15 ‘Car Hacks’ Every Driver Should Know

This came as information on my email, and I thought it was worthwhile, even though it is not design or cooking or even fashion.  It may save you and your car.

While driver’s education may teach a person how to drive, it doesn’t teach everything a person needs to know about their car. Here are 15 ‘car hacks’ that all drivers need to know. These things could help you in the case of an accident or emergency situation!

1. Use A Plunger to Remove Small Dents


Those annoying small dents in the car can amount to thousands of dollars to fix up! But a simple hack that works for most small dents is to use a toilet plunger by placing it over the area of the dent and getting the air pressure tight and giving it a nice little tug. Works for small and medium-sized dents most of the time!

2. No Tickets? Get A Lower Auto Insurance Rate


You might think you’re already paying a low auto insurance rate, but recent research shows that only 5% of Americans over the age of 30 are paying less than $50 per month for car insurance. If you’re currently paying more than $50 per month, and have had no accidents or tickets in the past two years, you can probably secure a much lower car insurance rate. The best way to do that is to compare quotes from multiple insurers  let them compete for your business.

3. Know What Your Check Engine Light Means


While it may not always mean you’re going to destroy your car if you continue to drive it, in many cases, the check engine light does indicate a major problem. There’s a new device though that can actually save you thousands of dollars in car repairs. It’s called FIXD and plugs into cars manufactured after 1996. If your “check engine light” comes on it will tell you the exact reason why. This is great because it means that mechanics won’t be able to lie to you in the hopes of taking more of your hard earned money (you’d surprised how many do).

4. Change Your Air Filter Every 6 Months


If you want to help increase your fuel efficiency, make sure you change your air filter every six months or as recommended in your owner’s manual. A lot of people often neglect to do this, and they find that they just aren’t getting the fuel efficiency they were promised by their car manufacturer. This alone can save quite a few hundred dollars yearly.

5. Get A Roadside Emergency Flare

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Being stuck on a highway with a puncture or engine problem is most peoples ideas of a bad day. The Haylo Safety flare is something everyone should have with them. Offering the highest level of roadside safety for on-the-road situations and more, it can be used as a road flare and emergency beacon. It’s perfect for emergency use, camping/outdoors, road flares etc.
It’s easy to use: Just press the button and hold to turn on and cycle through the different lighting options. The super bright array can be seen up to 1 mile at night and can also provide additional protection during the day as well. The strong magnetic backing allows the Haylo to adhere to the hood of your vehicle.

6. Keep A Multi-tool In Your Car


For anyone who has ever been involved in a serious car accident, you know just how traumatic it can be. In the United States alone nearly 40,000 people per year are killed in car accidents. That’s why it’s imperative that every American have something like the ‘RoadSide Hero’ in their cars. It has 9-in-1 Multi-Function life-saving tools. It can function as a belt/rope cutter, glass breaker, hammer, compass, mounting magnet, strobe/emergency light, power bank and solar panel. This is the ultimate tool that should be in every vehicle.

7. Free Frozen Locks With Hand Sanitizer


Even if it’s only parked out front, getting from the front door to your car in the middle of a harsh winter can be pretty miserable. It’s worse if you get there only to find the door locks are frozen shut. Hand sanitizer is your key to getting inside. The alcohol works to thaw the ice, so you can hop in and get the heater turned on high.

8. Get a Portable Handheld Car Starter


We have all experienced that moment where you turn the key and nothing happens. Nothing can be more annoying, especially when you are in a rush! Using a portable car starter is far quicker than having to find someone else to help you get the car started and finding jump cables to make it happen.
This portable car starter is the next-generation of rechargeable 4-in-1 multi-function power banks. It is compact enough to store in a glove box or under a seat when not in use, ensuring that drivers anywhere have a power option to start their vehicle in a number of situations without the need to rely on towing services or the generosity of a jumpstart from a stranger.

9. Use Toothpaste To Clear Cloudy Headlights


After many miles on the road, your car’s headlights are going to get scuffed up and cloudy. It might not majorly affect their performance, but it certainly doesn’t look good. Smear a little bit of toothpaste on a clean rag and start scrubbing the headlights. It contains mild abrasives that can remove a thin layer from the headlight housing and fill in any tiny scratches. Toothpaste is an easy and convenient compound to get your headlights clear again.

10. Transform Night Driving By Using Night Sight Glasses

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Did you know that the vast majority of car accidents happen at night and right before dawn? A lot of that has to do with glare and the problems with vision many people experience.These Night Sight HD glasses promise to reduce night driving glare and eye strain and dramatically improve seeing at night during snow or rainy conditions. They let you see enhanced colors, are durable, lightweight and fully equipped with polarized lenses. Unlike clipons, they protect your eyes from all sides, and you just slide them over your existing pair, if you wear glasses.

