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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Spring Sprouts: 5 Vegetables You Can Regrow in Your Garden

When you see a crokus popping up from the soil every few steps, you know spring has arrived! At The Lakeside Collection, those little flowers put us in the mood for planting — but not just the pretty stuff. This year we’re putting the idea of upcycling into our gardens. That means we’re re-growing a few plants that are already full grown. To give you an idea of what we mean, here are 5 vegetables you can regrow in your garden.

Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes Potatoes are a staple in just about any culture. It’s a hardy vegetable that is eaten year-round, so you’ll be doing your meals and your wallet a favor by planting a few in your garden. When you see a potato sprouting eyes, it’s ready to grow. Cut the potato up and let it dry out for a day or two (like onions) before you put it in the ground. Holes should be about 6” deep and the pieces of potatoes should be planted with the eyes (sprouts) facing up. They love lots of sun and require a good amount of water to produce healthy spuds.

Basil Right now is the perfect time to start basil cuttings indoors to transplant in your garden. When you have your package of basil, make sure there are leaf nodes (they look like branches will sprout from them). With kitchen shears, cut just below the node and remove any leaves from the bottom two inches. Stick this in a clear glass of water and put it in a sunny window. Make sure to change the water every other day and it should be ready to plant in soil in about four weeks.

GarlicGarlic You need it for everything! In your salads, pizza, pasta, sauce — just about every type of culinary challenge requires garlic. Planting a clove or two is a sensible and money-saving project. Garlic can be planted in the fall or spring, but if you’re planting in the spring, put it in the ground as soon as the soil is warm and soft enough to be worked. They’re easy to plant — one clove produces a bulb and they should be planted about 2” down with plenty of organic matter mixed in with the soil. The only thing you need to be really careful of is drainage — too much water will cause rot.

Onions Just like garlic, you can never have too many of them — and they taste so much sweeter when they’re free! They’re pretty easy to grow — when you’ve cut up an onion, save the root part that you usually toss. It should be a little bit dry (calloused) before you plant it. When it’s ready, bury it in a sunny spot in your garden under an inch or two of soil and let it sprout.

Red romaine lettuceRomaine When we eat in the summer, we eat salad — and growing the lettuce in the backyard is a great way to cut costs at the grocery store! Romaine is not only easy to re-grow, but it’s also the most nutritious. Saving your stumps is a win-win-win!  To get it going, let the stump soak in about a half-inch of water that you should change frequently (every 1 to 2 days). Put it in a sunny spot and in just a few days you’ll start seeing growth. You can keep growing it just like this, but it’s better grown in soil and you can transplant it in your garden after a week.

At The Lakeside Collection, we’re all about saving you money. From ideas for growing a great garden on a budget to brightening your home with products at discount prices, shop Lakeside for all your home improvement essentials.

7 Foods That Sound Bad but Are Good for You

Most of us struggle to eat well. It’s tough to include kale in every meal, but really we don’t have to. What’s even better news than that, is that not all food we think is bad for us is unhealthy. Here are 7 foods that sound bad but are good for you.

Rapeseed oil and flowers isolated over white.No Fear Fried Food Fried food not only tastes good, but it’s good for you, too. Sort of. It depends on what is being fried. Something like battered and fried broccoli isn’t so bad despite that it’s cloaked in fat. But foods that contain carotenoids and fat soluble vitamins like A and K need fat it helps the body absorbs the nutrients. What makes the frying bad is the type of fat. It’s better to stick to oils like canola and safflower that are made up of unsaturated fats and monounsaturated fatty acids which improve blood cholesterol levels and decrease your risk for heart disease. The bad fats like butter and shortening (trans fats) should be avoided. They increase cholesterol significantly.

