6 Kitchen Appliances That Are Essential For Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations

If my grandmother is to be believed, then Thanksgiving is one of the most stressful dinners a person can prepare. Not only must the turkey be picture perfect but it must be complemented with a wide variety of side dishes and desserts. One way to ensure your Thanksgiving dinner preparations are as easy as possible is make sure you have the best kitchen appliances available to assist you. These appliances will not only save you time but also make it easier to prepare multiple dishes simultaneously and ensure they are all finished at the same time.

Here are six small appliances that are essential to preparing Thanksgiving dinner for your family.

Stand Mixers

Stand Mixer

An overlooked kitchen appliance which is incredibly useful during Thanksgiving preparation is a quality stand mixer. While they are most often associated with desserts a stand mixer is surprisingly versatile. The mixer itself is ideal for creating smoother mashed potatoes, combining dressing ingredients, and preparing silky sweet yams. Plus, a growing number of stand mixers have the capacity to support a variety of accessories which have nothing to do with mixing, but give you the freedom to leverage the mixer’s powerful motor to complete other tasks. For example, you can grind meats, stuff sausage, roll perfect pasta, strain fruits/vegetables, and even make ice cream.

Pressure Cooker

Fagor Pressure Cooker

Another useful kitchen appliance is the pressure cooker. The purpose of a pressure cooker is to speed up the necessary cooking time for a variety of labor-intensive recipes. You can even cook a juicy, delicious turkey in a pressure cooker, although it probably won’t be very presentable if you plan on carving it at the table. To help with Thanksgiving dinner preparations, a pressure cooker is ideal for a variety of time intensive desserts, such as bread pudding and custards. It can also be used to quickly churn out giblet gravy.

Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker with Turkey

A slow cooker is another extremely valuable kitchen appliance everyone should take advantage of when making Thanksgiving dinner. Its primary value is the ability to help free up oven space by allowing you to make one of your side dishes in it. A slow cooker is perfect for making Thanksgiving stuffing, casseroles, and any grain or rice-based side dish. You can also use a slow cooker to keep dips or your gravy warm while you are finishing up the main dishes. Some people prefer a triple slow cooker which allows you to heat up three different types of food at the same time.

Deep Fryer

Deep Fryer

Similar to a pressure cooker, a deep fryer is an excellent way to save time if you are planning on cooking any foods which will be fried in oil. While pan frying is a great way to impart flavor into food, you can easily deep fry the same items in less time, without sacrificing taste. Another option is to start out using the deep fryer and then transferring the food over to a pan while they are finishing. This is particularly helpful if you have multiple appetizers which are all fried.

Food Processor

Cuisinart Food Processor

When it comes to saving time in the kitchen during Thanksgiving, very few kitchen appliances are as valuable as having a food processor within reach. It is amazing how much a food processor can chop, dice and slice during the food preparation portion of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of asking all of your family to help you chop and dice, a food processor can do better work in significantly less time. It will also help assist in making all the delicious sauces, dips and spreads that make your turkey complete.

Similar to other small kitchen appliances on this list, food processors usually come with a variety of helpful attachments and accessories which make it even more versatile. This tool can be effectively used to prepare dishes for every course you plan on making.

Freestanding Cooktops or Range Burners

Ranger Burner Cooktop

If there is one complaint that is common among most people preparing Thanksgiving dinner it is a lack of space on the stove. Unfortunately, stovetop space is one of the most difficult resources to replicate in the kitchen. The easiest way to compensate for this is by using a couple of freestanding cooktops and range burners. Normally they are setup independent of any other appliance and simply need to be near an outlet. Not only does this provide you with more stovetop burners to use but it also is a fantastic space-saver. You can setup one or two range burners anywhere as long as it can reach an outlet.

Preparing the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is hard enough with all of the right tools. There is no reason to make matters worse by trying to prepare everything without adequate space for heat sources. Making a small investment in the high-value small kitchen appliances listed above will yield immediate benefits. The best part is all of these kitchen appliances take up very little space and are versatile enough to be used all year long.

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6 Tips to Save Money on Winter Heating Bills

Brace yourselves, winter is coming. As such, it is never too early to start planning ahead for the annual rise in winter heating costs.

