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23
May 17

Moving and Packing Tips


Flickr/Diselfliege

Congrats on your new home! Now you just have to figure out how you’re going to pack and move everything without breaking the bank, your fragile lamp, or your back. Good thing we put together this list of 10 easy moving and packing tips that will make your move dead simple.

How do we know these tips will make your move dead simple?

We asked expert movers, packers, and professional organizers to share their best tips.

So sit back, grab a snack, and dive in!

1. Get rid of everything.

Okay, maybe not everything, but the more unused and unnecessary items you eliminate from your home, the less stuff you’ll have to pack up, haul across town, unload, and organize.

Be ruthless with your stuff. That coat you think is cute but haven’t worn in four months? Donate it.

The very first coffee maker you ever bought that flavors your morning brew with little pieces of rust? Trash it.

Doing a massive preliminary purge will have the single biggest impact on the efficiency and ease of your entire packing process.

2. Sort things by category.

Instead of spending a day cleaning out your entire bedroom, spend an afternoon sorting through every article of clothing you own.

Scour every coat closet, dirty clothes hamper, and laundry room until you’ve got all your clothes in one place. Then sort.

Do the same thing for books, shoes, important papers, and the like.

3. Schedule a free donation pickup.

Save yourself a trip to your local Goodwill and schedule a free MakeSpace pickup. In addition to picking up and storing practically anything (including furniture), we’ll also pick up your donation and drop it off to Goodwill — at no extra charge.

Pro Tip: If you’d like to donate to a different charity, use donationtown.org to schedule a free pickup at your home.

All you have to do is put your giveaway items in boxes and leave them on your doorstep.

The good men and women of Donation Town will then pick up your stuff and deliver it to a local charity of your choice.

4. Set aside stuff to sell.

You probably have a few items you no longer want, but would love to get a little money for. If that’s the case, set these items aside and determine where you can sell them.

If it’s furniture, Craigslist or AptDeco might be your best bet. If it’s brand name clothing, you could try Poshmark or a local consignment store.

For specialty items like a gently used Coach purse or your collection of 90’s Beanie Babies, get on eBay.

Once you have everything sorted, set a date on your calendar to visit the nearest Buffalo Exchange or craft descriptions of the items you plan to sell online.

5. Research professional moving companies.

Research is never fun. Yelp and Google will overwhelm you with the sheer volume of choices for moving companies to hire, but don’t give in to the pressure and pick the first four-star rating you see.

A moving company can often make or break your entire moving experience, so it’s important to get it right. The more effort you put into finding a reputable company with excellent customer service ahead of time, the less hassle you’ll have on moving day.

Make sure to read the company’s list of services, fine print, and refund or damage policies, too. For example, some companies don’t lift items that aren’t in boxes (so your stuffed-to-the-brim duffel bags won’t make the cut), while others ask for full payment several weeks early.

Find out the specifics so there are no unwelcome surprises come moving day.

6. Pick the right moving day.

Hire your movers at least a month out so you can plan accordingly. If you have a flexible schedule, play around with potential moving dates and try to find the cheapest time of month to make an appointment.

Moving companies are busiest on weekends, so if you can skip the Saturday chaos and schedule your move for a Tuesday, you might get a significant discount.

7. Map out the best way to get to your new home.

Whether you’re moving to NYC, across the country, across state lines, or just to a neighboring town, you’re going to need an efficient travel route so you don’t waste your move-in day sitting in gridlock traffic or pulling over three different times to type an address into your GPS.

Figure out the easiest, most efficient way to get where you’re going. Look up potential highway construction schedules ahead of time. And take traffic, detours, and necessary stops into account when you’re making your plan.

8. Create a master moving to-do list

When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.

Write them down somewhere. Put them in the Notes app on your phone, in the to-do list app Wunderlist that professional organizer Anna Bauer recommends, or go old-school with a giant yellow legal pad.

No detail is too insignificant. You just remembered the name of the little bookstore in town that will accept your used novels? Write it down.

Not sure which novels to donate? Here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of.

You stuck that extra screw from the broken drawer next to the sink? Take note.

You have to return your cable box to your provider at least one day before you leave? Jot it down.

9. Put moving tasks on your calendar.

Take your organization a step further and spend an evening mapping out everything you have to do. Get an oversized calendar and mark the empty white boxes with important daily tasks to prepare for your move.

Tuesday: Call moving company.

Wednesday: Sort through toiletries.

Thursday: Buy new sheets.

An added bonus to using the calendar method is that breaking up your tasks by day makes them seem more manageable. Also, don’t forget to add “celebrate with wine” somewhere in there to give you something to look forward to.

