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Cats and Furniture

A common misconception about cats is that they’re mostly aloof. This well-known myth tells us that cats fend for themselves and do not need, and mostly do not want, interaction. But the myth is simply wrong. Although cats are not like dogs, catering to your every emotion, like all animals they enjoy playing and moving around. They have instincts: they’re excited by certain stimuli in their environment and ignore others.

The movement to declaw cats in large part is a consequence of this myth. The belief is that, although cats do not like interaction, they for some reason are destructive. Maybe it’s that they’re trying to make your home their own. Or maybe it’s that they just don’t like humans, period. Yet, these are just more misconceptions.

The plain truth is that cats need interaction: they love to play. Cats generally scratch objects in the house because it’s a form of stimulation and play. To prevent your cat from scratching, simply buy a few scratching posts for the house, and place them in areas your cat enjoys. Alternatively, you will find that playing with your cat will cause it to release less stress in the form of scratching. Like all animals, if cats do not move around, they build up energy and become restless. Most cats love laser pointers, and this could be a quick way to help your cat blow off some steam. Another way is to build or buy cat trees for them to climb and lounge in.

Whatever you do, don’t buy in to the myth that cats don’t need interaction. Your cat isn’t interested in destroying your things or staying as far away from you as possible. Although they don’t like to rough-house like most dogs, they do enjoy playtime. Figuring out what kinds toys are interesting to your cat is half the battle in preventing them from scratching your furniture. The other half is playing with them.

Tips for Living with a Roommate for the First TimeLiving with a roommate can be an eye-opening experience, especially if you’re accustomed to living in on your own. Yet, even if you roomed with a brother or sister, living with a complete stranger is a totally different experience. Conflicts can arise for, seemingly, arbitrary reasons. Sometimes unexamined habits, such as eating food in a certain area or leaving dirty dishes in the sink, may cause tension. A vital piece of advice: maintain open lines of communication and set clear expectations with your roommate from the very start. The following are a few boundaries you’ll want to discuss from the start to establish a shared understanding and maintain peace and harmony with your roommate.

Personal and public stuff.

This has to be clear: which stuff that you have in common areas are okay for common use and which stuff is only yours to use. Do you share your laptop and your books? What about pots and pans, utensils, knives? What about your shampoo and conditioner? Be clear about what you’re okay with sharing, and also have a clear understanding of what your roommate is willing to share with you.

Visiting hours.

Your apartment community may have their own timeline for this, but your roommate and you should also set expectations with respect to your own apartment.

Noise

Some like television, while others avoid it. Nevertheless, it’ll likely be on at some point, so make an arrangement as to what volume level is reasonable for the TV to be set at. Also, discuss music volume. Maybe certain times of the day are better than others.

Housekeeping schedule.

Make an arrangement on the everyday household tasks that will need to be completed, and set a schedule: Who deals with cleaning the floor, putting out the trash, loading and unloading the dishwasher? Will you take turns buying groceries? The significant thing is to be fair.

Lights out.

Different work and school schedules mean that you and your roommate might need to sleep or wake up at different times. Discuss expectations about when you both expect your sleeping, working, and studying schedules to be.

Bill payment.

Since you may have to pay for some bills such as water, electricity, in addition to cable and internet, be clear on how you’ll be sharing the responsibilities for the bills and use of these utilities. Also take notice of the items you’ll have to continually purchase. Have an agreement on how you’ll buy and use your bathroom and kitchen supplies and also food. You might want to buy your own or share the costs.

The best step toward living cohesively with a roommate is to set clear expectations and follow through on them. These expectations not only give you an idea as to what you have rights to in the apartment but also what you are responsible for. Follow the suggestions above and be flexible as new situations and issues arise.

8 Tips to Get Your Budget on TrackGetting back on track with your budget can be disheartening, if not a source of anxiety. How will you eat out four times a week if you’re putting all the money you make away for twenty years? Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Heed the following reasonable, simple steps to get back on track with your budget.

Set a Goal

Your goal must be realistic, measurable, achievable, and timely. Are you aiming to have just $50 at the end of every week? Want to save $100 for the holidays? Do you plan to move when the lease is up and hope to put money down on a house? Think about your future, what you’d like to achieve or obtain, and set a timespan in which you can reach your goal, and measure your progress as you go along.

