Confessions of a kitchen gadget addict

February 21 | Guest post by Ange
how i kicked my kitchen gadget addiction
By: JamieCC BY 2.0

I've found true love in the kitchen and its name is Sunbeam… and Breville, and Delonghi.

Somewhere in the last 30 years of feminism, with the need to cook taken out of the equation, I've embraced gadgets. They're hidden everywhere — not just in the kitchen. The coffee machine sits next to the bed (Why get up to make coffee? You masochist!) the freezer is in the lounge to make room for the microwave, grill, wok, two crockpots, pizza stone, and 100 kinds of cutting things including a strange gadget for making crinkle cut vegetables and a knife just for chopping herbs.

My husband has given up eating toast because we lost the toaster under the Great Appliance Avalanche of 2010. He says we don't need any more gadgets but good business practice has taught us to identify the problem first before we try to solve it.

The problem is: The kitchen is full of gadgets. So the obvious solution is: Get a bigger kitchen…

A Day in the Life of a Gadget Addict

Saturday morning

Me: Husband-man darling…
Husband Man Darling: *worried sigh* What?
Me: Did you know we send over 300 soda water bottles off to the recycling center every year? We're creating a mini environmental disaster! I think we should really do something about it because precycling makes so much more sense than recycling.
HMD: You mean: We should buy another gadget?
Me: Well a SodaStream would be a great way to PRECYCLE and it would pay for itself in three months.
HMD: But we need a new satellite receiver so we can actually watch the TV — wherever it is…?
Me: I suppose we should head to Harvey Norman and look for one then…

30 Minutes later at Harvey Norman

Harvey Norman Dude: Sorry, we're out of satellite receivers; the next shipment is in three weeks — but the Soda Stream Machines are on special this weekend!

Saturday afternoon

Me: We should totally have a seventies party for your birthday so I can try out that vintage fondue set I just bought. I can do two fondues! — using the other fondue set we got for our wedding.
HMD: That sounds awesome. I'll vacuum the lounge.
Me: That would be really helpful because I have no idea where the vacuum cleaner is kept. [Sad, but true.] I can try out that new cake recipe for your birthday too… but my hand mixer is on the blink. What I could really do with is a new cake mixer — preferably in red to match that kettle I saw at Harvey Norman this morning…

And so it goes…

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  1. My husband and I are also kitchen gadget whores. We have done away with toasters and microwaves in favour of a really good toaster oven, said good buy to our slow cookers (since we REALLY weren't using them), maintained one coffee press ONLY- but those new stovetop expresso makers look to good to be true, and really, we DO need a mandoline for all those tricky chopping recipes we have lined up… Essentially- we need a bigger kitchen!

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  2. I usually eschew kitchen gadgets, but I have to confess that we just bought an immersion blender so that my partner can make Mexican Hot Chocolate. That is literally its only use for us.

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    • Seriously, you can use an immersion blender for EVERYTHING. They're probably my #2 powered kitchen gadget, coming in sliiightly ahead of my beloved stand mixer because they're so small and efficient (but still behind the toaster oven, which I use literally every day).

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  3. Yeah, I'm a bit of a kitchen gadget whore too. I just love nifty gadgets! They're fun and somewhat helpful when I'm being lazy (hand mixer vs a spoon). Currently eyeing a food dehydrator for making beef jerky and fruit leather (nom).

    We ended up storing all of the "nifty but not used on a daily basis" type gadgets in a very high up kitchen cabinet (I'm 5'1", so it really wasn't being used anyways). The few that we did use on a daily basis (coffee maker, microwave, iced tea maker), stays on the counter. If we get a new appliance that we already own one at home, we donate the old one to a thrift store. It's better than keeping twos and threes of everything.

    Also, just found out from my future hubby that we can actually paint our appliances!!! Eeeeeeeeeeeee! Planning on painting the daily use ones red this summer. <3

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    • Painting your appliances can void the warranty. I would double-check this before you make them all prettified.

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      • Thanks! I didn't think of that.

