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Go Green: Make Your Appliances Energy-Efficient

June 25th, 2014

When you step inside your home you should see green.  As a matter of fact, the greener…the better.  Why green?  Three reasons:

  1. A green home has lower energy costs
  2. A green home has a positive impact on the environment.
  3. A green home simply doesn’t use as many of our earth’s valuable natural resources.

washing machine in field of grass

So, just out of curiosity, how green is your home?  If you don’t know, Mr. Appliance® has some super-easy tips to get you seeing green in no time.

Stove/Oven

  1. Place pans on the right burner size to efficiently cook food and reduce cooking time.
  2. Make sure oven door closes tightly.
  3. Use glass or ceramic baking dishes to cook food more efficiently and allow you to turn down the heat by 25 degrees.
  4. Take advantage of the microwave when cooking small to medium sized meals.

Refrigerator

  1. Replace cracked rubber seals from around the door to prevent cool air from escaping and warm air from entering.
  2. Keep food covered – uncovered food releases moisture that affects the inside temperature.
  3. Clean door seals regularly to prevent moisture and mold build up.
  4. Defrost your refrigerator when necessary.

Dishwasher

  1. Wash full loads – the same amount of energy is used to wash half a load as a full load.
  2. Use air-dry setting instead of heat-dry.
  3. Use short-cycles as much as possible.
  4. Scrape food off instead of rinsing – pre-rinsing uses a lot of water.

Washer

  1. Use cold water as much as possible.
  2. Wash full loads of laundry – the same amount of energy is used to wash half a load as a full load.
  3. Separate loads by fabric – lighter weight fabric doesn’t need as long of a wash cycle as heavier fabric.
  4. Program washer to a high-speed spin cycle that will take out more moisture to reduce drying time.

Dryer

  1. Clean lint tray after each use.
  2. Dry full loads of laundry – the same amount of energy is used to wash half a load as a full load.
  3. Separate loads by fabric type – cotton takes longer to dry than synthetic fabrics like polyester.
  4. Avoid over stuffing the dryer because an overloaded dryer has to work harder.

Outdoor Kitchen Ideas for a Summer to Remember

June 18th, 2014

Woo hoo! Summer is here. Wallace Stevens once said, “The summer night is like a perfection of thought.”  And we couldn’t agree more.  Seriously, what’s there not to love about summer?  Sunshine, flip flops, good food, and old friends – roll that all together and you’ve got yourself the makings of a perfect party on the patio.

But don’t stress if you don’t have the end-all, be-all of outdoor kitchens.  We at Mr. Appliance have five DIY outdoor kitchen must-haves to create the perfect atmosphere and ambiance for your next outside party.

Grill

outdoor barbecue grill
Photo courtesy of ehow.com

Let’s face it.  You really can’t have an outside patio without a grill.  Food is kind of a big deal at a party.  And you have to admit, there’s something fun and nostalgic about waiting around for your food to cook as the fragrant aroma teases your taste buds to the point where you’re almost drooling.  But outside grill setups can be pretty pricey.  No worries.  Here’s a great how-to with instructions to build your own outside grill – easy and impressive.

How to build an outdoor grill

Lighting

outdoor diy lighting options
Photo courtesy of buxxfeed.com

Patio lighting helps set the mood as the summer sun fades into the night sky.  You can go fancy or casual.  How about using cupcake holders and twinkle lights for a fun twist or stringing lights around a hula-hoop for a fancy chandelier?  Here’s a great link with ideas to get you started on a DIY outdoor lighting project.

Outdoor DIY lighting ideas

Sink

Summer is just naturally a time when things can and will get sticky.  Having an outdoor sink is not only convenient for the chef, but it’s also great for those seasonally sticky situations.  The cool thing is you don’t have to break the bank on a sink.  You can actually do it yourself, even on a limited budget.

VIDEO: Installing an outdoor sink

Sitting Area

DIY outdoor seating area ideas
Photo courtesy of vintageromancestyle.com

You want folks to be comfortable, but you also want your sitting area to match your style and personality.  Anything goes…from lawn chairs and beanbags to benches and swings.  You can even make your own furniture to add a bit of a personal pizazz. The possibilities are really endless.

DIY outdoor seating area ideas

Music

surfer listening to music
Photo courtesy of billboard.com

What’s a patio party without some good ol’ summer tunes?  Keep the music lively and fun, but not so loud that folks are screaming at each other.  And if you need some help getting your playlist started, here’s a listing of top summer songs that can help set your summer-time mood.

