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10 Kitchen Improvements for $100 or Less

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The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where we prepare our food, kids do their homework, parents work from home, families play board games, and guests pop in for a coffee. We spend so much time in our kitchens that they soon feel outdated. 

Kitchen remodeling is expensive but there are inexpensive changes we can make that make a world of difference. Home decorators know how to give new life to a space while on a budget to make the maximum impact. 

Learn from these incredible ideas and give your kitchen a new lease of life within no time:

  1. Create a better Display for Pots and Pans

Pots and pans take to take up a lot of cabinet space particularly in smaller kitchens. When there are too many of them, it can be difficult to open doors without them falling out. 

Turn your pot and pan display into an art piece by itself. A rail mounted on the wall and populated with s-hooks allows you to hand them neatly in a way that is easily accessible when you need them.  

  • A fresh Coat of Paint for the Cabinets

A can of paint does not cost much, but it can give your kitchen a whole new look while being environmentally friendly. When you repaint your pieces instead of buying new stuff, you are saving the environment. 

Because this is a more labor intensive job, you want to set aside more than one weekend to do it. Achieve a better finish by prepping the cabinets first. Clean them thoroughly, then sand and prime them. You are now ready to start painting. 

If you are trying to make a duller space, consider investing in semi-gloss paint. Semi-gloss paint is also easy to clean. You just have to wipe it down. This makes it good for kitchens. 

To give your paint job an interesting twist, consider painting only the edges of your drawers and doors in a color that stands out. 

  • Open up some shelves

One alternative to painting cabinets is to remove some doors to create open shelves. Open shelves are trendy and they work best when you have pretty dish displays hidden behind a cabinet door. 

Use open shelves to give a row of cabinets a visual interest. See how Regan Mauck did it by removing some doors, painting the cabinets from the inside, and even putting in more shelves. 

Some home decorators avoid the paint and use things like plants and dishes to add interest. 

  • Use Backsplash creatively

Backsplash is expensive to install, but you can find cheaper ways around it. Think of using a peel-and-stick backsplash which is simple enough to install on your own without professional help. 

If you are a renter, this is even better because it does not involve making any major alterations that may need authorization from your landlord. 

This method is not just cheaper but also easy to remove later on if you need to. This kitchen improvement costs as little as $50 although this may vary depending on the specific design you choose. Some of the peel-and-stick designs are made to look like ceramic finishes.

Apart from backsplashes, you can also think about playing around with wallpapers to give your walls a whole new look. 

  • Install a new Faucet 

We probably spend more time at the kitchen sink than some of the other places in the kitchen. A new faucet will definitely make you feel like your space is different. Consider going for a faucet with a higher arch as well as a sprayer which will not only make your kitchen look more modern, it will also make washing dishes easier.

  • Put in New Lighting 

Are you still using the same lighting features you found when you moved into your home? Depending on how long you have been there, it might be time for a change. 

Look into the possibility of getting lighting fixtures that are more in line with your own personal style and how you want your kitchen to look. Just changing the lighting on your kitchen island to pendants will make the whole space look different. 

Lighting fixtures are easy find for $100 or even less at all the big stores, but you can get a more unique DIY statement lighting piece that will cost even less. 

Consider fashioning a pendant light by putting together a rattan basket and a pendant light set. You end up with a chic boho look. 

  • Decals

Decals are a great way to change the colors of your cabinets without having to redo the painting. Decals are low commitment and great for renters. Use peel-and-stick wallpaper or vinyl decals to add different colors to your plain cabinets.

  • Install a Kitchen Island

You don’t need to break the bank to build a kitchen island. IKEA has a popular birch kitchen island that goes for only $108 and fits well into virtually any kitchen thanks to its modest size 

All it needs is a towel bar and hooks to make your kitchen roomier.

  • Hooks beneath Shelves and Cabinets

One of the most under exploited spaces in a kitchen is the space found in between upper cabinets and counter tops or shelves. 

Screwing cup hooks onto the wood and then using them to hang kitchen tools or mugs is a simple and affordable kitchen upgrade. You will have a brand new storage space available instantly. 

  1. Tape Self-Adhesive Paper over Appliances

Give your fridge or dishwasher a brand new look with some self-adhesive paper. It is easy and cheap. A plain color will give you a more classic look or style. Pick a more whimsical pattern to turn your fridge/dishwasher into a statement piece. 

Tips & Advice

How Photographing Food Can Lead to Healthier Eating Habits

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In today’s digital age, where sharing moments on social media has become second nature, a surprising trend is emerging: photographing food can improve your health. This finding, rooted in research from Curtin University, reveals that the simple act of taking pictures of your meals may be a key to fostering healthier eating habits.

The study conducted by Curtin University highlights that when individuals photograph their food, they are more likely to reflect on their dietary choices, leading to more mindful eating. This article explores how this practice works, its benefits, and its potential to revolutionize our approach to food and health.

