Energy Saving Tips For Winter

Winter Energy Savings Tips

Old Man Winter has come a’ knocking on our doors a bit early this year It’s a cold reminder to take steps to keep ourselves warm and cozy without breaking the bank paying for utilities. It’s especially important now, as inflation has driven up the cost of just about everything.

Start by taking a walk around your apartment. I know, I know, you know your apartment like the back of your hand. But this time, instead of admiring your decorating skills or making a checklist of cleaning chores to do, look closely at things that can affect your ability to keep your place comfortable even on the coldest days.

Furniture

Look at the placement of your furniture. Make sure all furnishings are away from heat registers and vents to allow for proper circulation. Check the areas behind your sofa, bed, dresser, and other large pieces to be sure they are not blocking precious warm airflow. A rule of thumb is to allow at least eight inches of space around your registers to ensure good air circulation.

Windows

Double check to make sure all windows are shut tightly. Locking your windows can provide an extra bit of snug fit. Even double paned windows can feel cold when it’s frigid outside. It is normal for windows and the area around them to feel cold to the touch since glass is not a good insulator.

A rolled towel on the windowsill can help the window feel less chilly especially if the window frame is metal.  Keep your blinds open on sunny days to let as much warmth in as possible, but do close them tightly once the sun goes down. Adding an extra layer such as a plastic barrier or a draft blocking curtain can really help. Insulated drapes and curtains are the best way to minimize the effect of this cold air on your apartment’s temperature. This can really help you save on energy expenses this winter.

If, after taking these steps, there are still noticeable drafts around your windows, please call your leasing office and request the maintenance crew come to check them out.

Doors

Check for drafts around any exit doors. If you feel a draft, you may need new weather stripping or a new door sweep. Your maintenance team can help you with that. Even with a good door sweep, you may still feel a bit of chilly air coming in.  A door snake can really make a difference in stopping this cold air from sneaking in.

Outlets

Cold air can also find it’s way into your home through the outlets and switch plates on exterior walls. Really! Fortunately, there’s a product for that (of course). You can also check with your utility company as some of them will provide these foam insulators at no charge.

Wall Air Conditioner Unit

If you have a wall AC unit, make sure the vent(s) are in the ‘closed’ position and that there is not air seeping in around the units.

Baseboard Registers

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.

Thermostat

 If you have a forced air system, make sure your thermostat is set on ‘Heat’ and ‘Auto’. You can also be like my Dad and turn the heat down to 60 degrees at night. Sounds awful at first, but sleeping in a cool room in flannel jammies and under a warm comforter or cozy blanket can provide you with a surprisingly great night’s sleep while saving on your heating expense. Thanks, Dad, for this winter energy-saving tip!

Attire

You’ve heard the saying Dress For Success. In the winter, it becomes Dress For Warmth. Another winter energy-saving tips is to get cozy at home by wearing seasonal attire like wool sweaters, heavy shirts (flannel!), sweatshirts, warm pants, wooly socks, and fluffy slippers. Maybe a Snuggie?? Top this with a furry throw and you’ll be all set. Dress up/thermostat down/save money!

Fido & Fluffy

Let’s not forget our furry friends this winter! Make sure your pup or kitty has a cozy spot to snuggle in on chilly nights. Maybe that spot is your lap, or maybe it’s a cozy bed, a kitty cave, or a warm sweater.

Make my Dad proud, keep warm and cozy, save on your utility bills, and know that spring will come!

 

 

 

Paw-some Pet Friendly Holiday Events Near You!

 

Get your furry friend/s in on the holiday festivities this year! We’ve rounded up a few paws-itively pet-friendly holiday events you and your fluffy friend can do together in and around our Cincinnati, Dayton, and Dallas locations. Please be sure your best buddy says “woof!” to Santa Paws for us!

