An Appetizer Worth the (Short) Wait

These bite-size, savory snacks fit perfectly in the palms of hands and within a few bites, they are gone and your loved ones are asking for more…..

(Culinary.net) Appetizers are many people’s favorite part of a meal. From dips and finger foods to little treats and fried pieces of perfection, there is a wide array of considerations for a pre-meal snack.

Some appetizers are much more appropriate at certain events. For example, buffalo chicken wings are best enjoyed on game days, salads are normally served at showers and vegetable trays are a typical family gathering classic.

However, there are recipes that are too easy to make and too satisfying not to serve at almost every festivity you and your family attend. This Easy Crab Rangoon shines above the rest for many reasons, but the main point of this heavenly sample is it’s easy to make and bake.

This appetizer is placed in the oven until it’s golden brown, topped with little green scallions with a creamy filling all packaged in a crispy outer layer.

Plus, the cream cheese is mixed with luscious amounts of crab meat. This is a seafood lover’s dream. Actually, it’s any appetizer lover’s dream.

To make this mouthwatering recipe, you only need a handful of ingredients and a few kitchen tools.

The little bites of perfection come out of the oven steaming hot, waiting to be topped with more crunchy, fresh scallions. Once they have cooled for a few moments, they are ready to be devoured.

This bite-size, savory snack will be all the rage at family dinners and parties with the kids alike. They fit perfectly in the palms of hands and within a few bites, they are gone and your loved ones are asking for seconds.

Find more appetizer recipes that are simple and made to impress at Culinary.net.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

Easy Crab Rangoon

Servings: 12

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 12        wonton wrappers
  • 4          ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4          ounces lump crabmeat
  • 1          scallion, sliced thin, green and white parts separated
  • 1          teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1          teaspoon soy sauce
  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press wonton wrappers into muffin cups. Lightly spray wrappers with nonstick cooking spray and bake until lightly browned, 6-9 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Combine with crabmeat, scallion whites, ginger and soy sauce. Fill each wonton wrapper with filling. Bake until filling is heated through, 6-8 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve warm.

SOURCE:
Culinary.net

The Secret to Creating Happier Holidays (and Lives)

As people seek connections, sharing these happiness skills can provide moments of joy. Consider these tips….

(Family Features) This holiday season is almost certain to be unlike any before including physical distancing and unanticipated stressors. Many people are seeking positive relationships, stronger connections and enhanced mental well-being. By incorporating sustainable happiness skills into everyday life, people can take on life’s challenges with an enhanced sense of self.

In an effort to educate, encourage, engage and mobilize young people to focus on mental health, LG Electronics USA partnered with Be Strong, a national anti-bullying organization, to share social and emotional skills with more than 3,000 state student leaders and grow their student leader program throughout 2021.

Working with experts in social-emotional learning at UC Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center, the electronics manufacturer created six “happiness skills” backed by 75 years of research. The happiness skills are designed to increase students’ capacity to better process stress and anxiety while building resilience with the goal of spreading sustainable skills to more than 5.5 million youth through the LG Experience Happiness initiative.

“Practicing the six sustainable happiness skills can shift the way your brain works to create more happiness,” said Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., science director at UC Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center. “The science of happiness can actually be learned.”

As people seek connection during the holidays, sharing these happiness skills can provide moments of joy to brighten the season. Consider these tips from LG and Be Strong for each happiness skill that can be tangibly practiced and shared:

  • Positive Outlook – Think about what you have learned from this challenging year. Write down three goals you can set in the short-, medium- and long-term.
  • Human Connection – When you see a person with a nametag, call him or her by name.
  • Mindfulness – Accept yourself by treating yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
  • Gratitude – Call a loved one and convey why you’re grateful for him or her. Then make a gratitude collage for all the things and people you are grateful to have in your life.
  • Generosity – Give your time to charities that need volunteers.
  • Purpose – Write a vision statement of your biggest dreams coming true then take that vision into 2021.

In a year when many people may not have much to give this holiday season, the gift of happiness is free with an option like the downloadable “#GiveHappiness Gift Card,” which can be shared in holiday cards or used as a stocking stuffer to encourage everyone to join in the happiness journey.

To learn more and download the interactive #GiveHappiness checklist of fun and easy tips for the holiday season, visit lgexperiencehappiness.com/give-happiness.

