Kitchen Safety: 5 Principles Every Cook Should Know

mom-son-kitchenFood safety goes well beyond making sure you cook chicken thoroughly. There are many ways someone can get sick from food. Here are for kitchen safety, 5 principles every cook should know about to keep their families healthy.

Time-Temperature Abuse

When you’re handling food, you should always be aware of the time and temperature abuse of food. When food is not cooked or reheated enough, it’s not stored at the right temperature or the food was not cooled properly, dangerous bacteria grows very quickly. When food has been left at temperatures long enough for bacteria to grow, it has been time-temperature abused.

Remember to always keep the cold food cold and the hot food hot – this reduces the risk of bacteria growth. The range of temperature between  40°F and 140°F is considered the “temperature danger zone” – the temperatures when bacteria grows the fastest. Refrigerators are designed so the temperature stays below 40°F, so most of what to keep an eye out for is food left on the counter too long or food you might be traveling with (to a picnic or barbecue, etc.).

Cross Contamination

Cross contamination refers to when raw food comes in contact with food that is ready to eat. This can happen in many ways:

  • Liquid from raw food drips on ready-to-eat food
  • Surfaces aren’t cleaned well after handling raw food
  • Towels used to clean up after raw food are used again, spreading the bacteria from raw food

The best way to prevent cross contamination is to be vigilant about keeping raw food separate from the ready to eat food.

Food Storageraw-chicken

Food kept in the refrigerator should always be stored at a temperature of 40°F until it’s time to cook, but how you stack your food inside your refrigerator is also important. Despite the fact that most refrigerators are designed with the crisper and vegetable bin at the bottom, raw meat should always go at the bottom of the refrigerator to prevent cross contamination; the safest food for eating immediately should go at the top.

Here’s how your refrigerator should be stacked from top to bottom.

  1. Ready to eat food (leftovers, food that’s been prepared that doesn’t require further cooking)
  2. Fruit and vegetables
  3. Milk and dairy products
  4. Raw eggs
  5. Raw fish
  6. Raw beef, pork, lamb
  7. Raw chicken

Keeping the raw food at the bottom reduces your chances of it coming in contact with or dripping liquid on food that doesn’t require cooking.

Cooking Temperatures

Knowing cooking temperatures will also keep you armed against dangers in the kitchen. Having an instant read thermometer is very helpful with this because you need to know the internal temperatures of foods.  Every food has to be cooked to different temperatures to kill bacteria. The following list is of the suggested cooking temperatures for different foods.

  • 165°F Poultry (chicken, turkey or duck), stuffed food and food that contains already cooked foods
  • 155°F Ground meat (any – including fish)
  • 145°F All fish and seafood, steaks/chops/roasts of pork, beef, veal, lamb, eggs
  • 140°F Any fruits, vegetables, grains, and processed foods.

Cooling and Thawing

When putting food away (for leftovers or prep for the next day), it should be cooled quickly. All food should be cooled to 70°F within two hours and it should go down to 40°F within four hours – the total cooling time should not be longer than six hours.

When you’re thawing raw meat, you can microwave it run cold water over it until it’s thawed or you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Never, ever let it thaw at room temperature.

woman-in-kitchen-cutting-vegetablesCooking  is trickier than just putting the right flavors together and pairing the right textures – it should also be worry-free. If you follow those guidelines, every meal will be a safe meal.

Sibling Day: 5 Celebrity Siblings You Didn’t Know Were Related

Today is Sibling Day – a day to honor your brother or sister.  While you can’t imagine growing up without your siblings, here are 5 pairs of celebrity siblings you can’t imagine are related.


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Kate & Oliver Hudson

Though she has a successful acting career of her own, Kate Hudson is widely known as the daughter of actress Goldie Hawn, but she also has a brother who’s no stranger to the business – Oliver Hudson. Oliver played the goofy friend and fiancé, Adam, on Rules of Engagement and currently plays Jeff Fordham on the drama Nashville. Most recently, Kate had a recurring role as dance instructor Cassandra July on Glee and has several projects in production.


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Emily & Zooey Deschanel

Hipster Heartbreaker Zooey Deschanel, is known as Jess on New Girl, and her older sister Emily, is known for her character opposite David Boreanaz on the crime drama Bones. Even before they both started acting professionally (before the age of 20) the sisters were familiar with Hollywood. Their mother was on the 1980s’ series Twin Peaks  and their father is a cinematographer known for his work on the film The Passion of the Christ. The Deschanel sisters are both seeing a lot of momentum with their acting careers: Bones is on its ninth season and New Girl is on its fourth season.


