Iconic Cincinnati – Nature & Parks Edition

Iconic Cincinnati – Nature & Parks Edition

Whether you are new to the greater Cincinnati area or have lived here for a while, you’ve probably not had the chance to experience all the wonders around you. It’s so easy to take the abundance of things to do for granted and to simply be grateful that there is a plethora of activities available…if we ever need them. I am guilty of hanging out at home instead of getting off my duff and broadening my horizons. So this post is not just for you; I’m hoping it inspires me to get out there to explore and experience all the best things to do and see in our little corner of the world. Explore with me, won’t you? In this edition of Iconic Cincinnati, we’ll explore the most interesting places in the region to enjoy nature in the City’s various aminal, art, and park venues.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

In operation since 1875, the Cincinnati Zoo is home to the world-famous hippo Fiona. Throughout the property, zoogoers can also see gorillas, zebras, Sumatran orangutans, Komodo dragons, and red pandas. Check out the animal footprints on each pathway and guess which animals can be seen next or ride the colorful Safari Train past various habitats. The latter is one of the zoo’s most popular attractions, so be sure to arrive early to avoid long wait times.

The seasonal penguin parades on select days below 50 degrees are a favorite, and visitors say the zoo and gardens are a must-see attraction. The park’s commitment to sustainability is seen throughout the facility and through its outreach efforts, including the Plant for Pollinators initiative and field projects to support hippos, bonobos, manatees, and more.

This second oldest zoo in the U.S., considered one of the best in the country, is most renowned for its endangered species and birthing programs, particularly for gorillas and white tigers, and has a wonderful collection of felines, and a delightful manatee exhibit.

A few of their many special events include:

  • Penguin Days: January 8 – March 8, 2024
  • Zoo Blooms: April 1 – 30, 2024
  • Zoo Babies: May 1 – 31, 2024
  • Festival of Lights: late November 2024 until early January 2025

Krohn Conservatory

Located within Eden Park in between Cincinnati’s East Walnut Hills and Mount Adams neighborhoods, Krohn Conservatory is an incredible botanical garden filled with over 3,500 plant species from around the world. It’s widely recognized as one of the country’s largest public greenhouses. Krohn Conservatory opened in 1933, and the building is a classic example of the Art Deco style. The land in the park used to belong to Nicholas Longworth and he called it his Garden of Eden.

  • The Shape of Nature Floral Show: January 27 – April 21, 2023
  • Butterfly Show: late spring to early summer
  • Golden Days of Yule: mid-November through early January
    • Live Nativity, poinsettia display, botanical artworks, and model trains in a floral landscape filled with miniature landmarks

Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum

The third largest cemetery in the United States dates from 1844 when members of the Cincinnati Horticultural Society formed a cemetery association. They took their inspiration from contemporary rural cemeteries such as Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The numerous springs and groves suggested the name “Spring Grove”. The first burial took place on September 1, 1845. Designed with lakes, islands, footbridges, and protected woodland areas, the cemetery has hundreds of trees and plants from other parts of the world including an expansive collection of both native and exotic plant materials as well as its State and National Champion Trees and its Centenarian Collection. Today, Spring Grove encompasses 733 acres of which approximately 450 acres are beautifully landscaped and maintained. The remaining undeveloped acres ensure the permanence of the cemetery for hundreds of years.

Spring Grove offers a variety of events and private group tours, or you can explore on your own.

Smale Riverfront Park

John G. and Phyllis W. Smale Riverfront Park connects downtown Cincinnati to the Ohio River and the existing riverfront parks. It sits along the Ohio River near the base of the Roebling Suspension Bridge.  This 45-acre park spans the riverfront area between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark.   It’s a wonderful location to view the bustling activity along The Ohio River Trail, and a place to gather and celebrate as a community. The park boasts multiple water play features, giant swings, an interactive foot piano, an imaginative play area for kids, expansive pollinator gardens, and Carol Ann’s Carousel. Several historical monuments can be found like the Black Brigade Monument and the recently dedicated Marian Spencer Statue.

Loads of events take place here. You can find the full listing at the link above.

Eden Park

Eden Park is nestled between East Walnut Hills and Mt. Adams. The park is home to the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and the Krohn Conservatory, making Eden Park one of the most popular parks in Cincinnati. Landmarks within the park include the Hinkle Magnolia Garden, which features an enchanting gazebo that can be rented for an intimate wedding ceremony, Seasongood Pavilion, which hosts outdoor concerts and plays, and Mirror Lake featuring the Bettman Fountain in the center and the haunted Spring House Gazebo overlooking the lake. Other highlights include the charming Twin Lakes area; the lakes were once an old quarry that was converted into two small lakes, joined by a footbridge, and surrounded by walking paths. This area boasts an impressive view of the Ohio River and Kentucky, several sculptures, and a playground. It’s a great spot for chess or launching model boats. Also, within Eden Park is a historic 172-foot high Water Tower from 1894, The Memorial Grove, The President’s Grove, walking paths, and many more sights to see! Eden Park’s newest feature is Tom Jones Commons, which includes a walking loop, wetlands with a walking bridge, a picnic shelter, natural play areas, seating, beautiful landscaping, and a connection from the lower reservoir area to Seasongood Pavilion and Mirror Lake. There is something for every nature lover and parkgoer to see, experience, and enjoy at Cincinnati Parks’ Eden Park.

Newport Aquarium

The Newport Aquarium is a public aquarium located at Newport on the Levee in Newport, Kentucky. It has 70 exhibits and 14 galleries, 1,000,000 gallons of water, including five acrylic tunnels totaling over 200 feet in length. It is the first aquarium to have had success in breeding shark rays.

Delighting families since 1999, Newport Aquarium welcomes your family to discover the wonder of an underwater world. See thousands of the world’s most exotic aquatic creatures as you waddle with playful penguins, meet rare white alligators, be surrounded by sharks, and be surprised by smiling stingrays. Encounter thrilling adventures like the first-in-the-world Shark Bridge, where you can cross inches above a tank full of sharks on a rope bridge. Plus, experience the exhibit Shipwreck: Realm of the Eels and explore a long ago-sunken ship and the creatures that call this accidental reef home.

This state-of-the-art facility was named the No. 1 aquarium in the 2012 Readers’ Choice Travel Awards from 10Best.com; the Best Rainy Day Outing in 2006 in Cincinnati Family Magazine; and the Best Aquarium in the Midwest in the Zagat Survey’s U.S. Family Travel Guide in 2004.

Pyramid Hill

Pyramid Hill is a three-hundred-acre nonprofit sculpture park founded in 1997. The Park is home to over 70 monumental outdoor sculptures displayed in a landscape of rolling hills, meadows, lakes, and hiking trails. The Park also features an Ancient Sculpture Museum that displays Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Syrian, and Egyptian antiquities dating to 1550 BCE, as well as the iconic Pyramid House. Pyramid Hill is the only museum you can experience by Art Cart – a gold cart you can rent to tour the park. The carts are rented on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early if you want to ride.  Attracting more than 30,000 visitors annually, Pyramid Hill serves as the premier cultural tourist attraction in Butler County. Pyramid Hill is unparalleled in the region as a place where art, culture, education, and nature intersect.

The Park provides summer programs for children, as well as numerous special events throughout the year that are traditions for many families and our community. The stunning landscape and unique architecture offer ideal backdrops for weddings, corporate retreats, meetings, family reunions, and celebration of life ceremonies.

Mt. Airy Forest

Located between Mt. Airy and Westwood, Mt. Airy Forest is the largest Cincinnati Park at 1,459 acres. It is a man-made forest with miles of hiking trails, several picnic areas, a disc golf course, and a multi-use mountain biking trail. Mt. Airy also has Ohio’s only wheelchair-accessible public treehouse (currently closed for repairs), a beautiful arboretum, and an enclosed dog park.

Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove

Overlooking the majestic Ohio River, Sawyer Point is a landmark destination in Cincinnati. A great place to view Cincinnati’s annual Labor Day fireworks show or watch the river traffic go by on any other day, this charming mile-long park is nestled between T.M. Berry International Friendship Park and Smale Park. Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove feature beautiful landscapes, award-winning playgrounds, numerous pieces of public art, walking paths, tennis courts, pickleball courts, and volleyball courts. Sawyer Point is also a premier host site for many regional and national events, including many walks and runs, major music festivals, and other cultural events. Sawyer Point Park and Yeatman’s Cove are side-by-side parks on the shores of the Ohio River. Both are some of the best parks in Cincinnati and stretch for about a mile along the riverfront. Here, you can enjoy beautiful waterfront views and lots of activity spaces. There are places to play volleyball and tennis, as well as concession stands, picnic tables, and performance pavilions.

Sawyer Point is home to an outdoor amphitheater where you can see live events, including concerts. The Serpentine Wall is also here. It’s a wall of large concrete stairs that curve like the coils of a snake. There’s also a giant statue of Cincinnatus.

Cincinnati Observatory

The Cincinnati Observatory atop Mount Lookout is the oldest professional observatory in Ohio. The building, which has been preserved to retain its classic look, has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Cincinnati Observatory refers to itself as the “birthplace of American astronomy.”

However, the commitment to a vintage appearance doesn’t stop the observatory from looking into the future. It heavily promotes the study of 21st-century astronomy.

When you visit, you can tour the building, look through the fascinating displays of moon rocks, and watch presentations. Use the gigantic telescope during the day (solar viewing) or night (stargazing).

Devou Park

Located across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Devou Park is a city park in Covington, Kentucky. Encompassing 700 acres, it is the city’s largest park and has been in operation for over 100 years. The hilltop park’s overlooks offer panoramic views of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio River valley below. The park is full of opportunities to engage your mind, body, and spirit. Stroll along the scenic nature trails. Throw a frisbee. Play a round of golf on their 18-hole course. In addition to a beautiful vantage point to admire and photograph, the Devou Memorial Overlook offers open green space, benches, a shaded gazebo, parking, ADA accessibility, and picnic tables. Tour the museum. Attend a concert.

 

There are a plethora of other parks located all across the Cincinnati area. Click here for a complete listing of Cincinnati parks, and here for parks in Northern Kentucky. For folks who love nature, parks, and animals, Cincinnati is hard to beat. Let us know your favorite destination in the comments.

Iconic Cincinnati – Food Edition

Iconic Cincinnati – Food Edition

Whether you are new to the greater Cincinnati area or have lived here a while, you’ve probably not had the chance to experience all the wonders around you. It’s so easy to take the abundance of things to do for granted and to simply be grateful that there are a plethora of activities available…if we ever need them. I am guilty of hanging out at home instead of getting off my duff and broadening my horizons. Soo this post is not just for you; I’m hoping it inspires me to get out there to explore and experience all the best things to do and see in our little corner of the world. Explore iconic Cincinnati with me, won’t you?

Let’s start with Cincinnati’s unique food scene. Most famous are Cincinnati chili, Montgomery Inn barbecue, Graeter’s black raspberry chip ice cream, goetta (a mixture of beef, pork, oats, and seasonings) which reflects the city’s German heritage, Frisch’s Big Boy, and LaRosa’s Pizzeria.

But did you know about Cincinnati’s legacy of fine dining? In the 1970s, it was home to three Mobil Travel Guide five-star restaurants (New York was home to just two!). They were all French; surprisingly considering Cincinnati’s German heritage. There was Pigall’s, The Gourmet Room which featured a 30-foot mural by the artist Joan Miró (it now hangs in the Cincinnati Art Museum), and The Maisonette which still holds the record for the most consecutive years with a five-star Mobil guide rating, at 41. Beloved Jean-Robert de Cavel, a French-American chef, was chef de cuisine at The Maisonette from 1993 to 2002, executive chef at Jean-Robert at Pigall’s from 2002 to 2009. Pigall’s is now Boca. Below the Maisonette was La Normandie, now the wildly successful Sotto. These were, and are, the best of the best.

Let’s chat about foods that are so good they’ve gained popularity outside of our region. Here are eight Cincinnati favorites to check out in case you haven’t done so already.

Cincinnati Iconic Foods

  • Cincinnati Chili – Well known for its unusual chili, a thinner, soupier version than traditional chili con carne or Tex-Mex, Cincinnati chili is ladled over hot dogs and spaghetti. Customary toppings include cheddar cheese, onions, and beans; specific combinations of toppings are known as “ways”. The most popular order is a “three-way”, which adds shredded cheese to the chili-topped spaghetti (a “two-way”), while a “four-way” or “five-way” adds onions and/or beans before topping with the cheese. “Ways” are served with oyster crackers and a mild hot sauce. Cincinnati chili is seldom eaten by the bowl.  Two chain brands are famous in the region: Skyline and Gold StarHowever, there are plenty of other great places around the city to try Cincinnati chili, but none are more iconic than Camp Washington Chili.

 

  • Graeter’s Ice Cream – In business since 1870, Graeter’s uses the French Pot method to make its ice cream. It’s a slow, small batch process making only 2 1/2 gallons at a time creating ice cream that is rich, creamy and dense. Black raspberry chip is a Graeter’s bestseller, one of the flavors containing its incredible chocolate chips, some of which are as big as a quarter, in every scoop. There are almost two dozen Graeter’s stores in the tristate area, and Graeter’s is available in every major supermarket.

 

  • LaRosa’s Pizza – In 1954 Buddy LaRosa opened his first family pizzeria on Cincinnati’s West Side. His Sicilian-born father told him he was crazy. “You gonna sell pizza? You must be crazy!”  Who could argue with him? After all, back then many Americans hadn’t even heard of pizza.  LaRosa’s signature pizza is a thin crust variety made with a distinctive thick, sweet sauce (a family recipe created by the founder’s Aunt Dena) and topped with provolone cheese.

 

  • Montgomery Inn Barbecue November 1, 1951 the Gregory’s and their four children took over a restaurant and began serving ribs full-time. A local journalist dubbed Ted Gregory “The Ribs King,” a nickname that stayed with Gregory for the rest of his life. The restaurant attracted some famous customers, including Bob Hope, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Other famous diners include several Cincinnati Reds legendary baseball stars as well as actors and entertainers from all over the world. The secret to their success is in the sauce – Wife Matula’s still secret family recipe from 1959.  Try their barbecue in one of two restaurants: The Boathouse, located on the Ohio River is just east of downtown Cincinnati or the original location on Montgomery Road. The barbecue sauce is sold in big box and grocery stores and on Amazon.

 

  • Izzy’s World Famous Reuben – Izzy’s can trace its roots to Russia. Settling in Cincinnati Izzy Kadetz and wife Rose opened the first kosher style delicatessen West of the Alleghenies in 1901. Consistently ranked as the “best deli in Cincinnati“, visitors to this local deli can indulge in Izzy’s Famous Reuben and their famous potato pancake. The savory sandwich is piled high with Izzy’s famous corned beef, sauerkraut, Izzy’s special dressing and melted imported Swiss cheese served with a bowl of all you can eat locally made dill pickle slices. There are five locations in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region.

 

  • Frisch’s Big Boy – In 1939 Frisch’s opened the Mainliner restaurant, Cincinnati’s first year-round drive-in named after the first tri-motor passenger airplane. Today, some 85 years later, a replica of the airplane still adorns the restaurant’s sign on Wooster Pike. Famous for their double-decker hamburger called the “Big Boy” with a specially formulated tartar sauce. The chain is best known for its trademark chubby boy with a pompadour hairstyle wearing red-and-white checkered overalls holding a Big Boy sandwich. Frisch’s is also known for its fish sandwich, Swiss Miss sandwich, and hot fudge cake.

 

  • Glier’s Goetta – Goetta is an old German recipe brought here in the 1800’s by the German immigrants who dominated Cincinnati 200 years ago.  It was a way for poor folks to stretch a few scraps of meat. This celebrated regional dish of pork, beef, steel-cut oats, and seasoning is somewhat similar to sausage and scrapple, is shaped into a roll or a brick and fried up in a pan.  In 1946, Robert Glier returned home from World War II and bought a small store with a sausage kitchen and a smokehouse.  The rest is history.  Glier’s goetta can found stores and at German festivals throughout the summer, especially Glier’s Goettafest at Newport on the Levee.

 

  • Busken Bakery – Founded in Cincinnati by Joseph C. Busken Sr. in 1928 the company started from humble beginnings, selling baked goods from the counter of a meat market in East Hyde Park on Erie Avenue. In 1962, Busken moved the bakery operation to its current location at the corner of Madison and Edwards roads in Hyde Park. There are four locations in the region. This 4th generation bakery operates around the clock, six days a week and produces more than 100 unique varieties of fresh baked goods every day but is famous for its smile cookie, donuts, and king cake.

And did you know that Pringles, Frank’s RedHot Sauce, Airheads, Slush Puppie, and McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish are all from Cincinnati?

The story of the Filet-O-Fish story is so fun. It began in 1962 with Franchisee Lou Groen from Cincinnati, Ohio.  Groen’s restaurant was located in a predominantly Roman Catholic neighborhood and he noticed a decrease in sales on Fridays.  With determination and a knack for thoroughness, Groen convinced McDonald’s to test a breaded whitefish sandwich to help satisfy customers who abstained from eating meat on Fridays in observance of Lent.

At first, McDonald’s executives were not certain about adding fish to the menu, which required a more complicated cooking process.  As a matter of fact, McDonald’s Founder Ray Kroc had plans for what he called the Hula Burger ― a slice of grilled pineapple and cheese on a bun.  Kroc made a deal with Groen that they would sell the Hula Burger and the Filet-O-Fish on a Friday, and whichever sandwich sold the most would be added to the permanent menu. Kroc was so convinced that his Hula Burger would outsell the Filet-O-Fish that he made a side bet with his first grill man Fred Turner that the loser would buy the winner a new suit.  The final score? Hula Burger: 6, Filet-O-Fish: 350.

