Monthly Archives: September 2014

Must-haves for Amateurs in the Kitchen

Cookware Collage

 

(Grill – George Foreman 2 serving Grill, Cookie Sheets – Faberware Nonstick Cookie Sheets, Knives – Ginsu 14 piece knife set, Pots & Pans – Cook N Home 10 piece nonstick cookware set, Cutting Boards – Totally Bamboo 3 piece cutting board set)

 

As a young adult I love eating out at restaurants, ordering late night takeout, or ordering pizza delivery. As a college students, however, I enjoy saving money; and let me be the first to say, that it’s really difficult to save money when you’re spending $20-25 at restaurants. So, mostly out of necessity (and by necessity I really mean thriftiness), I learned how to cook some basic meals at home using the minimal amount of cookware necessary. Since many kitchen appliances can be very expensive, I have tried to make do with what little was available in my apartment kitchen, however there are some basic kitchen materials that I, as an amateur cook and college student, would say are necessary to cook any real meal. Now bear in mind, that I am no expert chef, so when I say “real meal” I’m really talking about some steaks,  grilled chicken and steamed vegetables in portions that serve one or two people, and not full spread, three course dinners for large families. So the items on this week’s list are really more for you bachelors/bachelorettes or hungry college students that are sick of fast food and tired of breaking bank at restaurants.

1. George Foreman Grill. Now this is not like the gas powered portable grill that has been featured in several of my other posts. This one is a smaller electric powered grill that is probably small enough to carry around in a backpack. The beauty of this little appliance is that you don’t need to know how to barbecue or grill something like you would if you were operating a gas powered grill. It is as simple as placing your food in the grill, plugging it in, closing it, and letting your food cook for a few minutes. A simple-to-use and inexpensive alternative to an open flame grill, the George foreman is an amateur cook’s best friend.

2. Cookie Sheets. As the name suggests, you often use these to bake pastries (or cookies). In general, however, I use cookie sheets whenever I need to cook something inside an oven. Since most ovens don’t allow you to place food directly on it’s surface, a cookie sheet is needed to place your food on. And trust me, I use these all the time whenever I attempt to make a baked meal like baked chicken, or baked salmon, or even if I just want to heat up some leftover food. The non-stick surface of the cookie sheets also means that your food will be neat, and you won’t have to scrape it off the bottom of the oven.

3. Kitchen Knife set. This one should be self explanatory. Kitchen knives are essential when attempting to cook something that isn’t a sandwich or burger. Whether you need to chop up vegetables or dice some meats, you will almost always need a good pair of kitchen knives. And don’t bother buying cheap knives! Invest in a durable, high quality knife set that will last a long time and you’ll be sure to feel more like a pro in the kitchen.

4. Pots and Pans. Ramen noodles may be considered a broke college student’s best friend because they are so affordable, but pasta isn’t that much more expensive and it tastes so much better. The only problem is, that unlike ramen, you can’t cook good pasta in under 2 minutes in a microwave. That is where having good quality pots and pans comes into play. If your kitchen is stocked with pots and pans, there really isn’t anything you can’t make. Whether it’s pasta, soup and noodles, fried chicken, or even french fries, a good set of pots and pans will make sure that you never run out of options to cook.

5. A cutting board. This is probably the most underrated kitchen appliance on the list. It’s such a simple thing that some people don’t even bother having one in their kitchen. However, cutting boards are always a necessity when cooking food. They keep your food and your countertops clean while also ensuring that you don’t leave knife marks everywhere. A good cutting board is one that is easy to wash and will endure several years of chopping, slicing, and dicing.

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iThink iWant to get an iPhone 6

iPhone 6 Collage

 

(iPhone 6 case – 4.7” Otterbox Case, Wallet – iPhone 6 (4.7”) Verus Wallet Case, Armband – iPhone 6 (4.7”) EnGive anti-slip Armband case, Screen protector – iPhone 6 (4.7”) IQ Shield LiQuidSkin)

 

If you happened to walk by an Apple store earlier today and saw a massive line of people waiting to get in but had no idea what those people were waiting for, let me explain: Apple just released the new line in their iPhone series, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Now that you’re caught up, let me just admit right now that I am really excited about this and have decided to write a short article on just a few iPhone 6 tech-cessories that I’m considering to get (in case you didn’t notice the iPhone paraphernalia above).

