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November 12, 2017 |

Archive for » November 12th, 2017«

Aldi launches wooden toy range including a rocking horse and unicorn

Aldi has a great collection of wooden toys available for Christmas this year.

Described as a ‘nostalgic collection of great-value wooden toys’ the collection includes a shop, theatre, kitchen and work bench.

The range also includes a rocking horse and rocking unicorn which is available for ages two and over, and has its own sound effects.

Prices start from £9.99 for kitchen sets and accessories, up to £69.99 for the premium wooden kitchen.

(Image: Aldi)

The playshop and theatre (£34.99), offers two great role plays in one.

On one side, the play shop features two shelves with storage trays to show off produce, including a starter set of three fruits and three vegetables.

Wannabe grocers can use the mini blackboard to showcase their prices and promotions.

(Image: Aldi)

On the other side is a theatre featuring a red stage curtain and a large blackboard, perfect for listing their plays and performances.

The quality FSC certified wooden toy line-up will be in stores and online from Thursday, October 26 as part of the Aldi special buys offers, but customers will be able to pre-order from Sunday, October 22.

Items included in the range are…

Wooden Rocking Unicorn (£27.99)

Wooden Rocking Horse (£27.99)

(Image: Aldi)

Wooden Doll’s House (£29.99)

Wooden Doll’s House Furniture (£12.99)

Large Wooden Kitchen (£29.99)

(Image: Aldi)

(Image: Aldi)

Kitchen Sets and Accessories (from £9.99 – £12.99)

(Image: Aldi)

Wooden Work Bench and Tools (£34.99)

(Image: Aldi)

Wooden Playshop/Theatre (£34.99)

(Image: Aldi)

Premium Wooden Kitchen (£69.99)

Premium Kitchen Accessories (£9.99)

Wooden Kitchen (£29.99), available in grey or pink

Premium wooden kitchen

Premium wooden kitchen
(Image: Aldi)
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Cooking under pressure: Instant Pot becomes a hot item

Slow cookers are meeting their match.

With the weather suddenly cooler, home chefs are braising roasts and dusting off their Crock-Pots (if they were ever stored away at all?).

But others are choosing a new route: the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is a multi-use (7-plus features), programmable pressure cooker designed to make cooking convenient, dependable and safe. Some say the device helps take the pressure off meal making and are throwing impromptu parties to show off their gadgets. The pot is a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan and warming pot.

Liz Durant of Hopkinton, a personal trainer and nutrition coach, began using the pot several months ago and was smitten. She is well-known tastemaker in the area, and when she recommends something, a lot of people listen.

When it comes to busy moms cooking for kids, she said, the Instant Pot replaces unhealthy food.

“No more chicken fingers and grilled cheese sandwiches,” says Durant.

When Durant has time (she owns Affinity Fitness) she takes her pot and enthusiasm on the road to demonstrate to magic of the pot to tepid and curious cooks. She doesn’t represent the Instant Pot brand, nor does she sell it. For Durant, it’s all about blending good nutrition and good food into a healthy and active lifestyle. For her, anything goes.

“Steam some fresh hen eggs and you will never go back to hardboiled eggs in your life,” says Durant with infectious enthusiasm. She’s made cupcakes in the Instant Pot and hopes to master the recipe for New York cheesecake.

Cassandra Kramer of Bow, a friend of Durant’s, recently invited several of her neighbors over to drink some wine and watch Durant’s show and tell.

Into the pot went brown rice, salsa, kidney beans, corn and chicken stock. Durant then placed a layer of whole chicken breasts on top, threw in some pre-measured spices, turned on the pot and took a sip of wine. In less than 25 minutes, the steamy dinner was done and served. It was tenderized, flavorful, moist and juicy.

One bite and Tara Weckstein was sold. “I’m going to go out and buy one. Seriously, I’m getting one this week,” says Weckstein, who was floored by the flavor on her plate.

“Time! That’s what I like about the pot,” said Melissa Louf. “Things are cooked so quickly.”


The Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, made in Canada, came on the market several years ago, but didn’t become the rave until this year when users began to post their love and affection on social media.

The company does no advertising on TV or in print, relying instead on word of mouth. You can find the pot in Wal-Mart, Target and several other stores and range in price from $79.00-$160.00, but it is Amazon that has benefited the most; the Instant Pot is one of Amazon’s best-selling items in the U.S. market. The Instant Pot Facebook page has 790,00 followers and growing.

Google “Instant Pot” and you’ll find blogs, recipes, reviews, instructions, tips and a whole new sub-culture. Yes, some users are even called “Pot Heads.”

