Step-by-Step Game Plan to Save the Most on Black Friday

Picture - Celebrating the Season - Step-by-Step Game Plan to Save the Most on Black Friday

Pretty much every American knows that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big days for sales. But for many, Black Friday is more than just a chance to save big; it’s a tradition in its own right.

And this isn’t a trend that’s going away anytime soon.

In fact, the age group that is into Black Friday the most is millennials. Sixty percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 say they are excited about shopping on Black Friday, according to a recent Flipp survey conducted by Ipsos. Clearly, shopping great sales is as hot as ever with this younger generation.

This year, we’ll probably see even better deals, and more people than ever will be flocking to the stores. This means that you’ll need a strategy to get the things you need at the price you want.

To help you do this, here’s a game plan to follow from Lauren Greutman, Flipp App Savings Expert.

  1. Create a budget. On average, shoppers plan to spend $475 over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday time frame. Create a budget outlining how much you want to spend on high ticket door buster items, or if you’re buying gifts, make a budget for each person on your list. This way, you stay on track of your spending and don’t fall for every deal in-store.
  2. Go digital. Rather than shuffling through dozens of paper circulars searching for the best Black Friday deals, join millions of others by using the free shopping app, Flipp. This ingenious app brings hundreds of digital circulars right to your phone. Search for products by name and Flipp will show you all the deals in your area, or build an in-app shopping list that automatically shows you deals for everything on your list, making it easy to plan ahead and save.
  3. Focus on the big items. There’s a secret to shopping that often holds true: the bigger the item, the bigger the savings. So if you have a long list and don’t know where to start, look to the higher ticket items, like electronics. This is where you’ll catch the biggest windfall, and your bank account will thank you!
  4. Check out the store before Black Friday. Check the store websites for “Store Maps” the days leading up to Black Friday, so that you can find where the door buster deals will be in-store and plan your route. Keep in mind that stores keep their best deals in the back of the store.
  5. Research store policies in advance. Once you’ve mapped out where you need to go, be sure to call the stores in advance so that you clearly understand their policies on price matching, returns, exchanges and gift receipts. A little planning in this department could save you a lot of headaches!
  6. Buy gift cards. To save even more money, buy gift cards at your grocery store the days before you shop. This works great if your grocery store offers gas points for money spent at the store. Many stores offer additional gas points for gift card purchases in the days leading up to Black Friday.
  7. Know the “best” deals aren’t always the best. This may seem counterintuitive; after all, Black Friday is all about deals, deals, deals. But keep in mind, just because you get a monster discount doesn’t mean you’re getting the best product. It’s all about doing your research beforehand so you don’t end up buying a super cheap, low quality item.

With so many opportunities to save money and items to cross off your shopping list, the excitement that comes with Back Friday can be a little overwhelming. Using a free shopping app like Flipp, can help you stay organized, plan ahead and stick to your game plan. (BPT)

A Sicilian Twist on Festive Season Entertaining

When it comes to preparing a spread for a festive season gathering, some may look to traditional wine varieties such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, as holiday traditions become less traditional, you can also branch out in your selection of wines.

Produced from the indigenous grapes of Sicily, wines from Sicilia DOC offer fresh taste, quality and variety. The wines come to life when paired with a variation of holiday dishes.

These three tips can help you pair Sicilian wines with the dishes you may serve as part of your festive season spread:

For the Light White Wine Fan

With a low alcohol percentage and fruity notes, an option such as Grillo can be a fan favorite at any holiday gathering and makes for a perfect hostess gift. This white wine features notes of white peaches and grapefruit and can pair well with seafood appetizers, baked casseroles, vegetarian sides or a well-known Sicilian dish like this Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad.

For Guests Looking for a Graceful Red Wine

A modern take on Pinot Noir, Frappato is a light-to-medium-bodied wine with a lingering freshness that’s persistent and balanced with notes of cherry and strawberry. This wine pairs well with both white and dark meat of flavorful holiday turkeys as well as pastas, pizza, roasted meats, potatoes and cheeses.

