Our Favorite Maple Cookie Recipe – Fall Maple Cookies

Maple cookies, along with a warm drink on a snappy fall evening, are a delightfully decadent treat that will warm your heart. Our favorite maple cookie recipe is easy to make yet is complex in flavor. At its heart is its maple flavor through the addition of real maple syrup — a genuine North American substance that is made from the nectar of sugar maple trees.

Maple Syrup in North America

There are a lot of legends about how maple was first discovered; however, by the time the Europeans landed in the northeast section of the Americas, the Native Americans had discovered how to extract this treasured substance out of sugar maple trees. They shared this knowledge with the Europeans who, in turn, added their skills of storage and transportation into the mix to make maple syrup a big business that has spread throughout the world.

A New England Treat

Although the Canadian province of Quebec is the top producer of maple syrup today (6.5 million gallons per year), various other New England states and Northern Midwestern are known for their production as well. Vermont leads in American production, followed by New York, Maine, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Maple syrup production is a lengthy process: it takes about 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of pure maple syrup. For this reason, many of the bottles of “maple syrup” that you see on the shelves of your local grocery store use imitation maple flavor in their recipes.

The Benefits of Maple Sugar

Although maple syrup is probably best known for its addition to breakfast foods like pancakes, French toast and waffles, it is also a fabulous choice to substitute for cane sugar in baking. Maple syrup has health benefits that other processed and refined sugars do not. Maple syrup is high in antioxidants as well as zinc, potassium, riboflavin, calcium and magnesium. Did you know that during the Civil War, Union households regularly used maple sweetener to boycott cane sugar? This is because cane sugar was a product that used slave labor in its production. Maple syrup has been used in recipes for centuries and can be used in main courses, soups, desserts and sauces. If you’re looking to substitute maple syrup for sugar, ¾ cup of maple syrup for every cup of sugar.

What Kind of Syrup Should I Use for Maple Cookies?

When you’re making our favorite maple cookies, be sure to look for real maple syrup — not just “real maple-flavored syrup” or other misleading wording on labels. The cheap “maple-flavored” stuff is a highly refined, highly processed food. Its main ingredient is often high-fructose corn syrup. Real maple syrup will cost you more because of its labor-intensive production. For each bottle of genuine maple syrup, thousands of trees were likely tapped, miles of tubing were installed, and thousands of gallons of watery maple sap were boiled in a process called “sugaring” to condense it to the product we all know and love.

So, be prepared to pay a bit more. Real maple syrup is worth it, however, even if it is a splurge. Save some of that real maple syrup for our delicious maple syrup cookies. This golden, delicious all-natural, vegan, pure and naturally healthy substance is a delicious addition to your maple cookie recipes.

Kitchen and Serving Essentials at Miles Kimball

Our maple cookie recipe makes about 60 cookies, so they are great to make and freeze or share with guests who may drop by in time for a fall afternoon treat. Serve with coffee or tea from accessories and tea boxes available at Miles Kimball. For classic percolated taste, consider a tried-and-true stainless-steel coffee percolator from Miles Kimball for perfect coffee every time. Use our Chef’s Pride Insulated Coffee Carafe to keep your coffee fresh. (Hint: Our carafes also keep hot water hot, which was quickly boiled up in our Whistling Tea Kettles by Home-Style Kitchen™.)

Maple Cookies’ Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 cup real maple syrup

2 teaspoons Watkins Pure Vanilla Extract  

2 teaspoons baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

4 cups all-purposed flour (bleached or unbleached)

1/3 cup granulated sugar (for decoration)

Maple Sugar Cookies: Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F (or 175° C)
  2. Grease several cookie sheets with your preferred non-stick method (Hint: We love our baking sheet with red silicone handles by Home-Style Kitchen™)
  3. Cream butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl with our PosiGrip Stick Blender Set from Home Marketplace
  4. Add egg, maple syrup and vanilla, using measuring spoons and measuring cups, available at Miles Kimball
  5. Mix until well blended
  6. Sift flour, salt and baking soda together with our mini flour sifter by Chef’s Pride
  7. Stir into sugar mixture until well blended

At this point, some cooks have said that the dough is easier to work with if it is refrigerated for about an hour.

Shop Miles Kimball

Miles Kimball has all of the kitchen essentials and cookware you need to whip up maple cookies — or any other cookie, dessert or treat you prefer — in no time at all. We have a fantastic selection of silverware, silverware sets —even kitchen organization and storage products.

Let Us Know How Your Cookies Turned Out

Did you make our favorite maple cookie recipe? Do you have any tips or tricks to make our maple cookie recipe even better? Leave a comment below to let us know! We would love to hear from you.

Get Your Outdoor Furniture Ready for Fall

There’s a scent of smoke in the air from a nearby fireplace, there’s a slight snap in the evening breeze and pumpkin spice is on the menu at your favorite coffee shop. These events can only mean one thing: autumn is getting closer. September 22 will be here before you know it; although 2020 has been a strange year, time continues to march ahead!

Regardless of whether or not you’re happy to bring out the sweaters and think about those winter clothing essentials, fall is the time to do a bit of cleanup in your outdoor spaces. In fact, fall and winter preparation chores may have already been added to your to-do list to complete before that first frost. Luckily, Miles Kimball and Kimball Corner have compiled some must-do chores to get your home ready for the fall and winter season, including chores that include your outdoor furniture.