10. Get moving boxes from your local liquor store.

Pay a visit to your local liquor store (that’s where you can buy the aforementioned wine) to see if they recycle their used boxes. If so, ask if you can grab a handful so you’re saving a little paper in your moving journey.

Just make sure the boxes are very gently worn and that you only use them to hold lightweight items like linens and towels. You don’t want to deal with ripped boxes and broken valuables on the big day.

Riverside Apartments

24
Apr 17

Nontraditional Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

May 5th is Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates a military victory that took place during the Franco-Mexican War in which the outnumbered Mexican troops halted France’s army. Festivities in U.S. communities with high Mexican-American populations tend to be bigger than those in Mexico (Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in its native country) and are often full of parades and historic reenactments of the battle. In fact, the prevalence of Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. just goes to show how much of an influence Mexican culture has had on its neighboring country. If you’re observing the holiday, here are four ways to honor it:

1. Color your home
Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo with colors galore, including, of course, red, green and white. Bring the joy of the holiday to your home by sporting bright and saturated tones. While the colors of the Mexican flag are a good place to start, yellow, pink, orange and blue are also up for grabs.

One way to bring the brilliant hues into your home and also enjoy spring, is to decorate with fresh Cinco de Mayo flowers. Any brightly colored bouquet will make a beautiful addition to the festivities.

2. Prepare an authentic meal
The conflict that took place on Cinco de Mayo in 1862 is also known as the Battle of Puebla, named after the town where the event occurred. Many celebrations of Mexico’s victory include dishes native to the area, such as mole poblano. After all, according to Business Insider, Puebla is the foodie capital of Mexico, so whipping up traditional cuisine is both a tasty and appropriate way enjoy the day.

Chicken tinga, chalupas and molotes are all other iconic foods to try on Cinco de Mayo. Do some research into ingredients that are native to Puebla to plan your menu.

3. Go to a museum
To truly understand the history of Cinco de Mayo, or to better appreciate Mexican culture, consider seeking out a Mexican-American museum or cultural center in your community. See if the locale is holding any festivities or hosting special exhibits. If not, you can still learn a lot from the material already available.

This is also a great celebration option for families with kids, as your little ones will have the opportunity to explore a new culture. Call the museum ahead of time to see if it has programs for kids. You can also create a worksheet before going to the museum for your children to fill out while you’re there.

4. Enjoy local festivities
In addition to observing Mexican culture by visiting a museum, you can experience Mexican-American traditions by checking out festivities where you live. Whether it’s attending a parade or watching a re-enactment of the Battle of Puebla, you’re sure to find something new and exciting if you live in a diverse community.

If your town doesn’t observe Cinco de Mayo with as much flair, you can watch parades on TV or online to enjoy the celebrations.

5. Attend a concert
Discover another part of Mexican culture by attending a concert. Not only will seeing live mariachi give you more insight into Mexican culture, but it also supports the artists and can be a fun time – few things are more energizing than live music.

28
Mar 17

Things You Can Donate to Goodwill

Spring has sprung and for many residents, de-cluttering is a big part of the Spring Cleaning task. Purging your unwanted or unnecessary items is a great way to cleanse not only your home, but your soul. But what do you do with all of the excess stuff? Consider donating your items to Goodwill. Goodwill isn’t just another Thrift Store; the non-profit has helped hundreds of thousands of people “reach their full potential through education, skills training, and the power of work.” Your donations will contribute to this mission!

Before you donate, however, be sure to inspect your items for stains or tears, make sure they have all their pieces and parts, and that they are in good working order. While Goodwill will occasionally accept items that don’t meet these standards, your items will do the most good if they do.

As long as your items are in good condition, Goodwill will accept most household stuff, but you’ll want to call ahead for a few things. Check out their guidelines below before dropping off your items:

Accepted items:

clothing
shoes and boots
jewelry
hats, gloves, mittens and scarves
books, records, compact disks, video tapes and DVDs
games, toys, and sport equipment
dishes, glassware, and kitchen utensils
lamps
small appliances
collectibles, antiques, knickknacks
hand tools and small power tools
linens, curtains, and blankets
stereos, radios, VCRs, DVD players

Call before donating:

vehicles
personal computers
computer accessories
flat-panel monitor HDTVs
dressers, tables, chairs, sofas and bed frames

Riverside Apartments

1
Mar 17

Spend More on these Things

adult

Crossing the threshold into adulthood is signified by many telling things. Paying off a constant bombardment of bills, for instance — and reckoning with forces like quickly decelerating metabolisms and heartburn (after just two slices of pizza, at that).

It’s also marked by a slow-but-sure learning process where habits shift — where you begin to optimize your routines, learn what to invest time and money on, and generally how to live better.

