Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips for Buying a Slow Cooker

Although this appliance works on electricity, it barely consumes as much electricity as a light bulb. Thus, even though the cooking time is long, it’s actually a money-saving appliance. Since it runs on very little electricity, a slow cooker with food can be left unattended for hours together, making it a must-have in the kitchen. However, the market is flooded with all kinds of slow cookers, and choosing one can seem extremely mind-blogging. Moreover, purchasing the wrong kind can cause you to shun away from this efficient kitchen appliance forever.

Essential Tips to Consider Before Buying a Slow Cooker

Size and Capacity

Slow cookers come in various sizes, from 3.5-quart to 8-quart models. In terms of capacity, what’s important to remember is that a slow cooker has to be two-third (maximum three-fourth) full. Filling it beyond this level can result in overflowing, while filling it below this level will cause the food to scorch. For a family of four to eight, the 6-quart slow cooker is appropriate. Not only will there be enough for everybody to devour, but there will also be leftovers.

For two members, the smaller cooker with a capacity of 3.5 quart will be more than sufficient. Thus, the cooker’s capacity must be proportional to the number of people dining on a regular basis. Some slow cookers come with interchangeable bowls, with 2, 4, and 6 quart bowls, so as to increase the usability and versatility of the product.

Shape ― Oval, Round, or Square

Square-shaped slow cookers aren’t very convenient, simply because cleaning around the corners becomes a daily hassle. The rounded ones are very easy to clean. Then again, if you intend to cook a whole chicken or turkey, it’s better you opt for the oval one, because there’s more space.
Even if you aren’t planning on slow cooking roast chickens as yet, it’s better to get the oval one; you never know when you will change your mind. Then, there are the deeper cookers, which are ideal for soups and stews.

Glass or Plastic Lids

In a slow cooker, food cooks in the heat trapped inside, and taking off the lid now and then causes the cooking heat to escape, thereby, resulting in increase of cooking time. Constant temperature fluctuations can cause bacterial growth, which is why it’s important to allow the cooking to get done undisturbed. By getting a glass lid, you can view the food from the outside, thus, eliminating the need to lift it.
Moreover, glass lids have higher domes, which means increased space to fit whole chickens. Always make sure the cooker you purchase has a snug-fitting lid.

Removable Liners
This is one of the most important aspects you must consider, before purchasing a slow cooker. The crock or liner must be removable. The non-removable ones are very difficult to wash, while the removable ones can be easily washed in the sink. Also, look for a dishwasher-safe liner to make washing easier. Moreover, the outer rim should be at least an inch wide, and must slant inwards.
Narrower rims have the risk of spilling cooking liquids over the cooker. Removable liners can also be used to store the leftovers in the refrigerator, thus, being very useful and efficient. Always look for a sturdy liner that can withstand daily handling.

Timer Settings and Other Features

A basic slow cooker contains ‘High’ and ‘Low’ settings, while the fancier versions contain ‘Keep Warm’ settings that automatically shift to the warm mode, once the food has been cooked. Some come with the ‘Delayed Feature Setting’, which records a time later in the day, when the slow cooker should begin cooking. Then there are those that come with a stovetop safe pot, which allows you to brown the food (especially meat), before slow cooking it.
Some even come with temperature and time settings, which allow you to specify them as in an oven. While all these fancy features are not mandatory, you can purchase them if they lie within your budget.

The prices may range from $20 to $200, depending on the capacity, quality, and brand. Choose according to your budget. Be patient with your slow cooker. It may take some time to get used to it. Start off by preparing the usual soups and casseroles, and then move on to more fancier items, like roast chicken, puddings, etc. With time, the slow cooker is sure to replace your stove and oven, and will soon become a great asset you can’t let go of!

Tips to Buy a Crib Mattress

baby-crib-1427729837-600x360Check for Essential Properties

Buy a mattress with that extra layer of protection. A crib mattress must be waterproof even if you plan to use a mattress pad. Most regular waterproof mattresses have a high level of VOCs, so choose an organic and Eco-friendly waterproof pad/cushioning. A non-vinyl waterproof pad will do as well.