Billboard Top 30 Summer Songs

So, there you have it – five easy steps to get your outside kitchen ready for a party on the patio.  Have fun and enjoy your summer!

Outdoor Entertaining Mistakes: How to Avoid Them

June 11th, 2014

people sitting around a fire pit

Summer’s here and it’s time for outside get togethers with friends and family. Planning an event can be hard, but take our advice to avoid outdoor entertaining mistakes.  You certainly don’t want to sacrifice your summertime outdoor lifestyle because of a few preventable mishaps.

  1. Be prepared for any natural inconveniences
  2. Watch your weather forecast and be careful to not have your event at the hottest time of the day. Plan for rain, whether it’s bringing it indoors or arranging a tent or canopy to shelter your guests.  You can take some simple precautions to make sure your celebration can continue no matter what happens. Don’t let your party be blown away, use decorative anchors to keep everything in place.

  3. Have more than enough food, drinks & seats
  4. Ask your guests to formally RSVP with the number of people they are bringing so you can be sure to have more than enough food and drinks. Having more food is better than not enough and you can send leftovers home with guests. Have enough seats for everyone to sit down and a couple extras just in case.

  5. Ask your guests for special food accommodations
  6. Allergies, vegetarians, gluten-free, sugar-free, vegans are only some of the things you can run into, so make sure you have dishes that accommodate to your guests’ special diets. Check out these vegetarian BBQ recipes for ideas, http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/parties/barbecue-grilling/vegetarian-bbq-recipes and this sugar-free chocolate ice cream that’s perfect for a hot day, http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/parties/barbecue-grilling/vegetarian-bbq-recipes.

  7. Make sure there is easy access to bathrooms & trash cans
  8. Let everyone know where to find the bathrooms, and try to have more than one available to avoid a wait. Having multiple trash cans can make clean-up easier and prevent you from having to replace trash bags often.

  9. Create a playlist
  10. Make the playlist long enough to not replay the same songs, include classics that everyone will enjoy. Consider asking guests for requests before the party so you include everyone’s favorites. Make sure to keep the volume down to not disturb neighbors or guests’ conversation.

  11. Space out & light up your entertainment area
  12. Don’t cramp your guests in a tiny space filled with tables and chairs. Space it out so they have room to breathe and converse comfortably. If your activities are planned for after sunset, make sure to have appropriate lighting to keep your guests from falling in the dark.

  13. Provide fans, sunscreen & bug repellent
  14. Your guests’ comfort is of upmost importance. DIY hand fans are easy to make with decorative paper plates, tongue depressors and a glue gun. Keep flies away with jars filled with water and pennies.

  15. Keep the kids entertained
  16. If the kids are unhappy, everyone is unhappy. Try these DIY backyard games to keep the kids amused, http://www.listotic.com/32-best-diy-backyard-games/.

With these helpful tips, you can enjoy your outside activities without the dreaded don’ts that can get in the way.

Simple Outdoor Kitchen Ideas

May 20th, 2014

By: Katie Koleas

With the birth of spring comes backyard cooking and barbeques. Creating a picture-perfect outdoor kitchen may seem stressful and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Building a backyard cooking space can be easy and affordable with these simple ideas.

Purchase a pre-made grill structure

A stylish and multifunctional grill is the main centerpiece of any outdoor kitchen, but don’t want to feel like you’re undergoing an entire renovation. Basic grill structures with attached islands and bar space eliminate unnecessary custom improvements and won’t break your budget.

photo of a pre-made grill set up
Photo courtesy of outdoor-kitchen-hom.blogspot.com

Lighten Things Up

No one wants to fumble through the dark while trying to enjoy a relaxing night of outdoor dining. Lighting illuminates your outdoor kitchen and enables you to use it all hours of the day.  Battery operated and adjustable lamps are an inexpensive alternative to running an electrical line through your backyard.

Asian Outdoor Lighting by Oakland Furniture & Accessories Cost Plus World Market

Install a Sink

Nothing is worse than having to run to and from your home to wash raw chicken off your hands. Look for a sink that hooks up to a garden hose and drains into the ground for a fantastic money saving option.

Picture of an outdoor sink hooked up to a garden hose
Photo courtesy of ths.gardenweb.com

Cover Up

An outdoor canopy provides shelter from any type of weather that may arise. Form hiding the sun to shielding the rain, a canopy covering is a necessity for any outdoor kitchen.

picture of an outdoor patio cover
Photo courtesy of hgtvremodels.com

Don’t Forget the Basics

Store organizational necessities under grill counter tops such as baskets for napkins, utensils, dishware, glasses and cleaning supplies. Most importantly, be sure to have trash and grilling utensils close by with hooks to hang above the cooking station.

