Some Easy Ways to Create an Illusion of More Space.

shutterstock_91954775You moved into your dream home and after a few months or years, one day you wake up and realize, Honey, the house has shrunk!  Some residents may have increased their family size with a new child who comes with all their new belongings or your child’s new toys and hobbies have accumulated and filled up the closet and now the closet doors cannot close.

There is also you or your significant other who has also gathered new items and your house feels like a GPS system is needed to find anything!  But, don’t despair.  Here are several ideas on how to create more space.

Of course, the easiest way is to clean and throw away old items or give away useable items to your thrift store or Church. Then peruse the various chain stores in your area and visit the area dedicated to storage space items.  There are numerous ideas and devices that can help create more space.  There are plastic storage covers that deflate with a vacuum cleaner and instead of having a four foot high clothing storage bag, these bags reduces the size to almost as flat as a thin board and now can slide these clothes under a bed or in a closet.

shutterstock_131110499There are also numerous types of racks or plastic-hanging cases that have numerous pockets that hang over a door where could one could fit many pairs of shoes or accessories in those poaches.  These space saving devices allow numerous items to fit in their plastic pouches and are placed on one side so it can be hidden behind a closet door and still allows the door to close.

Other ideas can include purchasing bunk beds to save space or buying a convertible table that triples as a television, computer station, and storage unit all in one.  Some property owners have storage rooms to rent which are less expensive than renting at a private storage facility or sometimes, garages are available to rent as well.  If all else falls, you always have the option to move to a bigger place and most property owners usually allow long-term residents first choice when a bigger floor plan opens up.  One only needs to wait and ask.

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Fall Inspiration

shutterstock_76315189Fall is officially here! Cooler days are the perfect time to cozy up your apartment with the latest fall colors, design trends, and even a dinner party.

COLOR

Let’s start with color. Updating your palette for Fall doesn’t mean you have to decorate with orange. Whether you like warm neutrals or saturated hues, there is a perfect seasonal color for you.

If neutral is your game, try cognac. There is a giant dose of warmth in this rich, brown tone. Not feeling cognac? How about mauve mist? This is not your grandmother’s mauve. This is a beautiful pink-purple color that pairs perfectly with natural wood tones and white.

If your interior design is big and bold, we have a color for you as well. Sangria! Because painting your apartment is probably not an option, find throw pillows and blankets in the plummy purple color.

Last but not least, my favorite color, deep teal. This versatile color is the ideal backdrop for pumpkins and traditional fall decorations.

DESIGN TRENDS

Neutral color and high contrast textures scream Fall in a classy and understated way. Think grass cloth, antlers, and warm velvets. However, the key to making this work is curation. You must remove the old to make room for the new. Only collect and display what you love, so pack away your summer accessories to make room for that perfect vignette.

Speaking of vignettes, combine old, new, high-end, and affordable pieces. More specifically, 3-5 pieces. Search flea markets to find the perfect piece to build your vignette around.

ENTERTAINING

Host a farm-to-table dinner party! Use your farmer’s market for inspiration.

They have shutterstock_82003318the freshest produce available, and they are also a great place to buy baked goods, meat, and even flowers.

If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, keep it simple with a fresh salad, delicious cheese, cured meats, and of course a locally made apple pie. What’s more Fall than that?!

An added bonus, keeping the meal simple leaves you with more time to arrange seasonal flowers and wine taste!

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How to be a Great Tenant

RV_LeaseBeing a great tenant is clearly one of the best ways to build a positive relationship with your landlord. However, it is important not to let the landlord walk all over you in the process. Here are some guidelines to follow to be a good tenant and gain the landlord’s respect at the same time:

Know Your Lease Agreement

Probably the single most overlooked thing in the world of tenancy is the lease agreement. In short, if there is anything the landlord doesn’t want you to do, it’s in here. If there is anything you want to do in, around, or with your apartment, consult the lease agreement first. Yes, this means getting a copy and keeping it somewhere safe. It also means actually following the contents of the agreement. If you are not willing to follow everything in the agreement, speak with your landlord about any points of contention before you sign on the dotted line. Continue reading

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Preparing For a Safe Halloween.

shutterstock_113293567Halloween and Christmas are two of the most popular holidays for most Americans.   With Halloween fast approaching, preparing for Halloween can be easy or frustrating and organizing early always helps to have a smooth and enjoyable holiday.  If you prepare late in the game for this holiday, this could cause excess overspending and frustration with not finding the right costumes or decorations.

In any case, one of the first things to do is mark off on the calendar several days very early in October since that will allow you to clean and move furniture to other areas, especially if one intends to have a party.  Next, you should plan your objective for this holiday.  Are you planning to have a party this year, will it be a simple gathering with relatives and friends, will you just stay home and pass out candy with the children, or do you want to celebrate with your Church?  There is a new movement with numerous Churches to coordinate this celebration and you may want to contact your neighborhood Church who may already have this night celebration all coordinated and organized.