Pam Duffy of Bow says she just doesn’t have time to cook. “I enjoy cooking on the weekends but not during the week when life is very busy,” says Duffy. “Frankly, I would much rather be doing other things than sautéing veggies and cooking protein separately.”

One of the big advantages in using the Instant Pot is spontaneity. If you have a bag of hard lentils or beans, you don’t have to soak them overnight; they can cook in 20 minutes. Frozen food doesn’t have to be thawed, it just goes straight into the pot. If you detest washing cookware, the Instant Pot is a single pot that’s easy to clean.

For Cassandra Kramer, the Instant Pot can be a life-saver. After a long weekend away from home, her cupboard was bare. “I said, ‘What do I have?’ I had chicken thighs frozen and didn’t have time to defrost them, but then I realized I had Instant Pot,” says Kramer. “Dinner was done in a half-hour and it was delicious.”

Instant Pot Southwestern Chicken and Rice

1 1/2 cups brown rice

3/4 cup salsa

1 15oz can of kidney beans (drained)

1/2 cup corn

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

Place rice, salsa, kidney beans, corn and broth in the Instant Pot. Stir. 

Place chicken breasts over mixture. 

Secure lid and cook on high pressure for 24 minutes. Let pressure naturally release. 

Remove chicken breasts and shred into bite-sized pieces. 

Fluff the rice and serve.

Recipe for Sweet Potato Soup

1 large onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

3-4 cloves, finely diced

½ red chili, diced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

1 teaspoon paprika

1 lb. sweet potato, diced into cubes

1 can black beans

2 cups canned tomatoes

3 cups water

1 cube vegetable stock

Juice of ½ lime

Serve with one avocado diced, handful of crumbled tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream and 1-2 tablespoons of grated cheddar cheese.

General NewsHuman InterestLifestyleTechnologyFoodHopkinton

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When It Comes to Trade Whirlpool Tries To Have Its Cake And Eat It Too

Whirlpool appliances for sale alongside other brands at a Home Depot store in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Whirlpool sells household appliances under brands including Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, and Maytag brands. It is currently pushing for 50% tariffs on imported washing machines under a special U.S. law known in trade circles as Section 201. Such a tariff would essentially halt all imports of washers. This case is odd for two reasons: the foreign competitors are building factories in the U.S. and Whirlpool embraced the same foreign competition it now objects to a decade ago when it was to its benefit.

Ten years ago when Whirlpool wanted to merge with Maytag, it argued in favor of the merger by claiming that imports from Samsung and LG would provide sufficient competition in the washing machine market to protect consumers. Yet now, post-merger, Whirlpool is arguing that Samsung and LG washers are too inexpensive and should be effectively blocked by the U.S. government levying a 50% tax on all imported washers. That is a great example of trying to have your cake and eat it, too.

Section 201 is designed to provide U.S. companies with temporary protection from damages caused by an unexpectedly large inflow of imports. Whirlpool is claiming to be damaged by “unexpected” imports even though it used those exact imports to support the case for its merger with Maytag. How can the imports be unexpected a decade after they were touted as beneficial? Even stranger, the entire import situation is about to change.

Samsung is building a washing machine factory in Newberry County, South Carolina. The plant is nearing completion, 250 workers have already been hired, sometime in 2018 the plant will have 500 workers producing washers and possibly other appliances, and eventually nearly 1000 workers will be employed there. LG is just beginning work on a plant in Clarkesville, Tennessee, so soon both major importers will be manufacturing some of their washing machines in the U.S., creating jobs for several thousand Americans.

If Whirlpool’s foreign competitors are already in the process of moving some of their manufacturing footprint to the U.S., why is a trade action needed? This foreign investment in U.S. jobs should lead to an expansion of domestic manufacturing, so it’s not apparent why the domestic industry needs protection from imports manufactured by foreign competitors that are already investing hundreds of millions of dollars in creating jobs in the U.S. and replacing a significant share of their imports with washing machines made here.

Beyond the fact that Whirlpool appears willing to say anything to gain an advantage in the domestic home appliance market, they appear to have tried to use their dominant position to pressure Sears into blocking some of their competitors from prime in-store floor space and maintaining premium prices on Whirlpool’s brands. While Sears is not confirming all details of what transpired, whatever Whirlpool did was enough to make Sears stop selling Whirlpool brands. That’s a really big deal considering that Sears has sold Whirlpool brand products for a century and Whirlpool manufactures many appliances that Sears sells under its own Kenmore brand name.

Once the Whirlpool-Sears dispute is used to place the Section 201 trade case into a clearer context, it appears to me that their claims of damage from imports should be dismissed as simply part of a pattern of anti-competitive behavior by Whirlpool. Samsung and LG are both competing in the marketplace. They are also in the process of moving at least some production to the U.S.

