Spring has sprung and for many residents, de-cluttering is a big part of the Spring Cleaning task. Purging your unwanted or unnecessary items is a great way to cleanse not only your home, but your soul. But what do you do with all of the excess stuff? Consider donating your items to Goodwill. Goodwill isn’t just another Thrift Store; the non-profit has helped hundreds of thousands of people “reach their full potential through education, skills training, and the power of work.” Your donations will contribute to this mission!
Before you donate, however, be sure to inspect your items for stains or tears, make sure they have all their pieces and parts, and that they are in good working order. While Goodwill will occasionally accept items that don’t meet these standards, your items will do the most good if they do.
As long as your items are in good condition, Goodwill will accept most household stuff, but you’ll want to call ahead for a few things. Check out their guidelines below before dropping off your items:
shoes and boots
hats, gloves, mittens and scarves
books, records, compact disks, video tapes and DVDs
Crossing the threshold into adulthood is signified by many telling things. Paying off a constant bombardment of bills, for instance — and reckoning with forces like quickly decelerating metabolisms and heartburn (after just two slices of pizza, at that).
It’s also marked by a slow-but-sure learning process where habits shift — where you begin to optimize your routines, learn what to invest time and money on, and generally how to live better.
Figuring out all that stuff takes time, though, and it’s much easier to just ask other people who’ve been there, done that. So, from someone who’s been adulting for a few whole years now (and with plenty of advice from much more experienced adults), here are some of the things that are always worth the money.
I’ve never really found the “Think about what you put in your body!” admonishment compelling, since I often think that my body just wants a greasy cheeseburger. Instead, it’s more effective to remind myself that stateside healthcare is extremely costly, and maintaining long-term wellness will mitigate those expenses.
MORE WHOLESOME FOODS
Spend more on meat raised without antibiotics, and use this guide to find seafood that’s raised or caught with minimal chemical use and damage to habitats. When it comes to produce, buying fresh, local, and in season will provide various benefits: Not only is it cost effective, but fruits and veggies are also at peak taste and vitamin content when they’re picked while ripe and consumed quickly, rather than being trundled cross-country on a truck.
Vending machine confections have passed their heyday: 40% of the snacks consumers carry these days are classified as healthy, and better-for-you snacks are readily available on supermarket shelves. If you’re craving something savory, reach for nutritious picks like seaweed snacks or dry-roasted edamame. For sweet treats, indulge in Nature Valley Granola Cups, which strike the perfect balance between creamy and crunchy, decadent (chocolate and nut butter!) and wholesome (whole-grain oats and nuts).
Cooking is a skill that’s worth investing time in, since it’s conducive both to saving money and eating healthier meals. Even if your cooking savvy is questionable, investing in a few good knives — or even just one chef’s knife, which are extremely versatile — will make a significant difference in the kitchen. Here’s a great guide to essential knives. A cast-iron skillet is another must-have; with proper care, the thing will last a lifetime, and it will only set you back about 20 bucks.
Stuff You Spend Your Nights On
Nights! They happens every 24 hours, and it’s in our best interest to spend most of them sleeping. According to The Handbook of Clinical Neurology, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, or trying to do so — all the more reason to invest in things that’ll make our beds more comfortable. Good mattresses will make a difference in your sleep quality, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Try retailers like Casper and Tuft & Needle, which offer 100-day trial periods before you decide whether or not to commit.
Another alternative is buying a mattress topper, which can elevate a sad bed without breaking your bank. The same philosophy applies when buying pillows, comforters, and sheets — quality products will make the difference between the feel of a cheap motel and a snug, serene sleep sanctuary. (A friend of mine even “has a guy” for quality sheets.) Another thing to consider: If you’re sharing a bed with a blanket-hogging partner, picking up an extra flat sheet and comforter might save your relationship.
Tools That’ll Make Your Home More Livable
There’s a reason that apartment maintenance, be it cleanliness or even interior decor, can cause so much strife between roommates and partners. Upkeep of a living space is important, and it’s psychologically beneficial to retreat to a place of comfort and belonging.