Whatever you decide to do, if you have stored decorations, now is the time to find those boxes of Halloween decorations and review their contents.  If you intend to place Halloween decorations on the house or in the front or back yard, be sure there is not a problem with the owners or neighbors.  Sometimes, too much decorations can cause a complaint from a neighbor. Remember that if you use electricity to light up decorations, it can cause the electric bill to increase and it should be included in your budget.

shutterstock_115768180Asking the kids well in advance on what they want to be this year will help you to find the appropriate costumes while you do your routine shopping in an easier fashion and may help you notice sales items.  Finally, limit your sugar intake since we all can benefit from less candy treats and look for other Halloween tricks that can be a substitute.  Have a happy and safe Halloween!

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Get Ready to Organize for the Holidays.

shutterstock_155251784With the new season of fall coming and the evidence of new coloring of leaves emerging and falling, the holiday season quickly comes upon us.  In a few weeks, numerous holidays are approaching.

Many individuals celebrate numerous secular and religious holidays and now that the children just returned to school, most families have to quickly switch gears and organize their schedule to get their homes holiday festive for the upcoming celebrations.  Hopefully, most of you have already gotten organized and carefully boxed and tagged each storage container that contained those yearly festive holiday decorations.

In a few weeks, the secular holiday of  Halloween begins and the following month of November includes Thanksgiving and before you know it, December quickly brings the holiday of Christmas.  This does not even include any other religious holidays that you may celebrate in addition to these occasions. However,  if you rent a residence, you can get quickly get holiday festive.

First, remember foremost, that you want to celebrate the holidays in a good mood and that includes safety first and ponder whether any possible holiday decoration set-ups might require your owner’s approval. Then, mark on the calendar several set days for cleaning and where you plan to move any necessary furniture to any specific areas to accommodate that particular holiday.

shutterstock_113198965Next, it is time to evaluate and reassess your budget.  After figuring your typical costs for gifts, food, and possible relative visits and sightseeing costs, select a monetary budget for new decorations.  As a general rule, always add an additional $100 for each holiday for unforeseen exigencies. After figuring out your budget, this will help you stick to your allotted monetary amount and help you to avoid overspending on frivolous party decorations, which can become costly. Now make a list of your routine expenditures and enjoy the season of holidays as they come!

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It’s Time for a Tailgate!

Photo courtesy of abcnews.com

Photo courtesy of abcnews.com

Fall, sweaters, football, 55 degree weather. Does it get any better? Nope! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, football season!

Whether you’re tailgating in a parking lot or throwing a bash in your apartment, you’re sure to love these pre-game tips to make your weekend easier and more festive.

 

 

  1. How to pack a cooler. (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/520869513124017857/)
  2. Float a helium balloon from your tent so your friends can find you. Just last weekend, I spent 45 minutes looking for a tailgate party!
  3. When you tailgate introduce yourself to your neighbors and invite them over. This applies to parties at home and in a parking lot.
  4. Make a tent chandelier. BTW, this is completely normal, and almost expected, in the south. (http://www.southernliving.com/travel/tailgating-supplies)
  5. Photo courtesy of FoodieCrush.com

    Photo courtesy of FoodieCrush.com

    When you have a noon kickoff, forget the beer. Go all out with a bloody Mary bar. (http://www.foodiecrush.com/2014/05/the-best-bloody-mary-recipe-bloody-mary-bar/)

  6. Pack jumper cables. How many of us have learned this lesson the hard way?
  7. It’s a must have for the young and the old for your tailgate enjoyment. (https://www.etsy.com/listing/174030727/officially-licensed-university-of)
  8. Keep the food simple. Pick up easy items like marinated olives, crudité trays, and pre-made sandwiches. Toss the tacky grocery store trays and use a pretty platter. No one will know the difference.
  9. Don’t skimp on your presentation. Decorate a standout table with pom-poms, props in your team’s colors, and even a football or two.
  10. And last but not least, if football isn’t your thing, go shopping! The grocery stores and shopping malls are empty on college football Saturdays!
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Renter’s Insurance 101

Renters-Voice_InsuranceThere’s one single thing that almost everyone will agree upon when it comes to renting; not having renter’s insurance is a huge mistake. If you read online apartment reviews, you might come across a complaint here or there that a landlord did not do anything to help a tenant recover from damage that occurred to their things in an apartment. That’s because technically, it’s not the landlord’s responsibility to insure and protect your personal belongings; it’s yours.

What is Renter’s Insurance?

Renter’s insurance is a contract between you and an insurance company; you pay them an amount each month, and they agree that, should some disaster befall the goods you keep in your apartment, they will insure your goods for damage, theft, and other covered losses. Continue reading

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“BroWOWnie” Brownies

Photo courtesy of babble.com

Photo courtesy of babble.com

“BroWOWnie” Brownies are amazing!

Yes…WOW!!!  Proceed with caution when taking these treats to a gathering… because you won’t be invited back without them!!  It’s hard to beat the “marriage” of Peanut Butter and Chocolate and this recipe gives undiluted, authentic flavors of each.

This recipe has few ingredients and is easy to prepare but the decadence it delivers not only rivals but conquers more elaborate concoctions.  BroWOWnie Brownies are sinfully delicious!

