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Titanic Remembrance Day

April 15 is not just our tax filing day (ugh) but also happens to be Titanic Remembrance Day, the day in 1912 when over 1500 perished at sea. Despite being advertised as “unsinkable,” the cruise liner hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean which set off a series of unfortunate events like not enough lifeboats and water rushing into the ship.

Here’s an interesting story about this incident:

Happy National Lawn and Garden Month

April is National Lawn and Garden Month. Here are some tips to get your outside oasis ready in spring.

First task is to repeat what you just did in fall—Rake! I know it seems like you just did this, but there are surely more leaves, twigs and debris and a spring raking is the first step to good lawn care.

Next seed any bare spots and fertilize. Fall is the usual time to do all these tasks, but if you neglected to do so at that time, now is your moment!

Weed care is next; dandelion spraying is best in fall but again you can address now as well. If you don’t like to do herbicides, pulling weeds is very effective!  This is also the time to do a preliminary raking and weeding of all your landscaping to prepare for mulch or rocks.

Lastly, check out your equipment. Make sure you have the proper type of gas for your mower and that everything is in working order.  Spring rain will make mowing a must soon, and you want to be ready for that growth.

Lawncare can be time consuming but it’s also a great way to enjoy the (finally) better weather and get some exercise! Happy spring!

March 18: Awkward Moment Day: How to Deal with Awkward Moments

March 18: Awkward Moment Day: How to Deal with Awkward Moments

 In case you didn’t know, March 18 is National Awkward Moment Day! Now we have an entire day dedicated to those moments that make us cringe and give us nightmares.  All kidding aside, learning to deal with awkward moments can be difficult but is an important part of everyone’s self journey.  Here are some ideas of how to deal with some annoyingly awkward moments:

  1. Forgetting someone’s name: This has happened to all of us. You have a couple of options—you can ride it out, hoping you can have an entire conversation without needing the name, or you can own up to the problem up front.  You can simply say, “I’m sorry, it has been one of those days and your name has flown out of my mind!”  Then just be extra friendly and complimentary to make up for your awkward moment.
  2. Your young child throws a tantrum in public: Experts agree that the best way to handle the situation is simply to ignore the bad behavior and walk away. Reasoning with a small child never works, and disciplinary action in public is not a good idea.  Simply scoop up the child and leave the area.  Again, we have all been there (sigh).
  3. Bumping into an Ex: Usually you never want to see this person again, but it is bound to happen and probably when you least want to see him or her. A quick smile and hello said in a cursory, indifferent way is the best course.  Then you don’t have to explain who the person is or dwell on any past painful moments.
  4. Forgetting your wallet at the store: Of course this happens right as you are at the checkout. Again—no worries. Most stores have a policy for this situation, demonstrating that this happens quite often!  Simply tell the cashier you are sorry and that you will need to come back later for your items.  It won’t be fun, but it is really your only recourse.

A bunch more awkward moments could be related here—but the solution always comes down to one resounding theme—the best remedy for awkward situations is to develop a thick skin.  Awkwardness comes from our reaction to other people.  By holding your head up high and ignoring people’s reactions, you will dissolve the awkwardness and simply have a good story to tell later!

Happy Awkward Moment Day!



How to Get Rid of Mold and Mildew in Your Apartment

We’ve all seen those tell tale black corners in the bathtub or dotting our shower curtain.  You might even have cardboard boxes with damp corners in the basement. A small amount of mold and mildew won’t cause problems, but with some elbow grease and other tips, you can eliminate the issue.

To prevent mildew from occurring in the first place, run your fan in your bathroom and open the bathroom door after showering to allow moisture out. Avoid storing linens, books and furniture in basement areas that get damp.  And consider use of a dehumidifier if you have damp areas of the home.

Tackle your bathroom mold with a solution of ¾ cup of chlorine bleach with one gallon of water.  Use gloves, wear eye protection, and make sure the fan is on and door open while you apply the solution to moldy areas.  Let it sit for several minutes, then scrub and rinse. Take down your shower curtain and replace with a clean plastic liner or simply wash in washing machine with bleach and detergent and then re-hang.

For storage, replace cardboard boxes with plastic ones and make sure the lids close tightly.  Put mothballs and DampRid containers in your home’s damp spots.  Run a dehumidifier or fan during humid or wet weather.

Nobody likes to see mold or mildew, but a few preventative steps and some elbow grease on a regular basis will keep that issue under control and keep your home safe.

Storage Tips for Apartments

Apartment living can present challenges in organizing your stuff.  If you don’t get creative with having enough storage, you might find yourself tripping over toys at 11 pm or simply having to clear off your kitchen table every meal so that you can eat.  Here are our tips for providing some easy organization solutions:

  1. Invest in storage furniture. There are a ton of new items out there that provide a double purpose. Get a TV stand that has storage drawers underneath or an ottoman that opens up to stash toys. Opt for a nightstand that has a nice size cabinet or drawers.
  2. Utilize hooks. Command hooks have a variety of products that allow you to protect the walls of the apartment while also providing areas to hang coats, robes, towels, etc.
  3. Get a Coat Rack. If you lack a coat closet, this will be a must. If you have a coat closet, this cool item will allow you to use that closet for other stuff, like shelves for books, linens or shoes.
  4. Under the Bed Storage. Don’t just stash stuff under the bed, but instead buy plastic containers or baskets that fit under and allow you to stash sweatshirts, toys, etc.
  5. Buy kitchen shelves and baskets. You can get nifty little shelves to put in your kitchen cabinets that allow you to store two levels of dishes, spices, etc, in each cabinet.
  6. Find interesting clothing solutions. Often, the biggest culprit of clutter is in the bedroom closet. Buy shoe shelves to keep your shoes neat and tidy.  If you have empty spaces, fill them with scarves, hats and mittens in the winter.  Consider getting S hooks to hang jeans/pants in your closet. These will take up less room than hangers.  For jewelry storage, consider investing in a full length mirror that opens to reveal hanging jewelry, belt and scarf storage.  You can find these at most big box stores.