Lower prices benefit all Americans. There is no reason to take that benefit away simply to reward a company bent on winning through crony capitalism instead of by making its customers happy.

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Eyes All Aglow – Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

What’s another 1.5 million lights when the “city” already boasts 5 million?

In the case of the new “Christmas in Midtown” display at Silver Dollar City, it’s 1.5 million lights lovingly hand-placed by park employees to illuminate 30 angels, an animated reindeer pulling a sleigh, three light tunnels, two 40-foot-long moving trains, dozens of stars and snowflakes and a 90-foot tree, all gathered at the heart of the 1880s village.

“We truly want to create an experience that takes you back in time to the perfect Christmas — or makes this Christmas the best one ever,” says Brad Thomas, president and general manager of the Branson, Mo., theme park.

Thomas has been with Silver Dollar City for 27 years, and he’s seen it all — literally. He knows how the magic happens — and he still believes it’s magical.

He knows that many of those 5 million lights are surreptitiously installed as early as the first of July — because they do all have to come down every year and be checked, cleaned and readied to go back up.

He has seen first-hand how Silver Dollar City closes its fall celebration with craftsmen and autumn leaves and pumpkins at 6 p.m. on a Saturday and opens at noon the next Saturday decked out for Christmas — and he knows it’s a process so “intense there’s even a grid that shows what direction you can drive on the streets” inside the park.

He knows that during that week, the Broadway-style stage shows — “A Dickens Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” — are putting up sets, hanging lights and rehearsing for openings in the Opera House and Red Gold Heritage Hall.

And he knows that even the scents of the city change, from skillets of goulash and fresh-baked cinnamon bread to cedar and hot apple cider.

“There are a lot of places that can do Christmas shows, can hang Christmas lights up,” Thomas says. “We know that. But we want to give our guests an escape from the world of today. And when I see the lights and see our guests’ faces, it’s so worth the work. That’s what makes my heart sing.”

Adding to an already nationally renowned Christmas celebration might seem unnecessary, but Thomas also knows that a lot of people come to Silver Dollar City to celebrate the turn of every season. And he never, ever wants them to say “been there, seen that.”

“And the No. 1 reason people come at Christmas is the lights,” he says. “The shows are really targeted to adult couples, and families love Santa Claus and the rides. But they all love the lights. They ALL love the lights.”

That being said, Thomas is already looking ahead to 2018, when the $26 million Time Traveler roller coaster opens. But he’s got one more surprise under the tree for 2017 — Silver Dollar City’s first-ever New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration.

“The stages will change out, and the shows will be a little bit more like a New Year’s Eve party,” he explains, but the lights will stay on.

And he sounds as happy as Scrooge on Christmas morning.

NAN What’s Up on 11/12/2017

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Eyes All Aglow

What’s another 1.5 million lights when the “city” already boasts 5 million?

In the case of the new “Christmas in Midtown” display at Silver Dollar City, it’s 1.5 million lights lovingly hand-placed by park employees to illuminate 30 angels, an animated reindeer pulling a sleigh, three light tunnels, two 40-foot-long moving trains, dozens of stars and snowflakes and a 90-foot tree, all gathered at the heart of the 1880s village.

“We truly want to create an experience that takes you back in time to the perfect Christmas — or makes this Christmas the best one ever,” says Brad Thomas, president and general manager of the Branson, Mo., theme park.

Thomas has been with Silver Dollar City for 27 years, and he’s seen it all — literally. He knows how the magic happens — and he still believes it’s magical.

He knows that many of those 5 million lights are surreptitiously installed as early as the first of July — because they do all have to come down every year and be checked, cleaned and readied to go back up.

He has seen first-hand how Silver Dollar City closes its fall celebration with craftsmen and autumn leaves and pumpkins at 6 p.m. on a Saturday and opens at noon the next Saturday decked out for Christmas — and he knows it’s a process so “intense there’s even a grid that shows what direction you can drive on the streets” inside the park.

He knows that during that week, the Broadway-style stage shows — “A Dickens Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” — are putting up sets, hanging lights and rehearsing for openings in the Opera House and Red Gold Heritage Hall.

And he knows that even the scents of the city change, from skillets of goulash and fresh-baked cinnamon bread to cedar and hot apple cider.

“There are a lot of places that can do Christmas shows, can hang Christmas lights up,” Thomas says. “We know that. But we want to give our guests an escape from the world of today. And when I see the lights and see our guests’ faces, it’s so worth the work. That’s what makes my heart sing.”

