Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Madness: Up Your Game with Healthy Snacks

NCAA March Madness is just around the corner, and we have our fingers crossed for all the Texas teams! But March is also the month when the last of the Valentine’s Day candy is out of the house, we’ve finally shed those extra holiday pounds, and we’re looking forward to summer trips to the beach.

Tasty, sure. Healthy? Umm…

With the game on the TV, it’s too easy to overindulge in not-so-healthy food. What can you do to bring your best snack game to the tournament this year?

Veggie Party Platter, “Courtside” Edition

There will be plenty of chips, pizza, and soda to go around, so why not serve up some healthy game-time snacks? Even the most die-hard pizza aficionado needs a break from the grease at some point. This carrot-and-olive platter is an easy, fun way to get some vitamins and minerals into the basketball fans at 
your party. By halftime, they’ll appreciate the fresh crunch of a carrot or two.

Make your mark on the court

Clementines are delicious and nutritious, and—oh my goodness, they look like tiny basketballs too! Use a permanent marker to draw the seams on each fruit (or recruit your kids to do this), and in no time, you’ve got a bowl of mini-basketballs. Put these easy-peel clementines within reach of your favorite sports fans, and you’ll be surprised how fast they disappear. Nothin’ but net! The images below are truly hard to tell apart!

The Ultimate Sweet-’n-Savory Sixteen Veggie Bracket

If you really want to go for the championship this spring, get your family involved in a dinner-by-dinner playoff to determine which vegetable is the household favorite. Kids and parents fill out brackets beforehand, and over the course of a month, everyone tries two vegetables dishes with every meal (at least one bite of each!). The whole family votes on each dinner’s favorite, and the winning vegetable moves on to the next round. You can sweeten the contest by adding a healthy prize for the winning bracket, like a fresh fruit smoothie.

It can be hard to keep the junk food at bay, but if you keep healthy options on hand, you really can make a difference in your family’s diet. Chop those veggies, cheer on your favorite men’s and women’s teams this spring, and feel good while doing it!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Citrus Centerpieces: Color, Taste, and Beauty

It’s citrus season! Seeing the grapefruit tree in my backyard fill with bright pink globes is a nice reminder that spring is on its way (and that this cold winter won’t last forever!). If you have citrus trees in your yard—or if a neighbor, family member, or coworker does—then you’re familiar with the seasonal citrus overload that can fill up a kitchen pretty quickly.

Cooking is a great way to use all this fruit, and we can enjoy citrus in marmalades, salads, and desserts, and as delicious garnishes to main courses. But if you’ve already had broiled grapefruit every day this week (like I have), you might be wondering what else you can do with this beautiful bounty? The bright colors of citrus fruits have a particular visual appeal that compliments their tangy flavors, so a citrus centerpiece could make a great seasonal addition to your table!

Perk Up a Vase with Lemon Slices

A bowl of pinks, oranges, yellows, and greens can brighten a kitchen countertop, but what about using your favorite citrus fruit to accent a vase of flowers? Achieving an elegant fruity presentation is easier than you might think. Impress your guests—and yourself—by slicing a lemon and tucking the slices along the sides of a clear vase. Yellow lemon rinds can make a lovely accent for all sorts of flowers, from daisies to dahlias. The fruit is, of course, perishable, so after dinner, be sure to put your arrangement in the refrigerator overnight so you can enjoy it at breakfast, too.

A Bowlful of Orange Delights

If you’d like to keep your oranges all in one piece (to eat later!), try this fun idea:  tuck a pad of floral foam and moss in the middle of a bowl of oranges. Insert real or artificial flowers into the moss, and voila! You have a mini citrus garden. This can be a fun centerpiece for children to add to—a little toy frog or fairy is a lovely touch. After a dinner with friends, treat your guests to a unique party favor! Invite them to pluck a flower and take an orange from the bowl at the end of the night. 

Lay It All on the Table

What if your tangerine tree overfloweth? If you don’t have enough bowls and vases in the house for all your fruit, just pile it on the table. As they say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! This simple, rustic but elegant centerpiece by Annie Campbell of Après Fête makes the most of an overload of tangerines and a simple wooden table. Whether you’re helping the kids with homework or having the neighbors over for mimosas, a pile of tangerines or oranges makes for a healthy and welcoming snack.  

What’s your favorite, creative way to use citrus this time of year? Please tell us!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Brighten Your Yard with Spring DIY

It’s not too soon to start thinking about sprucing up your outdoor space for spring. Especially in Texas, warm weather and sunny days are just around the corner! There are tons of fun DIY projects you can do to get ready for the season and many of them are kid-friendly to boot. Try out some of these ideas and get ready to see your backyard transformed from a dried-out winter gray to a blossoming green oasis!

