How to Add Organic Touch to Your Home’s Decor

Going organic doesn’t end at the grocery store. In fact, there are a number of different ways that you can incorporate organic elements throughout your entire home. Here are just a few great ways to add a natural touch to the decor in your living space.

  • Create a nature-inspired vignette. If you admire something beautiful on your morning walk, such as a unique branch or a particularly interesting stone, add it to a stack of books on a tabletop to create a flawless vignette.
  • Create stone hot pads. Glue smooth, flat stones to the surface of simple kitchen hot pads to keep your countertops protected from hot pots and pans.
  • Choose natural rugs. Soft, organic materials like jute and hemp look beautiful when woven into a rug, and they’re much friendlier on the environment than synthetic versions.
  • Create organic centerpieces. The next time you host a dinner party, fill a ceramic vase with foraged tree branches or add pine cones to a clear bowl for a unique centerpiece inspired by the outdoors.
  • Change up your drapes. One of the simplest ways to bring the outdoors in is by allowing as much natural light as possible into your home. Switch out heavy drapes with soft, sheer panels to maximize the light.

Decorating with Natural Elements [Better Homes & Gardens]
10 Simple Ways to Bring the Outdoors Inside [Freshome]
Decorating with Natural Elements from Natural Kitchen and Home [Pinterest]

Interior Design Rules That Everyone Should Know

The expertise of a trained interior designer comes at top dollar, so heed this advice before shelling out your hard-earned cash: Most, if not all, home decorators incorporate the same design principles when furnishing and designing a room. You needn't possess a degree—nor a keen eye for design—to apply these rules of thumb to your space! Here are two simple rules to follow:

1) Add round shapes to create visual interest.
Because most furniture is made up of 90-degree angles, be sure to soften these sharp angles by introducing round shapes into your design. This curvature can come from circular-shaped throw rugs, round accents (vases, frames, collectibles, pillows), and lighting fixtures.

2) Think big.
While you can certainly draw inspiration from a smaller collectible, always start the design process with larger pieces, then work your way down to accents. For instance, if you're designing a living room, begin the design process by choosing your sofa and rug, then progress incrementally to smaller and smaller pieces, finishing with accessories.

10 Secrets From Top Interior Designers to Better Your Home [Freshome]
Timeless Home Decorating Tips [Real Simple]
The 7 Rules of Interior Design [Zillow]

Transform Your Ordinary Bookcase Into a Showcase With These Simple Tips

If you frequently find yourself admiring stylish bookcase vignettes on interior design websites, you’re not alone. While these beautiful shelves look effortless online, it can be much more difficult to create one in person. Here are a few simple steps for creating a designer-worthy bookcase — without giving yourself a headache!

  1. Alternate books. Instead of lining your books up library-style, alternate their direction by also adding stacks of horizontal-facing books. You can even place a small paperweight or candle on top of those stacks to add more visual interest.
  2. Organize books by color. If your bookshelf is filled to the brim with reading materials, make it look more organized by arranging the titles by color to create a rainbow effect.
  3. Unify mismatched knick-knacks. If your collection of knick-knacks looks a bit shabby, unify the set by painting them all one color. Try a stark white, a bold primary hue, or a fun pop of neon.
  4. Decorate the insides of the shelves. Give your bookshelf itself a makeover by adding a bright coat of paint or a layer of wallpaper to the backs of each shelf.
  5. Add artwork. Instead of just using books and knick-knacks, turn your shelves into an art gallery. Prop up a frame or even hang a picture from the front of the shelves where their corners meet.

Bookshelf Styling Tips: The Basics and Beyond [HGTV]
Styling a Bookshelf: 10 Homes That Get It Right [Design Sponge]
10 Tricks for Styling Your Bookshelves [Style Me Pretty: Living]

How to Pour Wine Like a Pro Sommelier

You don’t have to splurge on a $100 aged Cabernet Sauvignon to seem like a real wine expert; all it takes are a few smart tips and some essential wine-serving tools. Follow these simple steps to impress your guests the next time you serve them a glass of red.

  1. Maintain the proper temperature. A surefire way to come across as a newbie wine drinker is by serving your bottle at the wrong temperature. Light or sparkling white wines should be served at 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain their fresh flavor, while fuller whites and lighter reds should be 50 to 60 degrees. For full-bodied reds, stick to a warmer 60 degrees.
  2. Stock up on enough wine. It could be embarrassing to run out of wine before everyone has their fill, so as a general rule, imagine that each bottle serves approximately five glasses.
  3. Invest in good wine glasses. They don’t have to be expensive, but having real wine glasses does add to the experience. Also, be sure to wash the glasses by hand and dry them with a clean linen towel to ensure that they don’t affect the flavor of the wine.
  4. Fill the proper amount. As a general rule, fill the glass to just below its widest point. This will make you look like a true sommelier and make your guests feel like wine aficionados themselves.

How to Serve Wine 101: Tips on the Perfect Serving Temperature [Wine Spectator]
Frey Organic Wine Serving Tips [Frey Vineyards]
25 Tips on How to Serve Wine [Bauduc Blog]

How Do You Use Up Overripe Bananas? Here Are Some Suggestions!

Bananas are quite finicky fruits, and if you don’t eat them right away they turn brown and too soft for many people’s tastes. Before you toss out those overripe bananas, however, try one of these delicious recipes that welcome that extra sweet flavor! And if you have a go-to recipe of your own, please share it!

