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.

Salem, MA: The Perfect Halloween Getaway Destination

More than a quarter of a million people visit the city of Salem, MA during Halloween season every year for the Haunted Happenings Experience. Notorious for the “Salem Witch Trials,” it’s no surprise that the city has acquired a somewhat chilling atmosphere. The city isn’t shy about its darker past with local sports teams named “The Witches” and a neighborhood called “Witchcraft Heights.” Though the trials put Salem on the historical map, there are so many other things that make the city a spooktacular place to visit. For instance, take a walk through Salem’s maritime past and discover its history as an early international trading port as well as its infamous “sea-robbers” Captains Blackbeard and Kidd who roamed the waters of Boston’s North Shore.

If you’re staying in the Salem area, why wouldn’t you stay in an old haunted hotel or inn? Check out The Hawthorne Hotel or The Salem Inn for a one-of-a-kind experience and a cozy place where you can (hopefully) get some sleep after a long day of adventuring.

The Hawthorne Hotel opened its doors in 1925 and was labeled as a modern hotel for the business traveler. Today, the timelessly designed hotel remains in the heart of Salem and is a member of the Historic Hotels of America. It has become a staple in the city for both locals and visitors. It’s had famous visitors like former President Bill Clinton and has been featured in major motion pictures. In 1991, the first Halloween Party was thrown at The Hawthorne and it has now grown to be one of the biggest Halloween bashes around with DJs, bands and food taking up three floors of the hotel. And, if you dare to stay for a night or two, you may encounter the famous “spectral hands,” an apparition of a woman wondering the halls or you may even hear the disembodied cries of a child. Whether you’re visiting or staying, this historic haunted hotel is a must see!

The Salem Inn is the place to stay if you’re looking to immerse yourself into the history of the city. Dating back to 1834, this old Inn, once home to Captain Nathaniel West, has seen its fair share of events. In the middle of it all, this old quaint bed and breakfast is ideal for the travelers as it is within walking distance of nearly all that Salem has to offer. Is it haunted, you may ask? Well, it all depends on who you ask.

The owners of the inn are sure that the Salem Inn is absolutely NOT haunted. However, if you look through the countless stories written by guests, then you’ll find that it is quite possible that someone or something paranormal is taking up residence at the inn. The paranormal “presence” that has been felt around the inn has come to be known as “Katherine,” though her true identity is unknown. If your curiosity is getting the best of you, then there is truly only one way to find out! Book a room at this cozy bed and breakfast and get ready for a potentially haunting experience!

After your restful sleep, you can walk amongst the dead at the Howard Street, Broad Street and Charter Street Cemeteries, which are all connected to the Salem Witch Trials. After visiting the centuries old graves, you can make a stop at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. The Memorial consists of 20 granite benches that are marked with the names of the accused and the dates of their deaths.

Next, take a tour of “The House of the Seven Gables,” the house that inspired the novel written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The novel is set in the house that was owned by Hawthorne’s cousin Susanna and was inspired by his ancestors who had played a part in the Witch Trials of 1692. The novel follows a family who lives in a haunted New England mansion and explores themes of guilt, retribution, the supernatural and witchcraft. You’ll have to tour and see for yourself if the house is truly haunted.

You can also take a frightening guided walking tour through the dimly lit streets of Salem after the sun goes down. Choose from Bewitched After Dark Walking Tours of Salem or Haunted Footsteps Walking Tour. Both tours provide a glimpse into the city’s shaded colonial past, witch trials, creepy stories and ghosts. Each tour is unique and has its own stories and history to share. No matter which you choose, you’re sure to be thoroughly spooked!

And no trip to Salem is complete without paying a visit to The Witch House also known as the Jonathan Corwin House. This infamous house is the only remaining structure with direct ties to the Witch Trials. A tour through the house gives better insight to the lives of those who lived there as well as their seventeenth-century lifestyles and details of the trials. Also, don’t be surprised if you encounter a spirit or two!

Finally, you can complete your historical adventure by visiting Gallows Hill and museum. Until 2016, it was unclear where exactly Gallows Hill was located. Today, you can pay your respects at Proctor’s Ledge and tour the museum. On your visit you can also watch live theater, take a ride on the “Ghosts and Legends” trolley or listen in on the “tales of terror” while sipping on samples of local ales.

After taking in as much history as you can, you can get a good old-fashioned scare at one of the many haunted house attractions. Next to all the historically spooky places and paranormal activity, these terrifying attractions add a sense of classic Halloween fun. Here are a few haunted house attractions to add to your list.

Witch Mansion is Salem’s scariest haunted attraction. This house was professionally built to scare the pants off of even the bravest soul who dares to enter. With highly technical animations and 4D illusions, this thrilling experience is not for the faint of heart!

Frankenstein’s Castle is Salem’s newest haunted attraction and is based on the classic horror story written by Mary Shelley. Enter the Salem Wax Museum, feel your way through the dark curvy hallways and then down the stairs make your way to Dr. Frankenstein’s dungeon. Feast your eyes on his horrid monster creation before making your escape (if you’re lucky)!

Lastly, The Haunted Witch Village is Salem’s longest running and largest haunted attraction. See a darker side of the village as the witches come out to play! Attempt to find your way out of the indoor maze and explore the museum along side the creepiest of ghosts, ghouls and goblins.

There is more history in Salem than any one person could learn in a lifetime with a long list of things to do, places to see and places to stay. Those who have visited the city can say with the utmost certainty that you are sure to have an experience that is nothing short of magical (no pun intended).

https://www.thrillist.com/lifestyle/boston/things-to-do-salem-ma

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem,_Massachusetts

 

Mac and Cheese, Please!

