Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Buying a refrigerator: Which style is best for you?

July 5, 2011

If you’re looking to buy a refrigerator, the last time you researched your options likely was years ago. Well, a lot changed in the last decade.

Before, most refrigerators for sale were just the standard top-freezer refrigerator. Now, there are four major styles to choose from, not to mention refrigerator drawers, columns and compact options — which I’ll save for another post.

Top Freezer Refrigerator

The classic top freezer refrigerator remains  among one of the most popular styles in the market place today. The freezer is at eye-level, which is good if you use frozen food most often. Plus, the refrigerator has wider shelves than a side-by-side refrigerator, making it easy to store large trays of food and allow easy access to things stored in the back of the refrigerator.

If you have space constraints, you’ll likely end up with a top freezer, because some models in this style fit a smaller footprint. And from a budget perspective, top freezer refrigerators are an affordable style that boast convenience features such as factory-installed icemakers, chilled water dispensers (on some models) and glass shelves. Plus, top freezers are the most energy-efficient style, and are rated to last the longest.

Side by Side Refrigerator

On a side by side refrigerator, two compartment doors wing out from the center; the freezer compartment is located on the left side and the refrigerator compartment on the right.

If your kitchen has a narrow walkway or an island, you’ll like the side-by-side refrigerator’s smaller door swing clearance.

Many side by side refrigerators have the option for a filtered ice and water dispenser. And if you’re looking for lots of storage, most side by side refrigerators are
23-26 cu. ft., which is more overall cooling space than most top freezer refrigerators.

Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

The bottom freezer refrigerator is the most popular refrigerator style. Heck, I have one!

Because most people access the refrigerator compartment 9-10 times more often than they do the freezer, bringing the refrigerator section up to waist or chest level offers the most accessibility.

Many brands offer a choice of either a swing-door freezer or pull-out freezer drawer. The drawer design allows for easier access to the back of the freezer by minimizing the amount of bending and crouching needed. From a budget perspective, bottom freezer refrigerators are becoming more affordable as most brands now make them.

French Door Refrigerator

French-door refrigerators (I’ve also heard them called “3-door refrigerators”) combine the best of both worlds.

The refrigerator compartment is at waist and chest level like a bott0m-freezer, but the refrigerator has French doors (side-by-side) opening from the center, which means symmetrical styling and less door clearance is needed if a walkway or island is involved.

But the two doors open to the same, sole refrigerator compartment so you still have wide refrigerator shelves to accommodate large party trays or oblong dishes. Similar to the bottom freezer style, French door refrigerators feature a freezer drawer design. Many models also offer the option of an ice & water dispenser on the freezer door or an internal water-only dispenser.

Cabinet depth refrigerators

 

Celebrate Your Independents: It’s not a typo; it’s a movement

June 30, 2011

I’ve already received two messages since we started running commercials encouraging viewers to “Celebrate Your Independents.”

That is — of course — because the Fourth of July is Independence Day, not Independents Day.

(God love these people; these are my people. I commonly contact businesses to bring their attention to possible errors [though I generally do it with a large dose of sensitivity as I am keenly aware that fellow local businesses squeak by on fewer resources than their national counterparts].)

But we aren’t asking you to buy from us because it’s July 4 on Monday. We want you to understand the value of independent businesses, so we’re participating in the Celebrate Your Independents promotion.

During the month of July, select local, independent retailers and restaurants have teamed up to provide money-saving offers and a chance to win $1,250 in gift cards in exchange for your support and your ear. We want you to know the importance of buying local!

Multiple studies have shown that dollars spent at local, independent businesses generates at least three times more direct local economic benefit a dollars spent at absentee-owned chain businesses. Plus, these are the retailers, restaurants and service providers that lend support to your childrens’ schools, your places of worship and our neediest nonprofits because it’s their communities, too.

So among all the picnics and patriotism of this holiday weekend, take care to Celebrate Your Independents, as well.

HOW TO: load your dishwasher properly

May 19, 2011

(Yes, I get the irony of writing this post with a full sink of dirty dishes.)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever rearranged dishes in a dishwasher that someone else loaded.

Me too.

Because there is one right way to do it, did you know that?

And it’s found in your use & care manual. Each dishwasher comes with its own “right way” to load it for optimal performance.