SOURCE:
LG

10 ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve at home

Nothing says New Year’s Eve like a good countdown……

(BPT) – This year, New Year’s Eve celebrations might not look like they normally do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate with family and friends! In fact, given how difficult this year has been, a party might be exactly what is needed. The good news is that there are plenty of fun, safe ways to ring in the new year as a family right from the comfort of your own home.

Here are a few ideas for making your New Year’s Eve celebration a fun event for all:

1) Have a dance party: With a little planning and spirit, any room can be transformed into a dance space. Turn on some tunes, get the family moving and raise the roof to ring in 2021. You could even turn off the lights and use glow sticks or LED light-up wands for added ambiance.

2) Set up a photo booth: Make it a night to remember by setting up a photo booth for the kids to enjoy. Pick a corner, pull out old Halloween costumes or find some festive props, and let your kids get creative. The photos can be great to share on your social channels to wish friends a happy new year.

3) Look through old photos or home movies: As we head into a new year, take a trip down memory lane by looking through old photos or watching home movies. This is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face and is a great reminder of how far they’ve come this past year.

4) Create a family time capsule: Ask each family member to write down their wishes and dreams for 2021. Then, seal responses in a box or jar with other memorable items to open next New Year’s Eve.

5) Board games, anyone? Get the family energized with a little competition. Find a few games everyone can enjoy or host a tournament of your family favorites. Consider giving out some fun prizes to keep everyone engaged.

6) Glam up everyday objects: Kids love sparkle! Add glitter to playdough or slime and let them play. Use number cookie cutters to spell out 2021.

7) DIY dessert bar: Set up a dessert bar, and let your kids create a confetti-themed treat with some pre-made cupcakes topped with frosting. Have a variety of confetti colored toppings, like sprinkles, decorating icing, and colorful Fruity Pebbles cereal or candy pieces, on hand for everyone to use to make their own masterpiece.

8) Have a virtual hangout: Carve out some time and say hi to family and friends you haven’t been able to see. This is a great way to keep the kids occupied and get some face time with grandparents or others who might be isolated.

9) Watch an early countdown: Nothing says New Year’s Eve like a good countdown. To help families everywhere ring in 2021, Pebbles cereal is hosting a New Year’s Eve countdown on Dec. 31, featuring Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble from Bedrock leading into the 9 p.m. EST hour during “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021,” which airs live beginning at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. Tune in and join Fred and Barney for an epic countdown to 2021, which happens to be the cereal’s 50th birthday year.

10) Make party favors: Pick up some party favors at a local store or better yet, make them at home. There are plenty of great tutorials online for fun party favors the kids will enjoy. Try your hand at making confetti poppers, a fun take on a celebration staple. What better way to ring in the new year than with some fun party poppers the kids will enjoy making and eating.

Whatever you end up doing, don’t forget to take some time to reflect on this past year and celebrate the year to come. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1… Happy New Year!

4 ways to instantly upgrade your interiors

Updating a space doesn’t require a complete redesign, a lot of time or a lot of investment…..

(BPT) – There’s a simple reason for the recent boom in home improvement: Everyone’s spending more time at home. Staying at home more makes it clearer what areas are lacking and reveals opportunities for upgrades. Fortunately, there are many ways to make a huge impact on the appearance of those rooms — instantly.

Here are four ways you can easily enhance and refresh your existing interiors.

1. Start with the foundation

If your room feels uninspired, refreshing the flooring can instantly transform it. Recent design trends favor using consistent flooring throughout the home, or at least on each floor, for a more continuous feel — especially for homes with an open plan.

While hardwood flooring is still the top choice, many other quality products mimic the look of hardwood flooring, like vinyl, tile and porcelain flooring, often for a much lower price point.

Area rugs are also trending for use on any kind of floor. Rugs can add a pop of color or provide a focal point, while also helping to protect the floor underneath. For a quick and easy fix involving zero installation, a high-quality area rug instantly upgrades your space.

2. Light up your life

Lighting is an often overlooked home improvement. While the light itself brightens the room, the lighting fixture can also add a striking visual accent or focal point.

In terms of utility, the impact of improved lighting is most strongly felt in the kitchen and bath.

“Decorative lighting has become a way to easily personalize a space,” said Erin Hoover, director of design, Kohler Lighting. “Years ago, matching suites were very popular, but as bathrooms and kitchens reflect more individual personality, more design elements are being added. Lighting can help you update these spaces without a lot of investment and effort.”

Here are two collections from KOHLER Lighting to instantly upgrade your kitchen or bathroom.

