A Shoe-In for Best Organizer Hack

Finding a new use for this hanging door shoe rack will make you a shoe-in for Organizer Of the Year.

Finding a new use for this hanging door shoe rack will make you a shoe in for Organizer Of the Year.

If you’ve ever struggled with storage or lived in a tight space, then you know that it takes a bit of creativity to organize your life. Moving isn’t always an option, and if you’re a renter, you may be limited in the changes you can make to your home. This is my current situation. Known to my friends and family as the Glamourpuss, I am not short on beauty and skincare products. My tight 28″x 18″ under the sink bathroom storage space has proven to be no match for my ever growing collection of Mary Kay skincare, purchased and homemade bath products as well as my ever-expanding hair junkie arsenal. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t find ANYTHING when I needed it. I also found myself purchasing multiples, because I had NO IDEA how much stuff I had under that sink. What was a girl to do? I already had baskets for my towel issues (that’s in a future post). I needed to be organized and stat!

The solution was right in front of me (or rather inside my bedroom closet) the entire time. While visiting a friend, I saw her using a clear shoe organizer to hold non-shoe items. “They make those in clear?!” I thought to myself. So I went home and looked at my organizer in it’s tanned glory and immediately went to my neighborhood mega mart and picked up a clear shoe organizer for myself. It came in at under $10 and has greatly improved my bathroom organization. I was able to use my under sink area for other items. Now I can “see” what I have, and I have saved time and money by not buying what I already have. So…is this an idea you’re open to try? Have you used a shoe organizer in a creative way? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.

Yours,
Natalie S. Everett

Deliciously in the Dumps – Dump Cake Recipe

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Now, I have to admit desserts that used mixes was never in my kitchen after I graduated from culinary school. I felt like I wasn’t really cooking. Why? I was a natural cook and a trained one so it just wasn’t allowed in those kitchens neither in mine. I know, I know…you’re saying, “Girl please!” I got it. I promise you I did. LOL! This cherry dump cake will please even the toughest critics.

A dump cake is just what it says. You dump all the ingredients one at a time into your baking dish and no, you do not have to stir. It usually has canned fruit but you can also use frozen fruit. You may want to top it with any type of nuts like this peach dump cake below.

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This dessert is not only good for potlucks, church dinners and family gatherings but it’s also perfect to bake with kids. It’s simple and requires no advance techniques or sharp objects. Gather the kids and use their favorite fruit along with your favorite box cake mix. Don’t just think you have to stick to a yellow cake mix but get creative and use chocolate or strawberry. The variations are limitless as long as you step out of your comfort zone. The kitchen to a cook or chef is like a canvas to painter. If you mess up, just try and try again! The recipe below is a Blueberry Cream Dump Cake

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INGREDIENTS

 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (15.25 oz.) box yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 (6 oz.) container Greek blueberry yogurt
 
DIRECTIONS
  • Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease a large (12-inch) cast iron skillet or a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with softened butter.
  • Add the blueberries to the prepared baking dish. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Toss to combine. Then cover the blueberries with the cake mix.
  • Pour the melted butter over the cake mix, but do not stir.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until light brown.
  • Meanwhile, whip the cream with an electric mixer. Fold in the blueberry yogurt.
  • Serve the cake warm or cold, topped with a dollop of blueberry cream.

 

You now have permission to be deliciously in the dumps!

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Chef Chantea Williams

Herb Growing For Beginners

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Shhhh! I have a secret to tell you. Come closer because I don’t want this to get out. I have always wanted to grow an herb garden. I know, I know. What does a pastry chef need with an herb garden? Well, we can’t live on sweets alone you know.

I won my first herb plant in a health challenge at work earlier this month and it’s still alive!!! I am by no means a successful plant grower yet but I’m off to a good start. My basil plant is still looking good. I’m so excited and can’t wait to cook with it! That led me to researching how to grow herbs for beginners. So here we go…

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First thing you need are good supplies. A more robust pot for growing will take you a long way and can be used over again. You want to look for quality pots that will hold your plants. You want to make sure they have room to grow and don’t get cramped. Secondly, you need labels for your herbs. The labels can be a simple as using colored popsicle sticks or you can get more fancy and use different shapes.