Figuring out all that stuff takes time, though, and it’s much easier to just ask other people who’ve been there, done that. So, from someone who’s been adulting for a few whole years now (and with plenty of advice from much more experienced adults), here are some of the things that are always worth the money.

Eating Well
I’ve never really found the “Think about what you put in your body!” admonishment compelling, since I often think that my body just wants a greasy cheeseburger. Instead, it’s more effective to remind myself that stateside healthcare is extremely costly, and maintaining long-term wellness will mitigate those expenses.

MORE WHOLESOME FOODS
Spend more on meat raised without antibiotics, and use this guide to find seafood that’s raised or caught with minimal chemical use and damage to habitats. When it comes to produce, buying fresh, local, and in season will provide various benefits: Not only is it cost effective, but fruits and veggies are also at peak taste and vitamin content when they’re picked while ripe and consumed quickly, rather than being trundled cross-country on a truck.

BETTER-FOR-YOU SNACKS
Vending machine confections have passed their heyday: 40% of the snacks consumers carry these days are classified as healthy, and better-for-you snacks are readily available on supermarket shelves. If you’re craving something savory, reach for nutritious picks like seaweed snacks or dry-roasted edamame. For sweet treats, indulge in Nature Valley Granola Cups, which strike the perfect balance between creamy and crunchy, decadent (chocolate and nut butter!) and wholesome (whole-grain oats and nuts).

BASIC KITCHENWARES

Cooking is a skill that’s worth investing time in, since it’s conducive both to saving money and eating healthier meals. Even if your cooking savvy is questionable, investing in a few good knives — or even just one chef’s knife, which are extremely versatile — will make a significant difference in the kitchen. Here’s a great guide to essential knives. A cast-iron skillet is another must-have; with proper care, the thing will last a lifetime, and it will only set you back about 20 bucks.

Stuff You Spend Your Nights On
Nights! They happens every 24 hours, and it’s in our best interest to spend most of them sleeping. According to The Handbook of Clinical Neurology, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, or trying to do so — all the more reason to invest in things that’ll make our beds more comfortable. Good mattresses will make a difference in your sleep quality, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Try retailers like Casper and Tuft & Needle, which offer 100-day trial periods before you decide whether or not to commit.

Another alternative is buying a mattress topper, which can elevate a sad bed without breaking your bank. The same philosophy applies when buying pillows, comforters, and sheets — quality products will make the difference between the feel of a cheap motel and a snug, serene sleep sanctuary. (A friend of mine even “has a guy” for quality sheets.) Another thing to consider: If you’re sharing a bed with a blanket-hogging partner, picking up an extra flat sheet and comforter might save your relationship.

Tools That’ll Make Your Home More Livable
There’s a reason that apartment maintenance, be it cleanliness or even interior decor, can cause so much strife between roommates and partners. Upkeep of a living space is important, and it’s psychologically beneficial to retreat to a place of comfort and belonging.

A VACUUM THAT WORKS
My roommates and I went through a series of cheap vacuums, which all disintegrated in a matter of weeks and ended up on the curb. We’ve since invested in a $200 vacuum that not only works better, but has already lasted us several years with no loss in efficacy — extra important, since I’m the mother to a furry pet.

HOME AUDIO

A fancy surround-sound system isn’t necessary unless you’re a serious audiophile — but if you find yourself engaging in any type of passive listening (putting on podcasts or music while you perform chores, for instance), decent speakers are worth investing in. If you’re not sure where to start looking, a good portable bluetooth speaker is a breeze to use and will serve all of your basic audio needs.

BATHROOM BELLS ‘N’ WHISTLES
Buy a heavy-duty toilet plunger before you need one. Have you ever lived with a serial toilet-and-drain–clogger? I have, and none of us were ready until it was too late. And while we’re on the topic of lavatorial habits — if you haven’t stocked your bathroom with strong, two-ply toilet paper, you’re not living your best life.

Riverside Apartments

7
Feb 17

Dining in Baltimore for Valentine’s Day

Restaurant reservations are filling up, but it’s not too late to book a table for Valentine’s Day dinner. Here are the restaurants in and around Baltimore that have Valentine’s Day specials–some are offering specials that run before and even after the holiday.

elephant

AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar in Columbia will will serve a six-course sparkling wine dinner and chef’s demonstration for $85 per person from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, and a four-course prix-fixe menu Feb. 13 and 14 for $65 per person. (6741 Columbia Gateway Drive; 410-953-0500; aidabistro.com)

Arturo’s Trattoria in Glen Burnie will serve a four-course menu for $80 per person. (1660 Crain Highway South; 410-761-1500; arturostrattoria.com)

B&O American Brasserie at the Hotel Monaco will offer a three-course prix-fixe meal for $70 per person. The menu includes offerings such as lobster carrot bisque, wagyu carpaccio, rice-crusted tuna and chocolate hazelnut cake. (2 N. Charles St.; 443-692-6172; bandorestaurant.com)

