5 Best HGTV Shows And Their Food Network Counterparts

5 Best HGTV Shows And Their Food Network Counterparts

It's about to get feisty in here...
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If you are anything like me, a college kid with no life other than your close-knit group of friends and food, you went home over spring break and your favorite part was being able to alternate between HGTV and Food NEtwork with the click of a button. Now I know how lame that sounds but honestly, this is the sign of adulthood; when you start relating to (or in my case, yelling at) the people on these shows and you've watched so many episodes that you could redesign your boyfriend's apartment with 5 minutes and a piece of paper, or add paprika to your friend's pasta dish and Voila(!) , it is that much better.

1. "Property Brothers"

Counterpart: "I'll Have What Phil's Having"

Watching these two shows, you know that you are in for a dose of sarcastic, goofy humor. "Property Brothers" is always entertaining because you get twins that do two different sides of the housing business, yet they work so well together that it lets you know that the sarcasm is simply communication and not a jaunt or jab. With "I'll Have What Phil's Having", Phil Rosenthal, the creator of "Everyone Loves Raymond", takes you on a journey through some of the most gorgeous places in the world to simply indulge in the pleasure of good food. Again, there is always light-hearted sarcasm and humor that makes the show that much enjoyable. These two certainly make a good pair.

2. "Fixer Upper"

Counterpart: "Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives"

"Fixer Upper" and "Drive-ins, Diners, and Dives" offer a little more of a down-home, modern country feel that makes you nostalgic about all of the things you grew up with. Especially for Southerners and middle-of-the-countriers, these shows offer a light-hearted, family theme. Chip and Joanna never fail to make you feel like you could do anything and everything to improve your home, and makes any dilapidated house feel like you are stepping into a Mediterranean villa in the middle of Texas. Guy Fieri's "Drive-Ins, Diners, and Dives" makes the statement, "This isn't your grandmother's diner". With all of the crazy amazing dishes that he discovers, they are in some pretty unlikely places that certainly reflect your hometown and the one dish that it is famous for.

3. "House Hunters (International)"

Counterpart: "Cupcake (Cake) Wars"

These two are a happy medium to on the scale of Relaxing to Fiery. They compliment each other nicely because they both have that little edge of competition or struggle, while also not getting too stressed out. "Cupcake Wars" offers a low-key competition to bake flavorful imaginative cupcakes with specific ingredients for pre-determined events that also end in 1,000 cupcakes. So while there is a competition, it is an extremely colorful show that certainly catches the eye, while also remaining interesting to view as a baking show. "House Hunters: International" is again an awesome show because of the locales and the culture that is presented in the show. The people or person looking to buy generally has an idea of what they want that is then enhanced only through seeing various places. I highly recommend this duo as a dinner and dessert combo.

4. "Beach Front Bargain Hunt" (or Lake Front)

Counterpart: "Beat Bobby Flay"

Something about these two shows as a couple just spoke to me. "Beat Bobby Flay" is a pretty light-hearted competition show and takes some of the edges off of competition cooking shows because the competitor is only cooking against master chef Bobby Flay and not 3 or 4 other competitors that must be beaten out through rounds of competition. "Beach Front Bargain Hunt" is again a slower, more focused house hunting show where the needs of the couple are generally more in sync. The entertainment comes from the exotic or national locations that the couples wish to live and the places that they look at. As a beach lover myself, I love to pretend I am house-hunting along with them and as an aspiring amateur cook, I believe that I cannot beat Bobby Flay... but it's still fun to pretend.

5. "Love It Or List It"

Counterpart: "Chopped"

This is probably the most competitive pair in this list. You know you are in for a wild ride where someone is probably going to get their feelings hurt. "Love It Or List It" features partners that fight to the death to either renovate the star families house (Love it) or to sell their house and find a better one for the family (List It). It gets pretty heated as the parents or the main couple of the household generally disagree on what to do and the suspense of who wins out is almost unbearable. Following the same vein, "Chopped" puts master and amateur chefs pitted against each other to see who wins out and who's dish gets placed on the chopping block. With beautiful and flavorful dishes being presented, it certainly is a competition that is fierce and full of energy.