11. Fill Window Damage With Nail Polish


Small stones and other road debris can leave chips and cracks in your car’s windows. Oftentimes a crack can grow, meaning you need to shell out for an expensive window replacement. Try filling in window damage with (clear) nail polish. Carefully apply a thin layer to the damaged area. When it dries, it will be almost completely invisible, and might even help prevent a crack from growing. The money you’ll save against a whole new window is worth it, but use this advice with caution.

12. Extend Your Car Warranty


While most manufacturers offer factory warranty coverage on new vehicles, they typically expire within 3 years or after 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Has your car’s auto warranty expired? Purchasing extended auto coverage offers the same peace of mind as a no-cost factory plan without the restrictions. That means if your car breaks down, malfunctions or requires a replacement component, you could enjoy huge savings on repair costs without the new car price tag. Make sure you shop around for rates on this.

13. Know When Your Oil Needs Changing


This is an obvious one that every car owner should know. While the rule of thumb used to be every three months or around 5,000 miles, that’s no longer true for all new cars. Read your manual to know when your vehicle’s oil change is due, we recommend setting the date on your calendar. If you’re not sure when you should change your oil, some signs to look for are if your oil looks black & gritty, your engine sounds louder than usual, or you notice the oil level drops. Some newer luxury models will also provide you with an alert when you need to change your oil.

14. Turn Your Smartphone Into A Heads Up Display

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If you never used a heads-up display before then that means you are bound to look down to your phone once in a while if it isn’t properly placed. This brilliant new device turns your smartphone into a heads-up display for your car. It’s called Huddy. All you have to do is take it out of the box and place it on your dash, place your smartphone on top of it and let it do all the navigating while you drive. It’s a transparent display that works in any weather, day or night. It fits any smartphone no matter the size, and it’s slip resistant. Best of all, there are tons of apps available that you can use to see traffic conditions, a speedometer, street maps & much more. You can use it in any car it has an ultra-grip mat that leaves no messy residue on the dash.

15. Park Your Car Facing East to Defrost Windscreen in the Morning.


Although it seems simple you can save some considerable time in the morning. If you live in a place where frost is a big problem on winter mornings and leave your car parked outside then this is for you.
Whenever you can make sure you park your car facing east. As the sun rises in the east you’re using the suns warmth to defrost the ice on your windscreen rather than having to stay outside in the cold and scrape it off. With this trick, you should able to use your windscreen wipers to do the not so heavy lifting for you. Who doesn’t want a little bit of added comfort on a cold winters morning?

 

15 ‘Car Hacks’ Every Driver Should Know

CONQUER KITCHEN CLUTTER

Here is another interesting article from Kohler, on how to declutter your kitchen.  I love a simple and clean countertop, so hide a lot in the pantry and in an appliance garage.  Here are a few more ideas.

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Looking for the secret to easier cleanup, clearing away clutter and getting your kitchen organized once and for all? Zero in on hard-working products that speed up your workflow and keep everything in its place to make kitchen time more enjoyable.

Cut Down On Counter Clutter

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Shown: The Riverby under-mount kitchen sink with utility rack, soaking cup, colander and cutting board.

Adding simple storage to your space is a great way to keep your cleaning tools organized and within reach. Pare down the number of sponges, scrubbers, and brushes crowding your countertops and drawers by swapping them for tools with multiple uses. Our kitchen accessories feature a variety of simple, purposefully designed products, from dishwasher-safe caddies to a one-of-a-kind squeegee/brush combination. You could be enjoying a clutter-free kitchen in no time.

Accessorize your Kitchen Sink

e5f214306a8430dcd25aad98e306ca3e75a5c0d6.jpgThe Prolific under-mount kitchen sink with bamboo cutting board, colander and washbin.

Many of our kitchen sinks have added accessories like prep bowls, utensil trays, colanders and cutting boards to make cooking and cleaning faster and easier. Using integrated tools within your sink space transforms your standard sink into a fully usable workstation. So you’re not only containing your messes to one easy-to-clean area, but you’re also keeping bulky accessories from cluttering your countertops.

Go Hands-Free with Your Faucet

ded822c54100055a3d8df054d10384719b56c1b4.jpgShown: The Beckon Touchless kitchen faucet.

Upgrading to a faucet that accommodates the way you work around the kitchen can save time and effort. And when it comes to function and cleanliness, motion activated faucets just make sense. Touchless technology turns on with the wave of a hand, making messy tasks easier and keeping the kitchen more sanitary — especially during cold and flu season.

