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Kitchen Countertop Pros and Cons

Posted by Andie on August 31, 2017


Whether you are in the market to buy a new home, you're making plans to renovate your existing kitchen, or you just like to watch HGTV at night like me when your kids go to bed..... it's never a bad idea to know your options when it comes to kitchen countertops!  Here's a little guide I put together with pro's and cons of nine of the most used kitchen countertop materials....
  

Granite
Granite has been very popular in the countertop world for some time now.  And for good reason! It's beautiful, very durable (it will literally last a lifetime), holds up to heat, and comes in a range of almost 3,000 different colors.  Granite can be a bit expensive, but it's getting cheaper and cheaper since it is becoming so widespread.  It does take a bit of upkeep- it should be re-sealed at least yearly.  Also, spills should be wiped up quickly, as some stones can absorb stains. 

via pinterest

 

Wood Butcher Block
Wood Butcher block is warm and welcoming, and looks great when mixed with other materials in the kitchen.  Hardwoods such as oak and maple are best, and there are a wide range of colors and finishes available to suit your tastes.  Bbelieve it or not, when sealed properly, butcher block is ideal for food prep.  Even chopping meat! It's also highly resistant to heat, so you don't have to worry about putting hot pans directly on the surface.  The only things you need to be careful about are trying to avoid scratches (although it can be re-sanded as needed), and wiping up water and other spills quickly, as this can damage the wood over time.  Luckily it's easy to clean, and looks great with a variety of styles.  

via houzz

 

Quartz
Quartz is the new kid on the block.  Unlike natural stone slabs, quartz is engineered in a factory.  It's made from 94% quartz stone, combined with polyester resins to bind it and pigments to give it color.  Little amounts of recycled glass or metallic flecks are also added in to some designs.  It's extremely durable and strong.  The resins make it non-porous, which make it stain, acid, heat, and scratch free!  We are talking ZERO maintenance here.  It's also available in a huge variety of colors and patterns!  

via houzz

 

Quartzite
It sounds awfully similar to quartz, but actually it's a completey different material.  This stuff is really growing in popularity!  While Quartz is engineered stone, quartzite is a metamorphic rock that originated as sandstone.  It is extracted from a quarry and cut into finished slabs for countertops, etc.  It's similar to granite in durability and function, but it has more of the gorgeous look of marble.  It's pretty amazing.  The two cons are that it has to be re-sealed yearly to protect against stains, and it's very expensive.  



via houzz

 

via houzz
 


Stainless Steel

If you're looking for a material that has a modern, industrial look, stainless steel is it!  It's constructed to your specifications, so you can have a beautiful, seamless countertop.  As far as cleanliness goes, stainless steel is a game changer.  It's literally the most hygenic countertop on the market becaus of its ability to inhibit bacterial buildup.  It's easy to clean too! The only downsides are that it can look cold or clinical, you can't cut on it and it might dent, and it's pricey. 

via houzz

 

Soapstone
Soapstone is one of the most beautiful materials out there for your kitchen, in my opinion.  It comes in a variety of colors, but generally it's darkish gray or black.  It's a smooth feeling, non-porous, natural stone, making it highly stain and bacterial resistant, and easy to take care of!  It's found in many old historic homes, but it's also very popular in modern homes.  It doesn't require yearly sealing, but regular applications of mineral oil will help to disguise any surface scratches.  The only downside is that it may crack and darken over time.  Also, it's pretty expensive.  

via houzz

 


Marble

I mean, I think it's impossible to not be struck by the beauty of marble.  It's breathtaking!  It's definitely the most glamorous, high-end looking material out there, and it's definitely the most high maintenance too!  Marble is VERY porous.  You have to be super careful and diligent about wiping up spills IMMEDIATELY, or else they can, and will stain.  Also, it's VERY expensive!  While it's heat proof and water proof, it can scratches very easily.  

via houzz 

 

Concrete
Concrete is such a cool material for countertops.  It's modern and sleek, and also very energy efficient.  When the temperature in your home rises, concrete captures the heat and releases it once the temperature has cooled down.  One of the best parts about it is that it's highly customizalbe.  You can choose any stain or color or texture.  

via houzz

 

Laminate
Laminate has come a long way from the blush pink 1980's countertops of my youth.  Believe it or not, laminate is making a bit of a resurgence due to cool new patterns that resemble natural stone or wood.  One of it's biggest draws is that it's so much cheaper than any other material.  It's also very easy to maintain, and requires very little upkeep.  There is no getting around the fact that the seams do show, and unfortunately scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair.  