Chef’s Expressions will host a Valentine’s Day wine supper at Gramercy Mansion. Tickets are $99.95, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore. (Gramercy Mansion, 1400 Greenspring Valley Road; 410-561-2433; chefsexpressions.com)

Cinnamon Tree Restaurant at the Hunt Valley Inn will offer a three-course, prix-fixe menu with champagne from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The meal is $119 per couple, including tax and gratuity. (245 Shawan Road; 410-785-7000; huntvalleywyndhamgrand.com/dining)

The Corner Pantry in Lake Falls Village will offer a six-course tasting menu for $96 per person. Courses will be shared by the table, and the dinner is BYOB. (6080 Falls Road; 667-308-2331; corner-pantry.com)

at the Mill No. 1 complex in Hampden will offer a four-course dinner for $100. (3000 Falls Road; 443-708-7352; cosimamill1.com)

Donna’s at Cross Keys will offer a three-course menu for $55. Menu choices include crab arancini, Thai duck breast and crispy noodle salad, beef carpaccio, pink peppercorn crusted filet mignon and grilled tuna Nicoise. (5100 Falls Road, 410-532-7611, donnas.com/cross-keys)

The Elephant in Mount Vernon will offer a four-course tasting menu with four choices per course for $85, or $115 with wine pairings. (924 N. Charles St.; 443-447-7878; theelephantbaltimore.com)

On Feb. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge will serve a “Valentine’s Prelude” special with three courses for $65. On Feb. 14 the restaurant will serve two prix-fixe menu options — three courses for $75 or four courses for $85. (5745 Furnace Ave.; 410-379-9336; elkridgefurnaceinn.com)

Explorer’s Lounge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel will serve a three-course, prix-fixe menu for $55 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Feb. 14. The restaurant will offer dishes such as shrimp and crab quinoa, chateaubriand steak for two and red velvet cake, as well as a complimentary glass of champagne. (550 Light St.; 410-234-0550; sonesta.com/us/maryland/baltimore/royal-sonesta-harbor-court-baltimore)

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Harbor East will offer a three-course menu starting at $79.95 per person Feb. 10-19. The menu includes a choice of salad, filet mignon, salmon or lobster tail and raspberry white chocolate bread pudding. (720 Aliceanna St.; 410-332-1666; flemingssteakhouse.com/locations/md/baltimore)

The French Kitchen at the Lord Baltimore Hotel will offer a three-course menu for $75 per person. (20 W. Baltimore St.; 410-539-8400; lordbaltimorehotel.com/dining-en.html)

Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy will offer a five-course, prix-fixe dinner for $49, plus a cabaret performance by Steve Ross at 6 p.m. ($20). (300 S. High St.; 410-752-4515; germanospiattini.com)

Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art will serve a three-course “Valentine’s Aphrodisiac” menu for $54 Feb. 10-14. (10 Art Museum Drive; 410-889-3399; gertrudesbaltimore.com)

Gunther & Co. in Canton will offer a four-course tasting menu ($75), with the option to add wine pairings ($25), an oyster course ($10 for four oysters) and/or a shellfish course ($22). (3650 Toone St.; 443-869-6874; eatatgunther.com)

Joe Squared in Station North will offer a seven-course Valentine’s Day dinner for $60, with optional beer and cocktail pairings for $30 extra. The prix-fixe menu, offered from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., includes cider pork belly, winter vegetables, golden tile fish, duck confit with mole sauce and ricotta cheesecake. (33 W. North Ave.; 410-454-0444; joesquared.com)

La Cuchara in Woodberry will offer a four-course dinner for $79, with wine pairings available for an extra $29. The menu includes options such as tuna crudo, foie gras, lamb shoulder and coffee-caramel creme brulee. (3600 Clipper Mill Road; 443-708-3838; lacucharabaltimore.com)

La Folie Wine Bar & Steak Frites in Canton will serve a $45 prix-fixe menu for two, plus complimentary champagne. (2903 O’Donnell St.; 667-212-2122; bistrolafolie.com)

Le Garage in Hampden will serve a four-course menu for $59 per person featuring new dishes and house favorites. (911 W. 36th St.; 410-243-6300; legaragebaltimore.com)

From Feb 10-14, Morton’s the Steakhouse at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel will offer a steak and lobster tail for $56. (300 S. Charles St.; 410-547-8255; mortons.com/baltimore)

The Rowhouse Grill in Federal Hill will offer a three-course menu for $45, or $60 with drink pairings, Feb. 10-14. (1400 Light St.; 443-438-7287; therowhousegrille.com)

