Fall Flavors: Apple Picking and Oktoberfest Menu Ideas

A few weeks into Autumn. The air is crisp, but not too cold. The leaves are changing and starting to fall. But the weather isn’t the only thing that is changing. Our taste in food changes a little bit as well. Fall flavors like apple, pumpkin and cinnamon are what we crave. Fall festivals like Oktoberfest offer mouthwatering menus we look forward to every year. Learn about the flavors of fall with these articles on apples and Oktoberfest.


American As Apple Pie: The Apple’s Journey to America
For a country that’s second in the world in apple production, a nation with a proud idiom like “American as apple pie,” it’s odd to learn that all these apples weren’t around when colonists first settled on American soil. The apple’s journey to America is a curious one, intertwined with colonial tastes, the founding fathers and even a popular legend or two. Read on to learn more about the apple’s deep roots in our American history.


What to Put On Your Oktoberfest Menu
With summer barbecues in our past and holiday parties ahead of us, we’re in that wonderful fall transitional period. Oktoberfest is to us what trick-or-treating is for the little ones. But you don’t have to pack your travel pillow and get on a 10-hour flight to take part in the festival. You can have your own fest at home. You know that beer is a must, but you need some snacks to go with it. Here’s what to put on your Oktoberfest menu.


Apple Picking Guide
It’s that time of year when apples taste the sweetest and farms open to the public for apple picking. It is one of those fall activities for which everyone should set aside a crisp day and leave behind the cheap toys and chores to celebrate the beautiful autumn season. Here’s a quick guide to picking the best apples this fall.

Wine Decor, Hostess Gifts and Tabletop Essentials

You don’t have to be a wine enthusiast to appreciate the fun home decorating possibilities of a wine theme. From repurposing corks and wine bottles to create a design all your guests will envy to personalized gifts to please your generous host or hostess, Lakeside is filled with wine decor products everyone will appreciate.

Tasteful Decor for Wine Enthusiasts

The Metal Monogram Wine Cork-Holder adds a distinctive look to your dining room or kitchen, especially when you fill it up with the corks left over from your favorite wines. Just start from the bottom and try to fill up the entire letter. Get multiple letters to spell out your name or wine-related words for a truly unique design.

As long as you’re reusing your corks, why not reuse a wine bottle too? Light My Bottle adds a dazzling touch to your tabletop. Simply thread the 42″ light string through the top of any bottle that’s at least 9″ tall, place the pole inside and click the on/off switch on the top to watch the 15 beautiful fairy lights illuminate the interior.

Gifts for Your Host or Hostess

The Set of 4 Personalized Travertine Stone Coasters makes a great gift for almost any occasion, but it’s the ideal gift for a wine-tasting or dinner party. Each stone coaster protects your table surfaces from water rings. The cork design on the bottom helps prevent scratches. Personalize the coasters with the recipient’s name.

Monogram Wine Gift Set makes it easy to add a thoughtful, personal touch to that wine-tasting, dinner party, housewarming, birthday or wedding. The classy gift set comes with a metal coaster and wine stopper. Each piece has an identical monogram worked into its design, and comes in a stylish box that’s ready for giving.

Don’t Forget the Tabletop

Add a romantic touch to your decor or set the scene for an elegant party with Set of 2 LED Taper Candles. Each candle has a wax coating and gives off an amber glow that looks beautiful in a floral arrangement or centerpiece. Timer lets you set the candles to automatically turn on at a desired time and off after 6 hours.

Organize the eating necessities on your tabletop with an elegant Buffet Caddy. Each caddy features a lovely scroll design that complements existing decor. The Plate Caddy provides quick, easy access to plates, while the Flatware & Napkin Caddy has 3 separate sections for utensils and an open space for holding napkins.

