The 9 Lives of the Blender

January 5, 2009 by Natalie  
Filed under Gizmos & Gadgets

In 1921, Stephen Poplawski put a spinning blade at the bottom of a container to make soda fountain drinks. Tada! The blender was born. Smoothies, salsa, and frothy beverages have never tasted so sweet (or spicy)! Of all of the incarnations of the basic blender, we listed 9 of the most pimped out models to be developed.

The Food Processor

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This ostentatious appliance towers over its blending predecessors with interchangeable blades and disks; the food processor takes on solids and semi solids to deliver kneaded dough or baby food in a whir of powerful chopping, mixing or grinding action. Think you’re never too old to be tricked into eating your peas? You better be careful with this bad-boy in the kitchen. Who knows what will get thrown in there next. Yipe!

The Juicer

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Juicers aren’t just for dieters, hippies that only eat raw food, or old people that can’t go regularly. The hard core Acme Juicer is the ideal appliance for real men, using a gyroscope and clutch to deliver sweet, crisp nectar. The blades turn 60 revolutions per second, proving that if Bond needed one at a moment’s notice, this would be his juicer of choice. Whether your juicer has a gyroscope or a Jack LaLanne signature, make a toast to your health! The inventor of this brilliant machine lived to be 108!

The Salsa Blender

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Things get spicy when you add fresh peppers and garlic to your homemade tomato salsa. Or try mango or mint salsa and add some ole to your entertaining style. This speedy Gonzales among salsa blenders not only crafts incredibly smooth or chunky salsa, it whips up icy beverages, such as pina coladas and daquiris. Who doesn’t love a fiesta?

The Margarita Blender

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You don’t need tickets to a Jimmy Buffet concert to understand the popularity of this drink! Ever seen a “jumbo” Margarita glass in a Mexican restaurant? They hold more water than any toilet bowl! Margarita blenders are unique because they have a chamber for crushed ice at the top of the blender console. It’s like two blenders in one! Just don’t handle the blades for cleaning after having a few.


The Smoothie Blender

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The Smoothie Elite, debuted in 2003, after smoothie specialty shops, such as Jamba Juice, had struck trendy, cold gold. It features a stir-stick to break apart air pockets and a practical dispensing spout. It’s arguably the most efficient and most difficult to clean smoothie appliance available.


The Magic Bullet

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Aunts and Grandmothers everywhere were delighted to unwrap Magic Bullets from Santa last Christmas. This upside-down blender loaded with accessories packs a punch; crushing and stirring at speeds that Granny had never witnessed before in her own kitchen. The accoutrements, 21 altogether, include blades, plastic mugs, filters, and a “10 Second Recipes” book.


The Ice-Crusher

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Your kitchen will become Sno-Cone central with this ice-stomping blender. The ice-crusher is a timesaving tool for smoothies, frappuccinos, and your favorite frothy alcoholic beverages. If you’re like me and don’t like standard cubed ice from trays, crushed ice is a major upgrade. Use it to freshen up your guests’ drinks or to make a calorie-free, hydrating snack.


The Hot Cocoa Maker

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Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 golden goblets of hot chocolate daily (as he believed it to be an aphrodisiac) and he paid Aztec prostitutes in cocoa beans. Now if the thoughts of drinking an aphrodisiac don’t get you into a tizzy, a recent study conducted by Cornell students proved that the antioxidants in cocoa are three times more active than those found in green tea. No marshmallows? This baby can turn a flat cocoa (or latte, or chai tea) into a lathered, frothy libation that won’t disappoint on a brisk, wintry night.


The Coffee Grinder

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This barista “must-have” was a hand-crank machine in its infant years. With thousands of varieties on the market today, anyone who enjoys a morning joe can choose from the total spectrum of coffee grinding glory, from Turkish to Espresso, for paper or metal filters, and from drip-brews to french presses.

The Ultimate News Year’s Eve Party Guide

December 31, 2008 by Natalie  
Filed under Fun Stuff

Before the three-day hangovers and resolutions we have no intention of keeping comes the biggest night of the year, New Year’s Eve. Whether you’re a drinker or not, we all tend to have high hopes of what this magical night will bring and we want nothing less than fireworks, life long memories and of course, all our wishes for the new year to come true.