Clean and Cover Your Outdoor Furniture

The wildly fluctuating temperatures can be tough on your outdoor furniture, grills and outdoor structures. When these items (which are sometimes a big investment) aren’t properly cared for and protected during the winter season, their lifespans are reduced considerably. If you’re like most Americans and can’t afford to replace your outdoor furniture on a yearly basis, fall is the time to winterize outdoor furniture in order to extend its life.

After a full summer, your outdoor furniture and your outdoor rocking chairs may be ready to take a break. Clean these items thoroughly with a pressure washer or a garden hose before saying goodbye to them for the winter. Sweep off debris, add some gentle detergent to a bucket, scrub with a good water broom and then rinse well with water. Clean the cushions and wash the covers, if possible. If you’re lucky enough to have a designated space in a shed or a garage where they’re covered, this is ideal. However, patio furniture covers are also a great option if a covered space is not available.

Patio furniture covers are also great to use even if you have a covered space. They add a bit more protection to your patio furniture during storage. Miles Kimball has many different styles of furniture and equipment covers in high-quality vinyl and in a variety of styles, colors and shapes that will protect your outdoor patio furniture and other investments. Shop Miles Kimball for chair covers, grill covers, table covers, HVAC covers and lawn mower covers that will fit your spaces perfectly.

Clean Gutters

Leftover debris, leaves and nests displaced from summer storms can also be left over in your gutters and downspouts and can clog your gutters. Ideally, gutters should be cleaned twice a year — in fall and in spring. Clogged gutters can lead to wet basements, interior and exterior damage, mold growth and other undesirable consequences.

Whether you hire a service to clean your gutters or you choose to do it yourself, Miles Kimball makes cleaning your gutters an easier task. It’s important to have a sturdy ladder that can be placed on a solid surface (not on landscaping rocks, woodpiles or other moveable objects). Also, wear a long-sleeved shirt, work pants and high-quality garden gloves. Miles Kimball has some great options available in our gardening tools, such as our NFL Sport Utility Gloves, our Gorilla Garden Hands and our set of two Garden Hands™.

While you’re getting up close and personal with your gutters, it’s also great to inspect the fascia boards, your shingles and the condition of the gutters you’re emptying. Note any cracks, splits or damage. Gather your tools (gutter scoops, trowels, buckets, garden hoses, fire nose nozzles, spray nozzles). Pressure washers are ideal for this chore. Even better? Look for special garden hose attachments that are designed specifically for cleaning gutters. Miles Kimball has a convenient home and gutter flusher tool and a telescopic gutter brush that will help make this job more convenient.

Caring for Hoses and Outdoor Spigots

Cold climates can also mean winterizing your outdoor water sources and spigots. Disconnect your hoses and other fittings that are attached to your outdoor spigots. Now is the time to inspect these spigots and other fixtures for leaks or drips and to completely drain them. To do this, shut off the water line to that space and then let the spigot open until all of the water drains out. It is important to remember to close the spigot after this step. Cover your outdoor spigots with tight-fitting, outdoor faucet socks/covers, such as our outdoor faucet covers and faucet sock sets. These insulated covers contain Thinsulate® insulation that help save and protect your outdoor faucets from damage that can occur in cold weather.

Organize and Tidy Outdoor Spaces

Grandma once said that “everything should have a place.” When it comes to getting your outdoor areas ready for fall and winter, this saying has never been truer. Tidy your outdoor lawn equipment: bring these tools inside, organize them with our garden tool organizer or corner garden tool rack and keep them secure throughout the winter to extend their lives. Miles Kimball has a great selection of outdoor storage and organization items to help get your outdoor spaces in top shape. Protect your wood piles with tarps and our set of four tarp clamps to keep your wood free from moisture and bad weather. Shop bungee cords and bungee cord sets at Miles Kimball that are great for multiple uses.

Fall Prep is Easy with Miles Kimball

Getting your outdoor furniture, tools and home ready for the fall isn’t hard when you know where to look for the right tools to help you get the job done quickly and easily. Miles Kimball has unique fall preparation items and goods — as well as the best outdoor lighting, garden décor and more that’s great to enjoy during the warmer months.

Stay Healthy and Hydrated This Summer

Ah, summer. It’s the time of year when we enjoy the outdoors and take advantage of the wonderful warmer months. It is also the time of year when increased outdoor activity means that we need to up our hydration game. We’ve all heard that we should hydrate well, particularly during times of activity. Staying hydrated for optimal health is easier than you think. Read on to learn more about hydration and your health.

Hydration and Your Health: The Facts

Water makes up about 60% of the adult human body. However, did you know that this percentage changes throughout our lives? In utero, our bodies are made up of 94% water; infants are 75% water. As we age, our body’s water composition changes: the average elderly individual’s water composition can drop to 50%. As we take a closer look into water composition, individual organs vary too. The organ in the body that’s made up of the most water is the lungs (83% water), followed by the muscles and kidneys (79% water), the brain and the heart (73% water) the skin (64% water) — even the bones (31% water)! Staying hydrated is vital for your organs to function properly. Hydration regulates your body’s temperature, acts as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord, helps with digestion, forms saliva and lubricates joints.

How Much Water Should I Drink?

We’ve all been told that we should drink about eight glasses of water per day; however, this is a myth. The truth is that our water needs change and depend upon a lot of factors. These factors include our activity levels, how much we sweat, the climate we live in as well as our overall health. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, need more water. Eight glasses of water or liquids per day a great starting point. Take into account your personal activity levels (and the other factors described above) when determining how much water to drink per day.

