Celebrate New Year’s Eve with class — and good food


We’re just starting to reach the calm after the storm of Christmas, and here comes New Year’s Eve. If you hosting this event, it can be easy to give in and let it get out of control. But this celebration can be simple and elegant. Here are some tips to ring in your new year with less work.

  • Serve small plates: Since most of your party-goers won’t be arriving until later in the evening, you don’t need to plan a large meal. Make prep and clean up easier on yourself by serving small plates or horderves. Divided serving dishes make it super simple to present small offerings like olives, nuts, cheese and more.
  • Utilize serving trays: While we’re on the subject, serving trays will be your best friend. With them, you won’t clutter up your surfaces with your normal plates. And some designs, like this one with room for ice, are designed to keep your food cold all night — so food is fresh for all parry-goers, no matter what time they show up. Tiered serving trays are also a great investment; these decorative pieces are also super convenient because they allow you to present more options without taking up previous space.
  • Use a serving caddy: Keep plates, napkins, flatware and serving pieces all in one area. These awesome caddies make it even easier for guests to help themselves to food. Opt for the disposable plates and flatware, too.



1.) Bamboo Entertaining Set

2.) Serving Caddy

3.) Three Tier Serving Tray

4.) Appetizers on Ice Serving Tray

5.) Divided Serving Dish


Thanksgiving recipes: Use a ricer for the best mashed potatoes


Yes, the turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving Day dinner, but there are many key players. My favorite every year is the creamy, buttery mashed potatoes — no one can make them like my mother. This year, I finally asked: what’s the secret?

Using a ricer instead of whipping or hand mashing potatoes creates smooth, lump-free spuds fit for melted butter, gravy or both. Cook’s Illustrated recently put a few model to the test and picked two models on our site as their top two favorites.

  • RSVP International Potato Ricer: This food press features a sturdy handle and pot hook so it stays in place while you process your potatoes. The rectangular shape makes it easy to fit spuds of all sizes, plus the interchangeable disks allow you to master a range of different textures. It’s also a great model for making your own baby food or removing extra moisture from cooked greens. Plus, it’s dis-mountable and dishwasher safe!
    Cleaning: ∗∗∗  Ease of Use: ∗∗∗  Performance: ∗∗∗
  • OXO Three in One Adjustable Potato Ricer: This ricer from OXO is made for more than one job. The adjustable grates are great for ricing potatoes, but can also be used to cube veggies for soups and other recipes. This model also features a pot hook so it can be rested on the side of your pan while you process potatoes. Made from stainless steel and BPA-free plastic, plus it is safe to use in the dishwasher.
    Cleaning: ∗∗∗  Ease of Use: ∗∗1/2  Performance: ∗∗∗

Tips for the best mashed potatoes:

  • Season the cooking water: potatoes can be bland and the best way to season them is to salt the water you cook them in.
  • Get butter and cream warm before adding: Using cold cream or butter can cause potatoes to get gummy. Heat up the butter and cream beforehand.
  • Infuse: Steep crushed garlic and your favorite herbs in your warm butter before adding to your potatoes. This way you get flavor without lumps or chunks.
  • Use a ricer: Obviously, using a ricer will give you the smoothest potatoes, but make sure you do it while the spuds are still hot.

Prepping for Thanksgiving Day dinner


Ready or not, here comes Turkey Day — AND your hungry family. If you have been honored with the chore of making dinner for the fam, make it easy on yourself with the proper tools.

 Must-have kitchen gadgets for a Thanksgiving feast

  • Electric knife: I know it seems goofy, but this Electric Knife from Cuisinart will make it super simple to cleanly slice up your bird or ham come the big day. Carving a turkey can be a real chore, but this handy blade takes the guess work and grunt work out. It comes with a solid hardwood stand and handle storage so you can keep it properly stored and it will be like-new every year. Switch between the two stainless steel blades, designed for carving meat and bread respectively. A safety button and a four foot cord makes this electric knife user-friendly and safe for everyone.
  • Immersion blender: Whether you’re looking to perfect your gravy, mashed spuds or whip up a great soup with that leftover turkey, an immersion blender is a must have. This particular model from Cuisinart comes with three different attachments to do the work of a food processor, a power whisk or drink mixer plus a blender. Two speeds and a 200 watt motor allow you to chop, puree, blend, whip and process.
  • Food chopper: Chop veggies for your stuffing, pecans for pie, garlic to spice up your potatoes and much more with this easy hand chopper. The plastic base allows you to chop without the addition of a cutting board. The covered design also keeps you hands out of the way, so you can cut and dice without worrying about slicing your fingers. This safe, easy to clean (throw it in the dishwasher!) and user-friendly chopper is a great addition year-round.
  • Food processor: Cut your prep time in half with a food processor. This one has a three cup bowl and convenient handle that allows you to easily measure ingredients. This counter top appliance is perfect for chopping veggies and making sauces like cranberry relish.