 

via houzz

 

So there you have it!  What kind of countertops do you have in your kitchen? 
And what would you choose if money weren't a factor??

 

 

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Cooktop Buying Guide

Posted by Alyssa on August 30, 2017

cooktop

As one of the most used appliances in your kitchen, knowing what kind of cooktop to buy is important. With such a variety of cooktops available, it’s important to understand your options to best fit your kitchen layout and cooking habits. 

Cooktop Buying Guide

A cooktop is a great option for homes with built-in ovens or as an addition to a kitchen island. When you’re deciding on what type of cooktop to purchase, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.   

First, think about the type of fuel available in your kitchen. If you don’t have a gas line and if you’re not interested in getting a gas line installed, your only option will be an electric cooktop.

Next, measure your space before you purchase a cooktop - especially if you are replacing an existing cooktop. If you buy one that is too large or small for the space you’ll have to replace your countertops.

cooktop

FUEL AND HEATING TYPES

Induction

Induction uses electromagnetism to heat the pot directly, leaving the burner and surrounding areas cool to the touch. If you have a family with small children, this may be a good option for you because it is the safest form of cooktop heating. You do need cookware with flat, magnetic bottoms in order for this cooktop to produce heat. This is also the most energy efficient cooktop available because it automatically adjusts to heat only the size of the pan bottom.

Gas

Gas cooktops are the most traditional and popular heating option. The gas allows for exact temperature control, responding almost instantaneously to temperature adjustments.

Electric

The most basic electric cooktop uses coils, is the most affordable, and is compatible with most cookware. Because of their price, these are good cooktops for rentals or starter homes.

cooktop 

There are some really amazing features available on newer cooktops! When you’re getting ready to buy your new cooktop come up with a wishlist of all the features you’d love to have. Chances are you’ll probably be able to find most of what you want while staying in budget.

Electronic Temperature Controls

These controls provide the most accurate temperatures.

Simmer Burner

A designated burner that provides low, gradual heat for simmering.

High Heat Burner

A designated burner that heats much quicker than other burners.

Dual Element Burners

Burners with inner and outers that allow for a variety of pot shapes and sizes.

Sealed Gas Burners

These gas burners leave no gap between the flame and the frame around it. This prevents food from being trapped under the burner and is much easier to clean.

Hot Surface Light

A safety feature that lets you know when the cooktop is still hot, even after it has been shut off.

Bridge Burner

If you need a larger cooking surface, a bridge burner can be turned on to link two burners.

Pan Presence Sensor

Cooktops with this feature can tell if the burner is left on without a pan and will automatically shut off.

Pan Size Sensor

With this feature, cooktops will automatically adjust burner size to fit the pan.

Whatever type of cooktop you're interested in buying, RC Willey has them all! Come into our store or website to see all the cooktop options available

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Dresser Decoration Ideas

Posted by Alyssa on August 29, 2017

dresser

Have you run out of dresser decoration ideas? Is your dresser plain, boring, and a little bit bland? It’s time to give your bedroom a little boost and your dresser a little style. Keep reading for RC Willey’s dresser decoration tips and ideas below. 

Dresser Decoration Ideas

Before you start decorating, clear everything off your dresser so you can start fresh. You should think of your dresser in thirds - the left, middle, and right. This will help keep your dresser balanced.

dresser

via Amber Interiors

You will need something large to fill the wall above the dresser. You don’t want to leave a large, empty space above your dresser, so think of some way to fill it. If your dresser is under a window, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you will want to invest in a large mirror or piece of art to fill the space. A good rule of thumb is to get something at least half the width of the dresser but make sure it isn’t wider than the dresser itself.

dresser

via The Inspired Room

Next, find something tall to put on the side of the mirror or artwork. Adding height will make your dresser much more interesting, so find a lamp, vase, candlestick, or plant to fill the space.

dresser

via Home Polish

Now is the time to add some accents. Think low and long by including a tray filled with shells, toiletries, jewelry, or loose change. For a more personal touch include framed pictures of loved ones or treasured accessories. Books or candles will warm up the space.