How Can I Tell If I’m Getting Enough Water?

You can always tell if you’re getting enough water by the color of your urine. Of course, if you’re rarely running to the bathroom to urinate (less than four times a day is a warning sign), you’re definitely not getting enough water. That said, the color of well-hydrated urine is light yellow. In addition to urine, your hydration level can directly affect how you feel. If you are mildly dehydrated, you’ll likely have a headache, have dry skin or bad breath, you’ll feel tired or you will be unlikely to focus. Sudden and unusual cravings for sugar can also mean that you’re dehydrated. This is because dehydration interferes with many of the body’s function, including its ability to gain access to those stores of glucose. More severe signs that you’re not getting enough water is feeling dizzy or lightheaded. You may feel increasingly thirsty; if you’re thirsty that actually means that you’re already a bit dehydrated.

What are Some Easy Ways I Can Up My Water Intake?

Luckily, it’s fairly easy to stay hydrated. Although good, plain water is the best, the good news is that many other things count as a liquid, including herbal tea, coffee, milk, soup, juice, smoothies — even fruit! Love watermelon? Cut up some watermelon and take advantage of this great source of water; make your melons fun to eat with our stainless-steel cookie scoops for some decorative and easy-to-create melon balls. All of these items can count toward your daily water intake. If you prefer, filtered water, check out our clear water filtration pitcher. Keep it in the fridge for cold, filtered water to sip on throughout the day in your colorful 16-ounce insulated tumblers. Drink your coffee or tea out of a special personalized mug. Miles Kimball offers our personalized tea bag mug or our popular personalized coffee mug. Have a favorite NFL team? Check out our NFL coffee mug from Miles Kimball. Freshly squeezed juice is easy to enjoy and helps with hydration. Our 16-ounce citrus juicer by Home Marketplace is a great way to enjoy fresh orange juice. Keep your drinks cold with ice cubes, made with our aluminum ice cube trays.

Do I Need Sports Drinks?

With their fun flavors, sports drinks are often a favorite among people — both young and old. These flavored drinks are made mostly with water. They are also enhanced with electrolytes (sodium and potassium), as well as carbohydrates, and may contain glucose, fructose or high-fructose corn syrup. Some of the newer drinks are enhanced with vitamins and protein. Some studies have shown that individuals who are continuously and vigorously exercising may lose a lot of electrolytes (such as sodium, potassium, calcium, chlorine, phosphates and magnesium). Electrolyte depletion can cause cramps and heat illness. If you are exercising in warm weather and are sweating a lot, these sports drinks may be beneficial to you. However, experts also agree that water is still the best solution for high-performance athletes. Electrolytes can be replenished without the use of those sports drinks, which may include added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Instead, opt for bananas, coconut water, dairy and avocado to replace your lost electrolytes.

Hydration and Health

It’s important to stay hydrated, and we’ve explored the ways that you can stay hydrated and healthy this summer. Do you have some tips and tricks that you’ve found to stay hydrated and healthy? What do you, your kids or your grandkids do to make staying hydrated for health fun? Leave a comment below to share.

Summer Garden Care

For avid gardeners, spring and summer are the high points of their year. These are the times when gardeners get to experiment with color, grow and nurture their outdoor plants and reap the rewards that can only come from caring for and tending to one’s own garden.

Gardening Tips for Weather Woes

From the time when those first tender new plants are planted to the end of summer, wild ranges of weather conditions can occur. These conditions can be particularly hard on flowers and outdoor plants. High winds, blistering heat, downpours and dry conditions can all affect how your garden thrives (or doesn’t thrive). Miles Kimball has some tips and gardening tricks for beginners — as well as for seasoned garden novices — that will help them get, and keep, their gardens in tip-top shape.

Pick the Right Plants and Flowers for Your Region

Although picking the right plants and flowers for your gardens, raised gardens, hanging baskets and planters may seem like no-brainers, these are quite often gardeners’ downfalls. It’s vitally important to take where you live into account. Have your Midwestern heart set on tropical plumeria, hibiscus or bromeliad? Planting tropical plants like these in places that don’t get enough humidity and sun is a surefire way to be disappointed. Instead, check out this USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. This is the standard by which many nurseries and plants are rated and will let you know where your plants will thrive. A plant’s zone is usually prominently displayed, either on its container or as an information note added to the pot’s soil. This will let you its zone, what type of water level the plant needs and what type of sun requirements are necessary. If you’re looking for easy flowers to grow, it may be as simple as finding the flowers that are native, or at least conducive, to your agricultural zone.

Sun or Shade

When you’re determining how to plant a garden that’s best suited for your home and its environment, it’s also important to take your home’s sun or shade levels into account. As a rule of thumb and as a gardening tip, you should always remember these four facts:

  1. The north side of your house receives the least amount sun;
  2. The south side is always the sunniest and is often the hottest;
  3. The east side of your home is a space where your flowers and plants will receive the gentle morning sun; and
  4. Your west-facing plants will likely face the brutal brunt of the afternoon setting sun, which can be very hot in the summer months.

Plan your garden by first learning which part of your home faces what direction. It is also vital to consider the microclimates in your yard. Microclimates are affected by large shade trees, unique angles and other structures.

