Wednesday, December 3, 2014

CHRISTMAS INTERIOR DECORATING TIPS


For most of us living in an apartment community our holiday decorating options are focused mainly on interior spaces.  Here are a few tips on getting the most out of decorating your apartment interior:

JAZZ UP YOUR DOORWAYS
Drape natural or artificial garlands along door frames, then decorate with ornaments and Christmas cards from family and friends.

MAKE YOUR OWN HANGING WINDOW DISPLAY
Think of your window as your own private Macy’s display window – string twinkling lights around the window frame, hang a few ornaments with decorative ribbon, and garnish with shiny tinsel.  You may even get your own crowd of “oohs” and “aahs”!

CREATE A “MINI-TREE”
Not enough space for a standard tree?  Do a mini version instead! It's perfect for even the smallest spaces. Check your location garden supply store for seasonal Norfolk Pines and decorate with your favorite ornaments.  Add to the fun by small wrapped gift boxes around the base.

USE TABLE SPACES
If you have more than two side tables, use them as mini staging areas.  Gift-wrap various sizes of empty small boxes and stack festively, or wrap small bags of holiday candy to have on hand for visitors.

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR TABLE SETTINGS
If you’re entertaining during the holidays a festive table will wow your guests.  Mix the colors of your napkins, plates and tablecloths using colors of the season, use shiny tinsel to frame coasters, use as napkin holders, etc.  Just think of your table as an extension of the Christmas tree!

HANG HOLIDAY PLATES
Get plain white, red or green dishes (even gold or silver platters) and decorate with clusters of small glass balls strategically glued to creative a festive dish.  Use removable mounting strips or plate hangers make your seasonal sentiment easy to remove.

SMALL CAN BE GREAT TOO!
A door wreath sets the tone inside, but small wreaths can be just as impactful. Create mini wreaths from small pieces of garland, tie with a velvet or satin ribbon to shelves or drawer pulls.  

These are just some ideas to jump-start your decorating spirit for the holiday, and help to put you in a festive mood for the season.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TRICK OR TREATING TIPS FOR HALLOWEEN


With Halloween trick-or-treating just around the corner, below are some tips to help keep your child’s candy-fueled fantasies as worry free as possible:

  1. Avoid letting your kids trick-or-treat alone. Have them walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
  2. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see your kids.
  3. Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always WALK and don't run from house to house
  4. Remind kids to look both ways before crossing the street, and to use established crosswalks wherever possible.
  5. Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
  6. Children should never enter any home alone and only do so if they're with a trusted adult. Remind them to only visit well-lit houses, avoid dark houses, and never to accept rides from strangers.

Expecting trick-or-treaters or party guests?  Follow these tips to help make the festivities fun and safe for everyone:

  • Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Use party games and trick-or-treat time as an opportunity for kids to get their daily dose of 60 minutes of physical activity.
  • Be sure walking areas and stairs are well-lit and free of obstacles that could result in falls.
  • Keep candle-lit jack o'lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
  • Remind drivers to watch out for trick-or-treaters and to drive safely. 

(Tips courtesy of CDC.gov)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

PREPARING FOR THE FALL ALLERGY SEASON

Are you prepared for the fall allergy season?  Experts say that fall is a high point in the allergy season due to ragweed allergy that which affects most of North America.  Ragweed plants can produce up to a billion grains of pollen which can travel hundreds of miles and impact a large section of the nation.

In order to correctly protect or treat yourself when the sniffles begin it is critical to be able to distinguish between an allergy attack and the common cold so it is important to pay attention to your symptoms.

With a cold, you're likely to wake up one day with a sore, painful throat, while with allergies you'll feel more of an itch rather than real soreness.  Colds progress more slowly whereas allergies can pop up almost instantly after an evening of outside exposure. With allergies, there's usually no change in your symptoms throughout their duration, and a sore throat, a cough and a case of nasal congestion all hit at once.

From the middle of August to the first hard frost in October, people with allergies should take some at-home steps to soothe symptoms: change your clothes when you get home, and shower at night to keep off of you any pollen that's accumulated throughout the day.

Nasal saline rinses can help get pollen out of your nose.  Experts say there are other things that can be done to make your home more pollen-free such as keeping your windows shut on windy days, and running the air conditioning to help keep out external allergens.