  • Kitchen: The Hauksbee Collection reinterprets rustic lighting from industrial farms and factories of the 1920s and ’30s. Smooth glass and cool metal combine with mixed metal finish options and vintage details, along with decorative elements like a domed metal shade with a cage detail and ribbed glass shade. The collection is available in a range of singular and mixed metal finish combinations.

  • Bathroom: The Arendela Collection is inspired by 1960s designer Vistosi, and the exquisite glassworks rendered through the art of briolette gemstone cutting and spun glass rondelles. Arendela reflects sophisticated style with jewel-like, multifaceted and spun glass shades and cast metal works ranging from a strikingly singular sconce to show-stopping multi-light designs. The collection’s timeless sophistication complements modern and traditional interiors. Complementing modern and traditional interiors, Arendela is available in polished chrome, polished nickel, brushed nickel and brushed brass finishes.

Thoughtfully choosing lighting fixtures to complement your current aesthetic can take your room from ho-hum to amazing. Visit Kohler.com to explore the possibilities for your home.

3. Color your world

What is the color palette of the room? Is it an eclectic mix, reflecting years of adding elements that don’t go with the walls? How recently was it painted?

Especially if you’re not prepared to invest in new furniture, simply painting a room can make an enormous impact.

  • Is the room on the small side, or doesn’t get much light? Paint a shade or two lighter to brighten the space.
  • Does the room seem cold or impersonal? Choose a warm color, from yellow through red, to make the space feel more welcoming.
  • Prefer neutral colors like whites or grays? Consider one colorful accent wall to make a statement.

4. Adjust your window dressing

Updated window treatments can boost the appearance of a room, while also providing more privacy and insulation. Consider not just the color and style as it affects the look of the room, but also the function. How much privacy and light is needed? Options for window treatments today are more numerous than ever. Blinds, shades, curtains or drapes all make distinct visual statements, while also potentially enhancing the room’s livability.

Updating a space doesn’t require a complete redesign, a lot of time or a lot of investment. Design elements like lighting, window treatments and color provide the perfect tools to transform any room into the home of your dreams.

Preparing for a Financial Emergency

5 tips for building (or rebuilding) your emergency savings….

(Family Features) The new year provides an opportunity to re-evaluate different aspects of your life, and that includes your budget and savings habits. Planning for emergencies by building – or rebuilding if the COVID-19 pandemic required making a withdrawal – a savings account to withstand the unforeseen can increase confidence in your overall financial health and reduce worry that a significant life event will negatively impact your finances.

“Our research shows having emergency savings is the foundation for long-term financial health,” said Chandni Ohri, program lead in savings and financial health with BlackRock’s Emergency Savings Initiative. “The start of a new year is a good time to make a savings plan, which can consist of putting a little bit of money away regularly.”

Even before the pandemic began, 4 out of 10 Americans had a hard time finding even $400 to cover an emergency, according to a report from the United States Federal Reserve. However, if you don’t think you have money to save, consider the majority of people who were able to save for an emergency for the first time in 2020 earned less than $60,000, according to research from BlackRock’s Emergency Savings Initiative, a group of nonprofit experts, corporate partners, and providers. Changes in spending due to the pandemic plus government stimulus packages helped many individuals create much-needed cash buffers.

Consider these tips to build your emergency savings account and create a buffer of cash for when emergency strikes.

Start a Savings Habit

While it’s less important to have a specific dollar amount in mind, getting into the habit of putting some money in savings with each paycheck can help protect you should an emergency arise. While one good rule of thumb is to set aside enough to cover roughly six weeks of living expenses – housing, food, transportation – take a look at what it would cost to cover unexpected issues with your car, a trip to the hospital, a leak in your home or the replacement of a major appliance and start there.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Even a small amount, such as $50 in your savings account when it’s the day before payday and you’re running on fumes, can save you from an overdraft fee, having to resort to using a credit card, borrowing from a loved one or taking out a loan. However, research from the AARP Public Policy Institute found having a cash buffer of approximately $2,500 can help prevent financial hardship over the longer term. If you lose your job, for example, your emergency account could help pay for necessities while you find a new position, or the funds could supplement any unemployment benefits you may receive.

Automate Your Savings

Because an emergency can strike at any time, it’s important to have easy access to your funds. However, the account should also be separate from your checking account so you’re not tempted to dip into your reserves. Pick a free savings account with no minimum balance requirements and link it to your everyday account to quickly move money over if you need it.