Monitor What You’re Spending Monthly

Begin your budget by maintaining detailed records of your expenses for 30 days. Track every purchase down to the cent. This will help you win back control of your budget by knowing exactly where your paycheck is being spent, and it’ll provide a guide to set a realistic spending budget with. It’ll also give you indications where you can change your spending behavior.

Set a Spending Budget

You now know where all your money is going, so setting a realistic spending budget will be easier. You will have to make adjustments to understand what will work best for your way of life, so do not be afraid of change, yet also don’t be afraid of sacrificing immediate pleasure for long-term gain. You won’t have to cut out all the fun stuff, but sticking to your spending budget will assist you in reaching your goals.

Choose a Savings Account Thoughtfully

Savings accounts can differ greatly with regards to interest, fees, and minimum balance requirements, so do your homework and find the account that’s best suited for you.

Save Automatically

All of us have weak moments when we intend to put money into savings, but something comes up. Maybe that birthday you forgot about, or your car gets a flat tire. Avoid the situation three months from now when you look at your savings to discover you only have $10 in it by making your contributions automatic, establish direct deposit from your payroll and avoid a saving’s plan derailment. You may also have it automatically drafted from your bank account into your savings via  tools on your bank’s website.

Establish an Emergency Fund

What would you do if you lost your job or were in an accident causing extended hospitalization? Do you have enough money to get you through if have to take off work for a few months? While your savings account could be utilized for a significant purchase like a brand new car or a down payment on a brand new home, an emergency fund is an account you fund and don’t touch unless there’s an actual emergency. Financial experts say you should have four to seven months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund.

Be a Clever Shopper

Look for ways to save. Sign up for rewards or programs loyalty, shop at the warehouse and club stores, use coupons and plan your trips strategically to take advantage of the best offers. When shopping online utilize cost comparison websites.

Get App Savvy

You’ll find an application for almost everything. So look for applications that can help you be a better saver. There are budgeting applications, ones that assist you in finding the best local deals and applications which will help you to sell your old items to other people. Consider YNAB (You Need a Budget), although coming at a price of $50 a year, it connects to your bank account and updates your charges from your budget automatically, and it is totally customizable.

As you get your budget on track, don’t be discouraged by hiccups along the way. The great thing about a budget is it’s flexible, and you actually have built-in safeguards for emergencies and unexpected events. If you get anxious, just put more money toward those areas for a while. Getting back on track with your budget will save you time, money, and put you in the best position to succeed in the future.

7 Quick Ways to Conserve Energy and Save MoneyWith so many things to do in a day, the idea of having to worry about saving energy in addition to everything else just isn’t attractive. So what happens? Many people pay it no attention. Yet, energy conservation is important as it helps the environment. As much of our current energy sources are created from dirty sources like fossil fuels, daily energy use produces pollution. Saving energy reduces energy demand and therefore lowers the amount of pollution generated. To begin is really quite easy, just follow these 7 tips to get started!

  • Regularly inspect areas inside your house such as hoses, connectors, and taps to check for any leaks. Repair as needed. Particularly ensure you have no leaky faucets. Even a slow drip of warm water can add a great deal to your monthly energy bill.
  • Place open water containers outside and use them for a wide range of outdoor maintenance activities like watering plants, washing concrete surfaces, outdoor tools, and the like.
  • Take showers instead of baths. Not only will this use less warm water, which requires more energy, but less water generally. Secondly, take shorter showers, and utilize a low-flow shower head. Have a faucet aerator in each faucet to conserve water and heat and maintain high water pressure.
  • Wash garments and dishes with cold water whenever possible.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use, to reduce ghost power usage, also called standby power, that uses energy even when the appliance is not in use. One way to do this is to connect all appliances to an intelligent power strip. Then when you use a certain appliance just switch the strip on, and when you’re finished turn it off and don’t worry about it.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They utilize 70-90% percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs, last 10 to 25 times longer, and save $30 to $80 in power cost in their lifetime, according to the ENERGY STAR government site. Similarly, use products that have earned the ENERGY STAR certificates meeting strict energy efficiency recommendations.
  • Insulate your water heater to prevent any loss of heat. This may retain heat for a longer period of time for the water inside and reduce the amount spent on energy monthly. Insulate the connecting pipes as well to further prevent the loss of heat.