The Final Ingredient
Achieving a cleaner, more organized kitchen that you love is doable without a remodel. You just need the right recipe and the active ingredients to make it work.

CONQUER KITCHEN CLUTTER

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

One of my dear friends is turning 70 tomorrow and a lot of people are giving her a party on a Tuesday.  Since I work I had to come up with an “appetizer” to share that could sit in my car and be made with what I had in the pantry.  So Brownies are not exactly an appetizer, but I don’t think anyone will complain.  These should be yummy.  Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 7.49.46 PM

People think that box mixes produce the perfect combination of chewy and moist brownies. Results should be at least as good as a mix without all the processing and questionable ingredients without dirtying many dishes. For one-bowl brownies with the proper level of chewiness both butter and oil is used. Using both cocoa and unsweetened chocolate add to the intense chocolaty richness and create a platform of flavor for any add-ins. By being strategic with the addition of ingredients, saved dishes and combined the batter all in one large bowl. Baked on the lowest rack in the oven, the brownies cooked nicely on the bottom and edges without overcooking and drying out. Folding white chocolate chips into the batter and swirling in raspberry jam gave the brownies colorful character and a fruitiness to offset their deep chocolate flavor.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 ½ cups (17 1/2 ounces) sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) white chocolate chips

I used a combination of milk and semi-sweet as that is what I had on hand. 

cup raspberry jam
White Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Aren’t we all looking for a million different ways to use chicken.  I found this recipe on Cafe Delites, a blog I follow, but will make a few changes next time I make it.  The sauce was very heavy.  I made it early in the afternoon and put it in my warming drawer.  This is one you need to make and immediately serve or the sauce gets gummy and too think.  I served it over sautéed spiraled squash and the sauce was great on that.   Pasta is always a wonderful choice or rice when the a sauce is creamy and garlicky!  And whatever you do, do not count calories on this one.  It comes in about 600 calories per serving.  Not a diet night!
Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 10.03.01 AMMushrooms:
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces (250 grams) brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Chicken:
  • 4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (I only used two and it made enough for four)
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley (Fresh is always better to me)
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese  (I prefer fresh Mozzarella, so substituted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Garlic Parmesan Cream Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced or finely chopped (Okay so I love garlic and used 4)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch cornflour mixed with 2 teaspoons of water (OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE)   [I do not recommend, as it made the sauce way too think]
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
Instructions
Chicken:
  1. Preheat oven to 200°C or 400°F.

  2. Melt butter in a large (over 12-inch or 30 cm) oven proof pan or skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add in mushrooms, salt and pepper (to your tastes), and parsley. Cook while stirring occasionally until soft. Set aside and allow to cool while preparing your chicken.
  3. Pat breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and dried parsley. Rub each piece to evenly coat in seasoning.

  4. Horizontally slice a slit through the thickest part of each breast to form a pocket. Place 2 slices of mozzarella into each breast pocket. (I was using fresh, so put about four or five slices)

  5. Divide the mushroom mixture into four (in my case two, but next time I would cut each in half, as they were large) equal portions and fill each breast with the mushroom mixture. Leave the juices in the pan for later. If there are any left over mushroom, you can use them later. Top the mushroom mixture with 1 tablespoon of parmesan cheese per breast. Seal with two or three toothpicks near the opening to keep the mushrooms inside while cooking.

  6. Heat the same pan the mushrooms were in along with the pan juices (the garlic butter will start to brown and take on a ‘nutty’ flavor). Add the chicken and sear until golden. Flip and sear on the other side until golden. Cover pan and continue cooking in preheated oven for a further 20 minutes, or until completely cooked through the middle and no longer pink. (I always check temperature to be sure it makes it to 170 degrees)

  7. Serve, with pan juices and any remaining mushrooms, on top of pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.  To make the optional cream sauce, transfer chicken to a warm plate, keeping all juices in the pan.

Sauce:
  1. Fry the garlic in the leftover pan juices until fragrant (about 1 minute). Reduce heat to low heat, and add the mustard and half and half .

  2. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and add in any remaining mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Allow the sauce to simmer until the parmesan cheese has melted slightly. (If the sauce is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch/water mixture into the centre of the pan and mix through fast to combine into the sauce. It will begin to thicken immediately). [oh yes it did and it was way too thick to look good]

  3. Season with a little salt and pepper to your taste. Add in the parsley and the chicken back into the pan to serve. (I like to plate my food, so could not imagine serving dinner from a pan) . 

Garlic Butter Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen

This a great article from Dwell Magazine.

If you have serious culinary chops and take pride in preparing meals that wow your family and friends, keep these tips in mind when designing or renovating your kitchen.