Please Remember
~ Crib mattresses must adhere to the safety standards prescribed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) of the United States.
~ An important point to be taken note of is, what kind of crib mattress to buy. Popular varieties include innerspring and foam mattresses.
~ Exercise triple caution when it comes to purchasing second-hand crib mattresses, to avoid the occurrence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Ask Questions

Question as many people as possible before buying a mattress. Prepare a ‘guide to buy a baby mattress’, and use it at all stores. Keep probing the saleswomen, and be sure about the properties, pricing, and other details concerning the mattress.

Check Mattress Design

Both, innerspring and foam mattresses are safe choices. One of the best mattresses for a baby is a foam one with a high-density polyurethane foam core. The core must weigh an average of 1.5 pounds per cubic foot. A higher number indicates a heavy core, while a lower number indicates a lighter core. Innerspring mattress coils are made of recycled polyester. Higher the number of coils, firmer the surface. The mattress must have protection mechanisms that support the toddler’s movements.

Check Organic Content

Choose a mattress with organic content. Of course, the entire mattress is never totally organic, but at least make sure it doesn’t contain unnecessary steel or plastic. Verify the percentage of organic content from the manufacturers.

Check Chemical Usage

Ensure that the mattress contains the ‘GREENGUARD Certification’. This is to make sure the mattress contains a very low amount of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The certification ensures that the mattress has been lab-tested and is free of dangerous chemicals.

Check Mattress Weight

The mattress needs to be lightweight, since it’ll be changed regularly. An average of 10-20 pounds should be the right weight.

Check Mattress Price

This is one of the most important things to remember while buying a crib mattress. Foam mattresses are generally lightweight and expensive. Of course, there’s no compromise when it comes to the baby’s comfort. But do remember that a high price does not always indicate the best quality. Ensure that the mattress is fairly priced and comes with a warranty.

Tips on Buying a New Mattress

Based on the Type of Mattress
There are 3 types of mattresses for you to select from:

Spring Mattress
The core of these mattresses support the sleeper. They are relatively firm and retain their shape because of the coil.

Air Mattresses
Air mattresses use air chambers rather than springs for support. One can change the air pressure regularly to prevent bed sores and maintain comfort.

Foam Mattress
As the name suggests, they use foam to provide support. Generally, memory foam or latex is used for support.
Foam mattresses are longer lasting; however, air mattresses are more adjustable. Spring mattresses have lost their appeal in recent days, due to competition from foam and air mattresses.

Based on the Sleeping Style
On the basis of the sleeping style, the firmness of the mattress can be selected.

For Stomach Sleepers
Firm mattresses are recommended for stomach sleepers. It assists the sleeping and the digestion process.

For Side Sleepers
Soft mattresses would really suit side sleepers. It supports the muscle structure and prevents muscle depression.

For Back Sleepers
Medium mattresses are perfect for back sleepers. Due to the shape of the spinal cord and the arch of the back, a medium mattresses is perfect for providing adequate support for back sleepers.
Some back sleepers do still prefer firm mattresses. You need to be sure of your sleeping style in order to make this decision. In case your sleep is distributed evenly in all three types, medium mattresses would be the safest bet.

Based on the Upholstery
There are three layers to the upholstery that you should ensure is included in your mattress.

The Insulator
As the name suggests, it is to insulate that mattress core. It also works at keeping the middle upholstery in place. It is normally made of fiber or mesh.

The Middle Upholstery
The middle layer of the upholstery is made of materials, that are instrumental in providing comfort to the sleeper, like, regular foam, viscoelastic foam, felt, polyester fibers, cotton fibers, convoluted or “egg-crate” foam, and non-woven fiber pads.

The Quilt
The quilt is the top layer of the upholstery. The look and the final feel of the mattress deeply depends on this layer. It is normally made of light foam or fibers, stitched to the underside of the ticking. They are available in varying degrees of firmness. All three layers are extremely important in order to enjoy complete comfort and durability of the mattress.

Depending on the maintenance and upkeep, good quality mattresses will last anywhere between 7-20 years. Turning and flipping your mattresses at regular intervals will ensure better support. More so, in order to ensure that your mattress doesn’t sag too soon, you could avoid folding or bending it.

