Start Planning for Summer Vacation Now With These Tips!

Memorial Day is next week which means the unofficial start to summer is almost here! Pool days and outdoor fun are in order for the whole family for the next few months. Here are some great ways you can help your family prepare for summer now so you can enjoy fun in the sun!

 

1 – Make sure you purchase new sunscreens. Sunscreen has a shelf life just as food does. Check expiration dates on yours to make sure you are keeping your family safe in the sun.

2 – Do the same for your insect repellents! If you prefer natural remedies, make sure to stock up on essential oils like peppermint to repel the bugs.

3 – Locate and wash the swimsuits and pool towels. Pack a beach bag that has towels, sunscreen, bug sprays etc. so it’s always ready for an unexpected pool day.

4 – Start making plans for summer activities. Look out for local camp signups,  community events and mark any special dates on your calendar.

5 – Prepare a summer schedule for the kids so they know what to expect. It might include chores, sports, camps and of course plenty of downtime to have fun and relax.

6 – Pack the car with beach chairs, a blanket, sand toys and an umbrella. You never know when you’ll need these items in the summer and you’ll be glad you have them!

 

We hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend! Cheers to a great summer ahead.

8 Tips For Stocking Your Kitchen After Move-In

You have the keys, the movers are on their way and you don’t know where to start! How about the kitchen? The kitchen is one of the first places you should start when unpacking because it’s typically a central location of the home and let’s face it….your family is going to be hungry soon! Here are some great tips for stocking and unpacking the kitchen so you have what you need and it’s easily accessible.

1 – Grocery delivery services are a great option for that first move-in day. You can purchase the essentials and have someone else help with the shopping while you unpack the dishes and flatware.

2 – Speaking of essentials, don’t forget them! Think about oils, cooking sprays, salt, pepper, dry herbs and other condiments. Those are a staple in every kitchen.

3 – Try buying in bulk right away. Get plenty of dry goods for the pantry (think pastas, rice and canned good) and snacks for the kids.

4 – It’s not just about the food. Don’t forget to stock the sink area with soaps, cleaning supplies and sponges.

5 – Frozen vegetables, side dishes and snacks are a great way to start stocking the freezer. Have friends who want to cook for you? Say yes and stock some meals in your freezer for later in the week when you’re busy unpacking.

6 – Choose a spot for pots & pans that makes sense. Having cookware unpacked right away is important when dinner time rolls around.

7 – Paper goods aren’t a bad idea for the first couple of days. Have paper plates and napkins on hand to pull out while you decide on the perfect place to store your dishes in your new kitchen.

8 – Don’t be afraid to order takeout on your first night. You’ve had a long day and our leasing staff will be happy to give you recommendations on the best local places for dinner!

5 Tips for Caring for Poinsettias

Poinsettias are very popular in indoor, holiday decor this time of year! Many people gift them to friends and family as well. If you have some of these beautiful, red plants in your home then it’s important to know how to take care of them. Here are a few tips to consider to make your poinsettias last through the holidays!

1 – Check the soil regularly. It should not be overly wet but also not dry. It’s important to keep the soil damp.

2 – Don’t keep your poinsettias near a radiator or heating source. They will get dried out much faster this way.

3 – These beautiful, red plants prefer room-temperature water to cold water. Remember that when you’re watering.

4 – Keeping them misted regularly will help them from drying out (especially in warmer homes).

5 – If you want your poinsettia to last until next year you will need to prune it by spring time to about 10 cm. Repot it before summer and keep it in a cool, dry place until November when you can expose it to sunlight to help it bloom again.

5 Tips for Setting the Thanksgiving Table

It’s Thanksgiving week and it’s time to prepare for the big day! Before you start roasting that turkey, it’s time to think about setting the table. Here are 5 tips for setting the perfect Thanksgiving table for your guests.

 

1 – Don’t wait until Thanksgiving! Start setting your table at least one day before. Washing cutlery and ironing cloth napkins are tasks that take more time than you think. You don’t want to worry about doing those things when you need to be in the kitchen.

 

2 – Know where to place everything! Bread plates go on the left, drinking glasses on the right! Place your silverware in the order they will be used – outside to inside. Forks go to the left of the plate and knives and spoons on the right.

