Gift Guide for the Holidays

These two small kitchen appliances are all the rage right now. With everyone looking for the best and healthiest ways to prepare meals at home, these gadgets make for the perfect holiday gifts.

AirFryer

This popular appliance is making its way into the homes of many, especially those looking for a healthier alternative to oily, fried foods. Airfryers come in many sizes catering to any sized household. According to online reviews, Phillips makes the best performing and easy-to-use airfryer.

The well-known brand sells three different models: The Compact, XL and XXL. These models all have the patented “Turbostar Technology,” meaning hot air circulates 360 degrees around the food as it cooks. This ensures the food is cooked evenly and has a crisp outside with a tender inside. And as the food cooks, any excess fat is simultaneously drained, which is 75% – 90% less fat than typical fried foods. You can also download the “Philips Airfryer app” for recipes, tutorials and tips.

Although the “Turbostar Technology” is used in all the models, the portion size and capabilities are what sets them apart. The basic Compact Airfryer model can easily fit on your countertop, has the ability to cook two portions (1.8 lb) at one time and has easy-to-use controls. The XL Airfryer model is the midsized option that can cook up to four portions (2.65 lb) at one time and features digital touchscreen controls with a preset button to remember your favorite foods. Lastly, the largest XXL Airfryer model is the most powerful model that Phillips offers. It can cook two bags of fries or even a whole chicken in one go, which makes this model ideal for larger families.

Anova Precision Cooker

The other gadget that would make a great gift this holiday season is the Anova Precision Cooker. With this simple device and your phone, you can cook professional level meals. The Anova Precision Cooker uses what is called “Sous-vide” (pronounced ‘sue-veed’) or precision cooking, a technique that uses precise temperature control to achieve perfectly cooked, flavor-filled results.

Here’s how it works. Grab any sized pot and fill it about half way with water. Place the Anova wand into the water and use the clamp to secure it to the side of the pot. Use the controls on the wand or the Anova app on your phone to select the temperature specified in the app or recipe book to achieve your desired doneness. Take a resealable plastic bag and place your choice of ingredients and seasoning inside and seal it. Place the bag in the preheated water and clip the bag to the pot. That’s it! The water will continue to circulate eliminating any hot or cold spots, and in no time at all you will have a perfectly cooked meal! Once the ingredients are cooked, you can use a pan to crisp up the outer layer.

The Anova wand can be used to cook anything from steaks and fried chicken to eggs and potatoes. There are over 1,000 recipes available on the app and online. Anova makes cooking so simple, you’ll never want to use anything else!

Resident Feature: Bud Henderson

This month’s resident feature takes us to Lenox Village Apartments in Lincoln, Nebraska. Francis aka, “Bud” Henderson, a resident of two and a half years, has become good friends with the staff on property. Bud and his wife moved to Lincoln in order to be closer to their daughter. When asked what his favorite part of living at Lenox Village is, he said “the convenience (of being near) our daughter’s home, shopping, activities, quality service and neighbors.” Since his retirement, Bud has spent a lot of his time researching and writing books that he has plans to publish. He is the author of the book Dreams, which was recently published by Handersen Publishing, LLC.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Bud was the first of his family to finish high school. Although he had wanted to continue on to college to study journalism, the cost was just too high. After working for the International Shoe Co. for two years, he was encouraged by his coworkers to pursue his dream of attending college. He attended college in Bolivar, Missouri, where he decided to take a different path and completed his pre-med course at Ouachita Baptist College in Arkansas. He completed medical school and his residency before spending nine years in the United States Army, Army Reserve and National Guard. Bud then returned to Arkansas to continue his medical practice before retiring to care for his wife in 2014.

Though circumstances lead to his career in medicine, Bud knew since high school that he wanted to be a writer. “I had written some creative work during my practice years, but upon retiring, I began to seriously study and participate in writing fiction,” he explained. After moving to Lincoln, Bud decided that he would write children’s literature and was intrigued with picture books. It was then that the idea for his book Dreams came to life. “(Dreams is) a story that parents and grandparents will enjoy reading to their children. It is a ‘rhythmic’ picture book, teaching about ‘dreams’ and giving permission to children to dream, both asleep and awake, and then to follow those dreams,” he said.

