5 Simple Items to Decorate Your Apartment

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From ApartmentTherapy.com, check out these five simple items to style your apartment:

Professional stylists, obnoxious Instagram stars and your super-stylish friend who’s house always looks just so— what do they all have in common? Whether it’s for a photo, a party, or just a bookcase, they understand the importance of styling. To the uninitiated, creating “vignettes” around the home might sound a tad pretentious, but it’s really just a combination of tidying, arranging and displaying your belongings in a visually pleasing way. And you really don’t need to own anything special to get started— check out how how five simple things that we (usually) already own can add interest and life to almost any room in the house.

Plants
When it comes to styling, bringing the outside in is always a good idea. Nothing brings life to a space quicker than a bit of green in the form of a houseplant. Whether it’s succulents in the bathroom, a fig leaf tree in the living room or a hanging plant in the kitchen, you can’t really over use this one.

Candles
Whether you love to burn them or hate the smell, you’ve got to admit that there are some really attractively-packaged candles on the market. An expensive-looking glass jar here or there does wonders for your home’s style cred.

Books & Magazines
Maybe we’re all really well-read. Maybe we just want others to think we are. But despite new technology and the success of ebooks, old-fashioned paper isn’t going anywhere— at least for design purposes. Not just relegated to the bookshelf, some well-displayed books can make anything from a wall to a window ledge a thing of beauty.

Trays
For real. Throw any group of random items together on a tray, and it somehow looks intentional and chic. I use this trick all over my home, from the kitchen for oils/salt and pepper, to the bedroom for my beauty products.

Textiles
Almost every room could use a bit of softness. From decorative toss cushions to practical items like towels, textiles are a great way of adding color, pattern and texture to your home.

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Maintenance Monday – cleaning your windows

We do not provide a window cleaning service to your individual apartment windows, but you can easily clean your windows. First remove the storm windows and the slider. Second, remove the screen and clean the window with a squeegee and a sponge (like a car wash squeegee). If you have streaks and lint on your windows after washing them, try cleaning them with newspaper instead.

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Maintenance Monday – preventing kitchen fires

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Cooking fires are the most common cause of household fires. Here are eight tips from Apartment Guide to help prevent kitchen fires:

1. Stay in the kitchen. This may seem obvious, but, according to the National Fire Protection Association, unattended cooking is the number one cause of cooking fires. If you must leave a stove unattended, turn off the heat and move the pan to a cool burner.

2. Use a timer. Check food regularly, whether you’re simmering, baking, boiling or roasting. Using a timer can help remind you to check on your dish.

3. Keep the stove top clear. Keep dishtowels, oven mitts, paper towels—anything that can catch fire—away from your stovetop.

4. Dress for the occasion. Wear close-fitting clothes, and tightly roll up sleeves, when you’re cooking. Loose clothing can come in contact with burners and catch fire.

5. Wipe up spills. Cooking on a dirty stove, or in a dirty oven, is just inviting a potential fire. Grease buildup is flammable; clean your stove every time you cook and promptly wipe up any spills.

6. Don’t overheat your oils. Overheated cooking oil can start to smoke and bubble up, which can cause it to spill out and ignite. Not sure about the smoking point for your cooking oils? Refer to this handy chart.

7: Wait for grease to cool before disposing. Toss hot grease into your trashcan and it could go up in flames! Wait for it to cool before disposing of it in the garbage. Or, better yet, pour it into an old food can before tossing it out.

8. Keep your smoke detector working. A smoke detector is an important fire safety device and your first line of defense. Make sure your landlord has installed one. And make a mental note to change the batteries twice a year, when you change your clocks fordaylight savings time.

Maintenance Monday – keeping your apartment cool

 

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In the coming Summer months, the temperatures will rise and your air conditioner will run and run causing your BGE bills to get more and more expensive. But there are some things you can do to keep your apartment cooler, so your air conditioner won’t run quite as much. Here are some apartment cooling tips from Ron Leshnower at About.com Apartment Living/Rental :

If your apartment becomes uncomfortable or unbearable when it gets hot outside, don’t assume there’s not much you can do about it. Even though you may rent an apartment and have limited control over the building’s air-conditioning system, there are still certain things you can do to help maintain a pleasant environment in your home.

Here are suggestions for keeping cool in your apartment that require little time and effort, don’t cost a cent, and could help reduce the amount of your monthly electricity bill:

1. Close or Open Doors

Depending on your air-conditioning situation, you may need to close or open doors to maximize the amount of cool air in your rental.

For instance, say you’re renting a small one-bedroom apartment and you rely on one air-conditioning unit in your bedroom to keep cool. You should be sure to keep your bedroom door open to allow cool air from your unit to circulate throughout your apartment.