So that's it! Those are my HGTV and Food Networkdream team pairings. Together, they will help college students everywhere to aspire to be successful home-makers, while also maintaing a little banter and fire in their lives.

Cover Image Credit: Business Wire

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I'm The Customer That Doesn't Always Tip 20 Percent

I can be your best friend or your worst nightmare, but it depends on YOU.
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As a server, I fully understand that myself, and others like me, make a living off of our tips.

I know how nice it is to get a $50 tip and how frustrating it is to get merely change when you did everything you could to make the unpleasable table happy. I am well aware that an acceptable tip is anywhere from 15-20% and I typically tip way over that.
However, I can easily say that there have been times where I have tipped anywhere from 5-15%. In these times, the tip was well deserved...or not deserved.

As before mentioned, I am a server, bartender, and part-time restaurant manager. It is safe to say that I know the business quite well. This makes me aware of the tipping process and what is deemed acceptable, but it also makes me aware of what a serving job entails. We are, without a doubt, the worst critics when we are out to eat. We noticed everything you did or didn't do and we timed how long it took to get our drinks -- it's just in our blood.

We also notice if you are genuinely good at your job, or if you are just there to be there.

The key point to any serving job is knowledge. I, as a customer, expect you to be able to answer almost all of my questions. If I ask you something absurd like "exactly where was your lettuce grown?" ....Like what the f****? Who knows that? But when I ask what beers you have on draft, or what all comes on a salad, I expect you to know it. If you don't, I dock it off your tip. No, it's not mean, it's you not holding up your end of the deal when you started this job.

I know that sometimes you get busy and it's hard to cater to someone's every need, but I do expect my refills in a timely manner and would also expect you to check back with me shortly after I get my food to make sure everything tastes good. I feel like that all is just common sense. If I have to wait for five minutes with an empty glass before I even have the chance to call you over, that's going to affect your tip. If you never check up on me after I get my food, guess what, I take it off your tip. If something goes wrong in the kitchen or you forgot to put my order in, do not avoid me. Tell me. I know how hard it is to tell a table that you are the one who screwed up their experience, but it is so much better to be honest and shows more about your integrity than by saying, "I don't know, the kitchen lost your ticket. There was a computer malfunction and then things caught fire. The firemen had to come and put it out, and then they found your ticket under the smoldering embers...so that's why your steak is five minutes late.".... Just tell me you got busy and it slipped your mind. I'm okay with that.

The worst one to me is when I see my server on her phone. I know that today's generation has some need to be in contact with everyone 24/7 and I have learned to accept that. But when I need something at my table, and you fail to notice because your girl friend just broke up with her boyfriend who cheated on her with his supposed best friend...I'm not going to be happy. You are here to work and this is your job. And, not to be conceded, but I come first. I am the one paying the bill that allows you to keep that phone your on in service, so make sure that I am happy before Samantha can't call you the next time shit hits the fan with Andrew. It's common sense.

Despite all of these, probably the number one thing I look for in a server is a positive attitude. We all have our own lives outside of work, and not to be cold, but I don't really care about yours. I am here for a nice dinner and a night out to not worry about my own crazy life let alone wonder about yours. As soon as you walk into work, the outside world needs to stay there. Do not be in a terrible mood because your girlfriend is psycho. Do not show the customer that you simply don't want to be at work. You don't want to be -- I don't tip you. Easy as that. If you engage in even a small conversation with me, I will tip you more than expected. I am extremely easy to please and really understanding.

I know that every place is different and every store/restaurant has different standards, but I the guest-service industry all lies on the same guidelines. The number one rule is to make the guest happy. I am not that guest who asks for the world from my server. Nor am I that guest who doesn't tip my server if my food came out overcooked or doesn't taste good. I know what lies on the server and what lies in other areas of the store. I know what they can and can't control.
As a customer, I can be your best or your worst, but that all lies on the service that I receive from YOU.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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My Journey As A Vegan

I would say a vegan joke, but it's not cheesy enough.