The most important thing is to make sure your dresser feels balanced and not over crowded. Simplify your decorations to make sure your room still feels clean and organized.

What dresser decoration ideas do you have?

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Dorm Room Checklist

Posted by Alyssa on August 28, 2017

checklist

School is starting and you may be dealing with the bittersweet moment your child moves away for college. If you have a child moving away for the first time, check out this dorm room checklist to make sure they have everything they need to start off this new chapter of their lives! 

Dorm Room Checklist

dorm room

via LivinKing

Bed Linens, Blankets, Pillows - Since they are probably sleeping on a mattress as old as they are, they might as well make it as comfortable as possible! A feather mattress topper, nice sheets, and lots of comfortable blankets will make them feel right at home.

Laptop Computer - A laptop to take notes in class, write papers in the library, and watch movies on the weekend is vitally important! This touchscreen laptop would be perfect for any student. 

Hangers - Use all of the same brand, style, and color of hangers to have an organized and clean looking closet.

dorm room

via Teen Vogue

Desk Lamp - I once had a roommate who didn’t have her own desk lamp and it definitely made for some roommate tension when she’d leave the overhead light on to do homework until 1:00 in the morning while I was trying to sleep. There’s an easy solution! Get a desk lamp! This architect desk lamp is compact enough to fit on even the smallest desk. 

Laundry Basket - A lightweight laundry basket that fits in the closet or under the bed is a must, especially if they’re going to be dragging their basket home for laundry days.  

Decorations - String lights, posters, pictures of family and friends, and anything else that will help your child feel comfortable and at home are a must.

dorm room

via Sincerely Kenz

Storage Boxes - Think small and compact when finding new forms of storage. Anything that will fit under a bed like this storage box or boxes that will stack in a closet will help a small space feel a lot larger. 

Shower Tote, Flip-Flops, Towel -  If you’re sharing a shower, the last thing you want to do is be barefoot in a grimy space and leave your shampoo for someone else to “accidentally” use. 

Desk Organizer and Office Supplies - Sticky notes, highlighters, notebooks, paper clips - stock up! You need them all!

What is on your dorm room checklist? Did I leave anything off? 

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Unique Color Combinations

Posted by Alyssa on August 27, 2017

colors

When it comes to choosing color combinations for your home, there are a lot of ways to find inspiration. Using color can be intimidating - especially if you’ve never tried using anything other than neutrals in your home. Look around for any color schemes that catch your eye and if you are having a hard time finding inspiration, try using some of these unique color combinations below! 

Unique Color Combinations

Coral Pink and Gold

pink and gold

via Ana Antunes

Dusty Blue and Green

blue and green

via House of Jade

 Dusty Pink and Forest Green

green and pink

Via Design Sponge

 Navy Blue and Canary Yellow

navy and yellow

via Cote Maison

Mint Green and Yellow

mint and yellow

via Domino

What unique color combinations do you love? 

 

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What Does a Water Softener Do?

Posted by Alyssa on August 26, 2017

water

Having soft water in your home is more important than you think. If you’re having a problem with hard water in your home, a water softener is your solution! RC Willey is here to help you understand what a water softener does and how it will help in your home. 

What Does a Water Softener Do?

To understand what a water softener does, you need to know what hard water is. Hard water is water that has more minerals in it than ordinary or treated water. Most of the time these minerals are calcium and magnesium. While having hard water is not a health problem, it can cause problems in your home. Soap won’t dissolve as well in hard water as in soft water. You’ll end up using more soap and will be left with soap residue in your clothes and hair. Hard water can also cause lime build up in your pipes, which is hard on appliances that use water like your washing machine or dishwasher. With a water softener, you’ll be able to avoid all those problems. But how does a water softener actually work?