Cincinnati, Ohio and Northern Kentucky

Red Dog’s Santa Paws at MadTree

  • Saturday, December 10th, Noon – 3:00 PM
  • Catch-a-Fire Pizza Oakley

Santa Paws is coming to town and his first stop will be MadTree to enjoy an ice-cold brew and to pet some pups! Party at this pet friendly event with Red Dog at MadTree Brewing, 3301 Madison Rd.

A $10 suggested donation gets you a digital photo of your dog with Santa. Donations will benefit the League for Animal Welfare and give you a lasting memory of the holiday! Professional Photos by: Alyssa Jeanine Photography. Get your dog’s photo taken with Santa and they will receive a FREE gift from the big guy! (While supplies last.)

Pet Nights with Santa

  • November 21st – December 5th, 4-7 PM
  • Kenwood Towne Center

A paws-itively good time! Get your furry friends together at this pet friendly event to strike a pose with St. Nick, capturing paw-fect holiday moments to share with family and friends!

Reindog Parade

Voted the “Best Family Event” in Cincinnati!

  • Saturday, December 10. Registration begins at 12:30; the parade starts at 2:00 p.m.
  • The Monastery, Mt. Adams. The parade will be led by Santa himself!
  • Costume categories have historically been Small Dogs (under 25 lbs), Large Dogs (25 lbs and over), Dog/Owner Look-A-Like, and Multiple Dogs (2 or more dogs). Be creative – they’re looking for fun, unique, and festive costumes for each category!

Food and vendors will be available before the parade, so you can join the party ahead of time! It’s the most fun pet friendly event in town!

Dallas, Texas

Paint Your Pet! Christmas Edition!

  • Thursday, December 8th, 6-9 PM
  • 513 E I-30 Rockwall

This is an advanced, custom class. Limited seating is available, and photos of your pet must be submitted prior to the event. Please send photographs of the pet you’re planning to paint back to the email address: Studio155@paintingwithatwist.com

Due to the difficult nature of this painting, the age is set at 15 & Up.
If you have an extraordinary young artist in their teens, they may do fine with this painting, and would be allowed to attend at your discretion.

Adults over 21 are welcome to BYOB.

Light Up Lake-woof!!!

  • Friday, December 2nd, 7-10 PM
  • Lakewood Shopping Center

It’s the 20th annual Light Up Lakewood celebration, which brings live music performances, tree lighting, meetings with Santa Claus, face paintings, balloon artists, and more! Meet our adoptable dogs and cats, leave us a donation or buy a Dogrrr t-shirt or sweatshirt!

The Boho Market Stocking Stroll

  • Saturday, December 17th, Noon – 3 PM CST
  • Main Street Garden Park

Adults, kids, and pets are invited this holiday season for the 4th Annual Downtown Stocking Stroll where you can visit your favorite Downtown merchants for fun holiday stuffers and treats. This event is free, but RSVPs are requested for this pet friendly holiday event.

Main Street Garden will also host a Boho Market with local shops, hot cocoa station, and FREE train rides at the park!

Bring your own stocking or pick one up from Main Street Garden for free (while supplies last), along with the map of all participating businesses.

Family Friendly | Pet Friendly

 

Dayton, Ohio

Pet Photos with Santa

  • Monday, December 5, 5-7 PM
  • Dayton Mall

Bring your pet (dogs and cats only, please) for a photo with Santa! Leave with a picture to cherish for years. Reservations are highly recommended.

Pawsitively Purrfect Holiday Bazaar & Christmas Pawty

  • Sunday, December 11 Noon – Monday, December 12, 5 PM
  • John’s United Church of Christ

Just in time for the holidays! We have vendors from local businesses and privately owned shops, raffles, adoptable cats and dogs, music, and our famous Gift Card Christmas Tree Raffles ready for you!

Friends of SICSA Holiday Bazaar

  • Saturday December 3, 9 AM – 4 PM
  • SICSA Washington Township

Come shop pet beds, blankets, and toys; handmade gifts for you and pet lovers, and much more! Make lasting memories by getting a picture with Santa (Saturday 9am to 3pm). Cost: $10 pictures – All proceeds help our animals.