If boiling eggs is not your forte, and you’d much rather eat out than experiment with new recipes, then a basic kitchen may be all you need. But if you’re serious about cooking and love nothing more than spending hours trying out new dishes that’ll impress guests at your next dinner party, then here are some elements to incorporate for a professional-grade kitchen.

1. The Magic Triangle

When planning the layout for your kitchen, refer to the “kitchen work triangle” with the cooking area, sink, and refrigerator at its three points. Though modern kitchens have evolved, and it is sometimes geometrically impossible to abide by this configuration (for example, in a single wall kitchen), the triangle is a good concept to keep in mind when designing to maximize functionality and ease of movement.

What they did not talk about is the new triangle, where the refrigerator is off to the side and a little out of the way.  There needs to be space across from it or beside it to put food when cooking, but it does not absolutely need to be part of the triangle anymore.  I love the cooktop part of my triangle, as I am working there, more than in the refrigerator. (unless I am really hungry)

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2. Two Sinks

Install two sinks so that you can clean fruits and vegetables in one while washing or stacking used pots and pans in the other. Ensure that the sink is deep and the faucets are high, so you don’t have to worry about water splashing onto the countertop as you strain your pasta or wash your dishes.

I have a little different take on this.  My utility room is adjacent to my kitchen, so I added a large stainless sink in there if I need a place for pots and pans.  If I am entertaining, I do not want my guests to see dirty pans in my kitchen, so this works great! 

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3. Plenty of Durable Work Counters

As a home chef, you’ll be engaged in many food preparation tasks, so think about how to maximize counter space. Surface counters made of quartz, laminates, and solid surfaces are good choices for their durability, and antibacterial and anti-staining properties. Such surfaces are ideal for areas where you’ll do the most peeling, chopping, and blending.

Quartz is the new popular countertop and it is great, but if you select a plain one, be prepared to constantly be cleaning it, as it shows every spot.  I love a good granite that hides a little.  

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4. Built-In Appliances

Integrated appliances are your best bet for freeing up space, hiding unsightly electrical cords, and getting a clean, streamlined look. Wherever possible, choose built-in ovens, dishwashers, coffee machines, microwaves, and pullout fridges. This will help free up more counter space and make your kitchen look much more inviting.

I love making my dishwasher and refrigerator look like cabinets.  Now there are drawer refrigerators and freezers.  I hide my microwave and toaster oven in my pantry.  Clean is the new look!  

5. Good Lighting

A bright kitchen is not only healthier for your eyes, it makes preparing food safer and will probably put you in a cheerier mood. Locate your kitchen close to windows or incorporate skylights to increase the amount of natural light it receives. When choosing light fixtures, consider ambient lights, task lights, and accent lights. Use down lights to prevent glare and shadows, strip lighting under cabinets, and wide-rimmed pendant lights above the bar or island counter.

In my last home I had windows under the cabinets that looked out to the garden.  It had a wonderful effect.  We added another window when we remodeled last summer to take full advantage of our water view. 

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6. Ample and Intelligent Storage

Easy and intuitive access to a large pantry, spice racks, pots and pans, utensils, dinnerware, and cutlery can make all the difference when you’re preparing a feast for a large group. Consider storage systems which hold all your kitchen basics neatly and beautifully like a secret armoire.

I personally think that although this is “cool”, there are a lot better use of space, than hanging your utensils and knives.  One knife block on the counter is quite practical. 

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen - Photo 6 of 7 - On/Off Monoblock by Boffi

7. Wine Storage Facilities

Good food isn’t complete without great wine, so consider including wine storage facilities.  We love ours and use it every day.  

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen - Photo 7 of 7 - Perlick wine cooler

 

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen

The Christmas List

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Do you remember being a child and sitting on Santa’s lap or writing him a letter telling him the wonderful things you would love for Christmas?

I still remember the year, when I was about ten years old and I wanted this beautiful doll for Christmas.  It was all I wanted.  It was similar to the American Girl Dolls we have today.  I pined about this doll.  It was one the years we drove from our farm in northern California to West Hollywood, to the home of my father’s sister and her husband.  In my eyes, with a view of the city and a swimming pool, they had everything.  My cousin even had a four poster white bed, something I dreamed about for years.  It was a long drive, and my father put all of our presents on the top of the family car in boxes. I have never forgotten those windblown beat-up gifts being put under the prettiest tree I had ever seen.  I was sad to my toes to see our pathetic gifts under their perfect tree with all their big beautiful gifts beautifully wrapped. Christmas morning came and I knew my main gift was the wrong shape to be that doll I coveted. My parents had given me a big pink fuzzy bathrobe.  I opened the present and just started crying.  No one knew what to do.  To this day, my gifts are perfectly wrapped and NO ONE ever gets a bathrobe for Christmas.