However, if your concern is making sure the bedroom (and not the rest of the apartment) gets enough cool air (such as when you go to sleep at night), you might want to keep the door closed to prevent cool air from seeping out.

2. Close or Open Windows

If you’re running air-conditioning units, you should keep the windows closed. Otherwise, much of the cool air will escape and you’ll add unnecessarily to your electricity bills. If outside temperatures fall significantly (such as at sunset), you might want to open your windows and shut off your air-conditioners to take advantage of a natural, cool breeze.

3. Keep the Sunlight Out

If you’ve got blinds or curtains, keep them closed on hot, sunny days to conserve energy.

Also, if you have air-conditioning units, they’ll have to work that much harder to lower the temperature the more heat that enters through your apartment’s window. When you leave your apartment, don’t forget to shut blinds or close curtains, whether or not you keep your air-conditioners running.

4. Set Your Ceiling Fan to Cool

Many people who buy ceiling fans to cool a room don’t realize that most of these fans have a switch that changes the direction of the blades and actually makes the fans work to keep heat from escaping.

If you’ve got a ceiling fan, find out if your blades are circulating air in the right direction and, if not, how to change it.

5. Move Furniture Away from Air-Conditioning Units

Avoid placing a couch, dresser, or other large pieces of furniture directly in front of or to the side of an air-conditioning unit. Make sure any units in your apartment have enough space to send cool air forward and sideways, ideally at least to a 45-degree angle.

Maintenance Monday – keeping your garbage disposal clean

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Garbage Disposals are a great appliance, but they aren’t so great if you don’t keep them clean. Here are three great tips from our maintenance department on how to keep your garbage disposal clean and smelling fresh:

  1. Ice Cubes – Using ice cubes at least once a month will keep your disposal clean and smelling fresh. Simply fill the disposal/drain with ice cubes and turn the cold water on to a slow steady flow directly into the drain. Then turn your disposal on and let it run until the ice has been ground up completely.
  2. Bleach – Use 1/4 cup of bleach in the disposal during this process which will help clear out stale odors. Simply pour the bleach in the drain before filling with ice (this will prevent splash back of bleach), however it would be wise to wear an old shirt when cleaning your disposal with bleach.
  3. Grease – When disposing of grease from cooking, such as bacon grease, you should turn on the hot water and leave it running while rinsing the grease from you pan and dishes. Leave the hot water running for a suffecient amount of time to allow for the grease to completely clear the drain line.

Maintenance Monday – stay warm with humidity

Keep It Humid

It’s true that it’s not the heat that makes you feel warm, it’s the humidity. Humid air feels warmer than dry air, so in the winter, instead of cranking the heat, run a humidifier. This allows you to turn down the heat, save energy, and still feel comfortable. Live, leafy plants also help raise humidity levels.

Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems

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Maintenance Monday – how to dry wood

The Only Way to Dry Wood

If a piece of your wood furniture has gotten wet, resist the urge to dry it out with a space heater or hair dryer. Too much heat will make wood crack and warp. Instead, keep the area at room temperature and aim a fan at it.

– Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems

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Maintenance Monday – rid of rust

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If you’re trying to keep something rust-proof, here’s a solution you can make. Combine two cups of petroleum jelly and half a cup of lanolin in a microwave-safe bowl and heat the mixture until it melts together. Stir frequently, and make sure to apply to the rust-prone item while the mixture is still warm. Remember, don’t wipe it off; allow the paste to dry on the item.

– Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems

Maintenance Monday – waxy candlesticks

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If you’ve just removed your candlesticks from the cupboard for a party and they’re covered in wax, try this handy trick: Just stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours. The wax will harden and chip right off.

Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems

Maintenance Monday – turkey safety

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This week’s Maintenance Monday tip is about how to prepare, cook and store your holiday Turkey. Ok, it isn’t really a ‘maintenance’ tip, but it is sort of a ‘Do It Yourself’. Besides it is a shortened holiday week, so let’s get into the spirit!

Holiday Cooking

Turkey Food Safety

During the holiday season, people are buying turkeys for that big family meal. Everyone wants to find the perfect bird, but cooking it properly is even more important. These tips can help you create a safe and delicious meal.

Buying & Storing

Fresh and frozen birds differ in cook and storage time, but not taste or quality. If you like to buy your turkey ahead of time, try a frozen bird. If you have limited storage space, you may prefer a fresh turkey.

When buying a whole turkey, estimate one pound of turkey for each person.

Fresh Turkey

Fresh turkeys can be kept in the refrigerator for only one or two days, but after that, they must be cooked or frozen. Store a fresh turkey in a pan in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. (Always keep raw animal products separated from ready-to-eat food products.)

