Archive for December, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions

Well, today is the last day of 2013. The new year is mere hours away, and will soon be upon us. It will never, ever be 2013 again. 

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Let’s take a moment and reflect on that sobering reality: no matter what happens, whatever calendars we may use in the future, this past year will never happen again. The choices we’ve made, the things we done, read, seen, loved, wanted — it’s all in the past. We’re all a year older than we were, and there’s no giving that time back.

I can’t say if it’s been a good or a bad year for you. I don’t know if you think you’ve grown at all, if you’re at all close to the “you” you want to be.  We’ve all got bad habits we need to break, areas where we need more discipline, places we want to visit, areas where we could improve ourselves or make others happier, or both. New Year’s resolutions are a beautiful practice, a moment where we at least acknowledge our better angels, our ideals and our goals, and tell ourselves we’re going to make good this time. Some people might be cynical about failure; but all failure is is an opportunity to pick yourself up and try again. And again. And again. Because that’s what it takes to succeed.

Here at Appliances Connection, we want to offer you a hand on your bath to bettering yourself and the world, so here’s a list of some New Year’s resolutions I think we can all keep.

  1. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Extra points if you live in a high rise.
  2. Hide your smart phone during meals. A fun game when you eat out with friends is to make everyone put their phones in the middle of the table, and the first one to take it out has to pay for everyone’s food.
  3. Cook at home more often. You’ll learn new skills and be eating better. Hot Pockets and Rice-a-Roni doesn’t count.
  4. Call your mother. She loves you, you know.
  5. Get a bike. Ride it. Ride it everywhere.
  6. Floss!
  7. Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in the privacy of your own bedroom.
  8. Head to bed a half hour early and read a book instead of spending time online or watching TV (or both, if you’re like me).
  9. Seriously. Read a book. Read lots of books. Find a subject you enjoy and pick up a book about it. I don’t care if it’s a time-travelling vampire romance novel. Read a book.
  10. Replace your smoke alarm batteries! Or hey, just get some smoke alarms.
  11. Eat some veggies, bro.
  12. Drink more water and less soda. Soda rots your teeth. Your dentist says this all the time. He’s not kidding.
  13. I dunno, lay off the salt.
  14. See your doctor at least once this year for a checkup.
  15. Make your bed every morning.  It takes three minutes and makes you feel better.
  16. Start eating almond butter. No, it’s not as good as peanut butter, but what is?
  17. Dream journal! You’ll be surprised how weird the stuff your head does when you aren’t paying attention can be.
  18. Pack a bag lunch at work instead of eating out. Compared to what you’re spending on lunch at Hale & Hearty every day now, this is basically free.
  19. Listen to some new music. There’s a lot of great stuff out there.
  20. Let yourself fail. Then keep going.
  21. Donate to charity. There’s a bunch of great ones out there — the Red Cross, Heifer International, Plan USA — and they all let you set up automatic monthly deductions. It takes five seconds and can change a life.
  22. Quit smoking. Try, anyway. Don’t get too frustrated, but work on it. Nicotine gum works wonders.
  23. Learn a decent party trick. Just one fun, stupid skill you can show off at parties. Things like snapping all your fingers at once, doing a spot-on Donald Duck, reciting the alphabet backwards, speaking Ubbi Dubbi.
  24. Make a new friend. I know it’s hard, but do it anyway. Friends are awesome.
  25. Rid yourself of frenemies. Life is too short to spend it with people we don’t love and who don’t love us.
  26. Quit Instagram. It doesn’t matter how many people like your photos, so don’t use that to measure your personal value.
  27. Seriously, turn off your smart phone at dinner.
  28. Hammer pants!
  29. Replace some old busted appliances. Check out these sweet refrigerators.
  30. Get your own stupid Netflix account. Stop mooching off your mom.
  31. Help strangers.
  32. Learn your way around your town. This is easier in Water View, Virginia than it is in New York. Do it anyway.
  33. Volunteer for charity work.
  34. Take a class! Whether it’s learning French, how to cook, Zen and the ar of motorcycle maintenance, or something else, learn something. There’s a bunch of great free online courses, too; iTunes U offers college classes free of charge, and Coursera has fully-involved online classes that are totally free.
  35. Get some fresh air.

