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9 Products to Update Your Home Bar

9 Products to Update Your Home Bar

Last year we brought you a two-part series on how to update your home bar, with part one concerning spirits and part two hitting on the topic of important tools and gadgets that you need to make your home bar a fully functioning one. This year, we gave you whole new set of spirits to stock your bar with, but the tools of the bar is an element that doesn't change as often, so we're back with a refresher course on the essentials! These are the tools that any and all bartenders need, whether you're mixing up classic cocktails on a nightly basis, or just enjoying a glass of wine or a beer after work. Check out our favorite tools and gadgets and let us know of any new ones that you have at home!

When it comes to bar tools, it can get a little tricky to define what exactly is needed. What makes a tool a bar tool? The answer to this question can vary based on the types of drinks you hope to serve to your guests. For the most part, these tools are interchangeable based on what you plan on serving. While you may wax nostalgic for the wine key that you’ve had since college, perhaps it’s time to kick it up a notch with something a little more modern. With that, let’s kick it off with the tools for beer and wine service.

For Beer:

Wall-Mounted Bottle Opener: These bottle openers are a revelation to any and all bartenders. If you are a frequent bar-goer like myself, you know that the basic tool you’ll see coming out of most bartenders’ waistbands is a metal bottle opener. You may even have one that hangs off of your keys for easy bottle opening. However, with a wall-mounted bottle opener, the chances of losing that portable bottle opener move to zero. Just nail it into your wall or part of the bar and you have a bottle opener at the ready.

Find One Here

For Wine:

Portable Electric Wine Bottle Opener: Perhaps you’re accustomed to the old-school wine key, where you screw in the corkscrew and then pull the cork out without it breaking in the neck of the bottle and without hurting yourself in the process. With this electric opener, you can open a bottle of wine with ease. It may seem a little fancy for your home bar, but when you aren’t pulling out cork after cork for a party at your house, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that you went electric.

Wine Glass Cleaning Brushes: Unlike your typical water glass, a wine glass has a very defined shape that can make cleaning in the sink with a standard sponge or in a dishwasher much more difficult. With brushes that are specially shaped to get in those awkwardly shaped glasses, the problem is solved!

Find Them Here

Portable Wine Cooler: A very popular item on the market right now is the wine refrigerator, which keeps wine at a specific temperature at all times. This is a great product to have, but the fridges are often a bit on the pricey side. How can you achieve the same goal without breaking the bank? A portable wine cooler will keep your bottle chilled without ice and without having to buy a mini-fridge.

Now that we’ve tackled beer and wine, the fun can really start. As delicious as they are when in the glass and ready to drink, cocktails can take a lot of preparation. A stir and shake here, a fizz there, these are elements that will make your cocktails really pop, and that poppage won't occur without the right gadgets.

For Cocktails:

Cocktail Shaker: A cocktail can’t be shaken without something to shake it in, so a stainless steel cocktail shaker is the first tool that needs to be added to the home bar. There are different styles of shaking you can go with. The mixing glass and pint glass method requires a strainer, or you can get the three-piece shaker that has a metal top with a strainer inside. Your style is your style but I prefer the three-piece shaker, mostly because I find less spillage during shaking. Plus, I don’t need to buy a special strainer for it unless I’m doing a double strain.

Find One Here

Jigger: The jigger versus free pour argument has been going on in the cocktail world for quite some time, with half the crowd believing the jigger is necessary for portion control in a drink and the other half saying that the free pour is perfectly legitimate. Either way you slice it, a jigger is a nice thing to have if you are insistent on consistency each time you make a drink.

Find One Here

Portion Pourers: Just like the argument between jiggers and free pour, there’s a similar argument between free pour and measured pour, which starts before the spirit even reaches the glass. If you do want to measure out your pour without having a jigger as a middle man, get yourself an electronic pourer, which measures the amount of liquid in each pour. After that amount has been released from the bottle, the pourer will automatically close so you cannot pour out anymore until you turn the bottle right side up again.

Find One Here

Muddler: Any fan of drinks which require you to "muddle" fruits or herbs absolutely needs a muddler in his home bar. A regular spoon just won’t do. Get yourself a heavy-duty wooden muddler that will stand up to the acidity of the different fruits you use as well as all the alcohol. There are plastic ones available too, but I don’t find them to be nearly as sturdy.