 

3 – Decide how you’ll serve! If your table is large consider serving your meal “family style” which means the food will go right in the center of the table. Make sure you’ve found plenty of hot plates and trivets! If you’re choosing to serve buffet-style, make sure you have a large, clean surface ready for the food (that’s not too far away from the table!)

 

4 – Decorate with a centerpiece! Many local grocery stores sell beautiful Thanksgiving centerpieces that can be picked up the day before. Rather try a DIY? Add some pumpkins, LED candles and greenery to give your table a special touch.

 

5 – Place cards are the final touch! Not only do place cards give your guests a personalized touch, they also eliminate any question or confusion as to who should sit where.

 

Enjoy and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

How to Make a Carved Pumpkin Last Through Halloween

Halloween is less than two weeks away and now is the time to think about carving those pumpkins! Whether you like a traditional jack-o-lantern or something a bit spookier, here are 5 tips to make sure your pumpkin looks great and lasts through Halloween!

 

1 – Clean the inside really well. Many carving kits come with scoops to use to scoop out all of the “guts” of the pumpkin. The seeds and guts are the part that starts to rot first. Make sure yours is as empty as possible before you start carving your design.

 

2 – Soak it in a bleach bath. After you’ve carved the perfect design, it’s time to give that pumpkin a bath. Fill a tub or bucket with water and add 1/2 cup of bleach. Let the pumpkin sit overnight (or longer if possible) before pulling it out and drying it off.

 

3 – Store is somewhere cool. When you’re not displaying your pumpkin, make room for it in your refrigerator or another cool/dry place in your home to keep it from drying out.

by: Bekir Donmez

4 – Hydrate it! Fill a spray bottle with some water and give your carved pumpkin a spray daily. This will keep is fresh and moist as well.

 

5 – Use a battery-operated candle. Flameless candles help in making the pumpkin last longer since there’s no heat drying the pumpkin from the inside. Find an LED one that flickers for a spookier effect.

 

5 Tips for Back to School Success

September is here and that means back to school! Whether you are a student, teacher or parent, going back to school can be a big change. Make the transition back to school easier in your house with these helpful tips…

 

1 – Move bedtimes up. We all get in the habit of staying up late during the summer. Now that September is here it’s important to establish a better bedtime routine (especially for kids). Move bedtime up by at least 30 minutes.

 

2 – Keep a calendar. Everyone has busy schedules in the fall with school, sports, clubs and activities. Keep a printed calendar of all of these weekday events.

 

3 – Make a kitchen command center. This is a great place to put your calendar and schedule for everyone to see. Keep hanging file folders or shelves nearby to keep important documents that the kids will need for school. (Think medical documents, permission slips, teacher’s contact information etc.)

 

4 – Meal prep. If you’re back to packing lunches it’s a great idea to meal prep on Sunday to be prepared for the week. This will save you tons of time in the morning when you’re trying to get out the door on time.

 

5 – Get caught up on laundry. There’s nothing worse than having nothing to wear while you’re running late in the morning. Take time to catch up on laundry so everyone in the house has what they need during the week clean and read to wear.

10 Tips For Hosting a Successful BBQ

Fourth of July is this weekend and if you’re hosting a BBQ you’re probably in full planning mode! Before Sunday arrives make sure to check out our tips below for hosting a successful BBQ with your friends and family.

 

1 – Get a headcount – You want to make sure you have enough food and drinks for your guests. Get an accurate headcount from your guest list tonight so you know what you need at the grocery store.

 

2 – Know what your guests eat – Do some guests have special dietary concerns or allergies? Make sure you have options for them so they are able to eat and enjoy themselves at your party!

 

3 – Make sure you have all the cooking supplies – No one wants to be running out to the market for missing items the day of the party. Think about condiments, ice and charcoal now!

 

4 – Make the perfect playlist – No party is complete without the perfect playlist! Music streaming services offer plenty of options and some have already put together 4th of July playlists that are perfect for your soiree.

 

5 – Have activities planned – Put out some games for your guests if you have the space! Think lawn games like cornhole or badminton for some outdoor fun!

 

6 – Think of the kids – Make sure you have food and beverage options on hand for any little ones who will be attending the party (i.e. juice, water, snacks etc.)

 

7 – Have a bad weather back up plan – Rain can certainly ruin any party. Don’t let it ruin yours! Make sure you have a backup plan and a space for guests to go if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

 

8 – Have festive accessories – Nothing says 4th of July like red, white and blue apparel! Pick up some beads, glasses or hats for your guests to wear while they celebrate!