A common misconception is that the most effective ways to decrease energy costs is by resorting to expensive, large-scale solutions such as installing new insulation throughout your home. Sure, that will definitely work at keeping you warm, but it will also cost you an arm and a leg to do so. The truth is that there are a number of small things you can do right now to help chip away at the overall amount of energy you use this winter. If done correctly, these small changes will lead to big savings. The key is taking the time to assess your needs and choosing the approach which best matches your goals while limiting your expenses.

Stay warm with these six tips to saving money on your winter heating bills.
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Supplemental Heating: The Easiest Way to Cut Energy Costs in the Fall & Winter

Spot Heating

As the mercury starts to drop, most homeowners will see their energy costs start to go up. In attempt to stay warm, most homeowners will simply crank up the heater, but unfortunately, that’s one of the least efficient ways to stay warm. Instead of heating up your entire house, why not just keep the area you’re hanging out in warm?

This strategy is called Supplemental Heating, and it’s one that more and more homeowners are starting to turn to. Without a doubt, supplementing the heat in your home is the absolute easiest way to lower your energy bills without sacrificing your overall comfort. There’s a number of ways you can utilize this technique to stay warm. But first, let’s learn how it works.

What is Supplemental Heating?

Supplemental heating is a straightforward strategy more homeowners are turning to as energy prices continue to rise. Instead of raising the internal temperature of your home to a consistent level throughout the entire house, only specific areas are heated while the rest of the house remains cool. The logic behind this is simple. If you are not going to be moving throughout the house, from room to room, on a regular basis there is no reason to keep every room the same temperature. A more economical solution is to only heat the spaces you are currently occupying.

There are a number of benefits to adopting a supplemental heating strategy in your home. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common benefits of this strategy.
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How Air Purifiers Help You Find Relief from Fall Allergies

Fall Allergies

Anyone with allergies knows that managing the symptoms and avoiding key triggers are the most important steps to getting through the allergy season. While most people associate allergies with the spring, it’s not uncommon to experience those same symptoms during the fall. Not only are there different allergens in the air but people start spending more time inside as the temperature cools.

There are a number of different steps you can take to minimize your exposure to allergens, but an air purifier is often the key to success as you begin spending more time indoors. Let’s take a look at the most common fall allergens, and why the right air purifier can help you stay healthy.

5 Most Common Fall Allergens

To find out whether or not an air purifier will help you improve your control over managing allergy related symptoms it is important to understand what the most common fall allergens are.
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7 Easy Ways to Get More From Your Patio This Fall

Summer may be over, but fall is the perfect time to take advantage of everything your patio has to offer. It is the time of year that the leaves begin to turn beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow. The sweltering summer days begin to wane and shift to a more comfortable, brisk environment. It is the time for football barbecues and perfect mornings to sit outside with a cup of coffee.

Most people set up their patio and never change it but it is one of the most versatile and enjoyable spaces your home has to offer. This is especially true if you plan on entertaining guests outdoors. The key is knowing the easiest ways to get more from your patio with very little effort. Here’s our favorite ways you can improve your patio, so you can enjoy it throughout fall.

1. Choose Versatile Seating Options

One of the simplest ways to give your patio a new, comfortable look is to choose versatile seating options. It doesn’t matter if you prefer metal furniture outdoors or more traditional wood or wicker seating, the key is versatility. While it is nice to have one or two chairs for a more intimate or casual setting, seating is typically the one limitation that prevents people from hosting larger get-togethers outdoors.

Adding one or two long benches is a simple solution. You can add seat cushions or outdoor pillows to turn a simple wooden bench into a more comfortable yet versatile seating solution. The best part is benches are easy to move so it can be pushed aside when it’s not needed.

2. Entertain with an Outdoor Television

Outdoor Television

Just because it’s football season doesn’t mean you need to spend your weekends indoors on the couch. Television technology is evolving at a rapid pace. There are now televisions which are specifically designed to be used and stored in an outdoor environment. They have screen coatings which prevent glare from becoming a problem. Some outdoor televisions can even connect directly to your Wi-Fi network so you wouldn’t have to worry about installing a cable outlet.

Just like when you choose a television for your living room, outdoor televisions come with a large assortment of accessories you can buy to make your experience even better. Before you rush out to buy a TV for your patio, it’s important to consider how much space is available and where you plan to install/watch it.