The Psychological Impact of Food Photography

Food photography is not just about creating aesthetically pleasing images for social media. According to the American Psychological Association, the process of photographing food can engage individuals in a form of self-monitoring. This self-monitoring is critical because it encourages awareness of what and how much one eats, which is essential for making healthier food choices.

By taking pictures of meals, individuals are forced to pause and think about their food. This moment of reflection can deter unhealthy choices and promote better portion control. Additionally, sharing these images on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook can create a sense of accountability. When people know their meals are being viewed by others, they may be more inclined to choose healthier options to maintain a positive public image.

Encouraging Mindful Eating

Mindful eating, a practice rooted in Buddhist teachings, involves paying full attention to the experience of eating and drinking, both inside and outside the body. It emphasizes slowing down and savoring each bite, acknowledging the tastes, textures, and sensations of the food.

Photographing food can enhance mindful eating by requiring individuals to take a moment to appreciate their meals before consuming them. This pause can transform a mindless eating routine into a mindful experience, allowing people to enjoy their food more fully and recognize when they are satiated, reducing the likelihood of overeating.

The Role of Social Media in Promoting Healthy Eating

Social media platforms play a significant role in shaping dietary behaviors. Studies, such as those published by the National Institutes of Health, indicate that exposure to healthy food images on social media can influence users to make healthier food choices. When individuals post pictures of nutritious meals, they not only showcase their healthy eating habits but also inspire their followers to adopt similar behaviors.

Moreover, social media communities often create spaces for sharing healthy recipes, meal prep tips, and nutritional advice. These online networks can provide support and motivation for individuals striving to improve their diets. Engaging with these communities can make healthy eating seem more attainable and enjoyable.

Practical Applications and Technological Innovations

The integration of technology into dietary habits extends beyond simple food photography. Mobile applications and wearable devices have emerged as powerful tools for promoting healthy eating. Apps like MyFitnessPal and Lose It! allow users to track their food intake by logging meals and scanning barcodes, while devices like Fitbit can monitor physical activity and caloric burn.

These technologies can be complemented by food photography. For instance, some apps now incorporate photo-based food diaries, enabling users to take pictures of their meals instead of manually entering data. This feature simplifies the tracking process and makes it more engaging.

Additionally, advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning are paving the way for more sophisticated dietary tracking tools. AI-powered apps can analyze food images to estimate nutritional content, providing users with immediate feedback on their dietary choices. This real-time analysis can help individuals make informed decisions about their meals, further promoting healthy eating habits.

The Future of Food Photography and Health

As the trend of food photography continues to grow, its potential to influence public health becomes increasingly evident. Healthcare providers and nutritionists are beginning to recognize the value of incorporating this practice into dietary interventions. Encouraging patients to photograph their meals can serve as a valuable tool for dietary assessment and counseling.

Furthermore, public health campaigns can leverage the popularity of food photography on social media to promote nutritional awareness. By partnering with influencers and utilizing hashtags, campaigns can reach a broader audience and foster a culture of healthy eating.

Conclusion

The intersection of technology, psychology, and social media has given rise to a novel approach to improving dietary habits: food photography. By encouraging mindfulness, self-monitoring, and social accountability, photographing meals can lead to healthier eating behaviors. As research from Curtin University suggests, this practice has the potential to transform our relationship with food and promote better health outcomes.

Incorporating food photography into daily routines, supported by mobile apps and social media platforms, can make healthy eating more accessible and enjoyable. As we continue to explore the benefits of this practice, it is clear that a simple snapshot can be a powerful tool for achieving a healthier lifestyle.

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Tips & Advice

Navigating Tomato Season: Smart Choices for a Bountiful Harvest

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As spring heralds the time for planting, garden enthusiasts and culinary experts alike turn their attention to one of the most beloved garden staples: the tomato. The rush to cultivate the perfect batch of juicy, ruby-red tomatoes can, however, be fraught with common pitfalls that novice and experienced gardeners might face. Drawing insights from an expert guide on purchasing tomato plants, this article aims to navigate these challenges, ensuring a successful and bountiful tomato harvest.

Choosing the Right Time to Plant

The ideal time to plant tomatoes hinges crucially on local climate conditions, specifically the last frost date of the season. Gardeners should determine their area’s frost-free date by consulting reliable sources or local agricultural extensions. This crucial step helps in planning when to safely transplant tomato seedlings outdoors without the risk of frost damage.

Selecting the Perfect Plant

When selecting tomato plants at a nursery or garden center, it’s important to opt for those that are healthy and robust rather than those already bearing flowers or fruit. Plants should focus their energy on developing a strong root system rather than on producing fruit in their initial growth stages. Removing any early blooms can encourage this energy redirection.

Understanding Plant Varieties

Tomato plants come in mainly two types: determinate and indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes, such as ‘Celebrity’ or ‘Patio’, are more compact and tend to ripen all their fruit at roughly the same time. These varieties are ideal for container planting or small garden spaces. On the other hand, indeterminate varieties like ‘Better Boy’ and ‘Beefmaster’ continue growing and producing fruit throughout the season and require adequate support structures such as cages or trellises.