Water softeners have a mineral tank filled with resin beads designed to catch the hard particles through an ion exchange process. This means that the resin beads have a negative electrical charge while the minerals and particles that create hard water have a positive charge. As the water passes through the water softener, the hard particles will get caught by the resin beads, removing them from the water you will eventually use. Salt water flushes out the tank and helps clean off the resin beads so they can continue softening your water. Using a water softener will not add too much sodium to your water - chances are you won’t even notice it’s there!

hard water vs. soft water

via Van Isle Water

You will definitely be able to tell a difference between soft and hard water. WIth a water softener, you won’t have spots on your dishes when you pull them out of the dishwasher. You’ll have softer skin after you get out of the shower and your clothes will feel fresher and cleaner. Best of all you’ll end up saving money because your dishwasher, washing machine, and pipes will have a longer lifespan!

There’s really no downside to putting in a water softener. If you’re interested in putting in a new water softener or replacing your old one, come to RC Willey. We have everything you need!

 

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Why You Need An Instant Pot

Posted by Andie on August 25, 2017

 

 

When I first started hearing about the Instant Pot a while back, I remember thinking it sounded too good to be true.   One kitchen appliance that does the job of seven?  The whole thing seemed a little far fetched.  But I kept hearing good things, and then my mom gave me one for my birthday.  Her exact words were, "I know it's kind of a lame gift, but I promise you'll die over this thing."  It turns out, she was right.  Again. 

The Instant Pot is truly a modern miracle!  It's a multi-cooker that acts like a....
1. slow cooker
2. electric pressure cooker
3. rice cooker
4. steamer
5. yogurt maker
6. sauté/browning pan
7. warming pot 

Take it from me, if you haven't already invested in one of these babies, you need to ASAP.  It will greatly improve the quality of your life!  Here are a few of the reasons why...

You don't have to plan dinner ahead of time!  I'm one of those people that struggles with meal planning.  I loathe doing it, but I also hate the fact that I don't do it very often!   I constantly find myself bemoaning the fact that it's 5:30 and I have NO IDEA what to make for dinner.  This contraption has truly been a game changer for me.  With my Instant Pot I can easily throw together a nice meal in less than 30 minutes, while it looks like I've slaved away all day in the hot kitchen!  

You don't have to defrost meat!  Nothing frustrates me more than deciding I'm going to hurry and cook some chicken for dinner, only to realize that the only chicken I'm in possession of is rock hard and completely solid in the freezer.  It's usually at this point that I opt to take my kids to Chick-fil-A because rounding up my three kids, finding shoes, and buckling them up in the car always seems ten times easier than de-frosting chicken breasts. (Also, raw chicken kind of makes me sick).  Hello, beloved Instant Pot!  Now I can literally drop frozen chicken breasts straight from the freezer into the pot, and they will be completely cooked and tender in FIFTEEN MINUTES FLAT.  My kids wouldn't have even located matching shoes by that point....

It's QUICK! This has been mentioned already, but it's worth re-iterating a thousand times.  It's so, so quick!  5-10 minutes to heat up usually, and then about 15 minutes to cook.  Every time I pull something out of my Instant Pot, I kind of can't believe it's real.  It feels like magic.  I love the idea of the crock pot, but I can probably count the times I've actually used it to cook dinner on one hand.  I'm never thinking about dinner 8 hours ahead of time, so it does me absolutely no good.  The Instant Pot, however, is incredibly fast!

It produces delicious food.  Whether you're cooking rice, chicken, pork, yogurt, or steak- everything I've ever made in it has turned out fantastic!  Here are 50 Instant Pot Recipes that you need to try!

Are you sold yet??

If you already have an Instant Pot, what do you love most about it?!  

 

 

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Baby Food Recipes

Posted by Alyssa on August 24, 2017

baby food

When my daughter started solids, I started the search for some good baby food recipes. At first, I bought pre-made baby food from the store but it got expensive FAST. Not only that, but I tasted some of the baby food I was trying to spoon into her mouth, and some of it was pretty disgusting. I checked a couple of baby food recipe books out from the library for inspiration, went grocery shopping, and spent one entire evening blending. While it did take some time initially, having my freezer stocked with a variety of baby food actually made my life a lot easier. Plus, it saved us money! 

Baby Food

**Before I give you some of my favorite baby food recipes, don’t forget to check with your doctor to see what food guidelines they have for your baby.

First, there are a few things you need before you start making your own baby food.

BLENDERHaving a nice blender will make this entire process significantly easier.