With this in mind, if your place is the lucky pad of choice for this year’s New Year’s bash, you’ve got a lot to live up to. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you get everything under control and make this a night to remember - no matter how many drinks your guests will have.

The first place to start is deciding on a budget and theme since both of these will influence every aspect of the party from food to decorations. Think about how much money you want to spend on the party personally and if you want it to be a classy, dressy affair or a laid back rock out.

Now on to the good stuff…

Food

nyfood1 The Ultimate News Years Eve Party GuideA definite must have, food can take on a lot of different flavors depending upon the type of party you want. Our advice is to go with light snacks, finger foods, and hors d’oeuvres.

This is a great option for small or large parties and makes preparation quick and easy since most can be simply heated in the oven or bought pre-made.

If you’re aiming for a classier setting, you can opt to have sit down meal to kick off the party but we would only suggest this option if you’re planning on having small gathering.If this is what you’d prefer, consider doing a potluck style where everyone brings his or her own dish.

Hint:

  • Chips
  • Dips
  • Nachos
  • Frozen Hors d’oeuvres (your local grocery store should have lots)
  • Crackers, cheeses, pepperoni, pickles
  • Chicken wings
  • Meat, veggie, and fruit trays
  • Cheeseballs
  • Finger Sandwiches
  • Sweets like squares or cookies.

Check out the Food Network, Kraft, Recipezaar or Great Party Recipes for more yummy ideas.

Music

Dancing the night awayThere’s no such thing as a party without music, or at least not a very good one. Since you’re hosting the party, you’re automatically promoted to DJ, so you better get together some tunes for everyone to groove to.

The main thing to consider here is the type of people who will be coming to your party. If you’re having a small gathering of close friends who all have similar musical taste, then go ahead and play Rob Stewart’s Greatest Hits.

But if you’re having a large party, you should try to play music from several genres to keep everybody happy.

Hint:

  • Play the radio
  • Mixed CDs
  • Ask everyone to bring their favorite CD

Check out the Top 40 of 2008, Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time or Billboard for song ideas.

Drinks

Finally, we get to talk about the good stuff. Booze is one area of the party that can become very expensive, very quickly. If you want to be a big shot and your wallet can handle it, stock up on as much liquor as you want. Check out I Drink, Drink Recipes Bar, or Drink of the Week for cocktail and shot ideas to give you an idea of what you should purchase.

A more practical approach is to simply provide the basics to your guests and make the party BYOB. Make sure to get lots of ice, pop and juice for mix, champagne (no New Year’s party is complete without it) and cups and straws. It’s also a good idea to clear an area on your counter or table for drink prep for your guests to help keep the mess from spreading around the house.

nyshots The Ultimate News Years Eve Party GuideHint:

One thing to remember – fridge space, fridge space, fridge space. Everyone will be looking to keep their brewskies cold, so make sure you have lots of room in your fridge and freezer. If space is tight, use a cooler or bathtub filled with ice.

Activities

You don’t need to go over board and plan out the entire evening with activities, but having a few games on hand will keep your guests entertained, break the ice, and get everyone good and liquored.

Hint:

Since New Year’s is pretty much an excuse to drink, we suggest playing a few drinking games to get the evening going. Webtender and DrinkingGames.com offer a huge selection to choose from, but you can also check out this cute New Year’s resolution game or Party411 for non-alcoholic fun.

Decorations

nydecorations3 The Ultimate News Years Eve Party GuideDecorations are the icing on the cake to any great party and New Year’s is no exception. This is another area where you can choose to go with a theme like a classic white, silver, and black palette or just go crazy with color.Make sure to get balloons, streamers and few party favors of your choice.

Hint:

Confetti is one of the best party favors at a New Years party, but they can be a pain to clean up so be prepared. For a more cleanly way to ring in the New Year, opt to get hats, noisemakers or sparklers instead.

Invitations

We actually suggest sending out invites as far in advanced as possible so your guests don’t make other plans.

The easiest way to invite your guests is to use email or social sites like Facebook. It’s simple to mass email your friends or set a group event so everyone is kept in the loop. If you have some not-so-savvy friends, you can just give them a call but make sure they take down all the important information they’ll need.

If you want to be fancy, you can choose to send out invitations by mail but this will require more effort and preparation, especially since you’ll have to send them out early to arrive on time.