Miles Kimball makes it super-simple to find easy flowers to grow. Consider our roll-out seed mats that were designed by a horticulturist and are created according to their sun-loving or shade-loving flower needs. Shop our shady annual tree ring, shady garden roll out seed mat or our sunny tree ring. If you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds, check out our butterfly and hummingbird roll out seed mat. Love sunflowers? Planting them is easy as preparing your ground, rolling out our sunflower garden mat, watering and watching your sunflowers grow. Check out all of our plant and garden rolls for an easy garden to grow and to tend to.

Water Wisely

Everyone knows that all flowers and plants need water. However, watering your garden can be tricky. It’s often tough to know when to water and how much to water. Watering issues like watering too much, not watering enough and watering at the wrong time, can lead to poor plant progress. Experts all agree that watering in the morning is best for your plants. This is because the temperature is cooler: this gives the plants more time to absorb the moisture. Watering during the afternoon heat can cause water to evaporate quickly; alternately, watering at night can sometimes cause mildew. Remember that young seedlings and young tender plants need the most TLC, so plan on caring for your plants the most during their beginning stages.

Mulch

Mulch not only can make a garden look tidier, this extra layer of protection over the roots can help keep that summer heat at bay. A good layer of mulch also helps retain moisture, helps keep the soil cool, adds organic matter to the soil (mulch decomposes) and helps deter weeds. Garden tip: Adding three to five inches of organic mulch (pine needles, cardboard, wood chips, straw) will benefit your garden exponentially!

Crush the Competition: Weed and Dead Head

Weeds not only make a garden look untended, they rob your flowers’ and plants’ much-needed moisture. Keep weeds pulled. This, of course, is easier said than done. Weeds take advantage of the nutrients in the soil and often seem to grow hardier (and faster!) than your flowers or plants. A little weeding every day can greatly help your garden’s weed situation. While you’re weeding, this is also a good time to “dead-head.” This simply means snapping off the dried, spent or waning flowers, leaves or plants so your flowers can use their energy to produce new buds.

Miles Kimball has a great selection of lawn and gardening tools that will help you keep your lawn and your garden in top shape. Check out our folding garden seat, our three-in-one leaf race, our flexible fence edging and our extendable garden shovel.

Sit Back and Enjoy

Take time to enjoy your garden by adding some comfortable outdoor furniture, some bird baths and bird feeders and some spinners, chimes or windsocks, available at Miles Kimball. Gardens are hard work, but with our garden tips, you will see just how rewarding gardening can be!

Ideas for Gorgeous & Electricity-Free Outdoor Lighting

During the warmer months of the year, your yard naturally becomes more of a focal point for activity and entertaining. Gardening and watching your flowers bloom is an enjoyable hobby, of course, as you proudly behold your efforts lead to a gorgeous, colorful yard display. If you have young children, chances are they’re playing in the back yard, so you find yourself out there with them much more frequently. It can be so satisfying and pleasurable spending time in an attractive, well-tended yard.

When the sunsets and all is dark, however, we may not be quite as struck by the beauty of our landscape. Fortunately, thanks to today’s advanced solar technology, there are many exciting options and ideas for lighting the front of your house, deck, patio, stairs and back yard. Not only can you be creative, but you can add illumination without having to worry about electricity costs and hazards.

Outdoor Solar LED Lighting Basics

With the development of LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs, especially ones that run on solar power, outdoor lighting possibilities have expanded enormously. LED’s produce light through the use of a semiconductor material filled with electrons. When an electric current hits this semiconductor, the electrons move to fill electron “holes” in the material, and energy is released in photons of light. Basically, LED technology has made it possible to produce light using much less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.

Outdoor lighting using solar-powered LED bulbs is comprised of a solar panel, battery, control electronics and a light fixture. During the day, the battery collects energy from the sun’s rays, which is stored in the battery. After the sun goes down, the electronics trigger charging to stop and the light to go on. The fixture will radiate light until either there’s no charge left in the battery, or the sun comes up.

With these lights, which don’t rely on electricity and therefore need no plugs or outlets, you can basically place them wherever you want that’s accessible to sunlight. Areas that receive several hours of direct daytime sun are ideal. Outdoor lighting ideas include using them to light the walkway to your front door, illuminate special features of your yard, or add of touch of art to your garden and patio, as discussed below.

Outdoor Lighting Ideas

1. Sparkling StringsSolar LED String Lights are an excellent way to bring more light to your yard and patio after nightfall. They come in an assortment of hues — many are designed to automatically rotate among a menu of colors — and are made with a weather-resistant battery and solar panel, thereby affording electricity-free outdoor illumination. When used as pathway lights along the walkway to your doorstep, they not only look elegant, but help make it safer for anyone visiting in the evening. They can also be used at the base of the riser or under the nose of any steps outside your door, making for a safer stairway climb.

Another way to add accents to your yard with solar string lights is to place them along the top railing of a deck, raised patio or enclosed hot tub. It’s surprising how much ambience is added by these softly lit strings when you’re enjoying a warm summer evening relaxing in your back yard.

2. Sophisticated Stakes – Another type of outdoor solar LED fixture that comes in a variety of designs — traditional, modern and everything-in-between — are stake-mount path and accent lights. With the versatility of these electricity-free fixtures, you can highlight just about anything you like in your outdoor landscape, including walkways, plant-bed borders, koi ponds, unique plants, outdoor sculptures or other artwork. Have some fun being creative and experimenting with lighting effects.