The frozen meal industry is huge, with hundreds of types to choose from in every supermarket. The history of frozen food and the “TV dinner” is quite extensive. No one really knows who deserves the credit for coming up with the concept, but one company, Swanson, was the first to be successful with their frozen “Thanksgiving Dinner.” Clarence Birdseye deserves credit for developing the system for packing and “flash-freezing” food at its peak freshness. Swanson then used Birdseye’s system and combined it with the idea of compartmentalized meals and BOOM, the frozen entrée was born! One of the most popular frozen meals today is the always delicious, mac n’ cheese. We chose three brands to taste and below you can read our honest review with a brief history of each.

Stouffer’s
The first Stouffer’s restaurant named “Stouffer Lunch” was opened in Cleveland in 1924. Over time, the company continued to expand and the Stouffer’s restaurants served over 14 million meals a year while they began creating frozen entrées. Then in 1973, Stouffer’s was acquired by Nestlé and 8 years later, a new line of entrées called “Lean Cuisine” was released. By 1990 the Stouffer’s name was on 68 restaurants and 40 major resorts and hotels. However, in 1992 the businesses were all sold off to focus solely on frozen meals.

Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars

It was the consensus that Stouffer’s has the sharpest and cheesiest flavor of the three brands. The texture of the sauce is a bit gritty especially as the sauce cools, but the noodles were the softest. There is an adequate amount of sauce for the macaroni pasta. It isn’t as smooth as the others, but it is thicker and still very creamy.

Amy’s
Amy’s began in the small kitchen of Andy and Rachel Berliner’s when they were unable to find a premade organic, vegetarian meal that they liked. They began making pot pies to sell locally and at that time they had no idea how big the business would become. As things began to pick up, letters of thanks and requests for new recipes came pouring in. After much deliberation, it was decided that the company would be named after their daughter, Amy, born the same year. Business continued to boom and today, Amy’s continues to provide organic, vegetarian, non-GMO food that is handmade with the freshest ingredients. They offer hundreds of meal options including several for those with gluten and dairy dietary restrictions.

Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars

Amy’s definitely has the smoothest sauce, which floods the harder, chewier texture of the classic macaroni pasta. The sauce has a runnier consistency than the other two brands, but it adds a certain decadent creaminess. The flavor is milder than that of Stouffer’s, but it is still easy to pick out the sharpness of the cheese.

365 Brand
365 is Whole Food’s “Everyday Value Brand” known for being a great product and a high value for the price. The original Whole Foods Market was opened in 1980 with the goal of providing natural foods in the format of a supermarket. Since then the company has continued to grow and has acquired or merged with multiple companies. In 2016, they began opening their new store concept by the name of 365 by Whole Foods Market. This “smaller-store concept offers healthy, high-quality food at great prices.”

Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars

The 365 brand has the most unique flavor, though it wasn’t the cheesiest. It has more a of “spiced or peppery” taste and is much milder than the others. It also lacked in creaminess with a want for more sauce to go with the larger, shell-like pasta. The noodles have a good texture with not being too soft or chewy – somewhat in the middle of the Stouffer’s and Amy’s brands.

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!

Fun Facts About the Popsicle!

The first popsicle was accidentally invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905. After leaving his soda outside during a cold night with a stirring stick in it, he woke to find the soda frozen to the stick. Frank patented the idea 18 years later when his children began calling it “Pop’s ‘sicle”.

The first ice cream man sold Popsicles to children in Nebraska from a horse-drawn carriage.

Popsicle sticks are made of Birch wood, which gives them the light color.

The Fudgesicle was introduced in 1928.

The most popular flavor is CHERRY!

The two-stick Popsicle was invented during the Great Depression so that two children could share for just one nickel.

August 14th is National Creamsicle Day.

2,000,000,000 Popsicles are sold annually.

To learn more, click here!

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!

Take the Pressure Off of Cooking with an Instant Pot!

The Instant Pot is revolutionizing the way that people cook by taking all of the hard work out of the process. By combining multiple appliances into one, the possibilities are endless!

The most advanced Instant Pot has the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, yogurt maker, sauté pan, steamer, warmer and sterilizer. This smart, safe and dependable electric pressure cooker is putting dinner on the table two to six times faster than conventional cooking. This makes the Instant Pot ideal for busy households in today’s fast-paced world.

Almost anything you can think of can me prepared using this one easy-to-use device, which in return saves you time and energy. Dishes like stews, pot roasts and chilis that originally took an entire day to prepare can be done in as little as an hour! Other foods like fresh or frozen vegetables can be soft and ready-to-eat in just two to three minutes.

You can even bake your favorite cake without using your oven. If you are on the fence and need more convincing, go online and research all of the different delicious dishes you can whip up in fraction of the time. Now that summer is here, there will be many parties and events that require you to bring a side dish. Try out the recipe below for an easy Instat Pot potato salad recipe that you can bring to your next outdoor barbecue!

 

Quick Potato Salad in the Pressure Cooker:

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dill pickle juice
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Put the steamer basket in the pressure cooker pot. Add the water, potatoes, and the eggs. Lock lid in place, select High Pressure, 4 minutes cook time and press start.
  2. When timer beeps, turn off pressure cooker and do a quick pressure release. When the pressure is released, carefully remove the lid. Remove the steamer basket from the pressure cooking pot. Put eggs into ice cold water to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the onion, mayo, parsley, pickle juice, and mustard. Add cooled potatoes and gently mix the mayonnaise mixture into the potatoes. Peel and dice three of the cooled eggs and stir into potato salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. If needed, add more mayo to achieve desired consistency.
  4. Chill at least one hour before serving. Top with slices of remaining egg.

Visit https://recipes.instantpot.com/ for more delicious recipes!