Big Chill


Join me today as I welcome Lisa Tilley from BigChill.com

I kid you not – you have to check out their cool appliances!

Welcome, Lisa!


From as far back as we can remember, kitchens have represented the most important part of any household. The fact that most families spend the greatest part of their day together in the kitchen proves how vital a part it plays in the household.

And since their development, refrigerators have been a staple in any kitchen anywhere in the world, creating and telling stories about the families that own them.

Over the years, refrigerator has grown from being a simple commodity to a representation of style and design expertise, a foundation of the kitchen.

People at BigChill.com pride themselves on taking all of these inspirational designs, capturing their nostalgia and creating modern made classic refrigerators. Check out this timeline of the refrigerator for a look into the early days of the fridge, and to see what inspired the Modern Made Classics of today.

Find out more about the company at  BigChill.com

Chef AJ Early from Boise, Idaho, shares tips on throwing a perfect 4th of July BBQ. Welcome, AJ!

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and there is no other holiday that is more perfect for a backyard BBQ. Whether you invite friends, family, or both, you’ll want to make sure that everything goes smoothly, and that everyone has a great time. Follow these steps to make sure your patriotic shindig is perfect.

Comfortable Seating

 The first thing you want to do is make sure there will be a place for everyone to sit and enjoy themselves. If you don’t have enough outdoor furniture to accommodate all of your guests, you have a few options. First, you could rent chairs from a local party rental store, or even buy some inexpensive ones to have on hand.
You could also bring some of your indoor chairs outdoors, or utilize things like coolers, crates, or bails of hay as seating. The last option is to ask guests to bring portable chairs along with them.

Get Rid Of Pests

 This time of year, mosquitoes are out with a fury. They are pesky little critters, but they can also carry dangerous diseases, and even a few swarming around will surely dampen your guest’s spirits.
There are a lot of ways you can protect your backyard from mosquitoes: place traps or use a bug misting system, and make sure to get rid of any standing water before the event.
Utilizing a canopy or porch with mesh curtains is always a safe bet if you have those items, otherwise, you’ll want to take extra measures for your backyard BBQ. You can spray pesticides beforehand, but if chemicals aren’t your thing, burn citronella candles or torches, or place fans blowing outward from the party area. Mosquitoes have a hard time flying in wind.

Prepare Your Grill

 The next step to ensure BBQ perfection is to make sure your grill is ready to go before the big day. According to Tony Roma’s pitmaster, there are five steps to preparing your grill for a gathering. First, give it a good scrub  down and make sure it’s clean and free of debris. Second, make sure you have enough fuel to get you through, and if you’re in doubt, grab some backup. Third, make sure you have all the tools and utensils that you’ll need. Next, grab an instant read thermometer. This will not only help ensure your meat is cooked properly, it will also help keep you from overcooking it. Last, make sure you have a grill light or a flashlight. If you end up grilling after it gets dark, it will be very hard to tell when your food needs to be flipped or rotated without some direct light.


 Now that you’ve got the grill and the backyard prepared, it’s time to get crafty. You don’t have to go all-out for an outdoor event, but taking a little time to make everything look festive will delight your guests, especially the little ones. You can go super simple by using red, white and blue bandanas as placemats, grabbing some red, white, and blue flowers, and printing up some little flags to wrap around water bottles. You can also get extra
crafty with the kids by gathering together to make
these homemade“fireworks”
this cute DIY marbled red, white, and blue garland.
Image from All You
Image from Market Colors


Of course, the most important aspect of any backyard BBQ is the food. There is nothing more All-American than burgers and dogs, so that’s always a great option to go with, especially since you can have guests bring sides and desserts. But, if you want to escape tradition a little, this is my idea of the perfect 4th of July BBQ:
Start everyone off with this delicious grilled vegetable salsa:
Photo by Quentin Bacon
1 cup store-bought refrigerated fresh salsa
1/2 bell pepper (any color), grilled and diced
1/2 medium red onion, grilled and diced
Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high. In a large bowl, toss the pepper, onion, and oil.
Grill, turning occasionally, until tender and charred, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut the pepper and onion into 1/4-inch pieces and transfer to a bowl. Add the salsa and stir to combine.
Next, give everyone something a little different, yet still thoroughly America, with these root beer ribs:
2 racks baby back ribs
1 bottle (2 liters) root beer
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Place ribs in large baking dish. Pour all but 1 cup root beer over ribs. Sprinkle 2
tablespoons salt over ribs; cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight, turning once if possible. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove ribs from root beer and pat dry with paper towel. Discard root beer in pan; wipe pan dry. Place ribs back into pan. Add 1 cup water; cover tightly with foil. Cook 2 hours or until meat is nearly falling off the bone. Meanwhile, make root beer barbecue sauce: In small saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onion; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until onion is soft, stirring frequently. Add
remaining ingredients (including reserved 1 cup root beer and 1/2 teaspoon salt); heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Just before ribs hit the 2 hour mark in the oven, preheat grill for indirect grilling over medium-high heat. Put bones on cooler side of grill, bone side down. Brush with some Root Beer Barbecue Sauce and cook 10 to 15 minutes, then flip. Brush with sauce again and cook until ribs are lightly charred and meat is falling off bone. Serve with any remaining sauce.
Can’t forget the veggies! This succotash salad is super easy and a perfect addition to 4th of July:
1 pound fresh okra, trimmed
1 pt. cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Place mixture on cooking grate, and grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°). Grill tomatoes 3 minutes or just until they begin to pop. Turn okra, and grill, covered with grill lid, 2 to 3 more minutes or until tender. Transfer okra and tomatoes to a serving dish, and sprinkle with basil. Serve immediately.
Last, impress your guests by ditching the classic flag cake and going with this fruit-tart flag instead:
Photo by Tara Donne
Fill premade miniature tart shells or phyllo cups with sweet mascarpone cream (recipe below), then arrange on a tray and top with blueberries and halved strawberry slices to create stars and stripes.
Mascarpone Cream:
Beat an 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese and 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until smooth. Gently fold in 1/2 cup freshly whipped cream.