Flea Market Shopping Tips

imageFlea markets are an awesome way to buy a lot of things with very little money. Spending a long afternoon with a few friends (and some refreshments of course) at a local flea market can do wonders to your mood. Many a time you do not find something that you have been looking for in a shop or a mall, but you might just find it at a flea market! For example, first edition of a book by your favorite author, or old currency, and many other knickknacks.
All those goods available at such low prices, however, are bound to tempt you to pick things that you probably don’t need. You might even end up paying too much for something that is not worth the money! Here are some shopping tips that will help you get the best bargain.

9 Novel Shopping Tips for a Flea Market

Plan it out

It is advisable to make a list of things that you are particularly going to look for when you go to a flea market. It so happens that we sometimes lose focus on what we really want when we see so many goods. It is almost irresistible, as everything is at such low prices as well. You might just end up picking a lot of other things, but not what you wanted. Better make a list, pick the things you have listed out, and then look around for other things. It will also be a good idea to bring a pocket-diary to a flea market so you can keep a track of the money you are spending.

Early Bird…

Visiting a flea market the day it opens and on any of the later days can make a big difference. The earlier you go, the more variety you will have. A flea market sells mostly second-hand goods. So it’s not like there will be multiple copies of things. This holds especially true for rare or collector’s items. Make the most of the first day. Also do not make haste to grab the things you see the minute you lay eyes on them. Take the time to tour the entire market and then go back to the stalls you liked. That way you will be sure of picking the best bargain.

Read between the lines

Flea markets sell all kinds of things – books, clothes, jewelry, old furniture, etc. Most of these things are secondhand items. Try to gauge how old the item is before you plan to buy. Look for things like functioning, quality, how much has the item been used by the previous owner, etc. In case of books, flip through the book to see if any of the pages are missing. In case of clothes, check if the seams have come loose. In case of old furniture, sit on it! Also consider carrying a measuring tape along with you. That way you can actually measure the dimensions of a piece of furniture you intend to buy and check if it will fit in the place you have at home.

Things NOT to buy

It might be quite risky to pick up health products from a market. Cosmetics, medicines are a no-no. You may never know whether the products are genuine or not. It is better to avoid picking these things. However, be very, very careful if you absolutely must pick them up. Check for the labels, see if they are genuine, check for things like manufacturing and expiry date, etc. Really scrutinize the product before you pick it up. Be careful and vigilant before buying such items to avoid possible health hazards such as allergies, infections, side-effects, etc.

Bargain

Once you know how much the item you want to buy has depreciated, bargain! Do not end up paying the price of a new stereo for one that is a few years old. There are a few people who will be honest about the quality of goods they are selling. However, some might be out there to really milk the opportunity and dupe you! beware. Another tip here is: if you buy a lot of things from a single stall, or if you spend a lot of money at a particular stall, you can try to bargain with the vendor to give you one of the items for free, or to give you a flat discount on the sum total.

Take care of your belongings

It is best to leave all your fancy and big purses and bags at home and come to a flea market with only your wallet (or better still, money in your pocket). The reason for this is, you have less stuff of your own to take care of and keep a watch on. Plus depending on how many things you plan to buy, your hands need to be free to pick up all the bags! If you absolutely must carry something however, go for a simple sling bag. It is easy to carry, and you can stuff it with extra things you pick up at the market as well.

Don’t faint!

Unless someone at the flea market is really creative and has thought it through, there are chances that none of the stalls at the market will offer refreshments. Of course all that shopping and roaming around is bound to leave you tired, isn’t it? Stock yourself with some refreshments. Fruit juice and a couple of sandwiches should keep you going.

Say no to plastic

I would emphatically suggest you to carry your own shopping bags, carry bags, or better still reusable shopping bags with you. You can fold up a canvas bag and keep it in your purse. You may even put two or three reusable shopping bags in your sling bag, so that you are well-equipped. Also avoid buying packaged drinking water. Instead carry your own water bottle with you.

Drape it right

This might seem a little out-of-place, but some of you might appreciate it. It is best to wear comfortable clothes when you go shopping, especially to a flea market. Most flea markets open during the day, and many buyers like to go shopping around afternoon. With the sun up above your heads, you are bound to sweat! Carry napkins, wear a hat or scarf, protect your eyes with proper sunglasses, and wear skin-friendly clothes.

Flea markets offer the opportunity to truly satisfy and quench your urge to shop. They make the perfect destination for an impulse shopping spree – for you are not spending too much! Hope the above shopping tips help you out the next time you visit a flea market. Have fun!