Picture of an option for outdoor grilling storage
Photo courtesy of thisoldhouse.com

Cheat Sheet for The Ultimate Mom’s Night Out

May 9th, 2014

Moms, you remember the carefree days of calling up your girlfriends on a whim to meet up for some dinner, cocktails, manicures, pedicures, shopping, and maybe dancing until the early morning hours? Remember when you could really do anything “on a whim?”

graphic of three women out on the town
Graphic courtesy of laracoffee.com

Now getting together with your girlfriends takes a good month to plan, and sure enough half of you won’t be able to make it because one of your kids catches a cold. And your idea of a fun night out still includes being home by bedtime.

At Mr. Appliance, we know that moms are the backbone of the family. With all the responsibility on Mom’s shoulders, she needs to de-stress and let loose every once in a while in order to keep her sanity. So, in honor of Mother’s Day, Mr. Appliance has come up with the ultimate cheat sheet for planning your Mom’s Night Out.

  1. Pick a stress-free activity. Pick a fun and fulfilling activity like dinner, drinks, shopping, movie, concert, or wine tasting.
  2. Plan well ahead of time. With soccer and dance practices, school activities, and play dates, your schedule fills up quickly. So, make sure you can plan a day well ahead of time. It’s a good idea to send an invitation — either mail or an Evite— that other moms can place on their calendars.
  3. Book babysitters. If the dads can’t handle the job, hire a few babysitters that can come to your house. All the kids can hang out together and play while you and your girlfriends are out.
  4. Set the rules. Before you head out for your evening of fun and frivolity, inform dad and the kids of when they should or should not interrupt your evening. Really, does a hole in your son’s sock constitute an emergency?
  5. Plan the next MNO. Before the evening ends, commit to getting the next get-together on your calendars. Let another mom plan the next get together with the girls. Each mom will have the chance to plan a fun activity and you’ll get to look forward to the next Mom’s Night Out!

Cheers!

Five Kitchen Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed

May 5th, 2014

A cook is only as good as his or her tools. When whipping up meals in the kitchen, it’s always helpful to have the best tools of the trade, making creating gourmet meals nearly effortless. Mr. Appliance works hard to maintain a high level of culinary knowledge, and is always on the lookout for ways to make life in the kitchen easier. Here are the top five kitchen gadgets that we feel have revolutionized the kitchen and brought convenience and fun back to life in the kitchen.

See-Through Toaster
Mondays just got a little better; burnt toast is no more thanks to the Robot-Coupe Vision Toaster. Keep an eye on your toast, and get it right every time!

see through toaster from Williams Sonoma

Pot Clip
Tuck a spoon or spatula into this clip to keep messes off the kitchen counter. Utensils stay in plain sight, instead of sneaking away, and counters stay spotless.

Spoon holder that clips onto a pot

SmartMeasure Cup

An affordable solution for all who pursue perfection in the kitchen! SmartMeasure Cups automatically convert ounces to cups and deliver the perfect measurement each time.

Smart digital measuring cup

Stainless-Steel Finger Guard

Don’t worry about nipping fingers in the kitchen. Protect them while slicing and dicing your veggies with a stainless steel finger guard.

stainless steel finger guard

Silicon Baking Ribbon

The freedom of creativity is in your pan. Mold desserts into any shape you desire with flexible, heat-tolerant silicon. The choice is yours; what shape will it be?  Unfortunately this one has not yet made it to the market and is still being judged by the Quirky staff.

flexible silicon baking pan

Feeding a Large Family on a Shoestring Budget

May 2nd, 2014

“♫♪ Here’s the story of a lovely lady. Who was bringing up three very lovely girls. All of them had hair of gold…♪♫” Yes Mrs. Brady was bringing up three lovely girls, and also three sons, but she had help! What would she have done without the assistance of Alice, the trustworthy housekeeper, who handled not only the cleaning, but also cooked all the meals.

Alice from The Brady Bunch

Photo courtesy MSN Entertainment Canada

Ann B. Davis played Alice not only in the original TV show but in follow up specials, and even wrote a cookbook! In celebration of the leading lady, whose birthday is today, here are some tips on ways to feed a large family on a budget, much like Alice did!