Without falling into any boring and pointless iPhone vs. Android debates, or “Samsung did it first” arguments, I present four accessories for the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 that I might purchase…. once  I actually get the phone.

1. The Otterbox case. All cell phones are expensive and sensitive pieces of equipment. iPhone users are probably more familiar with this than most (especially the expensive part). So it would make sense to at least put in a little effort to protect your fragile and costly piece of tech right? The Otterbox is a durable three layered case that protects the entire phone from scratches and dust as well as a little extra protection for those “Oh S—” moments when your phone slips away from you and plummets to the ground. The built in screen protector also prevents annoying little cracks from developing on your screen.

2. iPhone Verus Wallet case. I’ve seen many people use these cases and I’m having a difficult time deciding whether or not these are beneficial. While it is very convenient to have both your phone and wallet in the same place, it could be a problem simply because you have your phone and wallet in the same place. On the plus side you’ll never forget to bring your phone or wallet because they’ll be one and the same and you’ll have fewer things to carry around with you, however in the event that you lose your phone, which honestly probably happens more times than anyone would like,  you will also end up losing your wallet.

3. iPhone 6 Armband case. This little device is perfect for workouts. iPhones only seem to get bigger and bigger every year making them a more and more annoying to have in your pocket when trying to run or bike somewhere. Instead of having a giant 4.7 inch, 127 gram block of expensive and delicate technology rattling around in my pocket during a run or bike ride, i’d rather have it secure somewhere safe but close enough that I can still use it, like strapped securely to my arm in an anti-slip armband.

4. iPhone 6 IQ Shield screen protector. These screen protectors essentially cover your phone screen with a thin layer of a form of polyethylene terephthalate, which is chemistry-speak for a polyester that is flexible, transparent, and durable enough to keep your phone screen pristine. These screen protectors are particularly nice because once installed, you hardly notice that it’s there. The PET film sticks directly on your phone and is thin and clear enough that it appears that nothing is there. They also work to keep dust and oils off your phone, meaning that you won’t get as many annoying dirty fingerprint marks all over your screen. It is also worth noting, that the IQ screen can be used without or with additional cases for protection, however, if you are looking to protect your phone from fall damage, they should not be used alone.

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It’s still nice enough for a Swim, right?

Pool party collage

 

(Grill – Coleman Portable grill, Cooler – Coleman 62qt Cooler, Cups – 18oz Hefty Red Solo Cups, Pool Volleyball – Dunnrite AquaVolly Swimming Pool Volleyball Set, Pool Toy- Waboba Pro Ball, Drink Dispenser – Creativeware 3-Gallon Drink Dispenser)

 

It’s only about half-way through September, but there seems to be a shadow gradually creeping over these sunny days, almost as subtle as a slight change in the weather. Actually, since I’m talking about Winter, it has everything to do with changes in the weather. Yes, that’s right, “Winter is Coming” and it will be here before any of us expect it. Our brothers and sisters living in the northern regions of the world are probably already feeling the first signs of the impending coldness. I, however, am fortunate enough to be living in the American Southwest where I will still be able to enjoy almost-summer type weather. So what does that mean? Well it means for the next few weeks I will be enjoying every last bit of pool party season as I can, before winter snatches it away for several months. So as a last hurrah to pool party season 2014 I decided to make a small list of pool party essentials.

And before I go any further, yes this list features a lot of food and drink related items – Why? Well people spend the pre-summer months getting into shape, and getting a beach-worthy bod to look good at the pool, however, from what I have seen, part of this is because many people like to eat and drink like hippos when at pool parties and by the end of summer have probably put back a some of the pounds they lost a few months earlier.

So, here is my list of ideas for pool party items:

1. The portable grill. This is probably the the third time this item has been included in a list, and it’s not just because I really like barbecuing and food (which I do), but it’s because these grills are just so convenient for almost any situation. From barbecue parties, to pool parties, to just regular parties – any time food and socializing are put together, a portable grill will be there no matter what the venue to save the day and crank out some delicious grilled food.

2. 62qt cooler is just the right size to cool as much food and drink as you want at a pool party. And trust me, you will want fresh food and cool drinks by the pool. After a couple hours in the sun, by the pool you start to get a little hungry and your throat seems a little parched. Well if you ever find yourself in that situation, you’ll be thankful that you decided to bring a cooler, so that you can gulp down a cold drink and snack on a few munchies without having to go anywhere special. And if you have a portable grill like from #1 then you might find that there’s always room for a few frozen steaks or burger patties in the cooler.