Wine Wednesday: Interesting Facts About Wine in America

It took some time for wine to become as popular in America as it is in Europe, and even longer for American wine to earn worldwide recognition and respect. While wine isn’t nearly as popular as beer on U.S. soil, it’s widely consumed and continues to blend into mainstream culture. Wine Wednesday is the perfect occasion to uncork your favorite vintage in the middle of the week. Before pouring a glass of sauvignon blanc or while you’re sipping a sweet Riesling, take a look at these fun, interesting facts on the history of wine in America.


Oldest Winery in the U.S.A.
The oldest operating winery in America is the Brotherhood Winery. Located in Washingtonville, New York, it produced its first wine for commercial consumption in 1839, and is still up and running. In fact, some original facilities are still being used in the wine-making process, and wine enthusiasts can explore the sights to get an idea of what it was like to make wine in America during the 19th century. Visitors to this National Historic Site can try wine tastings, check out the grounds, take special tours and bring home some delicious wines.

Wine During Prohibition
Establishments like the Brotherhood Winery were in danger of going out of business during the Prohibition throughout the 1920’s. However, there was a loophole for wineries to continue to operate, selling their wine to the Catholic Church for sacramental wine purposes. While many wineries and businesses dependent on wine didn’t make it through the dry years, wineries which were lucky enough to stay under contract with the church thrived (likely selling to more customers than the church). In addition, at-home wine making kits were legal during Prohibition, allowing Americans to produce a certain amount of wine per year for personal use.


When Everything Changed
In May of 1976, the most respected wine connoisseurs in Paris assembled for a blind taste-test between the noble French wines that were regarded as the best in the world and up-and-coming American wines from a few vineyards in California. The challenge wasn’t given much attention by the French media because it was impossible for the unknown Californian wineries to compete with France. Surprisingly, the wines judged as the best for red and white were both Californian, paving the way for wine in America and around the world.

Top Spot for the Time Being
Americans drink a lot of wine. More and more since the wine scene really started to take root and trickle into popular culture. In addition to consuming the most wine, the American wine tourism scene is also booming, attracting millions of tourists annually to hot spots like Napa Valley and Sonoma Country in California. And in case you were wondering what wines Americans love the most, the top spot goes to Chardonnay, with a close following from Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio and Merlot, while Pinot Noir rounds out the top five.

Whether you love capping off a long day with a glass of wine or plan on serving wine at Thanksgiving this year, find all the wine supplies you need at The Lakeside Collection, from glasses to wine bottle holders.

Wine and Dine: Tips on Wine Tasting, Pairing and Stains

The world of wine is huge and constantly growing. Whether you enjoy a glass of your favorite vintage on the weekend or throw together wine-tastings as often as football parties, there’s always room to grow. Check out tips on pairing wine with cheese or grilled foods, and tips on stains in this wine and dine article showcase.


Holiday Wine & Cheese Guide: Tips on Choosing the Right Vintage
Wine and cheese provide the perfect one-two punch for any and every type of social gathering. Many adults know what kind of wine they prefer, but deciding what kind of cheese to pair with their favorite vintage might be a bigger mystery. Learn about some of the best combinations with our holiday wine and cheese guide.


Tips on Getting Red Wine and Other Tough Stains Out of Clothes
Few stains are more demoralizing than red wine stains. But with a packed holiday social calendar, spills are inevitable, which means your favorite outfit might be in danger. Red wine stains aren’t the end of the world, and shouldn’t mean the end of the party. Rest easy with tips on getting wine and other stains out of clothes.


Gourmet Grill: Advice on Pairing Grilled Food with Wine
With summer winding down, there aren’t going to be many more months to get outside and cook on the grill; and traditionally, grilled foods are associated with beer or mixed drinks, not wine. Try out something new on the grill before summer ends and keep the grill going in fall by learning what grilled foods go best with wine.

4 Popular Christmas Tree Types & How to Decorate Them

It’s never too early to start thinking about your Christmas decorating plans, especially with all the great early Christmas deals already out on the market. The Lakeside Collection is already stocked with Christmas gear to get your home ready for the holidays. In the spirit of the upcoming season, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Christmas tree types and the best ways to dress them up to help you find the right decorations.