Although his daughter believes the story to be a reflection of his own life, Bud says he did not intend it to be. He explained, “I wanted a story that taught children about their opportunity (and) to follow what they like to do.” Local Lincoln artist, Karissa Bettendorf, illustrated his story and made it come to life with her original paintings. “She made the narrative pictures of the mind come alive to the eye,” Bud said.

If you’d like your own copy of Dreams, you can purchase it at Handersen Publishing, Barnes & Noble (SouthPointe Pavilions, Lincoln), Francie & Finch Bookshop (130 S. 13th Street, Lincoln) or on Amazon (search Dreams Francis Henderson). When asked if he has any future books in the works, Bud replied “Yes. I have two picture books and two middle-grade novels I’m working on. Hopefully, at least one will be published within the year.”

Bud Henderson is the perfect example of what it means to chase after your dreams. And no matter where life may lead you or where you end up, it’s never too late to go for it!

Pets of the Month

Hi! My name is Blue. I’m a handsome, fawn sable French Bulldog with some serious love to give. My humans brought me to my new home a couple of weeks ago and I love it so much! Residents and the staff at the Luxembourg in Bloomington, MN are really fond of me. I get lots of attention! My humans say that I have brought a lot of spunk (and naps) into their home and couldn’t imagine life without me!

My name is Scarlett! I was adopted from the Nebraska Humane Society when I was 11 months old, and I was named after the Nebraska Scarlets Dance Team. There’s something really unique about me – I only have three legs. Don’t let that fool you though! I am full of energy and I love adventures! My favorite thing to do is watch the birds on the porch with my human at the Biltmore Apartments in Omaha, NE.

Apple Watch VS. FitBit Blaze: What fits your lifestyle better?

Are you in the market for a smart watch, but not sure which one is right for you? We did a side-by-side comparison of the Apple Watch 3 Series and the Fitbit Blaze that might help make your decision a little easier.

Both smart watches are equipped with the ability to track your heartrate, which encourages a better understanding of heart health. The Apple Watch even sends notifications if it notices your BPM (beats per minute) are high while you’re at rest for at least 10 minutes.

Track workouts and get workout summaries with both devices. Aside from tracking daily activity like steps, both are able to track workouts like running and biking. With Fitbit, you can also track your weight lifting workouts and with SmartTrack it will recognize select activities and record it in the exercise section of the Fitbit app.

Both devices use GPS to connect to your phone and will record live data such as pace, distance, elevation and route map. This allows you to track your progress for activities like outdoor walking and running.

The Apple Watch Series 3 is water resistant and can be used in shallow water activities like swimming in a pool to track your laps, distance and calories. The Fitbit Blaze is not water resistant and should not be submerged in water.

Unlike the Apple Watch, the Fitbit Blaze is equipped with the ability to track your sleep cycle to let you know how well you’re sleeping at night. Using the Sleep stages tool, you can see the amount of time you spend in light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep each night.

Both watches come with a feature that assists with guided breathing. Studies have shown that if you take a few minutes a day to concentrate on your breathing, you can reduce anxiety and stress levels.

Get your text, call and app notifications on either of these smart watches with GPS ability. With the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS and the Fitbit Blaze, you must be within about 30 feet of your phone in order to receive alerts, unless you are connected to WiFi. If you opt to go with the Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS + Cellular, you can get your notifications from anywhere, no matter how far away you are from your phone.(This requires an extra charge on your cell phone bill).

The Apple Watch and Fitbit are both able to connect to your phone to control your favorite workout playlist. Easily play, pause and skip songs right from your wrist!
As you can see, both the Apple Watch and Fitbit Blaze are comparable as far as what they can do with a couple of differences. The final decision comes down to your main purpose for the watch as well as compatibility with your phone and the price difference.

Pets of the Month

Hi there! My name is Riley! I am an almost 6-year-old Pekingese who had a run in with two cars when I was a puppy and lost my eye. That doesn’t stop me from being ornery and an attention hog. I love blankets, ice cream and going for walks. My people and I are new to Rockledge Oaks in Lincoln, NE and I love our new home and all of my new puppy friends I
meet on walks!

