Avoid Kitchen Mishaps with these Cooking Hacks

Cooking mistakes are bound to happen, but knowledge is power! Take a look at five methods for correcting common cooking mistakes (or avoiding them in the first place).

chocolate chip cookies

Properly softened butter is the key to fluffy, chewy, crispy-on-the-outside cookies that retain their shape. (Photo courtesy Livestrong)

Five Cooking Hacks

Banana Bread Blunder

The Problem: You get a craving for banana bread, but the bananas aren’t ripe yet.

The Fix: Use your oven! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, place the bananas (peels on) on a baking sheet, and bake for about 5 minutes. Check out the full video here.

Unsavory Soup

The Problem: Your soup is bland.

The Fix: Season by “layer.” That means for chicken rice soup, for example, you’ll want to season the onions and carrots; season the rice as it’s cooking; season the chicken; and so on. Remember to taste as you go along to prevent over (or under) seasoning.

Recipe Rescue

The Problem: You thought you had all the ingredients or tools for a recipe, but you don’t.

The Fix: Always, always read the recipe all the way through in advance. You’ll get an idea of what you’ll need and can develop a game plan for perfect execution every time.

Cookie Crumbles

The Problem: Your cookies spread too thin when they bake, making them crunchy.

The Fix: Could be the butter! Butter that’s overly soft (like the kind you nuke in the microwave to soften in a hurry) creates a runny consistency that’s more like batter than dough – and shapeless, thin cookies. Instead, try not to rush the process. Let butter sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes to ensure the right consistency.

Going Green

The Problem: Your guacamole turns brown.

The Fix: Employ a two-part system to prevent your guacamole from oxidizing (aka turning brown). First, toss avocado in lemon or lime juice before you mash. Reserve the juice, then add it back in to taste. Citrus contains ascorbic acid, which delays oxidation. Second, place your guac in an air-tight container and dribble water on top to cover the guac. When you’re ready to eat, drain the water off and serve!

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Easy Feng Shui Tips for Your Home

Every room in your house has the potential to emanate peace and tranquility. How? Through the use of feng shui.

Feng shui is based on the idea that our homes are a reflection of what’s going on inside of us. By aligning the outside space with our inner feelings, you create a harmonious home.

This ancient Chinese method may seem a little bizarre on the surface, but feng shui principles are easy to follow and don’t (usually) cost a dime! We’ve culled a few simple ways to incorporate feng shui into your home.

round coffee table

A round coffee table facilitates ease of movement according to feng shui principles. (Photo courtesy Pinterest)

Easy Feng Shui Tips

Keep Toilet Lids Down

This is a good practice from a hygienic perspective, of course, but there’s also a feng shui explanation. Feng shui posits that the toilet is a drain – leave the seat up, and you allow good energy to literally drain out of your home.

Arrange Your Desk to Face the Door

In the feng shui method, having your back to a door puts you in a compromising position. Try arranging your desk so that it faces toward the door – you’ll feel an instant sense of control and empowerment that could show through in your work!

Place Your Couch Against a Wall

This is usually a natural spot for arranging couches, but it also has a feng shui purpose: a wall brings a sense of steadiness and security that can help you relax. If there isn’t a wall available, you can place a sturdy console table behind your couch instead.

Try a Round Coffee Table

Square and rectangular coffee tables have harsh lines that point directly at people when seated. A circular coffee table creates a harmonious flow that lets energy (and people) move around more easily.

Surround Yourself with the Items You Love

We devoted a blog post to this feng shui trick. Choosing items that bring you joy helps eliminate clutter and also amplifies positive energy. Move a favorite item to a prominent spot so you see it every time you walk in the room!

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

In feng shui, mirrors bring good fortune and double the abundance of positive energy. Use them!

Use Shapes to Create Energy Flow

According to Feng Shui, shapes are an important factor in the flow of energy in a room. Triangles, for example, are largely unwelcome as they convey a sense of hostility. Round or square furniture is a better choice, though Feng Shui encourages mixing shapes to avoid an overabundance of a single energy.

Fountains & Fish

If you’re a fan of the life aquatic, Feng Shui may be your ideal decorating method. Feng Shui literally means wind and water, so these natural forces play an important role in the practice. Ch’i, the life force, is said to be attracted to water so a well-placed fountain or fish tank is sure to attract positive energy.

