Top 10 Black Friday Shopping Tips for 2017

Some of us wait all year for the Black Friday shopping season, our heads filled with the promise of scoring the best price of the year on a new TV, tablet, printer, or high-tech gadget. But don’t let all the Black Friday hype fool you. You might end up overpaying if you get taken in by so-so prices masquerading as fantastic bargains, and you can miss out on great deals because you didn’t do your research. (Check out the best Black Friday TV deals for 2017.)

No worries—Consumer Reports has been tracking Black Friday deals for years, so we’ve got you covered. Our top 10 Black Friday shopping tips below will help you get the best deal on the items you want and keep frustration—and overspending—to a minimum.

We are also tracking the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals we find on televisionslaptops and tablets, and smartphones.

1. Start early. Gone are the days when Black Friday simply meant checking the Sunday circulars to see which local retailers had the best deals. Black Friday has morphed into a whole month of deals and savings, and online retailers also regularly update prices throughout the event.

So to judge how good the actual sales really are once it’s crunch time, you’ll need to track the deals leading up to Black Friday. The same goes for Cyber Monday, which now stretches into a week of online specials.

2. Do your homework. Only rookies head out on Black Friday unprepared. Getting ready means studying the ads—in print and online—the weekend before Thanksgiving. CR has already weighed in on the Black Friday deals at Best BuyCostcoDellBJ’sTarget, and Walmart.

You’ll find tons of leaked Black Friday ad scans at bfads.netbestblackfriday.comdealnews.comgottadeal.com, and theblackfriday.com.

3. Compare prices. If you spot a great deal at one retailer, go to PriceGrabber.comPriceWatch.comShopping.com, or ShopZilla to make sure you can’t do better elsewhere. (Don’t forget Google Shopping and NexTag.com.) There are also a growing number of apps, such as ShopSavvy, Shopular, and BuyVia, that let you scan bar codes to compare prices, get discounts, and score coupons from local retailers. (See tip No. 6, below, for additional shopping apps.)

But remember, direct comparison shopping isn’t always easy. For instance, large retailers might apply their deepest discounts to TVs with a specific model number, which makes it difficult to be sure you’re doing an apples-to-apples comparison. In some cases, comparison shopping isn’t even possible.

4. Be loyal. Stores often have loyalty programs that offer sales and promotions to their members first, then let them earn rewards on what they buy. Signing up for Black Friday shopping alerts will get you the early word on promotions, coupons, and discounts. In some cases, you can even find out whether the products you want are in stock or eligible for a buy online/pick up at the store option that saves you on shipping.

5. Get social. The Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite retailers are a great way to find out about deals and promotions. Retailers will often reward customers who like or follow them with special alerts to Black Friday discounts and incentives. And of course texts, tweets, and social media posts are an easy way to share Black Friday shopping intel with your friends.

6. Phone it in. Before you head out to a store, make sure your smartphone is fully charged and loaded with a few of the comparison-shopping apps mentioned above, or Flipp, RetailMeNot, Shopkick, and SlickDeals. In addition to providing pricing info, they can often be used to place orders or monitor items via a personal watch list.

Many include a bar-code scanner to help you compare prices and a QR-code reader for coupon codes and special deals. The aforementioned Black Friday sites may also have their own shopping apps, as do the major retailers, such as Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. Amazon’s Mobile app, for example, lets you use a smartphone camera to scan products and price-shop online, and Walmart’s uses geolocation, so if you’ve ordered online, it will start getting your order ready the second it detects you’re in the store. But as the The Washington PostThe New York Times, and other news outlets reported last year, be on the lookout for fake apps that masquerade as well-known retailer apps.

7. Create a budget—and stick to it. Yes, this sounds simple. But Black Friday sales, especially the doorbuster specials available in limited quantities, are designed to get you into a store so that the retailer can sell you something else.

Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend on your Black Friday shopping spree, and do your best to resist impulse buying, especially if you’re not sure how good a specific deal is. If you find that you’re too free with your charge cards, try buying with cash this year and see whether you have better self-control. But if you are sufficiently disciplined, buy with a credit card that doubles the manufacturer’s warranty and then pay it off before any interest accrues.