Holiday baking with fresh spices



The holiday season is fast approaching and with it comes loads of cleaning, shopping, decorating and of course — baking! While you’re prepping for your holiday feasts, consider using fresh herbs and spices instead of the market shelf dried variety. Storing and preserving these fresh goodies is simple with the right tools and using them can add that extra oomph to your recipes.

Whether you have left over homegrown goods from your summer garden or want to preserve fresh items from a local market, there are plenty of options to get the job done.

Many spices are sensitive to direct sunlight and intense heat, so they should be stored in a cool, dark area that is still within easy reach of your prep area. The best places to store your spices are inside cabinets and drawers, which keeps spices within easy reach. You can also store spices on a counter top away from any windows.

Fresh herbs

elegant evening dresses Keep all your excess fresh herbs stored away until you can use them with the Progressive fresh herb keeper. The water reservoir offers hydration for stored herbs, ensuring they stay fresh for several days in the refrigerator. Now you can keep fresh herbs readily available so you can enjoy fresh basil, rosemary and other spices in your signature dishes. These savory choices are a perfect addition to Thanksgiving Day turkey and more.

Spice mixtures

If you like to create your own spice mixtures and meat rubs, you need a convenient place to store your concoctions. Our spice balls provide tons of storage space to store large amounts of spice mixtures so you can keep a large quantity of herbs on hand. You can store smaller spice mixtures in our spice shakers, which allows you to sprinkle your favorite mixture over steaming plates of food.spiceshaker

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by spices, especially blends. But it’s really as simple as trial and error. Mix your favorite spices, see what you like and what you don’t.

Here’s one to try this holiday season:

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix

  • 3 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cloves

Mary Joesten contributed to this story.


Boot trays are the best wet shoe storage




Autumn showers are coming our way and soon enough — snow! Prepare your foyer now for muddy rain boots and wet snow boots. Boot trays are an inexpensive, manageable way to combat wet floors and salty stains.

Our friends at Bungalow Flooring have these awesome boot trays that have had me waiting for fall all summer long. We offer a few different styles but all Bungalow Boot Mats are:

  • Available in 18 UV resistant colors to blend into any household.
  • Constructed from heavy-duty, premium-grade polypropylene fibers.
  • Excellent at absorbing excess moisture and trapping dirt particles.
  • Designed with a rubber bottom to prevent the mat from sliding around on the floor.
  • Made with materials that are highly resistant to mold, mildew, cracks and crushing.
  • Complete with a wide border that ensures water and dirt are kept on the rug and off the floor.
  • Keept clean by washing in the machine and hanging out to dry.
  • Wonderful for use in the foyer, mudroom, hallway, porch or garage.
  • Made in the United States.

Choose from attractive square, diamond, leaves or fall patterns.



Wind chimes create a soothing outdoor escape


The delicate sound of garden wind chimes creates the perfect at-home escape from the busy world.

wind-chimes-2We are constantly adding new collections to our site and recently we found this excellent wind chime manufacturer, Woodstock Chimes. This family-owned business is based out of Hudson Valley, New York. Woodstock Chimes creates and produces high quality, unique pieces that are sure to provide a sense of calm and joy to any age with their world-famous sounds.

When the catalog of wind chimes hit my desk, my first thought was, “but summer is over!”

How wrong I was. Gentle autumn breezes create the perfect environment for these timeless melodies. Crisp air and the traveling twinkle of wind chimes is the perfect setting for carving pumpkins, picking apples, and enjoying warm cider and donuts.

Here are of my favorites:


  • Plays the notes found in the patriotic song, America the Beautiful.
  • Playful, light melody will have your soul soaring on the breeze.
  • Named to honor the role nature’s habitats play on the eco-system.
  • A lifetime tuning guarantee is offered through the manufacturer.
  • Hang the wind chimes out in the yard using the ring at the top.
  • Creates a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere – perfect for relaxation.
  • The wind catcher displays a carved dragonfly, butterfly, or owl.
  • Antique copper finish and steel plated constructed wind catcher.
  • Chime tubes are crafted from bronze-finished, recycled aluminum.
  • Top piece and clapper are made from Bubinga-finished ash wood.


  • Offers a relaxing atmosphere to your backyard garden or seating space.
  • The chimes move with the breeze to create random patterns of sound.
  • Hand-tuned to a universal five-note pentatonic scale for rich notes.
  • Rich and deep musical notes are created as the wind ruffles the chimes.
  • A lifetime tuning guarantee is offered through the manufacturer.
  • Use the top ring to hang the wind chimes from any outdoor hook.
  • Tubes are crafted from durable, recycled aluminum material.
  • Clapper, wind catcher, and top piece are made from ash wood.
  • Comes in several color combinations to blend into any space.
  • Makes a unique gift for the music lover on your holiday list.
  • Named for the third planet in our system we call home; Earth.