3. Outdoor Beverage Refrigerator

Patio Outdoor Refrigerator

Nothing is worse than constantly running inside to get food and beverages for friends and family when you’re trying to spend time together outdoors. Not only is it inconvenient, but it also lets all your A/C out of the house. The simple solution is to have an outdoor beverage refrigerator available for your guests. The benefit of an outdoor only beverage station is that you can choose from a wide variety of sizes, so it fit your needs and available space.

A portable beverage refrigerator, or even a kegerator, is not only a great way to provide your guests with easy access to food and drinks, they’re also portable and easy to move around. During the winter, if you’re not spending much time on your patio, you can move it in and use in other areas of the house.

4. Portable Ice Maker

Portable Ice Maker

If your beverage refrigerator doesn’t have a built-in ice maker, it would be wise to have a portable ice maker readily available for your guests. Instead of running in and out of the house to get ice, you’ll be providing them the convenience of ice right there.

It’s never been easier to find an inexpensive, yet dependable ice maker that’s designed to stand the elements outside. From the spring sun to the summer heat, a quality ice maker should be durable enough to leave outdoors nearly year-round.

5. Stay Warm With An Outdoor Heater

Patio Heater

As fall begins to turn towards winter the evenings will start to get cold quickly. Depending on where you live, that cold may already be nipping at you. Instead of moving the party indoors try using an outdoor heater. From table top to wall-mounted, there are a number of different heating options you can choose from. Take a look at your options, analyze your space and determine which type of heater will be the best for your patio.

One of the most popular outdoor heating options is a fire pit. This allows you to sit back and enjoy the crackle of an open flame and keep warm at the same time. Instead of building a permanent fire pit, most people prefer the portable version so they can move it out of the way when the weather warms up again. Another option is the more traditional outdoor heaters which can be either propane or electric. With a simple flip of the switch, these heaters are the perfect solution when you don’t want to build and maintain a fire but still want to stay warm.

6. Plant a Garden

Patio Garden Container

An overlooked accent that makes every patio more appealing is the ambiance of a garden. Whether you’re growing flowers or vegetables, having a garden out there is a guaranteed way to make your patio look better. You don’t need a large plot, just a small, low-maintenance garden will do wonders for the look and feel of your patio.

There’s a large variety of gardening equipment and supplies that can help you accomplish this, but all you really need to get started is a few containers, a bag of soil and seeds. It’s easy to swap out your plants depending on the season. This helps ensure that your shrubbery, flowers and vegetables are always lush and green all year-round. Just be sure to cover your plants or move them inside before the deep freezes set in.

7. Cover Your Patio with a Canopy

A simple yet effective way to help maintain your optimal temperature on your patio is by covering it. If you have an open patio the popular option is to use a stylish canvas, canopy or other temporary enclosure, as this allows you to quickly put it up and take it down. Installing a canopy can help keep the elements out, and your heat in. Depending on your patio, you may be better suited with a more enclosed or permanent solution. Be sure to weight your options before buying the first canopy or canvas you find.

Improve Your Patio For Fall

Just because the temperature is changing doesn’t mean you need to retreat indoors quite yet. Summer may be gone, but the beautiful season that is fall is just beginning. By adding a few key accessories and making a couple of improvements to your patio, it will be easy to enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer, even into the early winter months.

Surely, we missed a few ways that you can improve your patio for fall. What would you add to this list? We’d love to hear your tips and suggestions in the comments below.

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4 Simple Space-Saving Tips for Organizing a Cluttered Closet

It is a tale as old as time — the older you get, the more clothes you buy, and the harder it is to part with beloved fabrics and well-worn shoes. Eventually, these nostalgic lifestyle habits come back to haunt you when you run out of room in your closet. Without taking proper actions, it’s bound to happen to all of us at some point. To help you prevent this from happening, here are our four favorite space-saving tips for a cluttered closet.

Purge the Unnecessary & Old Clothes

The first space-saving tip for decluttering your closet is to purge all the unnecessary clothes you no longer need. Begin with the two-year rule to purge outdated or garments that no longer fit. If you have not used it or worn it in two years, it is safe to assume that you no longer need to keep it.