        I think mine are all past the warranty period anyways (they're over a few years old), so I should be okay. =)

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  4. When registering for our wedding, I discovered so many amazing kitchen gadgets! I had never even heard of a mandoline and now I NEEDED ONE! My "husband man-darling" (love this term) flat-out said no way, don't need it, we have a small kitchen there isn't room and you woudl never, ever use it. Which, to be fair, is probably pretty true. But now we are cooking much more, and it seems like ALL of our recipes require sliced veggies… I am hoping to convince him that a mandoline is a necessity now. :)

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    • My husband man-darling insisted on registering for a mandoline. I had never heard of one. First time I used it? Sliced the top off of my finger. Now any time a recipe requires thinly sliced veggies, guess who I make use that horrible thing!

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      • I did the same thing when I got lazy and decied not to use the safety guard – doh!

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      • You can buy a no-cut glove to wear while you use it. I have one, and the glove has scars, but my hands are ok.

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      • All I can think about when I hear about mandolines is when I sliced my hand open on one. Always use the hand guard folks! Ouch.

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  5. this makes me wish for a bigger kitchen too… but then ours is small enough that we can't fit our microwave in there, so it's in storage. not to say it's too small, it's perfectly usable, just a rubbish configuration.

    as to putting the freezer in the lounge, doesn't it get a bit noisy?
    (and putting the coffee machine next to the bed = win! more space in the kitchen and it's where it's most needed)

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  6. I actually do demonstrations for SodaStream, haha, so I'm glad to read this :) I have a rice cooker I've never even used though!

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    • I got my mother in law the soda stream for Christmas and she LOVES it. I was so nervous because its a strange gift, but she drinks a lot of club soda and it's really paying for itself in terms of savings for her. Plus, she doesn't have to carry boxes of cans of club soda in when she goes grocery shopping.

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  7. We also have a lot of kitchen gadgets, but most of them get used a lot! When we bought a house we started cooking actual meals a lot (as opposed to re-heating) and having dinner parties, so the stand mixer, rice cooker, etc. etc. have come in handy. Our five-year-plan is to have our kitchen re-done, and I'm insisting on custom cabinetry so we'll have a larger, deeper shelf to store all those gadgets!

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  8. i have a guilty pleasure of loving Pellegrino….guilty because i abhor the bottled water industry, and importing glass bottles = horrible for environment…ack, i could go on. anyway, boyfriend bought me a soda stream for my birthday, and i was so skeptical, because fizzy water is not the same as Pelligrino, however, i think they put crack in those CO2 canisters because i am addicted. and feeling mighty environmentally responsible for not buying imported italian spring water in glass bottles anymore. so. while my skepticism of most gadgets remains in place, i think if it saves you time, money, or cuts down on waste…perhaps a gadget is not such a bad thing.

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  9. I love love love kitchen gadgets! I do try not to buy single-use things, but somethings stuff happens. I think the only gadget we have that we don't use is the SodaStream, because we loved the concept but hated the taste of all the flavors, so it sits unloved on top of the fridge. it's a shame because we drink quite a bit of soda and I was excited about it. We have a slow cooker, and stand mixer, an apple corer/peeler/slicer, a stick blender and real blender, a hand mixer, waffle iron, toaster oven, and I just bought a food processor. I'm working on convincing my husband we need a mandolin, every attachment for the stand mixer and a bread machine. >.> We have really been cooking a ton lately and as long as things get used, I think they're a perfectly fine thing to spend our money on. now if only I had a lot more kitchen storage so things didn't have to sit on the dining room table…

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    • You can buy brand name soda syrups at Sam's Club and Costco. You would have to experiment to figure out the ratios, but its an alternative to their all-partially-diet flavors. Also, just bubblify juice. Its like soda, but healthier.

      We don't use ours a lot because you can't put the bottles in the dishwasher and there is no getting my husband to clean them. I wish you could get glass bottles for it :-/

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      • I was wondering if I could carbonate juice! we've been drinking a lot less soda since we've been eating healthier and juice would be good, but it says not to carbonate anything but pure water and I wasn't sure why. I didn't want it to explode or something…

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        • I've tried carbonating juice, and it definitely exploded everywhere.

          What works better for me is to get juice concentrate from the freezer section and then mix it with carbonated water instead of normal tap water.

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          • oh, clever! I forgot frozen concentrate existed.

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        • We mix 100% pure fruit juice 50/50 with carbonated water – halves the sugar and calories but still tastes yum. Also soda water with a dash of lemon is nice (a little vodka doesn't hurt either!)