Frozen Turkey

Leave the turkey in the original packaging and keep it frozen until you are ready to cook it. Unless you thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, you will not be able to refreeze it once it has thawed.

Frozen turkeys should be cooked within one year for best quality.

Pre-Stuffed Turkeys

Do not buy pre-stuffed fresh turkeys. These turkeys can contain harmful bacteria if handled improperly. If you do want your turkey to be pre-stuffed, purchase a frozen pre-stuffed turkey that is marked with USDA or state inspection seals.

Do not thaw pre-stuffed frozen turkeys before cooking.

Thawing

In the Refrigerator

The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. Keep the turkey in its original packaging, and place a pan underneath to catch any drips.

Allow for a thawing time of 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. Once the turkey has thawed, it can be kept in the refrigerator for one to two days.

In the Kitchen Sink

For a quicker thawing method, submerge your turkey in the kitchen sink. Put the turkey in a heavy freezer bag and close it tightly. Place it in a clean sink, and fill the sink with cold water until the turkey is completely submerged.

Change the water every half hour to keep it cool. The turkey should thaw for about 30 minutes per pound.

If you thaw your turkey in the sink, cook it immediately after thawing. It cannot be refrigerated or refrozen.

In the Microwave

If the turkey will fit, you can use a microwave for fast thawing. Check the microwave owner’s manual for the recommended power level and amount of time per pound. Remove all packaging and place the bird in a microwave-safe dish.

Cook the turkey immediately after thawing. It is not safe to refrigerate or refreeze a microwave-thawed turkey.

Preparation

Prevent Cross-Contamination

Carefully open any packaging covering the turkey and dispose of it right away. Wash any surfaces that the meat, juices, or packaging might have touched, including refrigerator or freezer shelves.

If you use the kitchen sink to thaw the turkey, be sure to drain and sanitize the sink immediately afterward. If you thaw any raw meat in the microwave, sanitize it as well.

When handling fresh and frozen raw meat, wash your hands, utensils, dishes, and kitchen surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water. Use separate knives and cutting boards when preparing the turkey and stuffing.

Early Preparation

Some people prefer to cook their turkeys a day or two in advance. Once the bird has been cooked, carve it and refrigerate the meat in small, shallow containers. The wings, legs, and thighs may be left whole. You can also refrigerate the juices that collect in the bottom of the pan during cooking.

On the day you plan to eat the turkey, reheat the meat in an oven heated to at least 325°F.

Cooking

Stuffing

To save time, you can prepare the stuffing ingredients in advance. Keep wet and dry ingredients separated — and the wet ingredients refrigerated — until just before you cook the stuffing.

The safest way to make stuffing is to cook it separately, not inside the turkey. If you do choose to stuff the turkey, pack the stuffing loosely, and cook the turkey immediately afterwards. Remove the stuffing from the turkey about 20 minutes after the turkey is done cooking.

Frozen Turkey

You can safely cook a frozen turkey without thawing it first. A frozen bird will take 50 percent longer to cook than a thawed or fresh turkey. Remove the giblets with tongs or a fork while the turkey is cooking.

Remember: Do not thaw pre-stuffed frozen turkeys before cooking.

Fresh or Thawed Turkey

Be sure to remove the giblets immediately after thawing. Giblets should be cooked separately.

Preheat the oven to at least 325°F. Place the turkey in a shallow roasting pan. The inside temperature of the turkey must reach 165°F for it to be safe to eat. You may cook the turkey to a higher temperature if desired.

Use a food thermometer to check the temperature at the thickest part of the turkey breast and at the innermost part of the thigh and wing. Even if your turkey comes with a “pop-up” thermometer, double-check the temperature with a food thermometer.

Cook an unstuffed turkey for approximately 15 minutes per pound. Allow a few extra minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.

Cooking the turkey uncovered will give it a roasted flavor, but can also dry out the meat. Put the turkey in an oven cooking bag for more tender meat and faster cooking. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the bag.

Other options include pouring half a cup of water into the bottom of the pan or covering the turkey with the roasting pan lid or aluminum foil. Covering the turkey will reduce oven splatter and overbrowning.

After removing the turkey from the oven, let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle.

Leftovers

Your turkey and other cooked foods will need to be eaten within two hours. After that time, leftovers should be refrigerated or thrown away. (If the temperature is over 90°F, food needs to be refrigerated or disposed of after one hour.)

Leftover meat should be eaten within three to four days; gravy, within one to two days. You can also freeze leftovers, but make sure you eat them within six months.

Turkey leftovers may be eaten cold or reheated in the oven or microwave. The oven should be heated to at least 325°F. Follow the owner’s manual instructions for reheating turkey in the microwave.

For more questions on turkey or other holiday foods, contact your local Extension office or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.