For those who like a more dramatic look, try installing solar-powered spotlights aimed at higher-profile features of your property, such as unusual trees, boulders, and large fountains or sculptures. Spotlights can be strategically placed in front of these structures to provide artistic silhouettes against an exterior wall, like the front of a residence. Other types of fixtures provide all the art themselves in the form of eye-catching, multicolored light displays.

3. Dazzling Drops – Try using strings of droplet-shaped LED bulbs to add a delightful, whimsical appearance to trees, trellises or pergolas. Most solar LED strings, including this type, automatically switch on at night and return to charging mode during the day. However, there are some that include remote controls to adjust brightness and timing.

4. White Light Warning – Besides being decorative and preventing slip-and-fall accidents, outdoor lighting can serve a very important security function. Illuminating areas of darkness deters thieves or vandals, who depend on shadows and low visibility to mask their criminal activities. With solar-powered LED convenience, fixtures triggered by motion detectors shine bright light on outdoor areas — which unlit, would leave you and your valuables vulnerable to theft.

Other ways to combine outdoor illumination with added protection against unwanted visitors are solar-powered fixtures made to deter nighttime animals or insects. Equipped with motion detectors and ultra-sonic frequency dischargers, animal-repelling fixtures discourage foxes, cats, pigeons, rodents and other animal trespassers using light and high-frequency sound. Solar-powered LED insect zappers concurrently emit white light to enhance visibility for people, and purple UV light to kill pests.

By exploring today’s outdoor lighting options, you can affordably highlight the most attractive features of your garden or patio. So, when blazing hot summer days cool down to more pleasant evenings, you can unwind on your patio surrounded by enchanting illumination. Better yet, share the de-“light” by inviting family or friends over for an evening get-together.

How to Pack for a Picnic with Essentials from Miles Kimball

It’s a gorgeous summer Sunday. Your plans to get some housework done today fade as soon as you look out the window and see the sun playing on the softly rustling tree leaves. No, this is a day for a picnic with your family. A few phone calls later, you have a plan to meet your sister and her crew at the park by a nearby lake. Now, the question is, what picnic items will you need? Fortunately for you, you’ve been a devoted Miles Kimball fan for years, so you have everything on-hand for a perfect afternoon outdoors.

Your Picnic Checklist

Because a picnic is essentially a “moveable feast,” your thoughts turn to the food you’ve agreed to supply: your famous potato salad, hot dogs and buns, and a cake (chocolate, your spouse has insisted). You head to the kitchen, and pretty soon, the whole family is down there with you, risen from their beds by the smell of boiling potatoes and rising cake batter in the oven.

In a couple hours, the food is ready, and the family is — well, on their way to being ready. Now for the “moveable” part of that feast you’ve prepared. You already have hot dogs, condiments and buns handy, and you pull out your Bun and Hot Dog Keeper Set, one of your first Miles Kimball purchases. Next comes that spectacular potato salad, the recipe for which you keep top secret. Into the largest of your cheery, summer-themed 6-piece Strawberry Mixing and Storing Bowls it goes. These bowls are perfect for picnics, with their plastic snap-on lids. You start whistling as you pack the picnic lunch. This is getting fun.

Now your cake is ready to frost, and your youngest insists on helping. You hesitantly agree, wondering how much of that frosting will go onto the cake versus into her mouth and all over her chubby little 4-year-old cheeks. Oh well. Once the cake is ready, you pop it into your Miles Kimball 12” Cake Carrier. Check.

It’s time to start packing up the car with the help of your spouse and oldest son. Good thing you purchased that trunk organizer last summer, which included a cooler to keep perishable items fresh. You know how important it is to keep food items cool in the summer heat, especially things like your potato salad. Hopefully your sister will also remember her picnic essentials, like that Miles Kimball Double Decker Insulated Food Travel Tote you gave her last Christmas. She loved it, of course, since you had it personalized with her name.

More Picnic Items to Have On-Hand

Everything seems ready, but you wrack your brain trying to think of anything else you might have forgotten. That’s when your little girl comes outside carrying her Melissa & Doug Cutie-Pie Butterfly camp chair, and you can’t resist sweeping her up in your arms and kissing her, she’s so adorable. The sight of her little chair also reminds you of a few more items for your picnic. You run into the garage and grab the deluxe picnic table cover with cushions, which will make it so much nicer for everyone to sit at those public picnic tables and benches, which can be so dirty sometimes. You know your niece Jenny will especially appreciate this, since she’s always excessively paranoid about microbes.

But wait. What if there’s not enough room for everything on one picnic table? Or worse, what if there’re no picnic tables left? What time is it? We better leave soon, you think, before all the tables get taken. Suddenly calm is restored as you remember you actually purchased two of those amazing red folding picnic tables from Miles Kimball a couple years ago, since they were so handy and reasonably priced. We can always use those, you think, if we miss out on getting a picnic table. Plus, we could set them up right on the shore of the lake, in any pretty, shady spot of our choice. You recall that the folding tables even have special beverage holders for your brother-in-law Eddie to put his favorite beer. Your heartbeat returns to normal as you fetch the efficiently compact tables. Thank you, Miles Kimball.