For Friends Who Favor a Complex Red

For guests who favor Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, an option such as Nero d’Avola is a nice alternative, with aromas of ripe cherry, rose, sweet spices, licorice and cocoa. As a go-to red wine, it pairs well with a hearty charcuterie platter, roasted meats, lamb, pizza and pastas.

For more holiday wine pairings and recipes, visit winesofsicily.com.

Green Bean and Blood Orange Salad

Recipe courtesy of Wines of Sicilia DOC Servings: 8

  • Salt
  • 2 pounds thin green beans
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • maple syrup
  • almonds
  1. Add salt to large pot of boiling water. Add green beans and cook until tender and bright green. Drain beans in colander and transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Once cool, drain and pat dry with towel.
  2. Peel four oranges and remove white pith. Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release sections into bowl. Zest one remaining orange and juice both uncut oranges; reserve zest. Transfer juice to saucepan and add vinegar, honey and pepper flakes. Bring to boil then simmer over moderate heat until reduced to syrup, 10 minutes. Season with salt.
  3. In large bowl, toss beans, orange sections and 3 tablespoons vinegar syrup. Transfer to serving platter; drizzle with maple syrup, almonds and orange zest.

Pair each serving with a glass of Grillo. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Wines of Sicilia DOC

Helpful Festive Season Recipes for the Home Chef

With everything that goes into creating a full festive season menu for guests of different ages and palates, taking on that task can be a challenge for any host. However, simple recipes that please the masses can help make life easier for home chefs.

From the main dish all the way to dessert, plus the drinks in-between, put these recipes to the test to help make your festive season gathering a breeze. Put your adult guests at ease with a cranberry-flavored cocktail, followed by a main course made sweet thanks to this turkey brine. As things come to a close, finish off any leftover appetites with a quick cookie recipe.

To help make your festive season hosting easier, find more tips and recipes at Culinary.net.

Dessert in a Snap

After spending hours preparing appetizers, drinks and the main course for holiday get-togethers, many hosts are ready to call it quits in the kitchen. However, that won’t stop guests from getting those late cravings for a tasty treat. If you’re looking for a reprieve from being the lead chef, go for a quick dessert like these Gingersnap cookies, which take just 10 minutes to bake and can leave hosts with more time to mingle. For more quick, nutritious recipes for every meal, visit AICR.org.

Gingersnaps

Reprinted with permission from the American Institute for Cancer Research

Yield: 24 cookies

  • 3/4       cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2       cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2       teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4    teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4       teaspoon salt
  • 1/3       cup dairy-free butter shortening sticks
  • 1/2       cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 2          tablespoons unsulphured molasses
  • 1          large egg white
  • Glaze (optional):
  • 1/3       cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2          teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. In mixing bowl, whisk flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, pepper and salt.
  3. In separate bowl, use electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat shortening sticks with 1/2 cup sugar 2 minutes. Add molasses and egg white; beat 3 minutes. Set mixer on low speed and mix in dry ingredients to combine. Don’t over-mix. Batter will form soft ball.
  4. Place remaining sugar in wide, shallow bowl. Pinch about 1 tablespoon batter and roll it between palms, forming 1-inch ball. Place ball in bowl with sugar and roll to coat then place on light-colored, ungreased baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 2 inches apart. Discard leftover sugar. Using bottom of a glass, press to flatten each ball into 1-by-3-inch disks.
  5. Bake cookies 10 minutes.
  6. To make glaze, if desired: While cookies bake, in small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar with lemon juice, mixing until sugar is completely dissolved.
  7. When cookies are done, immediately use spatula to transfer to wire cooling racks. Using tip of knife, spread 1/4 teaspoon glaze on top of each warm cookie. Cool completely.

Note: Can be stored in cookie tin up to 1 week.

