Gunning Daily News

10 Easy Tips for a Festive Holiday Buffet

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

A formal-sit down style dinner may seem pleasant, but for larger families or those who crave a more casual setting, they sometimes aren’t ideal. This is where the buffet table takes center stage.
"For many busy families, gone are the days of formal sit-down gatherings at the dining room table," says Brenda Dillon, VP of Merchandising for Ashley Furniture. "During the holidays, people often drop in anywhere from late afternoon to late in the evening -- making buffet-style parties the perfect choice. And with the right space and a little planning, it's easy to bring everyone together."

In order to pull off a successfull holiday buffet, it's important to keep your guests' comfort in mind. Here are 10 savvy food-serving ideas that'll make your holiday party go off without a hitch:

1. Avoid placing food in a single line if serving a large crowd. Instead, repeat the same food on both sides of the dining room table.
2. Keep drinks in a separate area. A cart, table, server or sideboard helps avoid congestion.
3. Serve drinks ahead of time. It makes moving through the holiday buffet line easier and faster. Appointing or hiring someone to serve drinks makes guests feel extra special.
4. Use large, sturdy plates and oversized napkins. Avoid flimsy paper plates and choose napkins large enough to cover the lap.
5. Know where to put everything. Place clean plates and cold items at the beginning of the buffet, silverware at the end.
6. Avoid serving food that requires a knife. Your guests will appreciate not having to cut food on their lap!
7. Roll a napkin around a fork and spoon. Utensils that are rolled in a napkin are easier to carry. Secure it with a holiday ribbon and place endwise into a glass, mug or pencil cup for easy pickup.
8. Place a toothpick in items that are tough to grab. Be sure to pre-cut pieces off cheese blocks and break grapes into small clusters.
9. Label food that isn't recognizable, or that may cause allergies. Or label everything restaurant-style with a folding card or flag.
10. Consider serving desert and coffee on a tray or rolling cart. This lets guests stay seated and relaxed.

Source: AshleyFurnitureHomeStore.com.

Holiday Pet Safety 101

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

Food, family, friends and celebration. It's holiday time! But, how do our pets handle it? Some of the simple things we take part in over the holidays can often be hazardous to our pets' health, from food to decorations.

"There are 10 common hazards that pet owners should be aware of at this time of year," says Doctor Doug Aspros, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. "If you keep these at the top of your mind and away from your pet, everyone will enjoy the holidays free from trips to the emergency clinic."

Table scraps: Mother was right; don't feed the dog under the table.
Candy: There are a number of things about candy that are bad for pets, but among the worst is the wrapper.
Decorative injuries: The decorations you set up around the house may look great, but they could be a source of injury for your pets.
Tasty decorations: Some decorations are so pretty that they look good enough to eat.
Flowers and plants: Many times we put out new plants, flowers or trimmings, depending on the holiday, and these can be poisonous and deadly.
Sugar-free snacks: Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener in baked goods and sugar-free gum and candy. It's also poisonous for dogs.
Chocolate: Chocolate is a big part of many holiday celebrations, but not for pets.
Guests: Many pets can become downright panicked when faced with a lot of new visitors.
Candles: A lit candle can provide a real hazard.
Pets as presents: The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advises against giving pets as presents, because the recipient doesn't have the opportunity to have an active role in selecting the animal.

Source: www.avma.org.

Great Gadget Gifts for Life on the Go

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

(Family Features) Technology is always high on holiday gift lists, and this year is no different. Recent trends in mobile phones, an ever-growing range of tablet and e-reader price points and styles, and fashionable accessories mean you have more great options than ever.