When I was younger, in my twenty and thirties I always just wanted something special for Christmas and I was very lucky that happened for many years. My sons never lacked for gifts and got everything on the list that they gave me.  I never had a list after that Christmas at my aunt’s house.  I never wanted to be disappointed again.  If you don’t have a list, you can’t be sad when don’t get anything from that list.

At my current stage of life, if I want something I buy it.  I don’t need or want more jewelry, as it will just be a question of what happens to it when….  (Granddaughter Claire gets it all) As my sons grew older and didn’t really want much for Christmas, I started giving them memories.  I took them hot-air ballooning over Del Mar, California. We had a very wonderful dinner at the Hotel Del Coronado for New Years Eve. We skied at Whistler, Mt. Hood, Mt. Bachelor, Mission Ridge and hit every ski resort locally.  We ice skated, roller bladed and ate at a lot of wonderful restaurants.  I attempted camping only once and failed miserably, but it was all about making memories. We cooked together and always had a candlelit dinner together on Sunday evenings. I think it was a good thing to do.

As I said now I don’t want “things” as gifts. If you were to ask me today what I really wanted, I might tell you that I would like the screen in the kitchen replaced where the paint drop made a hole when I tried to clean it. I would love the beautiful aqua fountain between my house and my garage to be working again, as I loved coming home to the sound of it. There is a tiny hole in the grout in the living room and I think I will just fill it in today myself, as it bothers me every time I vacuum and with Frostyman the Cat I vacuum each and every day.  I would love to see the beautiful light fixture over my desk fully-functioning again.  Four of the lights just quit working and it has to be taken apart to fix. So maybe I would just like a card that says these things will be done.  That would make me so very happy. I would love to see the garage clean and fireplace on the back deck, so I can use my TRX in the garage and I would love to see the inside of garage painted and clean, but I think that is my summer project. (too cold right now)

If you ask me about things I love, I would share that I love the snow globes I have collected for years and if you could find more from Neiman Marcus, that would make me be very appreciative of you knowing something I care about.  I may just leave them out all year and collect some from places I loved visiting.  I think we need to have things in our homes that we love to look at and that make us smile. When I had a scavenger for my granddaughter’s seventh birthday last week, I realized I have some pretty fun stuff that I have collected and loved over the years.

Mostly I would love to spend the holidays with all my sons and their families and that just does not seem to happen any more. Luckily one son lives fairly close, so I do get to see him more. So maybe I will just go have a facial or massage, take a trip, go to the movies I want to see, read more books and spend more time in my studio sewing or painting. We all just need to take the time to do the things we love.  Oh and of course I always find joy in cooking.  Now I just need to find more people that want to eat what I cook.

What makes you happiest at Christmas?  Is it the decorations, the food, the family or the camaraderie of friends getting together.  When I was younger, Christmas always made me so very happy, but as I grow older and my children have lives of their own I do not look forward to the holidays nearly as much.

 

The Christmas List

IS THERE ANYTHING CLASSIC IN A CURRENT TREND?

Every year new trends are announced and we respond to them in some manner. Just how important they should be in your lifestyle is usually at question. “Consumers always want to see something new, but they want that with something familiar”, according to Leatrice Eiseman –executive director of the Pantone Color institute.

There are some that think it is important to have the current trends in design be a part of your home and others that really don’t care. What is most important is how do you bring your home environment current so you enjoy living in it. If a trend seems terrible to you, then bringing it into your home is not the best idea for you.

If you want to add the latest color trends in your home every year, there are many ways to do it and not spend a fortune. Remember when you buy a trendy piece of furniture, you are most likely going to have to live with it a long time. Accents added in the latest and greatest color and/patterns are not terribly expensive to replace when you tire of the trend, as most of us do after a while. If you love a trendy new color, throw pillows or vases might be an easy solution and not cost a fortune. I love that we now have Home Goods, TJMaxx, Marshalls and Ross as great sources for buying easily replaceable accessories. Little or no guilt when you spend $20.00 on a accent rather that the $200 a custom-made designer pillow might cost.

That beige or gray neutral sofa may look dull on display at your local vendor, but it will go with everything you put on it over the years. Look for simple classic lines and you will not grow tired of your furniture. Look for fun splashes of color to liven it up every year or every season. When you shop for your “big” items, if there is even a tiny doubt you will not love it in five or ten years, then it is probably not a good choice.

Clean lines are always in style. Ornate looked great in the Victorian era and if you have a few  family pieces, they can look fantastic in a very modern interior, as a lovely focal point, but a whole room of them might be kind of depressing. Think simple and you won’t get tired of it.