Sullivan’s Steakhouse in the Inner Harbor will offer a three-course “Wine, Dine & Be Mine” dinner from Feb. 10-14. The menu, which includes a seafood tasting, filet mignon and chocolate mousse, is $69 before 5 p.m. and $79 per person after 5 p.m. (1 E. Pratt St.; 410-962-5503; sullivanssteakhouse.com/baltimore)

Sweet Caroline’s in Locust Point will serve a three-course meal for $35 per person from Feb. 11-14. (1401 Clement St.; 410-244-1401; sweetcarolineslocustpoint.com)

The Turn House in Columbia will serve a six-course dinner for $95 per person, with selections including scallop crudo, celery root ravioli and New York strip steak. (11130 Willow Bottom Drive; 410-740-2096; theturnhouse.com)

Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Baltimore will offer a three-course tasting menu for $95 per person, with wine pairings for an extra $59. The menu includes Maine lobster bisque, heirloom beets, seared diver scallops, butter-poached prime beef filet, maple pastries and more. (200 International Drive; 410-576-5800; witandwisdombaltimore.com)

Woodberry Kitchen in Woodberry will offer special touches at its tables Feb. 10-14 for guests with reservations, including boxes of chocolates, Linzer heart cookies, prosecco, cocktails for two and a photobooth. (2010 Clipper Park Road; 410-464-8000; woodberrykitchen.com)

Riverside Apartments

5
Jan 17

An Organized Pantry is the Key to Eating Healthy

If eating healthy is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, there are ways to make it easy on yourself. Eat more vegetables; cut out sugar; and cook at home. Simple, right? But then life happens. You are tired, the kids are hungry, and the pantry is empty. The reasons (excuses?) are endless. In this moment, it is so easy to give into the lure of fast food and pre-packaged meals. And your hopes of a healthy 2017 are out the window.

organized-pantry

One of the most important strategies to combat this pitfall and stay on track is to keep a well-stocked and organized pantry. If your shelves are stocked with healthy foods that are easily accessible, putting together a nutritious meal is much simpler and stress-free thank you think. Check out our 5 tips to organize and stock your pantry to make healthy eating easier on you.

Tip #1: Assess Your Pantry Contents and Space
First pull out everything and group like items together both in terms of type and size, and throw away out of date items and junk food (yes—the bag of cheese puffs have to go). Measure your space and determine the size of your largest and smallest pantry item then re-arrange shelves to accommodate these sizes.

Tip #2: Create an Essentials List
Think about the foods you use to cook with every day; the snacks you need to keep on hand and the healthy foods you want to incorporate into your diet. Make a master list of all the foods you want to store in your pantry at any given time. Download my pantry essentials list here. Finally, plan for storing all of these items within your space for a well-stocked and organized pantry.

Tip #3: Use Shelf Organizers and Re-usable Containers
To store all of these pantry essentials and make them accessible use gravity fed racks, lazy-susans, and shelf risers. Store small items, packets, or awkwardly shaped foods in baskets. Put essential pantry items like flour, sugar, and grains in air-tight canisters.

Tip #4: Put a Label on It
Put pretty labels on anything you cannot see in to or on canisters when the contents are not easily identifiable. Use large labels that include cooking instructions with measurements on them to make cooking healthy foods easier.

Tip #5: Make Space for a Grocery List
Designate a space to make notes about re-stocking. A chalkboard is a great idea if you have the wall space and want to incorporate a little farmhouse style into your apartment. You could also print off your master pantry essentials list. Place it on a clipboard attached to the back of a cupboard door, and then mark needed items.

A well-stocked and organized pantry is key to keeping your healthy eating New Year’s Resolution and to make it less of a hassle.

22
Dec 16

Gifts For People Who Have to Work the Holidays

While most of the country is snuggled away with their families for the Holidays, there are folks with certain jobs that require them to work, like Police Officers, Fire Fighters, hospital personnel, caregivers, transportation operators, and on-call maintenance technicians, to name a few. If you find yourself needing any one of these hard-working individuals (who have given up time with their own families to help those in need), show them a nice gesture of gratitude by giving them a small gift. We’ve put together some items that are unique, useful, and a thoughtful way to say “Thank you” and “Happy Holidays”:

Compact Planter

($5, ikea.com) Clay pots have nothing on this scalloped planter. They’re so cheap, you could gift a few to kickstart that herb garden your mom has been talking about putting together.

($5, ikea.com)

Clay pots have nothing on this scalloped planter. They’re so cheap, you could gift a few to kickstart that herb garden your mom has been talking about putting together.

Bath Bomb

($7, lush.com) Give the gift of some me time with this intergalactic bath “bomb” from Lush. When she drops the peppermint bomb in the bath, it dissolves and changes the color of the water to a bright neon — but won’t wreck your tub.

