pretty paper wine bottle bags

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We got an email the other day from the creative mind (and fingers) behind the Daisy Janie blog pointing out this easy tutorial for a paper wine gift bag. For those of you that are handy with a grommet press and have access to some colorful prints and ribbons, this how-to could be the answer to your upcoming holiday needs. It’ll turn a simple bottle of Yellow Tail into something to treasure.

Click here for the full tutorial.

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t-fal makes low-fat magic with the actifry

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I never met a French fry I didn’t like — even the little soggy guys at the bottom of the bag are fair game for this girl. Despite my obsession, I’ve limited my membership in the fry fan club because I know how unhealthy they are — but all that oil is what makes ’em taste good, right? Wrong. Starting this fall, T-Fal is laying the smackdown on the French fry franchise with the U.S. launch of the ActiFry.

Already popular in Europe, the ActiFry is a “fast-slow cooker” designed to make healthy meals while minimizing the use of oil. Its claim to fame is that it can cook two pounds of fresh-cut French fries using only one tablespoon of oil, which effectively brings the fat content down to 3%, as compared with 9% in a conventional oven, 14% in a standard deep fryer and nearly 16% at fast food chains. But how does it taste? Click to find out! –Sarah C. (more…)

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real life test kitchen: chocolate walnut zucchini cake with cream cheese icing

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Ahhh, summer…. Your joys are infinite, even if your days are not — blackberries, tomatoes, nectarines, to name just a few. Zucchini, on the other hand, can be a blessing AND a curse. I don’t grow squash, but without fail, every year I end up with tons of the stuff, gifted to me by overburdened neighbors and coworkers. And it’s never the gorgeous tiny, tender ones, either — it’s mega-zucchini the size of your forearm. What to do with all this lovely bounty? Well, some of it gets peeled, grated, salted, and drained and used in zucchini fritters, but the bulk of it gets baked into breads, muffins, and bundts. I usually use my mom’s carrot cake recipe as my zucchini bread base, but this time I took a little inspiration from the Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cupcake recipe in last month’s Gourmet magazine and created a chocolatey, moist cake using only ingredients I had on hand. It was easy, too! Good thing, because I brought home yet another five-pound squash last night! –Megan B. Click for chocolately, zucchini-y goodness! (more…)

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j’aime roulottes: gypsy wagons for garden fantasies

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If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s daydreaming. Depending on how dreaded the task at hand is, my daydreams can take on epic proportions complete with authentic period costumes, casts of hundreds, and the occasional time-traveling subplot. These roulottes decorated by French artist Jeanne Bayol (site is in French) are the perfect prop for my runaway-princess-joins-the-circus fantasies! The old gypsy wagons are restored into hugely romantic items of adoration fit for fantasy garden parties and hurried secret meetings. These nomad-friendly caravans would be gorgeous additions to overgrown backyards and overstuffed imaginations. Learn more here (site in English) including how to purchase a book of photos of Bayol’s roulottes and perhaps even a wagon of your own. –Katie D.

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blog love from cooking light

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It’s not often that we pat ourselves on the back here, but a few of you have emailed to let us know about this delightful Shelterrific shout out in the September issue of Cooking Light magazine. We’re listed upfront in “The Editor’s Dozen” which tickles us to no end (and reminds us that we need to do more sales posts for you!). Looking through the issue, we’ve now got a list of inspirations for future Real Life Test Kitchens. Crispy Skin Salmon with Fiery Asian Slaw, anyone?

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