8. Check all store policies in advance. It’s always good to know a store’s price-match and return policies. As noted in our Black Friday 2017 TV predictions article, we expect more retailers to price-match specific online and in-store deals this year. Almost all of the major retailers have some form of price-match policy, and they’ve been expanding them almost every year. But some stores might suspend their price-match guarantees during the Black Friday weekend on certain items, so read the fine print. Check the return and exchange policies for Black Friday sales to make sure that the store won’t charge a restocking fee for any item you bring back.

9. Avoid pricey accessories. You’ve just scored an awesome giant-screen 4K TV at an all-time low price, so don’t blow your savings by splurging on pricey accessories or extended warranties. (This is where retailers make their money, hence the hard sell.) If you know you’ll need an HDMI cable, buy it in advance from an online retailer such as monoprice.com or bluejeanscable.com. That way you won’t be pressed into overpaying at the store, where you might pay $35 for a 6-foot HDMI cable that performs similarly to a cable you can buy for less than $3 online.

10. The cheapest TVs aren’t always the best deals.Doorbuster specials draw people in with visions of savings, but they might not offer the best product for their needs. This is especially true for big-ticket items such as TVs. Just remember that you’ll probably be watching that TV for a number of years; if you’re not happy with its features or picture quality, you’ll wind up spending that time regretting the fact that spending an extra $100 could have gotten you a set you’d be happier with. Also, those loss-leader TVs are usually at their rock-bottom price. A retailer may have more wiggle room on a step-up model or flagship model, so during your Black Friday shopping don’t be afraid to ask for a better price on the TV you’d really like to own. (Read “Haggling Really Works When You Buy a New TV, Laptop, or Other Device” for more details.)

By James K. Willcox

Recipe of the Week: Pulled Pork and Sriracha Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 slices french bread
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Sriracha Guacamole Ingredients

  • 2 large avocados
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Instructions:

  1. Make the guacamole first so the flavors have a chance to meld. To make the guacamole, mash avocados together in a bowl. Add in remaining guacamole ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat. Cook onions over medium-low heat until they start to brown and caramelize. About 20 minutes. Add in pulled pork. Cook just until pork is warmed through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. To assemble a sandwich, butter one side of each slice of bread. With the buttered side down, place one slice of cheese on the bread. Top with 1/4 of the pork. Spoon guacamole over the top. Place a second slice of cheese on top of the guacamole and place another slice of bread on top with the buttered side facing up. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  4. In the same skillet that you cooked the pork and onions in, cook sandwiches over medium heat until bread is golden brown and cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

Imperial Symphony Orchestra

Since 1965, the Imperial Symphony Orchestra has been educating, entertaining and inspiring central Florida audiences. What began as a group of 30 passionate volunteer musicians has grown to a paid, per-service orchestra serving Polk County and neighboring communities.

Symphony Guild of Winter Haven Holiday Concert

December 9 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

The Symphony Guild of Winter Haven welcomes the Imperial Symphony Orchestra for a celebration of the season at Polk State College Center for Public Safety in Winter Haven.

1251 Jim Keene Boulevard
Winter Haven,FL33880United States

Avon Park Airforce Bombing Range

22 miles of hiking/nature trails available for public use: Lake Arbuckle National Recreation Trail (16 mi.), Arbuckle Nature Trail and boardwalk (1/2 mi.), and the Sandy Point Wildlife Refuge Trail (6 mi.).

HUNTING – Annual Permits
go on sale mid-May and are good from Sept. 1st to Sept 1st of next year, with all hunt seasons included.
The permits are available for purchase on Avon.isportsman.net or in the office with Cash, Cashiers check or certified check made out to US Treasury.

All applicants must provide proof of completion of a Hunter Safety Education course. If you have not taken the hunters safety course please visit http://myfwc.com/hunting/safety-education/courses/ for more information.
To receive a vehicle decal or pass the operator must provide: a valid drivers license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

FISHING
We have four stocked ponds on Range as well as many small ponds throughout for fishing. Ponds 1-3 and Tomlin are catch and release only until after the fishing derby. A recreation permit also permits access to the Kissimmee River boat launch. All state fishing license and regulations are enforced on Range. We also host a youth fishing derby each summer open to the public free of charge, a great event for children.

CAMPING
We have three first come, first served campgrounds for the public on range; plus a military campground. All of our campsites are primitive camping. There are pump wells (non-potable), cold water showers, picnic tables and a large pavilion in each campground. Fires are permitted as long as they are occupied and provided there is not a local fire restriction in place. Pets are allowed in each of our campgrounds.