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Thirdly, you need good potting soil. A plant can’t grow without good nutrients so don’t get cheap on the soil or you might as well continue to buy the herbs at your local grocery store or market. Fourthly, you need a watering can. Lastly and the most important, are the herbs you are going to grow. Herbs that tend to grow fast are chives, dill and coriander. There are others but these are a few of the more common ones. You will need to pay extra attention when growing these herbs. Herbs that tend to grow slower are oregano, parsley, rosemary, fennel & thyme. Again there are others but these are a few of the more common ones. These require a little more patience and be sure they have plenty of room to grow.

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You want to be sure to give your herbs plenty of sunlight but keep them out of high temperatures. The sun can actually burn them. They need about an inch of water a week so be careful not to flood them out. As you start your own kitchen herb garden, don’t be afraid to consult the experts as you are shopping for your supplies. Share with us your herb garden pictures. We would love to see your progress. Now if they only had a plant for beignets!

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Chef Chantea Williams

Summer Beverage Hacks, Part 1

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It’s summertime and the living is hot, depending on which part of the world you reside in. If you happen to be located closer to the equator, then you know just how hot it can be. During these hot summer days, nothing quite refreshes like a cold beverage, and smoothies are a great way to get in your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables while quenching your thirst. Here are some kitchen hacks to help improve your smoothies and shakes, while saving you time, time that you can spend relaxing poolside:
1. Freeze your bananas for later use. This is what the professionals do. Purchase bananas in bulk and once they’ve reached your preferred ripeness level, peel them and cut into small pieces. You don’t have to freeze them, but it makes it easier to use later, unless you prefer to blend the skins along with the fruit. You can freeze these bits in a quart-sized freezer bag or other freezer container. When you’re in the mood for bananas, just drop a few into the blender with your other ingredients. This adds instant potassium and helps thicken your beverage.

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2. Perhaps you have other season fruit or veggies that you’d like to add to your blended beverage, but the fruit is several days away from being ready to eat. No problem. Just place them in a sealed brown paper bag. In a few days, they will ripen. Can’t wait a few days? Then place a banana in the bag. As the banana ripens, it will emit additional ethylene gas, causing all items in the bag to ripen at an accelerated rate.

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I hope you enjoy these quick hacks and plan to make some shakes and smoothies in the days to come. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What are some of your favorite summer blended beverages using bananas and other seasonal fruits?

Yours,
Natalie S. Everett

The Best 4th of July Desserts

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What thing I love about the holidays are the desserts! They seem to get more creative and fancier depending on the holiday. Now I have to admit this 4th of July I am keeping it simple with our family cookout. I will probably do a peach cobbler, brownies and maybe an apricot bourbon poundcake but that didn’t stop me from doing my annual search of 4th of July desserts.

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This American Berry Pie is sure to be a big hit. This combination of strawberries, raspberries & blue berries is irresistible! Pies are always a great dessert to bring but you better have more than one if you are bringing this one. I can bet you anything that it won’t last long. My favorite is going to be the Star Spangled Shortcakes. I LOVE shortcakes! They are the sweet version of biscuits. You can make them out of almost any shape using cookie cutters.

