Category Archives: autumn

Seasonal Food to Put You in the Spirit (and Fill Your Home with Heavenly Smells)!

There’s something nostalgic about the tastes and smells we encounter during this time of year. Smell alone can bring back vivid memories and feelings of warmth, happiness and family. We scoured Pinterest for some of the best recipes that can turn your house into a veritable potpourri of delicious smells.

Roasted Nuts

There’s a reason “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is a lyric in a holiday song, the nutty smell is absolutely delicious (especially mixed with the spicy aroma of cinnamon)! When I lived in Boston and experienced my first-ever snow, I remember walking in the Common and smelling  the comforting scent of roasting nuts mingled with the crisp freshness of a new coat of snow. These cinnamon sugar almonds from Something Swanky are fast and easy, and will quickly fill your home with that very same smell I encountered during my very first walk through the snow.

DSC_0205-edited-watermarked(Photo courtesy of Somethingswaky.com)

Freshly Baked Bread

Is there any better aroma than the smell of bread baking in the oven? No. There is not. Except maybe new baby smell, but that doesn’t count. Baking bread means not only that your house will smell homey but you will get a warm treat when it’s done! This beginner bread recipe from About.com is perfect for a first-time bread maker.

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(Photo Courtesy of The Pinterest Project)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Known as a secret weapon used by real estate agents everywhere, this is a seriously powerful aroma. Chocolate chip cookies are a classic throwback to delicious smells of special occasion bake-fests. Of course, you could go to the store and buy that pre-made stuff that you just throw in the oven, but if you plan on eating these after they’re done, it’s probably best to at least put in the work so you can appreciate them even more! You can’t knock a classic, which means two words: Toll House. The best chocolate chips cookies of all time.

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(Photo courtesy of Cooking for Engineers)

Hot Apple Cider

If you’re like me and not a huge fan of apple cider, adding caramel for this amazing caramel apple cider recipe from DIY Cozy Home makes the prospect heavenly. What is more seasonal than the smell of cinnamon and apples? Apples add a fruity sweet scent to the pungent smell of cinnamon that makes this juice warm you inside and out.

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Don’t forget to download the SteerList app to help “steer” you through the holidays this year! SteerList is a to do list app, a grocery list app, and just an overall list app for your everyday needs!

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Gluten Free, Vegan, or Vegetarian Guests for Thanksgiving? Easy.

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Thanksgiving is coming up, which means you’re probably already starting to think ahead to your menu and the delicious food you’re going to make. However, finding out that your son’s new girlfriend is vegetarian or the neighbors have a gluten-free diet can send you into a panic, frantically redoing the whole menu and cursing the diet Gods for sending these people to your dinner table.

Take a deep breath. It’s not as scary as you think.

As a vegetarian, I can say that most people with special dietary needs understand that it’s not all about them, but do appreciate being thought of. Even though you may have encountered one or two cranky ones on a dinner where there was nothing for them to eat (Can you really blame someone who’s really hungry and can’t eat anything?), the average person understands that you wouldn’t go to a dinner expecting the whole thing to be catered just to him or her. The secret is in the sides.

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Vegetarians:

You don’t have to throw out a turkey just because a vegetarian is coming. Even though I’ve encountered those fabled “preachy vegetarians” who may make a comment or two, most understand that a turkey is part of the tradition. You don’t have to exchange a turkey for a tofurkey, though if you pick up some Hickory Smoked Tofurkey sandwich meat (available at most chain grocery stores, pictured above draped on a paper turkey to give an authentic effect) or some Morning Star Farms products (just heat and serve), it could be very appreciated. On the whole, most Thanksgiving sides are vegetarian or could be vegetarian with a few tweaks. Vegetables like string beans are easy, and you can moisten mashed potatoes with milk instead of chicken stock (if that’s how you usually do it). On the note of beef or chicken stock, simply substitute vegetable stock if applicable. If you want to score points though, you could make (or buy) a vegetarian “main dish.” Quiche or an egg puff is good because it includes protein (eggs, cheese), or a vegetable pot pie could work too.