If you go neutral in most of your home, you won’t have to change much often. Paint a wall one of the newly trendy colors and love it for a while. Paint is relatively cheap and easy to replace. Add a couple pillows in a coordinating color and you are looking trendy. Add flowers in the new colors (if appropriate) and your friends will think you know what you are doing.

Texture is another way to add interest to a neutral interior. Trends in texture do change, but they seem to have a little more longevity. A cowhide rug may not go out of style, but florals and certain print designs don’t say in fashion for long.

Avoid trendy when it comes to big signature pieces, as you will want ones that meet the test of time. Dining room tables, beds, kitchen cabinets, flooring and architectural details are not the place to be trendy, as they are all expensive to replace. Pick ones you love when you see them. Pay a little more and get something that is made well with great lines.

One of the most important things to remember about trends: if you don’t like it when you first see it, you most likely never will. That being said, there are some trends that never go out of style. Tasteful animal prints are always a fun look in small doses. Some say granite in the kitchen is on the way out, but I am not sure I am totally on track with that one. Beautiful classic

oriental rugs always add interest to a room and I personally think some of the Mid-Century modern furniture will never go out of style. Mid-Century modern seems to a “trend” coming back to be popular, but I think it never went away as it has always been classic, workable and beautiful. From a designer point of view, they have never made anything more comfortable and beautiful than an Eames Lounge chair or as elegant as a steel and glass Platner coffee table or side table. If I could afford four Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs from 1929 in my living room, I would be forever happy.

Balance may be one of the key words in bringing trendiness into your home or office environment. Function of the piece should be an important part of your decision making when buying long-term pieces. Maybe this year the glass dining table is popular. You buy one, then you remember you sometimes have twenty for holiday dinners and the glass table does not expand. That brings the word “versatility” to mind. Can you use that trendy item some other way in the future? Can you paint it? Can you change it?

I have a beautiful old-world Baker round dining table I bought twenty years ago. When I got tired of the wood look, I painted it black and put a dark wax finish on it. I paired it with see through ghost chairs, so it now looks up to date. It expands and I have seated twelve for dinner. Think about what you have and how you can change it, to make it more current. Good lines always look good.

Timeless design always doesn’t pull from trends and is quietly understated, simple and sophisticated. Let go of the idea that your taste will never change. As we go through life our taste changes. What we should strive to do is to find something that is highly functional, not bland, while being subtle, adaptable and will pass the test of time.

If you are having a hard time finding the right balance in your home, it might be the time to hire a professional interior designer. I would love to help you make your home your living paradise. It is what we designers do.

IS THERE ANYTHING CLASSIC IN A CURRENT TREND?

Just a nice Winter Meal

Short ribs

My husband loves “meat & potatoes”, so to make him happy I cook a lot more meat dishes than I would really like to eat.  I could eat fish and chicken seven days a week, but I do have to admit this meat dish was pretty good.  I would add a little more beef stock than the recipe suggested and maybe add a little white wine to tenderize the meat.  The recipe came from Cooking Light Magazine.  I would not really consider this a “light” dinner, but it was tasty.  The recipe was by Marianne Williams.

Oh, and do NOT touch your eye after chopping up the chili; as it is not a fun moment. 

Prep Time
20 Mins
Total Time
8 Hours 20 Mins
Yield
Serves 8 (serving size: 1 short rib and about 1/3 cup rice mixture)

The slow cooker makes a masterpiece of beef short ribs as the meat becomes buttery tender and the cooking liquid reduces to a spicy, deeply savory sauce. Sake, a dry rice wine, and mirin, a stronger, sweeter rice wine, balance each other here (the alcohol will cook off as the dish simmers). Both are available at most grocery stores. Spicy, tangy kimchi, or Korean-style fermented cabbage, adds heat and complexity to the dish.

Just a nice Winter Meal

Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions

I love cooking and if you follow my blog you get that right away.  As I grow wiser in my cooking skills (have more time to cook) I am learning the subtilties of flavor. Why use an onion when you could use a leek.  Why shallots and not onions.  Why a yellow onion instead of a sweet Walla Walla onion.  It is important to know the differences and why you use one in one place and another in another dish.  What onions taste good raw and which ones may not so much. So I started doing a little onion research, or why do some make you cry and others do not.

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions, the most popular cooking onions add excellent flavor to most stews, soups, and meat dishes. In fact, typically when a cooked recipe calls for onion, yellow onion is a safe way to go. Yellow onions have a yellow-brown papery skin on the outside and a white flesh.

It is to know if someone is cooking with yellow onion because my eyes start to water due to effect of higher sulfur content. The yellow onion has a high sulfur content, so it has a more pungent flavor and smell, which typically makes it too strong to eat raw unless there are other ingredients to counter-balance the flavor.  I use yellow onions in stews, soups, sautéed dishes, and shish kabobs. They have excellent flavor when cooked, and I rarely cook without them.