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It has been almost a decade since I first transitioned into a vegan, beginning my journey when I was only ten years old. After three years of being a vegetarian, I decided to take the leap and completely remove animal products from my life. This was a decision that, fortunately, my family supported and eventually even joined me in, which is not the case for many people who pursue a vegan lifestyle. Although it is one of the best decisions I have made, it has not always been easy.

When I first became a vegan, one of my main goals was the same for most people: to lose weight. Although I was around 10 years old at the time, I was quite aware that I was chubby for my age. I dealt with insecurities regarding my weight for my entire life, so I hoped a new diet could help fix the issue.

Of course, I did not get the results I was looking for right away. My extended tummy did not transform overnight into a six-pack (I'm still waiting for that transition to occur, unfortunately).

A vegan diet does not mean simply eliminating all animal products but instead replacing the nutrients you once received from dairy and eggs. In other words, my diet of potato chips and coconut milk based ice cream was not going to work.

Eventually, after doing my research, I slowly found my body changing. Not only was I able to lose some baby fat, but I began physically feeling better. The heavy weight of a cheese pizza no longer nauseated me at night, the acne on my back cleared up, and I noticed my energy levels staying elevated throughout the day. Even though my journey began at a young age, these benefits still apply today (although I may need that extra latte now and then).

As I grew older and continued this diet, I began to realize that becoming vegan is not just a dietary change, but a lifestyle change. It affected every aspect of my existence, including my social life.

As a child, none of my fellow peers really knew what the term "vegan" meant. All they knew was that I didn't eat ice cream cake at birthday parties and my lunch bag didn't include Cosmic Brownies like everyone else.

By the time I entered high school, being a vegan had finally become trendy. It was the new fad, and for a month or two, I had someone to go on a lunch date with when my friends experimented with the diet. As someone from a suburban town, though, becoming vegan was not as popular as I hoped it would be. Most people immediately assumed I was a "radical vegan," screaming at the sight of a hot dog and shaming everyone who even looked at a grilled cheese sandwich. People around me were actually more accepting of my diet when I was in elementary school than when I was a junior in high school. Once I mentioned to a new friend that I was a vegan (which I started to refrain from bringing up until it was absolutely necessary), I was viewed as cruel and judgmental.

On top of this, it became harder and harder to go out with my friends to eat. As a kid, my Mom could make me and my friend peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we would both be satisfied, but the local fast food places that teenagers love to go to aren't quite as accommodating and often don't have many options. Unless I was looking to order a Caesar salad without dressing every Friday night, there wasn't much out there for me.

This put me at a social disadvantage because the act of rejoicing in a savory meal is one of the main sources of human connection. People bond over food, and if I wasn't eating (or wasn't enjoying what I was eating), I didn't really feel like I was part of the group.

It was around this period in my life where my supportive family came to save the day.

At this point, both of my parents and one of my older sisters were now vegans, along with my fellow vegetarian sister. Together, we found a few vegan restaurants that the small state of Connecticut has to offer and discovered some gems in the surrounding New England area. From non-dairy soft-serve ice cream to 100% plant-based restaurants that even my carnivorous brother could enjoy, everywhere we went had something for all of us. These types of places prove that tofu isn't as bland as everyone thinks.

This brings us to the present, where I will soon be celebrating my 10-year friendaversary with my fellow plants. I hope as time progresses, less and less people exclaim with disgust when they see the tempeh sandwich I packed for lunch, while more and more people at least consider experimenting with different cruelty-free options. Perhaps the change does not have to strictly concern one's diet, but even the make-up and hair products we use in our everyday lives. Once in a while, maybe you can even consider just glancing at those meatless patties in the frozen section of the grocery store.

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