“Fred got a new suit and McDonald’s got the Filet-O-Fish,” said McDonald’s Company Historian Mike Bullington.

Whether you are new to the greater Cincinnati area or have lived here for a while, it’s always fun to know – and taste – what the region is known for. What are your Cincinnati favorites? Let us know in the comments.

 

Tame That Hairy Beast

Tame That Hairy Beast: Cleaning Tips Every Pet Owner Should Know

 

They are adorable and we love ‘em like they are our kids, but our sweet pets can be challenging to clean up after and can make it tough to keep our homes company clean. There’s pet hair and potty accidents. There are dirty paws and sharp nails. Some of us have messy eaters (not just four-legged, LOL) and some of us have chewers and shredders. Yes, our furry friends know how to make a mess. Being able to manage and even prevent these messes can make routine cleanup a lot easier and help keep your frustration levels in check. Perhaps it’s the shedding that drives you nuts or the kitty-litter scatter.  Maybe it’s funky pet odors or water bowl splashes. Everyone has pet-owner woes and we’re here to help you tame that hairy beast with these tips designed to keep your home as clean as it was before you had pets. Unless, of course, you’re an utter slob in which case we’ll need to talk to your mom LOL.

HAIR

  • Lint Roller. A lint roller is a great way to remove pet hair from your clothes, but you can also use it on couches, chairs, curtains, and other furnishings in your home. Lint rollers usually have a wide surface area and are effective at picking up pet hair. And BONUS TIP: did you know they are also great for cleaning dust from your lampshades? For the top 8 rollers that work great on pet hair, click here.

  • Furniture Covers. I absolutely cannot say, “No!” when my pup asks to snuggle on the sofa or curl up next to me in bed. If, like me, you can’t keep pets off your furniture, use covers to protect the fabric from damage and unwanted odors. Most furniture covers are designed to be easily removed and washed. Wash regularly to help maintain a clean and odor-free environment. The Spruce Pets rate these as their top 8 choices. In addition to protecting against pet hair, furniture covers can also guard against stains caused by spills, accidents, or tracked-in dirt. Choose a cover made from pet-friendly material that is durable and resistant to wear and tear. Avoid materials that may be easily punctured or torn by your pet’s claws.”
  • Vacuum & Sweep. Keep pet hair from taking over your home by vacuuming and sweeping regularly, maybe even daily. Last summer I cared for my brother’s two yellow labs for a month while he and his wife were traveling. As the owner of a 12-pound non-shedding dog, I was overwhelmed by the amount of hair. Fortunately, they had a very nice, specialized pet hair model vacuum cleaner which was a game changer. Some vacs are also available with pet hair attachments designed to handle shedding, even intense shedding. Here are the 7 best vacuums for removing pet hair according to RTINGS.com.
  • Hair Remover. Getting pet hair off your clothes, carpet, furniture, and out of your car can become an all-consuming challenge. But the right pet hair remover can make the job a lot simpler. You might even be able to wear that black shirt again. Here are the 8 best pet hair removers of 2024, tested and reviewed by The Spruce Pets.
  • Rubber Glove. If pet hair is set into your furniture, use a rubber glove to get rid of it. Simply dampen a rubber glove, something that you probably already have on hand for washing dishes, and run it over the furniture to attract and collect hair.

  • Brush daily and bathe regularly to help keep your place hair- and dust-free. Trim nails whenever they get too long to protect your floors and doors from scratching damage. It’s important to know how to cut your pet’s nails to avoid hurting them. If you’re a chicken like I am, consider going to a groomer or your veterinarian. Speaking of nails, keep your kitty from scratching your furniture by purchasing a scratching post. Cats scratch to mark their territory and sharpen their claws; offering designated scratching surfaces can redirect this behavior away from furniture and other areas of your home.

STINK

  • Baking Soda. Pets can be stinky leaving funky odors in their wake, especially in their favorite areas of the home. Baking soda has odor-neutralizing properties and can be used to absorb and eliminate unpleasant smells. Sprinkle it on carpets, furniture, and pet bedding, let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes, and then vacuum.
  • Wash Pet Bedding Regularly. Whether it’s your pup’s bed or your kitty’s tower, pet bedding must be cleaned regularly to prevent odors and pet hair buildup. Be sure to use pet-safe detergents! Consider using covers that can be easily removed and washed. My pup’s bed is small enough to toss in the laundry, but my brother’s 75-pound dogs have sleeping quarters almost as big as a twin bed, so a removable cover is a must. If you do have a cover that isn’t removable, sprinkle the bed with baking soda and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then vacuum.
  • Quick Clean Up. Cleaning up pet messes promptly and effectively is essential for maintaining a clean and healthy living environment. Start by scraping up as much of the mess as possible. Then, clean the areas by scrubbing them with water and a pet-safe detergent. If odors remain, sprinkle the area with baking soda, let it sit, then vacuum.
  • Odor Control Litter. Let litter help control smells. Good Housekeeping tested and reviewed 20 litter brands to find the vest. Their top 11 picks are easy to scoop, control odors, and don’t stick so much to cats’ paws, which can lead to litter particles on the floor.

DRAINS

  • Protect Your Shower Drain. Getting pet hair in your shower during bath time is inevitable, but there are ways to minimize shedding for easier cleanup. Brush your pet before her bath to help remove loose fur. Be sure to use a grooming brush appropriate for your pet’s coat type to reduce shedding during the bath. Place a hair catcher over the drain, which keeps pet hair from causing clogs. It’s also very helpful in keeping your own hair out of the drain. Find the best ones here.

SPLATTER SCATTER

  • Food Mat. My little guy drinks like a crazy animal and splashes his water everywhere. One of my brother’s labs attacks her food bowl with such force, the food flies. A great resolution is to place a mat under their dish. Mats can catch any spills and make cleanup so much easier. Look for a mat that will be easy to clean. A non-skid mat will help prevent your pup from pushing bowls around.
  • Litter Mat. If you have a cat, you know they have a propensity for kicking litter out of their litter box. Keep it contained by using a litter mat, which is made with a mesh material designed to trap litter. These textured mats act like a doormat. Even the most well-behaved kitty will track litter granules out of the litter box. A good litter mat catches most of those bits before they spread throughout your house. Find New York Times Wirecutter’s top three litter mats here.
  • Litter Box. You can also avoid the spread of litter by choosing the right litter box. A litter box with higher sides prevents cats from kicking or scattering litter outside the box (does your cat love doing this?) People Magazine has tested and reviewed 15 of the best litter boxes.

PAWS

  • Wipe your pet’s feet when they come inside. While it might not be necessary to wipe every time they come inside, it’s a must in certain instances. A walk during a rainstorm, after a storm when there are mud puddles, when there is snow on the ground, and when playing in the yard or dog park (where a little time may be spent digging) are all times when paws will get dirty. I once lived in the historic section of a small town, and that old neighborhood seemed to have decades of dust and dirt everywhere. Even when we stuck to the sidewalks, my pups (there were two then) would come home looking like they were wearing brown socks. Sometimes a wipe with a damp cloth will do the trick. Other times a foot wash is in order. With my short guys, sometimes it was a half bath involving feet, legs, bellies, and chests. Chewy has 10 top-rated wipes for dogs and Rover rates these wipes for cats.

  • When it’s really mucky outside, boots make a world of difference. It took many tries for me to find the right foot cover for my pup; many dogs just don’t like wearing a boot (although they look SO CUTE!). After losing three of four adorable zip-up red boots with fur trim ($50 down the drain) in a snowstorm, I thought we were through with boots and any real chance of a successful walk in the snow. The game-changer for me – and Ollie – was Pawz Waterproof Boots. They are not only lightweight and waterproof; they also can’t be easily kicked off.

Imagine loving your pet unconditionally along with your nice, clean home free of all the dirt, hair, and stink your four-legged baby brings with him. Now you can. You’re welcome, and tell your dog we said, “Hi!”

 

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Comfort In A Cup

CUP OF COMFORT

Have you ever heard the term warm your innards? Innards is a slangy word for the gooey stuff under your skin that makes you live. What a thought, but you know what I mean. Well just before COVID, friends came to stay for a long weekend. Sadly, I was miserable with an earache: tired, aching, and crabby.  My friend Chad came to the rescue making me a hot toddy served up in a beautiful teacup. It not only warmed my innards, but it also proved to be comfort in a cup. With the latest variation of COVID rearing its ugly head this winter, we thought you might like to find some comfort in a cup. My fella has been suffering for days from this variant, and a nice hot drink followed by a nice hot shower has done him a world of good.

Hot toddy recipes vary and are traditionally drunk before retiring for the night, in wet or cold weather, or to relieve the symptoms of the cold and flu. In How to Drink, Victoria Moore describes the drink as “the vitamin C for health, the honey to soothe, the alcohol to numb.”

In its classic form, writes Barbara Rowlands for The Telegraph, the drink is served in a glass. It contains, she writes, “a shot of whisky (preferably malt), a teaspoon of honey and a dash of fresh lemon, topped up with boiling water poured over a silver spoon to prevent the glass from cracking.” Of course, you can always serve your toddy in a mug or pretty teacup.

Add spices to the mixture to reflect your personal preference and the contents of your spice cabinet. Fresh ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise are lovely, fragrant, and tasty additions. Chad studded a lemon peel with cloves for my toddy.

The psychological effect of having a comforting warm drink is important! Stress and anxiety will have an impact on your immune system and lower your resistance. Drink a hot toddy like you might take a mild sedative or tranquilizer. To give you a warm, relaxing, and cozy feeling.

How to Make the Best Hot Toddy

The secret to making the best hot toddy is simple—just tinker with the amount of lemon juice and honey until it suits your taste buds. You may be surprised by how an extra teaspoon of lemon juice or honey changes the flavor. Basics are in the recipe below.

Any good whiskey will do, like Bulleit Rye or Jameson Irish Whiskey, but you can also use Scotch, dark rum, brandy, or cognac.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 ½ ounces whiskey*
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste**
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 lemon round
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, a few cloves, a slice of fresh ginger, and/or a grind of fresh nutmeg (optional, for garnish)

* If you are doing Dry January 1) good for you! and 2) you can substitute an alcohol-free bourbon like Kentucky 74 – NA Bourbon or an alcohol-free spirit of choice.

** Especially helpful is Manuka honey. Why Manuka? Research has shown that Manuka honey has more antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties than regular honey. Or, look for a honey that is produced in your area. Local bees make local honey, which means the pollen they collect and bring back to the hive is sourced from local plants. Since these same plants cause many seasonal allergies, eating honey that contains that pollen can possibly combat those allergies. Moreover, according to talkingwithbees.com, local honey will offer better taste and nutrition: it is often raw, roughly filtered, and has not been heat treated or pasteurized. This means it tastes better and includes a wider variety of nutrients, including pollen and enzymes.

It is best for your health to opt for raw honey. Raw honey is unprocessed and can be purchased at health food stores, farmers markets, and vitamin shops. It is always best to try to use raw, organic honey with no preservatives, added sugar, or any other types of additives.

Do hot toddies really help a cold?

According to Healthline in a November 2, 2022 article, the components of a hot toddy can help relieve some symptoms associated with cold and flu. In a 2008 study, participants reported that consuming a hot beverage provided immediate and sustained relief from symptoms of runny nose, cough, sneezing, sore throat, chilliness, and tiredness.

Are there any other drinks that will help?

According to Web MD, there are!

Decaf tea. The heat can soothe sore throats, stuffy noses, chest congestion, and upset stomachs. Plus, a warm cup of tea is comforting when you’re feeling rough. If you choose one with herbs like ginger, your immune system may get a small boost, too. For an extra benefit, try adding a small dollop of honey to your cup: It can calm a cough and help you sleep. Comfort in a cup.

Water with lemon. Hot or cold, it keeps you hydrated and loosens up stuffiness and congestion. Lemon is also high in vitamin C, which may make a cold slightly shorter if you get it regularly.

Soup. Clear soups and broths give you calories when you may not have much of an appetite. Some research shows they may help relieve inflammation in the body, which can relieve some of your symptoms. The warmth also helps break up mucus.

Wonder Soup. When my mom was in the hospital after surgery, she refused to eat the awful food the hospital served, especially the weak, flavorless chicken bouillon. I went home and made a pot of Wonder Soup. I returned to the hospital the next day, smuggled in the soup, and she drank every drop. This is a very informal recipe, as you’ll see.

  • 1 whole chicken raw or a rotisserie chicken with the meat removed
  • 2 roughly chopped carrots
  • 2 roughly chopped celery stalks with leaves
  • 1 quartered onion (go ahead and leave the skin on for beautiful color)
  • 2-3 smashed garlic cloves (again, go ahead and leave the skins on)
  • A few peppercorns
  • Salt
  • A large sprig of fresh rosemary (thyme would be good too) and a several large sprigs of fresh parsley, stems and all.

Toss everything in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two. Skim the foamy muck off the top periodically until it stops forming (this will help the broth be nice and clear). Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Toss the veggies and the herbs in the trash; they’ve done their job. Strain the broth, ideally using cheesecloth. Adjust seasoning to taste. There you have it: Wonder Soup: a true cup of comfort.

 

NOTE: for regular consumption, remove the chicken meat from the bone and use some either shredded or cubed in the broth. The rest will make a nice chicken salad or chicken tacos. Add chopped carrots, celery, and onion. Chop and add some fresh parsley, rosemary or thyme. Later you can add noodles, peas, green leafy vegetables – whatever suits your fancy. You’ll never want to go back to canned or boxed soup.

After your hot toddy, slip into something warm and cozy – like an epsom salt bath. Read more about this little luxury here – it’s a cup of comfort on a much larger scale.

As you journey through the perilous waters of winter, we wish you smooth sailing, good health, and comfort in a cup in the event you do fall into the arms of a cold, the flu, or COVID. We’re here to provide you with thee means to obtain comfort in a cup.

 

Après-Holiday Decluttering

Après-Holiday Decluttering

I don’t know about you, but for me January came with a big sigh of relief. While I love the holidays and everything that comes with holiday celebrations: all the shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, entertaining, parties, traveling to visit family, traveling to visit friends, arranging for pet care, dressing up, being social, eating, drinking, and cleaning up is exhausting. Then the bills come in and the exhaustion is not only physical, but also mental. When I am bone tired, I cannot settle down and decompress when things around me are messy, and all this holiday fun does have a tendency to leave a path of chaos in its wake.  So to rest long and well, there are a dozen messes to address. Join me for holiday decluttering 12 things after the season vanishes.

1. Holiday Decorations

Holiday decorating is so much fun, isn’t it? But I notice every year that there are inevitably a few items that stay in the box.  Décor I once loved has lost its magic. As you strip the tree of ornaments, garlands, ribbons, bows, and lights and clear away your other holiday swag, evaluate your stash before you box everything up. If there are decorations that didn’t make the initial cut, ones you don’t have room for, or ones that are damaged, bite the bullet and toss them.

2. Baking Supplies

Baking can be a big and traditional part of the holidays, and baking supplies can use up valuable cabinet space. If the supplies are seasonal, like cookie cutters, store them with your Christmas décor. If your Bundt pans, pie plates, serve ware and cookie cutters are taking over your kitchen storage or were unused this season, purge. Sort through your baking collection and declutter what you don’t need. Either donate what you no longer use, or sell it.

3. Email Inbox

There’s nothing like the holiday season to make you realize just how many email lists you’re on. Every time you buy something on line, merchants pretend you want to hear from them again and again and again. If your inbox received a barrage of sales notifications this winter, take a look at which ones you never open or which stores you’re unlikely to shop from again. Take a moment to click “unsubscribe” or send them to junk (because sometimes that unsubscribe request seems to get lost in the mail) and your inbox will be lighter all year long. Find Gmail unsubscribe tips here.

4. Toys

I left my sweet pup with a Rover sitter on New Year’s Eve in a town close to our party destination but about an hour away from home. Her listing indicated she had two dogs and two little kids. When we arrived at the home, what was mean to be her living room was turned into a playroom with low shelves all around the perimeter filled with – literally – hundreds of toys shoved into whatever space was available.  And that’s not counting the toys and playsets on the floor.  I seriously wanted to Marie Condo-ize the space, but managed to keep that thought to myself. A good rule of thumb is when you can no longer see the floor in your child’s room or playroom because it’s covered in toys, it’s time to declutter. When kids are old enough, they can be part of the decision-making process and learn a valuable life lesson along the way. Institute a rule — each toy they keep, they donate one — and help them sort through the collection. Find a step-by-step purge process here.

If the toys are in good condition, letting your child know it will go to another kid who could really use them, and will love them, may make letting go easier. Before donating, wash the toys, make sure they are in good repair, and check any safety guidelines. Be sure to check with the charitable organization you’re donating to for any rules governing their acceptance of toys.

5. Holiday Duds

Do you have holiday clothing – seasonal tops, fancy dresses, “ugly” sweaters – that haven’t been worn in recent years? Sometimes it can be hard to part with clothing that’s “still good”.  Determine if you’ll likely ever really wear it again. If the answer is “no” donate it or if it’s as ugly as my Aunt Helen’s Christmas sweater, toss it.

If you have garments that are in great condition, do like my sister and sell them on Poshmark, ThredUp, or Facebook Marketplace. Ditto for fancy holiday shoes you’re unlikely to wear in day-to-day life. I mean how many pair of dressy black shoes does a girl need (this is a rhetorical question – she needs them all).

For more help cleaning out your closet, click here.

6. Outdoor Gear

By now, at the beginning of January with the winter in full swing, we all have a good sense of what winter gear we’ll actually wear and which coats, hats, and mittens no one in your household hasn’t (or won’t!) touch. Go through all of it and donate any coats, scarves, hats, boots, and gloves that are still in good condition. Somebody out there will be grateful. I have a friend who keeps a bag of hats, gloves, scarves, and socks to give to the homeless. It’s a thoughtful way to make sure needed items get into the right hands.