  • Thanks to some of the hottest handsets coming to no-contract plans, smartphones are truly giftable for the first time. Get the ultimate in flexibility with no long-term commitment from providers like RadioShack No-Contract Wireless, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile. Time to upgrade on an existing contract?
  • Consider a gift card, or look for the best deals at a retailer that offers top contract carriers.
  • For the video or book lover on your list, tablets and e-readers come in many brands, sizes and price points to meet their needs and manage your holiday budget. They are very portable and are a great way to make waiting in line or at the doctor fly by much faster. Consider buying a device on the same operating system as the recipient's smartphone so app purchases will go twice as far. Plus, some people are loyal to one camp or another and will value your gift more if you show you know that.
  • Accessorize your gadget purchases. The right phone, tablet or e-reader case shows recipients you know their style and protects their present. Speaking of extending the life of these devices, consider a warranty plan -- especially for kids or adults whose work or leisure activities might put that gifted gadget at risk.
  • For the music lover, headphones are a great choice. Wireless headphones use Bluetooth technology and operate on batteries for a hands-free experience. If choosing wired headphones, look for a pair with a strong cord or one that can be replaced if damaged. For a combination of high-fashion and high-function, look for hot headphones like Beats by Dr. Dre.
  • For entertaining a crowd, check out compact options such as the AUVIO Bluetooth Portable Speaker. The speaker has great sound, and a compact size make it easy to enjoy music with friends no matter where you are.
  • Don't forget the power. For battery-operated gifts, make sure to pick up the right batteries. For rechargeable tech gifts, power them up with Enercell Portable Power Banks, car chargers, or even a phone-charging case.

Source: www.radioshack.com.

Word of the Day

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

Collateral. Something of value given or pledged to a lender as security for the repayment of a loan.

Q: What should I consider when remodeling the bathroom?

December 6, 2012 4:48 pm

A: Don’t jump too quickly to discard reusable fixtures. If your tub is in relatively good shape, consider having it re-glazed instead of replaced, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. As for the walls around the tub, cultured marble sheets are cheaper to install than marble tiles and also easier to clean. Fiberglass is also less expensive than tile. If space is extremely limited and you cannot “steal” it from other areas of your home, purchase a jetted tub and shower combination or install a pedestal lavatory instead of a vanity cabinet with a sink. Remember, installing a large jetted tub can overtax your water heater, so consider adding a water heater that is dedicated to the tub to prevent problems later.

Winter Is Coming – Time For Bedding Your Garden (Tools)

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

It’s a no-brainer - as Christmas approaches you bed down your garden for the winter. But I recently learned from Betty Alden who posts at gardenstuffs.com, that it’s equally important to bed down your garden tools properly.

Alden says that storing gardening tools properly over the winter can extend their life - especially for expensive power equipment like your electric lawn mower. She offers these five tips on storing gardening tools for the winter:

Scrape Off Dirt – look for excess dirt, soil or mud sticking onto or being left to stick on pots, shovels, watering buckets and other gardening tools. Before storing these tools, remove the dirt or mud using a wire brush or removing them by hand after soaking the tools into a pail of water.

Excess dirt or mud on these equipments could contain water droplets that may freeze, causing some parts of the tools to rust.

Remove the Rust - some of the equipments or some of their parts may already show some rust. Before storing them, remove rust using a steel wool. Alden says wear a pair of proper gardening gloves because a cut while doing this can lead to various types of infections.

Rust Prevention Measures – Alden says spray a layer of penetrating lubricating oil such as WD-40 on top of the steel part. Then, make sure that you store the tools at a dry place - the garage floor is a bad choice because it gets damp easily during winter.

Sharpen Gardening Tools - some of these tools include spades, axes, shovels, pruners and other tools with a sharp portion.

Smooth Out Wooden Parts - that are worn out due to frequent using with sand papers. An extra step will be to coat the wooden parts with a layer of paste wax to keep the wood from getting moisturized and attracting pests such as termites. If the wooden parts are not properly coated, fungus may also grow on them during the winter.

Think It's Gone? How to Get That Sold Out Gift

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

Every parent or grandparent wants to make the holidays a special time, one that the beloved children in their lives will always remember. Be the holiday hero by getting the gifts they really want – those super popular toys making headlines across the country. Of course, the hottest holiday toys quickly sell out. With a few smart shopping strategies, you will be able to get the gifts they really want without a lot of hassle.

Your children or grandchildren are sure to squeal with delight when they tear open their presents and find a Nintendo Wii U, a Disney Doc McStuffins doll or a Furby in one of the hardest-to-find colors. How were you able to get the toys that your friends and neighbors could not get? You followed some simple shopping strategies for locating high-demand items:

Visit the manufacturer's website

The first step to tracking down a popular toy is to find out where the toy can be found. Each manufacturer's website will list where its toys are sold. Contrary to popular belief, not every major retailer carries all the popular toys of this year. Some manufacturers have exclusive agreements with certain retailers, while other manufacturers may stock at smaller toy stores as well as large retailers.

