Dec
18

5 Holiday Hosting Hacks For The Kitchen

5 holiday hosting hacks for the kitchen The holidays can bring a surfeit of visitors through your home and kitchen, which can quickly become a stressful time of year. But instead of worrying about every detail, focus on a few key hosting hacks so that you can enjoy your visitors and not have to worry about too much.

1. Stock your Pantry Wisely

Before the holidays hit, be sure to stock up on essential items that can easily be whipped out, even if you have unexpected visitors. Cheese and crackers are a great snack, and so are a few yummy spreads. Even something simple like Mandarin oranges make for a tasty treat.

For large parties, be sure to keep things simple so that you don’t have to spend all week preparing. If you are hosting a party and somebody offers to bring something, be sure to agree to this. Extra chips and dip are always needed. Or, if you are planning an elaborate meal, have your guests bring the dessert.

2. Choose Between Homemade and Store-bought

Even the best host relies on store-bought dishes sometimes. If you’ve made one type of Christmas cookie, but don’t have time for more, you can add to your dessert tray with other items from your local bakery. For more elaborate desserts, it’s far easier to pick something up from the store than trying to find the specific ingredients that you won’t have a chance to use in anything else.

You can get really nice meat and cheese platters from the store, and don’t be afraid to purchase these. You can add to them and put them on your own holiday trays so that they have a bit more personality.

3. Stock Up On Alcohol

Most liquor stores will have rotating sales on alcohol, so start by buying a bottle or two each month. This way you can take advantage of sales and not have to spend a small fortune all at once. Most guests will bring a bottle of wine, so stock up on hard liquor and soft drinks, but anticipate that most of the wine will be provided by visitors.

4. Create A Bar

As host, you will be plenty of busy during parties, so make it easier for your guests to help themselves. Just as you would have an hors d’oeuvres area, create a self-serve drink area. Put out a selection of bottles, plenty of cups, and an ice bucket. Be sure to give your guests a little tour of the kitchen and where to find the bar area so that they will know where to go to replenish their drinks.

5. Designate Helpers

It’s ok to ask for help. Assign close friends and family small tasks that will go a long way. One person can be in charge of refilling the ice bucket. Have your kids put coats in the closet or in a bedroom. This way you can actually enjoy yourself.

 

Dec
18

Best Ways To Save For Your Kitchen Reno

best ways to save for your kitchen reno Your kitchen is in desperate need of a face lift. It’s old, dated, and very uninspiring. Now is the time for a kitchen reno, but you’re not sure how to actually afford one. Here are a few easy ways to save for your next kitchen reno.

Create a Plan

Renovating can be impulsive, but the more practical you are about it, the more you can save. Instead of diving in, look ahead and create a plan. If you’re ready to overhaul your kitchen, plan on starting work in at least a year. This may seem like a long time, but it will be worth it in the end. Go over every inch of your kitchen to decide what can stay, what needs to go, and what can be repurposed. Maybe you don’t need to replace all of your appliances. Or maybe the cabinets can be painted or refaced instead of having new ones installed.

Once you have a plan, start to create a budget. Price out both low and high-end versions of each element that needs work. This way you can get an overall idea of the range of what you will need to spend, and you can adjust it to what you can actually afford.

Finally, look at what needs to be done right away and what can wait a bit later. If your fridge works just fine, keep it and wait until it breaks to get a new one. If your light fixtures are still working, keep them for a bit longer before you upgrade. Not everything has to get done right away.

Ask for Help

Chances are someone you know will have some trades experience. Whether it’s a plumber, electrician, or carpenter, perhaps you have a friend that is willing to do some work for free or at a discounted price. Maybe you can trade your own professional expertise for a project they’re working on. Better yet, look at what work you can take on yourself. Tiling can be relatively easy, and so is painting. There are many online videos that can take you through the steps. Remember, though, that some elements of a kitchen should be done by a professional. Countertops need to be cut accurately to work and if you have no electrical experience, you don’t want to accidentally set sparks flying.

Do Your Research

There are many ways to save on materials with your kitchen reno. If you have a small floor, you could probably find a few boxes of tile for a reasonable price. Check your local listing for re-store places that sell used or returned building supplies. The more adaptable you are, the more you can save. Remember that creativity is often the key to saving money.

Nov
18

5 Kitchen Appliances You Actually Don’t Need

5 kitchen appliance you actually don't need Some people are fortunate enough to have an epic kitchen, with miles of counterspace and no room restrictions. The reality for most people, though, is that space in a kitchen is at a premium, and storage space virtually nonexistent. If you feel like clutter is taking over your kitchen, it might be a good time to look at all the appliances, both big and small, that you own. Here are five kitchen appliances that you actually don’t need.

Microwave

The boom of microwaves in the 1970s created a whole new way of cooking. From microwavable dinners to cookbooks devoted to the subject, food was being prepared in a much different way. Now, however, there is a return to simple, natural cooking and the microwave is slowly falling out of favor. Instead of the microwave, an oven and stove will do just fine, if not a bit longer. But if you’re short on space, then the microwave is the most obvious first choice to go for.