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    • Bread makers are super handy – I mostly use mine for kneading dough for pizzas, calzones, buns, rolls, plaited chilli and cream cheese bread…

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  10. My issue isn't so much the new gadgets,which I love (my collection of jar openers is growing, and I still don't have one that works on super wide lids, so clearly I need another) but the excess from combining households with my boyfriend. Between the two of us we have:
    4 toasters (2 toaster ovens, 2 pop-up toasters)
    3 food processors (1 full size, 1 medium size, 1 small + 1 weird non-electric chopper thingy)
    2 blenders + an immersion blender
    While some of these are due to leave our apartment, I haven't let go of the "what if one of them breaks" mentality. Because you know if the blender is going to die, it would do so in the middle of a party.

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    • I know this is a bit off topic, but I feel the need to comment on the jar-opener bit…
      A trick someone taught me once is to wrap a rubber band around the lid of a jar. It keeps your hands from slipping. Sometimes, if the lid is extra stuck, you might need to also wrap one around the jar itself. It works almost every time, and you don't have to worry about if the jar/bottle/whatever will fit in the opener!

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      • You can also just use a small sturdy spoon to break the safety seal. Just get it under the rim of the lid and use the lever action to pop the seal. Then the lid comes off easily.

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        • They also make wee plastic gadgets to do just that, popping the lid off from the side (therefore works on any size) without bending all your spoons back :P

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        • Or bang a spoon on the corner of the lid to dent it in a few places. That also breaks the seal. Startles the hell out of the cat though.

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      • If you are recycling the jar (instead of reusing it) just stab the top with a sharp knife and the lid will slide off (and the stabbing motion is very therapeutic…)

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        • I'll have to try these tricks. The particularly problematic jar is a big jar from costco that's about as big as my hand. So rubber bands and rubber gloves haven't worked. Thanks!

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  11. my gadget list has been growing since i moved out of my apartment. here's what i have taking up space in my kitchen:
    *small rice cooker. want to upgrade to one with Neuro Fuzzy tech. ohai, Zojirushi, i love your stuff but hate your pricetag…
    *Kitchen Aid stand mixer. love. so much love. considering picking up the ice cream maker attachment.
    *KA food processor. we just upgraded to a big one and now use it for a ton of things. in fact, we MAY get rid of the…
    *Cuisinart blender. boycreature uses to crush ice for mint juleps. it never sees any other use. thank goodness that man loves his juleps. still, this takes up a *lot* of counter space.
    *stick blender. this thing is perfect for large quantities of scrambled eggs, or whipped cream, or (supposedly) blended soup. or pancakes. or waffles. we use it for a lot of things, but i want to try it for soup.
    *toaster oven and microwave, which both get near-daily use in my house. i wish they weren't so dang big.
    *small countertop fryer. we have made french fries in it, and that's all. i'm sure we'll find use for it the next time we have a large group of people over for an event, but right now it's taking up space on the back porch. wasn't my first choice of gadget, and i'm happy we didn't buy it.
    *coffeemaker. pretty self-explanatory, but it *is* a bit of a unitasker.

    obviously, we need to eliminate a few gadgets.

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    • oh, i also forgot:
      we have two slow cookers. one is a medium-sized Crock Pot from the 70s and my other half isn't allowed to use it (because i'm afraid he'd break the crock and that thing's older than me, durnit!), and the other is a very large Kitchen Aid. both work perfectly. when we have our annual HugeHousePartyofDoom, both get used.

      and i've just realized we're a KA household. heh. whee?

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    • You really don't need a deep fryer. A Dutch oven can double as one!!

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  12. On the counter at all times we have the coffeemaker (we drink hella big amounts of coffee), microwave (for leftovers), a toaster (since the toaster oven died), and the KitchenAid stand mixer (my true kitchen gadget love). In the pantry, we have the mandoline (used once), a french press(used never, gift), crock-pot(used once to keep soup warm), and a mini-blender(which has been failing at actually blending things. I would looooooove to get a blender/food processor, but I always balk at the price even though I know I'd use it for a shit-ton of stuff.

