a few shamrocks and leprechauns before they walk through the door with the Interchangeable Doormat! It’ll dress up your outdoor decor as well as bring cheer to everyone who walks into your home.

10 Things To Do To Pass The Last Week Of February

FebruaryWe have finally reached the end of February, and it seems like the winter will stretch on forever. Spring is right around the corner, but you need to find some fun ways to get through this last icy patch. Here are 10 things to do to pass the last week of February.

  1. Clean out your closet. Spring often means new fashions. Make some room for those new looks and get your winter clothes ready for storage with a little work. Check out these tips to get to the bottom of your closet clutter.
  2. Binge on your favorite show or movie series. Binge watching is the newest way to keep up with the best in entertainment. Thanks to online streaming services and DVDs, it is possible to watch entire seasons at once. Catch up with a show you love or are curious about, or dig into a film trilogy.winter-running
  3. Start training for a summer run. Join a gym and start off on a treadmill for an energizing workout. Talk with your doctor first, and follow a beginner’s program to get moving.
  4. Begin a new book. Feed your mind with a new and interesting book. Start a reading habit with a bestseller, or try out a piece of classic literature. Winter is the perfect time to curl up with a book.
  5. Build a winter campfire in the yard. If your city or homeowners’ association allows it, set up a backyard fire pit and have a winter campfire. Don’t forget the s’mores and hot chocolate.
  6. Play snow soccer. Give your favorite sport a winter twist while keeping warm by running around in the snow. Make sure to check out your playing space for ice before you start, and use a brightly colored ball so you will not lose it in the snow.
  7. Build a model or puzzle. A model or a puzzle is a wonderful way to pass the time alone or with a group. Start with a small puzzle and work your way up to something more complex.playing-game
  8. Make an indoor fort or a snow fort. It’s always delightful to create a space just for fun. If there is snow on the ground, use it to build your own fort to prepare for a snowball attack. Stay indoors and pile up pillows and combine it with a fort kit for hours of fun.
  9. Go on a winter scavenger hunt. Try one in the outdoors to show children the beauty of nature in winter, or set up some clues indoors for a cozy treasure hunt.
  10. Play a new board game. Set up a family game night, and try something you have never played before. Rolling the dice on something different will keep you from getting in a rut, and you may find a new favorite.

National Cherry Pie Day: How to Make Cherry Pie

Cherry-PieFebruary 20 is National Cherry Pie Day — you don’t need to twist our arms to celebrate this one! To celebrate, we are sharing our cherry pie recipe. It’s all from scratch, but there are shortcuts you can try and still call it homemade. Here’s how to make cherry pie:

Cherry-PieCrust: This recipe is for a 9” double crust.  Nora Ephron (she wrote When Harry Met Sally… Sleepless in Seattle, and Heartburn) was quite a cook and always said there is no reason to ever make pie dough from scratch. We don’t believe that’s true (you can use pie dough for so many things), but in case you don’t feel like rolling it out yourself, there’s no shame in using a store-bought crust. 

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold, unsalted butter, cubed (you can also use ¾ shortening)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (milk or water are adequate substitutes)

Cherry-PieWhisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter. With your hands, squeeze the butter and dry ingredients together until the butter is coated with flour and the pieces are about the size of peas. Make a well in the mixture. Pour all of the buttermilk into the well.

Cherry-PieWith a fork, mix it all together. When it’s all moistened, form two balls of dough equal in size. Don’t knead it yet — it should be a bit messy. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate them for an hour.

Cherry-PieFilling: Cherries are not in season — they have a short growing season in the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have cherry pie in the middle of February — you just won’t have fresh cherries in your pie. We used canned cherries packed in water — they still make a fabulous pie. Alternatively, you can use two cans (14.5 oz) cherry pie filling.

  • 3 cans (14 oz) of tart or sweet cherries in water
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cherry-Pie

In a saucepan over high heat, combine all your ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for ten minutes. Set the pan aside to let it cool.