7. Cards, Boxes, Ribbons, and Bows

Hold onto only the most important cards you’d like to keep for sentimental reasons, then recycle the rest. When I was a kid, we’d make custom gift tags with last year’s cards. It was always a fun project mom gave us to keep us out of her hair, and a great way to recycle them before recycling was even a thing. Here’s how. Decide just how many cardboard boxes you’ll need for returns and/or storage, and recycle the rest. Will you really reuse those gift bags, ribbons, and bows? If they will easily get smashed before next year, may as well toss them now.

8. The Awful Gifts

I have a friend that brings me a goodie bag each time he visits. So very thoughtful – and appreciated! – but sometimes that lovely gift contains items that just “aren’t me”. Then there’s the mother-in-law that gives you a floral, flouncy blouse when you only ever wear plain solids. Or perhaps you’ve received the dreaded fruitcake. We may hold onto a gift we know we’ll likely never use out of guilt. It’s okay to donate or re-gift these items. If you do re-gift something, do so in a thoughtful way that won’t hurt anyone’s feelings, and certainly don’t re-gift amongst your family or circle of friends. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. It’s possible to be grateful for a gift without keeping it.

9. Leftovers

I had 12 people for a holiday dinner, and in my inevitable way of over-estimating how much people will actually eat, made two lasagnas and 30 meatballs. Even after forcing my guests to take home a doggie bag, we’re still eating leftovers days later. Not to mention the leftover cheese, fatty meats, crackers, olives, and nuts from the charcuterie board. If the holidays left your fridge a little more stuffed than usual like mine, let’s clean it out. Start by removing everything and wiping down the shelves. Freeze items that you’re sick of but are still good. Toss out leftovers that are past their prime (the USDA recommends after three to five days), before replacing everything. For tips on giving your fridge a deep clean, click here.

In the pantry, consider donating any shelf-stable foods you didn’t use during the holiday season, such as canned cranberry sauce or extra canned vegetables. Find a place to donate food here.

10. Linens

Maybe when you hosted holiday guests overnight, you realized that your spare set of sheets has seen better days. Or maybe you invested in a new set of sheets and are ready to part with the old ones. Either way, the post-holiday period is the perfect time to declutter your linen closet to determine which bedding and towels need to go. And, if this is the case, your must have missed our Hosting Overnight Guests post. (BTW, if you’re in the market for some fresh sheets, January is historically a time for bedding sales.)

11. Winter Sports Gear

I am not a winter sports person, unless riding in a horse-drawn carriage counts. But if you are and have things like skis or snowshoes, ice skates, or a sled or saucer, now’s a good time to check on your winter activity gear. Do those skates still fit? Do they need sharpening? Do your kids have skates they’ve outgrown? Donate any gear that no longer works for you but might be of use to someone else, then schedule any maintenance that your gear might need.

12. Duplicates

My fella gave me a lovely pair of earrings for Christmas this year. They were identical to the ones he’d given me two years prior and were actually on my ears the night before. LOL. If loved ones were extra-generous with the holiday gifts this year, or forgot what they’d given you previously, you may find you now have duplicative belongings. What to do? Exchange, donate, trade, sell. And let it be guilt-free.

 

Just making this “To Do” list gives me some piece of mind knowing that in the next weekend or two the holiday clutter will be gone. I’ll be able to enjoy calm and relaxing time at home knowing I’ve decluttered, cleaned up, and cleared out. Plus I now have a leg up for when spring cleaning season arrives, and next holiday season there just might be enough room to buy some new holiday stuff. Love the Place You Live even more after après-holiday decluttering. Happy New Year!

New Year New You

Globally and nationally 2023 brought us wars, earthquakes, fires, the Hollywood writer’s strike, AI, a former president indicted, Twitter morphing into X, the George Santos bevy of lies, Damar Hamlin’s collapse, Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter charge, Barbenheimer, and Swelce. Then the year rushed to a close – as per usual – with a mashup of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, and New Year’s. I, for one, am exhausted and ready to start 2024 fresh. On the right foot. Clear headed, and with a light heart. Here is a collection of ways you too can start the New Year on the right foot.

Say No to New Year’s Resolutions. Ahhhh, big sigh of relief. It’s like a get out of jail free card. Resolutions are too easy to break and can be overwhelming when you try to do too much too fast, so just say no.

Walk Every Day. Whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour, walking will give you more energy, lower anxiety levels, and lift your spirits. Walking in nature can be spiritual; a time to clear your mind. Walking on a treadmill at home or at the gym can provide you with the opportunity to connect with great music, a best-selling book, self-help guidance, or a trending podcast.

Commit to Eating Healthy. Cut back on ice cream, sweets, carbs, processed foods, and fast foods and your body will thank you. In today’s world we have plenty of healthy food options from the grocery, delivery services, and many places deliver right to your door. A better diet means you can say goodbye to heartburn, fatigue, and tight clothes.

Purge Your Closet. Here’s our post on how to do just that. If you haven’t worn something in over a year, chances are you are done with it. Treat yourself to a new look in the new year with a couple of new pieces that make you feel great when you put them on. Clothing can lift your mood when you put thought and energy into your style. As in, “Giiirl, you look good!”

Clean Out Your Pantry. Here’s some help cleaning your entire kitchen, and reorganizing it too. You may find something hidden in there with a use-by date of 2008 – YIKES! – so a purge will get you not only a clean pantry, but also prevent accidental food poisoning.  It’s a win-win! The general rule of thumb is: if you don’t remember when you bought something, and there’s no date on it, it’s best to toss.

Apologize. Review 2023. Do you owe anyone a heartfelt “I’m sorry”? If not, good for you. But if there is, do it. Don’t start the year with a heavy heart about something you said or did. Having negative things fill your mind makes life uncomfortable, and you may not even know where the discomfort is coming from. Make it right or let it go.

Finish It. Partially completed projects can weigh you down. Make a commitment to finish projects before starting new ones. You can only keep a few big things going on at the same time, and sometimes dealing with just one life-changing project can keep you occupied and overthinking for weeks. So finish at least one project before you start something new.

Plan Your Year. Get out your calendar, block out your vacation, you’re your reservations, book your family gatherings, give some thought to hosting parties, and be sure to put any big events on the calendar, so everyone in the house can see what’s coming up. Having something to look forward to helps make you happier. Not flying by the seat of your pants throughout the year can be so liberating!

Set Goals. I know what you’re thinking, but goals are not necessarily resolutions. Make ‘em simple ones or complex, but give yourself direction and then make a plan. Embrace the power of written goals. Having your goals in writing is so much more effective than those mental notes. You may not follow this road map exactly, but having something to guide you is better than wandering aimlessly. Even if you don’t achieve everything this year (and knowing that just makes you human), the simple knowledge that you are moving your life forward will be empowering.

Discover Your Sweet Spot. Find the place where your talents and passion intersect, and visit and engage in this place frequently. Promise yourself you will do what you love and not put if off because you’re busy working or are involved in the mundane tasks of life.

Be Satisfied. Choose to be content with what you have. Just because some influencer on Instagram suggests you NEED this or that, remember the cycle of “more is never enough” is destructive. Stuff won’t bring you happiness; connections with family and friends, communing with nature, fulfilling your heart by doing the things you love will bring you peace and joy.

In the new year, start off on the right foot with a new you of good habits. We wish each of you absolute success in making 2024 the best year yet with clear heads, loving hearts, and days filled with good health and happiness. Gushy, but we mean it!

 

14 Tips For Hosting Overnight Guests

Last year, some friends invited us for dinner and an overnight at their new home. They live a good 30 minutes away, so the idea of spending the night was welcome. While I have occasional overnight visits from friends and family and have always thought I did a pretty good job of providing my guests with “essentials”, our friends proved that I had a lot to learn. From the moment we entered their guest room, we felt like they had eagerly anticipated our stay and had provided not only thoughtful items like phone chargers but also fun things like a goodie bag. (!) Since then, I have become much more proficient in preparing my home for guests, and I hope this guide will help you too – especially with the holidays just around the corner. Trying to leave no comfort stone unturned, here are 14 essentials for hosting overnight guests.

1.      Welcome

No matter if they are friends or family, there’s always a moment of awkwardness at first. After all, your guests are staying in a relatively unfamiliar place unused to how your household works and runs. As host, you want to dispel any discomfort by making your welcome as warm and comforting as a good hug. Show your guests to their room, where to put their suitcases and unpacked clothes, and give them a quick tour of where to find everything they may need. A small container of fresh flowers is always a thoughtful and welcoming touch.

2.      Unpack

Consider having a luggage rack on hand. Not only will it be a nice convenience for your guests, but trust me, you’ll use it every time you pack for a trip. It’s a much better option than putting dirty suitcases (and if you ever check your luggage when flying, you know how filthy your bags get) on a nice clean bed. Plus, most luggage racks fold for easy storage behind the door or under the bed. Guests may want to “live” out of their suitcase but do provide a few hangers along with a spot for hanging. Because my spare bedroom closet is filled with my off-season clothing, I installed hooks on the back of the bedroom door. If you’re a renter, you may want to consider using Command Strip hooks, a single over-the-door hook, or a multi over-the-door hook to avoid any damage to the door (unless you plan to leave those nice hooks behind for the next renter 😊).

3.      Sleep

A freshly made bed is a must. While I don’t typically iron sheets, I do iron the pillowcases for my guests. Maybe I’m nuts, but I find an ironed pillowcase softer against the face than a wrinkled one. Find the best sheets according to The New York Times Wirecutter, which rates all kinds of stuff. Their recommended on-a-budget sheets are from Target at just $55 for a queen set. And don’t underestimate the importance of a decent pillow. While some folks seem to manage sleeping on even the flattest, hardest pillows, treat your guests to a truly comfortable pillow. A decent pillow doesn’t need to be expensive, and it’s probably best to avoid feather or down anyway because of possible allergies. Target has these and Amazon has this two-pack of down-alternative pillows.

If you don’t have a guest room, a quality air mattress, a support board for your sleeper sofa, and compressible pillows can still provide your guests with a great rest. Don’t forget a cozy blanket!

For more tips on giving your guests blissful rest, check out our post on Getting A Great Night’s Sleep.

4.      Bathe

If your guests are just spending the night, they may not need the same supplies as visitors who will be staying for a few days. Still, it’s a good idea to be fully prepared…just in case. Have a full set (bath towel, hand towel, washcloth) for each person.  For anyone with a headful of hair that might wash it, two bath towels. If your friend forgets their toiletry bag, have new toothbrushes, toothpaste, make-up wipes, soap, body lotion, shampoo, and conditioner at the ready. And let your guests know where wet towels should be hung. Make sure there is actually a spot for wet towels! I stayed at a relative’s home, and it was obvious that the decorative towels in the bathroom were just there to be pretty. There was nowhere else for my wet towel except the doorknob. Ugh.

5.      WiFi

A small sign with your WiFi name and password will be appreciated by your guests so they don’t need to hunt you down to get it. There are many fun options to display this information, like a tabletop sign, a sign with a QR code, or make your own sign and display it on a cute cast iron mouse card holder.

6.      Hydrate

Always have bottled water or a stylish bedside table water carafe/glass set on the nightstand or within arm’s reach if using an air mattress or sofa bed. I don’t know about you, but I always get thirsty during the night (just like a little kid).

7.      Recharge

Your guests will so appreciate finding a charger for their device available for use. It’s one of those things that’s so easy to forget to pack. Purchase chargers with extra-long cords and place one on each nightstand, try a universal charger, or get a cordless charger that can charge multiple devices at once.

8.      Light

According to the Sleep Foundation, a dark room is recommended for the best rest. But sometimes our guest spaces don’t have room-darkening shades, the curtains or blinds don’t fully prevent light from seeping in, or there may be a bright street light outside that spills into the room. Consider having inexpensive sleep masks on hand, or splurge on luxury washable masks.

Although trying to keep the room dark, do provide a nightlight that will gently illuminate the path to the bathroom. A motion sensor nightlight is a perfect addition to the hall.  And do keep a nightlight in the bathroom itself so your guests won’t need to turn on the bright harsh bathroom lighting in the middle of the night to use the facilities. Consider one like this pretty, dimmable light.

9.      Noise

Hoffman Audiology advises that a disturbed night’s sleep can lead to sleepiness and irritability in the short term (and who wants grumpy guests?). There are several different ways you can ensure your guests will rest without noise interruption by offering:

  • A fan. We have friends who bring their own fan (mostly to cover up snoring) wherever they go. That’s a really big bring-along, so I like to provide either a tabletop fan or a large floor fan that easily stores under the bed. Not only can a fan help cover up any background noises, but it can also aid your guest in regulating the temperature in the room.
  • Earplugs. My fella sleeps with earplugs daily and swears they are key in helping him fall asleep easily. They are easy to buy in bulk making them an inexpensive option for your guests’ quiet enjoyment of the night.
  • White noise machine. A white noise machine does not need to cost a fortune! Target carries a Sharper Image product for just $14.99. The New York Times Wirecutter recommends this one as an upgrade.

10. Temperature

Extremes in temperature can ruin bedtime. But even small shifts can mean the difference between a smooth transition into dreamland or a fitful night’s sleep. The common recommendation for a good ambient temperature for sleeping is in the range of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. A fan will help your overnighter cool things down, but what if they’re too chilly?

  • These calming sleep socks would be a luxurious gift for perpetually cold friends. Or buy a three-pack of nubby socks your guests can also use as slippers.
  • Add a throw to the bed. Here is a list of the best including options for all seasons and price ranges.

11. Goodie Bag

My favorite find in a guest room was a goodie bag prepared by our hosts with our tastes in mind. So thoughtful, and so fun! Pack a small gift bag with individual-sized packets of chips, sweets, and nuts. Think salty, sweet, crunchy chewy. Throw in a miniature bottle of your guest’s favorite adult beverages, or a can/bottle of their preferred soda or juice. Your guests will think you are the host with the most!

12. House Rules

After your guests unpack, let them know your house rules:

  • Are all items in the fridge, pantry, and bar up for grabs?
  • What time will breakfast be served (if at all)?
  • Are they allowed to feed the dog snacks?
  • If they arise first, can they make coffee?
  • Should they strip the bed on the last morning of their stay?

13. Breakfast

If you plan on offering breakfast, it makes it much easier for you and your guests if you’ve prepared in advance. For a continental breakfast, try this delicious homemade banana bread, donuts, or muffins with fresh fruit and coffee. Maybe some yogurt and granola. For something more substantial, but still very easy to serve in the morning (just heat and eat!), try our Christmas Strata which is quite satisfying any time of year and can be made the day before and will most assuredly wow your guests.

14. Sanctuary

As host, your goal is to create a sanctuary for your guests – not just a place to sleep, but also a place where they can sneak away if needed for a nap, a quiet conversation, to take a call, or to take a break from socializing.  Follow our guide and you will master successfully hosting overnight guests, the essentials, and more. Happy hosting, and happy holidays!

 

 

12 Ways to Turn Your Apartment Into a Christmas Wonderland

12 Ways to Turn Your Apartment Into a Christmas Wonderland

 

Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas at your place, or do you think you just don’t have the room to decorate?  No matter the size of your home, there are always ways to bring the festive look and feel of the season to your place without breaking the bank or requiring a plethora of pre-holiday storage space. In fact, we have 12 ideas for ways you can turn your apartment into a Christmas wonderland!

1. Size Doesn’t Matter

Finding room for a tree in a small space or a room that doesn’t have a big empty corner can be tough. Rather than skip the tree altogether, how about a small tree that can fit nicely in a corner or a narrow tree that can squeeze in between furnishings? Small trees can make big statements with the right ornaments and plenty of lights. Even a tabletop tree can add a holiday flair to your home.  If you’re worried about not having enough storage for an artificial tree and ornaments, you can always get a real tree and decorate it with layers of fake snow and pine cones which can be tossed after the holidays. This kind of tree embraces a natural woodland look and can be quite pretty.

2. Be Surfa-ficial

In other [real] words, take advantage of all the flat surfaces throughout your home. Your coffee table is the center of your living room space and can become the centerpiece for your holiday decor. Add a themed garland, large Christmas ornaments, or even a basket full of greens and pinecones to the table to create a cozy central arrangement. Add a few flameless candles to set the mood. Carry the décor to your kitchen and bathroom counters, dresser or nightstand surfaces, your TV stand – the possibilities are almost endless.

3. Be Subtle

Subtle touches of holiday cheer throughout your home can tie in a holiday theme that makes your dwelling feel comfy and cozy. A small winter scape on a window ledge, holiday-themed kitchen accessories, or a seasonal garland or wreath over your bathroom mirror can invigorate the holiday spirit in your place.

4. Be A Wallflower

Hanging displays or floating shelves are a great way to optimize vertical space. Your wall space can become a replacement for a mantel, a place to hang stockings or provide a fun way to display Christmas cards. For parents, floating shelves make a great elf-on-the-shelf display. Make use of wall space by spreading out the shelves and laying garland or twinkle lights to create a winter atmosphere. Use holiday-themed tape and free paint swatches from the hardware store along with squares of wrapping paper to create a flat yet colorful Christmas tree on the wall.

5. Window Dressing

Your windows are the eyes of your home. Make use of the windows by constructing winterscapes on the windowsills, or hanging a wreath in the window. Hang large snowflakes in the window for a Christmas look that will last through the winter. Wrap lights around your curtain rods or drape them over your blinds to create a bright and airy vibe.

6. Shelves For Elves

Utilize the top of bookshelves or cabinets to lay out decor like ornaments and even tinsel. If you do not have a fireplace, you can use a bookshelf in its place to hang stockings or display Christmas cards.