Call early and be courteous
Call when the store opens so you can speak with a department manager before peak shopping hours. Be courteous and ask if a toy is in-stock. If possible, ask for the item to be held for you. If you are told it is out of stock, do not be shy about asking when the store receives its shipments. On that day, call the store and ask if your item was in the shipment. Better yet, be there for when the store opens.

Use technology to your advantage
The Internet has changed the way people shop for holiday gifts. If you are having trouble tracking down a special toy, you can search it online, or use tools like TrackAToy.com, a free resource that helps people find the most popular toys.

Online discussion boards are another valuable resource for holiday shoppers. A quick search and you will find a number of different online forums.

Finding that perfect holiday toy does not have to be an impossible mission when you utilize a few smart shopping strategies. From calling stores in the morning to free online product alerts, you will make this the most memorable holiday yet.

Source: www.trackatoy.com

Boomers on the Road: Plan Ahead and Protect Your Health

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

(BPT) - Getting older means being a little more susceptible to a variety of health problems while traveling. However, with a little planning and some caution, baby boomers and seniors can have a safe, healthy and enjoyable trip. Here are some pre-planning tips to help get you started:

* Mention your planned travels with your physician. Discuss any medications you're currently taking, and if you'll need refills prior to departure.

* Carry a copy of all your prescriptions with you when you travel. When going abroad, you may also want to know the generic name of your drug in case your prescribed version isn't available locally. Losing a pill bottle or accidentally breaking a vial of insulin - for example - can very easily happen on a vacation, and if you are touring around a foreign country, you may have difficulty obtaining a refill if you don't have this information handy or if your drug is unavailable or sold under a different name.

* Sign up for travel assistance. Nobody plans to get sick or injured while traveling, but it can happen. And sometimes an injury or illness is severe enough to force the traveler to cut the trip short and seek medical attention. Baby boomers and seniors have trusted doctors at home, and often want to return home immediately for medical care. This is where On Call International's medical evacuation and travel assistance memberships come in handy. The annual membership and mature membership offer medical evacuations to the hospital of the member's choice, regardless of whether they can receive appropriate care locally. Visit www.oncallinternational.com/travel-assistance/individuals to learn more about travel assistance.

* Visit a travel medicine specialist. You may be required to get new vaccinations when traveling to specific foreign countries. Ask your doctor to recommend a travel medicine specialist who can educate you about the immunizations that are required or recommended for your destination, as well as any other health concerns specific to your destination.

* Pack over-the-counter supplies. A vacation means getting out and doing new or different activities. This change of pace may result in sore and achy muscles. A vacation also means you might be exposed to new and different germs, which could develop into a traveler's cold or the flu. Pack some over-the-counter medications to help treat potential symptoms, so you don't have to take time out of your vacation to search for a pharmacy or drug store. Hopefully you won't need any of the supplies, but it's always a good idea to have them handy.

With a little pre-planning, you'll be able to have the relaxing vacation you deserve, while also reducing your chances of encountering common health pitfalls that could put a damper on your trip.

Word of the Day

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

Cloud on title. Defect in the title that impairs the owner’s ability to market the property. This might be a lien, claim, judgment, or encumbrance.

Q: What Should I Consider when Redoing My Kitchen?

December 5, 2012 6:06 pm

A: It is tempting to discard existing appliances when you build new cabinets around them. Rethink the idea. If the appliances are workable, keep them – and save yourself from $1,000 to $5,000, according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Also keep the present location of major fixtures, appliances and utilities relative to the plumbing, gas and electrical outlets. Rearranging plumbing, wiring and jacks can be very expensive. Refacing existing cabinets can reduce the cost of your kitchen remodel considerably and eliminate the need for new flooring, countertops and appliances. If you must get new cabinets, options such as spice racks and slide out wire baskets can be added later. Also, install cabinets without soffits to decrease labor cost; and avoid trim moldings, or use a simple trim. If you must have a new wood trim to match the new cabinets, order pre-finished trim to decrease labor cost; avoid having the painting or staining done on-site. Other helpful tips: choose neutral colors for fixtures, appliances and laminates and avoid the need for a new floor by sanding and refinishing a hardwood floor that may be underneath the existing vinyl flooring.