Natural Solutions for Cleaning Your KitchenMost of us want to make cleaning as painless and as inexpensive as possible. The kitchen particularly is a unique challenge due to the variety of cleaning demands.  Now you can have an easy day of cleaning without using toxic cleaners. Almost all of these guidelines use things you’ll find around your house. Expensive cleaners aren’t necessary in most cases. And the best part is, by using non-toxic cleaning supplies, you can also get the children involved!

The Stove Top – Clean up grease by throwing a little bit of cornstarch or baking soda on it, wiping it away after you clean up the rest of the kitchen. Auto wax will make the surface sleek, smooth, and simple to clean.

Oven and Microwave Cleaning – To clean the microwave, place a sponge soaked with white vinegar or lemon juice in the microwave, heating it for a couple of minutes. Don’t open the microwave for about five minutes. The stuck on food should slide off. The same procedure can be used on ovens except, without a sponge, using a shallow pan together with a few cups of white vinegar. Heat for five to ten minutes and allow the oven to cool for approximately half an hour. Food will slide right off.

Red Dye Spots – For red meals dye stains on counters, such as those left by drinks, use straight rubbing alcohol, enough to cover the stain. Leave it for a few minutes and wipe away. Use a sudsy cleaner on the counter after.

Tarnished Silverware – For tarnished silverware, heat 2 water cups and add 2 tbsp of baking soda. Put silverware on a sheet of aluminum foil in a pan, making sure the silverware is in contact on the foil. A combination of metal and baking soft drink will cause the tarnish to disappear.

Of course, there are many other tips and tricks for cleaning around the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and share your solutions on Facebook!

4 Apartment Warming Gift Ideas

Moving into an apartment can be thrilling, exhilarating, and slightly frightening particularly if you’re a first time renter. To celebrate the move, apartment warming celebrations thrown by family and friends are becoming more and more common. The following are several gift ideas that are great for people who rent apartments!

Gifts for Emergencies

Everyone should be prepared for emergencies. When coming up with gift ideas, a fireproof box along with a basket of emergency supplies is a good gift for practical people. The fireproof box will protect important paperwork and sentimental items in case of emergencies like fires, floods, and severe weather. And the basket of emergency supplies will come in handy in case of a power outage.

A wireless security alarm is also a pragmatic gift and, most importantly, offers some peace of mind. Some alarms activate when doors or windows are opened, others will turn lights off and on when the apartment is vacant. Prices vary from about $25 and up.

Other gift ideas for first time apartment tenants include gifts of convenience.

Who wouldn’t like to relax on the couch while the floors are cleaned by robot vacuums? These vacuums, like iRobot’s Roomba, clean at the push of a button and some can be scheduled to automatically run during certain hours of the day. There are various types to select from depending on what you’d like it to do and what kind of floor it’ll clean. The price depends on these factors and the model that you choose.

Whether they’d admit it or not, a lot of people love singing in the shower. That means sometimes getting lost in song and losing track of time. Mull over the idea of gifting a shower radio with a clock display. With this gift, your friend can listen to their favorite songs, sing along, and be on time for work.

So long as you put thought into it, a good present isn’t determined by the amount of money you spend. When considering first time renters, think of presents that will be useful and appreciated, and you’ll be sure to gift good presents at the next apartment warming party you attend.

How to Store PaintWe all know the situation. You buy a few gallons of paint to paint a room. You proceed to paint the room. And then you have a few gallons of paint left over. Where and how should you store it all?

Storage

The first thing you’ll want to do is seal the can of paint. Do this by wiping the edges of the lid, making sure no paint will stick between the lid and the can’s seal. Next you’ll want to press the lid down. Do this by either using a mallet to tap the lid down, or cover the lid with a piece of wood and tap the piece of wood with a hammer. Never hit the lid directly with something dense like a hammer, as this could cause bends and breaks in the lid, preventing a secure seal.

Next, store the paint cans in an environment not susceptible to extreme changes in heat. Cold air can cause latex paint to separate and heat can cause it dry out. If moisture is consistently present in the environment, elevate the paint cans to keep them dry.

Quick Test to Determine if Paint is Good after Storage

Reopening paint cans is an awful experience for most, especially if left to their own devices. You’ll definitely want to avoid using screwdrivers and hammers because if you bend the lid, you might not get a good seal in the future. Rather, purchase a paint can opener. Then reopening won’t be such a huge deal.

Lowe’s recommends the following, to test your paint.