If you’ve lost your use & care manual, try Googling it (like I did; it’s now a bookmark on my smartphone).

In lieu of your manual, here are some dishwasher loading tips, adapted from Whirlpool Corp.

1. Scrape, don’t rinse
Remove leftover food and hard items from the dishes, though it is not necessary to rinse the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. Repeat, rinsing your dishes is unnecessary.If you’re not going to run your dishwasher immediately, simply run a rinse cycle to keep dishes moist. It will use far, far less water than you and your faucet will.

2. Don’t mess with the rotation
Load dishes so they are not stacked or overlapping. Make sure that tall items, such as pan handles and cookie sheets, don’t get in the way of  spray arm. And for best drying results, water must be able to drain from all surfaces.

3. Stay on top

Cups, glasses and plastic items should only be loaded on the top rack, otherwise they could get damaged. Only load cups and glasses in the rows between the rack tines, as putting them over the tines can lead to breakage and water spots.

Small bowls, pans and other utensils can be placed in the top rack. Load bowls in the center section for best stability. Don’t let stemware touch anything else, or else it could break.

4. What should lie beneath

Load plates and soup bowls between the rack tines; plate edges can be overlapped for large loads, but don’t nest bowls because the spray won’t reach all surfaces.

Large items like cookie sheets and cake pans should go along the sides and in the back. If you have a super dirty pan or casserole, load it face down in the rack.

5. Don’t be a basket case

Load some utensils in the silverware basket pointing up and some pointing down to avoid nesting — especially if you eat a lot of peanut butter :) Sharp-edged items should always be loaded pointing down.

Small items like baby bottle caps, jar lids and corncob holders should go in sections with hinged covers.

5 ways to preserve food longer

May 12, 2011

With the opening of the Mill City Farmers Market last weekend and the start of many people’s summer CSA shares, the perennial topic of food storage becomes fresh again (see how I did that?).

Numerous ways to extend the life of fresh fruit, veggies, meat and dairy exist, but here are the 5 I could think of.

What do you do to try to make your food last longer?

1. Use your crisper

Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins.

2. Pick your spot

Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator.

If you go through a gallon of milk every couple days, then maybe it doesn’t matter, but those of use who just use a sprinkle in our coffee should definitely select a cooler spot, like the back of the fridge, which is less affected when the door opens.

Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear, while corn and berries — for example — benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front.

3. Use a paper towel to keep your greens…green

I love making big salads, but we all know that greens (especially leftovers) quickly become yellows and browns.

I arrange washed greens between paper towels to absorb excess moisture and seal them in punctured plastic bags. I’m not sure how “official” this is, but it’s allowed me to eat salad leftovers for two days before.

4. Don’t pass gas

Ethylene gas, that is. Foods like apples, peaches and pears produce ethylene, a gas that kick-starts ripening, which can cause premature aging in some fruits and damage in others. Avoid storing ethylene-producing foods near others sensitive to it (see list here) or keep them in a plastic bag to contain the gas.

5. Know what NOT to refrigerate

Sometimes the refrigerator can do more harm than good — as in the case of avocados, bananas, tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, potatoes and squash — which should be stored at room temperature. Cold temperatures can dehydrate and damage these foods.

Plus, I think that refrigerating tomatoes sucks all the flavor out, doesn’t it?

Sneak a peek at what’s at our warehouse sale (PHOTOS)

March 11, 2011

A view of our warehouse sale showfloor from atop a dishwasher. Click to view more photos posted on our Facebook page.

Against my better judgment, I just walked the showfloor of our Extreme Warehouse Sale, starting this Saturday at 7 a.m.

I say that because when I see all the pretty, shiny appliances going for WAY less than they should, I can’t help but start shopping. (Don’t worry, I didn’t actually buy anything.)

So I kept busy by snapping photos:

Ovens and a view from the other side of the warehouse. Click for more photos posted to our Facebook page.
And there’s lots more fridges where these came from. Click for more photos.

We’ve developed a talent for gently picking up jaws that have dropped after walking into our warehouse. I guess it looks unassuming from the street, but it’s massive. And every year, we bring more inventory and stretch the boundaries farther.