Once you’ve gone through and analyzed what you’ve worn in the last two years, going forward a good way to keep track of what you want to keep is to start with your hangers facing one way. Each time you take out an item of clothing and return it, turn the hanger around and face it in the direction of your preference. At the end of one or two years (depending on your available space), get rid of all the clothes that you have not turned around.

Remove Non-Essential Items From the Closet

Now that you’ve gone through all your clothes and decided what should go and what should stay, it’s now time to relocate anything else that does not belong in the closet. If it is not clothes or shoes, try to find it a new place to store it.

Have you been using the closet as a storage area for books, boxes, suitcases and other random household items? You are not alone, but it is time for a new solution. Move these things to another area of the home, such as a linen closet, basement or garage. If you have an extra room or closet elsewhere, consider sorting your clothes by season and moving the off-season clothes into a separate area to be switched out. Relocate items that you use frequently to an easy-to-reach area.

Instead of sending everything to a landfill, consider donating or selling items that you no longer use. There are many options should you find yourself willing and able to part with the clutter. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and other thrift shops willingly take gently worn items, and your donations help others in need. Some stores allow trade-ins for store credit or cash rewards for accepted clothing. If you have taken great care of your clothes, bags and shoes, this is a good way to update your wardrobe and save some space. If your friends are similarly struggling, a clothes swap could get rid of your clutter and score you a few useful things in return. Even a garage sale would be a great option if you find the rest of your home suffering from the same cramped quarters as your closet.

Utilize the Space You Have

Even if you live in the smallest, compact living area, there are still ways to take advantage of the space you do have. For example, the walls and floors and the back of a closet and closet door can be huge space savers. Attach hooks on the backs of doors to hang shoes, belts, bags, jewelry and other accessories that would otherwise take up space where you could store your clothes.

Built-in or add-on shelves can also help save space for stackable items. Take advantage of all vertical space by stacking sweaters, shoes and handbags on shelves. Use compressed bags, boxes or clear containers to stack and store items that you do not frequently use, such as out-of-season clothing. You can also employ stacking drawers or shelves to help prevent items from toppling over. Buying and installing space-saving shelves is somewhat simple, assuming that you have the time, space, and are DIY-savvy.

In addition, space-saving hangers and rods are available for your closet needs. If most of your clothes are short-hanging, add an extra closet rod above or below the first to instantly double the amount of hanging space. Use add-on hangers, which take up as much space as a single hanger and store four times the amount of clothing.

Fix That Shoe Problem

Since shoes are less versatile than clothing, they can be harder to store and take up more space in your already cluttered closet. Luckily, you have some space-saving options if you have nowhere else to store your shoes.

Use a hanging shoe rack for the back of your door to keep shoes organized, easy to reach and out of the way. Another great way to store shoes is on DIY shoe hangers. Cut the bottom rod of a wire hanger in the middle and twist up both ends, creating dual hooks on which to hang your shoes. Hang these next to your clothes, and save the floor space of your closet for stacks of sweaters, linen or other items. While this isn’t the prettiest option, it’s cheap and it saves a ton of space.

If you have the space, opt for a decorative shoe storing solution to de-clutter your closet. Options include a wall-hanging rack or a pretty cabinet that serves dual functions for shoes and accessories. Tubs and baskets keep footwear together and can be stored on shelves or floors. Consider sorting shoes and boots by seasonal use or style, so you always know where to look for the footwear that you need.

Cluttered Closets: More Common Than You Think

Closet clutter is a common issue that affects us all, no matter how big or small our closets are. The shortage of space is especially a problem for those that live in small homes and apartments. By following the space-saving tips above, you’ll be able to fully utilize the amount of space you have in your closet and organize your clothes in a way that works best for you.

Surely, there are more tips out there. What space-saving tips would you recommend?

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The 4 Big Benefits of Using a High Quality Dehumidifier

Edgestar DehumidifierA variety of common complaints about living areas, garages, basements, and even closets can be directly attributed to high humidity.  A dehumidifier may be the simple solution you are looking for.  Many people don’t realize humidity is their issue because the air “feels” dry.  Air with humidity levels as low as 50% or less can substantially reduce your comfort level and cause permanent damage to your home.  There are four big benefits of using a high quality dehumidifier in any enclosed spaces of all sizes.

