Cupcakes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner?

Photo Of Cupcakes - BlogAppeal.com

Cupcakes have long been a staple for birthdays and other celebrations. Individual sweet treats, perfect for little hands, and a delicious way to eat cake with no utensils needed—it’s easy to see why they’re popular! A few years ago, cupcakes got an upgrade. Forget plain chocolate or vanilla. Cupcakeries–yes, that’s a bakery devoted exclusively to cupcakes–started popping up from coast to coast. Their menus included everything from White Chocolate Raspberry with a Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting to Devil’s Food infused with Mint Truffle, and nearly any other extravagantly delicious combination you could dream up.

As the cupcake trend rose upwards, professional and amateur chefs fell in love with the shape and size these little treats were delivered in. They asked themselves why all the fun should be limited to the world of sweets, when the world of savory had been left untouched. They decided to act, and a new world of savory cupcakes was born.

Now, cupcakes can be enjoyed morning, noon, and night. At breakfast, try a hash brown, bacon, cheese combo along with your cup of morning joe. If you’re vegetarian, try the spiced oatmeal variety. For lunch, you can’t go wrong with a tomato basil parmesan or olive artichoke feta concoction. Go elegant at dinner with crab legs or a spaghetti meatball cupcake nest. With a cupcake tray in hand and a little creativity, nearly any meal can take on the portable, fun, and convenient shape. Both kids and adults can enjoy this fun trend in food, so go ahead and give it a try with your family!

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New Technology May Change Your TV Viewing Experience

New Technology For Television Photo - BlogAppeal.comIf you’re thinking about getting a new television in 2014, there are some exciting features you’ll want to know about. Though 3D television hasn’t taken off in the past few years as they had hoped, all of the major TV manufacturers are continuing to look for the next technology that consumers will embrace.

Flat screens have been the staple for about a decade now, but that may be changing. Though the flat screen is the default TV in most homes, television companies are testing out models with curved screens. They claim that the viewing experience is better all around. It reportedly reduces glare and is more viewer-friendly for those who are sitting off to the sides of the TV. Samsung is even testing a prototype that is bendable and can be instantly changed from flat to curved. All the models available and being tested boast a huge screen size of 85 inches or more.

Major manufacturers have also increased the number of pixels in the new 4k models, which have four times the resolution of traditional HD TVs. The 4k concept may make current HD capabilities a thing of the past. Prices are high on current models, starting at about $2,000, but all that will change if demand increases. Expect to see many major brands debut 4K models before the end of 2014. Like the curved screen technology, 4k Ultra HD looks better on large screens of 50 inches or more. Apparently those with smaller screens wouldn’t be able to notice a different in clarity or quality.

It looks like current technology being tested and introduced by TV manufacturers will only be affecting larger screens for now, so if you’re in the market for a more modestly sized model, you’ll likely find a flat-screen HDTV is the best way to go. Fortunately, you’ll enjoy the relatively lower prices that accompany this known and widely used format.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Ancient Grains

Image Of Quinoa, One Of The Ancient Grains - BlogAppeal.comAs the name implies, ancient grains are not a new type of food. But there is a new interest in this category of grains that has grown substantially within the last year. Up until now, few Americans knew about or were interested in ancient grains, which, interestingly enough, are not all technically grains. However, as the organic and healthy eating movements grow, more and more people are incorporating foods like amaranth and quinoa into their diets. These grains and seeds feature unique textures and flavors, and they can be incorporated into many existing recipes to boost nutritional value.

Amaranth
This seed features a slightly peppery taste and comes in both whole grain and flour formats. It is known for stabilizing blood sugar levels and as a healthy weight-loss aid. Amaranth is also highly regarded for its high protein levels and abundant iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Quinoa
This incredibly nutritious seed is known as the super food of the Incas and comes from South America. It comes in white, red, and brown varieties and is prepared in its most basic form in a way that is similar to rice. As the seeds are cooked, little tail-like coils emerge and the seeds double in size. Quinoa has the distinction of being a complete protein, which means it has all nine essential amino acids.

Teff
This crop is grown in Ethiopia and is most commonly used in baked goods. It has a sweet flavor and is high in protein, iron, and calcium. The petite grain is ground up whole, with the hull included, to produce flour, which can easily be substituted in many recipes.

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Are Hostels the Best Lodging Option for Families?

Photo Of Hostels - BlogAppeal.comUntil recently, hostels had a reputation for being somewhat unorganized and unclean. Backpacking travelers could save significant money by shacking up with strangers in bunk-style quarters, hoping not to encounter bed bugs or roommates with sticky fingers along the way. Though hostels haven’t exactly caught on in the U.S., budget-conscious travelers can pay as little as $8, or even less is some corners of the world, for a bunk bed mattress to call their own for the night.