Yellow Onions

White Onions

White onions have an all-white skin and an all-white flesh. They have a slightly milder flavor than the yellow onion and are a great substitute if you’re in need of an onion flavor, but don’t want it to be too powerful. White onions are commonly used in Mexican cuisines. I don’t know if I have ever used them and I finally now know when to substitute.

White Onions

Red Onions

Red onions are used more in non-cooked dishes, such as salads and sandwiches. Of the different colored onions, the red onion is the most mild, sweet onion. Red onions have the purplish-red skin which color is layered though it’s white flesh. I personally don’t like to cook heated dishes with red onion because it doesn’t produce enough onion flavor to enhance my meal. Keep in mind that cooking an onion diminishes its flavor, but increases the flavor of the food around it. I love cooked red onions caramelized for hamburgers.

Red Onions

Sweet Onions
Sweet onions, sometimes referred to as “short day” onions, because their growing season occurs during the fall and winter with harvest usually in spring /summer, are fresh onions, picked and cured for a short time, then rushed to market. Storage onions, or regular globe onions, are harvested in late summer and fall, stored in warehouses and delivered to markets throughout most of the year.

Although there is no official industry standard, it is generally accepted that an onion should contain at least 6% sugar to be in the “sweet” category. Some sweet onions, like the OsoSweet, have recorded sugar levels of up to 15%. Storage onions usually range from 3%-5% in sugar content.


Unlike sweet onions, regular onions have high levels of sulfur compounds. It’s the pyruvic acid in the sulfur that causes tears, harshness, and indigestion. That’s why great sweet onions are always grown in soil with low amounts of sulfur. Typically, sweet onions have pyruvic acid levels that measure below 5%; storage onions usually run 10%-13%. Because a sweet onion is also a fresh onion it is very high in water content, which further dilutes the effect of the sulfur and increases mildness.


The best sweet onions deliver a burst of sweetness when bitten into, are incredibly mild, with very little if any sharpness, and have a subtle, fruity flavor. They should still taste like an onion, but be much sweeter and milder.


Sweet onions have a thinner, lighter color skin than storage onions and tend to be more fragile. Signs in produce sections usually differentiate between sweet onions and storage onions. Most producers also put stickers on each individual onion, such as “Texas 1015 SuperSweet,” “Sweet Imperials,” etc. Another indication is price – sweet onions are a premium product that can range anywhere from 79 cents a pound and up.


Although it seems like sweet onions are a relatively new item, they were first introduced to America around the turn of the century when a retired French soldier brought some onion seeds from Corsica to the Walla Walla region of the Pacific Northwest. But it wasn’t until the savvy farmers in Georgia realized what a special thing they had in the Vidalia onion and began spreading the news far and wide that the sweet onion finally got the attention it deserves.


Once considered just a spring/summer treat, these sweet orbs are now available year-round. Vidalias, a springtime delight, now show up in markets until late fall, thanks to controlled-atmosphere storage. And now with the development of the OsoSweet onion, we can enjoy mild, sweet onions all winter long.

Onion vs Shallot

In the culinary world, you may come across two ingredients that may somehow confuse you, the onion and the shallot. Some people may consider them very similar as they often substitute one with the other. However, established culinary experts know the distinct tastes and texture they provide in every cuisine. So, how different are they from each other? Let’s break it down.

Onion is a general term used to refer plants in the genus Allium. However onions, as a common name, usually refers to specific specie, the “garden or bulb onion” (Allium cepa).

The bulb onion is a popular kitchen ingredient that is used worldwide. As the name implies, it is bulb shaped but sometimes flat almost disc shaped. Its skin colors are white, yellow or red. The taste depends entirely on the variety. It can sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent or mild and sweet.

Onions are grown from seed or commonly, from sets. They eventually grow into a large single bulb per plant. Onions are rather difficult to propagate since there are special processes involved to produce a durable bulb.

A shallot, on the other hand, is referred to two different Allium species the Allium oschaninii and the Allium cepa var. aggregatum or Allium ascalonicum.

The Allium oschaninii is the French grey challot or griselle. This specie is considered as the “true shallot” but still cannot beat the Allium cepa variety in terms of global popularity. The latter is widely accepted as the shallot.

Shallots, the Allium ascalonicum variety — grow in clusters, just like those of garlic, where separate bulbs are attached at the base. However, unlike garlic, the individual bulbs are not encircled together by a common membrane. They are closely related to multiplier onions and are rather easy to grow as they require little soil preparation. The plants seldom form seed, so they’re usually grown from cloves ñ they are vegetatively multiplied.