($7, lush.com)

Give the gift of some me time with this intergalactic bath “bomb” from Lush. When she drops the peppermint bomb in the bath, it dissolves and changes the color of the water to a bright neon — but won’t wreck your tub.

Icing Combs

($10, amazon.com) Even great bakers need a little extra assistance to achieve a perfectly frosted treat. Gift this set of six combs, and maybe they’ll bake you a cake to say thank you. (A girl can dream.)

($10, amazon.com)

Even great bakers need a little extra assistance to achieve a perfectly frosted treat. Gift this set of six combs, and maybe they’ll bake you a cake to say thank you. (A girl can dream.)

Cube Clock

($9, amazon.com) Minimalists will appreciate this wooden alarm clock. Clap your hands or tap the side to make the display the time appear. It’ll peace out when you pass out.

($9, amazon.com)

Minimalists will appreciate this wooden alarm clock. Clap your hands or tap the side to make the display the time appear. It’ll peace out when you pass out.

Pop Art

($9, amazon.com) This classic Roy Lichtenstein comic costs less than a daily latte, and can look fancy in the right frame.

($9, amazon.com)

This classic Roy Lichtenstein comic costs less than a daily latte, and can look fancy in the right frame.

Wine Mouth Fix

($9, amazon.com) Your Malbec-obsessed mommy friend will LOL when she sees these wipes — then she’ll want to give them a try. They’re supposed to help remove wine stains from your teeth after you drink a glass of red, and they come in a convenient compact with a mirror.

($9, amazon.com)

Your Malbec-obsessed mommy friend will LOL when she sees these wipes — then she’ll want to give them a try. They’re supposed to help remove wine stains from your teeth after you drink a glass of red, and they come in a convenient compact with a mirror.

Best Beanie

($8, amazon.com) Knit beanies are no longer just for the ski slope. This one comes in 11 different colors that’ll match everything in your guy’s closet — and hide his hair on those off days.

($8, amazon.com)

Knit beanies are no longer just for the ski slope. This one comes in 11 different colors that’ll match everything in your guy’s closet — and hide his hair on those off days.

Puppy Love

($8, amazon.com) Anyone who loves dogs will be able to relate to this touching novel about the relationship between one dog and his owners over his lifespan. If you wanna go for round two, the movie comes out in January.

($8, amazon.com)

Anyone who loves dogs will be able to relate to this touching novel about the relationship between one dog and his owners over his lifespan. If you wanna go for round two, the movie comes out in January.

R2-D2 USB

($7, amazon.com) The new Star Wars movie comes out right around the holidays, so show your nieces and nephews you know what’s up with this USB drive shaped like R2-D2.

($7, amazon.com)

The new Star Wars movie comes out right around the holidays, so show your nieces and nephews you know what’s up with this USB drive shaped like R2-D2.

Butterfly Art

($7, amazon.com) Let your teen decorate her room with these realistic, 3-D butterfly stickers. The set includes 19 different butterflies that look amazing together or spread out on the wall.

($7, amazon.com)

Let your teen decorate her room with these realistic, 3-D butterfly stickers. The set includes 19 different butterflies that look amazing together or spread out on the wall.

Cat Tails

($9, amazon.com) This ring stand won’t stop your friend’s cat from knocking things off your niece’s dresser in the middle of the night, but it will give her an easy way to organize her small accessories.

($9, amazon.com)

This ring stand won’t stop your friend’s cat from knocking things off your niece’s dresser in the middle of the night, but it will give her an easy way to organize her small accessories.

Hanging Candleholders

($4, cb2.com) For the friend whose backyard you’re already jealous of, these hand-blown glass candleholders will make it even lovelier. They can be hung alone or grouped together for a shimmering chandelier effect.

($4, cb2.com)

For the friend whose backyard you’re already jealous of, these hand-blown glass candleholders will make it even lovelier. They can be hung alone or grouped together for a shimmering chandelier effect.

Sweet Words

($10, maggielouiseconfections.com) You can customize these dark chocolate boxes with up to three letters. Spell out a loved one’s nickname, or give them to a college kid with their university’s letters.

($10, maggielouiseconfections.com)

You can customize these dark chocolate boxes with up to three letters. Spell out a loved one’s nickname, or give them to a college kid with their university’s letters.

Tree Cuddlers

($3, target.com) You’d have to be crazy not to fall for these adorable ornaments. Buy a whole herd to give someone’s tree a cozy update.

($3, target.com)

You’d have to be crazy not to fall for these adorable ornaments. Buy a whole herd to give someone’s tree a cozy update.