A small water fountain or water wall will also attract good ch’i. Small fountains are available in many styles from retailers like Amazon.com and Pottery Barn. Prices, of course, vary, but you can find a nice fountain for your home for between $50 and $150.

America’s favorite starter pet, the fish, and its likeness are associated with success in Feng Shui. Stagnant water, though, is associated with a messy life so keep your fish happy and their water clean. If you’re not up for buying a fountain or new pet, mirrors are said to serve a similar function in Feng Shui.

The Practice of Placement

The best known aspect of Feng Shui is likely the practice of arranging furniture to achieve a harmonious energy in the home. For example, for all rooms in the home, artwork should be hung at eye level, though art should be hung above large pieces of furniture such as a sofa. Beds should not lie under exposed beams or near windows, as this blocks energy flow. The foot of the bed should also be kept clear.

As there are many rules in Feng Shui regarding placement of objects, you may want to research the finer points of the practice as they apply to your specific space, but achieving a more harmonious home is worth the effort.

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Related posts: What is Eclectic Home Decor? We Explore This Design StyleDIY Home Decor IdeasHome Decor for Small Apartments

 

How to Freeze Soups and Stews the Right Way

Did you know March is National Frozen Food month? The freezer is an incredible tool for preserving foods, but knowing the right way to freeze foods is key. A frozen pizza from the grocery store is easy – just pop it in the freezer and move on – but certain foods take more preparation. That’s why we’re showing you how to freeze soups and stews the right way. To defrost, simply heat and stir, and you’ve got a homemade meal in no time.

chicken rice soup

Learn how to freeze soups and stews the right way for a quick weeknight dinner. (Photo courtesy mastercook.com)

How to Freeze Soups and Stews

  1. Cool it! Freezers cannot cool hot soups and stews fast enough to be food safe. You’ll need to speed up the process. You can let the soup come to room temperature naturally before packaging it for the freezer, or you can place the pot of hot soup in a bath of ice water, stirring frequently to help release extra heat.
  2. Zip it! Use zip-top plastic freezer bags to store the soup. We recommend gallon- or quart-size bags. Label and date them first using a permanent marker, then fit the bags over a bowl (similar to how you fold the edges of a garbage bag over a trash can). Pour or ladle the soup into the bag, and be sure to remove any excess air before sealing.
  3. Freeze it! Lay the bags flat in the freezer one on top of the other. They’ll last about a month in the freezer.
  4. Eat it! If possible, move your soup from the freezer to the fridge and let it thaw slowly throughout the day. Then, when you’re ready to eat, heat up the soup normally over low to medium heat.

Insta Inspiration: Our Favorite Home Décor Accounts to Follow on Instagram

Our Favorite Home Décor Accounts to Follow on Instagram

A beautiful picture can spark inspiration, which is why we’re obsessed with Instagram. Whether it’s searching for what to make for dinner or scrolling through images of cute animals, spending a little quality time on Instagram is one of our favorite hobbies. We also find it’s an especially good tool for home décor ideas.

Check out our list of the best home décor accounts to follow on Instagram below!

Favorite Home Decor Shops on Instagram

Following brand accounts brings multiple benefits – you’ll see incredible images of gorgeous interior spaces, plus, you’ll know exactly where to buy the products in each picture!

  • @westelm Find beautiful images of the brand’s modern home furnishings and décor. You can also follow the New Orleans store specifically (@westelmnola) for up-to-date information on sales and NOLA-friendly imagery like Mardi Gras floats and local eats.
  • @jonathanadler A designer and a brand, this Instagram user is your destination for snappy, preppy-chic design with loads of color and graphic prints.
  • @fab – Fab.com’s Instagram highlights everyday design from around the globe. The shoppable brand recently featured a photo-realistic clutch from DVRA – a New Orleans-based company!

Favorite Home Decor Publications on Instagram

Print magazines and online publications are a great resource for on-trend designs.