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    • It always makes me sad when people say they don't use their crock pots. they are so super useful! you can make anything at all in them and you don't have to stand in the kitchen and hover. I make beef stew, pulled pork, soup, baked apples I've made chicken breasts in it and baked potatoes even. this week I'm making chicken tikka masala for the first time. there's a ton of great recipes and it's usually put in ingredients, set it, leave it alone. super super easy.
      The food processor, I finally decided was an investment since I knew I'd use it. I shopped around and found a cuisinart 7 cup processor on sale for $60. since I had been looking at 4 cup ones (really too small) for $40, I bought the bigger one. it's fantastic, worth every penny and would have been worth more.

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      • My problem is finding recipes for the size of crock pot I have. It's a 4.5 quart one, and pretty much all of the recipes I've found have been for 7 quart and above crock pots. I do enjoy a good pulled pork, but I'm not sure how long to put the meat on for, and whether to do so on medium or high. Maybe I'm just making excuses. Where do you find your crockpot recipes? Know of any for smaller crockpots? Specifically 4.5 quart?

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        • my first crock pot was itty bitty, like 2 quarts or something crazy. I think it helps that I don't follow recipes exactly, and I'm perfectly fine with cutting them in half if necessary. Now we own a 6.5qt crock pot and it's HUGE. like, way bigger than we need, always make too much food.
          Med or High just really depends how fast you want the food done. I do pulled pork on low for 12 hours because I'm crazy. Most food I don't do anywhere near that long. I've thrown chicken breasts in salsa in there on high for 4-5 hours and it's worked really well, low would take probably twice as long. stew (or pot roast) I brown meat ( in a 4 qt crock pot, you should be able to fit i would think a 2-3lb roast easily, throw it in with veggies and enough beef broth (or onion soup) to cover it, leave it on low for 8-10 hours (again, high would be maybe half the time. usually I double check times on meat by googling "crock pot roast beef" or something and checking the consensus on times, but 4-5 hrs on high 8-10 on low should be more than plenty for most things.
          Here's my pulled pork recipe:
          Pork shoulder or rump in a size appropriate for your crockpot (I eyeball it, but I'd guess 3-4 lbs for your crock pot?) bone in, or boneless, bone in tastes better, boneless is easier to deal with
          1 large onion
          ginger ale
          spices (I use 1 cinammon stick, a little pepper, salt and allspice and clove)
          BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's hickory brown sugar)
          onion gets sliced up and half put in the pot, pork roast gets put on top, other half of onion goes on the roast. then I fill the pot with ginger ale so the roast is covered. Throw the spices in whole ( I put them in a little reusable teabag so they're easy to remove, or ground up. Cover the crock pot on low and leave it alone for 12 hours. (this is the hardest part, leaving it alone, but every time you pick up the lid, it lengthens cook time by 20 minutes because the temperature drastically decreases), once it's done, drain the ginger ale, try to save the onions. the pork should easily shred with a couple forks. pick out bones if there are any and discard. add the barbeque sauce to the shredded pork and put the crock pot cover back on, leave it on low for 1-2 hours or until you cannot stand the amazing smell anymore and voila, pulled pork! it's easier than it sounds really.

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          • I'm a recipe hound, but with crockpots I just follow a few simple principles:
            1) Put the longest-to-cook foods on bottom, quickest-to-dry-out foods on top. For example, I put large chunks of potato, carrot, and/or onion on the bottom and chicken or other meats on top-it keeps the meats from drying and lets vegetables simmer in the juices.
            2) Add a little vinegar (basalmic, white, apple whatever) to keep the food moist
            3) Add some sort of flavorful liquid: eg salsa, canned soup, soy sauce, coconut milk, chicken stock, the possibilities are endless.
            4) Season as much as you like
            5) Close and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10+. Those numbers have been pretty consistent for me.

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          • You're the best! Thanks for the tips. Perhaps this weekend will be pulled pork Saturday :)

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        • Get the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensparger. It has many recipes for smaller crockpots in it-I use it all the time. There's also a version for 2.

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        • I have two crockpots (of course) and I generally put the little one on for about the same length of time. My formula is: meat and/ or dried lentils, some kind of liquid to cover the dry ingredients (wine, stock, curry paste and water, diced tomatoes etc.), turn onto low, go to work, come home and see how it tatses.