7. Swap It

Swap out kitchen towels, sheets, throw blankets, and bathroom towels with holiday-themed ones to add a maximized look to your small space. Festive linens are a cute touch for any guest entering your home. The same applies to dishes and tableware!

8. Burn Baby Burn

Festive decor is not only about what you can see but also about the smell. Lean into the scents of the holidays by burning candles that smell like some of your favorite Christmas memories. Candles can also generate a relaxing ambiance, which is a great way to take a break from all the hustle and bustle of the season. Just be sure to protect your surfaces from dripping wax, and never leave lit candles unattended.

9. Door Dressing

A perfect way to welcome your guests into your holiday home is with a seasonal wreath or doormat right at the entrance, even if it’s just to your apartment. Your guests will know they’ve stepped into Santa’s workshop with cute festive pieces. Select a wreath that welcomes the spirit of the season and a doormat that displays welcoming cheer.

10. Terrific Tablescapes

The holidays are a great time for get-togethers and parties, greet your guests with a bar or kitchen table that screams Christmas. Select a table runner that showcases snowy scenes, grab a candle or two that smell like pine trees, and don’t forget to add some snacks!

11. Cozy Cocoa

Revamp your bar cart by creating a hot chocolate or cider station. Swap out shakers for marshmallows and chocolate spoons. Grab holiday mugs that tout the Christmas spirit. You can still keep traditional items in your bar cart to create a hot toddy station for those wishing to indulge.

12. Greens Galore

Add fresh greens in swags, garlands, or containers to bring the outdoors in, bringing lovely scents  – especially if you can find cedar branches – into your home. Sprigs of greens are an easy and expensive way to create special scenes throughout your apartment. Kick them up a notch by adding pinecones, frosted fruits and berries, an ornament or two, and finish it off with a bit of pretty ribbon or a bow.

Bonus: Party Pets

Get your furry friends in on the action with some cute holiday gear. Whether it’s a festive collar, hat, and/or sweater, decking your dog or kitty will surely bring a smile to your face.

So there you have it. We hope you’re inspired to make the most of your home this holiday season with a little (or a lot!) of festive decor. Turning your apartment into a Christmas wonderland can be anything from quick, easy, and inexpensive to time-consuming and elaborate. It’s all up to you! No matter how you celebrate, we wish you the happiest and most joyful holiday season. And tell your dog we said hi.

6 Ways To Keep Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season

6 Ways To Keep Your Pet Safe This Holiday Season

 

​The holiday season is upon us! It’s the most wonderful time of the year… provided it does not include an emergency visit to a veterinary clinic for your beloved pet. To keep your holidays merry and bright, and your pup or kitty safe, we’ve come up with a few tips so your pet gets nothing but love, plenty of scritches, and perhaps a new toy from Santa Paws. Here’s our guide with six ways to keep your pet safe this holiday season.

1. FOOD

Food and the holidays go hand in hand. Even if you are not entertaining, you will probably have foods in your home that are new to your pet. The best practice is simple: keep all “people food” out of the reach of your pet. And if your pet is like mine, they can become quite devious in their seek-to-eat escapades. One year I was enjoying a glass of red and a bit of 65% dark chocolate while addressing Christmas cards. When I let the room to get a refill, I tucked the candy into the desk drawer. In the amount of time it took me to top off my wine glass, Ollie had opened the drawer (?!?) and consumed all the chocolate. He was only 10 pounds, the chocolate was dark and gone, so off we went to the emergency animal hospital. I find it so interesting that whenever one of my dogs gets into trouble, it’s always after normal vet office hours. Cha-ching.

So skip the table scrap snacks. If you’re a softie and must treat your pup to human food,

Treat your dog to:

  • Pumpkin puree (out of the can, not from the pie)
  • Unseasoned cooked veggies (sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, green beans, broccoli, carrots)
  • Turkey (unseasoned and without bones)
  • Apples (no core or seeds) and bananas
  • Unsweetened cranberries
  • Safe and special treats on the Santa Paws list might include:
    • Chew toys that are basically indestructible
    • Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods
    • Chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible
    • Long, stringy things are a feline’s dream, but the riskiest toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn, and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery.
    • Surprise kitty with a new ball that’s too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy, or the interactive cat dancer.

Tell Rover “Absolutely Not” to:

  • Bones can easily splinter and can cause serious health problems (even death) for your pet.
  • Candy contains the sweetener xylitol which can actually lead to liver failure, so keep sweets of all kinds away from your pup, cat, or ferret.
  • Chocolate contains theobromine, which can be extremely poisonous when ingested by dogs and may even result in seizures and death.
  • Dairy products like milk, cream, cheese, and butter are bad for dogs. They can cause diarrhea and other digestive disturbances as well as allergic reactions in dogs.
  • The entire onion family including onion flakes, onion powder, chives, and garlic, may be an ingredient in many holiday foods from mashed potatoes to gravy to stuffing. In fresh, cooked, dried, or powdered form, onions can lead to damaged blood cells and anemia.
  • Ham and bacon can cause pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening disease, in dogs.
  • Nutmeg, in significant amounts, can be toxic, causing hallucinations, stomach pain, and possibly even seizures. Other spices can be dangerous, too, so it’s best not to feed dogs treats from your holiday dinner.
  • Nuts have very high fat content and may contain other toxins that can result in stomach upset or other serious health complications. Macadamia nuts, in particular, when fed to your furry family member even in small amounts, can be especially toxic and result in vomiting, tremors, paralysis, rapid heartbeat, and other complications.
  • Citrus and pits. Keep foods containing citric acid away from your pets. Foods such as cherry pits, peach pits, and apple seeds contain essential oils that can cause irritations, blockages and even central nervous system depression if a significant amount if they are ingested.
  • Caffeine from coffee, tea, or chocolate is an ingredient in some desserts or other holiday dishes. Caffeine can actually be fatal to canines.
  • Raisins and grapes consumed even in small quantities may cause rapid kidney failure in some dogs, and fruitcakes are one holiday offering likely to contain them. If you were thinking that you could unload an unwanted fruitcake on your pup, think again.
  • Salt abounds in many holiday dishes, and when consumed by dogs can cause excessive thirst, urination, or worse. It’s especially detrimental to dogs with underlying kidney or cardiovascular conditions.
  • Sugar found in most holiday desserts can fuel cavities, obesity, and even diabetes. It’s also bad for dogs with arthritis.
  • Alcohol has the same effect on dogs’ livers and brains as on humans’, but it doesn’t take as much to cause serious damage and can even lead to respiratory distress, tremors, coma, and death. That rum cake? Off limits for Rover!
  • Eggnog is loaded with fat, sugar, milk, raw eggs, and alcohol, making it a quintuple whammy, none of which is good for Whisker’s health—or yours, for that matter.

 2. DECK THE HALLS

Who doesn’t love a beautifully decorated home for the holidays? Your pets may love your decorations too much. To keep your pet safe, follow these tips:

  • All By Myself. Never leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree, or potpourri.
  • Boughs of Holly. Avoid mistletoe, lilies, and holly. Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.
  • Tinsel Town. Kitties love the sparkly, light-catching tinsel “toy” that’s easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration, and possible surgery. It’s best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.
  • Oh, Christmas Tree. Secure your Christmas tree to keep it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs it. A falling tree may injure your pet (not to mention precious ornaments!). A properly secured tree will also prevent the tree water—which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset—from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe. Hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it.
  • Make sure your dogs or cats do not chew on limbs or droppings from the tree. Ingested pine needles could become lodged in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining, or bunching together and causing an intestinal obstruction.
  • That Holiday Glow. Never leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candleholders, and place them on a stable surface. When you leave the room, put the candle out.
  • An Open Fire. If your dog enjoys chewing, avoid fake and fire starter logs. They contain sawdust and paraffin which can cause an irritated stomach or even intestinal blockage when ingested.
  • All Wired Up. Keep wires, batteries, strings of lights, and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws’ reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. At the same time, shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.

3. SILENT NIGHT

Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to—complete with fresh water, a place to snuggle, and a favorite toy or two. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case, kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf, or hiding place or in a separate room away from the hubbub and to escape the excitement (such as a if you’re entertaining guests).

Though the excitement of a party may overwhelm some pets, keep your pets inside during cold weather and provide plenty of toys to keep them busy.

Prepare ahead of your scheduled party time with lots of play and exercise to discourage barking.

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat’s intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pets are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

4. GUESTS

Inform your visitors ahead of time that you have a pet, as some folks may be afraid of dogs or have allergies to pet dander.

Establish house rules with your guests regarding your animals. These rules should include your food and treat preferences, whether guests can feed from the table, if your pet enjoys being held (or not), and what kind of play is appropriate.  If your guests have small children, be sure you and their parents carefully watch to ensure kids don’t handle your pet too roughly or pay it too much attention.

Ask animal-loving guests if they’d like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you’re busy tending to the party. If they are so inclined, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

Safeguard your medications behind secure doors, and tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

5. TRASH

Pets who enjoy selecting their own snacks out of the trash bin (baaaad dog) can accidentally eat foods that are potentially poisonous to them. Keep trash in tightly sealed containers or hidden somewhere your pet can’t access.

6. IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario:

  • Identify your closest 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before an emergency occurs.
  • Write down or store the number for your veterinarian or pet hospital on your phone.
  • Research, then save your pet hospital or clinic’s holiday hours.
  • Write down or store the number of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435 on your phone. Note that a consultation fee may apply.

For those of us who love our pets, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without them! Following simple guidelines can make sure your beloved pet stays safe this holiday season. And tell your dog we said hi.

 

 

 

How To Host Thanksgiving In Your Apartment

how to host thanksgiving dinner in your apartment

How To Host Thanksgiving In Your Apartment

 

The season of turkey, pumpkin pie, football, friends, family, and food baby is just around the corner. If you have more than a couple folks to celebrate with, but not a lot of space to celebrate in, we’re here to help. Hosting Thanksgiving in your apartment will take a bit of ingenuity and careful planning, but it’s certainly doable. Whether it’s Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, you can keep your event from becoming a stress fest or a hot mess with good advance planning. Preparing a strategy ahead of time will allow you to relax when the big day arrives. Our recent How To Host A Potluck focused mainly on the eats, this How-To host Thanksgiving in your apartment guide will help you optimize seating, refrigerator storage, and more.

Be creative about counter space and storage

In an apartment typically without an abundance of counter space, you’ll have to make every square foot of empty surface space count. One trick is to “recruit” some of your furniture for meal prep. Seriously! You can use your dining table and chairs, coffee table, and the like as surfaces for cooling pots, pies,  and other desserts.

In our Create More Kitchen Storage Space post, we explored many ways to add space-saving solutions for apartment kitchens, such as installing wall hooks to hang pans and cooking utensils. When it’s time to eat, you can set up the food buffet-style in the kitchen or on a piece of furniture away from where you’ll be dining to save space on the table. If that’s not possible, try  using cake stands to elevate some dishes on a crowded table, which will make room for other serve ware underneath.

Ready your fridge

Thoroughly clean your refrigerator before you begin cooking and storing. Throw out any expired food and anything you know you’ll never eat, drink, or use again. Here’s our guide on how to do just that. Ideally, your fridge will be almost empty as you begin to prep your food. This allows for plenty of room to store everything ahead of time. Plus, one of the perks of hosting is that you’ll have leftovers to keep. When it comes to packing your fridge and freezer, don’t forget that you can probably adjust the shelves to make them more efficient. Shift them around to free up space to stack storage containers. Another creative storage solution is to store items in plastic zipper bags. They’re malleable and easy to stack up in a fridge while taking up little space, making them a great way to store things like cranberry sauce, make-ahead gravy, dinner rolls, and pre-prepped veggies.

Prepare food in advance

Allowing yourself plenty of time to prepare is essential when storage and counter space are tight, not to mention when you’re working with only a few kitchen appliances. Start prepping your Thanksgiving menus a full week in advance. A practical solution for making a Thanksgiving meal is to make as much as you can ahead. Figure out what can be put together the day before, and what needs to be made the day of. You can make the pies, gravy, stuffing, and mashed potatoes ahead. Sauces and baked goods can be made the furthest in advance, with most pies and cakes having a shelf life of three to four days. Some sides can be made up to two days out, such as mashed potatoes and make-ahead stuffing.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, all you need to do is roast the turkey and make the veggies. More prep work in advance means less work and less stress on Thanksgiving Day. This will also minimize bodies in the kitchen, which helps keep your kitchen from feeling cramped and hectic.

Expand your dining table 

Fitting all your guests at a table in your apartment can be tricky as most apartment dining rooms are sized for four people. And maybe this time you’ll decide to invite neighbors to your fete! Try putting several small tables together to create one long one. If possible, make sure they are all the same height and width. Then toss a tablecloth over all of them, and nobody will know the difference! If you don’t have smaller tables on hand, take this opportunity to invest in a few folding tables and chairs that can be easily stored once the holiday is over. If your space is so limited that it doesn’t allow for even a makeshift dining table, no worries. My sister-in-law rents a couple of bar-height tables and puts them in the middle of her living room. No one ever minds standing up to eat, and this dining format really encourages guests to mingle.  Or maybe some people can eat at the table, some on the sofa, maybe even some on the floor. Believe me, where your guests eat is much less important than what they eat and with whom they share the holiday.

Have guests their own (folding) chairs

When I got my first apartment, I moved in with just bedroom furniture. But that didn’t stop me from throwing a Cinco Di Mayo party. The invitation noted that guests should BYOC (bring your own chair.) My friends thought that was a hoot! They each brought a folding chair, lawn chair, or stadium chair, and everyone ate with their plates on their laps. Everyone has a great time despite (or because of?) the untraditional seating.

Rearrange furniture

The dining room isn’t the only space to consider. Even if everyone fits around the table, think about after-dinner relaxation, game-watching, and mingling. Try to balance space for your guests to move with seating to accommodate everyone. This can be accomplished by temporarily removing furniture that won’t be used and shifting couches and chairs to the perimeter of the room. If the day is mild, you can also utilize your patio, deck, or balcony.

 Create a place for coats and bags

Once you have finalized the guest list, decide where your guests’ coats, bags, and boots (if the weather is inclement) will go. Depending on where you live, most people will arrive in coats, and many will have bags. You don’t want these items to take up valuable space in the eating area, and if you’re lucky enough to have an entry closet, it’s probably already pretty full. Your bed can make the perfect place for everyone to lay their coats and bags. Or consider purchasing a coat tree to place by your front door. Spread out an old towel or some brown paper bags to collect any we footwear.

Buffet it

Set food up on one table, buffet style, and let everyone serve themselves. Your buffet can be on the kitchen counter, side table, dining table (if people will be sitting elsewhere), or on a rented folding table. This works especially well if you have a non-traditional seating situation.

Cold beverage storage

Since your fridge will probably be very full, fill your [very clean] bathtub with ice for cold wine, soft drinks, mixers, and beer. Consider adding a big bowl for clean ice service.

 Use disposables

I’m seldom one for recommending single-use anything, but Thanksgiving dinner is an exception – especially if the number of guests exceeds your plate and flatware counts. Using attractive seasonal paper dinnerware, nice paper napkins, and plastic silverware is a very smart option. There will be plenty, even if some guests toss the first plate before going back for seconds, and the cleanup will be significantly easier.  And we do want to make hosting Thanksgiving in your apartment as easy as possible.

Right after COVID, and SO READY to entertain again, I had an usually large crowd (for me) of eight for Thanksgiving. I decided to get some pretty paper and plastic products instead of using my “real” plates and cloth napkins. Everyone loved how coordinated and festive the table looked. I chose dinner, salad, and dessert plates, plus cocktail and dinner napkins. Other than the pots and pans, cleanup was a breeze.

If you prefer to use your own dishes, you can add fall- or Thanksgiving-themed appetizer, salad, and dessert plates with coordinating napkins. If that sounds like overkill, choose pretty Thanksgiving-themed dinner napkins.

Pre-clean

When you host Thanksgiving in your apartment, you will need to clean your place and clean it well. A clean apartment always feels more spacious and inviting than a dirty one. Clea out the fridge, wipe counters and floors, wipe down bathrooms, vacuum, and dust to prepare your home for your Thanksgiving Day guests. You should also guest-proof your home. This may sound paranoid, but even if you know everyone who’s coming well, advance preparations will make you more comfortable in the long run.

  • Help prevent breakage. There’s always the chance some of your things can get broken, especially if children are joining you for dinner. Remove anything valuable or personally important, or that’s low to the ground. Store these things somewhere out of the way to keep them safe.
  • Protect yourself from The Snoop. Some guests like to snoop. Anything you’d like to keep private like medications, mail, or personal items, consider hiding away.

Stock your bathrooms

Keep your bathrooms well-stocked with tissues, toilet paper, personal products, and soap, making sure that extra items are easy to find. Disposable hand towels will prevent one cloth towel from getting overly wet and gross. Be sure your bathroom trash can is in sight. On Thanksgiving Day, set a timer on your phone to remind you to do periodic bathroom checks. Then a quick wipe and swipe will keep your bathroom fresh (because people, as a general rule, are pigs). A thoughtful touch is placing a small bowl of mints on the bathroom counter so your guests can freshen their mouths.

Declutter

Not only is clutter unappealing to the eye, but it takes up precious real estate that could be used for a serving platter, or a few bottles of wine, or an extra chair. One of the simplest Thanksgiving solutions for small spaces is to clear your surfaces of unnecessary items. Leave out just enough décor to keep your apartment feeling cozy and festive and store the rest. You can bring it all back out the next day as you begin to decorate before Christmas. LOL.