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Warren Beatty & Shirley MacLaine

You know Warren Beatty as one of Hollywood’s most notorious reformed ladies’ men as well as his work in Dick Tracy and Heaven Can Wait. You know Shirley McLaine as Downton Abbey’s Martha Levinson and the mother in Terms of Endearment. But did you know they’re siblings? They grew up in Richmond, Virginia and both started their acting careers by the age of 20. Warren has a Howard Hughes project in the works and Shirley has two upcoming projects.



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Justine & Jason Bateman

Justine Bateman is known for her role as the older daughter, Mallory Keaton, on the 1980s’ sitcom Family Ties. Jason Bateman has been bouncing in an out of Hollywood’s view since the age of ten, but he’s most recently known for his role as the responsible son, Michael, on Arrested Development. Jason’s acting career is thriving while Justine is taking a break from the entertainment business and is back in school at UCLA.

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Fred & Ben Savage

Star of 1990s’ sitcom Boy Meets World, Ben Savage is the younger brother of the 1980s’ sitcom The Wonder Years star, Fred Savage. Though they both earned fame before becoming teenagers, the Savage brothers are still active in Hollywood as 30-somethings. Ben is working on a spin-off of Boy Meets World and Fred just finished an animated series.



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Kate & Rooney Mara

Kate Mara is known as persistent journalist, Zoe Barnes in House of Cards and Rooney Mara was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. They were both born in Bedford, New York and great-granddaughters of the founder of the New York Giants and granddaughters of the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Mara sisters have been acting since they were in their teens. Right now they both have several TV and film projects in production.



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Taissa & Vera Farmiga

You may remember big sister Vera Farmiga as George Clooney’s love interest in Up in the Air and little sister Taissa Farmiga as Sam from The Bling Ring… but with a 21-year age difference, they both played Corinne Walker, albeit at different life stages, in the movie Higher Ground. That was Taissa’s acting debut, and she hasn’t stopped – she’s about to start the fourth season of American Horror Story and Vera is working on several films.


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Neve & Christian Campbell

You might know Christian Campbell as Greg Ivey on the series Big Love and his sister, Neve Campbell, from the 1990s’ series Party of Five. The Campbell siblings have been acting most of their lives – they were raised in an acting family in Toronto. Christian made his acting debut on Degrassi High and one of Neve’s first roles was on the sketch comedy show The Kids in the Hall. The Campbell siblings both have several projects in production.

Lauren Bowles & Julia Louis-Dreyfus


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Made famous as Elaine on Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s younger half-sister, Lauren Bowles, played Holly Cleary on True Blood. Both had roles in Louis-Dreyfus’s first post-Seinfeld TV show, Watching Ellie. That series only lasted 17 episodes, but both still have healthy acting careers. Louis-Dreyfus stars in Veep and Bowles just wrapped up filming the movie Underdogs.



5 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Mother’s Day is next month and it’s never too early to think of ways to honor your mom. Here are 5 Mother’s Day gift ideas that will surprise and delight your mother from Lakeside Collection.


Personalized Family Pendants Anytime you can give mom something engraved, you’re a winner in her book. This Personalized Family Pendant is a beautiful and intimate way to tell your mom how important she is to you. Up to five names with up to seven letters will fit on the spinning pendant with sparkling cubic zirconias separate each name. Your mother will be enchanted.


Framed Handprint Wall Art Precious prints will melt your mother’s heart with Mom’s Garden of Love Framed Handprint wall art. You and your brothers and sisters can create a handprint with paint or ink (not included) to give your mother a unique and thoughtful gift. The finished art is protected under plastic in its wooden frame so it can be admired for years to come.

daily-guideposts-365-devotionsDaily Guideposts 365 Daily Devotions Your mom will be touched and grateful for Daily Guideposts 365 Devotions. It is a collection of readings that uses faith as a guide for day-to-day life. Scripture is followed by personal stories of experience, strength and hope for each day of the year.

monogram-micro-fiber-totesMonogram Microfiber Totes Extend the perfect invitation for a weekend day trip with a Monogram Microfiber Tote. She can carry everything she needs for the museum, brunch and a walk in the park with this tote – and there’s no mistaking who it belongs to! Nothing says personal gift like a personalized bag for mom.

country-breakfast-gourmet-gift-basketCountry Breakfast Gourmet Gift Baskets Good morning goodies! For the mom who loves to eat, loves to cook or both – the Country Breakfast Gourmet Gift Basket will brighten her Mother’s Day. Home-style breakfast favorites fill a reusable wicker basket that will remind her of the joy you bring her long after the food is gone.