FREEZER SPACEYou’ll produce a lot of baby food, so clear out a shelf or two!

ICE CUBE TRAYS

Freezing the baby food in ice cube trays will give you the perfect sized servings and allow you to take only what you need without defrosting everything at once.

FREEZER BAGS

I liked putting all the frozen cubes of the same food in one-gallon size freezer bag.

SHARPIEYou need to label and date everything you make. Blended up carrots and blended up butternut squash look the exact same, so don’t forget to label!

baby food

via Wholesome Baby Food

Making your own baby food is a lot easier than you would think. The easiest way is to mash up simple fruits and vegetables by themselves, pour them into an ice cube tray, and freeze them. This is a good guide for freezing baby food. It tells you how long it can stay frozen and what fruits and vegetables work better than others.

You can get creative with your combinations as well. Anything that I thought sounded good I pureed together, froze and fed to my baby. (Some meals were a bigger hit than others, but at least she tried a variety of tastes and flavors!) This is a good list of ideas of what you could mix together to give your baby some delicious meals. Remember that you can make your puree as fine or as chunky as you and your baby want. 

What baby food recipes have you found work for your little one? 

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Money Saving Tips

Posted by Alyssa on August 23, 2017

money

There are some people who are masters at saving money. They relish in finding deals, figuring out ways to cut fees and prices and find coupons for everything they need. If you don’t naturally fall into that category but are looking for some money-saving tips, I’ve found 10 easy tips to help you start saving! 

Money Saving Tips

You’ll want to establish a budget and set aside a specific amount of money each month into savings account specifically designed for savings, but there are some easy things you can do in your daily life that will help save you money.

  1. Pay off your credit cards in full each month. You’ll save money by not having to pay interest. If you have a hard time managing your credit card spending but want a credit card as a backup, put it in a ziplock bag full of water and stick it in the freezer. Next time you want to make a purchase you’ll have to wait for it to defrost and will have time to rethink your decision.  
  2. Set up autopay for your bills. If you are able to pay on time every month, you won’t have to pay any late fees and you’ll have one less thing to worry about remembering.
  3. Plan your meals in advance and write out a grocery list before you go to the store. Make sure you aren’t hungry and stick to your list when you go shopping and you won’t make any spur of the moment purchases.
  4. Drink water at restaurants and don’t order drinks. They charge so much for a soda that it adds up quickly - especially if you have a family you’re buying dinner for.
  5. Think about all your memberships and cancel anything you don’t use or won’t miss. If you have a magazine subscription or music streaming service you rarely use, get rid of it!
  6. Use the library. You’ll find free books and lots of DVDs that you can rent for free instead of paying for a rental online. You might have to think ahead, but if you like watching movies you could end up spending a lot of money on entertainment.
  7. Keep your lights off during the day and only turn on the lights you are currently using to cut electricity bills.
  8. Make your meals at home and eat leftovers for lunch the next day. Not only will it save you money from going out to restaurants, you’ll eat healthier as well.
  9. Pack a bag lunch instead of going out to eat. Add up how much you spend daily on lunches and you’ll be shocked at how much you could save by bringing something from home.
  10. Before you purchase something, wait 24 hours and see if you still want it. This is easier to do than every with online shopping and you’ll avoid impulse buys that sap your budget.

 

With these small money saving ideas, you’ll be on your way to feeling financially confident and secure. What money-saving tips have worked for you?

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Layering Rugs

Posted by Alyssa on August 22, 2017

rugs

I love the idea of layering rugs. We’ve talked about how to pick a rug shape and size, and one of the biggest design problems most people run into is choosing a rug that is too small for their room. When you have a rug you love but it’s too small, don’t feel like you need to replace it! Simply layer it on top of a neutral rug and viola! You have the size of rug you need with the design you love. If you’re interested in layering rugs in your home, check out these pictures for inspiration and get ready to shop the look below. 

Layering Rugs

rugs

via The Glitter Guide

rugs

via My Domaine

rugs

via Architectural Digest

rugs

via The Glitter Guide

rugs

via Decoholic

If you're looking to recreate some of these looks, this natural woven rug would be a great backdrop for a more patterned rug like this or a cowhide rug. Use the extra rugs for an extra cozy room!  

Do you like the look of layered rugs?  

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