Preheat oven to 375℉.Cherry-Pie

Roll out one ball of dough to about ⅛”. It should be a little bit bigger than your pie plate. Fold it in quarters and place the corner in the center of your pie plate and unfold the dough.

Cherry-PiePress the dough into the pan and pierce the bottom in random spots with a fork. Roll out the second ball of dough, fold it in half and set aside.

Cherry-PiePour the filling into the pie plate lined with dough. Unfold the reserved dough on top of the filling. Press the two layers of dough around the edged. With kitchen shears, cut the excess dough around the edges leaving about an inch hanging over the edge. Fold the edges under to seal the pie.

Cherry-Pie Crimp the edges. With a paring knife, pierce three slits in the middle of the pie. Whisk together one egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the pie and edges with the egg wash. Refrigerate your unbaked pie for about 30 minutes.  When you’re ready to bake, cover the edges (without touching them) of the pie with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and lower the oven temperature to 350℉. Bake for another 20 minutes, occasionally checking to make sure the crust doesn’t get too brown. When you can see the filling bubbling up through the slits, it’s ready.

Let your pie cool on a wire rack for at least two hours. If you just can’t wait to dig in, you can, of course, serve a slice earlier than that, but the filling might be a little soupy — it thickens while standing.

Cherry-Pie

Chinese New Year Traditions

year-of-the-goat February 19 is the start of the Chinese New Year — 2015 is the year of the goat. It’s the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar — the celebration lasts about two weeks with traditions to fill them from beginning to end. Here are a few Chinese New Year traditions.

New Year Cleansing A few days before the new year, a Chinese tradition is to clean their homes from top to bottom. The idea is to wash away the old to make room for the new. Opening all the windows is considered good luck as well as changing out old mattresses, blankets and clothes.

red-lanternsColor Red is the primary color to represent the new year — it symbolizes good luck and happiness. As the legend goes, a mythical beast would appear on the new year and devour anyone in his way. But this beast was afraid of the color red. Now people drape everything in red inside and outside — red lanterns are hung up and down streets and people dress in red — to protect themselves from this beast and ensure it’s a good year.

Red Envelopes Red envelopes containing money are given out to children and single, unemployed adults. It’s thought to protect them from evil, bring luck, health, and happiness.

Food New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important meal. Extended families get together to eat food that symbolize prosperity. Fish is common at the new year dinner to symbolize surplus. It’s thought that if they have a surplus at the end of the year, the next year will be prosperous. Dumplings are also eaten for the new year. They’re shaped like ingots (something like a gold brick to be formed into something valuable). According to tradition, the more dumplings you eat the more money you will make in the coming year.dumplings

Fireworks Similar to the color red, the mythical beast that disrupts the new year is afraid of fire and loud noises. Shortly after the new year dinner, fireworks are set off to scare away evil and bring good luck.

Though we’re almost two months into 2015, it’s never too late to add a luck for the year. And what better ways to earn your fortune than eating dumplings and wear red? Happy New Year!

The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and that means it is time to express your love for the special people in your life. The Lakeside Collection has plenty of gift ideas if you are not sure of just what to get. Personalize a photo frame just for them, or a piece of jewelry they can wear every day. A whimsical mug might make them laugh, or read up on new ideas on how to be romantic. Here is The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice of Favorite Items of the Week.

Display a cherished moment in a special way with this Personalized Holiday Photo Frame.

Display a cherished moment in a special way with this Personalized Holiday Photo Frame.

This Love Pendant Gift-Boxed Set is the perfect way to show someone how special they are to you.

This Love Pendant Gift-Boxed Set is the perfect way to show someone how special they are to you.

The colorful and fun design of the Whimsical Mason Jar Mug adds a festive touch to any day spent with the girls.

The colorful and fun design of the Whimsical Mason Jar Mug adds a festive touch to any day spent with the girls.

Transform your relationship into a vibrant, exciting love affair with 1001 Ways To Be Romantic.

Transform your relationship into a vibrant, exciting love affair with 1001 Ways To Be Romantic.