Generators are permitted in designated areas of each campground.
We have a wonderful group of volunteers that assist with this program, please be considerate and leave no trace upon your departure.

HIKING TRAILS
Twenty-two miles of hiking and nature trails traversing oak hammocks, prairie, scrub and pine plantations are available for public use. The Lake Arbuckle Hiking Trail (16 miles) is available with a free permit for Florida Trail Association members, obtained from the Outdoor Recreation Office; Building 600.

BIRD WATCHING
Avon Park Air Force Range is listed by the Audubon Society as a Global Important Bird Area (IBA) of Florida. It is home to a wide variety of bird species, including some state and federally listed birds such as Florida Scrub-Jays, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Florida Burrowing Owls and Crested Caracaras. Check out the Boardwalk Nature Trail, the Lake Arbuckle Hiking Trail, Sandy Point Refuge, and the Arbuckle Marsh levee to see some of these species and many more. Day-use and weekend recreation permits are available outside of hunt season during open hours for bird watchers (see the Public Recreation Schedule page).

FEES
Recreation Only Permits (Non-Hunting):
General Recreation is closed during gun hunting seasons; typically running from Mid September through the end of December.

DAY USE PERMITS
(Day use permits do not include overnight camping. Permits must be returned to office by close of business on date of issue)
One Day Family $10.00

WEEKEND USE PERMITS
(Weekend permits are valid for date issued until the Range closes for Recreation for that particular weekend)
Weekend Family $25.00

ANNUAL RECREATION PERMITS
(Annual permits are valid one year from date of purchase)
Annual Family $50.00
*Family consists of spouse and dependent children under the age of 18; or children under 18 with office parental consent form on file

HUNT PERMITS:
Hunt permits are usually available mid-May and are good from Sept 1st to Sept 1st of next year.
The permits are available for purchase on Avon.isportsman.net or in the office with Cash, Cashiers check or certified check made out to US Treasury.

As of August 1st PRA Hunt and Spouse permits increase $25 (Late Fee).

All hunters must provide proof of completion of a Hunter Safety Education course. Permit sales are limited to 900.
To receive a vehicle decal or pass the operator must provide: a valid drivers license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance.

Hours of Operation
Avon Park Air Force Range is primarily used for military training missions during the week. Public access is allowed over the weekends but our schedule varies weekly. Please call for details.

Auburndale Speedway Event

WPCV 97.5 / Coca-Cola Gobbler 150

November 25, 2017

Gates Open: 5 p.m.

Start Time: 7 p.m.

Event Information:

WPCV 97.5 / Coca-Cola Gobbler 150

Sunshine State Challenge Series Super Late Models

Also V-8 Bombers, Legends, Q Mini-stocks, Scramblers and Mini-cups !

Ticket Prices:

Adult: $15

Seniors 55+: $13

Child: $5 ages 5-12

Family 4 Pack $32

2 Adults & 2 Kids (5-12)

Pit Passes: $30

A THANKSGIVING GUIDE TO DRINKING

There are drinkers and then there are drinkers. We like to think that we fall in the latter category, and as such maintain a strict drink regime for our Thanksgiving celebrations. The key, as any professional will tell you, is not only in pacing but also in variety. To help you along we have mapped out each step of the process, from first thing in the morning through late night reveling, to keep you happy this holiday.

Morning Prep Work

Bloody Mary

We’re going to start things off pretty simply. It’s first thing in the morning and you’ve got to get that bird in the oven, but first, drink. Bloody Marys are not only boozy, but also nutritious (tomato juice and celery, guys!). Here’s what you need:

1 lemon, juiced
2 ounces vodka
4 ounces tomato juice
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 drops tabasco sauce
1 pinch celery salt
Salt and pepper, to taste
Celery sticks, to garnish

SALT the rim of a tall glass by wetting it first with lemon juice and then dabbing it into a small pile of salt.

ADD ice to the glass.

MIX vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, tabasco and celery salt in the glass, stirring thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a celery stick.

Turkey Is in the Oven

Celebration Shooter

You did it! The turkey is in the oven and you’re on schedule to having the food on the table at a reasonable hour. You deserve to celebrate, but don’t over do it quite yet. Whip together this quick shooter, knock it back and continue with your preparations – that table isn’t going to set itself!

Dash of whiskey
Dash of amaretto
Dash of cranberry juice (substitute cranberry sauce to really make things festive)

CHILL a double-shot glass in the freezer for a few minutes.