Un-Pestered and Grateful

Finally, everyone is in the car and you’re backing down the driveway. You decide to text your sister once more to remind her to get ice for the 5-Section Condiment Server she’s bringing. Your mouth is watering as you already anticipate a hot dog with onions, relish and mustard. Just as you’re pressing “Send,” an annoying fly lands on your wrist. Gross. But then, the one last thing you forgot flashes through your mind. Stop the car, honey. You get out and return to the kitchen, where you grab your Picnic-Size Food Umbrella. There is no way insects are going to ruin this delightful picnic.

Your kids laugh and play in the back seat during the drive to the lake. It’s one of those moments of joy and exhilaration, and gratitude is your attitude. You consider how lucky you are — a wonderful spouse and children, a beautiful day ahead, and everything to make it enjoyable with the help of Miles Kimball.

Your Guide to Decorative Garden Stakes

Decorative yard stakes are a fantastic way to add a little something extra to your lawn or garden. You can use them to celebrate holidays, welcome the seasons or let your neighbors know some of your interests. Take a look at these fun and cute garden stakes ideas.

Holiday Stakes

Decorative garden stakes are perfect for celebrating holidays, especially the less prominent ones. Christmas and Halloween involve a lot of decorating to begin with, but what about all the other holidays that pop up throughout the year?

Easter is a holiday that usually isn’t decorated for, but Easter yard stakes can bring some more color to your garden or lawn. With pastel colors and cute characters, they’re sure to catch the eye of anyone passing by. Check out these Easter bunny garden stakes that can be used to greet your guests. 

During July, you can show your patriotic side with some red, white and blue. Garden stakes are a great way to show your pride and celebrate America. You can go a more lively route with something like these patriotic dog stakes or you can choose something on the sophisticated side like these banner star stakes (to the right).

For St. Patrick’s Day, you can bring the luck of the Irish to your house with a personalized leprechaun stake with your last name on it. No matter the holiday, you can find the right garden stake to celebrate with.

Seasonal Decorative Plant Stakes

You can decorate your front yard with garden stakes that fit the season. Spring yard stakes are the perfect addition to your garden because they let you have flowers on display while waiting for your own to grow. Some good choices are tulip stakes or daisy stakes. They will bring some life to your garden and be a preview of what’s to come. If you don’t want flowers, some hummingbird stakes (to the left) will look beautiful in front of your house.

In the summer months, dress up your lawn or garden with beachy garden stakes like these summer boy and girl stakes. They’re a fun way to welcome the warmer months and kick off beach season. If you’re into a summer sport like golf, you can get this golf cart stake featuring solar power headlights that automatically turn on when it gets dark.

For autumn, this harvest truck stake will bring some fall flavor to your yard with the bright pumpkin a red truck bed. Plus, the wheels on the truck spin in the breeze for extra fun. You can swap this yard stake out with an adorable witch stake around Halloween. 

Garden Stakes That Light Up

If you want to add some extra light outside your home, solar-powered decorative plant stakes have you covered. These stakes soak up energy from the sun during the day to power their bulbs once night begins to fall. 

A set of solar balloon stakes can make your yard more festive. Place them along a walkway to light up a path for visitors and guests. You could also go with a color-changing butterfly stake (to the right). It comes with four butterflies that you can adjust with its flexible wires. Best of all, the butterflies put on a show by changing colors. For something more rustic, this metal tractor stake will provide a soft glow with its solar headlights.

Yard Stakes with a Car Theme

Garden stakes can also be terrific decorations for car enthusiasts. There’s no better way to show off your love for classic cars than through some lawn and garden decor.

This antique car stake not only features the font view of an antique car, but it also comes with solar-powered headlights and a welcome sign on the stake. It’s a fantastic way to greet anyone who might stop by your home.

For a sleeker design, a classic car stake is a good choice that will bring some nostalgia to your yard. This stake comes in a beautiful light blue color and the solar headlights turn on automatically at dusk.

The vintage car stake has an iconic yellow design that everyone will recognize. It’s a sturdy decoration that will help you remember the good old days every time you see it. 

CHAPTER 1. Loomings

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time tozz get to sea as soon as I can.

Animal Garden Stakes

Some of the most popular garden stake designs include animals. With choices from farm animals to pets, there’s something for everyone. 

You can stick to the classics with options like a cow yard stake. This stake will look right at home on your lawn. It also comes with a back hook so you can display it on a wall or fence. Another option is a set of duck family stakes. The momma duck comes with three little ducklings, making this decoration perfect for your human family. 

You can go more fantastical with this raincoat cat stake. The whimsical design features a cat standing on two legs in a yellow raincoat and holding an umbrella over its head. As a bonus, this yard stake doubles as a rain gauge because the cat holds a little glass jar to collect water. 

For those with a flair for the dramatic, a gorgeous peacock stake will take center stage in your lawn or garden. This brightly colored stake will draw the attention of all your neighbors and have your yard looking great. 

Other Yard and Garden Decorations

Don’t stop at just garden stakes when it comes to decorating your yard. At Miles Kimball, we have a wide selection of outdoor decor to help you make your home look its best. From birdbaths to garden flags, we have what you’re looking for. 

Best-Selling Puzzle Books

Who says that expanding the brain can’t be fun? Puzzle books have been popular for decades among adults and children alike. These books contain dozens, or even hundreds, of puzzles that test a person’s knowledge and/or ability to think. In many cases, they develop critical thinking skills — all in a way that’s charming and satisfying for the reader.