TAX DAY COUNTDOWN: Crazy Tax Deductions People Make to Save a Buck

The countdown to tax day is underway. The pressure can be intense — intense enough to drive people mad. Here are 6 crazy tax deductions people have made to save a buck.Taxes-date

Financing Fire A taxpayer in Pennsylvania paid an arsonist $10,000 to burn down his furniture store.  H&R Block reports the taxpayer claimed the insurance money he received from the fire as income and the arson as a deduction.

Bosom Bill One of’s favorite deductions was for breast implants. The tax payer was a saleswoman who wanted to deduct the $14,000 surgery as a medical expense.  The claim was denied. Had she been an exotic dancer, it may have gone over as a business expense filed under “stage prop.”

Wee Wages According to the Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants, one person claimed an infant as an employee. His CPA did not let this one slide.

50-dollar-billCanine Cash According to GROCO CPA & Advisors, a tax payer claimed his dog as a dependent. He even claimed his doggy daycare expenses as childcare costs. His arguments were denied.

Feline Funds A junkyard owner claimed cat food as a business expense. The tax payer argued he used it to attract feral cats. The cats, in turn, took care of the rat and snake problem at the property making it safe for customers. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine reports the deduction was accepted.

woman-doing-taxesTraveler’s Check  says a painter claimed a trip to Brazil as a business expense. When questioned about the expense, he said he went to Brazil to buy spatulas.

Taxes are a serious business, and sometimes the IRS needs a laugh, but there is such a thing as being too creative with your costs. Err on the side of caution.

Graduation Gifts: Etiquette for Giving and Receiving

Graduation-tassleGraduation is just around the corner and that means presents! People are always concerned with the rules about gift giving – here’s what you need to know about the giving graduation gifts and receiving them.

Giving Gifts:

If you receive a graduation announcement, it is just that: a statement of an accomplishment. Graduation announcements are usually sent to an inclusive list, meaning there are a lot of people on the list with varying degrees of social importance to the sender, so announcements are not a request for gifts. A gift is not required.

It is up to the recipient of the announcement on whether it’s appropriate to send a gift or if an acknowledgement of the achievement – like a greeting card — is sufficient. If the graduate is the daughter of a co-worker you once bought Girl Scout Cookies from, a card is a fine way to recognize the occasion. If the graduate is someone you know personally or the graduate’s parents are good friends, sending a gift would be good form. If you are invited to attend the ceremony or the graduation party, the social standard is to give a gift.

If a gift is in order, you have options. You can send a personal keepsake or something functional for their new dorm room or apartment. You don’t have to go big to make the gift count — toaster ovens and microwaves are useful gifts and things a graduate can keep for a long time. This goes for gift cards and money as well. You should only give what you are comfortable with or can afford. If everyone else is sending $1,000 and you can only afford to send $10, that’s OK; it will still be appreciated.

If you are not attending the graduation ceremony or party, sending the gift or delivering it in person is fine. Bringing the gift to the graduation or party is also acceptable.

graduation-giftsReceiving Gifts:

If you are the graduate, you did a great job and recognition should be reward enough. Don’t expect gifts – no one is required to give you anything, even if you sent them an announcement. If you do get a gift, show your gratitude: that is polite.

Thank you notes should go out as soon as possible — don’t take more than a month to give proper recognition.  Though getting out a note fast is important, a quick email for the $25 check isn’t going to cut it. For any gift, big or small, a handwritten note is necessary. Invest in a nice set of thank you cards. Because no gift is required, make your thank you count. Put thought into it with keywords like “generous” and “thoughtful.” It doesn’t have to be long – just a few sentences to show your appreciation.

No matter what the occasion or the season, gifts are a delicate detail when it comes to celebrations. When in doubt, a token for the festivities will be appreciated and it should always get a thank you note.Graduates

Pinteresting Picks for March

Hooray for the last day of March! We’re super excited for the change of seasons, and, judging from what Pinterest shows us, our customers are excited for warm weather, too.

Here’s our list of the products most pinned for the month — our Pinteresting Picks for March.