A VACUUM THAT WORKS
My roommates and I went through a series of cheap vacuums, which all disintegrated in a matter of weeks and ended up on the curb. We’ve since invested in a $200 vacuum that not only works better, but has already lasted us several years with no loss in efficacy — extra important, since I’m the mother to a furry pet.
A fancy surround-sound system isn’t necessary unless you’re a serious audiophile — but if you find yourself engaging in any type of passive listening (putting on podcasts or music while you perform chores, for instance), decent speakers are worth investing in. If you’re not sure where to start looking, a good portable bluetooth speaker is a breeze to use and will serve all of your basic audio needs.
BATHROOM BELLS ‘N’ WHISTLES
Buy a heavy-duty toilet plunger before you need one. Have you ever lived with a serial toilet-and-drain–clogger? I have, and none of us were ready until it was too late. And while we’re on the topic of lavatorial habits — if you haven’t stocked your bathroom with strong, two-ply toilet paper, you’re not living your best life.
Restaurant reservations are filling up, but it’s not too late to book a table for Valentine’s Day dinner. Here are the restaurants in and around Baltimore that have Valentine’s Day specials–some are offering specials that run before and even after the holiday.
AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar in Columbia will will serve a six-course sparkling wine dinner and chef’s demonstration for $85 per person from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, and a four-course prix-fixe menu Feb. 13 and 14 for $65 per person. (6741 Columbia Gateway Drive; 410-953-0500; aidabistro.com)
Arturo’s Trattoria in Glen Burnie will serve a four-course menu for $80 per person. (1660 Crain Highway South; 410-761-1500; arturostrattoria.com)
B&O American Brasserie at the Hotel Monaco will offer a three-course prix-fixe meal for $70 per person. The menu includes offerings such as lobster carrot bisque, wagyu carpaccio, rice-crusted tuna and chocolate hazelnut cake. (2 N. Charles St.; 443-692-6172; bandorestaurant.com)
Chef’s Expressions will host a Valentine’s Day wine supper at Gramercy Mansion. Tickets are $99.95, and a portion of the proceeds will go to Children’s Scholarship Fund Baltimore. (Gramercy Mansion, 1400 Greenspring Valley Road; 410-561-2433; chefsexpressions.com)
Cinnamon Tree Restaurant at the Hunt Valley Inn will offer a three-course, prix-fixe menu with champagne from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The meal is $119 per couple, including tax and gratuity. (245 Shawan Road; 410-785-7000; huntvalleywyndhamgrand.com/dining)
The Corner Pantry in Lake Falls Village will offer a six-course tasting menu for $96 per person. Courses will be shared by the table, and the dinner is BYOB. (6080 Falls Road; 667-308-2331; corner-pantry.com)
at the Mill No. 1 complex in Hampden will offer a four-course dinner for $100. (3000 Falls Road; 443-708-7352; cosimamill1.com)
Donna’s at Cross Keys will offer a three-course menu for $55. Menu choices include crab arancini, Thai duck breast and crispy noodle salad, beef carpaccio, pink peppercorn crusted filet mignon and grilled tuna Nicoise. (5100 Falls Road, 410-532-7611, donnas.com/cross-keys)
The Elephant in Mount Vernon will offer a four-course tasting menu with four choices per course for $85, or $115 with wine pairings. (924 N. Charles St.; 443-447-7878; theelephantbaltimore.com)
On Feb. 13 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge will serve a “Valentine’s Prelude” special with three courses for $65. On Feb. 14 the restaurant will serve two prix-fixe menu options — three courses for $75 or four courses for $85. (5745 Furnace Ave.; 410-379-9336; elkridgefurnaceinn.com)
Explorer’s Lounge at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel will serve a three-course, prix-fixe menu for $55 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Feb. 14. The restaurant will offer dishes such as shrimp and crab quinoa, chateaubriand steak for two and red velvet cake, as well as a complimentary glass of champagne. (550 Light St.; 410-234-0550; sonesta.com/us/maryland/baltimore/royal-sonesta-harbor-court-baltimore)