My name is Valentino, I’m the coolest cat on the block! Currently, I reside at The Dorchester in Dallas, TX. Don’t let these eyes fool you- this is my happy face! I love to spend the day cat-napping by the window, and you can follow me on Instagram
@so.valentino!

Resident Feature: Michael and Sue Menof

Proud residents of The Saxony in Dallas, TX, Michael and Sue Menof have no plans to move anywhere else. After 22 years, the couple has come to know the property as their forever home. “We would certainly not be able to find a better apartment community in all of Dallas, or should I say Texas.” Originally from South Africa, the couple came to the United States 32 years ago and are now proud citizens, saying it was, “the best decision we ever made!”

Both Michael and Sue have had successful careers. Sue was a prominent journalist and worked for the Sunday Times and Michael worked as a CPA and ran the second largest travel group in South Africa. After working in travel for 45 years, Michael was ready to set off with Sue to start their own travel company, Golden World Tours.

The two now spend their days helping others plan their dream vacations around the world at a lower cost. They often travel with groups of people acting as tour guides with their shared experience and knowledge. They are dedicated to creating fun, well-organized trips at an affordable price. Over the years, Michael and Sue have visited many countries, but still have some they have yet to visit. Some of the tours they offer include places like Spain, Australia, Dubai, Africa, India and China, just to name a few. They also handle cruises in Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean and many more.

When asked what their favorite destination has been thus far, their answer was surprisingly, “here in the U.S. – Mt. Rushmore with the four presidents sculpted into the mountainside. It is the only place that you can stop and smell the roses. (And) Hawaii isn’t far behind!” After traveling the world for so many years, Michael points out a couple of tips that every traveler should keep in mind, “Travel light, stay safe and always have fun!”

If you’d like to learn more about the tours they offer or would like them to help you plan your next getaway, visit their website www.GoldenWorldTours.com!

Spring Spritzer

Ice Cube Ingredients:

  • Red or green seedless grapes
  • Water

Spritzer Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle (24 oz) white grape juice (3 cups), chilled
  • 1 can (12 oz) frozen apple-grape-cherry juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bottle club soda (1 liter or 4 cups), chilled

Directions:

  1. Place 2 to 3 grapes in each section of 2 ice cube trays.
  2. Fill trays with water; freeze.
  3. In 4-quart non-metal container or punch bowl, mix juice, juice concentrate and 1 cup water. Just before serving, add club soda; stir gently to blend. Add fruit-filled ice cubes.

http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/spring-spritzer/3a31f39e-56dc-42ba-a1cf-5f1571b09775

How to Build the Perfect Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie is a French term that loosely translates to “pork butcher’s shop and delicatessan (deli).” the name was originally used to designate shops in the fifteenth-century France that sold pork products. Today, Charcuterie has become somewhat of an artform and is highly regarded in the culinary world.

There are many ways to build a Charcuterie board, but most commonly they consist of different types of meats, cheeses, olives, fruit, bread and crackers, nuts and a spread or two. With growing popularity, it is now becoming a common item on restaurant menus and is the perfect solution for feeding a group of people. Here are some tips for making the perfect Charcuterie board!

First, find a large wooden cutting board or serving platter to use for your arrangement. Then begin thinking about the different colors and textures you’d like to incorporate to create a great sensory experience. Don’t be afraid to stack – the board should look full!

Meats: When deciding the amount you will need, estimate about three to four slices per person. Be sure to include a variety of flavors and textures. (Suggestions: Salami, Prosciutto, Ham or Summer Sausage)

Cheese: You should estimate about one to two ounces of cheese per person and be sure to offer a variety of both hard and soft cheeses with varying sharpness. (suggestions: Sharp Cheddar, Brie, Muenster, Swiss or Gouda)

Bread and Crackers: It’s important to have a good variety of bread and crackers to pair with the salty meats. (Suggestions: Light & Buttery Crackers, Grain Crackers, Sliced French Baguette or Sliced Dark Rye Bread)

Fruit and Nuts: Have a selection of both fresh and dried fruits for a variety of textures and colors. Choose any variety of nuts, but they should be salted and shelled. (Suggestions: Fresh Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries or even Grape Tomatoes, Dried Apricots and Apples, Cashews, Almonds and Pistachios)

Pickles, Olives and Spreads: A great way to add more variety to your board is to fill small bowls with various dips/spreads, pickles or olives. (Suggestions: Black Olives, Kalamata Olives, Dill or Sweet Pickles, Spinach Dip, Aioli or Mustard)

http://www.spendwithpennies.com/how-to-make-a-charcuterie-board/

Get Your Outdoor Space Ready for Summer!