Chocolate Banana Creamsicles [alimentageuse.com]
While these cool, healthy treats are especially refreshing during the hot summer months, they taste just as delicious year-round. Simply blend a few overripe bananas with cocoa, vanilla, and coconut milk, then freeze it to create a handheld treat.

Bananas Foster Parfaits [myrecipes.com]
Give your browned bananas a second life with these gourmet quality parfaits. Greek yogurt creates the base, while cooking the sliced bananas with butter, apple juice, and toasted pecans imparts a sweet and robust flavor. If you’re serving this to adult dinner guests, substitute the apple juice for rum to create a more grown-up taste.

Banana Banana Bread [allrecipes.com]
This moist, dense bread contains so many bananas, it uses the word twice. It’s hearty enough to eat for breakfast, but it’s so sweet and delicious that it makes a great dessert, as well. Best of all, the riper the bananas, the better they work in this simple recipe.

Three Surprising Sources of Lactose

Millions of Americans suffer from lactose intolerance, a sensitivity to foods that contain the natural sugar lactose. Most often, lactose is found in dairy products such as milk and cheese, but there are some foods that contain it that you might not know about. Here are three surprising sources of lactose you should look out for:

  1. Lunch meats. Cold cut meats are great for having on hand for a quick sandwich, but they're often made with processed ingredients that include lactose. Even a small amount could be harmful to those with sensitivities. So the lactose intolerant sure to purchase farm-fresh deli meat when possible.
  2. Nougat. This creamy sweet filling in candy bars contains lactose. There are many other candies that contain lactase as well, so do your research before you indulge.
  3. "Non-dairy" creamer. This tricky label might seem like a safe choice for lactose intolerant individuals, but many brands of this milk-derived substitute still contain trace amounts of lactose. Avoid it altogether and use soy- or almond-based creamers.

8 surprising sources of lactose [Best Health Mag]
Lactose Intolerance [National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse]
Learn to Detect Hidden Lactose [Cornell Women’s Health]
What is Hidden Lactose [Lactaid]

Creative Takes on Classic Peanut Butter and Jelly for Adults

Do you love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but you’re worried about the strange looks you’ll get from your friends when you pull one out at a party? Don’t be! With these fun and fancy recipes for adult PB&Js, you can enjoy the treat in style.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Pie [cookingchanneltv.com]
This sweet and nutty pie is the ideal dessert for any social gathering. The classic flavor of fruit jelly perfectly mingles with a peanut butter and cream cheese filling, while a whipped cream topping is just the icing on the cake.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars [chow.com]
Guests of all ages will love these peanut butter and jelly dessert bars, which are made with a browned oat crust and thick strawberry jam for a hearty taste that’s the perfect grown-up version of your childhood favorite.

PB&J Cocktail [delish.com]
If you want to add a really adult twist to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, this PB&J cocktail is a lively and exciting choice. Although the two flavors seem like an unlikely pairing with alcohol, once you taste them with aged rum you’ll certainly become a believer. Line the rim with salted peanuts for a truly authentic taste.

Delightful Recipes for Rich Chocolate Pudding

Just about everyone loves chocolate, and pudding is a simple dish that can be prepared a number of different ways. Combine the two tastes to create decadent chocolate pudding with these easy recipes.

Hasty Chocolate Pudding [AllRecipes]
When your guests are arriving in just a few minutes, this recipe tastes great but takes only a little while to prepare.

How to Make Perfect Chocolate Pudding from Scratch [The Kitchn]
Forego the boxed, prepackaged mixes and learn to make a real chocolate pudding with this recipe.

Best Chocolate Pudding [Smitten Kitchen]
Dark, rich, and just a pinch salty, this recipe makes a truly elegant chocolate pudding dish.

Chocolate Pudding [Food Network]
Learn to make Tyler Florence’s chocolate pudding from this gourmet recipe.

Weekend Getaways

Who's ready for a get away?! There's nothing more exciting than a spontaneous vacation away from reality. Airbnb is the perfect source to plan your trip whether it's last minute or months ahead. Choose from over 190+ countries to find the perfect location! Even if you're itching to get out of town and head to the mountains just for the weekend, there are plenty of rentals to choose from. If you could go anywhere-where would you go?

Learn About the 5 Food Groups With USDA Site

You learn about the five food groups when you’re a child, but you probably haven’t thought about them much since then. While adults are concerned with counting calories and calculating fat, the USDA website wants to help you remember the importance of these distinct groups:

1. Vegetables. Vegetables and 100% vegetable juices all count as members of the vegetable group. While the amount you should consume each day varies from person to person, generally half of your plate should be covered by veggies.

2. Fruits. Whether you eat whole fruits or you enjoy them pureed, dried, or blended, fruits are another necessary food group. Women and men over the age of 19 should consume between 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day, depending on an individual's age and weight.

3. Grains. Examples of healthy grains include whole-wheat flour, cracked wheat, oatmeal, whole cornmeal, and brown rice. At least half of your grains should be whole grains, and the recommended daily amount for a person over 19 is between 5 and 8 ounces.

4. Proteins. Proteins are meats like chicken or beef, but they also include meatless foods like beans, peas, eggs, and processed soy products like tofu, nuts, and seeds. The amount of protein you need depends on your age, physical activity, and other factors.

5. Dairy. Dairy includes calcium-rich foods like milk and cheese, and only low-fat or fat-free varieties are usually recommended.

Food Groups [ChooseMyPlate.gov]

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