COMBINE one part whiskey, amaretto and cranberry, as the glass will allow. Shoot it back.

Guests Arrive

Negroni

Alright, it’s game time: People are actually starting to show up. You’ll want to get the party going, but undoubtedly still have tons to do. The Negroni is a classic, a crowd pleaser, and a totally easy drink to make:

1 ounce Campari
1 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth

PLACE ice in a short glass, or tumbler.

COMBINE all ingredients. Serve.

Turkey Time

Something Red

Once the food hits the table, it’ll be high time for wine time. A meal like this will traditionally call for a red, typically something like a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir. However, if you want to try something a little different, consider adding a dry rosé or Lambrusco to the mix.

Dessert

Fortified Wine

Now that we’ve got our wine game on, let’s keep the ball rolling. As Thanksgiving is not a time for holding back, a sweet wine to go with your pumpkin and pecan pies is definitely the move. We would recommend a port or sauternes. But remember, this stuff is super sweet, so short pours are a must.

After Dinner

Fernet and Coke

There will eventually come a time when you physically cannot eat anything else. But you will, of course, still have room to continue drinking. At this point, we recommend a little something to help settle your now gorged self – which is where Fernet comes in. Fernet is an Italian liqueur made from a mix of herbs and is traditionally served as a post-dinner digestif. The taste can be a bit different, but if you mix it up with a little bit of Coca-Cola classic or, if you can get your hands on it, some of that imported Coke made with real cane sugar, you’ll be well on your way to the perfect post-feast beverage.

1 ounce Fernet
½ ounce Tuaca
2 ounces Coca-Cola

MIX Fernet, Tuaca and Coca-Cola in a glass with ice, and stir well.

STRAIN mixture into a separate glass without ice. Serve.

Late Night

Sazerac

Finally, after the dishes are done, the leftovers put away and the overly-chatty great-Aunts departed, you can really get your drink on. At this point, all that should be left are your old college buddies and their respective significant others, so we’ve got two words for you: Party. Time. Finish strong by taking things up a notch with this New Orleans absinthe classic:

1 sugar cube
½ ounce absinthe
2 ounces rye whiskey
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Dash of simple syrup
Dash Angostura bitters

CRUSH the sugar cube at the bottom of short glass or tumbler.

POUR in the absinthe and swirl around the glass so that it coats all sides, then discard anything leftover.

MIX ice, rye whiskey, simple syrup, Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters in a separate glass.

STRAIN into tumbler. Serve.

 

BY 

The savvy homeowner’s 5-point outdoor winterization checklist

BPT) – As temperatures drop, you’re reminded that Old Man Winter will soon rear his ugly head. Before the first flurries fly, it’s important to take some winterization steps to ensure your home is ready for whatever the season brings.

This five-point checklist will help safeguard your home against winter’s woes for another year. For additional winterization ideas and detailed project plans, visit Real Cedar.com.

Inspect windows

Inspect each window from the outside to see if any gaps or cracks are present. These small openings let in cold air and are also inviting to small critters looking for protection from the cold.

If you find some gaps, it’s important to seal them quickly. Apply caulk to the openings to prevent cold air from seeping in, helping to cut down on heating bills. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bugs making your home their hibernation haven. Note: never caulk above or below the window and door openings, as this may block moisture drainage.

Prep the deck

The amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.

To preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm, soapy solution and a soft-bristle brush. Do not power wash as this can damage the wood. It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from the surface as well as in between the boards to improve ventilation.

Next, inspect the deck for mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface such as furniture, planters and mats.

Protect planter boxes

The majority of planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because the wood is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into soil and plants. But like all garden beds, real cedar planters need protection during the winter months.

Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then, if possible, store emptied planters in a garage, shed or under the porch. If you don’t have the space to store them this way, then cover them with a water-repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup, but don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.

Trim trees

Look for weak trees or those with dead branches, particularly those near your home. As snow accumulates, the weight may bring down a tree or branches, potentially damaging your house.

Eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or dangerous branches now before the first snow. Be safe by using the proper equipment for tree trimming and removal, or, consider hiring a pro to do so. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and handling this issue now could prevent costly damage to your home down the road.

Clean the roof

Your roof is a large portion of your home, and it also holds a lot of snow over the winter. To prevent ice dams and other roof problems when freezing temperatures arrive, it’s important to clean gutters and check your roof for problems now.