Look for ways you can automatically save such as enabling roundups from your checking account to be transferred to your savings with each purchase or having your employer split your paycheck and automatically deposit a portion into savings each payday.

If you’re planning to stash funds away for months or years that can serve as both an emergency fund and long-term savings, consider a high-yield savings account.

Look for Ways to Cut Back

While you may have already made changes to your spending habits amid the pandemic, periodically shopping for competitive rates of recurring bills, such as cable and internet, cell phones insurance policies and other utilities, can be a simple way to save some money each month. Start by asking your current providers about any special rates and promotions that may be available to loyal customers then check with alternative providers to see if they can provide the same or better offerings at a reduced cost. Sometimes returning to your current provider with a more competitive rate from elsewhere can be extra incentive to work out a deal to keep a longtime customer.

Also look at any subscription services you use, or potentially don’t but still pay for, and see if they offer a cheaper plan that still meets your needs or if you’re able to cancel subscriptions you no longer use frequently. Other expenses such as dining out or buying new clothing and accessories could also be scaled back if you find you’re splurging too much. Avoid completely cutting spending for leisure activities from your budget but look for reasonable tweaks that can allow you to set more money aside for unforeseen expenses.

Take Advantage of One-Time Opportunities to Save

Assuming you expect to receive a tax refund, this provides an easy way to boost your emergency fund if circumstances allow you to save all or a portion of the return. If you’re able, consider having your refund directly deposited in your emergency account. The same strategies can be applied to any government aid checks you may receive, such as a second round of stimulus money that could be distributed to eligible citizens in 2021 to help reinvigorate the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

There may also be other times throughout the year when you receive one or more cash gifts, like your birthday or holidays, that can help provide a nice cushion to your emergency fund if you can avoid the temptation to spend it.

Replenish What You Use

Remember to review and adjust your savings plan as needed, whether you’re able to contribute over a longer period of time without dipping into the account or if an expensive life event pops up that requires using all or a portion of the funds.

Should you need to dip into the savings, do your best to make replenishing the account to a level you’re comfortable with a primary goal in case any additional unexpected expenses arise. Alternatively, if your saving is going well, consider increasing the amount you’re saving each paycheck so you’re better protected against any major life changes or able to finance a large-scale purchase down the road.

Find more information and tips for building your savings at savingsproject.org.

SOURCE:
Financial Health Network

Yes, Your Poinsettia can Survive after the Holidays

Given the right care, poinsettias should last at least a couple of months, if not indefinitely……

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Bold when you buy them, poinsettias can wither as winter goes on. 

It might be because of how they were treated. If they were exposed to cold drafts or perched by a heat vent, or if they sat in a cold car through too many errands, the leaves could turn yellow and fall off—even before the holidays or not long after. 

Photo: Getty Images

Native to Mexico, poinsettias favor bright light and warm conditions.

“You need to find a location in your house that provides good light. Six hours of bright light are necessary every day,” said Uttara Samarakoon, an assistant professor at Ohio State ATI in The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). 

The biggest mistakes people typically make are not providing enough light, watering them too much or too little, and keeping them near heating or air conditioning vents, said Samarakoon, coordinator of the Greenhouse and Nursery Management Program at ATI.

After the holiday lights are boxed up and the tree is carried into the attic, poinsettias can still thrive. Given the right care, poinsettias should last at least a couple of months, if not indefinitely.

“Many people ask the question, ‘Can we grow them after Christmas?’ It is possible, but you may not get the bright, showy leaves like those of plants grown in greenhouses,” Samarakoon said. 

Outside of greenhouses, getting poinsettias to turn red again can be a challenge. They start out red when you buy them but eventually turn to green and won’t go red again unless they get enough darkness, because poinsettias require short days for flowers to bud. Starting in mid-September, poinsettias need at least 12 hours of darkness daily, Samarakoon said. 

That can be tough with all the lighting in the house and outside at night. On the other hand, indoor light levels can be too low for flowers and bright colors to develop, she said. 

Samarakoon offered some other tips for keeping your poinsettia thriving:

  1. Place the poinsettia inside where it will have good light, at least six hours of bright light per day, ideally from sunlight. 
  2. Keep it where the temperature is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  1. Check if the plant needs water by pressing your finger into the soil about two inches deep. Water only if the soil is dry two inches down.
  2. Remove the foil or plastic wrapper, so the poinsettia never sits in water. You can return the wrapper after the plant is no longer draining water. 
  3. Try to keep your pets away from poinsettias. The milky sap can irritate their skin and mouths.

