Get Organized for the School Year

Get Organized for the School Year

It’s about that time – much to their own dismay, the summer is ending, and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. Will it be a busy year for your family? Homework assignments, projects, study groups and after school activities can get pretty chaotic, pretty fast, especially if you have middle or high-schoolers in your home. Never fear! Fortunately, there are simple ways to keep the agendas on track. Here are a few easy tips to help you get organized for the school year (and stay that way). Five Great Tips for School Organization 📆 Get a Calendar Going. It’s easy to forget important dates. When is that science project due? When is Billy’s first soccer game, or Suzy’s dentist appointment? Whether it’s a family planner or a giant dry-erase board by the front door, write it down. You will be glad you did! 🎒 Clean Out that Backpack – Every Single Day. Often times, kids just stuff their… stuff… into their backpacks and never think about it again. If you take 5 minutes in the evening to clean out their backpack with them, you may just jog their memory about homework that’s due, or a permission slip you need to sign. 🥗 Make Sure Meals Are Planned In Advance! From breakfast to dinner, including packed lunch and the after-school snack, make sure there’s a plan. Serve meals and snacks with nutritious food that powers them up for the day! A meal plan will help you feel a lot more prepared for the day, as well, and it’ll make grocery store trips much more efficient! 📓 Block Out...
Beat The Heat: No Cook Meal Plans

Beat The Heat: No Cook Meal Plans

It’s HOT. All over the United States, temperatures have been soaring. It’s been sticky. It’s been uncomfortable. And the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove or turn on the oven. Of course, you could always order a pizza or stop by KFC on the way home from work, but these days, health and nutrition are more of a priority than they’ve ever been. We got you! Here are three days’ worth of healthy no cook meal plans with recipes included. No Cook Meal # 1 Main Dish: Best Ever Shrimp Ceviche from My Latina Table  Nothing beats the heat like ceviche. The citrus, the spice… my mouth is watering just writing about this! The amazing thing about this dish? It really is no cook – even the shrimp! Soak the shrimp in lemon or lime juice for at least an hour – it turns pink and is ready to eat. If you’re worried about this packing too much spice for the little ones, this Shrimp & Avocado Salad from Natasha’s Kitchen is a great alternative. Side: Creamy Cilantro Avocado Dip from Rachel Ray Serve it with fresh tortilla chips (Juanita’s are the best if you can get them in your area!) or make it a healthier option with sliced cucumber, red pepper strips or carrot sticks. Dessert: Frozen Mango & Yogurt Pops This creamy dessert is guaranteed to put the chill on the hottest day. Creamy yogurt meets tangy mango to create such a soothing combination – your whole family will love it.   No Cook Meal # 2 Main Dish: Tarragon Chicken...
Give A Home Spa Day

Give A Home Spa Day

It’s HOT. We’re getting into what they call the “Dog Days of Summer”. When the temperature soars like this, if you’re anything like me, you get to feeling kind of… sticky and just not fresh. So what is the best way to feel refreshed? A home spa day of course! Home spa days are perfect to hit the reset button and feel your best. If you know someone who deserves a pick-me-up, spa days also make the PERFECT gift! So invite over a friend who needs a little pampering and indulge! Here is my step-by-step process to a home spa day.   🧖‍♀️  Home Spa Day  🧖‍♀️ Step One: Set the Mood What helps you feel relaxed? Maybe it’s some relaxing music! Spotify has lots of chill playlists, from acoustic folk to chilled-out lounge beats. I also like to use essential oils in my diffuser for some calming aromatherapy. My personal favorite is lavender, but eucalyptus is also a popular calming oil. Step Two: Hydrate Since you’ll be heating your skin up, stay hydrated and cool down with infused water and lots of ice. Slices of citrus, strawberries, cucumbers, blueberries, basil and mint are good additions to ice water. Some people like to use Infuser Pitchers, but really, dropping the produce into any large glass or mason jar will do, too. And if you feel inclined, a little glass of Champagne never hurt anyone, either! 😉     Step Three: Get Steamy It’s time to open up those pores. Draw a hot bath with plenty of bathing salts, oils and maybe even a bath bomb or bubbles! Have a nice long soak...
Our Favorite White Wine for Summer