 

9 – Prepare for the sun and bugs – Stock up on bug spray and sunscreen and have it out so guests can help themselves if needed.

 

10 – Have fun – The most important tip is to remember to have fun! Hosting a party can be stressful but if you follow these steps you should be well-prepared and able to enjoy yourself.

 

10 Cooking Hacks to Save You Time in the Kitchen

Do you hate cooking at home and find yourself ordering out more often than you should? Start ditching the delivery and cut down time in the kitchen with these awesome tips and hacks.

 

1 – Like breakfast sandwiches but don’t want to make one every morning? You can poach a dozen eggs at once using a muffin tin. Refrigerate/freeze the eggs and pull one out to reheat on your toast each morning.

 

2 – Fast forward your fruit ripening by keeping your fruits in a paper bag.

 

3 – Making mashed potatoes? Don’t waste time peeling the skin. Instead, boil them with the skin on and it will fall off in the water. Better yet, mash them with the skins on for a more textured mash potato dish.

 

4 – Use cooking spray to coat your measuring cups. This will help keep foods from sticking to them when baking.

 

5 – Having leftover pizza? Reheat it in a skillet on your stove top rather than the oven to save time.

 

6 – Love a morning smoothie? Put your fruit and veggies into freezer bags. Put one in the fridge each night to throw into the blender the next morning.

 

7 – Put a piece of white bread in your cookie jar to keep your cookies from getting hard and eventually needing to be tossed in the trash.

 

8 – Dice up a bunch of vegetables and store them in freezer bags. These are great to use as soup starters. You can toss the pre-cut veggies in your crockpot and add your desired broth.

 

9 – Having a birthday party? Pre-scoop your ice cream and put them on cupcake liners in a muffin tin. Pull one out for each plate at cake time.

 

10 – Need to soften butter on the counter? Cut it into tablespoon sizes .The smaller pieces will soften a whole lot faster than the whole stick.

5 Ways to Save on Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

We’re about two weeks away from the big day! If you’re hosting this year you’re probably getting your final headcount, making a menu and cleaning for visitors. Hosting a holiday can certainly be expensive but here are ten ways you can save this year.

 

1 – Ask your guests to bring something. Don’t try and do it all yourself. If you supply the turkey then ask your guests to bring the sides and dessert. This will save you both time and money.

 

2 – Want a fancy table? Head to your local Dollar Store for some decor. You can find cloth napkins, greenery, LED candles and more that will help your table look beautiful on a budget.

 

3 – Limit your drink menu. Don’t try to personalize your bar menu by having something specific for each person on your list. Instead stick to two beverage options and water.

 

4 – Wait for local deals before buying your turkey. A lot of grocery stores will have sales on turkeys before the big day. Check out your local paper for inserts that announce the sales.

 

5 – Having guests stay over for the weekend? Don’t go crazy trying to prepare a fancy guestroom. Add some travel toiletries in a basket in your bathroom. This will let your guests feel welcome and right at home.

5 Ways to De-Clutter in the New Year

The holidays have come and gone once again and it’s time to put away the decor and organize our homes. Feeling overwhelmed with the tasks of getting things cleaned and organized? Try these ten tips…

 

1 – Move all of your holiday decor to one spot. Take it down and put it on your kitchen table (for example). You’ll see everything you have and be able to decide if you want to purge anything before packing it away for next year.

 

2 – Get lots of clothes for Christmas? Now is the time to clean out your closet and donate old clothes before hanging up the new ones.

 

3 – Kids tend to get lots of toys for the holidays and when you mix their new toys with old ones it can create a big mess. Now is the time to purge old toys! Donate ones that are gently-used and make room for the new toys.

 

4 – A lot of people want to eat cleaner when January rolls around. If that sounds like you, now is the time to declutter your fridge and pantry. Pull everything out and toss anything that is expired. Start fresh with healthier foods in a clean and organized space. Don’t put the food away until you’ve wiped down and sanitized all the surfaces.

 

5 – Don’t forget about your car when de-cluttering. Now is the time to clean out those consoles and cup holders and vacuum the interior. When you’re done cleaning make sure you have all of the safety essentials in place for winter (i.e., a scraper, brush, sand and all fluids topped off.)