Snow and Ice Tips to Protect Our Yards This Winter

Remember to get outside, even when it’s chilly. It’s good for our mental and physical well-being

Alexandria, Va. – With the pandemic keeping people sheltering at home, more people are extending their outdoor time in the winter by adding fire pits, outdoor heaters and other features. Even in the wintertime, it’s important to take care of your yard. The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, an international trade association representing power equipment, small engine, portable generator, utility vehicle, golf car and personal transport vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, offers tips to keep your yard in top shape for winter use.

Stop trimming your lawn once it freezes. Trim your grass to the height recommended for your lawn variety before it freezes. Cutting your grass too short can leave it dry and exposes it to the elements, not to mention insects and disease.

Add a thin layer of mulch to your lawn before it’s too cold. A thin layer of mulch can protect your grass roots from snow and frost. It can even prevent deeper layers of soil from freezing, making it easier for your lawn to bounce back in the spring. 

Check your trees for dead or damaged limbs. Removing dead or damaged limbs before inclement weather arrives, is one way to protect your shrubs and yard from damage (not to mention people and pets!).Snow and ice can weigh heavily on dead branches and make them snap and fall. Remove any dead branches carefully with clippers, a chainsaw or pole pruner, following safety precautions. Consult an arborist for problematic trees. 

Mark pathways to clear and beds to avoid. Mark the areas that you will need to clear of snow and ice, as well as areas you want to avoid, like flower beds. Stakes or sticks can help. When it’s time to run your snow thrower, you won’t accidentally cut a path through the lawn and can stick to your walkways. Always follow manufacturer’s safety procedures and never put your hand inside the snow thrower. Always use a clean out tool or stick to clear a clog. Be sure that children and pets are safely inside and not near outdoor power equipment while it’s being operated.

Keep new (and old) plantings well-hydrated. Many people have added trees and shrubs to their yards during the pandemic, and caring for them in the winter is still important. Plants and trees that are well-hydrated are more likely to survive a hard freeze so water well before the cold snap sticks. Newly planted trees can only survive about two weeks in the winter without water, so be sure to water any new trees you’ve added to your landscape if they aren’t getting water naturally from rain or snow. If your outside hose is already shut off for the winter, then use a bucket and add 5 gallons to the area around the tree. 

Continue watering plants and trees even after the leaves drop. Older plants and trees should enter winter well-hydrated, so continue watering even after the leaves have dropped. Even in the wintertime, hardy evergreen plants continue to lose moisture through their needles and if it’s a dry winter they need supplemental water too. 

Don’t shake heavy snow and ice off branches. It may be tempting for children (or adults) to wiggle those branches and watch the snow come off, but snow or ice can damage a branch. Shaking them can cause the branches to snap. It’s better to wait until the snow melts to assess the damage. 

Remove damaged branches as soon as the weather allows you to do it safely. If snow or ice have snapped a limb, look at the cut and assess the damage. Try to get a clean cut on an already broken branch or limb, as this will make it more difficult for insects or disease to enter the stressed area on your tree or shrub. Follow all manufacturer’s safety precautions if using a chainsaw or pole pruner.

Be careful about salt. Salt can melt snow and ice, but it can also damage plants and trees by drawing water away from their roots. Keep salt applications away from your trees and shrubs. Salt should also be cleaned off pet paws following a romp outside in the snow.

Remember to get outside, even when it’s chilly. It’s good for our mental and physical well-being to spend time in our family yards and breathe in the fresh air – and it also helps us connect to each other and with nature.

Is It Worth My Time To Become a Landlord?

“Is it worth my time to become a landlord?” Owning a rental property is one of the best routes to passive income, but is it for you? Yes—maybe.

If you’re always looking for more ways to make money, rental property has probably crossed your mind more than once. Whether you’re thinking of it as a side hustle or a foundation for independent wealth, it’s not something you can dive right into. Is it worth my time to become a landlord? Yes, but only if you meet the following requirements that we’ve outlined below.

You Have Funds

Ideally, you can mortgage the property and use the rent to pay it off. But that doesn’t mean you should cut it too close when it comes to your cash flow. You can’t spend everything on the down payment because the property may need work and it might be vacant for more months than you’d like. Until you’ve been a landlord for a while, you won’t know about all the surprise expenses that can arise. Spend conservatively and keep a healthy financial cushion.