Wishing you and your best furry friend a paw-some holiday season!

Eggs-actly Perfect

Eggs-actly Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs

Sure, sure hard boiling eggs seems like a fairly simple task. Boil, peel, and eat. Until, that is, you discover they are almost impossible to peel with the shell taking chunks of the white flesh with it. Or the yolk is unappetizingly undercooked or has an unsightly greenish edge.  All equate to big fails when trying to make deviled eggs where the white is a beautiful vessel for luscious filling.

There are hard-boiled eggs in my house at all times. Not only do they make an easy (and transportable) quick breakfast, but they are also a healthy, low-calorie snack full of protein, and tasty addition to salads. (We eat a lot of salad in the summer when I just can’t bear heating up the kitchen.) Plus, whipping up a batch of deviled eggs to bring to a spontaneous picnic or cocktail party is a breeze.

After boiling literally hundreds of eggs over the years, I’ve [finally] found a method that produces eggs with perfectly firm whites, creamy yolks that are a lovely consistent shade of pale yellow and, most importantly, easy to peel.

You’ll need:

  • six to 12 large eggs (older eggs ultimately peer better than fresh ones)
  • a pot – large enough to hold a steamer basket – with a lid
  • afore-mentioned steamer basket
  • a large bowl filled with ice and water
  • a timer

Pour and inch or two of water into the pot, insert the steamer, and add the eggs. Heat over high. When the water begins to boil, reduce to medium, cover, and cook for precisely 15 minutes.

While the eggs are steaming, fill your bowl with ice and add water. Your bowl should be large enough to hold all the eggs and allow them to be fully submerged in the ice water.

When the timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs from the steamer basket to their ice water bath. Then walk away. Let the eggs soak for at least 15-20 minutes so they cool completely – right to their core. Once cool, drain and either refrigerate for later use or peel.

If you plan to use the eggs immediately, fill your now empty bowl with cool water. Peel the egg while it’s submerged. You can also peel under running water, but results are consistently better with the dunk. The shell should separate from the white of the egg in nice big pieces leaving the egg unblemished – perfect for your deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

Whether you choose a pretty platter (best for home use) or a  practical platter with lid (best for transport and storage), choose the number of eggs right to fill your plate. Mine has 12 indentations, so this recipe will be for a half dozen eggs yielding a dozen deviled eggs.

Deviled eggs usually call for a dash of Tabasco sauce, but I prefer the less spicy, but zestier horseradish sauce. The addition of softened butter – thank you Julia Child – adds a wonderful, rich silkiness to the yolky filling.

Traditional garnishes include a sprinkle of paprika, a slice of pimento-stuffed olive, chopped chives, or a sprig of dill, but you can kick your garnishes up to a whole new level by adding a small piece (about one inch or so) of crispy bacon, crisped prosciutto, or crisped chicken skin (pictured). These crispy bits add a lot of textural interest, flavor, and visual appeal to your eggs.

The Parts

The Procedure

Cut the eggs in half length-wise and gently scoop the yolks into a bowl or a mini food processor. Place the whites on your platter. Blend the yolks with the remaining ingredients either in a small food processor, or mash together with a fork.

For a fancy finish, use a piping bag or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut out to pipe the yolk mixture into the whites. For a homemade look, simply spoon the filling into the egg whites. Garnish.

Don’t you just love it when things turn out eggs-actly perfect? And you can enjoy your hard-boiled ot deviled eggs without egg on your face.

 

Streak-free Glass

Unlike the streaking fad of the 1970’s, streaky glass has never been in vogue. Rather, streaky windows, glass tabletops, and mirrors is a frustrating result when cleaning your home. So often, no matter how much cleaner you spray on the surface and how you wipe it away, it seems almost impossible to leave a streak-free, shining surface in place. But guess what? Streak-free glass is possible and using the proper method will even take you less time to achieve the results you desire. Cleaning glass without leaving streaks and doing so efficiently? Win, win!