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Harbor East will offer a three-course menu starting at $79.95 per person Feb. 10-19. The menu includes a choice of salad, filet mignon, salmon or lobster tail and raspberry white chocolate bread pudding. (720 Aliceanna St.; 410-332-1666; flemingssteakhouse.com/locations/md/baltimore)
Germano’s Piattini in Little Italy will offer a five-course, prix-fixe dinner for $49, plus a cabaret performance by Steve Ross at 6 p.m. ($20). (300 S. High St.; 410-752-4515; germanospiattini.com)
Gertrude’s at the Baltimore Museum of Art will serve a three-course “Valentine’s Aphrodisiac” menu for $54 Feb. 10-14. (10 Art Museum Drive; 410-889-3399; gertrudesbaltimore.com)
Gunther & Co. in Canton will offer a four-course tasting menu ($75), with the option to add wine pairings ($25), an oyster course ($10 for four oysters) and/or a shellfish course ($22). (3650 Toone St.; 443-869-6874; eatatgunther.com)
Joe Squared in Station North will offer a seven-course Valentine’s Day dinner for $60, with optional beer and cocktail pairings for $30 extra. The prix-fixe menu, offered from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., includes cider pork belly, winter vegetables, golden tile fish, duck confit with mole sauce and ricotta cheesecake. (33 W. North Ave.; 410-454-0444; joesquared.com)
La Cuchara in Woodberry will offer a four-course dinner for $79, with wine pairings available for an extra $29. The menu includes options such as tuna crudo, foie gras, lamb shoulder and coffee-caramel creme brulee. (3600 Clipper Mill Road; 443-708-3838; lacucharabaltimore.com)
La Folie Wine Bar & Steak Frites in Canton will serve a $45 prix-fixe menu for two, plus complimentary champagne. (2903 O’Donnell St.; 667-212-2122; bistrolafolie.com)
Le Garage in Hampden will serve a four-course menu for $59 per person featuring new dishes and house favorites. (911 W. 36th St.; 410-243-6300; legaragebaltimore.com)
From Feb 10-14, Morton’s the Steakhouse at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel will offer a steak and lobster tail for $56. (300 S. Charles St.; 410-547-8255; mortons.com/baltimore)
The Rowhouse Grill in Federal Hill will offer a three-course menu for $45, or $60 with drink pairings, Feb. 10-14. (1400 Light St.; 443-438-7287; therowhousegrille.com)
Sullivan’s Steakhouse in the Inner Harbor will offer a three-course “Wine, Dine & Be Mine” dinner from Feb. 10-14. The menu, which includes a seafood tasting, filet mignon and chocolate mousse, is $69 before 5 p.m. and $79 per person after 5 p.m. (1 E. Pratt St.; 410-962-5503; sullivanssteakhouse.com/baltimore)
Sweet Caroline’s in Locust Point will serve a three-course meal for $35 per person from Feb. 11-14. (1401 Clement St.; 410-244-1401; sweetcarolineslocustpoint.com)
The Turn House in Columbia will serve a six-course dinner for $95 per person, with selections including scallop crudo, celery root ravioli and New York strip steak. (11130 Willow Bottom Drive; 410-740-2096; theturnhouse.com)
Wit & Wisdom at the Four Seasons Baltimore will offer a three-course tasting menu for $95 per person, with wine pairings for an extra $59. The menu includes Maine lobster bisque, heirloom beets, seared diver scallops, butter-poached prime beef filet, maple pastries and more. (200 International Drive; 410-576-5800; witandwisdombaltimore.com)
Woodberry Kitchen in Woodberry will offer special touches at its tables Feb. 10-14 for guests with reservations, including boxes of chocolates, Linzer heart cookies, prosecco, cocktails for two and a photobooth. (2010 Clipper Park Road; 410-464-8000; woodberrykitchen.com)
If eating healthy is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, there are ways to make it easy on yourself. Eat more vegetables; cut out sugar; and cook at home. Simple, right? But then life happens. You are tired, the kids are hungry, and the pantry is empty. The reasons (excuses?) are endless. In this moment, it is so easy to give into the lure of fast food and pre-packaged meals. And your hopes of a healthy 2017 are out the window.