Hint:
Regardless of the method of invite, here are the key points you want to include:

  • Date: a no-brainer but it doesn’t hurt to be thorough.
  • Time: Let you’re guests know when to show up and more importantly when to leave.
  • Sleeping / Driving Arrangements: Is there room for your guests to stay over, or should they make their own plans to get home?
  • BYOB: Or not.
  • Dress: Let everyone know if this is a casual party or more formal.
  • Food: Do guests need to bring any snacks with them?
  • Extras: If you’re planning on doing anything special, like maybe having some fireworks in the backyard, you should mention this to your guests beforehand so they can be prepared.

Foolproof

Since New Year’s Eve parties can get pretty wild and crazy, here are some extra tips any host should remember to keep things going smoothly:

  • No Drinking or Driving: Enforce the no drinking and driving rule. Collect keys, lock the doors, or let people stay over if they don’t have a ride home.
  • Bring Buckets: It’s inevitable that at least one party-goer will drink beyond their limit and need to spend some one on one with the toilet. This is a particular nuisance if you only have one bathroom; so keep the lou running freely by having a couple of buckets around. Another tip is to keep an eye on guests who seem to be drinking too much, too fast and get them to take periodic breaks - if you can.
  • Paper, Plastic or Glass?: To help make clean up easier (and help the environment too) hand out paper cups to your guests.
  • Corral The Party: If there are rooms you would prefer your guests not stumble into make sure to keep the doors closed.
  • Keep Track of Time: After a few drinks, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget about the stroke of midnight. Keep a clock around or have the TV or radio on to alert you before the ball drops.
  • Dance Floor: With music comes dancing and it’s in your best interested to clear an area so people can bust their moves. It’s also highly recommended to move any breakable items into rooms that aren’t being used.
  • The Clean Up: Place some garbage bags/cans around the main areas of the party to encourage people to throw out their cups, napkins, etc. Try cleaning up some before you go to bed, too. Trust us, it’s a lot harder to clean up the morning after.
  • Breakfast: If you’re having some people stay over, think about having something on hand for breakfast, or arrange to go out. There’s no better way to start New Year’s Day than a big, greasy hangover breakfast.

Cocktail party

If you follow this guide and give yourself enough time to prepare, you’ll be sure to throw an awesome New Year’s Party. Just remember to be safe, have fun, and don’t pass out before the ball drops. See you in the New Year!

Dumpster Diving Freegan-Style

December 16, 2008 by Natalie  
Filed under Fun Stuff

freegans Dumpster Diving Freegan-StyleFreegans are a close relative to the vegan movement and form their name from two words, “free” and “vegan”. Like their vegan cousins, Freegans avoid buying anything that may have contributed or promoted to the mistreatment of humans, land, and animals. However, they take the vegan concept one-step farther by avoiding consumerism, which they believe is the reason for most, if not all, of the mistreatment that has become synonymous with modern lifestyle.

In order to acquire food, Freegans generally participate in what’s called ‘dumpster diving’. They begin by studying the garbage removal habits of local restaurants and grocery stores to figure out the best times to forage for unwanted food and products deemed not fit by retailers. Then, at peak times, they will rummage through the dumpsters; taking with them food they consider still good to eat.

In larger cities, Freegans need not worry about storing the food they collect since there is an abundance of freshly disposed food ripe for dining several times a day. Some Freegans even have unofficial agreements with employees who leave food beside the dumpster rather than inside.

As admiral as these waste-not-want-not dining habits are, Freegans are not generally viewed in a positive light, particularly by businesses who claim that the food and products in their dumpsters are not fit for human consumption. Anything that is, has already been donated to local charities but Freegans argue the validity of ‘best before dates’ and stand by their beliefs.

However, Freegans do have standards in what they will consume and do not take opened packages or perishables such as fruits and vegetables that are clearly rotten.

Freeganism is not for the faint at heart, or stomach. They take their lifestyle very seriously and if they must purchase a good, they will attempt to buy it second or third hand, rather than new. They will also trade their own possessions or offer a service instead of money to obtain any items they may need.

They believe their dumpster diving is an opportunity to make a moral and political statement about the wastefulness of today’s society.

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Tell a Freegan that they’re freeloading and they’re likely to agree but will quickly add that their lifestyle is the only thing that makes waste worthwhile.

Worried that you are being consumed by your consumerism? Maybe Freeganism is for you.