Find One Here

Cocktail Glass Rimmer: Hope to serve margaritas at your next party? You’ll need to rim the glasses with salt. Nothing is more annoying than having to use your saucers as salt plates. The solution? Get yourself a cocktail glass rimmer, preferably one that has more than one rimmer so you can have a variety of options for glass-rimming. This cuts down on dish clean up and is an incredibly efficient way to perfectly rim your glass each time.

Find One Here

I hope you’ve learned a lot from this two-part series and that your home bar will be well-equipped for the next party you host. Have any other suggestions for updating your home bar? Let us know in the comments section. Cheers!

— Sara Kay, The Spir.it


15 Home Decor Trends You're About to See Everywhere in 2020

From navy paint to floral wallpaper, these are the trends experts say will be huge.

If there's one perfect moment to update your home, it's at the start of a new decade. After 10 years of the same old, same old, now is the time to roll on one of the top paint colors, refresh the heart of your home with one of our favorite kitchen ideas, or simply add a new piece of art to your gallery wall. And if you want to make a serious statement this year, then try incorporating one of the hottest home decor trends of 2020.

To find the home ideas that are about to be everywhere, we went straight to our favorite interior design pros. From navy paint and floral wallpaper to colored cabinets and free-standing tubs, these are the 2020 home decor trends that experts can't wait to see. Whether you love trends or will typically go to great lengths to avoid them, there are bound to be a few ideas on our list that you'll adore (and will continue to adore into the next decade).

What goes around comes around &mdash especially when it comes to home decor trends. "One thing we're starting to see is more of a nod to vintage and traditional detailing &mdash things like spooled legs, spindles, and other things we saw in furnishings from the 1800s and early 1900s," says interior designer Bria Hammel, CEO of Bria Hammel Interiors.

But don't expect to see all vintage everywhere. This time around, designers are incorporating just one or two statement pieces.

The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year is Classic Blue (a navy shade), which means you can expect to see a lot of the color in the new year. Fortunately, it's totally versatile and sophisticated.

"Navy blue provides the perfect amount of contrast for interiors and exteriors in both traditional and modern home styles," says interior designer Kerrie Kelly, founder of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. "Whether a kitchen island gets a quick upgrade or a room gets a dramatic new look with contrasting white trim and woodwork, the shade provides a stately look without going completely black," she says.

If the thought of flower-power wallpaper makes you flinch, then 2020 might just be the year you change your tune. "Floral wallpaper has been around for years and you will continue to see the pretty pattern but with a much more modern update," says interior designer Abbe Fenimore, founder of Studio Ten 25. "Large scale, bold color, and even metallic versions are here to stay."

Fenimore says they're a particularly good choice in powder bathrooms and foyers. Plus, there are tons of stick-on options if you're not ready to fully commit.

High-contrast designs are currently having a moment &mdash which means if you've always wanted to paint your home black, now is the time to give it a whirl (in moderation, of course).

"For a long time, it was white, white, white," Hammel says. "But now, for example, maybe we'd see a chair with black fabric and a white frame. Or a console table in a dark stained wood with light-colored hardware."

If there was one defining design trend of the 2010s, it was the all-white kitchen. But in 2020, designers predict there'll be a shift toward spaces that go beyond just white. For example, Hammel expects to see more natural wood cabinets, islands, and shelves &mdash all of which allow homeowners to keep a bright and airy vibe without restricting themselves to all-white-everything.

If you really want to leave the all-white kitchen trend behind, opt for another 2020 home decor trend: colored cabinets. According to the experts at Modiani Kitchens, "the trend in 2020 is to choose one or several elements, like the kitchen island, kitchen wall cabinets, or base cabinets in daring colors, like dark red, bright yellow, green or navy blue."

Now is the time to make all of your regal canopy bed dreams come true. "Canopy beds no longer need to be draped in heavy fabrics and chunky headboards," says Fenimore. "Modern versions made with acrylic, metal, and sleek upholstered frames are making a comeback."

"One of the emerging design trends is an appreciation of patina and age," says interior designer Breeze Giannasio. In addition to more vintage furniture, expect to see this played out in color trends such as clay and terracotta, as well as decorative items such as earthenware and ceramics.

If 2019 was the year of the dramatic fiddle leaf fig, then Hammel expects 2020 will be the year of the much subtler olive tree. Instead of blooming bright green, these trees are a more sophisticated sage.

Make 2020 the year you start &mdash or continue to grow &mdash your art collection. "If any type of antique is making a comeback, it's art," says Hammel. "People love that it looks aged and that it has a story to it."