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Vegans:

There is a difference between vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians don’t eat meat (though some eat fish, that’s a personal choice that you can clarify by simply asking your vegetarian guest before the meal) and vegans don’t eat any meat or animal bi-products. This means no eggs, no milk, no cheese, no butter. Stock up on vegetable sides and prepare them mindfully. It’s especially good to make something that contains beans or peanut butter because that will be the main protein.  Vegan desserts are sometimes hard because they often require substitutions, but here’s a fun trick: Soda cake. Simply pick up a package of cake mix (read the ingredients to make sure, but most are vegan, Duncan Hines recommended) and a can of soda (take one or two sips for 10 oz.). The soda replaces the eggs and oil in the recipe! Just mix and bake according to the instructions. Warning: Cake can come out sticky!

Gluten-Free 101:

I’m not very familiar with the gluten free diet, but this article from Mayo Clinic breaks it down nicely. On the whole, meat is gluten free, though it may vary depending on what you add to it. A traditional turkey should be fine, but if you want to do anything fancy or just want to play it safe, simply take a cut and cook it separately for your gluten free friend’s needs. Vegetables are usually good to count on.  From what I understand, the toughest part of a gluten-free diet is bread and dessert. Huffington Post has a great article that lists the best gluten-free breads that you can order or get from a specialty store, and this recipe for a twist on a flourless chocolate cake looks so good, people who can eat gluten may even want to try it!

23733_856926265861_403190124_n(This would be a terrible nightmare for someone with a gluten allergy!)

As a final note, adding some “vegetarian” or “gluten free” place cards in front of special dishes will also be a good idea so there are no surprises. Also, be sure that the guests with special diets get the first chance at the dishes meant especially for them. Keep in mind, and note to your party, that where there may be eight dishes total, there may only be three or four that guests with certain diets can eat. I’ve been to a lot of parties where there was a vegetarian dish, but other people had eaten it all! Just be considerate, and your guests will be thankful for the effort.

Use SteerList as your grocery list app so you don’t forget to pick something up from the grocery store. You can also use it to remember notes (like that list of things not gluten free) or save tips to it.

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Make a Trip to the Art Museum More Engaging!

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With rainy days becoming a regular occurrence, it’s time to surrender and start moving out activities indoors. One of my favorite rainy day activities is to go to an art museum. There’s something quiet and ethereal about walking into a museum, everything is hushed and everyone walks around in awe almost like walking into a church. Of course, going to a museum can be a different task when going with a child. Here are a few quick ideas to program to your free SteerList app to keep the kids engaged on a trip to the museum.

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1) Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Have your child mimic the pose featured in a portrait (at a fair distance) then ask them questions. Ask them if it’s hard to hold the pose, or how they would have positioned the model differently if they were painting or sculpting the piece of art themselves. If you’re allowed to take pictures, you can take one or two to show off later. Just remember to remain respectful even if a pose is especially silly.

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2) Get inspired. At our local museum, they include art packs that anyone visiting can pick up and use to their heart’s content. The kits have colored pencils, paper, sketching pencils, and an eraser. You can just bring a notebook with a pencil (that has an eraser attached to the end) if you’d rather go simple. I’d recommend a “put everything down before you stand up” rule, or “Hand everything to mommy before you go near the art.” Don’t want any temptations to “add” to the existing art or room for accidents. Like checking the photo policy, it is probably good to ask at the desk if it’s okay to sketch in the galleries. Most museums allow it, but it’s always good to double check.

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 3) Invent games that will encourage kids to take a second look at a piece. Kids can sometimes have a look-and-go policy. Playing a game like “I Spy” can force a kid to stop and really explore every inch of a piece of art with their eyes. They may notice things they didn’t see the first time, or just learn to go a little slower and to fully enjoy the piece. (Can you spot the one lily pad that’s floating on its own in the Monet above?)

All of these things add a little fun to a trip to the museum for a little one, but it also teaches a lot about art appreciation and the concept of art being thought provoking. Always ask a lot of questions, try to lead to a discussion.

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Stay Warm With Our Cozy Etsy Finds

The temperature is slowly going down and, if you’re quiet, you can almost hear the home thermostats all quickly being clicked up in unison. Unfortunately, you can’t change the temperature outside, so the minute you open the door to your warm cocoon of a house, the bitter wind comes in and blows that warm feeling off your cheeks. It’s time to bundle up. But just because you’re forced to wear sweaters and jackets, it doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice fashion!

Unisex Scarves

This grey cowl neck/infinity scarf from HandmadeABM is great for a guy or girl. Thick and comfy, with buttons to add a little flair, this style makes a classic color more modern.

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This yellow plaid scarf sold by Merrysewingnfabric is made from soft flannel so you feel like you’re in your pajamas all day! The pop of color adds a great punch of personality to brighten up your look and your day!