Douglas Fir
Perhaps the most well-known Christmas tree by name, but there are many reasons why the iconic tree has been a popular staple in American homes around Christmas time. For one, the needles are pretty soft, safer for kids or pets. Second, the firm needles branch out in many directions, making it easy to hang ornaments. Lastly, unlike most trees bred for the holidays, they can be found in giant sizes for families that like to go big.


Fraser Fir
If you’re in need of a tree that will stand tough while being transported and dragged around, the Fraser Fir might be the tree for you. Fairly similar to the Balsam Fir, this durable tree is usually found in the 6 to 7 foot range that makes it easy for most people to throw the star on top, has a bluish tint to its dark green needles and sturdy branches that will be able to hold up most of the heavier ornaments you need to put on the tree.


Scotch Pine
While it might not have the sweet Christmas scent that the Douglas, Fraser or Balsam Firs might, the Scotch Pine was literally made for Christmas. It’s the most commercial Christmas tree, with brighter coat of needles than the typically bluish firs. The Scotch Pine is also known for its durability, easily surviving throughout the holidays, capable of withstanding dry spells and rarely shedding its needles to save time on maintenance.


Artificial Options
Christmas traditionalists scoff at the rising popularity of artificial trees, but the truth is that they’re much more practical than real firs and pines. Families across the country delight in how much money can be saved by using the same artificial tree year after year, sigh in relief at avoiding another holiday shopping session and rave about not having to deal with all the watering and needle cleanup that can occur on a daily basis.

What kind of Christmas tree does your family prefer? Comment below to share your own tips and tricks…

Bathroom Mirror Ideas to Inspire Your Home Refresh

Updating the bathroom with exciting new features seems to be on every homeowner’s to-do list. Sometimes the projects never get completed because we want to overhaul the entire bathroom instead of making small fixes here and there. But if the overhaul just isn’t feasible or too far in the future, making little changes is one of the best ways to give your bathroom a fresh new look. Instead of taking on a complicated DIY project, get inspired by some of these bathroom mirror ideas to make a quick change and inspire your future overhaul.


Traditional Frame
The main design elements you’ll encounter with bathroom mirrors are the shape and whether or not they’re framed. Framed designs can serve as simple accents that allow you to tie in colors and textures in your bath or bold statements that can add unique contrast and look like beautiful wall art in some luxurious art gallery.


Clean Lines
Mirrors without frames are great if you aren’t trying to make a bold statement in your bathroom. This is great if you’re going for clean lines or a modern touch, but this doesn’t necessary mean a mirror without a frame is specific to modern or contemporary designs. Also, they really pop when contrasted with a bold paint color.


Strong Shapes
Changing the shape of your bathroom mirror can make an immediate impact in your bathroom. Traditional square or rectangular designs have a completely different feel from a smooth, circular pattern or a strange geometric shape. Just make sure the design of your mirror doesn’t get in the way of your bathroom routine.


Unique Accents
It’s not all about the shape, pattern or frame. There are many options for mirrors that add a unique look and feel to your bathroom with the way they are mounted or hung on the wall. They can also be easier to install compared to larger mirrors. If you have a double vanity, you could get two smaller mirrors for a stylish look.

4 Must-See Botanical Gardens in America

Summer is the season to get out in your garden and work your hands in the soil. While most of the dirty work is done in the spring, there’s plenty of maintenance to do throughout the summer to keep plants and veggies perfect, and flowers in bloom. Whether gardening is a pastime or your passion, it’s important to take a break from all your hard work and step into an expert oasis for leisure and inspiration. No matter what region of the country you call home, you’re never too far away from the fresh experience of world class botanical gardens.