Start an Herb Garden

It’s very easy to start an herb garden with just a small patch of soil and a few seedling plants. Having fresh herbs on hand will also be a true joy when you have to throw a meal together in a hurry. You’ll save big bucks over time as you eliminate the need to buy herbs at the store, which ultimately go bad in your fridge waiting for their next use. Check out this site for tips on getting started. (Photo Credit)

Use Recycled Items to Create a Planter

If the weather isn’t quite warm enough yet, you can bring springtime indoors with small planters. As the plants outgrow their vessels, they can be replanted in your garden too. You can create fun and interesting-looking planters yourself with repurposed household items. This site has a whole bunch of creative ideas. (Photo Credit)

Make Your Own Seed Bombs

Wildflowers in the springtime are one of the most beautiful features of Texas. Making your own wildflower seed bombs is a fun way to add some excitement to your backyard (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, a random outdoor public space). Combine the ingredients listed on the site to make little seed balls that can be thrown into any patch of dirt and watch as they blossom. (Photo Credit)

Make Your Own Bird Feeder

One of the most vocal indicators of spring is the sound of birds chirping outside your window. You can be sure to attract those lovely songsters by placing bird feeders throughout your property. You can order a fancy expensive one from a catalog but they are actually quite simple and inexpensive to make yourself. Follow this link to see some recycled bird feeder ideas. (Photo Credit)

How do you like to get ready for spring? Let us know what fun DIY projects you have planned for  this year!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Get Ready for the Big Game with Fun Finger Foods

The quarterback may be one of the most important players on the field for the big game, but for us folks watching at home, the most important player is quite possibly the food. When you’re hosting a big group, it’s all about the snacks. Having large quantities of bite-sized delights is a sure-fire way to score a touchdown with your guests taste buds.

Here are some fun twists on a few classic game day favorites to try out this year!

Reuben Pigs in Blankets

Pigs in a blanket have always been a crowd favorite for the big game. This rendition mimics the flavors of a reuben sandwich by incorporating ingredients like sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing. Your guests are sure to be impressed by your creativity on these ones. (Photo credit

Roasted Tomatillo Guacamole

Chips and dips are a super Sunday staple and you can’t go wrong with guacamole. Roasted tomatillos give this version a little extra crunch and a twistedly tangy flavor. Choose an extra sturdy tortilla chip to stand up to the heartiness of this delicacy. (Photo credit)

Maple-Beer-Chili Chicken Wings

Wings may be a messy treat but as long as you’ve got lots of napkins on hand, the mess is definitely worth the yummy goodness of this finger food. This maple-beer-chili remix of the classic Buffalo wing is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy with the bold flavor of beer to boot. (Photo credit)

Cheddar Stuffed Meatballs

Meat? Yum! Melted cheese? Yum! Meat and melted cheese rolled together in a ball? Extra yum! Mini meatballs on toothpicks are a great snacking item, but this cheddar-stuffed version is an even bigger crowd-pleaser. Be sure to roll them extra small so guest can devour them in a single bite!

Now that you’ve got your menu figured out, is your living room ready for the big game? There’s still time to stop by your Bel Furniture location for our Get Ready for the Big Game Sale! Spruce up your living room with a brand-new set of furniture and we’ll treat you to a big-screen TV for free. And we all know you can’t watch the big game if you don’t have a great TV to watch it on. (Photo credit)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Start the New Year Off with a De-cluttered Domicile

It’s that time of year again! The time when we all set out to achieve a goal, start a better habit or stop a bad one. For many, a New Year’s resolution is to de-clutter their home. The dream of living in a mess-free space is a very attractive one, but it can be tough to get started - not to mention, even tougher to keep up the organization.

Here are some tips from organizing experts to help get you on your way to having the harmoniously neat home you’ve always wanted.

Display Instead of Store

Kitchen wares don’t always have to be shoved into a cabinet or pantry. In fact, for some, having everything in plain sight helps to keep it organized. If your dishes and glasses are cute enough to display then go ahead! This chalkboard painted wall with shelving helps to give everything its own place as well.
Image credit. 

The Closet Hanger Experiment

One of the quickest ways to eliminate clutter is to simply get rid of stuff. Your closet is a great place to start! As an added bonus and good deed, you can donate any clothes you don’t want or need to Goodwill or The Salvation Army. A good way to figure out what you should toss is the Closet Hanger Experiment. Start by hanging all of your clothes on backwards hangers. Over the next six months, anytime you wear a piece of clothing, return it to your closet by hanging it the right way. At the end of six months, any clothes that are still hanging backwards are the ones that should get the axImage credit.