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Screen Printed

Screen printed scarves are like jewelry or art. If you’re bummed about having to wear a jacket over your perfectly planned outfit, wear a cute scarf like this navy blue one with gold feathers printed on it. It may not be thick, but the thinner fabric will still keep the chill off your neck. If this particular look isn’t you, SoKoDesigns offers more in their store!

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If you want something a little more clean and chic, try out this great bird silhouette scarf. A little whimsical, but still professional, this scarf from ASlideDesign is a great balance of work and play.

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Young and Fun Scarves

If you’re looking for a gift for someone young or just young at heart, these funky and slightly geeky scarves add a splash of bold fun to a winter outfit. I personally LOVE this purple tentacle scarf from Creeplings. Unfortunately, the seller is marked as “On Vacation,” but hopefully he/she will be back soon!

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This Nyan Cat scarf is inspired by the viral phenomenon that is Nyan Cat. If you don’t know what that is, here’s the video that made it famous.

With that in mind, this scarf from seller EinavIzack is perfect for any internet fanatic!

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Gloves

These fingerless gloves by lilyogini are a little rustic, but in a walk-in-the-woods-come-home-sit-by-the-fireplace way. They are both cute and functional, with thick knitted yarn and no cumbersome finger coverings, they are too adorable to pass up.

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These grey fingerless gloves would go well with that scarf we featured earlier. These fingerless gloves from YarnBlossomBoutique are a clean grey with black button detail. They look both cozy and stylish.

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If you like having gloves with fingers, check out these great studded leather gloves from Eastworkshop. A blend of hard and soft, the leather is balanced with a girly bow detail. These are definitely a statement piece for any outfit.

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Hats

This burgundy red flowered hat from AnnasFashionJewelry is super cute and is in the Oxblood red family (the big color of the season). The color is really what makes this chapeau such a great winter accessory.

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Last but not least, this bright yellow hat from SENNURSASA is a sunny reminder of spring and summer. The flapper style is also fresh and different, making this flattering hat a definite head-turner.

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Finally, if you’re no stranger to knitting needles and are inspired to make your own gifts or accessories this year, check out the Nice and Knit blog for ideas and patterns! We highly recommend checking them out!

The free SteerList app is here to help you remember everything you need to keep you warm this season!

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Turn a Gloomy Grey Day into a Fun Day!

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Rainy days. They come when you least expect them, blowing in even when the weather man said that it would be dry all day. Rain ruins plans, your hair, and—without the proper footwear—you can forget about warm, dry toes. Don’t even get me started on snow. So, though you may be looking forward to the holiday season, you may find yourself getting a little bit of the fall/winter blahs. Here are some seriously fun activities to brighten up even the greyest and most depressing of days.

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1) Treat yourself to an extra special warm beverage. You know that one uber naughty drink that you’re not allowed to have on a regular basis because it’s like a dessert in a cup? Turn a lame day like a special one by allowing yourself to have a little decadent treat.

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2) Build a nest. A nest can vary from a full-blown fort to a simple fortress of solitude. If you have kids, building a fort is always the right idea on a rainy day when they can’t go outside. If you don’t have kids (or maybe they’re at school), make yourself a super cozy spot in your favorite place. Whether that’s your couch or your bed, make it as comfy as possible, with blankets and pillows. Stock up on things you love, such as books or magazines, maybe a few of your favorite movies or some guilty-pleasure reality shows you have recorded and just waiting to be watched.

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(Photo courtesy of http://www.retailmenot.com/blog/cheap-diy-dorm-decor.html)

3) Take your time stuck indoors to relax and enjoy an art project. Who decides what age we stop doing art projects? Elementary school was all about the noodle necklaces and finger paint, then we move up to middle school where we’re lucky to do a diorama of some sort, and then by high school it’s all just educational posters and power points. You don’t have to be a Picasso to find some great craft ideas for adults and kids, some with items you might have around the house. Check out Pinterest for ideas, such as this great magazine strip art that we found. It looks professional, but is actually really simple.

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4) Bake something or try a new recipe! A rainy day can make you feel a little bit like a bump on a log or antsy because you’re not getting what you wanted to do done. If you enjoy feeling accomplished and like you got something done, then break out a recipe you’ve been meaning to try. Baking will also keep you nice and warm, what with the time spent in front of the stove/oven.