Sidewalk-designerThis Designer kit and 50-Ct. Chalk set brings back memories of hours on the sidewalk and days inside crafting. The Magic Art™ Spiral Sidewalk Design Kit lets kids go beyond the hum-drum hopscotch to create amazing designs on the concrete on the backyard patio or in the front on the driveway.  The wheel stencils help create clever  patterns that will keep kids occupied for hours on sunny days. The Bucket of Chalk features thick bright sticks of pink, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple and white all in a plastic tub.tipsy-tower

Here’s a new twist on the vertical garden — the Tipsy Tower Plant Stand is an easy and creative way to give height to your garden using your own planters.  It works by sliding the down the bar at an angle, allowing each pot to rest slightly on the one below it, creating a fun, gravity-defying look. 4-Ft. tower can be used in 4 different configurations as the upright tower rod is actually 2 pieces. It’s designed to accommodate 4 or more pots. 2-Ft. tower can be used in 2 different configurations and is designed to accommodate 3 to 5 pots.stove-top-cover

With warm weather on the horizon, there won’t be as much use for the stove top this summer — but the space shouldn’t go to waste! This Wooden Stove Top Cover goes right over the burners giving you more surface area for working with food, cookbooks or whatever you don’t have room for on your counter tops. It’s easy to take off and put back on using the handles.Sliding-bathroom-storage

Everyone has spring cleaning on the brain and one of our more popular Pinteresting Picks helps keep the bathroom tidy. 2-shelf Sliding Bathroom Storage unit makes use of space by adding a shelf to your cabinet while also making access easy by allowing you to slide the shelves in and out as you need. It lets you add more stuff without adding to the clutter.


Etiquette: What to Wear to a Wedding


When attending a wedding, it is a sign of respect towards the happy couple to wear the appropriate clothing. Some cultural and religious groups have specific standards as to appropriate wedding attire, while others are not as strict on what you are allowed to wear. Emily Post, adviser on all things etiquette, gives the instructions for guests on what to wear to a wedding.

  • Formal daytime wedding – Women should wear a cocktail dress or dressy afternoon dress. Men should wear a dark suit coupled with a conservative shirt and tie.
  • Formal evening wedding – Women should wear a long evening dress or fancy cocktail dress, depending on local customs (gloves are optional). Men should wear a dark suit, or a tuxedo if the invitation specifies “black tie.”
  • Semi-formal daytime wedding – Women should wear a dressy afternoon dress, suit, or pantsuit. Men have the option of a dark suit OR a blazer and gray flannel pants with a tie.
  • Semi-formal evening wedding – Women should wear a cocktail dress or dressy pantsuit. Men should wear a dark suit.
  • Informal daytime wedding – Women should wear an afternoon dress, dressy skirt, or pants and a blouse. Men should wear a sport coat or blazer with slacks (tie optional).
  • Informal evening wedding – Women should wear an afternoon or cocktail dress. Men should wear a blazer with gray flannel pants or slacks (tie optional).
  • For women, hats or head coverings are optional, unless required by the house of worship or at the bride and groom’s request.

wedding-cakeWhat should you never, EVER wear to a wedding? Some say that’s a matter of personal preference, but Emily Post suggests otherwise. Here is her list of clothing items to NEVER wear to a wedding:

  • Clothing that is skimpy, provocative, suggestive, obscene, or just in poor taste.
  • Costumes – UNLESS you have been notified that it is a costume wedding and everyone else will be attired in costumes as well.
  • Blue jeans and t-shirts. Avoid denim in most cases; a denim skirt, shirt, or jacket is most likely not appropriate.
  • Any jewelry that calls attention to your own faith while attending services for another faith. It is important to have your own beliefs, but there is a time and a place for making a statement about religion, and someone else’s wedding is neither that time nor that place.
  • Baseball caps, sport caps, large decorative hats that block others’ lines of sight. Those are appropriate at the Kentucky Derby, but not at someone’s wedding.
  • Casual shoes or boots worn with formal or semi-formal outfits. Perhaps you forgot your fancy shoes at home – run out to Target and buy a pair of heels instead of wearing the dirty tennies you found in your trunk.
  • Sunglasses worn indoors (unless you have a valid medical reason for doing so).
  • Boutonnieres and corsages (unless supplied by the hosts).

If you follow these fool-proof guidelines, you will be an enjoyable member of the happy couple’s special day, instead of an eyesore who causes a distraction!

This post was written by a guest contributor for The Perfect Card Box, creators of patented locking wedding card boxes and card holders for all occasions.

7 Ideas for Throwing the Perfect Weekend Party with Kids


As we grow, the term “party” seems to evolve. In college the word meant “all night experience” filled with lots of friends and unknown shenanigans. But things like a full-time job, children and other responsibilities get thrown into the mix as we get older. We have a few ideas that can incorporate the entire family when throwing a fun weekend party.