Our Favorite White Wine for Summer

Welcome to the Friday Wine Down! What a week it’s been – doesn’t a glass of wine sound perfect right about now? Here at GiftTree, we’re collectors, sippers and enthusiasts. And when we find a very special bottle, we just can’t keep ourselves from sharing! From white wine on a casual night out to a rare Pinot Noir for special occasions, every week we’ll feature a fantastic wine available in our gifts. Onward!   This Week’s Friday Wine Down: Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier About This Wine Napa Valley’s Pine Ridge Vineyards was “just experimenting” when they blended two varietals together, creating the easy-to-love masterpiece (and this Author’s favorite white), Chenin Blanc + Viognier. Tasting Notes Crisp, bright, and vivacious, CB+V is an aromatic white blend boasting a bouquet of honeysuckle and orange blossoms along with tropical fruit aromas, green apple, lemon, and grapefruit. The entry is bright and fresh, exhibiting flavors of fresh lemon curd and Granny Smith apples. While this is a juicy wine, it has an incredible mid-palate weight with acidity carrying the flavors to the lengthy finish. Serving, Pairing & Gifting This medium-bodied blend should be served chilled. It makes a great companion for a variety of dishes, from light salads to seafood. Most notably, we recommend foods with a hint of spiciness, like Thai curry or Asian-inspired dishes, because the wine’s subtle sweetness provides balance. Want to order Pine Ridge, or give it as a gift? Great! It’s in California White Wine Trio and also our Fine Wine Tote.     Comment Below Have you had a chance to try the Pine Ridge CB+V? What...
Pack the Perfect Picnic Basket

Pack the Perfect Picnic Basket

It’s SUMMER! The sun is out, the breeze is perfect and since we’re not in the dog days of summer quite yet, it’s not too hot or buggy yet. Therefore: it is picnic season! Picnics are so awesome – what a great way to relax and enjoy nature! But a fun picnic can go south quickly, when it’s discovered that some key equipment or ingredients were missed. To help avoid that, we’ve come up with the Picnic Basket Checklist! It’s a great way to learn how to pack the perfect picnic basket. The Ultimate Picnic Basket Checklist ⬜ Lightweight Basket, Tote, or Cooler Make sure it is easy to carry, waterproof and durable. ⬜ Blanket to Spread Out You’ll need it if there are no picnic tables at your destination. A table cloth will work, too! ⬜ Low-Seated Beach Chairs Not needed – only if you prefer, but we love having a backrest! ⬜ A Trash Bag or Two Makes cleanup SO much easier! ⬜ Paper Towels Double duty – cleaning up and mealtime napkin use. ⬜ Moist Towellettes / Baby Wipes If there are kids, sauces or both in the picture, you’ll need these. ⬜ Plates Lightweight and eco-friendly are the way to go! If you must get disposable, try compostable bamboo! ⬜ Utensils Depending on what you’re having, you may need serving ware, too. The link above might be perfect! ⬜ Cutting Knife, Small Cutting Board You can pre-chop everything if you’d like, but you may want it for cheese and salami. ⬜ Corkscrew or Bottle Opener If your picnic destination allows alcohol, these are essential! ⬜ Shatterproof Glasses...
Dining Al Fresco: Tip, Tricks & Recipes

Dining Al Fresco: Tip, Tricks & Recipes

Ahh, summer. Nothing beats dinner on the patio on a balmy summer evening. But there are a few things you need to know! Here are some helpful hints, tips, hacks and even a couple meal plans to make your backyard dinner extra special. TIP #1 Take It Easy Dining outside is all about letting the atmosphere set the tone for the evening, so keep your recipes simple (and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself more, too). Dining al fresco usually means that there’s lots of fresh produce in season. Therefore, showcase it by preparing it simply. Grilled corn on the cob with butter, crisp asparagus with sea salt, and a colorful, flavorful caprese salad come to mind. TIP #2 Make It Sustainable Yes, it is a little more work, but glass plates, cloth napkins and heavier glasses are much better for the environment than one-use picnic supplies. Plus, everyone hates how those cheap paper plates go limp immediately after dishing up. This tip is actually a two-for-one deal – since you’re not using paper plates, paper napkins and disposable cups, congrats! You’ve wind-proofed your outdoor meal, too! TIP #3 Light It Up If you plan to eat outdoors during the evening, some nice lighting will be needed. There are lots of ways to set the mood – candles, lanterns and string lights come to mind. Get creative! Check out Pinterest boards for patio lighting and have fun. If you can keep the scent of the candle or torches away from the table, citronella does double duty of repelling mosquitoes and adding light. Which brings us to our next...