 

The most important thing about hosting Thanksgiving is making your guests feel welcome, cared for, and satisfied with the food and the camaraderie.  Any successful party is as much about lively conversation and laughter as it is good food. People gather during the holidays to celebrate family and friends and to enjoy the company of people they love and enjoy.  No matter what size apartment you have, you can make this Thanksgiving one to remember. Just focus on what you do have to work with, and you’ll do an amazing job hosting Thanksgiving in your apartment.

Create More Kitchen Storage in Your Apartment

 

When she was in college, I helped my daughter move into her first non-dorm apartment in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a cute studio apartment with one (albeit huge) window, a living/sleeping area, a bathroom, and a kitchen. But I was shocked to the core by how incredibly small her kitchen was. There was a refrigerator, a single bowl sink, and the tiniest stove I’d ever seen. The entire kitchen is pictured below.

Of course, it never seems we have enough storage no matter how much space we actually have (at least that’s always the case with me. LOL.). So if you’re like me, always needing more storage, here are some ways to create more kitchen storage in your apartment.

Use shelf risers.

Shelf risers can almost double your cabinet and pantry storage space. Bonus: they’re not super expensive. Use them to store extra plates, bowls, glasses, and mugs in your cabinets; and canned goods in your pantry.

Steal space from an adjoining room.

An alcove, nook, or empty wall in an adjacent room or hallway can be a great spot to add some shelves or a storage unit.

Add a utility cart.

A little wheeled utility cart can work wonders to give you a little more space. You can tuck it under a countertop or hide it inside a lesser-used closet when you need the floor space more than the stuff. A narrow shelf or rolling storage cart can be a stylish and practical addition to a small kitchen. Choose a low-profile design that can easily slide against a wall or into a corner. Stock it with dishes, glassware, and other items that will look good on display.

Check out IKEA’s Raskog cart or this narrow cart from Amazon. They are small but still have plenty of room for storage. And because they’re on wheels, they can be pushed into a closet or the corner of a room and pulled out to meet you at your workspace when you need it.

Hang a pegboard.

Think Julia Child’s kitchen. A pegboard creates about as much damage to your wall as hanging a picture. You can use a pegboard to store a myriad of items from utensils to awkwardly large pots and pans with specially designed accessories. You’ll just need to spackle the holes before you move (here’s how). A pegboard is a simple storage solution that can work wonders in a small kitchen. Affix a pegboard with repositionable hooks to a wall or the inside of a tall cabinet door to hang kitchen supplies. As your storage needs change, simply remove and rearrange the hooks to efficiently store cookware, utensils, and so much more.

Hang a curtain rod or pot rack.

Use a small curtain rod to hang your utensils (with S hooks or just hooked on), and slide the lids of your pots and pan behind it. This will free up a surprising amount of space for other things (and there will always be other things).  A pot rack or a sturdy bar can provide handy storage for all types of cookware. Mount it on a wall next to the prep area or directly above the cooktop so pots and pans are easily within reach. A mounted pot rack really helps save cabinet space and makes items easier to access. If you have limited wall space, a helpful small kitchen decor idea is to hang the rack from the ceiling or over a window.

Use adhesive hooks.

Use adhesive wall-mount hooks (like Command Hooks) to hang items that would otherwise take up space on the counter or in a drawer. A set of hooks make a great kitchen catchall adding valuable kitchen storage space. Use them for kitchen towels, cutting boards, and utensils to keep them out of the way but still within arm’s reach.

Screw hooks under cabinets.

Cup hooks screwed into the bottom of cabinets can create a cute way to hang up mugs, utensils, and other smaller items.  Or you can find cup hooks like these that simply slide into place.

Use the sides of your cabinets.

Put the sides of your cabinets to good use in creating more storage in your kitchen. It’s the perfect spot to hang a magnetic knife block or use adhesive hooks to hang smaller pots and kitchen tools.

Use the tops of cabinets.

If you have space between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling, you can store less frequently items on the tops of your cabinets without making them look cluttered or messy. This gap between your cabinets and the ceiling can be critical in creating additional storage space. Think of a crockpot, a wine rack, or baskets filled with unattractive but necessary items like light bulbs and batteries. I know what some of you are thinking: “But I’m too short to store stuff this high!” A fold-flat stool you can tuck in between your fridge and cabinets will solve this worry!

Use the side of your fridge.

The side of your fridge can be the perfect spot for knife storage or spice storage, using magnetic racks. It’s an ideal spot to tack up grocery lists, hang keys, or sort mail and papers.

Install open shelving.

Create additional kitchen storage beyond your cabinets by installing open shelves. This simple project can transform a blank stretch of a wall into a stylish storage zone for dishware, cookbooks, pantry ingredients, and more. For extra organizing capacity, add hooks along the bottom of a shelf where you can hang mugs or utensils.

Divide cabinet space.

Encourage organization in smaller kitchens with dividers that break up the space inside cabinets. Use either horizontal or vertical cabinet dividers to store skillets, baking sheets, and narrow pans. You can simply slide each one out of its individual slot instead of having to sort through a haphazard stack.

Rethink spice storage.

Small containers of spices and herbs can easily become a jumbled mess inside a cabinet or pantry. To streamline access, dedicate a small drawer or sliver of cabinet space to spice storage. A drawer organizer that holds canisters in an upright position is an optimal storage solution for easy reading. Read our blog dedicated to storing spices here.

Install a small kitchen island.

Squeeze extra prep and storage space into a small kitchen with an island or kitchen cart that’s just the right size and height for your needs. Add-ons such as hooks and bins will help a small island work even harder. If space is especially tight, go with an island on casters to get the look of a built-in without the bulk. During cleanup or while entertaining, just roll the workspace out of the way.

Select small kitchen appliances.

Small appliances are essential to the kitchen, especially when it comes to entertaining and preparing last-minute meals on busy weeknights. Small appliances that pull double-duty, such as a combination air fryer, toaster, and convection oven, will save kitchen space.

Use wall-mounted bins.

A wall-mounted storage system allows a small kitchen to be the administrative hub that it is without taking up floor space. Choose metal bins that match the kitchen color scheme, and add storage labels to make them more functional. This would be a great place to store cooking magazines, bills (UGH), notepads, and the like.

Use windowsills as storage.

If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your kitchen, think about how you can use the sill as storage. Bring the outdoors in by adding plants – perhaps an herb garden, store cookbooks (if the window is not above the sink), or a dishwashing supply station (if the window is above the sink).

Use your windows as storage.

You might never dream of blocking any of that precious natural light, but you could hang your pots and pans in front of your kitchen window. This would also be an ideal spot for a hanging herb garden.

Use the top of your fridge.

The top of the fridge is a great place to store cookbooks, trays, and platters, or baskets filled with items like light bulbs and batteries, or dishtowels.

Hang a magnetic knife rack.

My fella thinks I’m nuts (because he sees threats everywhere LOL), but I love my wall knife rack. When drawer space is at a premium, every square inch counts (and I honestly see more of a threat storing sharp knives in a drawer). Squeeze out a bit more room by taking your cutlery to the walls with a magnetic knife strip. You can even use it to hang things that aren’t knives, like metal utensils.

Use the inside of cabinet and pantry doors.

A perfect spot to hang pot lids, pot holders, measuring spoons, and kitchen towels.

Turn your stovetop into extra counter space.

During dinner prep, your stovetop is just wasted space. A large cutting board creates bonus counter space while you are prepping dinner.

Hide bulky cookware in the oven.

It sounds simple, but if you’ve got a lot of heavy cookware, this trick can make all the difference. It’s a great place to store cast-iron pans and Dutch ovens (especially in a small kitchen). Just remember to relocate them before you preheat that oven.

Hang sink essentials on the sink.

Sink organizers are a total game-changer for storing soaps, sponges, and brushes where you can easily access them. Place them over your sink, next to them, or even attach them and hang them off the faucet for a space-saving way to keep essentials close.

Roll kitchen towels.

Marie Kondo your kitchen towels by rolling them instead of folding and stacking them into a toppling tower. Roll then lay them horizontally in a shallow drawer, or store them in upright rolls in a basket. They look much tidier this way—and don’t become a nuisance every time you need one.

Store canned foods on risers.

Canned foods often get tucked away in a cupboard, stacked on one another, and pushed way to the back. Instead of losing sight of all those cans, place them on risers so you can actually see what you have. An easy way to gain vertical storage is to add risers to pantries and cabinets. They help you fit more in a small space, plus you can see what you have so you don’t end up with a bunch of duplicates.

Use drawer separators.

There is nothing worse than a utensil or small tool drawer that’s messy with everything scattered about. It makes it harder to find what you’re looking for and easier to poke yourself with one of the tools. Drawer separators keep groupings, like utensils, together and are easy to sort through.

Be sure to evaluate your needs as you install the dividers, edit, and toss the duplicates. Sure it’s awesome to have multiple spatulas and non-stick skillets, but if space is a challenge, push yourself to only have one of each. While that may create a slight inconvenience occasionally, it’s better than having overflowing drawers and cabinets.

By adding dividers, everything has a spot and the drawer is less likely to get stuck on stuffed-in tools.

Under sink storage.

Maximize storage space under the sink by stacking bins or plastic drawers filled with sponges, dishwasher pods, rags, and more. Clear storage assures you won’t forget about what you already have. It’s also a great idea to have a plastic tray to store your cleaning supplies in. That way, if anything gets drippy, you just have to clean the tray and not risk warping the floor of the cabinet.

So there you have it. Who knew there were so many ways to create additional storage in any kitchen – large or small? We’d love to hear if you have any other ways to add storage to your kitchen! Let us know in the comments.

 

Sheet Pan Suppers – Your Weeknight Hero

Sheet Pan Suppers – Your Weeknight Hero

Once upon a time, I was crazy enough to commute over an hour to work. Leaving home at 7:00 AM and arriving back at 6:30 PM left me little time to get a hot dinner on the table. Then one day, I learned of sheet pan suppers. They were and still are game-changers. Delicious, easy to prepare, easy to cook, and with easy clean up, sheet pan suppers quickly became my weeknight hero. If you have a busy schedule, try them out! I’ll bet they will become your weeknight hero as well.

Sheet Pan Supper Benefits

  • Easy to prepare. Cut the veggies. Toss ingredients in a fat, like healthy olive oil. Preheat the oven. Place all ingredients on your sheet pan. A great way to use up leftovers.
  • Easy to cook. Your oven does all the work. Place the sheet pan in the oven. Roast until done. Usually around 30 minutes.
  • Easy to clean up. One pan to wash.
  • Your favorite ingredients, all in one place.

The Basic Components

The basic components of sheet pan suppers are:

  • a protein (about two pounds)
  • 2 -3 cups of chopped vegetables
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil (usually olive oil)
  • a sauce or flavoring

The Sheet Pan

Use a half-sheet pan (13″ x 18″ with a one-inch lip) made of heavy-gauge metal. It’s sturdy enough to take high oven heat and broiler heat, if you give the meal a final browning under the broiler. The half-sheet pan is large enough to cook a meal for a family of four and allows for ingredients to be spread out so you don’t crowd the pan. (Crowded pans cause ingredients to steam instead of roast, which will make dinner mushy instead of crispy.) Plus, the rim is low enough for heat to move across the ingredients to give them a crisp, brown, caramelized finish. Jellyroll pans may look the same, but they’re generally smaller and flimsier than half-sheet pans. Half-sheet pans are not expensive, readily available in big box stores, and are multi-taskers that you’ll use again and again for a whole lot more than sheet pan suppers. The quarter sheet pan, measuring about 9” x 13, is terrific for smaller ovens or kitchens as well as for cooking several ingredients in the oven at once without letting the flavors bleed into one another.

PRO TIP: Line the Pan for even easier cleanup.

Line your pan with heavy-duty foil or parchment paper (not waxed paper) to prevent ingredients from sticking to the pan. Kroger has pre-cut parchment paper that’s just the right size to make this process even easier! You will still have to wash the pan, but a well-lined pan cleans up in a jiffy.

The Rack

You’ll bake most sheet pan dinners directly on the pan; that’s how you get those tasty, caramelized surfaces. But if you want to bake breaded chicken or fish along with vegetables, use a wire rack to raise the breaded ingredients above the moisture in the pan. This technique will keep the crisp coating from getting soggy.  You can use this same approach when you’re roasting a cut of beef or pork, so the juices baste the ingredients while the meat gets gloriously browned. It’s a win-win!

The Protein

Use up to 2 pounds of protein per half-sheet pan. At 425°, most proteins cook in 30 minutes or less. All times are approximate. Bone-in meats take the longest. Fish goes fastest. Shrimp takes less than 10 minutes. Know the doneness temps for your protein and check it often. See the guide below.

  • Shrimp – Depending on size, 3-10 minutes
  • Salmon and white fish – Depending on thickness 12-25 minutes
  • Tofu – 20 minutes
  • Lamb chops, 10- 20 minutes, depending on thickness
  • Chicken, bone-in or boneless, 20 -30 minutes
  • All types of whole sausages, about 25 minutes

The Veg

Sturdy vegetables like potatoes and carrots take much longer to cook than softer vegetables like green beans, asparagus, and tomatoes. Depending on what else you’re adding to the pan, you should roast the denser vegetables for 30 minutes or more before adding the other vegetables to the pan. Cut your vegetables about the same size to promote even cooking.

  • Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, 25-30 minutes
  • Cabbage, depending on the cut, 15-30 minutes
  • Cherry tomatoes, 20-25 minutes until bursting
  • Leafy vegetables, like kale, 10-20 minutes
  • Onions, cut into wedges or thick slices, about 15-20 minutes
  • Potatoes (small pieces and wedges), 25-30 minutes
  • Root vegetables, carrots, 30 minutes
  • Squash (soft, summer squash like zucchini or yellow), 15-20 minutes
  • Squash (hard winter squash like butternut, acorn, or delicata ) in pieces, 30 minutes

The Fat

To prevent vegetables from drying out during the cooking process, completely coat them with oil. The best way to do this is to put them into a large bowl and add the oil and any other seasonings from your recipe. Then stir with a spoon or with your hands to cover everything thoroughly. I like to use disposable, latex-free gloves to keep my hands clean, especially when handling the protein. Roast the dense vegetables first and get them started in the oven. Then use the residual oil in the bowl to coat the softer vegetables that will be added to the pan later. Finally, use the same bowl (easy clean up!) to toss your protein with whatever fat or marinade your recipe calls for.

The Flavor Boosters

There are a myriad of ways to add flavor to your sheet pan supper! Try:

If you don’t feel comfortable creating your own sheet pan supper food combinations, there are some outstanding online resources with tested recipes to ensure a successful meal. Here are a few to check out: Pioneer Woman, Food Network, NY Times Cooking (my personal favorite), Southern Living, and Food52 just to name a few!

Now you may have wondered why this post refers to this kind of meal as supper instead of dinner. For me, suppers are cozy, causal meals at home with the folks who are nearest and dearest to my heart. Dinners are at home, but more formal, or in a restaurant. Love both kinds of eating, but sheet pan suppers are my way to bring the ultimate in comfortable, easy, cozy eating to my home and my family every day. I’ll say it again, sheet pan suppers are a weeknight hero.

Puppy Proof Your Apartment

Puppy Proof Your Apartment

You took the plunge and got yourself a puppy after deciding what breed would work best. After making sure your pup has all the appropriate vaccinations to be around other dogs, you’ve considered where to take your pup to have fun, frolic, and make friends in Dayton, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, or Dallas. And, if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to puppy proof your apartment.

When I got my little guy 10 years ago, he was 2.5 pounds of fluff resembling a Beanie Baby (remember those?). He was 12 weeks old and (supposedly) a purebred Maltese. Turns out he’s part Maltese, part Bichon Frisé, and part rascal. His previous owner trained him on puppy pads, so housebreaking was a nightmare since he thought it was okay to pee inside on the floor. Fortunately, he was not one to chew on anything. There was just one time – the first time I dressed him in a red raincoat with a yellow ducky on the back (adorable!!) – that he took a good chew on my most expensive pair of shoes as revenge for the humiliation. Anyway, I digress (so easy to do when talking about your dog, right?).

When you introduce a new pup to your home, it’s important to prepare your apartment. Puppy proofing serves two important purposes: one, it ensures your puppy stays safe, and two, that the puppy doesn’t damage your furniture, your stuff or the apartment itself. Here are our suggestions for successfully puppy proofing your apartment.

Protect Your Apartment From Your Puppy

  • Tidy up.  Before your puppy enters your home, put away anything you don’t want to wind up in Fido’s mouth. Ollie has a penchant for earbuds. My previous dog likes to eat undies. So think about “chewables” like shoes, remotes, chargers, baskets, decorative items — anything, really!
  • Protect. Buy a lint roller and keep it handy for your clothes and furniture. Here are eight of the best. If you plan on snuggles with Rover on the couch, consider covering it with a washable blanket or throw. If your pup is one who will shed – and most dogs do – think about a partial slipcover for the sofa and chair.
  • Create a puppy space. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as “Teddy’s House”, but a cozy spot for Fluffy’s bed or crate (if you are crate training), bed, and toys would be ideal. Preferably the puppy space is located in a low-traffic, out-of-the-way area that has easy-to-clean floors in case of accidents. You can also purchase a large heavy-duty plastic sheet or tray to place under the bed or crate.
  • Consider crate training. Whether simple or luxe – Poppy won’t care – a crate gives your pup a safe place to retreat to when she is scared or anxious. Plus, it can help with housebreaking, future travel. It will also make visits to the vet or groomers a lot easier. Of course, you’ll use a carrier for quick trips and/or travelling in public transportation.
  • Easy does it. Bringing Marshmallow into her new space and around new people is going to be exciting and overwhelming for your pup. Taking it slow will help you avoid accidents and anxiety with your new fur baby. Let the puppy get used to your place one room at a time, and use a dog (or baby) gate to block areas you don’t want the puppy in just yet.
  • Get your puppy plenty of exercise. Take your puppy for lots of long walks and spend plenty of time outside to tire them out. This will ensure that they’ll just want to cuddle during your downtime instead of search for mischief to get into.
  • Spoil your puppy. A bored dog is a destructive dog. Provide lots of toys, especially rubber toys they can chew, and squeaky toys they can pounce on. Brush them every day and keep their nails clipped. If you start good daily grooming habits while they’re in the puppy stage, you’ll get them used to the attention and build trust.