One of the most important strategies to combat this pitfall and stay on track is to keep a well-stocked and organized pantry. If your shelves are stocked with healthy foods that are easily accessible, putting together a nutritious meal is much simpler and stress-free thank you think. Check out our 5 tips to organize and stock your pantry to make healthy eating easier on you.
Tip #1: Assess Your Pantry Contents and Space
First pull out everything and group like items together both in terms of type and size, and throw away out of date items and junk food (yes—the bag of cheese puffs have to go). Measure your space and determine the size of your largest and smallest pantry item then re-arrange shelves to accommodate these sizes.
Tip #2: Create an Essentials List
Think about the foods you use to cook with every day; the snacks you need to keep on hand and the healthy foods you want to incorporate into your diet. Make a master list of all the foods you want to store in your pantry at any given time. Download my pantry essentials list here. Finally, plan for storing all of these items within your space for a well-stocked and organized pantry.
Tip #3: Use Shelf Organizers and Re-usable Containers
To store all of these pantry essentials and make them accessible use gravity fed racks, lazy-susans, and shelf risers. Store small items, packets, or awkwardly shaped foods in baskets. Put essential pantry items like flour, sugar, and grains in air-tight canisters.
Tip #4: Put a Label on It
Put pretty labels on anything you cannot see in to or on canisters when the contents are not easily identifiable. Use large labels that include cooking instructions with measurements on them to make cooking healthy foods easier.
Tip #5: Make Space for a Grocery List
Designate a space to make notes about re-stocking. A chalkboard is a great idea if you have the wall space and want to incorporate a little farmhouse style into your apartment. You could also print off your master pantry essentials list. Place it on a clipboard attached to the back of a cupboard door, and then mark needed items.
A well-stocked and organized pantry is key to keeping your healthy eating New Year’s Resolution and to make it less of a hassle.
While most of the country is snuggled away with their families for the Holidays, there are folks with certain jobs that require them to work, like Police Officers, Fire Fighters, hospital personnel, caregivers, transportation operators, and on-call maintenance technicians, to name a few. If you find yourself needing any one of hard-working individuals (who have given up time with their own families to help those in need), show them a nice gesture of gratitude by giving them a small gift. We’ve put together some items that are a unique, useful, and a thoughtful way to say “Thank you” and “Happy Holidays”:
Give the gift of some me time with this intergalactic bath “bomb” from Lush. When she drops the peppermint bomb in the bath, it dissolves and changes the color of the water to a bright neon — but won’t wreck your tub.
Your Malbec-obsessed mommy friend will LOL when she sees these wipes — then she’ll want to give them a try. They’re supposed to help remove wine stains from your teeth after you drink a glass of red, and they come in a convenient compact with a mirror.
Anyone who loves dogs will be able to relate to this touching novel about the relationship between one dog and his owners over his lifespan. If you wanna go for round two, the movie comes out in January.
It’s pumpkin season! And what better way to decorate for fall than with pumpkins? Interestingly enough, though, you don’t need to carve one in order to spruce up your pad with pumpkin. You can use paint, ribbon, burlap, and dozens of other material to primp your pumpkin. Just take a look at the ideas below:
Start by painting the stem gold (either with spray paint or craft paint) and let dry. Then move on to the all-white body of the pumpkin, let dry. Use any glue (we just used Elmers) to make shapes and designs of your choosing. Immediately sprinkle with gold glitter and let dry. Viola!
Use ribbon or sequence to decorate your small (or big!) pumpkins. We recommend you secure your materials with a hot glue gun.
Paint your favorite Disney or cartoon characters!
Use lace! Paint the stem of the pumpkin and let dry. Measure the diameter and height of your pumpkin, then cut the material. Secure in place with a hot glue gun.