See all “sneak peek” photos on our Facebook page. What’s that? You don’t Like us yet. Shame on you…

HOW TO: Shop the Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale like a pro

March 8, 2011

OK, so it’s now the fourth time I’ve used this blog, but why reinvent the wheel? These tips remain relevant for the Warners’ Stellian Extreme Warehouse Sale 2011. Measure twice and cut once, people.

WarnersStellian1

What is it with us Midwesterners and our deal-bragging? You know: upon receiving a compliment we gloat about the gasp-worthy low price we got it for, unsolicited. Perhaps it’s because we fancy ourselves pro deal hunters.

But our Extreme Warehouse Sale 2011 this Saturday and Sunday is no Macy’s clearance rack. I’m talkin’ big-ticket items at huge discounts: you need to prepare a bit. The savings are so hot, all sales are final.

Luckily for you, I’ve compiled the secrets of the pros — tips that will prepare any appliance rookie for the big league.

Before the sale

 

Don’t be a fool; Use this tool.

Measure your space
Don’t learn the hard way: there is no “standard” in appliance sizes. Use a measuring tape on the available space — not the existing appliance — and write down dimensions to bring to the sale.

Also — and this is HUGE — measure the width of the doorways and staircases the appliance will need to travel through. Some door frames can be removed, but it’s often that someone buys a washer only to find it doesn’t fit down her narrow basement staircase.

Know your fuel type
This might seem obvious if you’re buying a cooking appliance like a range or cooktop (is it flat, coiled or does it have grates? Duh.). But you should double-check whether you have a gas or electric hookup when buying a dryer or oven.

Once you know you use gas, don’t stop there. The appliance gas valves are different for liquid propane (LP) and natural gas, so if you don’t know and guess incorrectly, you will need a service call for us to convert the valve before you can use your dryer or range properly. And because we’re Extremely (pardon the pun) backed up after the sale, you could be waiting longer than you like.

Consider your hinges
For example, some refrigerators on sale will be left hinge only. Wouldn’t it be terrible to find a great deal on a fridge only to get it home and not be able to open it? Also know what side you want the hinges on a front-load washer and any type of dryer, in case there’s an option.

Do some research
We’ll have more than 2,000 appliances available at the start of the sale, so have something in mind to avoid frustration. The best tip? Know what you like and don’t like about your existing model. Check out Warners’ Stellian’s website for more ideas on what features are important to you.

Get preapproved
You MUST pay for your purchase at the time of sale, though we certainly have financing options to help you pay (taxes must be paid at time of sale). Save time by getting approved online at home. Just make sure to bring in your approval slip with your new account number for our files.

Also, even if you’re financing the purchase, you must pay the sales tax at the time of sale.

The day of the sale

744336_pick-upBring a hauling vehicle
Usually, we offer free delivery on purchases $499 and above, but this sale is anything but usual. Our warehouse is full of products, so we encourage customers to take their purchases with them the day of (or the day after) the sale. We’ll help you load it up and everything.

If you do choose to have it delivered, it’s $75 and you must take delivery within 30 days.

Know your schedule
We’ll arrange for delivery and any installation for built-in appliances (available for additional charges) at the time of sale.

We’ll call you the day before the delivery with an AM/PM estimate and our crew can call you before they arrive if you need to meet them at your house.

We do everything we can to keep the warehouse safe and the process efficient for our customers. Help us out!Pack a stroller
Our warehouse is a warehouse. It’s clean and safe, but it’s also big and crowded and without a play area. Strollers work well to keep small children nearby when you’re shopping the selection.

After the sale

Receive delivery/install time estimate
You’ll receive an automated call with an AM/PM estimate the day before your scheduled delivery and/or install.

Apply for rebates
You could qualify for even more savings by rebate. Most rebates will be attached right to the product and the salesperson will send you home with the forms. Once you receive your product, you can fill in the serial number (the delivery crew can help you locate this) on your rebate forms and submit them promptly, as they expire.

 

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Read your manual
Knowing your new product can help you save time and improve the quality of your cooking and cleaning. Stow it somewhere memorable to refer to for troubleshooting and general operation questions.

Get my blog e-mailed to you

Here’s how to subscribe to receive my blog posts in your inbox when they’re published. Subscribing is also an easy way to reach me if you need help. Plus, you’ll be the first to know about the next Extreme Sale!