But hostels have smartened up in the last decade. They liked the loyal travelers of the 1990s and 2000s and want to nurture further relationships. They also know travelers are looking to save money and that many Millennials just aren’t interested in chain hotels that offer the same experience no matter where they are. These hostels have done a little growing and a lot of maturing to capture the interest of traveling families. Now, they have private double rooms, many of them with private bathrooms. Freshly painted walls, hot water showers, and modern furnishings give them a minimalistic, yet somewhat upscale look. Many even include breakfast in the room rate, a big perk for parents who are glad to take advantage of every convenience possible to make travel with young ones less stressful.

Some hostels take reservations now, so even families who are more organized than the traditional backpacker can drive up in the rental car, matching luggage in hand, and expect a smooth check-in. In many countries, a private room in a clean, family-friendly hostel can be had for $35 or less. While the hotel industry has seen many ups and downs in recent times, it appears the hostel niche of the business is on to a growing trend that is only going to continue upwards.

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Some New Laws in 2014 May Surprise You

Interesting New Laws For 2014 Photo - BlogAppeal.comAcross the country, there are many new laws taking effect in 2014. Some provide protection to children, while others are related to wildlife conservation.

Tanning Salons
In Texas, minors are no longer permitted to enter tanning beds. The minimum age has gone up from 16 and a half years old to 18, which is no surprise given the regularly published findings demonstrating the serious health risks associated with tanning.

Shark Fins
In the state of Delaware, the sale, possession, or distribution of shark fins has been declared illegal. The fins are cut off wild sharks, leaving the animals helplessly dying. They’re most commonly used in the preparation of shark fin soup, which has been declared illegal in locations around the world.

Cocktails
A new law dictates that those who order cocktails in Texas will start paying sales tax, just like their beer- and wine-drinking friends. Unbeknownst to many people, taxes were not charged on mixed drinks in the past. A sales tax of 8.25% will now be applied to all mixed drinks ordered in restaurants and bars.

Protection of Children
In California, a new law has been passed to protect the children of celebrities and other high-profile individuals, such as judges or government officials. Aggressive photographers, also known as paparazzi, may not take photos or video of a child without consent. Those who are prosecuted for violating the law can be penalized with up to a year of jail time and a $10,000 fine.

Wages
Minimum wage increases to $9 an hour in California this year, and will increase to $10 an hour by 2016. Ohio minimum wage rates have also increased. Employers will be legally required to pay domestic workers time and a half if they work more than nine hours a day or 45 hours a week.

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Continuing Education Provides Learning Opportunities for People of All Ages

Photo Of Adults In Continuing Education Class - BlogAppeal.comThe idea behind continuing education is to further learning, though there are few specifics about the exact definition of what constitutes continuing education. Everything from advanced learning programs for accomplished professionals to kid-friendly introductory classes fall within this category. More and more of these learning opportunities are popping up in areas, both rural and urban, from coast to coast. It looks like people of all ages and backgrounds are eager to learn, and many organizations, groups, and schools are stepping up to meet the demand.

One specific area of continuing education is designed to offer adults an opportunity to learn new skills, either within their field or in another industry they’re interested in. Individuals who have had difficulties finding work or advancing in their career, or who learned skills many years ago and need updated training, frequently sign up for non-credit bearing classes at community colleges, local universities, and other educational institutions. In some cases, students have the opportunity to earn a certificate, so they can demonstrate their accomplishments in the classroom to potential employers or to their current employer in an effort to advance in the workplace.

A different area of continuing education employs a much more casual approach. Community centers and even high schools offer low-cost instructional classes on a wide variety of subjects, including everything from small business management to tax preparation skills. They even offer workshops or ongoing classes focused on mental and physical well-being, covering topics like meditation, Pilates, and back pain management. These same organizations offer classes that encourage family bonding, such as parent-child Italian lessons or yoga classes.

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Get the Facts about Assisted Self-Parking Features

Photo Of A Self-Parking Car - BlogAppeal.comThe idea of a self-parking car seemed pretty far-fetched just a decade ago, but now this feature comes standard on a variety of makes and models. Big brands, like Lexus, Volkswagen, Ford, and Toyota are including it everything from SUVs to trucks to minivans. Shoppers who are looking for a new vehicle this year may want to learn more and decide if this feature makes your list of must-haves for your next purchase. Check out these facts to assist in your decision-making:

1) There are different kinds of self-parking systems. Some require you to stay seated in the driver’s seat while the system parks the vehicle. Other models allow the driver to exit the vehicle and initiate the system from a button on the vehicle remote. This is convenient especially in bad weather conditions when getting out of the car early might mean avoiding a puddle or icy spot.