The Cleaner

Most commercial glass cleaners will do the trick when it comes to cleaning glass mirrors. One of the most effective and popular options is Windex glass cleaner, but you can also use Method if you want a natural and non-toxic formula.

Another option is to make your own glass cleaner. All you need is distilled water, distilled white vinegar, and a spray bottle. Learn to make your own distilled water here. Use distilled rather than tap or filtered water as hard water could be the cause of the streaks and grime left behind. Hard water has an accumulation of dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are culprits when it comes to streaks. Mix the distilled water and distilled white vinegar in a 50/50 ratio for a non-toxic and antibacterial cleaner for a fraction of the price of store-bought cleaners.

The Wipe

When cleaning windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces, paper towels – while convenient – are not your friend. Most paper towels leave behind lint that becomes obvious on shiny surfaces like mirrors and glass top tables. Trying using a microfiber cloth or a squeegee instead. Neither leave behind lint, and you can toss the t-shirt in the wash when you’re done, and both are reusable making them more environmentally-friendly. Old newspapers, if you can find them, will also provide you with a lint-free experience. Newspaper doesn’t hold up well against the wet cleaner for very long, so have plenty on hand.

The Technique

Before you begin, make sure your surface is free of dirt, dust, crumbs, and goo. Vacuum or dust around window and mirror frames as you don’t want dirt mixing with your cleaner. Got sticky substances clinging to your glass? Don’t try and clean these up with glass cleaner, because they can smear and create even more of a mess. Instead, use plastic to scrape off any substances before you start cleaning. A plastic utensil, card, or a plastic paint scraper should do the trick and won’t scratch the glass. For especially stubborn areas, dab with a bit of liquid dish soap. Let it sit for bit, then wipe the dish soap and the goo away.

A good glass cleaning tip is to start at the top of the mirror or window and work your way down. This way, when the cleaner drips, you’ll be able to wipe it up efficiently as you work your way down.

Did you know that when you spray cleaner directly on the glass, you use more product than you actually need? And, if your cleaner produces too many suds while cleaning your glass, you’re more prone to leave behind streaks.  Spray the window cleaner directly on your microfiber cloth, newspaper, or t-shirt instead of the glass. This helps avoid drips that can leave streaks. Plus, you’ll find that you actually need less cleaner than you think you’ll need for a streak-free shine.

Be careful not to get cleaner on window and/or mirror wood frames, as it can damage or warp the wood over time.

When it comes to cleaning windows, mirrors, and glass tabletops effectively and achieving the ultimate streak-free glass , remember that it’s not always going to come out perfectly. (Nothing is ever perfect, right?) Even if you’ve used a microfiber cloth, distilled water, and a small amount of product, there could still be streaks left behind.

The good news is that these streaks can be removed by using a dry cloth and and buffing them out. Streaks disappear quickly when you use light, fast strokes over the span of the table, mirror, or window. Microfiber cloths work like magic! Best of all, this takes only a few seconds.

The Result

Clean, streak-free glass while fully clothed.

Go Bananas For Banana Bread

My fella loves bananas. But they have to be just so. Not too firm, but not soft or squishy. They must be just this side of green, and definitely without any black spots that inevitably appear as the fruit ripens. Tired of tossing that last one of the bunch that ripened a day too soon, and not wanting to attract fruit flies (read what do if those pests appear here), I started freezing them. And what a difference that made in my banana bread.

Like so many people, I turned to the kitchen to stay busy during the COVID lockdown. With plenty of bananas in the freezer, my mission was to find the BEST recipe for banana bread. I tried eight or nine different recipes, then honed in on the one we liked best, tweaking until it was (modestly speaking LOL) perfect. The winning recipe is based on a recipe for Smashed Banana Bread from Food & Wine. As you can imagine, we ate a lot of bananas and a lot of banana bread in 2020. (Really, we ate a lot of everything during COVID to avoid going stir crazy.) So here is our favorite. Here’s hoping you enjoy it as much as we do.