Inspecting for Quality and Health

Visual inspection plays a critical role in selecting the best plants. Avoid plants that show signs of stress or disease such as wilting, yellowing leaves, or the presence of pests like whiteflies. Such issues can significantly hinder the plant’s growth and fruit production. A healthy tomato plant should have a vibrant green color, sturdy stems, and no signs of insects or disease.

Heirlooms versus Hybrids

While heirloom tomatoes are cherished for their unique flavors and varieties, they are often more susceptible to diseases compared to their hybrid counterparts. For those inclined towards heirloom varieties, it’s crucial to understand their specific care requirements and potential vulnerabilities. Hybrid varieties, though less diverse, typically offer more disease resistance and vigor, often resulting in a more reliable crop.

Post-Purchase Care

Once the right tomato plants are selected and brought home, proper care is essential to ensure their growth and productivity. This includes adequate watering, providing enough sunlight, and regular feeding. Additionally, gardeners should be prepared to manage pests and diseases through safe and sustainable methods to maintain healthy plants and ensure a productive harvest.

Engaging with the Gardening Community

Sharing experiences and tips through gardening forums or local clubs can provide additional support and insights, enhancing the gardening journey. Whether you are a novice gardener or a seasoned cultivator, connecting with a community can offer valuable advice and encouragement.

In conclusion, purchasing tomato plants requires more than just selecting the healthiest looking specimen at the garden center. By understanding the best practices for choosing and caring for tomato plants, gardeners can avoid common mistakes and set the stage for a successful and rewarding growing season. Embrace the process and enjoy the fruits of your labor in the form of delicious, home-grown tomatoes.

For further reading on avoiding common tomato-growing mistakes, visit Southern Living’s gardening guide, which offers a wealth of information to help you succeed in your gardening endeavors.

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Chefs

Redefining Holiday Sweets: Culinary Experts Suggest Delightful Alternatives to Traditional Christmas Pudding

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As the festive season approaches, the perennial debate over the traditional Christmas pudding arises. While some relish this classic dessert, others seek alternatives that are equally festive but more aligned with their tastes. Let’s explore some chef-recommended alternatives to the conventional Christmas pudding, offering a twist to your holiday feasts.

Yule Log: A Chocolate Lover’s Delight

The Yule log, or Bûche de Noël, is a popular alternative in many households. Michel Roux, renowned for his culinary expertise, suggests this as a French alternative to the traditional pudding. The Yule log is a light chocolate sponge, rolled with ganache and often spiked with Grand Marnier, adorned with caramelized hazelnuts. It’s a visually impressive dessert that chocolate enthusiasts will adore.

Pastry chef Graham Hornigold, founder of Longboys, echoes the sentiment for a Yule log variant, the Mont Blanc roulade. This dessert is versatile, allowing for various flavor combinations and even a vegan version by substituting dairy products with plant-based alternatives. Hornigold’s Christmas favorite includes a vanilla sponge with blackcurrant jam, chestnut cream, and candied chestnuts, served with blackcurrant ripple ice cream.

Sticky Toffee Pudding: A Pub Classic

Sticky toffee pudding, a pub classic, is another crowd-pleaser. Sabrina Ghayour, author of “Flavour,” shares that this dessert has been a long-standing tradition in her family. She adds a unique twist by infusing the toffee sauce with coffee and warming spices like cinnamon, vanilla, and cardamom, drawing inspiration from the coffees of the Arab Middle East.

Warming Baked Fruits: A Lighter Option

For those seeking a lighter option, Matt Tebbutt suggests warming baked fruits. Based on a Delia Smith recipe, this dish includes winter fruits baked in masala with cinnamon and nutmeg. Served with whipped mascarpone cream, it offers a light and delicious alternative to the dense Christmas pudding.

Spiced Ice Cream: A Chilled Alternative

Contrary to the winter chill, ice cream can be a delightful festive dessert. Rick Stein recommends semifreddo, a frozen dessert akin to ice cream but with a lighter, mousse-like texture. Flavored with Christmas spices, fruit macerated in Kirsch or Cognac, orange zest, and vanilla, it’s a creamy delight. Stein suggests setting it in a kougelhopf pan for a wreath-like appearance, decorated with cocoa powder and flaked almonds.

Sarah Raven takes the ice cream idea further with her coffee meringue ice cream cake topped with pomegranate seeds, perfect as a festive centerpiece. The addition of burning brandy adds to the celebratory spirit.

Boxing Day Delight: A New Tradition

Finally, if none of these alternatives appeal, why not simply postpone the Christmas pudding to Boxing Day? Michel Roux and Matt Tebbutt suggest enjoying it cold or fried in butter the next day, offering a delightful twist and reducing food waste during the festive season.

In conclusion, the Christmas pudding, while traditional, isn’t the only option for a festive dessert. From the chocolatey Yule log to the light and fruity baked fruits, and the unconventional spiced ice cream, there are numerous ways to end your Christmas feast on a sweet note. These alternatives not only cater to different palates but also add a touch of creativity and personalization to your holiday celebrations.

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