Start by taking all debris out of gutters to ensure free flow for water. Next, walk around your roof and inspect it for any damage. Repair loose shingles and make sure the chimney and vents look intact and secure. Your roof takes on a lot of weight from ice and snow during the winter months and you want it to be as strong as possible.

A few simple steps now can mean a cozy, safe winter for you and your entire family. Add these five steps to your winterization to-do list for this weekend and give yourself valuable peace of mind.

Theatre Winter Haven

ANOTHER NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
November 30 – December 17, 2017

A Musical by Sean Grennan & Leah Okimoto
Co-Produced by:
• Alan Jay Automotive Network

 

Synopsis:
Karol, a disillusioned social worker, is trudging home one cold December night when she encounters an old man sitting on a park bench. Mistaking him for homeless, Karol offers the stranger some food — a seemingly innocent gesture, until he turns up in her apartment claiming to be Santa Claus. Thanks to a malfunctioning security system, Karol finds herself trapped with “Mr. Claus” and forced to confront her feelings about Christmas once and for all in this touching musical battle between cynicism and belief.

“…roaringly funny, yet chockful of thoughtful commentary on the season, people and what Christmas really means.” – ROBERT L. MCKINNEY

Theatre Winter Haven

210 Cypress Gardens Blvd.

Winter Haven, FL. 33880

863-294-7469

https://app.arts-people.com/index.php?show=73302

A New Type of Farm Is Letting Us Grow 100 Times More Food

Farming has been a cornerstone of civilization for a long time — even before sewer systems. As humans have evolved, so has farming. Thanks to drones, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, and a host of other innovations, we have come farther than we would have ever thought possible — including reaching new heights with vertical farming.

The pinnacle of modern agriculture can be found in Kearney, New Jersey at Bowery farms. The farming company claims it has the capacity to grow 100 times more per square foot than average industrial farms. This might be because the vertical farm calibrates “synthetic” parameters for its produce. Thanks to indoor LEDs that mimic natural sunlight, and nutrient-rich waterbeds that are easy to stack from floor to ceiling, Bowery is able to grow over 80 different types of produce. Bowery will begin selling its produce, — including popular salad fixings such as kale and arugula — in NYC come March 6th, at around $3.99 per five-ounce package.

THE FUTURE OF FARMING

What’s so remarkable about Bowery is that it underscores the next generation of agriculture. While traditional farming is unlikely to disappear anytime soon, vertical farming showcases increased automation, reduced emissions, and all-around reduced costs.

Automated machines efficiently move water around the plants using a proprietary software known as FarmOS. The unique operating system adapts to new data, adjusting environmental conditions to the warehouse. Trays are optimally stacked to the ceiling and crops are produced year round, increasing the overall efficiency of the process.

Traditional farming reduces soil productivity, wastes water, can foster the growth of pesticide-resistant insects, and increases levels of greenhouse gases. The practice itself is quickly becoming unsustainable, as there’s less land available for farming: since the 1970s, almost 30 million acres have been lost to urbanization.

While traditional agricultural methods may endure, it might be prudent to acknowledge the global and local benefits of vertical farming with so many new companies cropping up.

2016 Rotation Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon

Type: Red

Blend: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon

Nose: Sweet, overripe heirloom tomatoes, Black tea and your mon’s linen closet, fresh and clean

Palate: Medium body clad with tannin that sticks to the back of your mouth.

More about this wine from Napa, California:
Did you know that Cabernet Sauvignon is actually a hybrid of red Cabernet Franc and white Sauvignon Blanc? And that this hybrid occurred out of complete happenstance? And that this happy coincidence became the most widely planted grape varietal for most of the 20th century?! Well it’s all true, and this Rotation Cabernet Sauvignon is a wonderful example of what this sturdy red grape is capable of.

This wine smells like taking a deep, chest-expanding breath while sitting perched high on a cliff. Wet, grass-stained bramble berry notes laced in the smell of fresh open air. It tastes like violets that have been set on fire by the snap of a bonfire with floral bright raspberry notes. A sizable body ties it all together, making this an all-around banger of a wine.

How to drink it:
While feeling the first fall breeze brush still tanned shoulders
Listening to Sam Hunt’s Make you Miss Me.
Eating This is a wine that screams for a clam pasta with lots of butter and oil, this wine is comfort food.
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