How to Find a Good Roommate

There are many good reasons why you might want to explore having a roommate.  The most obvious reasons for wanting a roommate is for financial reasons since it allows you to split the rent and utilities.  Sharing a place might also give you the ability to rent a larger or more luxurious place.  If you are concerned about living alone,  a roommate can also provide safety and some company.

Here are some good tips to finding the perfect person to share a place:

  1. Ask around. Of course it can be risky to live with a friend; after all, it might ruin a friendship.  But living with someone you know is much better than a perfect stranger.  You can also ask trusted relatives and colleagues; they may know a good person to interview for your new roommate.
  2. Interview everyone. Don’t assume from a brief phone call or someone else’s recommendation that it will be a go.  By interviewing someone, you can check out their vehicle and appearance which might tell you something about how clean they will be or how they will treat your apartment.  You can also ask important questions like how they will deal with quiet hours and shared living areas.
  3. Be Honest about All Costs. Do your homework so you know what all the costs will be, including the security deposit, utility turn-on fees, parking, etc.  You don’t want anyone to be in a situation that he or she cannot afford. And it will help set the tone for paying rent and utilities on-time in the future.
  4. Check References.  Especially if the person is a stranger, you will want to check identification and some valid references. You can also get a criminal background or credit check online for peace of mind.
  5. Put it in Writing. Make sure you are both on the lease.  If for some reason, the lease is only in your name, contact the landlord about attaching someone else or make up your own agreement and make sure you get it notarized.  You may also want to do a roommate contract that you both sign with house rules about paying utilities, house guest and chores.

Apartment Living with a Roommmate

‘Please tell me you aren’t my roommate.’

It is not easy navigating your apartment or house with family, let alone roommates.  Often you are coming together to share expenses and don’t necessarily have anything in common. Here are some practical tips to survive living with a roommate:

  1. Make a Contract:  Most roommate problems stem from not outlining things at the beginning. For example, who will take care of paying rent to the landlord, who will take care of utilities, what are the quiet hours, who will clean the kitchen and how will you share the common living area space?  Take the time over lunch or coffee to outline everything and put in writing. Make sure both of you have a signed copy. This will take care of conflict in the future over many issues.
  2. Act Fast. Don’t let problems spiral out of control. Instead, address your conflict early on.  While problems are small, it is easy to communicate and fix.  Once you allow your roommate to keep taking your food or make messes, it will become a pattern that is harder to solve.
  3. Respect Boundaries.  It seems obvious, but your stuff is your stuff and your roommate’s stuff is your roommate’s stuff. Don’t take his/her stamps for your mail; don’t use his/her butter to always cook your meals.  These are the small issues that can easily become big and make you both resent each other.
  4. Err on the Side of Caution.  Don’t assume you can have friends over whenever you please.  Instead, ask permission from your roommate so that he or she doesn’t get blindsided by a group of loud friends when he or she is trying to study or sleep.
  5. Lock the Door.  You wouldn’t want to come home to find out that your roommate just ran to laundry room for a second and left door unlocked which allowed a thief to come in and take your laptop and television– so ALWAYS lock the door and make sure your roommate does as well.
  6. Be Open-Minded.  You don’t have to be best friends with your roommate and that is just fine.  However, mutual respect is a good thing and will help both of you through the process of living harmoniously.  Keep and open mind about his or her habits, culture and background and this skill will reward you with different experience and provide peace in  your living arrangement.

What fees can you expect when renting an apartment?

When you need to rent a house or apartment, there are some fees you need to keep in mind when you are saving up to move.

  1. Application fee: Prospective landlords want to make sure you can pay the rent in a timely manner. Nobody wants to put someone in a situation that he or she cannot afford. Thus, many landlords will check your credit report for bad debt and evictions. The national average for these fees range from $30-$55.
  2. Security deposit: landlords are entitled to collect a deposit to hedge against any damages to the property. This deposit will be applied to any extra repairs, utilities and cleaning done after you move out that is beyond normal “wear and tear.” Check your state for guidelines. For example, in Ohio, landlords have 30 days to process these deposits and the deposit is usually equal to one month’s rent. If it is more than the monthly rent, you are entitled to receive interest on the extra.
  3. Pet fees or pet deposit: if you have a pet, be expected to pay extra monthly rent or a separate deposit to account for any damages your pet might add to the house or apartment.
  4. Document fees or bad credit fees: some landlords might require fees for extra work in doing paperwork or if your credit score is below a certain threshold.

While these fees are standard, there is one fee you should never pay— that is a fee to view a property. This is a classic scam— usually there is not a property to even see. So if someone asks you to wire or send money in advance, don’t do it. This is illegal and unethical.

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