Toaster Oven

This hybrid of an oven and a toaster can take up a lot of counter space. And really, what does it actually offer except a few burnt fingers? All kitchens will have an oven, and most will have a toaster, so really, there is absolutely no need for this bulky kitchen appliance.

Electric Kettle

It’s amazing how an electric kettle has become a standard appliance in a kitchen. All it can do is boil water and chances are you own a pot, or five, that can do the exact same thing. Kettles are nice because they have an easy to grasp handle and spout, but after pouring out a pot once or twice, you will certainly settle into a nice routine. Ditch the kettle and free up some counter space.

Popcorn Maker

Popcorn mas still taste delicious, but how it has been made has changed a lot. From the bulky popcorn maker to the convenient microwavable packages, popcorn can actually be made in a large pot on the stove. In fact, this is much healthier and really quite easy. All you need is a large pot with a lid. You can add healthy oils to heat up and decide how much butter and salt you want to finish with.

Baby Food Maker

If you’ve ever attended a baby shower, chances are you will have seen the gift of the baby food maker. This is simply just a small blender. If you have a blender or food processer, there is no need for a baby food maker. In fact, new research has shown that babies don’t actually require extremely pureed food. So, stick to clothes and books for a newborn and ditch the baby food maker appliance.

 

Nov
18

4 Design Fails To Avoid In Your Kitchen

4 design fails to avoid in your kitchen It’s everyone’s dream to have a stunning, new kitchen. And with all the excitement you can be forgiven for wanting to dive right in and get it done. However, a bit of planning can make all the difference. Here are four kitchen design fails to avoid so that you can enjoy your kitchen and not have to worry about fixing your mistakes.

Backsplashes

In a prime example of measure twice and cut once, the same applies for backsplash tiles. The space between the cupboards and the countertop can be narrow. Add in a window on the wall, and that space now has a lot of edges to be filled in. If you aren’t hiring an expert tiler, but instead plan on some do it yourself work, really take your time. Make sure you either buy or rent the appropriate tile cutters. You might want to first make a cardboard template to ensure a smooth, perfect design fit. If you’re using small glass tiles, make sure that the edges have been properly cut and not just torn off the backing. At the end of the job look to make sure that everything still looks okay once the grout has dried. If it doesn’t, consider a piece of trip to make up for the rough edges.

Crown Molding

To finish off the tops of cabinets, many people will opt for crown molding as a design. This can tie everything together and give a polished, traditional look. While crown molding pieces will be level, be aware that your cabinets may not be. If you are piecing together a small gap between the cabinets and the ceiling, measure the space at different points along the top. You can also use a leveler to see just how square everything is. You may have to do a bit of sanding to level out the crown molding so that there are no gaps in between.

Upside Down Outlets

Larger appliances, like the fridge, should have a grounding tine in the plug. The plug will also be bulky and rather deep and in most cases will only fit one when plugged in. When installing a large outlet, be sure that the grounding hole is located in the right area. Do a bit of a trial to match your appliance with the outlet before attaching the wires.

Matching Tones

It can be hard to decide on a color palette and instead, many people will think that the same colors together will work. Colors shouldn’t match; rather, they should go together. In the case of a light wood laminate floor and a light wood cabinet, the overwhelming color block does not inspire much. It’s okay to put a bit of contrast in your kitchen. There can be light and dark colors.

 

Oct
18

Why a Bathroom Fan is So Important

why a bathroom fan is so important Almost all bathrooms have them, but not everyone understands their purpose, or even how best to use them. Bathroom fans have an important job to do, but it’s necessary to use them correctly. Read on to get to know more about this often underutilized device.

Purpose

A bathroom fan works to remove the warm, moist air from inside the bathroom. The air is drawn up, thorough the fan and vented out through the roof of the house.

Moisture can lead to mold, which is why a bathroom fan needs to be used. Moisture can also cause damage to the wood in a bathroom. If you’re not sure if a bathroom fan is doing its job, take a quick smell test. If the bathroom smells musty, then you are not running your bathroom fan often enough, or it’s not working properly.

Types of Fans

The larger the bathroom, the larger the fan should be. If you are doing any renovations to your bathroom, be sure to include the fan in your design. If you plan on knocking down any walls, the square footage of the room will increase, and the fan’s capacity may need to be upgraded.

The rule of thumb is that for every square foot of area in a bathroom, the fan should be able to provide one cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air movement. However, if your room is over 100 square feet in size, then you also need to add in an extra 50 CFM for the shower, bathtub, and toilet. As well, if you have a jetted jacuzzi tub, then add an extra 100 CFM.

Upgrade

All new houses will have bathroom fans installed. But the requirements for those bathrooms, as well as the technology, is constantly chancing. If you are in an older home, add a new bathroom fan to the list of house upgrades. Generally, look into replacing your bathroom fan every 10 to 15 years. This will ensure that if there are any new building codes, or any new technical efficiencies, that you are able to take advantage of them.

Run Time

A bathroom fan will do its job if you run it the correct amount of time. The standard time is 20 minutes after each time you run a bath or shower. If you find it hard to remember to turn off your fan, or feel like you’re not running it long enough, then look for timer options. Most newer models will come with a timer. Some more high-tech models also come with a humidity sensor. This is even better as you can program the bathroom fan to turn off once the room reaches a certain humidity level.