Are you looking to make a statement this year with a beautiful patio or balcony full of flowers? Here are some of the best potted flowers that not only look great, but are easy to maintain.


Coral Bells have a whole lot of foliage with small flowers that sprout out over the leaves. It comes in a large variety of colors, ranging from a light peach to a deep red. It is best to keep Coral Bells in partial sunlight.

Angelonia is a tall growing plant that does well in the summer, because it needs full sun to thrive. It comes in pinks, mauves, deep purple, dark blues and white. Angelonia is very low maintenance as it continues to bloom all season without any attention.

Coleus is a warm climate plant. In tropical places, it can thrive year-round, but in most places, it is grown as a perennial. There are different varieties that come in countless colors and it’s important to “pinch” the old flowers to allow new ones to grow.

Hydrangea is a popular, timeless plant that is actually a type of shrub. The smaller varieties do really well in pots and get no taller than two or three feet. These flowers are great because they don’t require much sun and they come in many different bright colors!

Roses are often used in landscape planting, but many varieties do great in pots as well. Most modern roses don’t require a ton maintenance and are a great focal point for your patio or balcony. They should be kept in full sun if possible.

Begonias are sturdy flowers that do well in a pot or hanging planter. These flowers have a variety of leaf shapes and colors to choose from. They should be kept in partial sun with damp soil. Indoors, they will continue to bloom all year.

Euphorbia is a very tough plant, despite its soft, white appearance. It should be kept in a partly sunny to sunny location and can survive high heats or drought. It is a great low maintenance flower to add to a mixed pot.

Ornamental Peppers are a taller, fuller plant that maintains its color and has small peppers that ripen from black to red. They are great if you want to add some texture to your potted flowers. Be aware that although the peppers are edible, they are HOT and should be kept away from children and pets.

Nemesia can grow anywhere from six inches to three feet tall. They should be kept in partial to full sun and are generally a low maintenance plant that require an even amount of moisture to thrive. They come in a variety of colors like blue, orange, pink, purple, red, white and yellow!

Pansies come in a variety of colors and bloom mainly in the spring and fall. They grow to be about six to nine inches tall and come in many colors. They tend to do really well in places with more mild climates.

*Depending on your region, pots must be brought inside before the first frost to survive the winter.

Perfect Gifts For Mom on Mother’s Day

Surprise your mother this year with a unique gift that is sure to warm her heart! If you’re looking for the perfect gift that is unlike any other, check out sites like Uncommon Goods. This site provides a wide range of gift options for any occasion that range in prices to meet any budget. Below we have listed a few of our top picks for moms on Mother’s Day.

Is your mom a tea drinker? Well then, she will LOVE this gift. These handmade dissolvable tea drops are made from finely-sourced tea, sugar and spices. With a cup of hot water, your mom can enjoy a nice cup of tea in flavors like citrus ginger, blueberry, acai, rose earl grey, sweet peppermint and matcha green tea. The cute tea drops come in a wooden keepsake box.

Your mom can use this beautifully crafted board for all of her social gatherings with friends and family get togethers. It’s the perfect serving board for delicious snacks and is a great conversation piece. Each board is made by a family owned company in Dorset, VT.

This cute, custom necklace is perfect for all moms and is a fun way to display their affection for and always carry their “sweet peas” with them. Each necklace is handmade by an artist in the United States using Sterling Silver and Malaysian Jade.

This unique vase comes in a large size and a small size. Each “bubble” can hold a single stem or a small bunch of blossoms to make for a lovely centerpiece that your mom is sure to love.

For those moms with a green thumb, this is a perfect and thoughtful gift. This kit comes with everything needed to grow a forest of tiny Redwood and Moss trees. These little trees are ancestors of the giant California Redwoods and make a beautiful accessory to a kitchen window or desk.