“BroWOWnie” Brownies

(1)  18 – 21 oz box of your favorite Brownie Mix (Family Size)
(1)  16 oz can of your favorite Chocolate Fudge Frosting
(1)  16 oz jar of your favorite creamy Peanut Butter (Peter Pan Brand highly recommended for easiest spreadability)
(60 – 70)  Mini Muffin or Candy Paper Cups

Prepare Brownie Mix according to instructions for the “Chewy” option. Bake in 9″ x 13″ pan according to manufacturer’s instructions. Cool COMPLETELY!

Spread the entire jar of Peanut Butter over the cool Brownie Surface, covering entirely…smoothing evenly.

Top with the entire can of Chocolate Fudge Frosting carefully covering the Peanut Butter.

Cut into 1 – 2 inch squares and place in Mini Muffin or Candy Paper Cups. The paper cups control the “stickiness” and are great for presentation (the “candy box” look).

BroWOWnies are a Chocolate Lovers “dream come true” as is but can also be garnished with chopped nuts, flaked coconut, crushed peppermint or other favorite toppers.

Yields 50 – 70 squares

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Whopper Heading North

shutterstock_100610170It seems like somebody or some company is always headed north. During the Viet Nam War, U.S. draft dodgers headed to Canada. The latest company to head way up north is Burger King home of the whopper, buying Tim Horton’s, Canada’s premier donut and coffee shop for $11.4 billion and finding a way to avoid US taxes to the tune of approximately $50 million.

This new marriage of sorts creates the third largest fast food chain in the world with Burger King doing what others have done in the past. And that is, according to the New York Times, “the deal would be structured as a corporate inversion. That’s a move where American companies buy a smaller, foreign-based company, relocate their headquarters, and then pay lower corporate income tax abroad.” However, BK retains their Miami headquarters, at least for now, with all the action taking place with TH in Ontario, at one time owned by Wendy’s.

Actually many corporations have been moving their operations either offshore or overseas to manufacture their products, avoid taxes and then export them back here to sell. Over the next several years this trend could have a price tag to the U.S. of nearly $19 billion.

shutterstock_164109452Whenever we wonder what’s cookin’ up north, we can use our imagination and fantasize with a new product or two that will be born out of this new combo. How ‘bout a Tim Horton Jr. Whopper or maybe a chocolate donut Whopper Special, hold the pickle with onion rings instead of fries. However you slice it, this could be very tasty!

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Tips for Getting Back Your Security Deposit

Piggy Bank with MoneyIt doesn’t matter if you live in a top-rated apartment in the suburbs or one right in the city, there is one aspect of apartment life that is set in stone; no one seems to get their full security deposit back. The number of tales of woe from former tenants, Internet reviews, and other sources about security deposit wars is heinous. And yet, the practice continues. Why?

Because it is not actually that bad…In almost every state, there are legal statutes surrounding the use and return of security deposits, and they almost all boil down to a single, simple idea; they can’t charge you if nothing is broken. Of course, there are details in the fine print. For example, you have to prove that nothing was broken. Or, more specifically, that nothing is any more broken when you move out than it was when you moved in. That leads us to these 4 simple tips for increasing your odds of getting your security deposit back:

1. Get a Receipt For Your Deposit. Scan it into your computer and upload it to a secure cloud somewhere and forget about it until you move out. If your building changes landlords while you live there, it may become necessary to provide the receipt in order to get back your security deposit.

2. Document Everything Before You Move In. The landlord will almost certainly do this as well, but it is always in your best interest to take a careful thrice-over look of your apartment. Once with a video camera (even your cellphone’s will do), where you zoom in on everything that looks even moderately out of place. Then again with a still camera that has good resolution, and make sure to take pictures of everything. Finally, go over with a notepad and pen and write down everything that seems even mildly off-putting about your new digs. When it comes time to move out, repeat the process and specifically note anything that has changed between move-in and move-out; those are the only things they should be charging you for.

3. Fight for Your Right to Normal Wear and Tear. The concept of ‘normal wear and tear’ is a difficult one, because it’s not well defined in most states. But every state has the notion of ‘if you live in a place, it will naturally be more used when you move out, and that’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix, not the tenant’s.’ Look up your state’s wear and tear laws, and if the landlord starts to be a jerk about the deposit, provide them with a copy. (Don’t give them the copy upfront, though; that’s just being rude and begging them to find an excuse to stiff you.)

RV_Couple-On-Couch4. Be Present for the Landlord’s Final Inspection. There is nothing more powerful than the ability to explain something that seems out-of-place, or to promptly and personally finish some bit of cleanup that got lost in the shuffle out the door. Not all states give you the legal right to be there for the inspection, but many landlords will allow it even if they’re not legally required to.

There are a lot of wrinkles that can further confuse the security deposit situation. For example, if you have roommates and you’re the only one moving out, the landlord is not obligated to return your portion of the security deposit until the last roommate leaves. But for the vast majority of tenants, these four steps represent the best effort you can make to get most (if not all) of your security deposit back when you move out.

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