How to Treat Yourself for Valentine’s Day

ValentineValentine’s Day is a day we set aside for honoring our sweethearts. It feels good to do something thoughtful for the ones we love, but it’s nice to do something nice for ourselves occasionally. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to indulge! Here are 5 ideas to treat yourself for Valentine’s Day.

Eat Chocolate. We love chocolate. It’s the best! Not only does it taste awesome, but, if you get the dark chocolate, it’s good for your health, too! Chocolate has antioxidant properties that reduce the risk of heart disease — among other benefits. While you’re losing yourself in that sweet, velvety chocolate bar, you’re also undoing any damage you might have done with that bag of potato chips.

Entertain Your Guilty Pleasures. Read the tabloids. Find out who’s wearing what to the Oscars. Listen to boy bands, Justin Bieber or Ariana Grande. Dance and get silly. Watch romantic comedies and get lost in the boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl-boy-chases-girl-and-wins-her-back-with-a sugary-sweet-fairy-tale-ending. Do the things no one else knows you like to do (and that you’re a little embarrassed about).mask

Take Five. Shut off your brain and relax. Meditation sounds corny and a little new age-y, but there are real benefits from getting complete silence for a few minutes. You can even meditate while giving yourself a facial treatment. According to the Mayo Clinic, it reduces stress, helps you focus on the present and reduces negative emotions. Who wants to feel anxious and angry on Valentine’s Day?

Make Something. Crafting and artistic challenges are not only fun, they also have psychological benefits. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, making art helps people focus on positive experiences and increases self-worth. Not only will you be creating a one-of-a-kind keepsake, but you’ll feel better about yourself while you’re making it.

Pet-ThrowCuddle Up with a Furry Friend. While we love having our pets for companionship, having them around actually has health benefits. According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet reduces the risk of heart disease and can even lower your cholesterol. Cats and dogs are a lot of work to take care of, but they’re worth the love, affection and long life they provide.

While you’re planning Valentine’s Day for your sweetie, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Remember what Samantha Jones told Smith Jerrod: “I love you, but I love me more.” If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

5 Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

valentine-coupleOn Valentine’s Day, chocolate and flowers are what we expect, but not everyone needs more sweets or flowers in a vase. Every valentine wants or needs something different — even if it’s a practical gift, it can be a thoughtful gift. Here are 5 Valentine’s Day gift ideas.

Treats If you don’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen, try making a treat from scratch. You’ll have to spend time putting something together and baking it — that you went outside of your comfort zone to make something with your own hands is a gift that will melt your valentine’s heart.

maskSpa Day A gift of relaxation is appreciated by just about anyone, but doing the treatment yourself is priceless. Wrap up spa-wear, body scrubs and facial kits to package your gift and let your sweetheart choose a day to cash in on cupid’s coupon.

Flowers… That Take Root Anyone and everyone loves to get a bouquet of flowers — but they never last as long as we want them to. For a gardener, give the gift of flowers your sweetheart can plant that will sprout, grow and bloom beyond February. It’ll be a gift to remind your sweetheart of your love for months rather than days.

A Day Off Between running the kids to and from school and getting to work on time, life is tough to keep up with. Give your beloved the gift of a day off  to show your appreciation. For one day, take over all the errands, chores and cooking your honey does in a day. Sometimes the best gift if the gift of “nothing.”

Clean-houseA Clean House Having a clean house is not only lifting the burden of doing housework, but it can also be quite relaxing. Removing clutter from your field of vision and not having chores hang over your head can ease some of the daily anxiety adults get bogged down with. Whether you take on the responsibility yourself by organizing each room and scrubbing everything from top to bottom or you hire someone to do it for you, your partner will be grateful for such a thoughtful Valentine’s Day Gift.

Valentine’s Day is a day to show your appreciation to the person you love. You don’t have to give chocolates or cards to let your dear know he or she is special — sometimes thoughtful Valentine’s Day treats are nothing more than making your sweetheart’s life a little easier.