The last step to a perfect Fourth of July gathering is of course, the fireworks. If your town or a nearby one has a great fireworks show, start the grilling early in the afternoon so you can all head down to save a spot early. Otherwise, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plenty of fun to go around. When you get the show
going, start with the smallest fireworks first, and work your way up to the bigger ones. Building anticipation is a great way to keep your guests entertained the whole evening, especially the little ones. Just remember to
firework safety, and clean up everything once it is cool enough to touch.
AJ Earley is a personal chef, freelance writer, and root beer float enthusiast from Boise, Idaho.


SS logoWhen we arrived home from vacation, I had the most wonderful box of goodies awaiting from ScentSicles.

If you haven’t heard of them, ScentSicles are the first scented ornaments that make any Christmas tree smell like you’ve trekked into the woods and cut it down yourself.

ScentSicles scented ornaments bring the magic to the season by allowing Christmas enthusiasts everywhere to have all the convenience of an artificial tree but with the real-tree smell so many of us desire.  It’s true – no messy pine needles but still the real tree smell that makes it feel like Christmas!

SS3 low rez

And the ScentSicles are so easy to use. Just hang on your tree, inhale the wonderful fresh-cut tree smell, and relax knowing that there aren’t any pesky needles to clean up. ScentSicles holiday scents include: White Winter Fir, Christmas Time Spruce, It’s a Wonderful Pine, SnowBerry Wreath, and Two Dashes of Cinnamon.

SS 7 low rez

ScentSicles offer the following products:

  • ScentSicles Table Ornaments – the ultimate housewarming gift!  Better than a candle and always “on”, this festive jar filled with holiday scents is a safe way to infuse the home with the smells of the season…without the flame.
  • AutoSticks – the annual holiday trek to Grandma’s house wouldn’t be complete without the smell of Christmas for that car ride.  Just hang a ScentSicles Autostick from the rearview mirror or hide under your seat, and let the memories begin!
  • Decorative Ornaments – one of the most popular holiday traditions is decorating a Christmas tree.  Enjoy new decorative ornament designs including gold and silver glitter.  Beautiful and fragrant!
  • Scented Sprigs – go from Grinch to Cindy Lou in a flash with the aroma of perfectly sized smaller ScentSicles ideal for tucking in a wreath, placing in a tablescape or hiding in a mantle display!

I’d noticed ScentSicles in a few of our local stores a month or so ago, so when the opportunity arose to review their products I jumped at it.

I can’t say enough about how much I like the scents and the ease of use (my idea of a perfect combination!).

As a special holiday surprise, one lucky randomly drawn winner will receive a ScentSicles Gift Package! The gift package includes ScentSicles ornaments, AutoSticks and their new table ornament!

Just post a comment below about your favorite scent of the season to enter!

For more information, visit: www.scentsicles.com

And be sure to watch this fun video with Jack:


A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a company that had a unique, acid free ornament storage system.

They asked if I’d like to see a sample and blog about it.

So, of course I said,”sure!”

Oh, my goodness gracious!

I never expected the “sample” to be incredibly awesome!

The company is Ultimate Christmas Storage.

The sample they sent is called the 830 Ultimate Ornament Box. And it is the ultimate.

First, I was impressed with the size of the box. Measuring 22 x 16 x 7 1/2 inches, it is meant for some serious storage.

The beautiful red moire fabric covering the box is quite dazzling and gives it a very luxurious appearance. And it came in heavy vinyl zippered bag for storage to keep everything dust-free and protected.

Once I took the lid off the box, I was even more impressed. The top tray holds 28 ornaments and the compartments are adjustable. The 4-inch deep bottom compartment holds 16 oversized items, again with adjustable compartments.

These storage boxes are a little pricey up front, but when you think of the years and years of use you’ll get out of them, it seems like a good investment.

Ultimate Christmas Storage offers several fabric options for the boxes as well as sizes.

They also have everyday storage boxes and archival supplies. From the sample I received, this company knows how to offer high-quality item meant to last.

For more information, visit their website at http://www.ultimatehomestorage.com

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