A couple of notes first:

  • Thaw the bananas in a bowl in the fridge overnight, or for about an hour on the counter. Reserve the liquid they release.
  • If you can find it, get the banana liqueur. It really adds to the banana-y flavor, and also tastes great poured over a bowl of good vanilla bean ice cream. I like Bols for the flavor and pretty bottle, but the Dekuyper is about half the price.
  • Sour cream or full fat Greek yogurt work equally well.
  • The bread tastes the most amazing after it cools when the edges are still a bit crispy.
  • You’ll need a baking sheet, metal loaf pan, parchment paper, nonstick cooking spray, and a cooling rack.

Pieces & Parts

½ cup pecans, chopped

1½ cups flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp fine sea salt

2 large eggs
4 frozen bananas, thawed, and their liquid
¼ cup + 2 tbsp sour cream or full fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp banana liqueur or dark rum

5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (if desired)

Process

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray
  3. Line the pan with parchment paper, allowing two inches of overhang on the long sides
  4. Toast the pecans on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for about seven minutes until fragrant. Cool.
  5. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the bananas, the banana liquid, sour cream, vanilla, and banana liqueur until combined.
  7. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes.
  8. At low speed, gradually beat in the wet ingredients until just incorporated, then beat in the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the pecans.
  9. Scrape the mixture into your prepared pan, and bake in the center of the oven for about an hour and 30 minutes. Because some ovens can bake more quickly than others, check the bake at 60 minutes and again at 75 minutes by inserting a toothpick into the center of the loaf. The bread is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Set the pan on a cooling rack and rest for 45 minutes.
  11. Turn the bread out of the pan and cool for 30 minutes more.
  12. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you like.

Store

Wrap in cling wrap and store at room temperature.

More

We always fight for the end piece as soon as it’s ready to eat (those crusty edges!), but wind up sharing that slice ’cause we like each other. My guy loves to slather the bread with softened butter; it’s also great toasted (and buttered).

I recently brought this banana bread to a friend’s breakfast party. She served eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, and toast – a bounty! But the six of us still managed to devour an entire loaf of my banana bread on top of everything else in that one sitting. Just sayin’.

I hope that now you look at overripe bananas as a bonus instead of a waste, and go as bananas for this bread as we do.

 

 

‘TIS THE SEASON: FRUIT FLIES

‘TIS THE SEASON: FRUIT FLIES

Summer is just around the corner bringing with it a bounty of fresh produce. Vine ripened tomatoes. Peaches. Melon. Berries galore. Makes one’s heart glad as we dream of fruit pies, caprese salads, or just a bit bite into a juicy nectarine. Buyer beware, however. Pesky fruit flies may be hitching a ride into your home via fruits and veggies purchased at the grocery or farmer’s market and what better (or worse?) way to ruin your pie ala mode than to have a teeny fruit fly buzzing around your head and your home?

And although they are tiny, they are mightily challenging to get rid of once they’ve crashed your kitchen. Worse yet, they reproduce at a rate that can only be described as astonishing: According to Orkin, a pest control company, female fruit flies lay hundreds of eggs in a very short time, commonly on moist foods like overripe fruit and vegetables. Then, within 24 to 30 hours, those eggs hatch into larvae, or maggots, that feed on the food source on which they were laid. Within about a week those larvae become sexually active and not more than two days later, start the cycle over again — leaving you with way too many fruit flies to stomach. Eww, gross!

So, Virginia, what is one to do? Blame the landlord? The neighbors? The market? While you can cast blame wherever it suits you, it won’t help get rid of these little pests. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to banish these freeloaders from your kingdom. All you need is some supplies you probably already have on hand (don’t you just love that?), persistence, and some patience.

FIRST: Why Are There Fruit Flies In My Home?