Protect Your Puppy From Your Apartment

We’ve looked at ways to puppy-proof your apartment to keep your stuff, your furniture, and your place safe from adorable but curious and mischievous pups, but it’s also important to make sure you keep your pup safe from potentially dangerous things in your home.

  • Toxins. All medicines and supplements, cleaning products, detergents, and even certain plants are dangerous for puppies to ingest. Store these items behind locked doors or out of reach to avoid a visit to the emergency vet. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control has a list of people foods your dogs should not eat and a list of poisonous plants and flowers to help you protect your pet.
  • Trash. The smell of garbage can be irresistible to curious puppies. So much to root through, especially when they’re left alone. Yet trash cans are full of objects that could harm your puppy, including bones, leftover onion or garlic skins from your latest cooking adventure, empty cleaning product containers – even the trash bag represents a suffocation danger. To keep your pup safe, get a good, sturdy trash can with a lid. And consider putting childproof locks on lower cabinets, doors, and drawers.
  • Cords. Use cord protectors to cover household electric cords, cables, and wires.Teething puppies have a hankering to chew and they might see your power cable and charger cords as a chew toy. Protect your puppy from an electrical shock, burn to the mouth, and a visit to the vet by covering and securing those cords.
  • Batteries. Remote controls, electronic toys, key fobs, and any other devices that contain batteries should be picked up and kept well out of reach. Not only can small parts be chewed and swallowed, but a swallowed battery is even more dangerous because it can cause burns to the soft tissue inside your pet’s esophagus on the way down. Disc batteries are especially dangerous!
  • Heights. Puppies are clumsy and have fragile bones, so a seat on the couch or in a standing child’s arms puts them at risk of injury if they fall or try to jump. It’s best to keep your puppy off tall furniture and have young children sit when holding them until your puppy is less fragile and more coordinated.
  • Toilets. Keep toilet lids closed, so the puppy won’t drink out of the toilet or fall in.
  • Doors & windows. Keep doors and windows closed at all times, so Spot can’t escape or fall out, and secure the cords that raise blinds, so they won’t get caught around the puppy’s neck.
  • Your bag. It’s very likely that your purse, backpack, gym bag, or diaper bag contains one, if not many items that pose a threat to your new pup. Xylitol poisoning is becoming more and more common as it creeps into more products, like sugar-free gum, hand creams, etc. Preventative Vet has a list of 700+ products containing xylitol. Unintentional poisoning is one of the most common pet emergencies, so be sure to store bags in a closed closet or on a sturdy hook that is high and out of reach.

 

Now that you and Peanut are in a safe environment, snuggle up and enjoy your new bestie.

 

Best Dogs for Apartment Living

 

For years I tried to discourage my daughter from adopting a pup. She lives in New York City, and to me, NYC apartments are too small and everything there costs too much to add a dog to the mix. But there are large parks, and many dog-friendly shops and restaurants, and she did need the comfort only a dog can bring. So she adopted a pup with my blessings (not that she really needed them). She found a person who was fostering a litter of what were supposed to be part-Chihuahua puppies who were all part of the Berry family – Blueberry, Cranberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, and Blackberry. Cranberry soon became her bestie and although there’s definitely no Chihuahua in him, he’s shaped up to be a perfect apartment dog.

So what makes a perfect dog for apartment living? If you’re thinking about adopting a dog, you may be wondering how a dog will fare in an apartment, and what kinds of dogs are best for apartment living. Important considerations! As an apartment dweller, your first step is to check with your property manager to make sure your lease allows dogs and to determine if there are any restrictions on size or breed. Other factors, besides size, to consider when researching apartment-friendly dogs, include the breed’s personality, activity level, grooming needs, and how much noise the pup will make. I have a friend with a Basenji that never barks. Heaven! My little dog barks when leaves fall off trees or when a doorbell rings on TV. Not an ideal candidate for an apartment.

You can search for dogs by breed on websites such as Petfinder or Adopt-A-Pet, or click here for the top 10 best pet adoption websites. To further assist you, read on the learn the best large and small dog breeds for apartments, and how to be a good dog owner in a multi-family setting.

 Great Dog Breeds for Apartment Living

 According to the American Kennel Club, apartment residents have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a furry best friend. They say, “Apartment dwellers have many dog breeds to choose from when selecting a pet. The size of your living space isn’t the only consideration because many large-breed dogs have lower activity levels and are more than happy to lounge on the sofa. There are dog breeds that require high energy and plenty of space, so they may not be best suited for a smaller apartment. Some small dog breeds with high energy are satisfied with indoor playtime or a brisk walk. Just make sure to consider your neighbors when choosing a dog: You’ll want a pet that doesn’t bark incessantly and is polite when meeting other people, in the elevator, on the stairs, or in the lobby.”

Click here for Highland Canine’s comprehensive list of the best breeds for apartments; below are a few of their top-rated.

Basenji: My friend’s Basenji is a delight. This low-shedding, short-haired dog breed was originally used for hunting, so they definitely like to chase, fetch, and play. Basenjis are primarily known as a “bark-less” breed, as their larynx only allows them to “yodel.” Weighing around 25 pounds, they are slightly larger than other small dog breeds for apartments on this list, but they’ll do fine in a smaller space as long as they get some daily exercise.

 

Bichon Frise: My dog was supposed to be a purebred Maltese, but he’s most definitely part Bichon. While he does like to bark, we’ve been able to control his barking with training. Bichon’s are part of the poodle family – fluffy but smaller. Like Basenjis, Bichon’s don’t shed, so they’re considered hypoallergenic. They don’t bark too much, and at 11 pounds, they’re among the top small dogs that are good for apartments. Bichons are playful, so they need regular exercise and walks. They’re also highly trainable, can learn tricks, love to cuddle, and are great with children.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: These sweet-faced dogs are small in size (13 to 18 pounds) so they don’t require a palace. King Charles Spaniels are smart, very trainable, and friendly with humans as well as other dogs. They love to be near their owners, so while King Charles Spaniels are perfect for apartment living, they don’t like to be left alone for long periods.

 

 

French Bulldog: Smaller than their standard Bulldog cousins, French Bulldogs are small in stature (usually around 11 to 12 inches tall) but have big, goofy personalities. They have short hair, so you won’t have to groom them much, and they rarely bark, making them ideal small dogs for apartments. A daily walk or two should suffice for exercise.

 

Greyhound: These lanky dogs are much larger than the other breeds on this list (females can reach 75 pounds, while males can weigh more than 80 pounds) but they are gentle giants who love a good snuggle. Bred originally for racing, Greyhounds need regular exercise such as daily fetch sessions – but they are true couch potatoes at heart. They also don’t bark much, which will make your neighbors happy. Best of all, many organizations find homes for retired racing Greyhounds, including Greyhound Welfare.

 

 

Apartment Dog Owner Etiquette

 When living in an apartment community with a dog, a little etiquette – we call it petiquette – goes a long way. While you may love and adore your fluffy companion, that doesn’t mean your neighbor will. You can encourage positive neighborly relations by following a few simple tips. Click here for our Perfect Pettiquette post.

  • Always pick up after your dog. It’s easy if you have the right bags and a bag dispenser.
  • Always keep your pup on a good leash unless at a dog park.
  • Be cautiously sociable and let other people know if your dog doesn’t like attention.
  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of outdoor exercise.
  • Train your dog, especially if Fido exhibits extreme barking, separation anxiety, or aggression. You may lose your permission to have a dog if neighbors complain about excessive noise or aggressive tendencies.

Dogs Welcome Here

Getting a dog is a big step, whether it will be your first dog or you’re a seasoned dog parent, especially if you live in an apartment community. Financial and emotional responsibility are key when opening your home and heart to a pet. You also have to be willing to put in the time and effort to train your dog to live in an apartment. And know that life will be different when you have a dog waiting for you at home. There will be sacrifices to your time – like going home after work to walk Spot instead of having a beer after work with co-workers.

Almost all Fath Properties communities are pet-friendly and a few even have dog parks. Start your search for a community that will welcome your furry friend here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garbage Disposal Operation

When I was a kid, and I will be dating myself here, we had a big old white porcelain sink with two basins. I was the dishwasher and my dad was the disposer of garbage. I washed the dishes because whenever my mom did the dishes, she broke at least one thing. My siblings and I used to joke that she filled the sink with hot, soapy water, added everything that was dirty (dishes, glasses, pots and pans), and stirred the lot with a big stick. A strainer in the sink caught any bits of food (or broken glass LOL). Once everything was washed and rinsed, I emptied the strainer into the trash for my father to take out. Good times. Today we have garbage disposals which are, when used properly (and in my humble opinion), a wonder of the world and saviors of dads everywhere. Because garbage disposals operate virtually trouble-free when used properly.

How many things operate virtually trouble-free when used properly? Best of all, they get rid of the muck when you wash dishes by hand, and the food scraps generated during food prep. But these scraps can get tricky if you try and dispose of the wrong thing. And a meal prep with a broken garbage disposal is no one’s idea of a good time in the kitchen.

Here are some helpful procedures and tips that will lead to a long life for your disposal and easy operation for you.

How To Operate Your Garbage Disposal

  1. Run a steady stream of cool water into the sink before turning on the garbage disposal.
  2. Flip the disposal switch to the “on” position before placing any food waste into the disposal.
  3. Gradually feed food waste into the disposal. Avoid putting large amounts of food waste all at once as this may slow the grinding process. Keep hands away from the inside chamber.
  4. Once the food waste has been broken down, turn the disposal off. It usually takes only a few seconds to grind food waste, although it depends on the quantity and type of food waste. The sound of the disposal will change when there is no more food waste in the grind chamber.
  5. Let water run for one or two minutes to flush the drainpipe.

Sounds easy enough, right? But my mother thought her method of washing dishes was easy, and we all know how that turned out. Although the device is easy to use, please take note of the following:

PRECAUTIONS

  • Never put your hand down a disposal when it is running.
  • Do not use hot water when operating a disposal.
  • Never try to put too much through a disposal at once. Slow and steady wins the race.

IN OR OUT?

Garbage disposals are designed to handle just about any type of everyday food waste.  But the topic of what not to put in a garbage disposal is alive and well, usually based on myths and old family stories rather than facts.

A good rule of thumb is: if you can’t eat it, neither can your disposal. Everything you put in your disposal should be biodegradable. But here is a more comprehensive list from the makers of InSinkErator Disposals which contains a few caveats.

Disposals can quickly and efficiently grind most everyday food wastes, including leftover meats, vegetables and fruits, as well as food preparation waste.  The key to keeping a disposal working properly is to follow the proper operation steps and avoid filling the disposal with too much food waste at one time. But do not put these foods in the disposal:

THE LIST OF NEVERS

  • Grease, fats, or oils
  • Fibrous materials (cornhusks, artichokes, potato skins, celery, onion skins, carrot tops, banana peels, tea bags, etc.)
  • Shellfish shells (clams, oyster) or nutshells
  • Expandable foods (rice, pasta, bread)
  • Eggshells, coffee grounds (see below)
  • Hard materials (bones, fruit pits, cigarette butts, wood, glass, plastic, anything metallic)
  • Drain cleaners or bleach
  • Dishcloths

ABOUT FAT, GREASE, AND OILS

These items should never go in your disposal. Instead, put used grease, fat, and oil into a small container like a small bowl or rinsed tin can and refrigerate. Once the fats solidify, toss in the trash.

 ABOUT COFFEE GROUNDS AND EGGSHELLS

Neither of these materials is harmful to a disposal, and will pass through without a problem.  However, problems can arise with household plumbing – especially if it is older, or has not been cleared in some time.

Both coffee grounds and eggshells are sedimentary in nature, if too much is placed in at one time, or if the plumbing is restricted, it can create a clog or a ‘slow drain’ situation.  Too help avoid any problems, feed these materials into the disposer gradually, and utilize a strong flow of cold water to help flush it through the pipes. Or, toss these items in the trash or compost them.

ONGOING

  • Grind a citrus peel or put baking soda down the drain to keep the disposal odor free.
  • Grind ice cubes to clean the unit walls and blades.
  • Place  the disposal cover or sink strainer over the drain opening when the disposal is not in use, and leave in this position to prevent foreign material from accidentally dropping into disposal.

 TROUBLESHOOTING

If the motor has stopped due to overloading, turn the disposal off.  Wait three to five minutes, and then push the red reset button (located under the sink on the unit itself).  Then follow normal operating procedure.

If the disposal has jammed, turn the power switch to the “off” position before attempting to remove an object.  With tongs, remove any objects that might be obstructing the free movement of the blades.  In many cases, you can insert a broom handle into the mouth of the disposal and turn it in a circular pattern to free the blades.

When movement is restored to the blades, push the reset button on the disposal unit.  Then follow normal operating procedure.

Of course, if you are a resident in a Fath Properties community, and ever run into an issue you cannot resolve yourself, a member of our professional, efficient maintenance team will be happy to help! Just call your leasing office and we will schedule a friendly service tech to come to your apartment home to make everything right.

 

 

Bullying

About Bullying.

Bullying or cyberbullying is when one child repeatedly taunts, teases, intimidates, or torments another child. These actions can be physical, verbal, or social. Bullying can occur at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones. Being subjected to bullying is a horrible experience for anyone, but especially difficult for a child.

With school back in session in a few short weeks, we thought it might be helpful to bring this important topic front of mind.

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS BULLIED

There are several steps you can follow in the event your child is subjected to bullying.

  • Alert school officials and work with them in person toward a solution.
  • Teach your child when and how to ask a trusted adult for help, and to be comfortable with doing so. Ask them to identify who they can ask for help.
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings about being bullied and recognize the serious nature of bullying.

Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:

  • Look the bully in the eye.
  • Always stand tall and stay calm despite the difficulty of the situation.
  • Walk away.
  • With your child, practice saying, in a firm voice:
    • “I don’t like what you are doing.”
    • “Please do NOT talk to me like that.”

What you can do as a parent:

  • Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
  • Support outside activities that interest your child.
  • Find an adult who knows about the situation and can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
  • Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.
  • Document everything.

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS THE BULLY

This is tough on any parent but cannot be ignored.

  • Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
  • Teach your child to be a buddy, not a bully.
  • Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
  • Ask your child how they would feel if the tables were turned, and they were subject to torment.
  • Teach empathy for other children by asking them to consider how the other child feels.
  • Be a positive role model. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening, or hurting someone.
  • Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
  • Praise your child when their actions are positive, such as helping or being kind to others.
  • Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, school social workers or psychologists, and parents of the children your child has bullied.

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS A BYSTANDER

Witnessing a bully torment a friend or classmate can be frightening for any child. Be sure you and your child talk about bullying so they understand that it may happen, and what to do if they witness it.

  • Practice with your child how to find and tell a trusted adult about what is happening or has happened. Knowing what to say in advance will be helpful when/if the need arises.
  • Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.
  • Help your child support other children who have been or may be bullied. Making friends with these kids and including them in activities will make them feel less alone and know they have a friend they can count on.

For more information or assistance, please reach out to these resources:

Let’s work together to keep our kids safe!

 

Where Dogs Are Welcome Dallas, Texas Edition

They’re like family. We want to make it as easy for you as possible to love and care for your pups without having to spend a lot of time wondering where to take your favorite furry friend for an off-leash run, a day of monitored play, a sleepover, or to join you someplace pup-friendly for a cold brew.

Read on for our list of Dogs welcome here locations in North and Northeast Dallas near your Fath Properties apartment.

North & Northeast

PLAY

The newly renovated White Rock Lake Dog Park is a 3-acre “off-leash” dog park located on the northwest side of White Rock Lake Park at the intersection of Mockingbird Lane and W. Lawther Drive. This doggy paradise boasts great views of the lake, trail, and wildflower areas. You and your pet will enjoy the wide variety of big and small K-9’s that frequent this park, and most importantly you’re only steps away from hiking, jogging, cycling, or boating around Dallas’ largest lake.

The dog park is open daily from 5 AM until 11 PM except on Mondays for maintenance and on rainy days. For specific park information, call their Dog Park Hotline / Rain Out Line at (214) 614-6711. Or, download the “Rain Out Line” App or view info here!

Park Features:

  • 2 acres Large Dog Paddock
  • 1 acre Small Dog Paddock
  • Pavilion with Lighting & Electrical Outlets for Events
  • Shade Structures in Dog Paddocks
  • Information Kiosk
  • Dog (Launch) Water Access & Overlook
  • Lighting in Dog Paddocks Parking Lot
  • 6’ Tall Ornamental Fencing with Mow Strip
  • Gated Entries to Dog Paddocks & Dog Launch
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Dog Washes (Pet Comfort Stations)
  • Benches
  • Pet Waste Stations
  • Trash Receptacles
  • Concrete Sidewalks

Fun fact:  Mockingbird Point was the first dog park in the Dallas Park and Recreation System.

Wagging Tail Dog Park is a 6.9-acre “off-leash” dog park, in north Dallas. It is located northwest of Preston Road. A wonderful flagstone observation deck rises 35 feet above White Rock Creek and offers majestic views of a waterfall. The beautiful metal fencing with custom-cut dog silhouettes and expansive landscape is ideal for both large and small dogs. After enjoying the company of other K-9s, be sure to stroll around the 6-foot wide loop walking trail.