Adding to an already nationally renowned Christmas celebration might seem unnecessary, but Thomas also knows that a lot of people come to Silver Dollar City to celebrate the turn of every season. And he never, ever wants them to say “been there, seen that.”

“And the No. 1 reason people come at Christmas is the lights,” he says. “The shows are really targeted to adult couples, and families love Santa Claus and the rides. But they all love the lights. They ALL love the lights.”

That being said, Thomas is already looking ahead to 2018, when the $26 million Time Traveler roller coaster opens. But he’s got one more surprise under the tree for 2017 — Silver Dollar City’s first-ever New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day celebration.

“The stages will change out, and the shows will be a little bit more like a New Year’s Eve party,” he explains, but the lights will stay on.

And he sounds as happy as Scrooge on Christmas morning.

NAN What’s Up on 11/12/2017

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Cooking up memories of Mom

How fast this year is passing by. I can hardly believe our choir at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Houma is already practicing Advent and Christmas music.

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and the holidays always take me back in time. I think about that little two-story white house on Palmer Street across from Sacred Heart Church in Indianapolis that my family called home in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. How I miss the sights, sounds and smells of that house at holiday time. That is when I miss my dear Mom the most.

Being the oldest of the large Belviy clan, Mom depended heavily on me for help, especially during the holidays. That is probably why I love cooking so much and always have.

I remember when I was just a child, Mom would scoot the red metal step stool up the the stove for me to stand on and stir the pots while she did other chores. Having such a large family — I am the oldest of 10 children — Mom had to cook big meals.

We were not really poor, but we certainly weren’t well off, and we did have to stretch money and food to “make ends meet,” as Mom said. That meant we ate lots of big pot meals so we each got plenty, even if it wasn’t steak and potatoes.

Mom made mostly soups and chilis during the week. But Sundays were special, and she often would cook a big roast or meatloaf. We were only allowed one portion of meat so she could have leftovers for the rest of the week.

Her beef and noodles were always a treat, even if the meat was sparse compared to the noodles. 

No one could stretch food better than my mother. I can remember we bought 12 loaves of bread a week and depended on bread to round out all of our meals. Mom made a fabulous gravy and beef with leftover roast or meatloaf that she served over toast. I can still remember how great that tasted and smelled.

Mom’s meals weren’t fancy, but they were hot and filling, and I miss them. Mom also made the best beef liver and fried potatoes, which we didn’t get often, but when we did, we savored the treat.

She would get out her two largest cast-iron skillets. She would first fry several slices of bacon in each skillet while I would slice potatoes thinly into a large mixing bowl and lots of onions into another bowl. Then Mom would removed the crisped bacon onto a paper towel and pour the potatoes into one of the greased skillets and layer several slices of liver into the other skillet.

Next, she poured half the onions into each skillet and lowered the heat. I would have charge of turning the potatoes while Mom watched the liver.

When the potatoes were crisp and brown, we would line up the many dinner plates on the table and put a helping of potatoes and slice of liver topped with onions on each plate. Then to top it off Mom would crumble a slice of bacon over the food on each plate.

Since my family was raised in Indiana, we were raised on beef and potatoes and not seafood like people are down here on the coast. While I enjoy the food of the South and the Gulf, there is nothing that gives me that warm fuzzy feeling of comfort and home as much as the wonderful meals my Mom cooked daily for her large family in my youth.

Mom, I love and miss you but it really comforts me to know you must be famous all over heaven for the meals you are cooking up there now.

— Donna Knight is an artist and freelance writer in Houma.

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15 lightweight, stackable backpacking cookware – Boing Boing

This is the lowest price I’ve seen for this super popular, cheap 10 piece camping cook set.

The pot and pan, with lids, neatly stack. Netly stack into a size that is just right to fit into my VW Vanagon’s sink, with some dishtowels and a cutting board, for storage as I drive around. It also comes with a sponge, stainless steel spork, a spoon and some bowls.

Handles on the pot and pan are not terrible to use, which inspired my purchase. Most camp cook set pots and pans come with burn the shit out of you handles, or complicated weird latch systems. These just fold out and have some silicone for grips.

The set is worth it just for the pot and pan. At $15 you can throw this kit into your emergency/bugout bag and have something to boil water in once the apocalypse comes.

Honest Portable camping cookware mess kit folding Cookset for hiking backpacking 10 piece Lightweigh durable Pot Pan Bowls Spork with nylon bag outdoor cook equipment via Amazon

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Jason Weisberger

Jason Weisberger is Boing Boing’s publisher. Nemo is Jason’s Great Pyrenees. You can find Jason on twitter at @jlw

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