Our friends and pest experts at Orkin advise that  fruit flies are attracted to ripe, rotting or decayed fruit and produce, as well as fermented goods like beer, liquor and wine, but they can also inhabit trash cans and garbage disposals if sufficient food is present. Ahhh, that explains the struggle around the kitchen sink! To cut off fruit flies from their food source and prevent them from entering your home,take these preventive measures to avoid getting fruit flies in the first place.

  • Keep all kitchen surfaces spotlessly clean
  • Throw out overripe produce the moment it becomes overripe (those bananas!*)
  • Store fruits and veggies in the fridge
  • Wash produce as soon as you get home to remove any potential eggs or larvae
  • Take out the garbage regularly
  • Clean up spills ASAP, especially fruit juice or alcohol

If, despite your best efforts, these wee invaders declare war on your household, defend yourself with simple homemade remedies or traps available in stores and online.

SECOND: How Do I Make My Own Fruit Fly Trap

Prepare yourself to be astonished how little time, effort, or money this will involve. Below you’ll discover several DIY traps you can make right now.

Apple Cider Vinegar + Plastic Wrap

    1. Pour a bit of apple cider vinegar into a glass. It’s sweeter than white vinegar and will attract fruit flies faster.
    2. Cover the opening with a bit of plastic wrap and secure it in place with a rubber band
    3. Poke a few small holes in the plastic so the fruit flies can enter
    4. Dump the mixture every few days because seeing dead fruit flies floating is, well, unappealing

Paper Cone + Vinegar + Old Fruit

    1. Pour a generous glug of apple cider vinegar into a glass or jar and a chunk of very ripe fruit
    2. Roll a piece of paper into a cone and stick it into the jar with the narrow opening down. A piece of tape will help hold the cone’s shape.
    3. Discard the vinegar and fruit cocktail when there are dead flies and begin again

Vinegar + Dish Soap

    1. Pour a generous slug of apple cider vinegar into a small bowl or glass
    2. Add three drops of dish soap (it will make the flies sink and drown)
    3. Mix with a fork
    4. Leave uncovered
    5. Clean out and refresh as needed

Old Beer or Wine

(wait, is there such a thing?!?)

    1. Fruit flies are attracted (like so many of us), to the smell of wine
    2. Leave out a bottle of wine or beer with just a few unfinished sips left in the bottle
    3. The bottle’s skinny neck will trap the flies inside
    4. The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends adding a couple of drops of dish soap to either the beer or wine dregs for surer success.

THIRD: I Hate DIY! Where Can I Buy A Trap?

You can spend a little ($6.00) or a lot ($60) on a fruit fly trap. Why not spend a little and take one of the top two recommended traps out for a spin?

 

 

 

 

FOURTH: Don’t Play The Blame Game

No matter how clean you keep your home, and how properly you store your summer bounty of fruits and vegetables, chances are that you may still see a fruit fly this summer (as I have already. UGH).  If you do, don’t beat yourself, your neighbor, or your landlord up. Simply clean like a maniac, keep your produce in the fridge, and keep a bottle of apple cider vinegar at the ready. Wishing you a pest free summer!

* Don’t toss those bananas that are a bit too ripe! Instead, toss them in the freezer. Read our next blog to learn how to turn overripe bananas into The Best banana bread.

Resources: Good Housekeeping, Old Farmers Almanac, Orkin, Bon Apetit, FDA

Get Moving; Stay Active

Get Moving; Stay Active

Get Moving; Stay Active

Spring is just around the corner! If, like many of us, you made a New Year’s resolution to become more active but found that hard to do in the middle of a cold dark winter, now is the time to jump-start your fitness plans. Getting – and staying – active doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive; more than anything it just takes motivation and perseverance. Here are some ideas to help you incorporate movement into your daily routine.