The dog park is open daily from 5 AM until 11 PM except on Mondays for maintenance and on rainy days. For specific park information, call their Dog Park Hotline / Rain Out Line at (214) 614-6711. Or, download the “Rain Out Line” App or view info here!

Park Features:

  • Benches
  • Dog Drinking Bowl
  • Drinking Fountain
  • Fenced Area
  • Grill
  • Large Dog Area
  • Nature Observation Platform
  • Parking
  • Pet Waste Station
  • Picnic Areas
  • Picnic Tables
  • Shaded Areas
  • Small Dog Area
  • Trails

Fun Fact: Wagging Tail was the first dog park designed by the City of Dallas.

  • For information about Dog Parks that are part of the Dallas Parks System in other locations of the city, click here.
  • For information about other parks in the Dallas area, click here.
  • If you’d like to take Fido on a road trip, here are Dog Parks in cities outside Dallas.

CARE – SUPPLIES & GROOMING

SLEEPOVERS & DOGGIE DAYCARE

 GOING OUT

  • Eater Dallas. 12 Essential Dog-friendly Dallas Patios. From quick-stop seafood joints to fine dining establishments, grab your four-legged friend and head outside to enjoy good food and drinks at these dog-friendly restaurants in DFW.
  • Bring Fido. 351 pet-friendly restaurants in Dallas that welcome dogs at their outdoor tables. Need help to decide where to eat? You’ll find a detailed description of each restaurant, along with pictures and reviews from other dog owners.
  • Visit Dallas. Restaurants that welcome your pup are everywhere in Dallas – the link has some of their favorites. Take your dog to the park, and then get a table at one of these spots.
  • Yelp. Yelp’s top 10.
  • 10 Best from Ideal Turf. Spots where you can sit back, relax, order your favorite food and drink and simply enjoy being outside. And no need to leave your canine best friend at home when you head out if you choose to dine at one of the many great dog-friendly restaurants in Dallas. You and Fido can enjoy an afternoon of people-watching and good company together when you dine at one of these yummy dog-friendly spots in the Dallas area.

 Disclaimer: This list was assembled by the Fath Properties marketing team who have been Googling like crazy on your behalf. We have no personal experience with the vast majority of these businesses (although we are most definitely dog lovers and have personal experience with businesses in our various home locations), so do not necessarily endorse them due to our global inexperience. This writer would not mind a fact-finding expedition to experience them all with pup-in-tow, but that would be a story for another day). This list is provided here for you simply to narrow down your search for services and Dogs Welcome Here! locations near your Fath apartment in North and Northeast Dallas.

Have fun taking your furry friends everywhere Dogs Are Welcome Here! locations in the Dallas area near your Fath Properties apartment home. Maybe we’ll see you there.

For Dogs Are Welcome Here locations in the Greater Cincinnati area, click here; for locations in Dayton, click here.

And tell your dog we said, “Hi!”

 

 

Where Dogs Are Welcome! Cincinnati/NKY Edition

They’re like family. We want to make it as easy for you as possible to love and care for your pups without having to spend a lotof time wondering where to take your favorite furry friend for an off-leash run,  a day of monitored play, a sleepover, or to join you someplace pup-friendly for a cold brew. Read on for our list of Where Dogs Are Welcome! locations throughout Cincinnati (by region) and Northern Kentucky. Check out additional locations in the Tour De Cincinnati Dog-Friendly section!

CINCINNATI

West: Price Hill, College Hill, Mt. Healthy, Fairfield, Mt. Airy, Cleves, Hamilton, Colerain

  • Play
    • Airy Forest Dog Park. 3006 Westwood Northern Blvd. The park boasts a large area for dogs to romp around in, as well as doggy pools and agility equipment. There are miles of trails in the beautiful Mt. Airy Forest just behind the park if Fido is seeking a change of pace. Fully Fenced, Free to public, small and large dog sides. Some agility equipment. Lots of shades and some doggy pools. Lots of picnic tables. More info here.
    • Westwoof Dog Park. Montana & Epworth Aves. Artificial turf and concrete areas make this small, fenced park a great place to visit when it’s wet outside.
    • Simmons Family Dog Park. 8715 Hamilton Cleves Pike Rd., Miamitown. A huge, 11-acre park with four separate fields, dog agility equipment, shade trees, and benches. More info here.
    • Doris Day Dog Park. 3006 Westwood Northern Blvd., Mt. Airy. Located in Mount Airy Forest, this fenced-in two-acre dog park has both grassy areas and dirt/woodchip areas for pup play. There’s agility equipment and a water hose for drinks.
    • Hamilton Bark Park. 20 New London Rd., Hamilton. Playspace, room for fetch, and Frisbee. Big and small dogs are welcome. Sculpture. More info here.
    • Diamond Dogs Dog Park. 11405 E. Miami River Rd., Cincinnati. Fido can play off-leash at Diamond Dogs Dog Park, located within the 126-acre, pet-friendly Heritage Park along the Great Miami River in Cincinnati, OH. The fenced dog park offers an entrance for large and small dogs, shade, trees, waste bags, shaded seating, and a seasonally-available water source. More info here.
  • Care
    • Petey’s Pet Stop. 311 Howell Ave. Boarding, Dog Food/Treats, Pet Supplies, Self Service Dog Washing. Linda Sterling and Beth McCarty, both occupational therapists and animal lovers, founded Petey’s Pet Stop.
    • PetSmart. 6068 Glenway Ave. Chain featuring a range of pets, supplies & food (most offer grooming, boarding & other services).
  • Going Out

East: East End, Newtown, Anderson, Batavia

  • Play
    • Deer Hill Apartments. 2551 Spindlehill Dr. A residents-only facility, this fenced-in park features dog activity stations, shade trees, and a poop station. More info here.
    • Otto Armleder Dog Park. 5057 Wooster Pike, Linwood. One of the most popular places in Cincinnati to let your dog roam around off-lease and socialize with other dogs. The park spans 10 acres and offers separate areas for large and small breeds, dog drinking fountains, a canine shower, along with plenty of shade trees and benches.
    • Red Dog Park. 5081 Madison Rd., Cincinnati. A “members-only” park run by Red Dog Resort and Spa. Three acres of fenced grassy and wooded rolling grounds. Separate areas for small and large breeds with play equipment scattered throughout the park. Drinking fountains for pups and humans. Click here for more info and pricing.
    • 3810 Church St., Newtown. A private three-acre park with grassy fields, a lake, and a variety of agility equipment. Lots of seating for humans and a massive TV that plays shows and movies. Daily admission or yearly membership is available. Rates and more info here.
    • Kellogg Park Dog Field. 6701 Kellogg Rd., Anderson. Four-acre, fenced-in park for off-leash fun. Dog-height water fountain. Beautiful mural by ArtWorks. Dawn to dusk year-round; yearly permit required. More info here.
    • David J. Stricker Dog Park. 1359 Clough Pike, Batavia. A one-acre off-leash park that allows dogs to roam off-leash. Fenced-in areas for large and small breeds. Benches, shade trees.
  • Care
  • Sleepovers
  • Going Out

North Central: Norwood, Madisonville, Hyde Park, Oakley, Pleasant Ridge

  • Play
    • Washington Park Dog Park. 1230 Elm St, Cincinnati in Over-the-Rhine. An enclosed 12,000 square-foot area within Washington Park that offers a water creek for dogs to play in, large granite boulders, and a water fountain with fresh water for owners and a spout near the ground for dogs. Benches line the perimeter of the park so visitors can hang out and socialize with other owners as well. Check out the Washington Park website for more details on the park.
    • Fido Field. 630 Eggleston Ave, Cincinnati Central Business District. Located just outside of the Central Business District near the Downtown area, this is a fenced-in, off-leash park managed and maintained completely by volunteers. The park offers play areas for both large and small breeds and there is plenty of free parking next to the park under 471 or on the surface lot on Eggleston Avenue. Currently, the park doesn’t have a permanent water source, so be sure to bring your own when you visit. More info here.
    • Redbird Hollow Trail. 6168 Given Rd. Indian Hill. Not a dog park, but a wonderful secluded 3-mile round trip nature trail with beautiful views of rivers, creek beds, forests, and many plant and bird species to discover. There’s just one entrance at a bend in the road. Dogs must be kept on leash. BYOW (bring your own water).

North: Fairfield, Franklin, Mason

  • Play
    • Wiggly Field Dog Park. 7850 VOA Park Dr. West Chester Twsp, (Mason). Fenced-in areas for small and large breeds. Benches, trees, shading structures, water fountains, and dog water bowls. More info here.
    • Schappacher Dog Park. 4686 Old Irwin Simpson Rd., Mason. Within the 10-acre Schappacher Park, there are 38,000+ square feet of room for dogs to run. This one is not huge but it’s plenty big enough for your dog to stretch his/her legs. It’s mostly mulch and bark and includes a few benches and a picnic table for the accompanying humans. More info here.
    • Furfield Dog Park. 6611 River Rd, Fairfield. The dog park is stretched over more than 6 acres of grassy land and features multiple, fenced-in areas giving room for dogs of all sizes and play levels the opportunity to exercise safely. The park also features a pond. More info here.
    • Pawmyra Dog Park. 3400 Mason Morrow Millgrove Rd, Mason. A four-acre, off-leash area located inside Mason Sports Park in Mason, OH. The dog park has dedicated play areas for smaller and larger dogs and features large entrance gates and concrete pathways for wheelchairs. More info here.
  • Care
  • Sleepovers
  • Going Out

North East: Loveland, Blue Ash

  • Play
    • Nantucket Apartments. 3569 Nantucket Dr., Loveland. A residents-only park featuring shade trees, benches, activity equipment, and a poop station. Open dawn to dusk, furry friends large and small play together. BYOW (bring your own water). More info here.
    •  Summit Park Dog Park. 4335 Glendale Milford Rd., Blue Ash. Well-maintained and fenced-in park for off-leash fun. Benches for humans; pup-height water fountains. More info here.
    • Matt Haverkamp Foundation Dog Park. 236 Wall St, Loveland. Also known as Loveland Dog Park, is located within Kiwanis Park, and is dedicated to area K9 officers and their handlers. The 2-acre space is fenced and accommodates both small and large dogs in the same area. The site includes shade trees and benches for resting. Please bring your own water. More info here.

Northern Kentucky

  • Play
    • Trails of Saddlebrook Apartments. 646 Meadowlands Trail, Florence. This resident-only dog park is more of a modest doggie run, but it’s open 24 hours and nestled amongst the trees in the back portion of the community. It has a seating bench and small activity area, and a poop station. Large and small pups play side by side. BYOW (bring your own water). More info here.
    • Fort Thomas Dog Park. 199 Mayfield Ave., Fort Thomas, KY 41075 (Fort Thomas). A dog ark inside Highland Hills Park. Fenced-in areas for both small and large breeds, and grassy areas with trails. Water is available outside the dog park, so you might want to BYOW.
    • Newport Dog Park. 901 E. 6th, Newport, KY. Located behind the Campbell County Library, the park features fenced-in areas for both large and small dogs, water fountains, lots of shade, and seating for humans. More info here.
    • The Bark Park & Patio. 7544 Burlington Pike, Florence, KY, US, 41042. The Bark Park & Patio is a private dog park with an attached taproom in Florence, KY. Fido can play in the 1+ acre fenced space while you enjoy a glass of wine or an ice-cold beer. A liability waiver will need to be signed upon your first visit. Fido must be current on all vaccinations and leased in the taproom and on the patio. Day passes are offered as well as monthly and annual dog memberships. The park is closed on Mondays for private events. Human guests must be at least 21 years of age to enter. More info here.
    • Dog Park at Walton Community Park. 35 Old Stephenson Mill Rd, Walton, KY, 41094. The fenced dog park features separate areas for small and large dogs and an agility course. After your pup expends his energy, reattach his leash and enjoy Walton Community Park which occupies 30 acres and features two large playgrounds, a paved walking trail, picnic facilities, and plenty of open space. More info here.
    • SFC Jason Bishop Memorial Dog Park. 9th St & Philadelphia St, Covington, KY 41011. Features separate areas for small and large dogs and offers seating for humans to relax and watch pups play with their new friends. Water fountains for dogs are available in warmer months. More info here.

  • Care
    • World of Pets. 7199 Turfway Rd. #2, Florence. Pet supplies.
    • PetPeople. 2790 Town Center Blvd., Crestview Hills. Pet supplies.
    • Petco. 575 Clock Tower Way, Crescent Springs. Pet supplies, training, grooming.
    • PetSmart. 1060 Hansel Ave, Florence. Pet supplies, training, grooming.
    • Yelp’s top 10 NKY groomers.
  • Sleepovers
    • Allie’s Walkabout. Voted Best of NKY 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022 and most recently named the Best Doggy Daycare in all of Kentucky by Pet News Daily. It sits on 4.5 acres, so your pal will romp and play throughout their 9,000 sq. ft. facility with 4 indoor and 4 outdoor play yards full of toys and places to climb.
    • Pet Suites of Erlanger. Boarding, daycare, training, grooming.
  • Going Out
    • Check out Bring Fido’s list of dog-friendly bars and restaurants in NKY here.
    • Find Yelp recommendations
    • Or how about BARk & Patio? Northern Kentucky finally has its very first dog park and bar, The Bark Park & Patio! They have a passion for highlighting everything local, which is why you will only find the best local craft beers and wines on tap. With over an acre of fenced-in grassy space for your four-legged best friend to run around in you will have no problem relaxing while you sip on an ice-cold beer and enjoy the backyard atmosphere we all love.

 

Disclaimer: This list was assembled by the Fath Properties marketing team who have been Googling like crazy on your behalf. We have no personal experience with the vast majority of these businesses – and this list is not all-inclusive – (although we are most definitely dog lovers and have some personal experience with businesses in our various home locations), so do not necessarily endorse them due to our global inexperience. This writer would not mind a fact-finding expedition to experience them all with pup-in-tow, but that would be a story for another day). This list is provided here for you simply to narrow down your search for services and Where Dogs Are Welcome! locations throughout the greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.

For Dogs Are Welcome Here locations in the Dallas area, click here; for locations in Dayton, click here.

Have fun taking your furry friends Where Dogs Are Welcome! locations throughout the region. Maybe we’ll see you there. Until then, tell your dog we said, “Hi!”

Laundry Room Etiquette

Oh no they didn’t…!

“I want my laundry day to go that ^^^ way!” said no one ever. Laundry is a chore even when you’re fortunate to have a washer and dryer in your home. But doing laundry in a shared laundry facility – whether a public laundromat or apartment community laundry center – adds an additional layer of things that can make this chore even less fun. From the wait for machines, to unkind or rude fellow launderers, to noisy kids, to blatant disrespect for you, your stuff, and the place – whew. It makes you wish we could all just spray on our clothes or be naked all the time, right?

So what can we do to make this task less tedious for everyone? Well, you could always pay someone to wash your clothes for you. But, if like most of us, you’d rather spend your money on a long weekend in Florida, a shopping spree to jump start your spring wardrobe, or just a nice dinner out with adult beverages, let’s establish some Emily Post-ish laundry room etiquette we can all use. Typically, laundry etiquette can be tossed out like an old dryer sheet, especially in a communal setting. Whether you’re an apartment newbie or an experienced renter, sometimes airing your dirty laundry in a public space can leave everyone’s patience stuck in the spin cycle.

Be prepared.  Yes, channel your inner Boy or Girl Scout and be prepared:

  • Sorting your stuff before you leave your apartment.
  • Pre-treat stains in advance so you won’t need to lug an extra product with you.
  • Check your pockets for loose change, that winning lotto ticket, tissues, or anything else that you’ll regret washing.
  • Get enough quarters to wash and dry all your loads.

Be courteous. Hello Emily Post, and Philip Galanes.

  • Don’t play Monopoly with the machines; in other words, don’t hog them all or leave your stuff in them after the cycle is complete.
  • Set a timer on your phone if you go to errands, go for a coffee, or go for a brisk walk. Washing a load of laundry typically takes 30 to 40 minutes, and drying takes 45 minutes to an hour. Time yourself to return before the cycle ends.
  • If someone else’s clothes are sitting in a stopped machine unattended for more than five minutes (10 if you’re exceptionally kind), move them with care. Neatly place the clothes on a clean surface above or near the machine. If rolling carts are available, you could place the clothes in one. Do not place the clothes in a dryer (clothes are easy to ruin, and you don’t want to be responsible for the shrinkage of their merino wool sweater) and certainly don’t place them on the floor (unless you want to be forever known as “that a$$hole).
  • Clean the lint screen after using the dryer. Shared lint = ew.
  • Use the appropriate amounts of detergent, bleach, or fabric softener so as to not leave soap or bleach residue which could affect the next person’s load of laundry. They also might be allergic to your detergent or have a thing for some scents.

Be clean.  I know, your there to clean, but people can be dirty while simultaneously trying to be clean. To wit:

  • Wipe up, rinse, and dry any and all spills.
  • Toss empty detergent, bleach, fabric softener, and stain remover containers in the trash can.
  • Toss used fabric softener sheets in the trash.
  • Toss lint from your dryer in the trash.
  • Don’t bring you cat or dog to keep you company especially if they shed.
  • Don’t throw everyday trash in the laundry room bins especially if that trash is food-related garbage.

Be mindful. Most people don’t enjoy doing laundry, but you can improve the experience for everyone by staying in a good mood and being polite.

  • Offer to help anyone struggling to use the equipment or fold that king-size fitted sheet (here’s how).
  • Resist the urge to gaze deeply at someone else’s underthings.
  • Use headphones or earbuds to enjoy music, a video, or a podcast.
  • Leave the room to take or make a call. No one wants to listen to a one-sided conversation.
  • Make sure there are seat for everyone by not filling seats with your supplies, coat, purse, or backpack.
  • If you bring your kids along, keep them as quiet as possible and seated. Tough, I know!

SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEEED

.When it comes to lugging laundry, smaller is better!

  • Fill a smaller container from your larger detergent or bleach bottle to reduce carrying weight.
  • Take a small laundry basket to leave on or next to your machine. That way, there’s a place for your stuff if someone need to move them after the cycle ends. Did you know that the big blue bag from IKEA makes a great laundry basket? It folds flat for each storage and it’s easy to carry with the dual shoulder straps. The bag is also virtually indestructible and cheap. If you don’t live near an IKEA 1) I’m sorry and 2) you can get one on Amazon!
  • Payment method. Your laundry room may use cards you can pre-load, so make sure you bring that and a payment method along to reload your card if needed. If the machines still take coins, save a trip back to your apartment (or the bank!?!) by bringing double the number you expect to use.

So there you have it. A few simple suggestions about laundry room etiquette that will make this chore less annoying. Now go separate your colors from your whites, grab some detergent and some quarters, and get that pile of dirty clothes washed, dried, folded, and put away. You got this!

 

 

Home Office 2021 Edition

Designated Home Office Space

“I get to work from home in my jammies?!? Hurrah!” That’s what you were thinking when your company sent you home to work because of the 2020 Pandemic, right? It’s what we were all thinking. Here we are over a year later and you have to admit – the thrill is gone. While many of us are back to work, many of us are still working remotely full-time or part-time. We miss our co-workers, lunches out, happy hours after work, wearing something other than sweats, and being able to just work without all the distractions working at home bring. And the guilt. You know, “As long as I am home, shouldn’t I prepare a great meal for dinner this evening? Why am I behind on my laundry? Where did all this dust come from?”  We feel you, and hopefully can help.

HAVE A DESIGNATED SPACE

Keeping your “work” space separate from your “living” space really helps when you work from home. If you’re renting a new apartment and know you’ll be working from home, look for one that has one more bedroom, a den, a larger living room or a cozy nook than can become your office. Having a designated space will allow you to feel like you’re at work, while also making it easier to “turn off” at night and maintain a strong work-life balance. Investing in a decent chair will really helps to avoid the inevitable fanny fatigue you’ll suffer from sitting in a dining chair. If a  new chair is out of reach, a chair pad can make all the difference (plus you can take it on road trips!).

TAKE BREAKS

Sitting at a desk all day can drain your energy and motivation. Set up intervals where you can take quick breaks, even if it’s just to get up and stretch your legs or make a coffee. Taking small breaks every 90 minutes or so actually increases productivity, so don’t be afraid to step away from your work to help you focus better and keep your sanity while you’re at your desk.

SCHEDULE YOUR DAY

Working at home means working on your own more often. This cuts down on the distractions that tend to happen in an office environment, but it can also be difficult to keep yourself on track with no one else around. Planning your day and following a solid task list is a great way to hold yourself accountable. While completing a task, try not to take phone calls, answer emails, or shift from that task until it is finished.

KEEP A ROUTINE

Having a regular routine will help you stay productive. This extends outside of your work hours to include a regular bedtime, wake-up time, and work time. Choose a time that you will start work each day, and stick to it. Plan everything else around it, including your meals. Take time to get ready each morning and take a lunch break every day just as you would if you went to an office for work. And wear something nice to work at least once a week. Give your jammies a rest.

 

 

 

Out, Damned Spot; Out I Say!

illustrates damage from red wine spills

Out Damned Spot

Racked with guilt over her complicity in murder, Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth famously exclaims, “Out, damned spot; out I say!” while wringing her hands to remove a hallucinated bloodstain. You may be tempted to say something similar – or much worse – when you’re suddenly faced with a horrifying spill of red wine on your carpet.

It’s always a sad moment when that delicious glass of red winds up on the floor instead of in your belly. My good friend Stacy never fails to drip, dribble, spill, or splash whenever we get together. I have honestly never met anyone as clumsy with food and drink as she. Fortunately for us both, she is also a wizard at removing stains from everything – including carpet – with products you already have in your home.  Her advice?

  • Blot Up ASAP. Gently blot with paper towels from the outside edge of the spill to the center. Act quickly before the wine’s natural dyes and acids work their way into the carpet fibers.
  • Select a Solution. See four options below:
    • Straight club soda.
    • One tablespoon each of white vinegar and liquid dish soap mixed in two cups warm water.
    • Table salt – enough to cover the spill.
    • Wine removal product such as Wine Away (under $10 from Amazon).
  • Test Solution. Test the solution on a small inconspicuous area for colorfastness.
  • Dab and Blot. Dab your solution of choice in small amounts on the spill with a soft, clean white cloth (an old T-shirt will do nicely!), again working your way from the outside of the spot to the center. Don’t be tempted to dump the mixture all over the stain as it will cause it to spread and may damage the carpet’s backing.
    • NOTE: If using salt, cover the stain, let sit until dry, then vacuum.
  • Rinse. Rinse the cloth frequently to avoid spreading or reintroducing the wine to the area.
  • Rest. Let everything sit for five to 10 minutes.
  • Rinse Again. Rinse the area with cold water.
  • Blot and Repeat. Blot with a white towel. Repeat until no more color transfers to the towel.

Theoretically, you can use white wine to remove a red wine stain following the steps above. If wasting any wine on a spill shocks you to your core, consider having vinegar or salt or Wine Away at the ready before you pop the cork.

Cheers!

 

 

Memorial Day 2021

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest

appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.

—John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

 

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe this holiday by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades, but Memorial Day is/should be much more than an excuse to party over a three-day weekend. Here are some facts to give this important US holiday some perspective.

 

Memorial Day Beginnings

  • Approximately 620,000 soldiers lost their lives during the Civil War.
  • In the years following the war, women placed flowers on the graves of their fallen soldiers. Two years later 219 Civil War veterans marched through Carbondale, IL to Woodlawn Cemetery in memory of the fallen, where Union hero Major General John A. Logan delivered the principal address. The ceremony gave Carbondale its claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.
  • Waterloo, New York, began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day.”

 

Major General John A. Logan Make Memorial Day Official

  • General Logan was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Order No. 11, which set aside May 30, 1868, “for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.” The orders expressed hope that the observance would be “kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades.

 

Decoration Day

  • Originally known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags, federal law declared “Memorial Day” the official name in 1967.

 

The Holiday

  • Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allowed Civil War veterans, many of whom were drawing a government paycheck, to honor their fallen comrades without losing a day’s pay.
  • New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday in 1873.
  • After World War I, the purpose of Memorial Day was broadened to honor those who died in all our country’s wars.
  • In 1971, Memorial Day shifted from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

 

First Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

  • On May 30, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery—which, until 1864, was Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s plantation.
  • James A. Garfield, a Civil War general, Republican Congressman from Ohio, and future president delivered a speech lasting almost two hours.

 

Rolling Thunder

  • On Memorial Day weekend in 1988, 2500 motorcyclists rode into Washington, D.C. for the first Rolling Thunder rally to draw attention to Vietnam War soldiers still missing in action and prisoners of war. By 2002, the ride had swelled to 300,000 bikers, many of them veterans, and in 2018 the numbers were closer to half a million.
  • Although reported that 2019 would be the group’s last Memorial Day ride, American Veterans (AMVETS) continued the tradition in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now known as Rolling to Remember, 2020’s ride participants each rode 22 miles through their own community for a Virtual Memorial Day. Traveling 22 miles is significant, because in addition to raising awareness for soldiers missing in action and prisoners of war, AMVETS wanted to bring attention to the average 22 veterans who die by suicide every day.

 

Customs, Firsts, Dedications

  • It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.
  • The World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies.
  • In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael wore a red silk poppy and began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.”
  • The first Indianapolis 500 ran on May 30, 1911. The winning driver was Ray Harroun who averaged 74.6 mph and completed the race in six hours and 42 minutes.
  • The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1922 by Supreme Court Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft. Lincoln’s surviving son, Robert Todd Lincoln attended.
  • In 2000, Congress established a National Moment of Remembrance, which asks Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 PM in an act of national unity. The time was chosen because “is the time when most Americans are enjoying their freedoms on the national holiday.”

 

Fath Properties remembers and honors all our fallen soldiers and their families. We wish each you a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day.

 

Sources: MentalFloss, Wikipedia

How To Shop For An Apartment During A Pandemic

Shopping for an apartment can be an anxiety-inducing process, even during normal market conditions. In today’s climate, it is not as simple as checking off the routine amenities and features such as a pool, fitness center, walk-in closets and washer/dryer connections; now you have to consider, can I enjoy these amenities safely and are these items still my must-haves. For many, 2020 has made apartment home shoppers reevaluate what is important to them when selecting their new home.

Things to consider

– Has the pandemic brought changes to how you work and live?
– Are you now working from home and/or having to homeschool your children?

Does your current space allow you to do this effectively? If not, what type of space would help make this possible; a den, breakfast nook or an extra bedroom to convert to an office? Click Here for some ideas on how to makeover your space.

– Have you modified your hobbies or your normal routine due to the pandemic?

Consider the activities in your life that you have had to modify and evaluate what features could help with this transition. Would having flex space that you could utilize for a home gym assist in your new goals? What about a larger kitchen with a dishwasher while you practice your newly honed sous chef skills? Would having washer/dryer connections ease the anxiety of having to go to a crowded laundry mat? What about a nice sized balcony or patio to allow for some fresh air? Unsure how to utilize your flex space- check out this article.

What Covid-19 precautions have the community put in place to assist their client’s needs?

Has the community put Covid-19 safety solutions in place to allow residents to enjoy their amenities safely? Are the business centers, gyms and pools designed to allow for social distancing? Are there online options to pay rent, submit service requests, apply online and complete the move-in process? Does the community offer Virtual and Self-Guided tours? Do they have informative websites with features like 3D floorplans and 360 tours? To check out what these features look like, CLICK HERE.

 

With experts stating that our current environment could become the “New Normal” and that we may be social distancing and utilizing mask usage we must consider all these factors. With 42% of people working from home in 2020 (a 39.5% increase from 2019), our home plays a much larger role in our lives than ever before. Identifying what you need to make the most of your new home will help to ensure a smooth apartment home search during these unprecedented times.

The Easy Way to Clean a Dirty Oven

If there is one chore no one enjoys doing, it’s cleaning the oven.

But it really doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Yes, there are tons of products out there for cleaning your oven but they can often be harmful to your oven’s interior finish as well as harmful to breathe in. A self-cleaning oven option is a great feature. However, if you don’t have that option, cleaning the oven doesn’t have to be difficult or harmful.

Taking a dirty oven and making it a clean oven can be done in less than one hour and without any harsh chemicals!

Check out this quick video for a super easy way to clean a dirty oven.

 

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Mix about 3 Tbsp baking soda, a bit of water and some vinegar in an oven safe dish until it forms a paste.
  2. Dab the dirtiest areas with the mixture.
  3. Sit the remaining mixture in the oven safe bowl in the center of your center oven rack.
  4. Turn the oven to around 212 degrees fahrenheit.
  5. Leave the mix in for around 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven off and allow to cool for a bit.
  7. Wipe down the oven and remove all the build up easily!

Be sure your oven is cool and hasn’t been used recently before beginning this process.
Do not do the cleaning process while the oven is in use for baking.

If you ever have questions about cleaning your oven, best products to use, or how it operates, give your leasing office a call and we will be happy to send a maintenance technician to your home or answer any questions.

How to Keep a Squeaky Clean Shower

Need some tips and tricks on keeping your shower or bath squeaky clean? We’ve got ’em!

 

Showers can be a hot bed for mildew and soap scum if not properly cleaned on a regular basis. Here are some tips to keep your shower fresh and clean.

Do these daily:

  1. Squeegee water off walls, floor and door. This will prevent mildew growing in the warm water left behind.
  2. Wipe all areas with a dry towel of any remaining condensation.
  3. Run a vent fan during your shower or bath and up to 30 minutes afterward. This will help remove any humidity remaining in your bathroom.
  4. Leave the shower door or curtain slightly open to release any remaining humidity in the shower and to help dry moisture.

Regular, weekly cleaning with ensure a clean shower and bath. You can use a gentle cleanser that can be purchased at most stores. However, be sure to check the bottle to make sure it is okay to use on your surface. A list is also provided in your move-in packet to all our residents at Fath Properties. If you need a copy, please contact the leasing office.

If you want an easy, non-toxic cleaner, try this. Mix white cleaning vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil in a bottle. For every 2 ounces of vinegar, add one drop of tea tree oil. The vinegar helps to remove soap scum and slime while the tea tree oil fights mildew and mold. Vinegar can be found at numerous grocery stores while tea tree oil can be found at organic retailers like Whole Foods or online at Amazon.com. To use this vinegar-oil cleaner, simply spray on all walls, doors and floor and let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse off with warm water. For hard to clean areas, apply baking soda and scrub with vinegar to the problem area, and let sit for 20 minutes before rinsing. Repeat as necessary.

Other tips and tricks:

  • Clogged shower head? Tie a baggy filled with white cleaning vinegar around the shower head. Leave on overnight. Remove the bag and run the shower to remove built up particles. This also works well on faucets in the kitchen and bathroom that may not flow smoothly.
  • Don’t sit bottles on the floor. Often times water can get stuck under the bottles and create a slime or mildew on the floor. Always keep bottles and other products in a shower caddy or shelf off the floor.
  • Magic erasers works wonders. If you have a hard to clean area between grout or in corners, try using a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or similar product. It’s a non-toxic product and can even be used while you’re in the shower.
  • Funny colors appearing? If you see colors like pink, orange or yellow appearing in your shower, check your products. Some shampoos, conditioners or soaps have dyes that will leave residue in your shower.
  • Drop the bar. Go for gel. Bar soap will often leave soap scum and build up in your shower. Switch to a shower gel which is far less likely to result in similar build up.

Following these simple tips and tricks will keep your shower and bath clean and fresh!

As always, if you ever need assistance or would like a maintenance technician to check out your shower, feel free to call the leasing office or put in a service request online. We are happy to help!

Heat

Want to improve energy savings in the winter? Here are some tips!

Fath Properties’ goal is to provide seventy (70) degree heat to all apartments where we control the heat.  The majority of residents find this to be a comfortable temperature, and it allows us to sensibly manage our costs and do our part to conserve energy.  If your apartment’s temperature is between sixty-nine (69) and seventy-one (71) degrees, your heating system is probably working fine.  Apartment temperatures will vary slightly from unit to unit.  If your apartment is cooler than seventy (70) degrees, and no other problems exist with the system, there are several things you can do to maximize the temperature:

  • Furniture or other items set in front of your heat registers or vents will keep the heat from circulating in the apartment. Please keep all items at least eight (8) inches away from registers or vents. Proper circulation is essential!
  • Make sure all windows and doors are tightly shut. If there are still heavy drafts around windows or gaps in doors, please call your leasing office to have this addressed.
  • Make sure the vent(s) on your wall unit air conditioner(s) are in the ‘closed’ position and that there is not air sweeping in around the units.
  • It is normal for windows and the area around them to feel cold to the touch since glass is not a good insulator. Heavy insulated drapes and curtains are the best way to minimize the effect of this cold air on the apartment temperature.
  • If you have baseboard registers, make sure the metal flap inside is lifted all the way up and that you can see inside the register. This flap acts as a vent; if it is resting down on the front panel, the heat cannot escape.
  • If you have a forced air system, make sure your thermostat is set on ‘Heat’ and ‘Auto’.
  • Finally, please dress for the season, i.e. sweaters, heavy shirts, and slacks. Few people are comfortable in T-shirts or shorts, even inside, in the winter.

If you have further questions or need service for your heat, please contact your community leasing office. We will be happy to send out a maintenance technician.

Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals operate virtually trouble-free when used properly.  These helpful procedures and tips will lead to a long life for your disposal and easy operation.

When running your garbage disposal…

  • Turn cold water to maximum flow position.
  • Flip the switch to the “on” position.
  • Push refuse through the splashguard keeping hands away from the inside chamber.
  • Continue to run the disposal until the grinding sound stops, and then flip the switch to the “off” position.
  • Continue to run cold water for two to three minutes to be sure all of the waste particles have been flushed away.

Below are some DO’s and DON’T(s) for disposal usage

 DO:

  • Grind a citrus peel or put baking soda down the drain to keep the disposal odor free.
  • Run plenty of cold water during and after operation.
  • Grind coffee grounds.

 DON’T:

  • Never put your hand down a disposal when it is running.
  • Do not use hot water when operating a disposal.
  • Never try to put too much through a disposal at once.
  • Never put any of the following items into a disposal

Fibrous materials (cornhusks, artichokes, etc.)
Clam, oyster, or nutshells
Fruit/vegetable pits or seeds
Rice
Pasta
Eggshells
Bones
Drain cleaner
Tea bags, potato or banana peels, celery, tomatoes
Grease
Wooden objects
Glass, china, plastic
Metal objects (bottle caps, aluminum foil, tin cans, utensils)
Dishrags

If the motor has stopped due to overloading, turn the disposal off.  Wait three to five minutes, and then push the reset button (located under the sink on the unit itself).  Then follow normal operating procedure.

If the disposal has jammed, turn the power switch to the “off” position before attempting to remove an object.  With tongs, remove any objects that might be obstructing the free movement of the blades.  In many cases, a broom handle can be inserted into the mouth of the disposal and turned in a circular pattern to free the blades.

Once movement has been restored to the blades, push the reset button on the disposal unit.  Then follow normal operating procedure.

Of course, if you ever run into an issue you cannot resolve yourself, our friendly maintenance team will be happy to help. Just call your leasing office and we will schedule a friendly maintenance technician to come to your apartment home.