Find these products and more at StacksandStacks.com.


Create the perfect home study nook


Our preparation for the new school year continues. This week, we’re focusing on creating the best home study space. Creating a comfortable place to hit the books not only increases the likelihood of homework getting done, but it encourages excellent organizing skills in other parts of life.study2

When creating your home study nook, keep two things in mind: schedule and time management. Creating a weekly schedule of when you plan to sit down, disconnect from the world and study is super important. Plan ahead and schedule time to get studying done so you can tackle it slowly throughout the week — instead of having to power through it all at once come the weekend.

Time management is just as important. When studying, it is ideal to allow yourself time to rest. Break up your studies into smaller pieces and reward yourself when you hit a checkpoint. Try to clear your mind for a few minutes without resorting to social media, television or conversations — and then get back to the books!

Of course, creating and outfitting your study place is the most important part.

Create the perfect home study space

  • Student planner: To start, you need to organize your responsibilities. Keep track of classes, homework, tests and more with this student agenda. This daily agenda has lots of room to jot down every day to-do’s. Dated for the 2015-16 school year, this planner has both monthly and daily calendars. Choose from multiple colors.
  • Dry erase calendar decal: Having a separate calendar for life’s commitments allows you to focus on homework within your planner, making it easier to keep track of assignments. A calendar for all of life’s activities is a must as well. This cool decal can be placed right above your desk. This way you can keep track of doctor’s appointments, family commitments and other things that don’t fit in your agenda.study1
  • Bulletin board: This contemporary bulletin board is the perfect mix of fun and efficiency. Pin up photos and ticket stubs as well as assignment outlines and more. This board comes with both 12 magnets and 12 pushpins.
  • Desktop organizer: Keep papers filed and organized. This cheeky desktop organizer is perfect for sorting files, important documents, even pencils or pens. The lighthearted “JUNK” text across the front adds fun to efficiency.
  • Wrist support note pad: Jot down last minute notes and reminders with this fun notepad. Designed to double as a keyboard wrist pad, this paper notepad includes 60 sheets. Like the desktop organizer, this pad has a sense of humor as displayed by its header: “Things I’ll forget to remember.”

study4 study3

Find these products and more like that at StacksandStacks.com.


Go back to school with healthy packed lunches


Ready or not, here comes another school year. As the homework piles up, it’s important to keep your attention to detail. There’s no denying it, some days it is just easier to have the kids grab lunch in the cafeteria, but today’s lunchrooms are chock full of sugary drinks and salty snacks that begin a lifetime of unhealthy habits.

Utilize these handy pieces to create quick, easy and healthy lunches every day:

lunch1Japanese style lunch box

Let lunch get creative with this Bento Box style lunch box. Bento Boxes are a traditional boxed meal in Japanese culture. They typically have separate containers for rice, protein and veggies. Modern twists on this style create an easy way to pack a well-balanced, healthy lunch for work or school. This specific design features a nesting container with three cubbies and a lid – perfect for packing and separating items without using disposable plastic bags.

Reusable lunch wrap

lunch2If you or your kids or more of just the plain ol’ sandwich type, this reusable wrap is for you. You can pack any kind of sandwich without using plastic wrap.

Snack dipperlunch4lunch3

Snacking doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Packing healthy snacks is super easy thanks to this cool double compartment container. This piece is designed to accommodate your favorite dips and sides, like hummus with carrots, celery with peanut butter and more. This case is awesome for lunches but is great for a quick study break snack you can throw in your purse, backpack, briefcase and more.

Salad container with dressing holder

The ultimate in healthy lunches: a simple salad. Not so simple to pack though.  Well that has changed. This handy container is made to pack your favorite salad, complete with a side of salad dressing. The leak proof container is also ideal for stir-f
ry, pasta and other dishes. It comes with a detachable ice pack so it’s super easy to keep foods cool during the day – this container can sit in your locker before lunch and stay fresh.

Feeling inspired? Check us out on Pinterest for lunch ideas. 
Find these products and more like them at StacksandStacks.com.