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These are just a few ideas to turn your cold and gloomy days into a fun-filled excuse to stay indoors. With any projects, be sure to use SteerList, the free app that helps you get things done. We’re a grocery list app (for that new recipe you’re going to try) and a regular to do list app. Whatever you want to call us, we’re here to get it done!

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No Halloween Decorations? No Problem!

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Maybe Halloween snuck up on you and all the decorations are picked over or basically gone now. Maybe you hate the DIY movement with a fiery passion because you weren’t blessed with the crafty gene. It’s okay, we get it. You don’t need to join a support group for the artfully impaired! Luckily, the Halloween spirit can be achieved with just some lighting and great sound effects, and it won’t take more than a few clicks on your computer or a quick download. SteerList has gathered the best and most memorable Halloween music for you to play, no scissors or glue stick required. Just add speakers/ a CD player and press play!

1) These “Fright Night” scary sound effects instantly turn your house into a haunted mansion. Full of creaky doors and spooky voices, this is definitely a perfect way to set the mood if you’re into the chilling fun of a theatrical show.

2) “The Monster Mash”! A classic, this song is a hit with the kids and adults. A little silly, upbeat, and full of vintage charm, it’s perfect for a more festive sound. Fun fact: The BBC banned this song from being played on the airwaves in 1962 because they deemed it “too morbid”!

3) If you’re a kid at heart, then go with “This is Halloween” from the movie “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” This song allows you to hear the voices of several monsters as you travel through Halloween town. The upbeat tune balances the creepy voices, and will probably not scare kids too much because most have seen this kid-friendly movie.

4) This song by “The Pierces” was really popular with TV shows not too long ago. “Secret” is dangerously catchy, and its lullaby rhythm gently calms you while also adding an air of unease when you listen to the words. Always remember: “Two can keep a secret when one of them is dead.” This is a great Halloween song, and it’s lesser-known, so it’s not cliche.

5) THE THEME SONG FROM GHOSTBUSTERS! A cult classic, this song makes people happy from the first “Who you gonna call?” Not really scary at all, this totally 80s-tastic song playing on your porch will have people shouting “GHOST BUSTERS!” all night!

6) Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is the epitome of a Halloween classic. Full of creepy sound effects AND a killer song, don’t be surprised if you look out your window and see a flash mob outside doing the choreography!

7) “I Put a Spell on You.” This slow and spellbinding song is also great for a less cliche choice. It’s also less “dance party” and more “hypnotizing.”

8) “Disturbia” by Rihanna is a more modern song for a younger crowd. It’s a fun party song, and less frightening, more… what’s the word… disturbing!

9) “Man with the Hex” by the Atomic Fireballs. This song has a great, bouncy swing style to it, you won’t mind hearing it on repeat all night because you’ll be dancing and jumping along!

If you need to grab anything from the store at the last minute (candy, pumpkins, etc.) make sure to download SteerList. grocery list app, to do list app, and location based app. We’re all of the above, and we’ll help you get it done!

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Easy Halloween Face Paint

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If dressing up isn’t your thing but you still want to do a little nod to Halloween, these “costumes” only require the bare minimum—face paint and the occasional accessory. You can even pull some of these off with just eyeliner, black paint or a black pen in a pinch. Great for going to work, bringing the kids trick or treating, or just for when you’re invited to a last-minute party or didn’t realize you were supposed to dress up for the office.

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1) Zombies are really in right now, and it’s very easy to achieve while still looking creepy without the fake blood. Start with a light layer of white paint all over your face and neck. Then, underline your eyes with black. Continue around the eye for a hollow look, and draw two black lines along your cheekbones to make yourself look more gaunt. Use a sponge and apply splotches of green and blue all over. Add some messy red around your mouth and chin if you like the more bloody look, but it’s not necessary. The messier the better.

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 2) A skeleton or Di de los Muertos (day of the dead) look relies heavily on the face. Paint your face white (though this isn’t necessary), then look at a picture of a skull for inspiration and do the basic shapes in black. Then, if you want to amp it up for a more “sugar skull” look, add colorful details.

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3) Cat. This is possibly the easiest face paint ever. You don’t need an artistic hand to do this, simply draw a little triangle on your nose (or go for the accurate “Y” shape) in pink or black, then add some whiskers on your cheeks. Done. Throw on some cat ears if you can find them, but if not then people will still get the idea.

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4) A creepy doll/Frankenstein can also be done with plain black paint/eyeliner. With a green base, you turn to Frankenstein, but with no base/white base and some makeup details, it can also be a rag doll.

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