They look like elongated onions and the skin is colored copper, reddish, or gray. Shallots have a mild taste which is a mix of sweet onion flavor and a touch of garlic.

Summary:
1.  Shallots grow as a cluster of bulbs from a single planted bulb similar to garlic while onions grow as a single big bulb per plant.
2. Shallots are a lot smaller compared to onions.
3. The common onion is Allium cepa while the commonly accepted shallot is Allium ascalonicum.
4. The shallot may resemble the taste of onion but milder and sweeter in flavor. Distinctively from onions, shallot may taste with a hint of garlic.
5. Onions are more difficult to grow than shallots.
6. Onions are seed-propagated, whereas shallots are vegetatively multiplied.
7. Onions are almost disc-shaped bulbs while shallots can appear like elongated onions.

How to Pick a Good Onion

In general, when you’re choosing onions in the store, the best ones will be firm, have a crackly outer skin, and have a mild scent. If their scent is overwhelming it’s a good sign the onion is starting to spoil. Avoid onions with dark spots or mold as well, though every once in a while I’ll still purchase those if I’m going to use them right away (I guess that’s my altruistic side coming out–take one for the team, you know). On another note, onions tend to store better in a slightly cooler, darker area, although the fridge is not recommended. The onion smell has a tendency to spoil the flavor of other foods in the fridge.

Here is a great chart to help you decide what to use.  Oh wait, where do Leeks fit in?

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Leeks vs Green Onions 

leeks Leeks

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Onion is one vegetable that is an integral part of kitchens around the world. It is used both as a vegetable and also eaten raw in the form of salad. It has a pungent smell but used in cooking, to add to the flavor and aroma of many different types of food recipes. There are many different types of onions with green onions being very popular in European and Chinese cuisine. There is another variety called leek that confuses many because of its similarities with green onions. However, despite similarities, there are subtle differences also that prevent leeks being substituted with onions in many recipes.

Onion

Onion is a flowering plant belonging to the genus Allium that also contains garlic and leek. It is the edible bulb of onion plant that is used universally in cooking or as raw vegetable. Even the stem and the leaves of onion plant are used in cooking in many parts of the world. The most common and popular type of onion around the world is the red onion that is also called common onion. Onion bulb is known for its health benefits to human beings. It is anti-inflammatory, reduces cholesterol levels, and also has antioxidant properties. However, most people love it to consume onion bulb because of its taste and aroma. The paste of onion bulbs is used to thicken curries and to add to the flavor. The characteristic feature of red onion is its multilayered structure. It has a pungent smell and brings tears to the eyes of a person who cuts it into pieces.

One of the varieties of onions is green onion or scallion that is known by different names such as spring onions, baby onions, salad onions, gibbons, etc. These varieties have smaller bulbs that are not fully developed. The leaves are hollow from inside and are edible. These varieties are milder than red onions and used cooked as well as raw.

Leek

Leek is a plant that belongs to the family of genus Allium. It is a symbol of Wales and Welsh leeks are very popular all over Europe for their taste and aroma. Leek is a plant that does not produce a strong bulb and has long leaves that are cylindrical and crunchy to eat. People mistakenly refer to the heath of leaves as the stem of this plant. The part of these leaves that is just above the root or the bulb and is light green in color is edible though people also consume the hard and dark green part of the leaves of leeks too.

 

Leeks vs Green Onions

• Both green onions, as well as leeks, are part of the same onion family, but leeks are larger and are milder in taste and aroma than green onions.

• It is harder to cook the leaves of leeks while green onion leaves can be easily cooked.

• Leeks look like oversized green onions.

• Green onion leaves can be eaten raw, but leeks require to be cooked before consumption.

• One has to blanch the leaves of leeks as mud and dirt hides in between its leaves.

• It is the light green part of the leaves of leeks that are edible.

• Welsh leeks are very popular, and the vegetable is a national symbol of the country.

So did this help or are you now totally confused.

Once again ~ Happy Cooking!~

Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions

Beached Surprise

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You just never know what might land on your waterfront.  This last week we had a decoration arrive.

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It just floated up and adorns our waterfront. I have seen a lot of things in the last fifteen years, but this is the closest and admittedly the “biggest”.  One year there were two huge diesel engines on an adjacent property, but they were small by comparison to this beauty.

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So when I posted photos on Facebook, friends suggested that I collect it and use as a coffee table.  What they did not grasp is that it would have to be a coffee table in the Land of Giants, as this puppy would not fit in my house.  So here is a photo to give you an idea of it’s immense size!

drifting

Got to love living on the beach!  Should I call the Coast Guard??

Beached Surprise