Bubbles with Benefits

($6, target.com) For each sudsy bar sold, Hand in Hand donates one, plus a month’s worth of clean water, to a child in need. Comes in three different holiday scents, like Juniper Berry and Winter Woods.

($6, target.com)

For each sudsy bar sold, Hand in Hand donates one, plus a month’s worth of clean water, to a child in need. Comes in three different holiday scents, like Juniper Berry and Winter Woods.

Eyeliner Kit

($5, elfcosmetics.com) You get five colored eyeliners plus a sharpener for less than your morning coffee in this kit. Perfect for mastering glittery holiday makeup looks, like this year’s mega-popular candy cane eyeliner.

($5, elfcosmetics.com)

You get five colored eyeliners plus a sharpener for less than your morning coffee in this kit. Perfect for mastering glittery holiday makeup looks, like this year’s mega-popular candy cane eyeliner.

5
Dec 16

Ways to Increase Productivity in Your Home Office

It’s quite common nowadays for a number of us to hold remote freelance jobs, be entrepreneurs, or digital nomads. If that applies to you, then it’s important for your home to be designed to maximize productivity and efficiency. You should strive to balance competing feelings of ‘home’ and ‘office,’ so you can stay productive yet comfortable in your residence.

So what makes a home the perfect office? It’s not simply visual aesthetics that make a difference in the surrounding environment. Psychology and science also explain how designing layouts, managing work space, and placement of objects can improve productivity in your environment.

home-office

1. Manage and Have Ownership of Your Work space

Regardless of whether your rental is owned by your property manager or your apartment is shared with roommates, the act of bearing ownership and making decisions regarding your work space can be empowering. This is supported by research that demonstrates work space management increases productivity. This is due to the fact there is a sense of social identity associated with your space use. Psychologists have asserted that decorating office work space with personally meaningful items projects identity, which gives feelings of permanency, control, and privacy.

If you’re living with other housemates, you can take this ownership to the next level through enforcing ‘home office hours’. Are you working from 10AM-4PM in your home office on Tuesdays? Mark it in an agreement with your cohabitors so they don’t throw a ruckus in the living room while you are working on your project three meters away. It’s important to dictate your needs to not only those who work with you, but live with you.

2. Pick Rounded Furniture For a Better Feel

Purchasing new furniture can either be an overwhelming or exciting process. With so many decisions to make — the color, size, type, and material – it’s one that requires careful consideration since these items make up your environment. According to a study, layout and furniture that is curved and rounded, as opposed to straight-edged, makes the furniture appear more pleasant and inviting. This is because the roundedness triggers more brain activity that is associated with appreciation and aesthetic recognition.

So when you’re selecting your office chair and desk, be sure to weigh in carefully on the types and sizes you have available. While it might be more feasible to have a rectangular desk as your main work space, you can also explore the option of buying a small round coffee table to place on the side as well.

3. Choose the Right Colors For Your Work Performance

Color psychology examines how color has an impact on moods and emotions. With that in mind, it’s pertinent to choose the right color scheme for your office as it can affect your performance and productivity. Different colors and lighting will have different psychological effects. For example, red is a color that is very strong and attractive. It can stimulate us and gives us the impression that time is passing quicker. Brighter light levels are also more suitable for analytical and critical thinking. A dimmer environment can also cultivate creativity and imagination, which can be beneficial for idea generation in the work environment.

Don’t let a poorly selected color distract you from what’s important and hinder your ability to work. If you own your apartment or if your property manager permits, you can choose to paint your wall a color reflective of your working needs, which can have a huge overall effect on your environment. If not, you still have choice over your furniture color, which can also have an impact on your performance.

4. Bring Nature Indoors

You may be working with tenacity over your work desk for hours continuously and not have the chance to step outside to perambulate around the neighborhood. Hence, bringing in plants inside your home office can be a great idea to brighten up your work space. In fact, research has proven that office plants can help workers deal with demanding tasks and decrease stress levels while enhancing productivity by 12%.

Another way to make the most of your home office is to have a window with a view. A window facing natural landscape would be ideal as it balances out the tension you have from your work, and fosters tranquility and relaxation in your mind. On the other hand, if you reside in an urban area, plants are still a great alternative to revitalize your work setting regardless.

8
Nov 16

Why November is the Best Time to Rent

Colorful fall maple leaves background.  Autumn leaves on wooden background

Apartment hunting? If you’re like most people, you probably think spring and summer is the best time to rent an apartment. However, if you’re looking for the best value for your buck and the choicest apartments without a fight, November is the ideal month to aim for according to Apartment Guide research.

Less Demand while Apartment Hunting

According to research from Apartment Guide, demand for apartments hits its lowest levels in November, whereas apartments are most in demand during the summertime. For example, in 2015, national demand for apartments peaked in July. Additionally, Apartment Guide saw a reduction of approximately 26% in people searching for apartments during the month of November. If you’re looking for the best time to rent an apartment without bidding wars or crowds, the fall wins hands down.