Don’t try and do all of them. Or do. It’s your choice. But just remember that the point isn’t to spend 2014 driving yourself mad, but to become a better, happier person. So dig in and do the work, and you’ll be glad you did.

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How to have a great New Year’s Party

New Year’s is almost here, and what better way to mark the inevitable, constant, drumbeat march of time than with a slammin’ house party where you get completely smashed and stay up all night blasting Led Zeppelin? Absent that, how about a classier affair, subdued and mature, where you drink martinis and discuss current events and someone is in the corner quietly working on the New York Times crossword puzzle? (“6 Down. ‘Operation Ajax PM.’ Starts with M, eight letters…”) Whether you’re at either extreme or somewhere in the middle, a good party with friends is always a fun way to ring in the year. But where do you begin?

The first step is always to figure out what sort of party you want to throw. I, for one, recommend a Punky Brewster theme; the eighties are still fun, right? But whatever your tastes, you’re going to need some supplies: ice, streamers, a giant ball covered in three-thousand Swarovski crysals lit by 32,256 LED lamps totaling 625,033 lumens of lighting power, some red Daisy cups, napkins, that sort of thing. But once you’ve covered the essentials, it’s time to start thinking a little….bigger. Liven up your party with some of the great ideas below.

1) A good solid barCapture

You have to have a place to serve your drinks. Sure, you could just use your kitchen counter like most people do. Heck, you could use your dining room table. But why have steak when you could have filet mignon? That’s why you need a bar.

Listen. This is a place to both serve and store your drinks and look classy while you’re doin’ it. There’s a lock to protect your liquor from prying hands, or the government or whatever. Removable wine storage racks only make it better. And that footrest! Imagine how absolutely killer you will look with one foot propped up on it while you nurse that rum and coke. The answer is very absolutely killer. And it’s a great accent for your home, just sort of generally speaking.

2) Beverage Center0697f0fb07da8ab7c219f53e4edd6469

What, praytell, is a beverage center? Far from being a wine and spirits outlet store (or hey, maybe it’s that, too. I’m not here to judge), a beverage center is a specially designed display freezer made to store beer and other chilled drinks at an icy 24F. This means that your beer will be perfectly chilled every single time, right down at the low end of the thermometer, all the while placed on display for all the world to see. That means you aren’t just chilling your beer — you’re showing it off. Place your epic beer stash right at center stage, where it belongs, the subject of the gathered oohs and aahs of all your friends, relatives, and acquaintances. That’s the way life should be.

3) A Good Patio Heater3c4f4a0441efbfc00f9f1b28fc8c420d

It’s December, and it’s soon going to be January. While 2013 may end abruptly at midnight, winter will still be going strong. And depending on where you live, that might just mean you’ll be a bit reluctant to take the party outside into the bitter, stinging cold. That’s understandable; who wants to break the night’s heat with the night’s chill? But with a patio heater, you won’t have to.

A good patio heater provides a cone of consistent warmth extending out into the darkness and cold, within which you can continue to party hearty all through the night, even after the ball drops. Offering tens of thousands of BTU of heating power, a strong patio heater offers heavy duty protection from the hazards of winter in an attractive package.

4)Margarita Maker!0201053ea4e7b6b87400f2b5e35b6359

Hot parties need cool drinks. And that’s where a gen-u-wine Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker comes into the mix. Take your party to the islands with this, your passport to pleasure and fun. Featuring three independent blending stations, this guy has six automated drink settings, making it fun and easy to both make and consume margaritas, daiquiris, coladas, mudslides, mojitos, and smoothies ’till the sun comes up in 2014. With this, you can drum to 72 ounces of restaurant-quality pitch-perfect tropical goodness to help you ring in the new year the right way — thoroughly sloshed..

5) Lots and lots of Chocolate Fonduefac247f3e70c924529a42038d7460a3c

It’s an idea that’s beautiful in its elegant simplicity: melt chocolate, dip things in the aforementioned chocolate, eat the things you have so dipped. And why not? Chocolate is delicious, and it should be eaten as often as possible, said no doctor ever. But forget the doctors! It’s New Year’s , and that means it’s time for alcohol and sweets. So that’s why we absolutely recommend you check out — and probably buy, if we’re being honest — a real rootin’ tootin’ chocolatiere. Listen to that fancy name. You’ll be partying like the Marquis de Alencon or whoever, You could dip everything in chocolate. Eat chocolate covered peanuts. Dip ice cream. Or pour the melted chocolate into molds for your very own custom holiday candies. Or hey just dunk everything in sight and go to town. It’s your life. I’m not here to tell you what you can and can’t do with a bucket of melted chocolate.