United States Botanic Garden, Washington D.C.
George Washington is cited as the inspiration for the botanical garden in our nation’s capital. Established by Congress in 1820, it is officially recognized as a museum. With a focus on educating the public about plants and fostering botanical knowledge, it’s a must-see for gardening enthusiasts and environmentalists.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, Dallas
If you’re looking to surround yourself with the beauty of nature while enjoying an entertaining event, Dallas might be the garden destination for you. One of the top arboretums in the world, it’s dedicated to getting the community involved with events and family activities. It’s newer than most top gardens, but always growing.


Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago
Though it’s only been around since the 1970s, the Chicago Botanical Garden is already one of the world’s leading horticultural museums and conservation centers. The garden is born of the city’s rich horticultural history, dating back to the 1893 World’s Fair, and has one of the largest memberships of any U.S. garden.

New York Botanic Garden, New York City
This diverse landscape in bustling New York city is spread over 250 acres and boasts over a million plants. Located right next to the Bronx Zoo, it’s one of the most popular botanical gardens in the country, hosting a healthy 300,000 people every year. It’s also home to one of the world’s largest plant conservation programs.

Sun Safety Tips for Babies, Kids and Teens

It is estimated that up to eighty percent of a person’s lifetime exposure to the sun occurs in the first 18 years, so when it comes to sun safety it’s important to start developing some good habits with your kids as early as possible. Learn how to properly protect babies, kids and teens from sun damage with these sun safety tips.


Babies — The Less Sun the Better
Babies under the age of six months shouldn’t be in the sun at all. The damage that sunburn can cause with babies has the ability to effect them throughout their life, compromising their immune system and increasing the risk of skin cancer years down the road. If you are outside, keep them properly covered or in the shade.

It isn’t recommended to use sunscreens on babies under six months old, so covering up their skin is very important. Pants and long sleeve shirts cover the most skin, while bucket hats protect their head and offer a little shade. If they do get exposed to the sun, apply wet towels to their skin frequently to reduce swelling.


Kids — Sunscreen On the Go
Kids are the hardest to monitor when it comes to making sure they’re using sunscreen. Once they get out of the house with their friends they could be gone for hours. Even if you send them out the door with sunscreen there’s a good chance it will wear off before they return. Send kids off right with some travel-size sunscreen.

If they’re playing close to home or within sight, don’t be afraid to interrupt their activity to reapply some sun protection. If they do come back with a little sunburn or some bad blisters, hydrate their skin with a wet towel, apply a topical moisturizer and ibuprofen if needed and keep them out of the sun until they heal completely.


Teens — Tanning Can Be Trouble
Many kids start tanning in their teens. If your teen wants to get a nice tan, try to keep them out of the sun between the fiercest hours of the day. 10:00 am to 2:00 pm is when UVA and UVB rays can do the most damage to skin. It’s also the best time to tan. Being closer to 10:00 am or 2:00 pm is better than midday.

While it is tempting for teenagers to hit the tanning salon when the sun isn’t shining, radiation in tanning beds can be worse than the sun. Any type of tanning is technically harmful to your skin. One method isn’t any healthier than the other, but tanning beds have been known to have higher levels of UVR radiation.

Quick Tips on Buying and Grilling Shrimp

Shrimp is known as the easiest and least intimidating seafood to cook. But when you’re buying fresh shrimp from the supermarket or local fishmonger instead of the freezer aisle, there are some key things you need to know to make sure you’re getting the very best quality seafood. Even after you get your shrimp home, there are storage and prepping procedures you should consider before finally throwing your shrimp onto the grill. Shrimp can cook pretty quick, so we’re giving you some even quicker facts and useful tips on grilling shrimp.