Cranberry Cocktail Cravings

If holiday cocktails are on your menu, give guests a twist on a classic with this Cranberry Moscow Mule made with Nemiroff Original Vodka. This premium vodka is bold with a smooth, full-bodied finish that hints of citrus and fruit. Combined with cranberry juice and ginger beer, it’s an ideal holiday cocktail. Find more holiday cocktail options at nemiroff.vodka.

Cranberry Moscow Mule

  • 1          part Nemiroff Original Vodka
  • 1          part cranberry juice cocktail
  • 2          parts ginger beer
  • 1          tablespoon lime juice
  • ice
  • orange wedges, for garnish (optional)
  • fresh cranberries, for garnish (optional)
  • rosemary sprigs, for garnish (optional)
  1. Pour vodka, cranberry juice cocktail, ginger beer and lime juice into copper mug filled with ice. Gently stir to combine.
  2. Garnish with orange wedges, fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs, if desired.

A Sweeter Centerpiece

A holiday meal is only complete with the centerpiece of the table: a tender turkey that side dishes and desserts can complement for guests of all palates. For a new twist on a holiday classic, add some sweetness to your main course with a Sweet Tea Turkey Brine, featuring Milo’s Famous Sweet Tea. It’s freshly brewed from real tea leaves using simple, quality ingredients free from preservatives, colors or added acids. The family- and certified women-owned business offers a multitude of beverages, all with the same dedication to quality and excellence. Find more information and recipes at drinkmilos.com.

Milo’s Sweet Tea Turkey Brine

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes per pound

  • 1          gallon Milo’s Sweet Tea
  • 1          cup kosher salt
  • 3          large sweet onions, quartered
  • 4          lemons, sliced
  • 8          garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5          sprigs rosemary
  • 10        cups ice
  • 1          turkey
  1. In large stock pot over medium heat, combine tea and kosher salt. Stir frequently until salt is dissolved. Add onion, lemon, garlic and rosemary. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. When brine has cooled, pour into food-grade, 5-gallon plastic container. Stir in ice.
  3. Wash and dry turkey. Remove innards. Place turkey, cavity-side up, into brine, making sure cavity gets filled. Cover and place bucket in refrigerator overnight.
  4. Heat oven to 350° F.
  5. Remove turkey from brine, draining excess, and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
  6. Cook turkey 15-20 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F on instant-read thermometer, reserving drippings for gravy. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Culinary.net

Simple Seasonal Safety Tips

Limit your home fire risk during the festive season

It may be the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be one of the most dangerous. Along with the cooking and decorations that make the season magical, the festive season presents risks for home fires and burns.

An independent survey conducted by Shriners Hospitals for Children® found that many Americans do not follow key fire and burn safety tips despite being aware of dangerous risks. For example, 25 percent of respondents reported leaving lit candles unattended, and 27 percent said they have left them in reach of children.

“Some of these findings seem alarming, but each year our burn hospitals see the unfortunate results – children who have been injured in cooking related accidents or in fires associated with holiday decorations or candles,” said Kenneth Guidera, M.D., chief medical officer for Shriners Hospitals for Children. “These injuries can mean years of ongoing treatments and extensive rehabilitation for a child. That’s why we encourage families to learn about fire safety and prevention before a tragedy occurs.”

Fire and burn hazards are prevalent in many homes throughout the festive season, and Shriners Hospitals for Children offers these tips to remind families how to stay safe:

  • Never leave lit candles unattended. If you must use flame-burning candles, make sure to extinguish them when you leave the room.
  • When cooking, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove, out of the reach of children.
  • Never leave a hot stove or oven unattended.
  • While cooking, keep a lid or cookie sheet nearby to cover a pan if its contents catch fire.
  • If you decorate using a live, fresh-cut Christmas tree, water it daily.
  • Keep trees and other flammable decor at least 3 feet away from heaters and flames.
  • Discard decorative lights with bare wires, frays or kinks.
  • Make sure your home is equipped with working smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Have an escape plan in case of a fire and practice it with your family members so they know how to react if a fire does occur.
  • Know the burn care resources in your community.