  • Evaluate what you currently spend and see where cut-backs can be made.
  • Determine what foods kids will actually eat and stop buying what they won’t.
  • Buy in bulk as this always offers a discount and has a bonus of having often used items on hand when you need them.
  • Plan meals a head of time to make sure you only buy what you need – this helps avoid impulse buys.
  • Learn how to make great dishes from less expensive cuts of meat – more cooking time and a few tricks can turn tougher beef cuts in to tender meals.
  • Don’t shop when you are hungry as people tend to buy more junk food and already prepared foods.
  • Use coupons when you can – why pay more for the same thing when you don’t have too?
  • Watch for weekly specials and stock up!
  • Try more veggie dishes – if you go meat free once or twice a week you will save money.
  • Buy local and seasonal produce as the prices are cheaper. Strawberries in January are great but not practical on the pocketbook.
  • Watch waste – don’t dish out more than someone will eat as they can always go back for more.
  • Use leftovers for lunch the next day, or turn in to a new dish for dinner.
  • Start a garden to grow your own veggies – cheaper and fresher.
  • Make your own meals from scratch and avoid pre-packaged, processed, ready-made meals – you will save on fat and salt content as well as dollars.

While you may not have a Brady Bunch sized family to feed, these tips are sure to help you cut down on your grocery spend. Let us know your tips and tricks to feeding a family on a budget!

Decorate Easter Eggs with These 5 Ideas

April 18th, 2014

Hop out of the box with your Easter egg decorating this year and follow these Pinterest-inspired nontraditional techniques.

  1. Glue and Glitter
    Dip your eggs in glue and then roll them around in glitter, beads or sequins. For polka dots, drop dots of glue and then sprinkle glitter. This method also works great with sprinkles.

    Easter eggs dabbed with glue and rolled in glitter to make glitter polka dots
    Source: http://www.domestifluff.com/2009/04/how-to-make-sparkly-dot-easter-eggs/

    Egg rolled in glue then glitterSource: http://www.boredpanda.com/easter-diy-ideas/

  2. Pretty patterns
    Using a Sharpie or other fine-pointed writing utensil, draw intricate designs onto your egg, such as big stripes, little stripes, chevron or squiggles. You can even write a favorite quote or saying onto the egg.

    Easter eggs decorated with SharpiesSource: http://obviouslysweet.com/blog/2012/04/easter-eggs/

    Easter Egg with words in sharpieSource: http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/2012/04/everyday-decorating-easter-eggs.htm

  3. Lovely lace
    To dress up your egg in a bit fancier way, glue on some lace and a small flower or other decorative piece. Your eggs will be sure to be egg-squisite!

    Easter egg with lace and a bowSource: http://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/eggs/quick-and-easy-easter-egg-decorations/#page=19

  4. Bring out the Buttons
    Grab the craft box and pull out all the odds and ends of random buttons, ribbon and paper galore and have fun gluing this creative smorgasbord onto all your eggs. The more random, the better!

    Eggs with buttons glued on themSource: http://organizedclutterqueen.blogspot.com/2014/02/button-easter-eggs.html

  5. Stick ‘em!
    If you don’t have a steady hand to create your own designs, try painting over stickers to imprint designs on your eggs, and peel them off afterwards to reveal beautiful patterns. You can also paint the eggs first and then stick on white colored stickers, as pictured below.

    Eggs with designs made by painting over stickersSource: http://www.bhg.com/holidays/easter/eggs/quick-and-easy-easter-egg-decorations/#page=13

6 Ways to Feng Shui Your Home

April 16th, 2014

By Kellie Pearson

Many environmental scientists and architects incorporate the basic idea of Feng Shui into their designs on the premise that clutter in our homes hinders our sense of well-being. Surrounding yourself with objects and architecture that uplift your mood and ensuring items are in proper places and not in chaos can give you a better state of mind. To put it simply, as the old saying goes, a clean house is a happy house. Here are six ways you can put the ancient Chinese advice into practice and make your home harmonious.

Keep your front entrance friendly.

It’s a well-known fact: Nobody wants to go inside a home that has a dark, disowned and dreadful look to it. In a way, the state of your front entrance can symbolize your desire to welcome guests into your home. Dead flowers and peeling paint don’t exactly scream to your nearby neighbors that you are guest-friendly. Clear the pathway leading to your front door, clean up overgrown plants, tuck away toys and sweep the porch to make your home more inviting to others. The Home Owner’s Association will probably appreciate it, too.