  • @elledecor A classic. Sophisticated interiors that cater to a range of aesthetic styles plus a dash of wanderlust – to-die-for homes in Capri, Milan, and Los Angeles are all part of the mix.
  • @dominomag No longer a print publication, Domino Magazine has fortunately taken their eclectic interiors to the digital world. Expect a mix of decorating inspiration, entertaining ideas, and bright bursts of color.
  • @apartmenttherapy One of our favorite websites is also one of our favorite Instagram accounts. This apartment-specific Insta is chock full of space-saving tips, DIY tutorials, and the latest design trends.

 New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)
New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)

Favorite New Orleans Design Inspiration on Instagram

In a city full of style and character, these Igers serve up some serious design inspiration.

  • @whitneyjdecor – This New Orleans based interior designer offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a day in the life of a designer and sneak peeks of DIY home decor projects.
  • @hattiesparks – The Uptown boutique owner’s Instagram feed is a beautiful blend of local life and spot-on design inspo.
  • @perchneworleans – The stylish Magazine Street home goods shop offers up antique, vintage & contemporary decor finds.

Favorite Home Decor Designers on Instagram

Take cues from these interior designers’ Instagram accounts  it’s like having a private consultation for free!

  • @ryankorban Elegant, decadent spaces juxtapose designer Ryan Korban’s witty captions.
  • @kellywearstler You’ll love her sartorial style as much as her interior design expertise. Swoon!
  • @mrorlandosoria The interior designer’s Instagram account is equal parts travelogue, foodie paradise, and clean-lined interior spaces.
5ftinf instagram

Instagram user 5ftinf packs a rainbow of color into every photo. (Photo courtesy 5ftinf on Instagram)

Lagniappe – Irresistible Instagrammers

A few other favorites we couldn’t resist including.

  • @5ftinf Flowers! Botanicals! Tea! A dreamy Instagram account that celebrates natural simplicity.
  • @themakerista DIY prodigy Gwen Hefner shares some of her favorite projects.
  • @sfgirlbybay Stylist and blogger Victoria Smith shows us “the world through rose-colored glasses.” California dreaming at its finest!

Looking for more interior decorating inspiration?

Be sure to follow our Apartment Decorating board on Pinterest for even more home décor ideas!

How to Clean a Refrigerator: 5 All-Natural Fridge Cleaning Hacks

You’ve been there before. Craving a snack or looking for dinner ingredients, you open the fridge, and whew! What is that smell?

Sometimes, even after a thorough cleaning, fridge smells can linger. Read on for 5 all-natural  fridge cleaning hacks for freshening up your refrigerator. (These quick eco-friendly tips go far beyond the tried-and-true box of baking soda).

orange peel air freshener

Fill a hollowed out citrus peel with salt for an all-natural air freshener perfect for the fridge. (Photo courtesy eHow.com)

Eco-friendly Fridge Cleaning Hacks

  1. Coffee Grounds

Spread freshly ground coffee evenly on a plate or shallow dish, and place it in the fridge for 24 hours. The coffee will absorb any rogue odors and also give off an energizing scent. Not a coffee drinker? You can also place several tea bags (or loose leaf tea) on a plate for the same effect.

  1. Citrus

Choose your favorite citrus (we recommend navel oranges or grapefruit for their size, but lemons and limes will work, too) and cut it in half. Scoop out one half completely so you’re left with a bowl-shaped hollow. Fill with sea salt and place in the fridge for a citrusy, neutralizing scent!

  1. Vanilla Extract

This baking staple has a hidden purpose: creating a soft, lovely scent for your fridge. Pour a bit of vanilla extract into a small dish, then place a few cotton balls inside. The cotton will soak up the vanilla extract and slowly release its aroma into the fridge.

  1. Tomato Juice

Perhaps you’ve heard of tomato juice’s deodorizing powers for anyone who encounters a skunk. The same holds true for your fridge. Simply soak a cloth or sponge in undiluted tomato juice and wipe down your fridge’s surfaces. Rinse with soapy water, then wipe dry. You can repeat the process (or try substituting vinegar) for any lingering smells.

  1. Alka-Seltzer

Similar to baking soda, Alka-Seltzer is an oxidizing agent that can neutralize unpleasant scents. Drop a couple of tablets into a glass of water and place in the fridge to help mitigate odor.

Remember, setting your fridge at a proper temperature is an easy, preventive step to avoid odors in the first place. Learn how to ensure your fridge and freezer are at the right temperature here.

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