The Shriners Hospitals locations that specialize in burn care provide critical, surgical and rehabilitative care to children with varying degrees of new and healed burns. Their state-of-the-art burn facilities are staffed and equipped to provide reconstructive and restorative surgery for healed burns, as well as treatments for various other skin conditions. With 22 locations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, the health care system provides advanced care for children regardless of the families’ ability to pay. Learn more at shrinershospitalsforchildren.org.

Visit beburnaware.org to learn key fire safety practices to help avoid injuries this holiday season. You can find activity books, tip cards and a five-minute online quiz to help identify and eliminate potential risks.

Candle Safety for the Holidays

Candles are one of the most common sources of holiday fires. Never leave lit candles unattended and take these additional precautions to have a safe and fun holiday season:

  • When candles are lit, make sure they are in stable holders and placed where they cannot be easily knocked over.
  • Keep candles, matches and lighters out of reach of children.
  • Be conscious of nearby surroundings. Never place a candle near drapery, decorations or other flammable items that may easily catch fire. Also avoid drafty areas or fans, which can accelerate flames or accidentally blow a flammable item onto a candle.
  • Know that the safest way to extinguish a candle is with a snuffer.
  • Consider using wickless or flameless candles. There are numerous options that cast a warm glow so you can enjoy the ambiance of a candle without the risk.

Kids and Candles Don’t Mix

Julianna and her mother, Tracy, know firsthand how dangerous the holiday season can be. While at a family Christmas party, Julianna, just 20 months old, snuck away from the activities and was in the bathroom playing in front of the mirror. A lit tea light candle on the corner of the sink ignited her clothes.

Tracy heard Julianna’s screams from down the hall, ran to the bathroom and saw her daughter’s dress on fire. She patted out the flames and family members called an ambulance. Julianna spent three weeks at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Cincinnati to treat the third-degree burns that covered the left side of her body. Julianna, now 8-years-old, is doing well but faces ongoing treatment as she grows.

“We are very lucky,” Tracy said. “Julianna will be fine thanks to the care she received. We all get busy during this time of year, but it is so important for parents to make sure they are following basic safety tips to keep their kids safe.”  (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Shriners Hospitals for Children

Picking Perfect Festive Season Presents

Gift-giving season is a time that’s special for many families and friends, and it’s the perfect opportunity to show the loved ones in your life just how much you appreciate them.

However, it isn’t always easy to pick out the perfect present, especially with so many options available. When you’re stuck in a gifting rut, turn to the professionals, like those at Macy’s, to help you choose just the right gifts for everyone on your list.

“The holidays are a celebratory time when loved ones can come together and show how much they appreciate having each other in their lives,” said Cassandra Jones, senior vice president of Macy’s Fashion. “I truly believe that the perfect gift can bring people together. To enhance that experience for our customers, we’ve created an unparalleled assortment of gift-giving items, from tech to beauty, so that each present is the perfect one.”

Find more gift ideas for the festive season at macys.com/gifts.

For Her

If you’re struggling to find just the right idea for the lady on your list, don’t take a chance on any random beauty product. Instead, give the beauty lover in your life the gift of options with a Macy’s Beauty Box subscription. For $15 a month, she’ll receive five deluxe beauty samples selected by experts, plus a bonus sample and a $5 coupon to use in-store or online on her next beauty purchase.

For Kids

Interactive technology helps get kids off the couch and provides them nearly endless entertainment. Give the children on your gift list the opportunity to dance their way to fun with a piano mat from FAO Schwarz. The 24 keys work just like a real piano, which allows for playing the included selections or creating your own works of musical art. Included with the mat are selections such as Beethoven’s “5th Symphony,” “Chopsticks,” “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” and more.

For Him

Help him revamp his style in one easy step with a Sprezza Box, which makes it simple to add something new and coordinated to his wardrobe. Available in four distinct boxes curated by experts, each contains five items, including accessories such as ties, pocket squares, socks, sunglasses, wallets and money clips. Each box evokes a specific look and feel. Just pick the right one to match your gift list so you can add something new to his style.