3. Red Solo Cups. Do I need to explain? Okay, for the sake of thoroughness I will. Red solo cups are simply the universal american symbol for a party, at least according to Toby Keith. They are an inexpensive alternative to having glass cups and are disposable, which means that you don’t have to wash a few dozen cups when you’re finished. What’s more is that pool parties tend to have pools filled with water and glass has a tendency to break. Broken glass isn’t really a good thing to have at the bottom of a big pool filled with water because you wouldn’t be able to see if you were stepping on it. Luckily, you won’t have that problem with the plastic cups.

4. A drink dispenser is almost essential for any party scene. Simply choose your favorite drink, pour it into the drink dispenser and fill it up with ice, then viola, everyone can enjoy your beverage selection. These large drink dispensers are also great for mixed drinks like lemonade, iced tea, or basically any drink where a small pitcher just won’t do the job.

5. Pool Volleyball. Well any type of sport will do. Pool Volleyball just seems like loads of fun. The important thing is to find a game to play in the pool with your friends, whether it’s pool volleyball, pool football, pool baseball (if your pool’s big enough), pool soccer (if you can manage to figure out how to do that), or even water polo (if you’re a really good swimmer).

6. A Waboba. If you’re reading this thinking “What’s a Waboba?” don’t worry, I didn’t know what it was either until a few weeks ago. A waboba is probably one of the funnest yet simplest pool toys I have ever seen. It’s basically a small ball that can float on water and is soft enough to be thrown around at high speeds without seriously hurting someone. What’s even better is that the waboba can skip on water, similar to throwing a really flat and smooth stone, making it even more fun to play with.

So if you are lucky enough to be able to enjoy a pool for a few more weeks go out and do it!

And if you are someone who is already feeling winter’s chill, don’t worry, at least you’ll have something to look forward to!

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What sort of Entertainment and Amenities do you have?

Room Appliances

 

( Television – Samsung 32-in LED, Lights – 10 meter white LED Christmas Lights, SpeakersVIZIO HD Soundbar, Fridge – Danby 1.8 cubic feet Mini-Fridge)

Last week I talked about some suggestions for decorating an empty apartment or dorm room to spice it up and make it more comfortable. While paintings, posters, banners, and other aesthetic pieces are great and make your space more homelike, they are really just for decoration. You can’t really do much with a portrait other than admire it, and if your room is full of only posters and pictures, you’d better be really good at consistently appreciating decorations, otherwise you will run into boredom really quickly. So this week I’ve come up with a short list of more practical devices that, in my opinion, are somewhat mandatory for a dorm or apartment.

1. A relatively inexpensive yet good quality TV like the samsung 32-inch is a perfect choice for an apartment or dorm because it is small enough to fit in even cramped or cluttered living spaces but doesn’t suffer from lack of quality. Having a TV has become so commonplace that it is considered a basic amenity and for good reason; it is a device that offers an easy escape from boredom or stress and for many people, especially college students, there is a never ending need for an escape from boredom or stress.

2. A good quality speaker system like the Vizio sound-bar is a great addition to any dorm or apartment. First of all, you can hook it up to your TV for that “movie-theater style” audio experience. Secondly, having a good speaker system lets you play your favorite music no matter the setting. Whether you want to solo-jam to some tunes or bump music at a house party, a good sound system will always come in handy.

3. A mini-fridge is a perfect little utility to keep around especially if you have roommates. Why? Well having a fridge that everyone shares means that your food is fair game for anyone. Having a mini-fridge in your room ensures that you can keep a close eye on your munchies. It also means that you can be really lazy and keep food literally within arms reach so you don’t have to spend the extra 10 seconds it takes to walk to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat.

4. Christmas Lights. Yes you read that correctly. The great thing about Christmas lights is that you definitely do not only use them for Christmas time. Christmas lights are a perfect decoration for any place in the apartment because they add a vibrant glow throughout the entire place. They are also a more aesthetically pleasing alternative to the bland office-like glow of fluorescent lamps and light bulbs.

So, what sort of entertainment and amenities are essential for your place?

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