But what are the best puzzle books you can own? Seeing which books are popular, and why they are, is a good place to start. Miles Kimball is here to help with this look at our best-selling Brain Games puzzle books for adults and kids. You just might find something that provides hours of entertainment while helping you get a little smarter!

Word Puzzle Books

By far, the most popular puzzle books we sell — and the most popular puzzles period, for that matter — are word puzzles. As the name suggests, these puzzles involve working with words.

The two most common word puzzles are word search books and crossword puzzle books. Despite its popularity, word searches are one of the newest puzzle forms; they were created in 1968. To complete them, one must find all words on a provided list within a grid of letters. The words usually involve a certain theme and might be side-to-side, up-and-down, diagonal or even backward. Word finds can be a real brain challenge for children but are primarily a source of amusement for adults. Alternate versions involve finding words within a picture or using the remaining letters to form a phrase.

Crossword puzzles, which were created in 19th-century England, add knowledge and critical thinking to the mix. A grid of white- and black-shaded squares is provided, and the reader must fill the white squares with words or phrases by solving the provided clues. The clues can be as simple or as complicated as you want, meaning that all ages can test themselves with the right puzzle.

Both of these puzzle types fall into the larger category of paper-and-pencil word games. There are also letter arrangement games (e.g. word scrambles) and semantic games (e.g. Mad Libs). However, these are not as popular in book form. They’re most often seen in compilation books, book sets (pictured above) or in themed books that build puzzles around knowledge of a certain subject (such as our John Wayne puzzle book).

Picture Puzzle Books

Connect the dots puzzles are the third-most-popular type of puzzle book we sell behind word searches and crosswords. This puzzle — sometimes referred to as dot-to-dot or join the dot — is a form of a picture puzzle. Each page in the book has numbered dots spread across the sheet. (Letters can be used, too.) Drawing lines to connect them in the correct order creates a certain object such as a car or tree. These are some of the best puzzle books for kids as they test a young brain’s counting and sequencing ability. As a bonus, children can then engage their creativity by coloring in the picture.

This is by far the most common type of picture puzzle book we sell. However, you can find some other versions in our puzzle compilations and collections. Comparison puzzles are a popular way of testing one’s attention to detail. They involve placing two similar pictures side by side and asking the reader to find the differences between them. Sticker-by-number books are a fun variation of paint-by-number that doesn’t make a huge mess. The Hangman guessing game combines words and pictures for a classic good time, and the book versions create a one-player version by making the letters scratch-off clues.

Keep Your Mind Working

A puzzle collection is a great way to stimulate the brain, pass the time and have fun with. Take a break from the TV or gossip sites and test yourself with the best puzzle books for ages 5 to 95. They’re also an excellent gift for a family member or friend. Miles Kimball has been trusted for generations and will help you find unique puzzle books at affordable prices.

Logic Puzzle Books

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the most challenging puzzle category comes in here. But make no mistake: these are great books for anyone to own. These adult puzzle books keep your cognitive muscles active well into old age by expanding logic, reasoning, creative thinking and more. Our top-selling Sudoku books are a great example of this. Readers are provided with a 9×9 grid that’s subdivided into nine 3×3 blocks and partially filled with numbers. They must fill the remaining boxes so that all columns, rows and blocks contain the numbers 1 to 9. This puzzle type, which became popular in the 1980s, combines memory and logic while requiring high concentration.

The deductive reasoning book Who Done It? is another great way to test your skills. The reader is presented with a variety of brain challenges with a spy theme. They might need to solve a math riddle, answer comprehension questions after reading a paragraph of text or plan a mission using certain parameters. The best part is that some of the puzzles can be solved in multiple ways, meaning you can do them again later and find improved or alternative solutions.

Storage & Organization Ideas for Small Spaces

No matter where you live, whether you own your home or rent, it doesn’t take long for you to acquire a bunch of stuff. If you’re like most people and don’t have the option of having a large home, then you need to find a way to organize your belongings in the space that you have. Keeping all of these items organized and your house clutter-free can become an issue, and it may have you wondering how to organize a small space.

While dealing with stuff can be stressful and frustrating, don’t let it get to you. There are small space storage ideas that can keep your house clean and your belongings right where you need them. Below are some ideas on how to organize small spaces with lots of stuff.

Add Some Shelves

No matter how small your space is, there is always room for shelves. Since these come in a variety of different sizes, you have the ability to add them to any room in your home, as well as place them in cupboards and closets. When it comes to a small space storage solution, shelves have got it covered.

In your kitchen, adding shelves under your kitchen sink can keep your cleaning supplies and other items organized. This is probably one of the smallest cabinets in your kitchen, but with the right small space storage ideas, you can give sponges, brushes and other items their own place and keep your sink area free from clutter.

For that cupboard in your kitchen that is always cluttered with pots and pans, you can add a frying pan organizer. This gadget will keep your pans in their own place, as well as neatly stacked and easy to access. No longer will you have to make a lot of noise getting out the pan you need, and your cupboard will have more space for other cooking implements.

Should you find that your bathroom space is lacking and you are wondering how to organize the small space, you can also add shelves into this room. Whether it is a 3-tier bath tower with open wire shelves or a new bathroom cabinet, either of these will give you the extra space and ability to keep your bathroom products together and organized.

When it comes to adding shelves to your living room, you want something that is both functional and adds style to the room. Getting four tier wicker and metal shelves can accomplish both of those goals. You can store a lot on these shelves, including books, plants and decorative items, among other things. No matter what your small space storage needs, these shelves can give you the extra space you’re looking for to keep items neat and organized.