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This is filled with strawberries, blueberries and fresh whip cream. If you have never had fresh whip cream, then you have been deprived. It is so much better than the tub stuff  but I do use it too depending on the type of dessert I’m making. The last thing I’m going to share is a Patriotic Layered Drink, which is non-alcoholic. I know that drinks aren’t normally desserts but it looked so pretty that I couldn’t resist. This drink does take some time so make sure you are not in a rush, otherwise, it will not come out right and you will end up with a delicious purple drink.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Cranapple Juice
  • 1 cup Sobe Elixir Pina Colada
  • 1 cup Blue G2 Gatorade
 Instructions
  1. Make sure all ingredients are well chilled.
  2. Fill glass ¼ of way with ice.
  3. Fill with cranapple juice just to ⅓ way up.
  4. Place in freezer for 30 minutes or until ice layer has formed on red layer.
  5. Fill to top with ice
  6. Gently fill with pina colada by pouring over the back of a spoon to ⅔ way up.
  7. Place in freezer for 20 minutes or until ice layer has formed on white layer.
  8. Gently fill with G2 by pouring over the back of a spoon rest of way up.

 

Have a safe and happy 4th!

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Chef Chantea Williams

Coffee Filter Life Hack

When you’re out of coffee filters and you’re craving COFFEE a life hack needs to take place.

We’ve heard of people using toilet tissue but that’s just gross. This is so much better.

Smith & Cult Nail Lacquer

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I am a SUCKER for pretty packaging. I would buy this polish just for the bottle. So, adorable. Shades pictured are “Plastic Beach” (top) and “Fauntleroy” (bottom). I’m sure you remember Hard Candy polish from back in the day. This is the same creator. Here’s what it says:

Smith & Cult was created by beauty veteran Dineh Mohajer, the voice of our beauty junkie, who revolutionized the color cosmetics industry when she launched Hard Candy. Several years and creative collaborations later, Mohajer is bringing about the next evolution of beauty with Smith & Cult.Smith and Cult’s Nailed Lacquer consistently delivers both flawlessly smooth coverage and brilliant shine. While custom tailored to provide high performance, the exclusive 5-Free formula is formulated without Dibutyl, Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin and Camphor.

GET IT HERE.

The Ultimate Summer Cobblers

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Who can resist a cobbler? Even those of us who are watching our figures will say, “just a little won’t hurt!” A cobbler can be a  fruit or savory filling dish covered by a batter, biscuit or pie like crust before baking. It is one of the easiest desserts to make and they are perfect for potluck gatherings. I like to make homemade crusts but you can use ready made pie crust from the store and roll it out to fit your dish size. If you want to jazz it up a bit for a small gathering, try putting them in single serving dishes and your guests will be delighted even more.

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One of my favorite cobbler dishes is the strawberry cream cheese. I made a batch a couple of years ago for my coworkers and it was a big hit. It was so pretty and tasty! I don’t know what was better the strawberries or chunks of cream cheese. Don’t be afraid to get away from the traditional peach cobbler. Try some different fruit combinations. You will be pleasantly pleased. I promise! The strawberry cream cheese recipe below is from http://www.myrecipes.com.

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 Ingredients

  • 1 stick(s) butter
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup(s) milk
  • 1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup(s) sugar
  • 2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 2 quart(s) strawberries capped and washed
  • 4 ounce(s) cream cheese cut in small pieces

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and pour into 9×13 glass baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour directly over the butter in the baking dish, but do not stir.
  2. Add the strawberries, arranging in a single layer as much as possible. Sprinkle cream cheese pieces over strawberries. Place in preheated oven and bake 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling. (Crust rises up and around the fruit, but fruit will still peek out of top.)

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Chef Chantea Williams

The First Step to Hacking Your Life

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When first considering just what a life hack is, I thought this should be easy. After all, people are always looking for an easier way to accomplish life tasks, to invest as little time and effort as possible, yet yield the greatest outcome. It almost seems like cheating, because so many of us have been taught that hard work pays off, and it does in fact, but every success is not the result of strenuous labor and output. What if you could increase your reading speed and comprehension levels, allowing you to advance in school and at work? And if you could spend less time on your morning commute, arriving to work more competent and refreshed, effectively increasing your productivity? Is it considered cheating if you exert less effort and reap maximum gains? Not at all.