Remember, every step counts. According to the American Heart Association, a great goal is at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) a week of moderate intensity activity. Breaking that down a bit, it’s just 30 minutes of brisk walking on at least five days a week. But what if you’re so tight on time that you can’t spare a half hour every day? Then get creative and break up your activity into shorter sessions. For example:

  • In the morning, park or get off the bus/train about 10 minutes away from your job and walk briskly to work.
  • At lunch, walk for 10 minutes around where you work, indoors or outdoors. Recruit a co-worker to two to join you. Time will fly when you’re conversing and can turn your walk into a time you all look forward to; a welcome respite from your busy day.
  • At the end of the day, walk briskly for 10 minutes back to your car or station.

Look for opportunities to reduce sedentary time and to increase active time:

  • Instead of watching TV, take a walk after dinner. Can’t break away from your favorite shows? Get up and move around during the commercial breaks. There are typically 12 minutes of commercials in a one-hour show, so you can get in a 30-minute workout in one evening of binge watching. Just don’t use that time to walk to the fridge.
  • I always used to say, “Great parking means great shopping!” meaning if I got the first or second space closest to the door, I thought I would actually find what I was shopping for or find a great bargain on something I didn’t even know I needed. But that notion has been flipped on its head. Better to choose the parking space farthest from the door whether you’re in the parking lot at work, the grocery store, the mall, or any other pace you visit or run errands. Those extra steps will add up (and the shopping will still be great).
  • Walk away from your desk at work to take a phone call or have a walking meeting with a colleague.
  • Add a stand for your computer that will allow you to stand at your desk. While this isn’t actually moving around, standing is better than sitting. If, unlike me, you have a level of coordination, you could walk in place while you work.

Use your smart phone, a pedometer, or a device like a Fitbit or other wearable fitness tracker to monitor your steps. If you have a competitive bone in your body, you’ll enjoy setting and achieving step goals.

Set aside specific times to make physical activity part of your daily or weekly routine. This diary from the CDC might help. Think about activities and places you enjoy, like morning walks in your neighborhood, or a free online class in the evening. Recruit family and/or friends to help motivate you. I once joined a 6:00AM fitness class with a co-worker and we took turns driving. There was no skipping class because either she was outside my apartment waiting for me or I was outside waiting for her.

Start slowly and work your way up to more physically challenging activities. For many people, walking is a particularly good place to begin. Walking is one of the simplest ways to get active and stay active. With each step you take, you travel further down the path to a healthier lifestyle. Research has shown that walking can have a significant impact on your health by lowering your chances of heart disease.

Get ready to walk!

  • For a morning walk, lay out your walking clothes and shoes the night before and eat a piece of fruit or some yogurt for energy.
  • Listen to music to get you going (just make sure you can hear traffic).
  • If dark, be sure to carry a flashlight or wear reflective clothing.
  • If you like to walk at lunch, keep your walking shoes at work.
  • A great way to pass the time while walking is to listen to a podcast or an audio book.
  • Bring along your pup so you’ll both get a nice workout.

There you have it. Easy ways to get moving, stay fit, and keep those darn New Year’s resolutions.

 

Resources: CDC, American Heart Association

It’s National Clean Out Your Fridge Day

Stinky refrigerator?

I am not happy with whomever invented Clean Out Your Fridge Day which is “celebrated” on November 15. Do we really need to be reminded that although the rest of our place looks presentable, there’s probably something creepy, hairy, stinky, and unknown lurking in the back corner of the crisper drawer? Clearly, we do, or this day would not exist. My fridge is like my closet. It will go for weeks – dare I say months – looking tidy and clean and then suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, it looks like elves performed some horrible mischief in the night. My once neat, organized, color-coded (yes, I am THAT girl) closet is a sloppy wreck with clothes falling off the hangers and the fridge contains mysterious science-fair-like “stuff”. And it’s not like cleaning either the fridge or the closet is hard; it’s just an annoyance and an awful way to spend a Saturday morning when you could be brunching on eggs benedict and sipping mimosas. So what is one to do? As in the words of a dear friend of mine, “Just git ‘er done”. Here’s a few tips on making this god-forsaken process a wee bit less miserable.