  • Though there are more than 300 different species of shrimp around the world, you’ll probably only be able to find a few kinds at your local store. The good news: some of the best shrimp in the world comes off our own shores on the Gulf of Mexico, meaning you can eat fresh in any state.
  • The shelf life is pretty short, so shrimp behind the supermarket glass isn’t your best bet when looking to buy fresh. Some of the best shrimp is sold in frozen blocks. You’ll have to peel and take out the veins. Another great option is individual quick frozen shrimp. It’s easier to thaw and prep.
  • It’s sold by the pound, so if you’ve got less than 30 shrimp per pound, they should be big to jumbo or even colossal size. Tinier shrimp should score you more than 50. Colossal shrimp or larger sizes have a “U” before the number, which stands for “Under.” Ex: U8 is Under 8 shrimp per pound.
  • Black spotting that is sometimes seen on shrimp that aren’t fresh is called melanosis. It doesn’t mean the shrimp isn’t edible, but it’s a good idea to try to avoid the shrimp with spots to make sure you’re getting the freshest flavor. Shrimp should also be firm. Don’t buy shrimp if it’s falling apart.


  • Defrost before grilling. Do this in the fridge or with a bucket of cold water. Cold, not warm. Warm water might thaw shrimp faster but it will also force it to lose good moisture and density that will mess with the flavor. Looking for extra flavor? Try brining. Boil water with a mix of salt and sugar. Add it to the cold contents already in the fridge for a couple hours before grilling. Remember to rinse it off.
  • Peel or not. It’s your preference. Peeling is better for throwing your shrimp on kabobs, but leaving the shell can help protect delicious shrimp meat from the grill. The exterior of the shrimp is best when it’s a little pink, and you know the inside is done when it’s white. Don’t walk away from the grill. Shrimp usually cooks quickly depending on how hot your grill is running. Cook time: 4-7 minutes.

No Sunroom, No Problem: How to Create a Sun Space


During the warm summer months, most of us want to get out in the sunshine as much as possible. One of the best ways to enjoy the seemingly endless string of sunny days is relaxing on your favorite chair in the sunroom. Yet, for most homes, having a room specifically designed for soaking up sun, heating purposes or to grow plants in the proper light is a bonus, a luxury, something that could be added on to the house, but with a lofty price tag. Fortunately, if your windows face the right way, you can turn any ordinary room into a relaxing sun sanctuary. Here are a few easy do-it-yourself tips on how to create a sun space in your home.

East and West-Facing Windows
Windows facing east or west are usually the best for seeing the sun. If you prefer to enjoy your sun space in the morning, try to find a room with windows facing east. If you’ll be doing your relaxing in the afternoon, try to locate a room with windows facing west. It’s also worth noting that windows facing north are least likely to get the most sun, while windows facing south often receive a strong portion of sunlight throughout the day.


Optimizing the Windows You Have
Once you have your orientation figured out, it’s time to start crafting your sun space. Because you won’t be adding any windows, you’ll need to optimize the windows you already have to draw in the most rays. Glass can easily be obstructed by dirt and dust, which can take a major toll on the amount of sunlight and warmth you can usher into your room, so the very first step is to thoroughly clean all your windows inside and out.

Carving Out Your Mini Room
In order to make a sun space, you’ll have to sacrifice some square footage. The best way to make your sun space feel like its own room is to create a partition between the larger room and the space near the window. This can easily be done with a freestanding bookshelf or partition. If you really want to make your room feel like a sunroom, you could decorate the walls with repurposed windows or add a vintage door as a divider.


Filling It with Furniture
At last your room is divided and starting to feel like an entirely new space. Now it needs some furniture. In the spirit of the sunroom, adding some comfortable seating to relax and bask in the sunlight is a must. With comfortable seating, you could spend time in your sun space doing a variety of activities. Add a small table and a couple chairs to create a sunny café-style lounge, and don’t forget to add some plants and flowers to soak up all the super bright, nutritious sunlight funneling through your clean, clear window panes.

Whether you’re looking for some new furniture to create your partition, in need of some cleaning supplies to scrub your windows or anxious to add some colorful plants to your home, LTD Commodities is the place for you. Check out our selection of gardening essentials, cleaning accessories and outdoor summer furniture.