Your Schedule Is Flexible

It’s not a great idea to quit your day job too soon, especially if you enjoy it. If you can count on a consistent schedule, that leaves nights and weekends to tend to your landlord duties. But owning property and answering to tenants involves a lot of multitasking. Be honest with yourself about what it means to give up your free time to make your investment successful.

You’re Handy

You don’t have to maintain the property all by yourself, but you should at least be familiar with the demands of owning a home. You need to know what you’re doing so you can recognize a good real estate deal when you see one and not fall for a property that will turn into a money pit. You should be able to differentiate major emergencies from small issues and identify improvements that need to be made in the future.

You Like People

You may love real estate, but that doesn’t mean you have the people skills to size up tenants, communicate boundaries, set rules, or build relationships with them—and that’s okay. There are ways around that and many more ways to make money through real estate. Make no mistake, if you’re going to be a landlord, the experience is dependent on how you work with renters, vendors, neighbors, and many other professionals. 

You Don’t Mind Delegating

If you’re still debating whether it’s worth your time to become a landlord, it probably makes sense for you to hire a property manager. It’ll cut into your profits but you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and can take your time learning the job. It’s vital to find a company you can trust to represent you, but if you plan to expand your portfolio with more properties, you’ll need hands-on help.

 

Celebrate Smart: 5 ways to upgrade your home tech for the holidays

For the holidays and beyond, one of the best investments you can make is a smart home security camera…..

(BPT) – This holiday, people around the world are getting ready for a season that looks dramatically different from past years. As millions decide to stay home, the desire to make the most out of the holiday festivities is driving people to find more creative, convenient, and memorable ways to enjoy the season and eliminate unnecessary stress.

Whether you’re relaxing at home or celebrating with family, a smart home can help take care of daily tasks around the house, giving you more time to enjoy the things that matter most. Not only can smart home products enhance the holiday ambiance, but they can also simplify daily tasks and help you keep your home and family safe. These affordable devices provide the perfect blend of good cheer and peace of mind that are exactly the combination in high demand this year.

Here are five ways smart home devices can take the stress out of the season and help you enjoy a safe, relaxing holiday.

1. Automate holiday lights with smart plugs

Using an automatic timer for holiday lights is nothing new, but smart plugs take convenience to the next level. They’re easy to setup and, unlike fussy old-school timers, give you greater control. With smart plugs, you can simply use your smartphone to turn on holiday lights right from the couch, without kneeling behind a tree to plug in a power cord or stepping out in the cold to turn on lights or inflatable decorations in your yard.

2. Upgrade to a Smart Christmas tree

If finding, transporting, and composting a live tree is too much hassle this year, consider upgrading to an artificial tree with smart lights built in. A smart Christmas tree comes with lights pre-installed and, using your smartphone or Amazon Alexa, you can easily select the lighting color, turn lights on or off, or schedule the lights to turn on at a certain time each night. Many smart Christmas trees even let you change lighting modes with a simple voice command like “set Christmas tree to blue,” or “set Christmas tree to sparkle” to create a flawless festive mood.

3. Keep track of comings and goings with smart security cameras

For the holidays and beyond, one of the best investments you can make is a smart home security camera. As online shopping for everything from holiday presents to daily household essentials continues to increase, having a smart home security camera can alert you when your purchases arrive and help keep them safe.

Popular smart home security cameras like Blink Outdoor are wireless, weather-resistant, and offer up to two years of battery life, making them easy and convenient to install anywhere around your home. For indoor settings, Blink Indoor security cameras can help you check in on your home day or night with motion alerts and infrared night vision.

The full range of features are detailed at www.amazon.com/blink, but their cameras also provide two-way audio and live video, so you can check in on your family, accept deliveries, and greet visitors remotely. Not only does this help encourage social distancing, it also means you stay cozy with fewer trips to the front door.

4. Protect against winter hazards with smart alarms

Upgrading to smart alarms is another top strategy for staying safe during the winter. You might not associate fires with winter, but house fires are actually more prevalent with the increased use of fireplaces and heaters. Smart smoke alarms alert you to problems even when you’re not at home, ensuring you get help as soon as possible.

Winter also means keeping your home sealed up tight. While this saves energy and keeps you warm, it also increases the risk of carbon monoxide build-up. Smart CO detectors give you up-to-the-moment information about the air quality in your home, allowing you to breathe easy.