If you have latex, smell it. If it emits a rancid odor, it’s bad. Secondly, if film is on the top, remove it. Stir the paint. Then test the paint by brushing it on newspaper to discover whether it is clumpy. If it is, then it’s bad.

If you have an oil-based paint, it is good for up to fifteen years so long as it hasn’t been exposed to extreme temperatures and was sealed adequately.

That’s it! It’s pretty simple. Follow these tips to know how to store paint and whether paint you’ve retrieved from storage is good or bad!

What’s worse than waking up in the morning to a sour cup of coffee: a cup of coffee that, for all the routines and tasks for which you need it to energize you, you cannot stomach? The National Coffee Association gives us a few tips on how to store coffee, in order that your storing techniques won’t contribute to an awful morning coffee experience.

“Your beans’ greatest enemies are air, moisture, heat, and light.”

The best container is light-proof and air-proof. Light will diminish or change the flavor of your coffee, and has the greatest effect on your beans directly after roasting. Light actually causes coffee beans to go stale. So the best container will be one you do not open often and that houses the beans in total darkness. For the chemical changes light causes, take a look at eLightBulbs’ blog.

Another coffee killer is air. This is because carbon dioxide is responsible for most of the aroma and flavor aspects, according to The Atlantic. As carbon dioxide leaves the coffee beans, oxidation begins, which “degrades quality by altering coffee’s essential oils and aromatic components….” Although it is pleasing to smell the bright coffee aroma as you open the sealed container, each time you do diminishes the quality of coffee you can brew.

In fact, all of these elements: air, moisture, heat, and light contribute to the oxidation process, and that’s why the best coffee container blocks these elements.

The trope of new neighbors typically brings to mind movie scenes involving casserole dishes. In our day and age expectations of neighborly courtesy have certainly changed. Traditional gifts like food dishes become less and less appealing when you think about the possible allergies any dish, even by accidental ingredient inclusion, might agitate. We are required to be mindful of food allergies. There are alternative gifts that are perhaps even better than the food dish.

Gift Cards & Local Places

One of the best ways to connect with new neighbors is by introducing them to places around town. Just pick up a gift card next time you dine at your favorite restaurant and acquaint the new neighbors to one of the best spots in town. Likewise, you can pick up a gift card for a Netflix subscription, HBO, and other streaming services! In this day and age, who wouldn’t appreciate a free month of streaming?

Favorite Gifts

Have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share but don’t want to agitate allergies? Give a gift basket that includes all the ingredients, a nicely printed recipe, and maybe a spatula. This can work with favorite foods or even favorite movies, television series, or books.

Utility Gifts

This can be a rather unusual and quirky option, but sometimes the best gift is a set of basic tools. Who couldn’t use a basic hammer or screwdriver set? Anyway, if your new neighbor already owns these, they can regift them!

It’s time to get creative. Use this article as a launching pad to think of new ways to welcome new neighbors and let us know what you did in the comments below!

Prevent Bugs and Pests in Your Apartment

Yes, it is a harrowing thought that one day when you get home from work it is possible that the beloved family dog will have eaten half of the living room carpet the leasing office just installed. But there is nothing worse than cooking dinner and, upon reaching for the cup of flour you poured a few minutes ago, your hand grazes the hard skeleton of an energetic cockroach. Pests in the apartment are the worst. The good news is you can prevent these uninvited guests by maintaining a few best practices for apartment cleaning.

The place with all the food is the best place to begin: the kitchen. Food crumbs from dinner are not the only culprit here, week-old pet food outlining the exterior of pet food bowls is an attractant to cockroaches particularly. Either be sure to clean up any grounded food whenever you feed your pets, or give more restricted portions to limit the amount of misplaced pet food. Another thing to watch out for is standing water, either in the sink, on the counter tops underneath dish racks, or on the floor. Standing water anywhere in your kitchen attracts bugs and pests in your apartment. Wipe counters dry after you clean dishes, and do not leave standing water in pots or pans for longer than a few hours.

Likewise, if you have a carpet, vacuum at least twice a week, and more if you have pets, to reduce dandruff, dead skin, and stray hair on the floor. These things will inevitably be there, so removing them as often as possible will remove food sources and breeding grounds for pests.

These few tips will prevent a large majority of pests from making your apartment their new home. Just be consistent with your cleaning, remove food and water from surfaces, sweep hardwood floors and vacuum often, and you won’t have to worry about the vast majority of pests and bugs entering your apartment.