The Best Time to Rent for Cheaper Rates

It’s not just the demand that makes November the best time to lease an apartment either. If you’re concerned about your wallet, autumn gives you the most bang for your buck. In 2015, someone who signed a 12-month lease in July will have spent $108 more on rent when their lease is up rather than someone who signed a 12-month lease in November, on average.

Thinking about renewing your lease or even making a move to a new apartment? Waiting until November might be your best bet. Who wants to move in during the heat of summer anyway?

25
Oct 16

History of Halloween

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Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.

ANCIENT ORIGINS OF HALLOWEEN

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory. In the course of the four hundred years that they ruled the Celtic lands, two festivals of Roman origin were combined with the traditional Celtic celebration of Samhain. The first was Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween.

On May 13, 609 A.D., Pope Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon in Rome in honor of all Christian martyrs, and the Catholic feast of All Martyrs Day was established in the Western church. Pope Gregory III (731–741) later expanded the festival to include all saints as well as all martyrs, and moved the observance from May 13 to November 1. By the 9th century the influence of Christianity had spread into Celtic lands, where it gradually blended with and supplanted the older Celtic rites. In 1000 A.D., the church would make November 2 All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. It is widely believed today that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday. All Souls Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels and devils. The All Saints Day celebration was also called All-hallows or All-hallowmas (from Middle English Alholowmesse meaning All Saints’ Day) and the night before it, the traditional night of Samhain in the Celtic religion, began to be called All-hallows Eve and, eventually, Halloween.

HALLOWEEN COMES TO AMERICA

Celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems there. Halloween was much more common in Maryland and the southern colonies. As the beliefs and customs of different European ethnic groups as well as the American Indians meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge. The first celebrations included “play parties,” public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. By the middle of the nineteenth century, annual autumn festivities were common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors.

In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century.

By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular, but community-centered holiday, with parades and town-wide parties as the featured entertainment. Despite the best efforts of many schools and communities, vandalism began to plague Halloween celebrations in many communities during this time. By the 1950s, town leaders had successfully limited vandalism and Halloween had evolved into a holiday directed mainly at the young. Due to the high numbers of young children during the fifties baby boom, parties moved from town civic centers into the classroom or home, where they could be more easily accommodated. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived. Trick-or-treating was a relatively inexpensive way for an entire community to share the Halloween celebration. In theory, families could also prevent tricks being played on them by providing the neighborhood children with small treats. A new American tradition was born, and it has continued to grow. Today, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday.

TODAY’S HALLOWEEN TRADITIONS

The American Halloween tradition of “trick-or-treating” probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives. The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

The tradition of dressing in costume for Halloween has both European and Celtic roots. Hundreds of years ago, winter was an uncertain and frightening time. Food supplies often ran low and, for the many people afraid of the dark, the short days of winter were full of constant worry. On Halloween, when it was believed that ghosts came back to the earthly world, people thought that they would encounter ghosts if they left their homes. To avoid being recognized by these ghosts, people would wear masks when they left their homes after dark so that the ghosts would mistake them for fellow spirits. On Halloween, to keep ghosts away from their houses, people would place bowls of food outside their homes to appease the ghosts and prevent them from attempting to enter.

HALLOWEEN SUPERSTITIONS

Halloween has always been a holiday filled with mystery, magic and superstition. It began as a Celtic end-of-summer festival during which people felt especially close to deceased relatives and friends. For these friendly spirits, they set places at the dinner table, left treats on doorsteps and along the side of the road and lit candles to help loved ones find their way back to the spirit world. Today’s Halloween ghosts are often depicted as more fearsome and malevolent, and our customs and superstitions are scarier too. We avoid crossing paths with black cats, afraid that they might bring us bad luck. This idea has its roots in the Middle Ages, when many people believed that witches avoided detection by turning themselves into cats. We try not to walk under ladders for the same reason. This superstition may have come from the ancient Egyptians, who believed that triangles were sacred; it also may have something to do with the fact that walking under a leaning ladder tends to be fairly unsafe. And around Halloween, especially, we try to avoid breaking mirrors, stepping on cracks in the road or spilling salt.

But what about the Halloween traditions and beliefs that today’s trick-or-treaters have forgotten all about? Many of these obsolete rituals focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday—with luck, by next Halloween—be married. In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.) Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces. Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.

Of course, whether we’re asking for romantic advice or trying to avoid seven years of bad luck, each one of these Halloween superstitions relies on the good will of the very same “spirits” whose presence the early Celts felt so keenly.

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