Good Shape Guac The main ingredient of guacamole is avocado which is full of fat but it’s good fat that not only doesn’t contain cholesterol, but it can also help lower bad cholesterol. Avocados are also a good source of vitamin K, folic acid and vitamin E. In addition to avocados, guacamole also contains onions, jalapenos and tomatoes. Tomatoes are widely considered a super-food; they contain lycopene, vitamins A, C and E. Mix it all together and you have a cancer-fighting, heart-disease-battling dip.

Coffee cupCoffee Cure Coffee doesn’t just wake you up in the morning, it can give your brain a boost. It actually stimulates the release of dopamine and norepinephrine as well as improve your memory and cognitive function. But a cup of Joe can give your whole body a kick start as well. The long term benefits may include lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Fitness Fries Sweet potatoes are associated with carbohydrates which can scare away any dieter, but those orange tubers are packed with nutrients and they don’t contain nearly as much starch as rice or corn. Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, fiber and vitamin A (and Beta-carotene). Beta-carotene protects the body’s immune system and can lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. While adding fat through deep-frying isn’t ideal, in moderation the benefits outweigh the consequences. However, baked sweet potato fries are just as tasty as the fried ones.

Smoothie Strength Smoothies get a bad rap for being high-calorie sugar shakes, but if you use yogurt instead of ice cream, they won’t be so bad. They can actually be quite good for you. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants which prevents the production of cell-damaging free radicals. They’re also anti-inflammatories. Yogurt promotes intestinal health as it’s full of probiotics and the active cultures help prevent yeast infections. You can add banana for texture and potassium and orange juice as a sweetener and for some vitamin C. Just hit puree and you have a breakfast for cancer to contend with.

Cup Cake decorationPotent Peanut Butter  You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter in my chocolate! Together, they taste like strength. Peanut butter is a protein rich food that helps build and repair muscle. It also has cholesterol-lowering, healthy fats and it’s loaded with anti-oxidants. Wrapped in dark chocolate, this may be the perfect food. Dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure, improve your cognitive function and reduce the risk for stroke. A peanut butter cup made with the right ingredients does a body good.

Robust Rinds Deep fried pig skin. Sounds heart-stopping- deadly, doesn’t it? Well, unlike their potato counterparts, pork rinds contain no carbohydrates. The other good news: the bad fat in the skin is rendered off in the cooking process leaving behind almost pure protein.

Benefits of Adult Coloring Books

coloring bookIf you’ve spent much time on the internet in the last year or two, you’ve probably heard about how awesome adult coloring books are. If you’re not convinced filling in intricately drawn bubbles with pinks, blues and yellows, perhaps what you can gain from it can persuade you. Here are 4 benefits of adult coloring books.

Break Time We all need to give our, minds, bodies and souls a break. Working coloring into our schedule gives us that rest that we might not otherwise take if we just say we’re going to take a break. It’s a time that you can sit down and not have to think beyond “should this paisley be green or purple?” But because it’s all laid out for you and gives you focus, it takes pressure off the part of your brain that generates a fear response making you feel generally more relaxed.

coloring-bookEasy Challenge Unlike other crafts and creative activities, you don’t have to be an expert to make your coloring book look awesome. If you’ve ever been envious of your creative friends who know how to put together the perfectly crafted Easter centerpiece, you don’t have to be left out of the creative circle with a coloring book.

Chillax You can build social activities around coloring — rather than hosting a book club or a knitting group, host a coloring party in which everyone brings snacks and wine and you can chat and catch up over coloring. It’s a way of being more purposeful with your time with friends than going out and having dinner and drinks every few weeks.coloring-bookFountain of Youth Creative activities help keep your brain young. As we get older, our brains to work as well as they did when we were young, but, like exercise, it works your muscles to keep them strong. In fact, engaging in creative activities like coloring slows down mild cognitive impairment. Not only does coloring keep your brain young, it also stimulates your brain while encouraging its communication with other parts of your body.

The Lakeside Collection has coloring books and crafts to keep you creatively challenged no matter what level of crafter you are. From colored pencils to scrapbooking accessories, shop Lakeside for all your creative needs.coloring-book