For the Home

The natural interior decorator on your list likely loves the unique touch of comforting pillows throughout living rooms and dens. Let him or her cuddle up to the cozy style of this decorative pillow from the Martha Stewart Collection, featuring a festive color palette and polar bear perfect for the holiday season. At 18 inches-by-18 inches, it’s the ideal size for curling up on the couch during a chilly day.

For Entertaining

Searching for a gift for the natural entertainer in your life can be difficult if common items like wine glasses and electric bottle openers are already accounted for. An option like a bar cart from Hotel Collection can help make entertaining a breeze for that person on your list who enjoys hosting. With three shelves and wheels for easy transportation, it’s ideal for extravagant parties, small get-togethers or anything in-between.

For the Kitchen

Gourmet gift baskets from Di Bruno Bros. are sure to make an impression for home chefs who might need a little inspiration. Choose a curated basket filled with a wide variety of specialty foods and products hand-selected for top quality. Themes include options like this “Sriracha Foodie,” which comes packed with snacks, toppings and sauces infused with fiery Asian chili flavor in sweet jerky, pickles, gourmet salt, tortilla chips, horseradish sauce, mayonnaise, peachy jam and classic sriracha. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Macy’s

Festive Season Guesting 101

If you manage to avoid hosting duties this festive season, you may be dodging some of the hardest work, but remember that being a good guest goes beyond arriving on time and taking your shoes off at the door. This festive season, ensure your host gets to enjoy the festivities by putting these ideas to practice – it may earn you an invitation for years to come.

Make a festive season playlist.  Offer to put together a festive season playlist for the host who will undoubtedly have his or her hands full prepping for the festive season celebration. Try to choose songs specific to the guests, host and overall theme. A good playlist can be a conversation starter for everyone at the party.

Don’t arrive empty-handed. Even if your host shrugs off an offer for help, a gesture of appreciation is always appropriate. It may be a bottle of wine, a seasonal flower arrangement or, better yet, an appetizer or dessert to share, such as this mouthwatering Slow Cooker Banana Cake. This crowd-pleasing cake is made using a Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry Slow Cooker, which has a locking lid and travel clips to help you get to your festive season celebration without making a mess. The 6-quart, removable pot can be used as a serving dish, and is dishwasher safe to make clean-up a breeze.

Stay off your phone. It may seem obvious, but these days, looking at your phone is almost as habitual as breathing, and chances are you don’t mean to appear standoffish or rude by sneaking a quick peek. However, playing with your phone can detract from time you get to spend with family and friends, many of whom you probably don’t get to see often. Tuck away your phone for the party and live in the moment.

Pitch in to help clean. No host likes to be stuck in the kitchen while the rest of the party carries on. After the meal, offer your help to clear the table, put away perishable items and get the kitchen back in order so your host can join the merry-making. If you’ll be opening gifts, grab a garbage bag and collect debris to help keep the mess under control.

Find more festive season recipes and tips at Crock-Pot.com.

Slow Cooker Banana Cake

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 4 hours

Servings: 12

  • Crock-Pot® Cook & Carry Slow Cooker
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 3          cups flour
  • 1 1/2    teaspoons baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 3-4       ripe bananas
  • 2          lemon wedges, juice only
  • 3/4       cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2    cups honey or 2 cups white sugar
  • 3          eggs
  • 1          teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2    cups almond milk
  • cream cheese frosting
  1. Grease slow cooker with nonstick spray.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In small bowl, mash bananas and lemon juice together; set aside.
  4. In large bowl, use mixer to cream butter and honey. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla then milk. Gradually add flour mixture. Once combined, stir in mashed bananas.
  5. Pour into slow cooker. Cover; cook on low 6 hours or high 4 hours, or until center of cake no longer looks gooey.
  6. Uncover and let cake cool. Once completely cooled, frost cake and, if desired, top with sliced bananas and walnuts.