2) While a self-parking feature does come standard in plenty of models, it’s still considered an add-on for some. Make sure to find out whether getting this feature will lead to a higher price tag in case pricing influences your final decision.

3) The self-parking feature depends on a number of components, including a rear-mounted camera, motors that turn the steering column and activate the brakes, and an electronic control system to actually pull off the move.

4) This feature is intended for circumstances in which the vehicle should be parallel parked. It won’t help in other parking situations, such as backing into a tight space.

Thanks to cosmic_spanner for the photo of a self-parking car.

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Adults Ready to Get Involved in Group Sports in 2014

Photo Of Men Playing Flag Football - BlogAppeal.comNot that long ago, it was much more common to see a group of 10-year-olds playing soccer on your neighborhood field than a group of 30-year-olds. But all that’s changing. A new focus on healthy living is evident across the United States, and that’s translating to busy working adults taking on new athletic endeavors.

Everyone knows they should be active, but it’s just too easy to find excuses to avoid the gym. You may be too busy, unwilling to pay excessive gym fees, or just not like the machines or types of activities they offer there. You want to have fun when you work out, and joining a group sport may be just the way to do that. Here are three reasons group sports are gearing up to be more popular than ever in 2014:

1) There are lots of sports to choose from. Some of the most popular group and league sports include flag football, baseball, soccer, indoor volleyball, dodgeball, and softball.

2) You choose who you play with. Send an office-wide email or post a sign-up sheet in the kitchen at work and you’ll likely be surprised at home many people are interested in getting in on the action. If you get enough of your coworkers during business hours, try starting up a weekly group with a few friends. Spread the word on social media or through your personal network and you’ll have no trouble filling up spots.

3) There are both competitive and non-competitive leagues to choose from. Depending on your skills and the type of environment you’re looking for, you’ll be able to choose the level of competition that feels most comfortable for you.

Thanks to LincolnSquareInsider for the photo of adults playing flag football.

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Home Gardening Gets Tastier in 2014

Photo Of A Small Herb Garden - BlogAppeal.comIf you think of flowers when you hear the word gardening, get ready for a change this year. The growing popularity of purchasing local produce, eating healthier, and cutting out pesticides has 20 and 30 year olds sparking a new trend that’s poised to take off in 2014–home gardening. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean rows of perfectly manicured beds and hours spent every weekend keeping things in pristine condition. Instead, these young do-it-yourself types are turning to a more modest prospect–herbs.

Growing your own herbs is simple and it comes with big rewards. It doesn’t require much of an investment and takes up little space. Most climates permit herb gardening to be done in the house or outside, so even apartment dwellers can get in on the fun. Its rewards are almost instant, especially when compared to vegetable gardening, which may take a few months of patience before you’ll see the fruits of your labors.

The practicality of herb gardening is obvious. You can add a handful of crushed up oregano or basil to countless dishes, and serving mint-infused water at your next social gathering is sure to earn you some serious brownie points with guests. Many herbs are known for their health benefits, and with the right mixture of fresh herbs, lots of home chefs can cut out salt or other not-so-good-for-you flavorings. This is one trend that’s good for everyone, so let’s hope it sticks in 2014 and beyond!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils

Photo Of An Essential Oils Bottle - BlogAppeal.comThough not a new concept, essential oils have seen a tremendous increase in popularity in the last six months alone. As consumers look for all-natural solutions to common aches and pains, they’re finding that essential oils can offer relief. They treat a number of conditions and issues and are completely natural. Learn more about these five popular essential oils.

Clary Sage
Clary sage is especially popular with women who are seeking comfort from monthly pain that results from their menstrual cycle. It’s also regarded as an excellent massage oil that has mood-enhancing properties.

Clove
This aromatic spice is also available as an essential oil. Like the dried version most cooks keep in the kitchen, it can be used in food. However, it can also be applied topically or used for aromatic purposes. It is regarded as a powerful antioxidant by natural health care providers.

Coriander
This oil is extracted from the seed of the coriander plant, which boasts a very high linalool content. It reportedly promotes a healthy insulin response and digestive system. It can be used aromatically, consumed, and applied to the skin.

Lavender
Lavender has long been regarded as a very calming fragrance and is particularly popular for use in massages and medication. As a dietary supplement it complements chocolate desserts like mousse.

Tea Tree Oil
This fragrant essential oil has very strong antibacterial properties, making it a favorite for natural hand soaps and other health and beauty and cleaning products. It also makes a great spot acne treatment.

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