Fill One Trash Bag

You will be surprised at how quickly you can fill one trash bag - whether it’s with trash or stuff you can donate. Challenge yourself to fill just one bag at a time. If you do that on a daily or weekly basis for a short period of time, you’ll notice your clutter start to dwindle dramatically. Image credit.

Organize Your Nightstand Drawer

The night table drawer is a common breeding ground for clutter. It’s one of those spots where we tend to just “shove” stuff when we don’t know where else to put it. Sort of a bottomless pit in a sense. Compartmentalising it (or any other drawer in your home) can help restore order and prevent it from becoming a hiding place for junk you don’t really need. Image credit.

Get Creative with Your Kitchen Storage

You don’t have to spend a fortune on gadgets or shelving to get organized. There are actually quite a few everyday (and cheap!) items that can be transformed into storage helpers. This great article from HGTV has some very helpful and clever ideas, like hanging clear plastic sleeves inside your pantry door to keep all of your take out menus! Image credit.

Are you on a mission to get organized in 2014? What’s your plan of action?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Host a New Year’s Eve Finger Foods & Cocktails Party

Finding something to do on New Year’s Eve can be overwhelming and stressful - especially when you’ve got little ones to worry about. Your usual babysitter has plans of her own!

Hosting a family-friendly shindig at home can be the answer to your - and your friends - prayers. Try these simple, yet impressive recipes to really please your guests’ palates!

Fig and Bleu Cheese Flatbread

Flatbread pizzas are not only delicious, but they are fun to make. Store-bought pizza dough makes this recipe even simpler. The mix of salty and sweet flavors is a perfect choice for the festive occasion. Cut it into smaller or larger squares depending on the size of your guest list to make sure there’s enough to go around and everyone gets a taste. [photo credit]

Sweet Chicken Bacon Wraps

Your resolutions don’t start til midnight anyway so you may as well eat something a little sinful. These tasty poppers are absolutely decadent. With just four ingredients (not counting the toothpicks), this recipe is a cinch. Be sure to make extra because you can bet these will go fast! [photo credit]

Blush Champagne with Gold Sugar Rim

For a signature cocktail that’s simple but festive-looking, rim your champagne flutes with gold sugar. Your guests will gets a splash of sweet before the bubbly hits their lips and they will surely thank you for it. Pour sparkling cider for the kids so they can feel like grown-ups for the night! [photo credit]

Sparkling Champagne Cupcakes

To finish off the finger food feast, these cupcakes are the perfect touch. The sugary sweet frosting mixes well with the slightly more muted cake and a delicious creamy filling. Bake them in a mini cupcake tin for higher numbers and fewer sugar comas. Let the kids decorate them for a fun afternoon activity while you prepare the rest of the food.

Do you have a favorite recipe for New Year’s Eve bashes? We always love to hear from you! [photo credit]

Monday, December 16, 2013

DIY this Christmas

Decorating your home for Christmas is always a great way to get into the holiday spirit. Making those decorations yourself is an even better way! DIY projects are an ever-growing trend that certainly fits in at Christmastime. Try out some of these fun crafts this year to make your home merry and bright!

Vintage-inspired Silhouette Stockings

Instead of just putting everyone’s name on their stockings, why not put their entire head on there? This quick and easy project requires just a few supplies and has a rustic charm to it. These stockings are fun and unique and are sure to “turn some heads” this season.

Bauble Wreaths

These super-sparkly wreaths look fancy and expensive, but they are actually quite easy to make at home. If you can score some clearance ornaments you will save even more money! The mesmerizing, shiny look of this fun craft will really wow your holiday guests. They’ll think you either spent hours or thousands of dollars on it! http://bit.ly/19OaBR2

New Year's Shimmer

Once you've created this work of art, you might not want to take it down! You really don’t have to either. This stunner can easily be left up through New Year’s and beyond. All you need is a curtain rod, mirrored garland, some twinkle lights and a couple of hooks. Your house will be a sparkling winter wonderland in no time. http://bit.ly/1bL85dS

Christmas in a Jar

Mason jars are quite popular these days and make for some great crafting opportunities. These mini tree scenes in jars are reminiscent of classic snow globes and take very little effort to create. Besides the jars, this project calls for just four other items to complete the look! Try working with different size jars for a nice variety. 

Have you created any fun DIY decor pieces this holiday season? We would love to see/hear about them! Leave your links in the comments! http://bit.ly/1bbnK6h