Use a drill with different sized drill bits to cut intricate designs.
Are you tired of the same old hand-me-down kitchen tools? Today we are going to take a look at a few must-haves for the kitchen that can complete the task at hand and save you both time and space! The kitchen is often the most-used room in the home, so let’s not leave it outdated and unattended. Let’s add some fun toys into the mix!
A Digital Scale
By purchasing a digital scale, you will spend a little bit more money than you would on the old fashioned measuring cups, but it eliminates the need to store those measuring cups and multitasks for you. A basic digital scale will measure your food and liquids more accurately, filling your recipes to their fullest potential. By getting into the habit of using a food scale in the kitchen, you will also be able to handle proper portion control and weight management, which is helpful when following a diet or making sure you stay within the food pyramid for every meal.
In this day and age, we are limited in time and storage. By adding a tablet mount to your wall, you can quickly and easily access hundreds of recipes. Get rid of all those bulky recipe books and free up more storage in your kitchen and possibly even your living room, if you are an avid cooker. If you prefer to keep your tablet close by on the counter, countertop tablet stands are an option.
Chalkboards are such a great way to stay organized as you change your schedule, change your mind or need to make adjustments and daily reminders. If you have an awesome property manager who lets you paint, try adding some chalkboard paint to the inside of your pantry or cabinet doors. This is a place you spend time every day, so put all those daily reminders in a high-traffic area while still keeping them hidden. If you can’t paint, create your very own chalkboard to hang on the wall.
When you run out of cabinet and storage space, it’s time to start using that wasted wall space between your countertops and upper cabinets. Using storage as decoration is trendy right now. IKEA and lots of other retailers are selling systems that allow you to store your knives on magnetic strips that can easily be mounted to your wall, as well as baskets that hang from bars and offer you off-the-counter storage, but don’t forget about your fridge! You can even buy magnetic spice tins you can store on the side of your fridge, freeing up even more cabinet space. Start using those magnets and get some of your everyday items into a more easily accessible area of your kitchen.
Our computers, phones and tablets are our newest accessory. We have them with us all the time. It’s almost as if they are glued to our hands. Use these items to your benefit in the kitchen. There are now tons of apps out there that will organize your favorite recipes, create shopping lists and manage nutritional information at the touch of a button. One of my favorite ones is the Perfect Produce App that tells you exactly how to pick out any fruit or vegetable imaginable. Such a handy tool if you are in the mood to try something new!
Renting an apartment is a great way to save money, especially if your living arrangements are not permanent. Many people stress the importance of finding a good landlord, but you often don’t realize until you move in that it’s just as important to be a responsible tenant.
So once you’ve found the perfect apartment, completed your walkthrough and moved those boxes, how do you make sure that you’re getting the best renting experience? You can start by avoiding these common mistakes.
You never know how long you’ll be in your apartment. You may want to customize and personalize your new place immediately, but don’t get too carried away. The more you do to the apartment, the more there is to undo when you move out.
2. Lax Security
You might not own the apartment, but it’s still filled with your belongings — including yourself. Remember to lock your door and secure your windows. Here’s something to consider: ask your landlord to install a peephole (or for permission to do it yourself.) It may seem like a stretch, but you don’t know if it’s possible unless you ask!
3. Making Permanent Changes to the Apartment
When you are hanging curtains or decorating your apartment, make sure that you ask permission before drilling holes, painting walls, or doing anything permanent. Often permanent changes will need to be undone upon moving out, or you will be charged for them.
That carpet stain in the bedroom might seem like a minor issue. But in reality, it’s a problem that will cost you when you move out. Moral of the story? Be careful! Treat your apartment as though you own it.
5. Failing to Repair Damages
From minor scratches on the wall to missing floor tiles, it is important to get problems fixed as soon as they arise. If for no other reason, a little problem could soon become a bigger one if left untreated. When it’s time to move, you’ll be held responsible if you don’t speak up sooner.
6. Not Getting Renter’s Insurance
You insure your health and your car, so why wouldn’t you want to insure the other things that are important to you? Most people don’t realize how important renter’s insurance is until it is too late. Don’t let that be you.