Notes: If adding bananas, do so just before serving or they will brown. If using a non-oval slow cooker, cook 1 hour less on high heat or 2 hours less on low heat. (Family Features)

SOURCE:

Crock-Pot

Increase Kitchen Efficiency With Ease

As the festive season approaches and the calendar begins to populate, it’s important not to allow the stress of entertaining large groups to become a burden. Below are four tips to help organize a kitchen and host with ease, creating a functional space for family and friends to enjoy.

Plan in advance

Set aside time early in the week to plan the menu, from simple appetizers to the main entree. Grocery shopping apps, like AnyList, allow the whole family to share and build lists together — which can help avoid any last-minute trips to the grocery store. Also, try to identify dishes that can be prepared in advance so more time can be spent away from the kitchen when guests arrive.

Maximize storage and counter space

Optimize counter space by designing small stations for easy access to the necessities. A coffee bar “nook” complete with Keurig cups and mugs can help kick-start a busy day. Storage near the fridge should be stocked with foil and containers, ideal for packing up leftovers after a large party. Reserve the island counter for meal prep and the cabinets below for serving ware and glassware storage.

Keep all staples in arm’s reach

Cooking can be made simple by organizing the essentials. Keep similar tools together, such as bakeware and cookie sheets in one drawer, and pantry staples in another. Spices and herbs should be alphabetized and stored near the stovetop to effortlessly add flavor. For those with design in mind, opt for open shelves to showcase dishes and small kitchen accessories, such as succulents and cookbooks, while keeping everything within reach.

Simplify kitchen cleanup

Cleaning is often the most time-intensive chore in the kitchen, but if designed right, can be a breeze for home entertainers and kids alike. The Delta Foundry Kitchen Faucet complete with ShieldSpray Technology, available at the Home Depot, offers laser-like precision to contain splatter, meaning less soaking, scrubbing and shirt swapping. (BPT)

Keep Cool-Weather Clothes Looking Fresh

Cooler weather often brings busier schedules – balancing family activities, daily chores and holiday festivities – but it is also a time when you want to look your best. Lower temperatures also open closets to a variety of fashionable seasonal items such as knit tops, delicate formal wear, corduroy pants and more.

While caring for the varying fabric types of those cooler-weather clothes can take additional steps, it’s always a good idea to check the care label on garments prior to cleaning. These tips from the Whirlpool Institute of Home Science can help keep even the most delicate clothes in your closet looking fresh and new.

Read Silk Labels Carefully

Successfully cleaning silk without damage means adhering to the care label. Regardless of the care label, if there are stains on the garment, the safest route is taking the garment to a dry cleaner. Rubbing a stain can remove dye, leaving a permanent faded spot. Washable silk can be hand washed or machine washed on a delicate cycle in cool water. Unless stated otherwise on the care label, air-dry flat or hang on a padded hanger, which can help remove wrinkles. If drying in a dryer, set to a low temperature, delicate cycle.

Organize Delicates by Color

After consulting the care label, wash any clothing containing delicate material with similar colors and keep any hooks fastened to prevent snags. If hand washing, use a small amount of gentle detergent and cold water to soak and rinse. If using a machine, use the delicate cycle. Dry on low heat if the care label instructs; otherwise hang or lay flat to dry.

Keep Different Materials Separated

Almost nothing goes with fall sweaters better than corduroy, but to keep it looking great, some special care is needed. Corduroy picks up lint easily. To wash, turn inside out, separate by color and do not wash with garments such as sweaters or towels that give off lint. Wash darks on cold and lights on warm, unless otherwise directed on the care label. Corduroy can shrink, so after washing, give it a gentle tug lengthwise to reshape before air-drying or tumbling on low heat. Have a lint brush or roller handy to remove lint.