Go back to school with cool locker accessories

Go back to school with cool locker accessories

It still feels like summer has just joined us, but the beginning of another school year is drawing near. Every year we pile up the supplies, but it’s easy to overlook the details. As kids get older, maintaining storage and organization at school becomes more important. Help kids keep their lockers clean and their academics up with some of our customer favorites:

  • Adjustable locker shelf: Add storage and efficiently to any locker with this plastic shelf. Built to fit standard sized lockers, this unit features two shelves and a pull out drawer for smaller supplies. Available in black, blue or pink this shelf unit is perfect for all ages. Organize books and binders while maintain space for backpacks and lunchboxes with this handy shelf.backtoschool-1
  • Locker liner: Add personality to school lockers with this cool wallpaper. This decorative paper applies completely adhesive free – the magnetic sheets come in four pre-cut panels. Choose from a multitude of patterns: classic damask, blue polka dots, green stripes, leopard, zebra, teal paisley, pink chevron or purple scrolls.
  • backtoschool-2Magnetic pencil cup: Keep pencils, pens and other writing tools handy with this magnetic pencil cup. The brushed stainless steel finish is the perfect style to satisfy any age or gender. This simple piece the easiest way to stay organized at school.
  • Locker pockets: This hanging organizer is perfect for the locker. The fabric unit features five pockets to help sort all kinds of supplies. This piece even includes a mirror so kids can check their appearance between classes. The design includes a top hook to hang the piece and is available in either pink or blue colors.backtoschool-3
  • Designer locker white board: This handy little white board is the perfect way to remember homework assignments, important dates and more. Featuring a magnetic back, this white board holds on tight to inner out outer locker surfaces. It even comes with an included dry erase pen with a built in eraser. Choose from different patterns: purple damask, black polka dot, pink polka dot, blue flowers, blue scroll or leopard print.

Find these products and more like them at StacksAndStacks.com.


Enjoy this summer’s herbs all year long


One of my favorite things about summer is fresh herbs. Even when I was in an apartment, I had all my pots lined up on the deck, boasting fresh bunches of oregano, basil, cilantro, rosemary and more.

Towards the end of the summer, when a distinct chill starts to creep through the air, I always debate what to do with my remaining herbs. I never have the space to bring the pots inside and keep them going – beside, I’m pretty sure my cat would just dig them up.

This year is different. I am prepared with loads of ideas to preserve and utilize all my leftover herbs.



Photo courtesy thekitchn.com.

herbs-1Yes, you can freeze fresh herbs. They actually last way longer this way and the flavors are so well preserved. There are lots of ways to go about this, but my favorite so far is freezing them in olive oil with an ice cube tray. I love this tray from CasaBella the best. The cubes are small and square so you can get good oil to herb ratio, plus the silicone makes it super easy to pop out the cubes without breaking them.

To do this, roughly chop up herbs and place them in the cube tray using equal amounts in each mold. Fill the molds with olive oil (or a different oil of your preference — coconut oil works well too, but I prefer the flavor of olive for cooking.) Freeze the trays and add a cube to recipes as you cook. You can remove the cubes from the trays after a day and throw them all in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag to free up the molds for other projects.


herbs-6Skip the freezing all together and create your own oil infusions. Glass oil bottles are inexpensive and easy to store. Slide bunches of your favorite fresh herbs into the bottles – maybe one with basil, another with rosemary or get creative and mix different flavors in one bottle – fill them with oil and leave them in a cabinet to infuse for no more than three months. Just like the cubes, this oil can be added to cooking and baking – or better yet, mopped up with some nice, crusty bread.

Butter me up

Photo courtesy goodlifeeats.com.

Photo courtesy goodlifeeats.com.

If you prefer to enjoy those fresh herbs sooner rather than later, compound butter is a great, inexpensive and almost effortless way to utilize them.

I’ve yet to meet a compound butter I will turn my nose up at. There are tons of recipes online, but the idea is so simple you can do whatever you want.

Throw two sticks of very, very soft butter in a bowl and set aside. Mince one tablespoon each of your favorite herbs — I love mincing up some fresh garlic as well. Throw in your herbs and mix with the soft butter until completely combined. Roll out some plastic wrap and scoop the butter on top. From there, form a long roll with the butter and roll the warp around it, twisting the ends. Let you fresh butter set in the fridge before using. Now you can add this tasty butter to baking and cooking – or snacking.

Outside to in

herbs-2If you do want to keep you herbs inside for the colder months, there are a couple easy transitions you can make.


Photo courtesy domestically-speaking.com.

Bring the outside in by utilizing a cool window box indoors. The great thing about window boxes is that they allow you to maintain multiple plants in one pot, limiting clutter and mess. Even better, they typically come with mounting hardware and can easily be anchored to a kitchen wall, staircase railing, windowsill and other spaces.  Doing this allows you to tend to your herbs without hording space with multiple pots.

If you’re feeling a little more DIY creative, consider mason jar planters. These adorable alternative planters can make a great display piece for your kitchen. Mount a few to an empty wall or the side of your cabinets to create a playful spot for your herbs. The clear glass presents an opportunity to get creative too. Place rocks or cool glass stones in the bottom of the jars to accent your kitchen décor or color scheme.

Utilize these easy steps to enjoy your fresh herbs throughout the entire year.

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