Keep it Simple, Keep it Small

It doesn’t have to be tiny, but when you want to keep both kids and adults entertained, it’s easier to keep everyone engaged when there are fewer people to deal with. No one gets overwhelmed, and parents can keep track of their kids.

Invite Adults with Kids

It’s easier to keep kids interested in the party if they have other kids to play with. Having playmates will make the party feel less like a chore for kids – you can even encourage them to invite their own friends. There’s more incentive for them to get out and have a good time if they have someone to have a good time with.

Game OnFamily-dancing

To stir things up and get guests of all ages mingling, make a game the centerpiece of party. Divide everyone up into random teams, have several big games like charades or a dance competition planned that involve team-work and keep score. Everyone stays involved, everyone behaves and everyone has fun. It also gives the party a clear beginning, middle and end so guests and kids can gauge their comings and goings.

Go Easy on the Booze

If you’re serving alcohol, keep it simple and stick to single-serving beer and wine for the adults and soda for the kids. The single-servings will prevent mix-ups with mixers so the kids stay safe and the adults can still have fun responsibly.

Host as a Group

Divide the hosting responsibilities up and give everyone a job to do. It will keep kids busy, involved and feeling important. The pressure of entertaining the kids will be taken off parents and it will keep the adults socially active.


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Make the Food Fun

A build-your-own taco or burrito bar will keep the kids as well as adults active and interactive. With finger foods and barbeque, it’s easy to walk off on their own to eat.  They have more opportunity to talk with everyone and stay engaged if they have to fiddle with their food rather than if a grab and go buffet is an option.

Hard and Fast Times

Have a set starting and ending time. It’ll save you the grief of putting a cranky child to bed and your friends will be grateful that they have answer to the question, “When are we leaving?”  It doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but try a party with kids without a closing time and you’ll notice a difference.


5 Gift Ideas for Easter



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The Easter bunny comes around every year, but knowing what to bring can be a challenge sometimes. Here are 5 gift ideas for Easter we think can help you out when the holiday rolls around.

Stamped for ApprovalWood-block-stamps

For crafting kids, these adorable Woodblock Stamp and Ink sets can add flair to even the most creative scrapbooking project. But the uses go beyond scrapbooking; the stamps make journaling and letter writing more fun. The sets include 18 stamps and one ink pad.

Charming CharmsBunny-charms

Bunnies add beauty to your little girl! These darling necklaces will make Easter delightful while dressing up your little lady in her Sunday best. The bunny necklaces come in an adorable bunny box. The lamb necklace comes in a gift box with Bible scripture.

Sweet Treats Fudgie-wudgie

It wouldn’t be Easter without a sweet treat – and even adults can enjoy Fudgie Wudgie Gourmet Fudge. The fudge is hand-crafted with all-natural ingredients and it doesn’t require refrigeration so it’s guaranteed to be delivered fresh.

Easter Challenge Cube-puzzles

Easter doesn’t have to be all about chocolate – Cube Puzzles are the perfect addition to the Easter basket. Spring scenes are all mixed up leaving a test for the toddler to match up the blocks  to complete the pictures. They come in sets of Pets or Farm Animals.

Bible-storiesEaster Education

Easter is a great time for an introduction to faith. Bible Stories for Girls or Boys engages children with rhymes and inspirational illustrations in a padded book. Sneak this into a basket and you’ll have a fun explanation of the day that brings us chocolate bunnies and egg hunts.

Tips to Transform Your Shed

A shed isn’t just for tools – it can be recreated into a place to escape – perhaps a man cave, TV room, or a study. The key to making it comfortable is to make sure everything will fit. Here are tips to transform your shed into a living space.Shed-on-water

Make Adjustments Throw out junk and broken items and organize your accessories or anything you use regularly by adding shelves or hooks. There are many stylish shelves, which can enhance the theme of the shed. Only add accessories you really need. Adding too many accessories such as lamps, stools and pictures will make the shed look smaller.

Think Small Add smaller sized furniture instead of bulky pieces. A chair and ottoman would take up less space than a couch. A high top table with two or three chairs will work in place of a regular-sized table. Folding tables or small nested tables can be tucked away when they’re not in use. Hang pendant lights from the ceiling if the shed is too small for end tables and lamps.

Color Coordinate Use light colors on the walls and floors to give the illusion of a larger shed. You can also try painting the ceiling and walls the same color to make it look more spacious.Large tiles or wood on the floor also create a feeling of openness. Add a window to the shed to bring in natural light, which gives an appearance of more room.