And there you have it. Those are the five things you need to buy to have a great New Year’s party. That’s it. Ipso facto. Just those five things.

Investment Ideas for the New Parent

From learning to deal with dirty diapers to baby-proofing your entire house, having a child is almost guaranteed to change a person’s life completely. The newfound responsibilities might seem endless, but being a parent means so much more than giving up on your previous hobbies or altering your old schedules. A new baby can be just as much fun as it is work, and making the child’s happiness your first priority can aid in turning even the most hectic events into something fun. One way to relieve stress is to invest in reusable materials that can help several times as your child grows, or across the formative years of another baby.

Transforming Cribs

Somewhere between potty training and needing to buy bigger clothes resides the task of transitioning your child from a crib to a “big bed”. While less frequent than other changes, taking apart a crib and purchasing a completely new bed can be frustrating. Thankfully, a new piece of furniture called a “Transforming Crib” can be used to graciously transfer from one state to another. In one phase it looks like a traditional baby’s crib, but you can unlock the corners and slide the walls downward. This leaves a small bed without edges, allowing the child a new sleeping situation and the parent peace of mind. Also, if you have another baby the walls can be pulled back up and locked in place again, returning to a crib state. This process can be repeated until your family has outgrown the need of it.

New Appliances

Having a baby means having another person in the family. You might find that your old appliances can’t handle the extra work of washing or cooking for an additional person’s needs, no matter how small. Thankfully, there are appliances out there that make for a wonderful upgrade to any family’s older units. The Haer washer dryer combo, for example, will have everyone’s clothes read to wear with a minimum amount of wait time. Don’t continue to use broken machines that only do half the work when your time and energy should be focused on your latest little addition.

Gender Neutral Toys

Purchasing toys that cater to both boys and girls can save you a good deal of funds if you find yourself wanting another little bundle of joy. Toy bricks, stuffed animals, and novelty clay are sources of entertainment that can be passed on from older sibling to younger without concern. Many of these toys are also timeless and will remain interesting to a child who is born five or more years in the future. 

Gift Ideas for Christmas 2013

Well, the holidays are upon us. And, because everybody in America is more or less incapable of figuring out what they should buy their loved ones, everyone is looking for gift ideas. Gift ideas, gift ideas. It’s the great conundrum of the season, year after year. Well, we’ve done the research. We’ve consulted the great and powerful Gift-o-tron, the amazing Compu-Tor, and all the mysteries of the fabled Interweb to bring you this list of awesome and unique gift ideas to get you through the season.

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Above: Gift-o-Tron

Because time is running out!

1) Team-branded Furniture

For the sports enthusiast in your life. Why would you want to sit anywhere else? The sad truth is that not everything in the world has been emblazoned with the logo of the Montreal Canadiens. Some people can go years — years! In this day and age! — without ever placing their fanny comfortably upon the logo of the DePaul University Blue Demons, the Buffalo Bills, or the Minnesota Vikings. This horrible injustice can be easily and readily corrected by giving your favorite superfan the gift of branded furniture. It may have to stay in the man-cave, but it will fill their hearts with joy every game day to know they can tailgate in spirit right from the comfort of their own home.

2) Repose Sub-Sonic Bone Rattler Video Game Chair

The next best thing to really being there is being seated comfortably in a chair with a built in sound system. Designed to send every shock and jolt and boom and blast shivering straight down your spinal column, the Sub-Sonic Bone Rattler features a sub-woofer located in the seat and two side-mounted precision-aligned speakers that provide clear, crisp, beautiful high-definition sound. Heck, it’s even got a cup holder, an MP3 player holder, and can easily be folded for convenient underbed storage.