While you're collecting those pieces of art, be sure to scout some for the kitchen. "There's always a focus on making the kitchen a room in the house and not a machine for cooking," says Giannasio. That can be accomplished by hanging art in the kitchen, or using open shelves to display items that show off your personality, she says.


Energy Bars

? cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
? cup roasted sunflower seeds or other chopped nuts
1 cup raisins, cranberries or other chopped dried fruit
1 cup chopped Michigan cherries
2 cups rolled or instant oats
2 cups toasted rice cereal, such as Rice Krispies
? cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter
? cup packed brown sugar
? cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine peanuts, sunflower seeds (or other nuts), raisins (or other dried fruit), cherries, oats and rice cereal in a large bowl.

In a second microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar and corn syrup microwave on high until bubbling, one to two minutes. Add vanilla and stir until blended.

Pour the peanut butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir until coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Coat your fingers with cooking spray and then press down firmly. Let stand for about one hour to harden. Cut into 16 bars.

Individually wrap bars in plastic and keep at room temperature for up to one week or freeze for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature.

Nutritional Info Per Bar: 300 calories 10 g fat (1 g saturated, 4 g monounsaturated) 48 g carbohydrate (4 g fiber, 22 g sugar) 8 g protein 72 mg sodium


He also says an orange liqueur is a must-have for an at-home bar, especially if you have a penchant for margaritas. Cointreau is the classic option and is used in most recipes where triple sec is required.

Natural Liquor Infusion Seasonal Subscription

Here's your chance for extra credit: purchase a dehydrator to make dried garnishes with the freshest seasonal fruit and herbs as they do at Bemelmans. Or, you can treat yourself to this seasonal garnishes subscription for crafting fabulous cocktails in seconds. And don't forget to stock up on pitted Castelvetrano olives à la Bemelmans!


Soap Making Recipes, Tips & Tutorials

Teach Soap is the premier site for soap making tutorials, soap recipes, soap making tips and everything you’d want to know about making soap and other handcrafted products including lip balms, lotions, bath fizzies and much more.

From beginners to seasoned soap makers, Teach Soap has something for everyone! We cover everything from soap making recipes for beginners, to more complex cold process soap making recipes and techniques.

Learn how to make the Pumpkin Pie Cold Process Soap.


5) Restore Your Recipes

If you followed all these steps and Cook'n still will not launch on your computer, then there is a real possibility that your recipe database has become corrupt. One way to test to see if this is the reason Cook'n fails to launch on your computer is to rename the Documents/Cook'n12/workspace/data folder to data-old and then try to launch Cook'n. Here are more detailed steps to help you do this:

  1. Launch Windows Explorer
  2. Double-click Documents
  3. Double-click Cook'n12
  4. Double-click workspace
  5. Rename data to data-old
  6. Launch Cook’n
  1. Exit Cook'n if it is running
  2. Open Finder
  3. Double-click Documents
  4. Double-click Cook'n12
  5. Double-click workspace
  6. Rename data to data-old
  7. Launch Cook’n

Yes. This happened because computer software industry has shifted. If you take a look at Best Buy or Walmart or Sam's Club or Costco or Office Max or any retailer for that matter and you will see that they don't even have a software department in their stores anymore!

Everything has gone mobile. And, software companies have all moved to a SaaS Business Model (Software as a Service). We made a similar change. We sent several e-mail messages announcing this service in April, 2016. You can click here to read all about the new Membership Service and see answers to frequently asked questions.

The bottom line is: you can keep using the Cook'n product that you purchased forever without paying anything more. We're only charging for services. Services like Cloud Storage & Sync services, tech support services, and other web services like Capture and Scan, and upgrades are available to subscribers only.

We simply cannot afford to offer these services for free. For example, we must pay a fee each month to store your recipe data in the cloud and all those food photos take up a lot of space! We must pay for every read and write operation too which means that every time you sync to the Cloud, it costs us money. This is a cost that we didn't have a few years ago and every month, these Cloud costs grow higher and higher.

This is not a land grab. We're not screwing the general public. Kathy and I have literally put everything on the line. We spent everything we have and more to provide something amazing to our customers. and we have delivered. Cook'n is really amazing and it works great. There's no other kitchen tool quite like it. We hope our customers will value that and subscribe. In fact, we've bet the farm on it!

The good news is that you can subscribe to one of the membership plans for as low as $4.95 per month.

Sign up today and join with us as we move forward into a new era of Cook'n!!