Holiday finds at Restaurant Supply

When you need something for your kitchen or for entertaining in your home, where do you go?  Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel?  If you would like an affordable alternative place to shop, I recommend your local restaurant supply company.  Most of these stores are open to the public and they have a lot of great items that can make your life easier during the holidays or when you are entertaining.

If you need extra wine glasses, silverware or serving pieces, the restaurant supply store has a variety to choose from at reasonable prices.  Also, if  you are feeding a large number of people, they have big restaurant sized pans, cookie sheets and platters. In addition to having these items on hand for the holidays, in the case of the wine glasses, they usually come in boxes that can be used to store the glasses when you don’t need them.  Two things that I have purchased there that help me during the holidays are stainless steel tongs which are about $2.75 and are the best tongs that I own.  I also have a large stainess steel sheet pan that I use to pour my homemade caramels in to cool.  I think that sheet pan ran me about $9.00, but to me it is priceless.

In addition to having regular kitchen items, these stores carry items that you don’t find in regular kitchen stores but you may find helpful.  One of these items is a sign holder.  You find these at buffet dinners and they have a small sign telling you what food it is you are about to enjoy.  Using sign holders to identify which food has nuts or which punch has alcohol can really make your party go smoothly when entertaining a lot of people.  They also have professional grade stainless steel tables, storage racks and bag sealers.  Some of the items could be used in your kitchen or in other parts of your home such as your garage or craft room. 

The next time that you need an item for your kitchen, think about venturing into your local restaurant supply company.  Spend some time looking around at what they have available, you never know what you might find that will make your next holiday party a lot easier on you!


Why you have to have the right tools

My vacuum and I have had a rocky relationship for over 10 years.  We have had fights, disagreements and flat out assaults.  My vacuum could do 2-5 years if ever brought to trial.  I am also not the only one who doesn’t like it, my dog hates my vacuum and he has always been a pretty good judge of character.  If he is home when I vacuum, he barks and bites at it thinking that he will win the battle.  Unfortunately, neither my dog nor I have ever won the battle or for that matter the war with the vacuum.

Every year after Christmas, it goes on strike after the multitude of  needles from the tree have clogged it up.  We go through the same routine where I have to turn it over exposing its dusty underbelly and take it apart.  The vacuum doesn’t seem to  appreciate the invasion of privacy and usually retaliates with pinching my finger in some manner.  The expandable hose that allows me to clean the corners and crannies is a major source of conflict.  The problem is that it doesn’t expand.  When I pull it out and reach to get the dirt in question, it pulls the vacuum onto my head leaving me with a nice bump and usually some sharp words.  It is heavy and a bit like lugging around a packed piece of luggage over your carpet. 

I once owned this vacuum in part with a roommate.  When we moved into our own places we had to divide the things we bought together, which wasn’t much.  When it came to the vacuum, there was not a lot of debate.  My roommate said, “You take the vacuum.”  To which I asked, “What do you want in exchange?”  They replied, “Nothing, you can have it.”  In my opinion, this was one of the smartest decisions my roommate ever made.

Every year at Christmas, especially during our post Christmas fight and cleaning, I promise myself to get a new vacuum but I have yet to do it.  I have checked out Consumer Reports on vacuums, looked at them at the store and tried out various vacuums at my friend’s house.  I have oogled and admired many a vacuum at Costco.  If someone is talking about a vacuum, my ears perk up and sometimes out of the blue I will ask my friends, what do you think of your vacuum, do you like it?  Once they hear my story, the understand my plight.

Maybe this will be the year of the new vacuum.  Just writing this makes me want to once again check Consumer Reports and see what’s new in the vacuum world.  The moral of this story is to have good tools at your disposal.  You have heard the saying, if all you have is a hammer, everything becomese a nail.  Well if you don’t have the right tools, chores become more of a chore.  You also waste money on something that is not ideal and someday you will spend more money to replace it or will suffer with it to get what you paid for out of it.  From my experience, whether it be a vacuum, a rake, a garbage can, a mop, a printer or a watering can finding something that is easy to use and durable will make you happier when having to do household chores.


Get your Groupon Coupon!

My favorite fairly new discount website is  This website offers discounts of usually a minumim of 50% off of the value of the daily offer.  How it works is that there is a daily coupon for a local business such as a local restaurant, wine bar, tour, museum, experience or merchandise in Seattle.  The offer will be for $40 worth of food or merchandise at the discounted price of $20.  Then, if enough people buy the groupon, then the deal goes through and you get your discount.  You then get your certificate e-mailed to you and you just print it to take with you and enjoy your discount.  You do have to check to make sure that follow any restrictions.  You may need reservations or there may be a restriction that you can’t use it on Valentine’s Day.  However, in my experience, I have not seen a lot of restrictions for the groupons.

Groupon offers daily coupons in many major cities.  You can look up any city you like such as Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. or San Francisco and they will have a deal of the day as well.  If you are travelling, it is nice to watch the groupon offers for that city for a few weeks so you can see if they offer anything that you might want to do while you are visiting.  I recently did this on a trip to New York City.  I got $60 worth of food for $30 in a restaurant I probably would have never found and it was the best meal of our entire trip.  Groupon also offers tourist type activities such as discounts on local attractions.  You might be able to get a tour or museum ticket that you were going to buy anyway but you can get for half-price.  You can also become a tourist in your own city by taking a tour that maybe you have been meaning to do but haven’t gotten around to it.  If you can do it at half-price, it would make it all the easier to go.

You can sign up on the groupon website to get a daily e-mail of the deal of the day.  It just takes a few seconds to glance at the e-mail and see if it is something your interested in or not.  The groupon usually expires at the end of the day unless there is limited availability and it sells out.  I have only seen that a few times.  So by all means, get your groupon!




Being organized = less stress

Do you find yourself stressed and rushed as you leave for work? A little evening planning can alleviate the stress and get you to work early instead of late. The more that you do the night before to prepare for your day, the easier the morning can be for you. For example if you go to the gym after work, pack your gym bag the night before. That way, you won’t be running around trying to find your favorite gym shoes before you have had your morning cup of coffee. Another great tip is to make your lunch and your snacks for the day and have them ready to grab on your way out the door in the morning. You can save money by not eating out and it will probably be healthier too.

If deciding what to wear is always a challenge or takes up too much time, you can decide on your outfit and lay out your clothes the night before. This is also a great tip for children that struggle with getting out of the door on time. Another tip for kids is making sure that their backpacks with their home work, permission slips and gym clothes are packed and ready to go. Leaving those things to gather in the morning can lead to forgotten items or documents. Being organized helps make responsibility easy for children and hopefully their day will go better too.