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Watch ‘Rehab Addict’ tonight on DIY Network

March 3, 2011

That’s right. Tonight’s the night…

Warners’ Stellian will be featured alongside Nicole Curtis on tonight’s episode of “Rehab Addict” on DIY Network at 9.

Expect drama. Lots of it.

Just kidding, but this is the much-anticipated “kitchen episode,” which — if you’ve seen the finished kitchen — you’d understand why it’s such a big deal!

Here’s the before:



…to give you an idea of how exciting the “after” is. A taste, below:

See more about our journey with this project

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Get appliance tips, trends and product info in your e-mail

February 7, 2011

Did you know you can sign up to receive these blog posts in your e-mail inbox?

That way, you’ll never have to check back again to see what’s new, because you’ll automatically receive an e-mail each time I publish a new blog post.

And it’s so easy.

To sign up:

  1. Go to the Home Appliance Blog homepage
  2. Type your e-mail address into this box, found along the right-hand side of the blog’s homepage (see screenshot image, on the right), and click “Sign me up!”

Voila! You’ll never miss another precious kitchen HOW TO tip, etc., again.

 

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    The 10 best posts of 2010

    December 31, 2010

    Basically, the sexiest, can’t-stop-reading appliance blog posts of this year, based on page views, in reverse order. Enjoy:

    10. Refrigerator temperature: What temperature should a refrigerator be set at?

    If you think I’m going to tell you this one without making you jump, you don’t read this blog enough.

    To ensure proper temperatures, air has to be able to flow between the refrigerator and freezer sections.

    9. Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 1

    Certified Kitchen Designer Susan Serra guest blogged about big picture considerations for outdoor kitchens.

    Stop sneaking into my backyard and taking pictures, everyone!

    8. Liebherr cigar humidor blows no smoke

    Can’t find this specialty item anywhere else in Minnesota, as far as I know. Very distinctive…and popular on the interwebs, apparently.

    7. Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 2

    I round up some of my outdoor kitchen product picks.

    Denial: it ain't just a river in Africa. It's an outdoor barbecue in St. Paul in October :)


    6. Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale: It’s baa-ack…

    I guess people like the warehouse sale as much as I do.

    5. Should you put aluminum foil in the oven?

    I dunno…should you?

    4. Dishwasher troubleshooting: Dishwasher leaving white film on glasses

    So, this topic pretty much exploded after many states banned phosphates in their detergents, prompting even the New York Times to weigh in.

    It's all your fault. Seriously.

    3. HOW TO: get an appliance stimulus rebate

    Ah, the stimulus. I will always remember it fondly. Preparing for months for what lasted about 25 hours. I have say, we were pretty much right in everything we predicted. So if you were listening to us, you were probably in good shape.

    We predicted the rebates would go quickly. As usual, we were right ;)

    2. HOW TO:  Shop the Warners’ Stellian Warehouse Sale like a pro

    This post contains all my best advice for appliance shopping in general, I think , so it’s relevant for anyone.

    Don't be a fool; Use this tool.

    1. Refrigerator seal & fridge maintenance

    So, views of this post were bolstered by a couple links from Lifehacker (yeah, we’re pretty impressive like that), but c’mon, the Vaseline tip is still pretty sweet.

    Bonus: My two favorite blogs of the year, because I’m self-involved:

    Before Brangelina, there was Stellian

    Insight into what makes my grandpa’s predecessors almost as cool as my grandpa’s, um, postdecessors.

    Did you see that freezer running through St. Paul?

    Because it was awkward and uncomfortable and one of the weirdest things I’ve ever brewed up (that’s saying a lot).

    Thanks for a great 2010. I’m hoping for things to remain flat in 2011, because after last year, that’s still saying a lot :)

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    What’s your favorite independent?

    July 20, 2010

    In honor of Celebrate Your Independents month, I want to know about your favorite local, independent businesses.

    (See more about Celebrate Your Independents month here and here.)

    My personal favorites are Mama’s Pizza on Rice Street in the North End of St. Paul and Hunt & Gather Antiques on Xerxes in South Minneapolis.

    Whether it’s a mom-and-pop retailer in your neighborhood, a service provider passed down from your parents, or a quirky restaurant you’d drive across town for — what businesses do you support?

    Need inspiration? Check out buylocalmn.com, a directory of independent businesses in the area and product of MetroIBA.

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