You can also add a wooden shoe rack by the front door to keep footwear out of the way and in a place where it can be easily found. This shelf is not only functional, but it’s also aesthetically pleasing. No matter what kind of décor you have in your home, this rack is sure to match it, as well as keep the entrance to your home free from trip hazards.

Add Some Pockets

When it comes to small space organization in a closet, you can add a hanging 5-section organizer. This item can be used for a variety of different items, including shoes, sweaters, ties or anything else that will fit into the pockets. It will add more space to your closet so that you can reduce clutter and know where all of your belongings are located.

While shelves are a great small space storage solution that can be used in a variety of rooms throughout your home, adding pockets can also help with your organizational endeavors. Some pockets you might consider adding to your home include an armrest organizer, which will keep your remotes and other items within arm’s reach while you are relaxing in your living room.

Think Outside Your Home

Of course, your home isn’t the only place that needs small space storage ideas. Your car is also a place that could benefit from clutter reduction. If you’re looking for a small space storage solution for your vehicle, you might consider adding a trunk organizer with cooler. Placing this in the back of your car will keep things from rolling around, as well as be a great place to keep your groceries and other items cool until you reach your destination.

Top 10 Favorite Candies

There are certain times throughout the year when candy becomes an incredibly important part of life. This often occurs at Halloween, but Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas are other times when indulging your sweet tooth is acceptable.

However, you shouldn’t limit yourself to these specific times of year when it comes to enjoying your favorite candies. Live a little and consume these delicacies whenever you want. Below are some of the top 10 candies that you should consider eating whenever the cravings strike.

1. Candies from Childhood

If you’re like most people, then your love of candy developed when you were a child. Your first taste of the sugary sweetness opened up a whole new world of flavors that you didn’t know existed. You would do anything for that candy, including finishing all of your dinner.

Every generation has candy that defines them, and you probably have great memories of those flavors. When it comes to your candy favorites, it’s possible to find the items you enjoyed as a child. You can find top candies from the 1950s all the way up to the 1990s, including the decades in between. Take a trip down memory lane and enjoy the sweets that got you started on candy in the first place.

2. Fruity Candies

Fruity candies have the ability to add some elegance and variable flavors to any candy dish. They are great to set out for guests to enjoy. They are also a great way to finish off any meal or as a snack during the middle of the day. If fruity candies are some of your favorite candies, then you need to try some Italian candies that have been delighting people for generations.

3. Peanut Butter and Chocolate

If there is a classic combination of candy that is hard to resist, it’s peanut butter and chocolate. It was like these two items were made to go together, and many people have this item in their top 10 candies.

There are so many different types of peanut butter and chocolate candies to choose from, but some of the best include Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pillows. They are melt-in-your-mouth soft and perfectly balance the chocolate and peanut butter flavors. Indulge your taste buds with this classic and delectable candy favorite.

4. Hard Candies

For many, when eating their favorite candies, they want the flavor to last. They want to enjoy the taste sensation for as long as possible, so they turn their sights to hard candies. These treats come in a variety of different flavors and forms, and they have the ability to last for a long time. Whether you are looking for smaller candies or Old Fashioned Candy Sticks, there is a hard candy that will make you happy.

5. Sugar-Free Candies

If you are unable to eat sugar for whatever reason, then sugar-free candies are probably high on your favorites list. If you’re looking for a way to indulge your sweet tooth and bring back memories from your childhood, then you’ll want to get the Sugar-Free Nostalgic Candy Tin. With five different types of candy, you’ll be able to enjoy the flavors from yesteryear and not feel guilty about eating them.

6. Candies with Nuts

If you enjoy candy that has a bit of texture and indulgent flavors, then some of your top candies probably include those with nuts. Whether it is chocolate with pecan pralines or a soft almond nougat bar, there are many options that are full of rich flavors and indulgent.

7. Advent Calendar

Most of the candies on this list are things you can enjoy throughout the entire year. You are more than likely not going to be buying a Chocolate Advent Calendar in July, but you should consider getting one in December. Not only is this a delicious way to count down the days until Christmas, but it’s a favorite among kids and adults alike. Start or continue a holiday tradition by adding this to your festivities.

8. Fancy Candies

Many people have sophisticated taste buds, and they want to satisfy their sugar cravings with something on the fancy side. Luckily, there are candies that can accomplish this task. One of the most favorite fancy candies includes cherry cordials.

Combining cherries in decadent, rich syrup and surrounding them with milk and dark chocolate makes these candies irresistible and luxurious. Whether you are throwing a party and trying to impress your guests or just want something after a long day, these candies can help you accomplish your goals.

9. Saltwater Taffy

People from all walks of life enjoy the variety of flavors and soft texture of saltwater taffy, making this one of the top candies for a lot of people. It brings back memories from childhood, as well as makes the present a little sweeter. If you haven’t enjoyed this sweet treat recently, it’s time to remind yourself what makes this candy so delicious.

10. Caramels

The creamy smooth taste of caramel is appealing to a lot of people. Whether you are eating it as a hard candy or indulging in the sweetness of soft chews, eating caramel throughout the day is a great way to bring a smile to your face.

There’s no rule that says candy can only be eaten at certain times of the year. Indulging in your candy favorites whenever you get the craving can make you happy—and everyone deserves to be happy.