Preparation

Obviously, you have to remove all food from the fridge to clean it. Short on counter space? Set up a little folding table or use a few chairs. I am pretty successful with just removing food from one section at a time, cleaning it, and putting it back before moving on. For a complete, and uber-thorough clean (completely emptying), put your food in a cooler. You’ll need at least enough room to hold a shelf’s worth of stuff. Make sure your kitchen sink is empty, too. While you’re at it, put the recycling bin and trash can nearby as you’ll likely be tossing expired items and items that no longer resemble food.

Supplies

You won’t need much: white vinegar and/or dish soap; a spray bottle or a big bowl; a sponge and/or a scrubby; and paper and/or microfiber towels — all or most of which you probably already have on hand (whew).  The vinegar breaks down grease and grime, and when mixed with hot water in a spray bottle (or bowl, or dishpan, or bucket), it becomes a food-safe cleaner that’s perfect for any gunk that might have accumulated on refrigerator shelves. The other items on the list will help you wipe, scrub, dry, and shine.

The Process

While some people have enough counter space (is there ever really enough?!?) to completely empty their refrigerators before cleaning, I find  working one shelf at a time is often the best method, because you don’t want to leave your perishables out for too long.

  • Start at the top.
  • Remove everything from a shelf and see just how messy you (or those darn elves!) have been.
  • If there are spills, carefully remove the glass from the frame or brackets, or the shelf itself (depending on your fridge) and clean both sides, as well as the edges, with the vinegar solution.
  • Dry with paper or microfiber towels.
  • Wash the frame that holds the glass before replacing the entire shelf. For that, I usually head to the sink and use dish soap and hot water.
  • If there aren’t any caked-on spills that require shelf removal, simply run a scrubby sponge under hot water. Give the shelf and fridge walls an initial scrub to loosen any gunk. Then, spray it all down with cleaner and give it another scrub, before wiping everything clean with a microfiber cloth.

NOTE: When you’re not actively working in the fridge, keep the door closed to keep everything as cool as possible.

Doors and Drawers

Refrigerator drawers often accumulate debris, especially if they’re used for produce. For a deep clean, remove the drawers and wash them in the kitchen sink with soap and water. If they won’t fit in your sink, spray and wipe them clean, and dry them before putting them back. While the drawers are removed, wipe down the walls and “floor” of the fridge with the vinegar cleaner. Use the same method for the shelves inside the doors.

Put Stuff Back Clean

Now that your fridge is sparkling (and you realize it wasn’t THAT BAD to clean), be sure to wipe down jars, containers, and condiment bottles so you don’t bring gunk back into the fridge. Even if they don’t appear dirty, it’s a good idea to give container bottoms a quick wipe with a damp sponge or paper towel, especially if the shelf was sticky. If any bottles or jars have accumulated a little goo on the outside, rinse them under warm water then wipe them clean and dry. If gunk has accumulated around the seal or the edges of the cap, take the lid off and wash it more thoroughly in the sink. Check all expiration dates and toss anything that’s expired (like the sriracha I just threw away from 2017. Yikes.)

Wipe Down the Outside

Once everything is back in your sparkling fridge, use a clean microfiber cloth and the vinegar spray to wipe down the outside of the doors, including the edges and seals, and don’t forget the handles! The worst area will undoubtedly be to top of the fridge as it tends to collect greasy residue from cooking and dust. I like keeping a kitchen towel on top that can just be thrown in the wash. If you have a stainless steel fridge, spray on a cleaner specially made for stainless steel and polish with a microfiber towel for a streak-free finish.

Keep It (and Yourself) Fresh

You did it and you lived to tell the tale! Enjoy your super-clean fridge. For a while, anyway. If you want to keep it smelling fresher longer, stick an open box of baking soda on one of the shelves. Now treat yourself to brunch with a bloody Mary. You deserve it.

 

 

 

 

 

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