post off: how do you eat your hot dogs?

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Memorial weekend marks the official start of grilling season, and for me, that means one thing: HOT DOGS. There’s just something about them — I couldn’t rightly enjoy summer without one. Veggie, turkey, polish, or kosher beef, one thing’s certain — everyone likes them a particular way. Often, that varies by region, like my current crush the Seattle dog (with cream cheese, grilled onions & cabbage, and a dash of Sriracha), or the famous Chicago-style dog (pictured above). Hot dog lovers represent! Do you dare to put ketchup on a dog, or are you strictly mustard? Will you be grilling up a batch for your holiday BBQ? — Megan B.

Chicago dog photo courtesy of Flickr user midiman.

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cool gifts for coffee-loving dads!

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It’s no secret we’re coffee lovers here at Shelterrific. So why would the fathers in our lives be any different? (Actually, my dad never touched the stuff, preferring Diet Coke.) So I’ve gathered up a handful of groovy gadgets and gift ideas for those java enthusiasts on your shopping list — most under $50 (with the exception of #1).
Click for my picks, after the jump! (more…)

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post off: how will you spend your summer vacation?

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Seattle is known for quite a few things: rain (of course), salmon, and the Space Needle to name a few — but my favorite trait of the city I call home? Its magnificent summers. For reals. I’m talking long days, perfect warm temps, and plenty of gorgeous outdoor spaces in-city to soak it all in. That’s why this summer, we’re not going anywhere we can’t drive to in a few hours. It’s too good to miss. But not everyone lives in such a moderate climate — some folks may have to skip town to beat the sweltering heat of July and August. What’s your plan? Whirlwind European tour? R.V. adventure in a National park? Or, like us, will you be enjoying the scenery in your own backyard? — Megan B.

photo: from one of last summer’s “staycations”, Point Robinson lighthouse on Vashon Island.

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real life test kitchen: spicy black bean burgers

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In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to whip up one of my “pantry favorites” — a healthy, quick, and tasty blast of Tex-Mex flavor in the form of a black bean burger. I base my recipe off of one I found two years ago in Gourmet magazine. Though the original was tasty, I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it “just right” by adding canned green chiles, for example. These black bean bad boys are best grilled hot, preferably on seasoned cast iron, and freeze beautifully for a super-fast, satisfying and flavorful meal for pennies. Just don’t forget the guacamole! — Megan B.
Click for the recipe, after the jump! (more…)

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mother’s day gift ideas: toothpick holders

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When my mother-in-law started collecting toothpick holders several years ago, I have to admit, I didn’t really get it. Then I bought her a collector’s guide and my jaw about hit the floor when I saw all the different holders. Literally thousands — and that’s just pressed glass. There’s also toothpick holders made of metal (silver, pewter) and porcelain.

Although toothpick holders are no longer considered part of a well-set table, they come in handy for other uses. Filling out the front of a bookshelf, holding a miniature bouquet or keeping your rings safe, to name a few.

Toothpick holders have sold for as much as $10,000 at auction (that’s not a typo). I usually find good ones to gift for well under $20 but have occasionally paid more. With a lot of collectibles, however, there are recent reproductions so if you’re spending a lot, check out some of the collector’s guides first. They’ll help you identify the difference between old and new. You can also find information and links on The National Toothpick Society website. — Sarah L.

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