You might be wondering what some of these life hacks are, methods that make life easier and more productive. Today, we’ll start off with the most important one: honesty. How is honesty a life hack? How will it make my life run more efficiently? That’s simple: many of us are in such a disorganized, chaotic and even depressed state about the mountains in our lives, simply because we are not being honest with ourselves. We are taking on more than we can handle, placing ourselves further down on our To-Do lists and working harder instead of smarter. Deep down we know we are capable of accomplishing more, but we are not being honest with ourselves about the level of help that we need. This is causing us to be dishonest with others about what we can handle and assist them with as well. We’re generous to a fault (the fault being that we can’t be everything to everyone), and even the most selfish individuals are that way because they need better ways of handling life so that maybe they can afford to stop being so selfish. I get it, it’s hard to manage your own household, job, finances (insert areas of responsibility here) and still be able to devote time to the causes we really care about. But what if we could manage more with less, less effort, less of your own resources, less stress? Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t it be worth the planning and preparation on the front end, in order to see the payoff on the back end?

Since we’re being honest here, what are some areas of your life that you’d like to spend less time working on and more time actually enjoying? I’d like to hear from you, and I’d like to share some life hacks with you in upcoming posts. Until next time, I’ll leave you with just a bonus hack: if you can only spare one night per week, go to bed one hour early. Every hour of rest you get before midnight is equivalent to two hours received after midnight. Don’t believe it? Try it and comment below with your results.

Yours,

Natalie S. Everett

Summer Getaway: What’s Hot in Albany, Georgia!

Welcome to the month of June! The summer is upon us and it’s time to get in summer traveling mode. This past weekend I traveled to the quaint Albany Georgia for a great friend’s wedding. Although, I did not get to visit the places and restaurants that I intended to due to TIME. I had a GREAT time in twenty four hours. A three hour ride from the city life (AtL). It was serene and peaceful to ride on a two lane highway, windows down breathing God’s Air and thinking about life. I stayed at the Best Western Hotel for only $69 a night. Don’t sleep on Best Western! Flat Screen, Wifi, and a Very comfortable bed. I was very close to the Albany Mall and Local Shops in a half mile of distance. If you’re traveling to Florida or to the South of Georgia. Give Albany a chance and rest up!

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So Travelistas, I wanted to reach out and get to know some of YOU!! I will feature some of your traveling finds and style while you’re vacationing this summer. Today, I will be featuring Travelista Allyce. Ms. Allyce and Her Girlfriends spent their getaway in Ft.Lauderdale. As true Travelista, Allyce opted to stay in Ft. Lauderdale opposed to South Beach because of affordability. Retreating at the Sonesta hotel which is convenient to the beach, two bars for socializing and dining, and twenty four hour pool with accommodating staff.

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Sonesta Hotel

Travelista Allyce dined at local restaurants in the area Bongos Cuban inspired restaurant owned by Gloria Esteban “the perfect place for dinner and dancing with Sky lounge located on the roof of the restaurant”, Primanti Bros “Famous for their Breakfast Sandwiches”, Mexican Cantina “Delicious and Inexpensive” and Al Capone’s nephew’s restaurant Martorano’s ” Food was amazing! Try the truffle fries. Portions are HUGE. I would suggest only getting one entrée because they serve in family style”. I’ve visited Miami myself; however I’ve never visited Ft. Lauderdale.

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Primanti Bros

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Bongos Restaurant

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Martorano’s

I am definitely going to add this on my list to visit. Travelistas! If you’re looking for a place to visit that’s affordable and minutes from South Beach without the hustle and bustle of the city. You might want to try Ft. Lauderdale! Smooches and Thanks to Allyce for sharing her Travel journey with us. Also, she shared some of her looks while she was luxuriating in the sunshine state. If you would like to be featured; use our hashtag #TravelistaFeature via twitter or Instagram, I would love to hear about your travel finds and style.

Till Next Time Travelistas!!!

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Cobalt/Pink Tankini with White Cover Up

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Black Tankini with Sheer Cover Up with Straw Hat

Love Always,

KTheTravelista

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