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  13. I was a foodie before I started culinary school last fall, and now that I'm in culinary school not only am I lusting after equipment we use at school, but I've discovered molecular gastronomy which is science mashed up with food and an entire new world of gadgetry. BUT I live in a 600sq ft apartment with a 4yr old boy, and a musician fiance who likes to build his own special effects pedals. Our small space is already over run with instruments, toys/art supplies for my son, and BOOKS (we're big readers and literally every room in our apartment has a bookcase. Even the hallway and bathroom!). There is simply no room for me to buy every gadget I fall in love with (even if I could afford it) My saving grace has been one of my culinary idols: Alton Brown. He has an amazing rule that is very simple: The only uni-tasker allowed in the kitchen is the fire extinguisher. It's been a LIFESAVER when it comes to smarter gadget shopping.You would be amazed how many shiny things look amazing until you apply that rule to them. TONS of things on the market are only good for one thing and take up way too much space to only be used the maybe once a month that I make that item. (Vegetable choppers are a prime example! They don't do anything that good knife skills can't do, and for fancier cuts a mandoline is a better buy and they fold flat for easy storage!). The "multi-tasker" rule lets me get my foodie bug on, without letting it take over my house.

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    • I too worship am a huge Alton Brown fan. Macgyver is the patron saint of my kitchen.

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  14. At one point, we lived in a townhome whose teensy kitchen had one usable drawer (the other opened into the side of the fridge) and the same for lower cabinets. That kitchen, while challenging, might've been my favorite, because I learned what things I NEEDED. Now I have more space, and a few more kitchen-y things, but my essentials remain the same: blender, crock pot, 6-qt Kitchen Aid mixer (KAs tuck back into unused countertop corners really well, oddly enough, even in teensy kitchens), and toaster oven. I'd be hard-pressed to part with any of those. Also the electric kettle, although I realize it's not an essential; I just really like it and use it all the time. I don't keep duplicates of anything; I find one thing I absolutely adore and then I use the heck out of it. I didn't really think about it before, but I think the familiarity of my gadgets kind of grounds my cooking.

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    • See, i find it so strange that there are houses out there without electric kettles/jugs. That is absolutely basic equipment!
      As long as i have a jug and toaster i'm fine, but I also use the coffee plunger and sandwich press a lot. I have a lot of things i don't really use (food processors, crockpots, deep fryer) but my silliest and favouritest gadget is my ice crusher. it's a little hand-wound thing and i love it to pieces even though i probably only use it once a year.

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  15. We only buy kitchen "toys" if we know we'll use them and we feel like they will fall more into the "need" than the "want" category. They also need to really prove their usefulness before we can justify shelling out cash and storage space for one. I have been lusting after a KitcheAid stand mixer for ages and when we got a chance to get one we jumped it because they have so many attachments you can add on that they become many things in one! We use ours for baking and making sausage and we haven't even tried out the veggie slicer yet – we're still exploring all of the exciting things our new baby can do! It's been one investment we've really treasured :)

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  16. I have a ridiculously gadgeted kitchen.. at least, I thought so!
    KitchenAid stand mixer, with many, many attachments; two stick blenders (one is a whisk, as the blending attachment broke, the other's a blender); waffle maker, breadmaker, toaster, kettle, crockpot, two George Foreman grills (one large one small), a popcorn popper, and innumerable random non-electrical gadgets. I even have my granddad's melon baller from the 60's, as my Nana gave me a bunch of his kitchen stuff when he passed away!

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  17. Kitchenaid stand mixer! Fuck yeah! My sweetie got me one for Giftmas this year. I need the pasta roller now!

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  18. Is the neuro-fuzzy tech thing that big a deal? I had the regular (~$50) one for ages and it worked great. I'd still have it but it got lost in a move.

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  19. This 1000 times. This post entirely. I understand the struggle. I worked in kitchen appliances and got deep discounts. Can you say kitchenaid stand mixer brand new for $115? Uh huuuuuh. 3 crock pots, vintage bakeware and cookware, chafing dishes, fondue sets, mugs, corning ware nesting bowls, a pineapple colander, a fisherman's boat dip server, mason jar mugs, various utensil gadgets, cast iron, glass cookware, etc.In 700 sq ft. Luckily I have a little shed outside for things i dont immediately use. Its hard, and if you're looking for a cure, find items that do multiple jobs. Like the cuisnart blender/food processor. Now as far as vintage items go…its hard to gauge, remember to research what exactly you're looking for first, or even the brand so you know and have an idea of the quality of the item you're looking that. lol And that counter looks like mine if I took all my stuff out. lol

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