Take Advantage of Smart Machines

Make laundry easier with a smart washer and dryer that feature hands-free commands and remote functions. For example, the Whirlpool Smart Cabrio Top Load Laundry Pair offers intuitive touch control panels and pairing via mobile with smart devices such as Amazon Alexa and Nest thermostats. Smart technology provides for conveniences such as checking the time remaining on a load, tumbling items in a dryer so they’re ready for folding when you arrive home, monitoring supplies such as detergent that may need to be re-ordered and converting to economy mode to align with the thermostat’s away setting.

Dry Wool with Care

Wool is generally soft and warm, and wool sweaters, socks and blankets can last for years. Turn wool garments inside out and machine-wash in cool water on a gentle cycle or hand-wash, but do not wring. If hand-washing, gently squeeze out excess water then lay flat on a clean towel and roll up to remove water. Tumble-dry on low heat or as recommended on the care label. Or skip the dryer, reshape the garment and lay flat to dry.

Explore more ways to keep your laundry fresh for every season at whirlpool.com. (Family Features)

4 Tire Safety Tips for Winter

The same temperature you can begin to see your breath – 45° F – is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.

As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.

Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45° F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.

To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts at Discount Tire recommend following these four tire safety tips:

  1. Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45° F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
  1. Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow and salt during the winter months.
  1. Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also don’t forget to check your spare tire.
  1. Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.

Your safety is important, that’s why Discount Tire encourages drivers to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.

To locate a tire store near you, or search for winter tires specific to your vehicle’s make and model, visit discounttire.com. (Family Features)

It’s Time: Signs Your Heating System Needs a Tune-up

Temperatures are falling, pumpkin spice everything has reappeared and stores have already put out holiday displays — all signs that winter is either on the way, or already here, depending on where you live. If you haven’t already had your heating system tuned up, now is the time.

Neglect is a top cause of heating system inefficiency and failure, according to ENERGYSTAR.gov. Proper maintenance can help ensure your system works as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible throughout the winter. Failing to care for your heating system now could leave you without heat or with hefty emergency repair bills if the system breaks down during very cold weather.

A tune-up is an inexpensive way to ensure heating equipment is operating properly, and provides peace of mind that no potentially harmful blockage exists in a flue or exhaust vent. While it’s best to service a heating system before the cold weather arrives, it’s also never too late to perform routine maintenance.

According to the home repair experts at HomeServe USA, a typical professional heating system tune-up will include:

* Inspect safety features and controls

* Check thermostats (including adjustment if needed)

* Inspect burners (with adjustments if necessary)

* Check and clean the pilot light

* Check and clean any gauges

* Flush low-water cutoff

* Inspect filters, belts, oil motors, pumps and condensate line (if applicable)

* Check the flue pipe and chimney draft

* Inspect and clean the blower assembly

A thorough tune-up before the heating season starts can help reduce the risk of a problem in the dead of winter, but you should still be aware of your system’s performance. Symptoms that may warrant having a professional check the system include:

* The system takes a long time to warm the house after the furnace comes on.

* You hear unusual noises when the furnace turns on.

* You’ve noticed an unusual amount of dust coming from heating vents.

* The system cycles constantly.

* The burner flame is yellow or flickering. The flame should be blue in natural gas furnaces; a yellow flame means the unit is not burning efficiently and may even be producing harmful carbon monoxide.

* You notice your heating bills have increased more than you would reasonably expect given the temperature outside.

* You experience excessive moisture building up on windows, walls and other cold surfaces.

* You find visual evidence, such as streaks of soot around the furnace, rusting on flue pipes or pipe connections or the vent pipe visible from outside the home, or water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent or flue pipe.

If you act quickly at the first sign of a problem, you may be able to avoid a costly and potentially dangerous failure of your heating system. For more information about why you should schedule a tune-up, visit www.nationaltuneupday.com.

HomeServe offers home heating protection plans, including ones that cover tune-ups. A 24-hour repair hotline ensures plan holders can be connected with local, licensed and insured technicians 365 days a year. Visit www.HomeServeUSA.com to learn more. (BPT)