Humid Air Causes a Proliferation of Mold Spores and Dust Mites

Mold and dust mites thrive in moist environments.  Most people associate mold with standing water or areas with that damp, musty smell.  The truth is the rate of mold growth skyrockets when the relative humidity reaches 50%.  Not only does this mean more mold but more mold spores contaminating the air you breathe.  Dust mites react to humidity in the same way mold does.

Air Quality Significantly Diminishes as Relative Humidity Rises

Humidity is nothing more than the amount of moisture in the air.  Unfortunately, moisture is the perfect container for dirt, dust, mold, spores, and other allergens.  The higher the relative humidity is, the more likely an allergic reaction will be triggered.  This is especially true for people with a very low tolerance to light-weight allergens like dander, mold, and dust.

Damp Air Destroys the Structural Integrity of Homes and Furnishings

Your home and furnishing are in a constant struggle battling against moisture.  Humid air acts a tipping point in the favor of mold, fungus, and rot.  While every home is less durable when it contains humid air over an extended period of time, wood is particularly vulnerable.  This includes flooring, cabinets, furnishing, and the wood supporting the weight of your home.

Humidity Makes Air Feel Hotter Than It Actually Is

One of the most popular reasons people add a dehumidifier to their home is comfort.  Air with a lot of moisture tends to feel much warmer than it actually is.  As a result, people force their air conditioners to work extra hard which shortens the unit’s lifespan and drive up utility bills.  A simple dehumidifier will go a long way in helping you save money and feel more comfortable.

How to Choose the Right Dehumidifier for Your Space?

There are a variety of different factors you should consider when choosing a high-quality dehumidifier.  The best place to start is the area you want to dehumidify.  The size of your dehumidifier should be based on two variables – the size (square footage) of the area in question and the average level of humidity (ranges from moderately damp to extremely wet).  It is important to remember that when comparing the “size” of a dehumidifier you aren’t actually comparing the physical size of the device.  You are comparing the amount of water it can remove per day.  This measurement is commonly stated in pints.  The more pints a dehumidifier can remove in a day, the dryer your air will be.

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Water Coolers & Dispensers

Today somewhere around 75% of the American Population suffer from chronic dehydration, and they don’t even know it. What does notice this dehydration is your metabolism, skin, joints and digestive system. That’s why having a water cooler or dispenser is so beneficial to have close by at all times, whether at home or the office. Other benefits, besides staying hydrated and increasing your body’s metabolism, are saving your finances and the environment from bottled water costs.

When shopping for a water cooler or a dispenser it is first beneficial to understand three different distinctions: cooler vs. dispenser, bottled vs. point-of-use, and freestanding vs. counter top.

Water Cooler VS. Water Dispenser

First, there’s the option of a cooler or a dispenser.  Both dispense water for use, but a cooler uses thermoelectricity to cool the water where a dispenser simply allows the water to be used from a 2, 4 or 5 gallon water bottle sitting atop the unit.

Bottled  VS. Point of Use

Continuing from your selection of a cooler or dispenser, is the option for a bottled or point-of-use unit. A point-of-use unit is fitted with a float assembly on the top where a bottle would normally sit. A hose, directed from your water source, either tap or purified, is connected to the back of the float assembly and attached to the posterior side of the cooler keeping tubing out of sight. When water is drawn, the float assembly allows water to flow back into the cooler until full, thereby providing a continuous source of water without bottle storage. Bottled water units are typically dispensers and they dispense water from 3-5 gallon bottles.

Oasis Hot and Cold water dispenser

Table/Countertop Water Dispenser


 

 

 

 

 

Freestanding VS. Countertop Units

Energy Star Industrial Hot & Cold Bottom Loading Water Dispenser & Coffee Maker - Black

Lastly, there are freestanding versus countertop units. Freestanding units are best suited for large offices, fitness centers, department stores, and salons. Ranging in height anywhere from 35’’ to  55’’ and in addition to the dispenser can include coffee makers or refrigerators.

Countertop coolers and dispensers are compact units more popularly purchased for the home or small offices. These are designed to easily fit atop tables, counters and bars without using much space. The more contemporary design of the Oasis Onyx Countertop Cooler or Primo Countertop Dispensers make these more desirable for display in small living spaces.

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