Make your home shoeless.

There’s something satisfying about taking your shoes off after a long day – especially if they are high heels! A deep sigh of relief is almost inevitable after unlacing and untying those constricting things. By encouraging your family and guests to take their shoes off at the entry way before coming inside your home, can put them at ease and give them a mindset of leaving their cares at the door and help them enter into a peaceful place of comfort and rest. Not to mention the amount of dirt and hours of floor cleaning that can be minimized!

Give the garage a makeover.

Your garage is the first and last thing you see when arriving and leaving your home, so you might as well make it organized, attractive and something you enjoy seeing every day. Clear out plenty of space for driving and walking into and install shelves and cabinets for storage to avoid scattered clutter. Design areas for gardening or crafting hobbies that can provide getaways from the usual household routines. Keep trash and recycle containers clean and easily accessible. These tasks will make you feel more peaceful and less stressed when entering and exiting your home.

Illuminate the laundry room.

The laundry room, especially if it is directly connected to the garage door, can be a constant reminder of uncompleted chores – yuck! Nothing can give you more of a sense of discontentment than being greeted with that. Try adding curtains or closet doors to cover the washer and dryer and separate them from the rest of the room and decorating the walls with nice wallpaper or bright colors. Hang up a few reminders of your favorite things, such as your child’s artwork, a nature painting or a travel poster. Believe it or not, with some effort, you really can make the laundry room a space you enjoy being in, as long as it feels open and welcoming.

Dress up the hallways.

Sometimes, hallways can be quite stark and stagnant. Fix this problem by adding warm lighting, a gallery of pretty paintings or family portraits, and a splash of light pastel or vibrant color to give it a brighter look. Color also makes the hallway appear to be wider rather than closed off. Wider hallways can also be enhanced with book shelves, plants, rugs and furniture. This will make your home look more attractive and feel much more open.

Create a lovely living room.

Living rooms serve as the central part of the house where all the social gatherings occur, so, of course, you want to make it lovely! Choosing neutral tones for the larger pieces of furniture can be cost-efficient when you change your mind on the color scheme of the walls. Arrange your furniture to encourage social intimacy and create a sense of comfort and safety by placing the seating in view of the door. Adding a mirror that reflects the doorway from the sofa is also an option. Show off your favorite collections and art pieces to give your world a glimpse of what you love and enjoy.

With all this in mind, remember that your home is the environment in which you live, so take special care to make it a place in which you appreciate being and relaxing.

World Health Day: 10 Tips for Healthy Living

April 3rd, 2014

By: Katie Koleas

April 7 is globally recognized as World Health Day. The World Health Organization created this day to mark the anniversary of their founding in 1948, as well as to help draw attention to the importance of global health. While reflecting on this year’s initiative to combat vector-borne diseases, also remember to focus on the health of you and your family.

Spring into health this season by following the Mr. Appliance Top 10 tips for healthy living.

  1. Go Natural
    Whenever possible, avoid processed foods and harmful ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and partially hydrogenated oils. These additives promote an increase in cancer-causing free radicals.
  2. Hydrate
    Studies show that about 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated and not drinking the adequate amount of water for the body to properly function.  Men should drink three liters (about 13 cups) of fluids daily while women need 2.2 liters (about 9 cups).
  3. Sleep More
    Getting less than seven hours of sleep causes sleep deprivation, which triggers stress hormones to accumulate, resulting in weight gain and depression.
  4. Get Active
    Twenty minutes of physical activity per day, three times per week, promotes longevity and reduces your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  5. Take a Probiotic
    This live source of healthy bacteria helps to promote gastrological health and boosts immunity, which helps to prevent illness.
  6. Cut out Sugar
    White sugar has almost no nutritional value and increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. When sugar cravings strike, reach for antioxidant-rich fruit instead of your favorite candy to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  7. Quit Smoking
    Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death. If you haven’t already, quit now, if not for yourself, do it for those around you suffering from secondhand smoke.
  8. Build a Healthy Plate
    Ensure that half of your plate is filled with fruit and vegetables to make sure you are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals. The USDA recommends about two cups of fruit and three to four cups of vegetables daily.
  9. Stop When You’re Full
    Your body is biologically geared to know when you’re full. Take time to listen to your bodies hunger cues to prevent overeating and weight gain.
  10. Give Back
    One of the best ways to fight stress and boost your mood is to do something good for someone else.

Sources:
MayoClinic.org
MedicalDaily.com