5. Sink into a holiday soundscape with smart speakers

Finally, smart speakers are the best choice for immersing yourself in the sounds of the holidays. People are missing the cheerful carols and soaring classical music that normally fills the air when you’re out and about this time of year. Capture that feeling with smart speakers. Use them to sync your music throughout your home, and transform it into a winter wonderland in no time.

While this winter will certainly be different, smart home devices can help encourage holiday cheer while keeping everyone safe and sound. From security cameras to dazzling lights, there’s a smart solution out there that can make your holidays even brighter.

Coffee and Sweetness Whipped to Perfection

Watch video to see how to make this recipe for easy tiramisu dip!

(Culinary.net) Do you know that moment when something sweet hits your taste buds and a smile instantly spreads across your face? It’s almost magic to some. To others it’s just simply bliss. This holiday season, try something that’s simple yet sophisticated for an easy way to ensure smiles all around.

Try an Easy Tiramisu Dip because whether you’re relaxing at home, having a small get-together with friends or joining your annual family gathering virtually, this dip is sure to spread culinary cheer.

The recipe starts with “easy,” and it holds true to its name. With a short list of ingredients and only a handful of instructions, this is something you can whip up (literally) in just a few moments. Also, using minimal tools in the kitchen is always a plus for at-home chefs. The only appliance needed to make this recipe is a mixer.

The outcome is fluffy, rich and sweet with a hint of espresso. It’s not overpowering, however, so little ones or non-coffee lovers can still enjoy this delicious dip.

This is also a unique dessert because it can be served cool or chilled. If you are planning to take a sweet treat to a party this holiday season, this is nearly perfect. No oven time needed and simple to serve to kids and adults alike.

Serve with ladyfingers or fruit to bring that sweetness to a whole new level, and it’s topped with a final sprinkle of cocoa powder to give it that extra appeal. You do eat with your eyes first after all.

Give this one a try and see the faces of your loved ones light up with joy this season. This creamy, tasty dip is sure to impress.

For more easy dessert recipes, visit Culinary.net.

Watch video to see how to make this recipe!

Easy Tiramisu Dip

Servings: 4

  • 1          cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1          tablespoon espresso powder
  • 4          ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 8          ounces Mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2       cup powdered sugar
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2          teaspoons cocoa powder
  • wafers or fruit, for dipping
  1. In medium bowl, whisk heavy whipping cream and espresso powder until blended.
  2. In large bowl, use hand mixer to beat cream cheese until smooth. Add Mascarpone cheese and beat until combined. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract; beat mixture. Add espresso mixture; beat until soft peaks form.
  3. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  4. Spoon mixture into serving bowl. Sprinkle with cocoa powder. Serve with wafers or fruit.

SOURCE:
Culinary.net

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Order Fulfillment

Here are some of the pros and cons of outsourcing order fulfillment. Business owners need to ask for help before the madness of the holidays arrives…..

Being a business owner can be overwhelming. There’s so much these individuals have to think about, from employee satisfaction to producing top-quality materials.

For this reason, supervisors should consider outsourcing certain services. Order fulfillment is one task that another company can take over without a hitch. This piece will discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing order fulfillment that every business owner should know.

The Pros

Top-of-the-Line Software

Order fulfillment companies use superior software to relieve the stress on company leaders. Without this technology, business owners would have to keep track of the orders manually. Things would get messy very quickly, and people may not get their orders in time. Managers must consider using order fulfillment companies with technological programs that keep everything in order. Another benefit of using their software is that it updates in real-time. Business owners don’t have to worry about being left in the dark.

Handles Customer Service

Every retail shop owner knows how frustrating it is to deal with returns. Unfortunately, returns will be even more common during the holiday season. Luckily, order fulfillment businesses can take pressure off the business itself. They handle everything step-by-step to ensure the customers are happy and that they get what they want in the end.

The Cons

Giving Over Control

The most significant disadvantage of using an order fulfillment company is the fact that business owners will have to give over control. Many employers like to micromanage their businesses. Anyone who has trouble relinquishing control over their business models might not find it beneficial to outsource their order fulfillment needs.

This article has gone over the pros and cons of outsourcing order fulfillment. There are more advantages to using the services than not using them. Although it may be hard for someone to give over control, it’s not a bad idea to ask for help when needed. All retail shops can use a little extra assistance with the upcoming holiday season.