7. Not Cleaning Regularly
This may seem obvious, but it’s a point that deserves stressing. If you made a list of fun things that you like to do in your spare time, there’s a good chance that cleaning wouldn’t be on it. However, cleaning your apartment consistently will save you a giant headache when it’s time to move out.
8. Failing to Notify Landlord of Problems
Some people fear that they might be blamed for any problems that they report to their landlord, but it is actually something that every tenant should do. If you don’t let your landlord know about that faucet leak, it could get worse and you could get blamed for it when it might have been a relatively simple fix in the first place.
9. Wasting Money on Utilities
Ever looked at your utility bills and wished that you could just rip them in half? You might not be able to get rid of them altogether, but you might be paying more than you need to for utilities each month. How often do you leave your heating or air conditioning on when you go to work for the day? Switch it off when you leave, or use a programmable thermostat. There’s no need to pay to heat or cool an empty apartment.
10. Not Taking Photos of Damage on the First Day
You may have just moved in, but you always need to be thinking about how you’re going to get your deposit back at the end. One of the ways to do this is to document any damage at your apartment on the first day you’re there. Make sure the photos are dated. That way, you will always have back-up should the apartment community manager try to charge you for something that was already problematic.
Finding a new place to live doesn’t have to be scary. With a bit of organization and pre-planning, your apartment search can go smoothly and result in a fabulous new place to live. Here are some tips to get you going in the right direction.
Determine the kind of apartment that will meet your needs.
It’s hard to start apartment hunting if you don’t know what you’re looking for. One bedroom? Two? A community pool? A separate office? How much do you want to spend?
Before you start your search, you need to know what you want in an apartment in order to weed out places that aren’t going to fit. Answer these basic questions before you kick off your search:
How much can you afford?
How much do you want to spend?
What area of town do you want to live?
How many rooms do you want?
What kinds of amenities do you want? Do you want access to a gym? A pool?
Do you prefer a gated community?
What features do you want inside the apartment? For example, a washer and dryer or dishwasher?
Once you have a basic outline of what your minimum requirements are, you can then start considering optional luxuries — more expensive kitchen appliances, a covered parking space, included utilities, etc.
Set some dates.
The amount of time you allow for finding your apartment will depend on how quickly you have to move or how much time you can devote to an apartment search. If you are under no time pressure, allow yourself one to two months to find an apartment. Mark your calendar with your intended move date and move backwards, making sure to leave enough lead time to pack, move and clean your old place.
If you’re looking at a lot of apartments in your apartment search, then you’ll need to keep track of what you like, what you don’t like and what has yet to be seen. The easiest way to keep your apartment search organized is by creating a folder. Print out apartment listings and take them with you when you go to see the apartment. Jot notes on the listings that will trigger your memory about them. In this notebook, also keep your list of “apartment wants,” noting which apartment has the features you desire, and a list of questions to ask apartment managers. In this folder you can also keep any flyers or paperwork apartment communities offer about floor plans, utilities, fees and other important facts that could influence your decision.
You are now ready to start an organized and well-planned apartment search. Armed with these tips, you’ll be signing the lease to your new apartment before you know it.
When people hear “apartment” they sometimes think “tiny” or “now I have to get rid of my stuff” but what they don’t realize is the benefits that come with living in a smaller space. We’ve put together 10 reason that living in a smaller space is actually beneficial:
10 Bonus Benefits to Small Space Living:
It’s easier to clean.
You’re less likely to overshop when space is a priority – so you save money.
Small versions of furniture cost less. A lot less.
It’s easier to focus on quality over quantity when everything’s on display.
Your heating and cooling bills tend to be lower.
A small art collection makes a big impact.
A single statement piece or splurge can make the whole room (which in some instances is the whole apartment).
It’s harder to lose the remote, or anything else for that matter.
You’re more likely to purge clutter when you can’t hide it away.
You can afford to have niceties like candles and flowers in every room.