3) Your Own Coke Machine

The dream of your childhood of having a soda machine in your bedroom is alive in adulthood. While real soda machines can cost a couple thousand dollars — even used ones usually run about a grand — this miniature push-button soda dispenser is both a super fun way to get something to drink and affordable. It’s a working refrigerator with that classic, retro machine aesthetic. Featuring a tall wndow display so you always know how much you’ve got left, it keeps your drinks at 32 degrees below the ambient temperature. Where nostalgia, irony, or a sense of fun fuels your intended giftee, this is a great choice

4) The Carmelli Inferno 20-in-1 Game Table

Kiss boredom goodbye. You need no longer fear having nothing to do; even if every computer in the entire world were to simultaneously blink out, the Carmelli Inferno would still keep you so entertained you’d never miss Netflix. This table has everything — soccer, billiards, glide hockey, basketball, ping-pong — and all it takes is just a little bit of setup. This is a great gift for kids or even to furnish that game room your husband has been working on in the basement. High quality MDF construction means that this table is built to take a beating and last.

5) Magma Nesting 10 Piece Teflon-Coated Cookware Set

Some gifts are meant to be fun. But we’re adults, and that means gifts that make our lives easier are always welcome. And that’s precisely what this awesome ten-piece cookware set is designed to do. This high-quality set includes three sauce pans, five-quart stock pot, sauté pan, and accessories including lids, handles, and a storage bungee cord to let you store everything in less than a half cubic foot of cabinet space. Milled perfectly flat for even cooking, every pot has a triple-clad bottom perfect for gas, electric, or ceramic cooktops.

6) ICE CREAM MAKER.

Sure, sometimes practical is nice. And sometimes you can throw practical out the window, pally, and go buy an ice cream maker. Whynter’s IC-2L is probably the best self-freezing ice cream maker in the world (according to Cook’s Illustrated), and lets you craft your own gourmet ice creams, sorbets, gelato, sherbets, froyo, or whatever else you can think of. Some sort of bizarre gelato/sorbet hybrid? Could be! Pistachio ice cream? It could happen! This is a professional-quality machine that would be a great addition to every kitchen. And it even comes with some secret recipes to get you started. It’s not only easier than going to the store, but more satisfying, and almost certainly tastier.

Planning Your Holiday Parties Right

Everybody loves a good party, but not everyone can host one! The holiday season is a perfect excuse to throw a festive event. Trying to handle all the odds and ends by yourself can be intimidating, but much of the hassle can be eliminated with a bit of organization and forethought. The following list can be applied to any and all parties you have in the future, so it just may be useful enough to keep around – especially if you have multiple birthday parties in a year to prepare!

The very first thing you should decide on is who will be attending your party. This is most often the easiest step, but don’t feel content to just glaze over on the details. In fact, this step should be completed at least three weeks prior to your planned engagement. How many people can you afford to feed, how many people can the venue hold, are there going to be any unpleasant disagreements between attendees? All of these concerns should be addressed as you draft up the invitations, keeping in mind that the guest of honor should have the final say in who can or can’t attend.

Now let’s talk about one of the key factors that can make or break a party – food! If you’re having a themed party, don’t forget to ensure the food matches the theme. Hawaiian parties should include rice, barbeque, and plenty of fresh fruit, for example. To make things easier, prepare foods that can be frozen – such as cold desserts – a week before the event. This will free up more time for cooking fresh foods on the day of the event. If you’re going to be cooking or chilling a great deal of refreshments, make sure that your appliances can handle the extra strain. If it’s been a while since you’ve updated them, discount refrigerators or ovens might help make your holiday season a lot easier to handle.

Also, if you plan on buying food from a vendor, place the order at least a day in advance. The cooking staff will appreciate it, and you’ll most likely get a better product than if it were rushed. Don’t forget the dietary needs of your guests! A vegetarian who arrives at a party where nothing but meat is being served is sure to be left with some bitter feelings.

Finally, organize the house to fit the expected spacing needs of your party. Is there going to be dancing? If so, you may need to push furniture to the outer perimeter of the room. These interior decorative decisions should be decided on days before hand, otherwise you may end up with cramped guests and a broken fire code. Of equal importance is giving the house a once over, cleaning any room that seems like it could us it. What you consider to be a normal “lived in” room might be unsettling to a finicky attendee. Once all of these preparations are complete, all you’ll need to do is work on your hosting demeanor and casual conversation to throw a memorable event!


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