A lot of times people misdiagnose themselves and buy one medication to treat themselves when they're suffering from something else.  If you're not sure if it's allergies or the common cold causing you discomfort the best course of action is to see a doctor so the correct medication can be prescribed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

PREPARING FOR THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Tomorrow is the first day of school in Griffith, and we want to pass on a few tips to help with your child's transition from lazy summer mode to eager learning beaver!

PREPARE
  • Before school starts, spend some time with your kids and discuss what to expect on their first day of school.  Listen carefully to their feedback and use it to provide helpful tips on how to interact with new people and adjusting to unfamiliar teachers and classes. 
  • Double-check you kids know their pick-up times and locations.  Be prompt to drop off and arrive at those set locations. 
GET PACKING
  • If you’re getting a new backpack for your child, look for one with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.  This reduces the chance of injury from lugging heavy books from class to class.  
  • Arrange contents in the backpack so that you use all compartments. Place heavier items closer to the center of the back.  Rule-of-thumb:  don’t exceed a load more than 10-20% of your child's body weight.
  • Remind your kids that carrying a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles – always use BOTH straps. 
EASE INTO THE ROUTINE
  • Have your kids set their own alarm clocks to get up in the morning. Praise them for prompt response to morning schedules and bus pickups. 
  • Go through your morning rituals, and get in the car or to the bus stop on time. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much smoother. 
AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL….let your kids know you care! If your child is anxious about school, send personal notes in the lunch box or book bag. Reinforce the ability to cope. Children absorb their parent’s anxiety, so model optimism and confidence for your child.  Reassure them that it’s natural to be a little nervous anytime you start something new.  Try to remain as calm and as positive on the first morning. 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

BRUSHING TIPS FOR THE BEST RESULTS

We all strive for a nice, bright, healthy smile, and that involves taking good care of our teeth.  Even though you may be brushing the recommended twice a day, there are some things you should be mindful of the next time you brush your teeth.

Here are a few common mistakes we make when brushing:  

ARE YOU BRUSHING FOR LONG ENOUGH? 
Dentists recommend you brush for at least two minutes. Time yourself for ensure you are spending the right amount of time brushing until you think you've got the hang of it.

FLOSS, FLOSS, FLOSS!!!  It's important to floss daily as part of your oral routine.  Flossing after brushing is okay but even better if you floss before brushing – that gives the fluoride in your toothpaste a better chance of getting in between your teeth.

USE THE RIGHT TOOTHBRUSH.  All toothbrush bristles have a rating — hard, medium, soft, and extra soft. Just ignore the medium and hard bristles altogether – you’re brushing your teeth, not cleaning an oven!  A soft bristle does the job just fine without scrubbing away at your gums and enamel.

DUMP YOUR AN OLD BRUSH.  Buy a new toothbrush or replace the head of your electric toothbrush every three months.  When the bristles on your toothbrush begin to lose their shape, it’s time to get a new one.

SCRAPE YOUR TONGUE.  Bacteria on your tongue can cause bad breath and tooth decay. When brushing your teeth, remember to scrape or brush the surface of your tongue from the back to the front.

These are just some of the recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA).  Remember, prevention is always better than a (painful) cure!!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

TIPS FOR ORGANIZING SMALL SPACES

 While living in an apartment comes with the benefits of comfort and convenience, for some it may mean adjusting from living in a house to adapting to a smaller environment.  Here are a few tips on keeping your apartment home tastefully clutter-free:
  • Most items in your home should serve you in some way, either practically or visually. If it doesn't, time to put it in the trash or donate to a local charity.  
  • Invest in sturdy pieces of furniture that have drawers or compartments in which to tuck away things. They add extra storage space while reducing visual clutter.
  • When deciding where something should be stored, the answer should lead you closest to wherever it gets used. For example, in the kitchen, the drawers and cabinets nearest to the stove should hold your cooking utensils.
  • Stop placing odds and ends in a ‘junk drawer’.  Everything in your drawers should have a purpose and a place.  Drawer dividers are affordable and easy to find, and will help organize and contain chaos that is may lurk in your drawers.
  • Graduated shelving, dividers, and other cabinet systems can help you fit almost twice as much in your cabinets while keeping it all neatly organized and easy to grab.  Shoe racks, see-through or labeled bins, hat boxes, and units with drawers can help you tidy up your closets and give everything inside an appropriate place to reside while not in use.
  • Using decorative hooks for bathroom and closet doors and select wall space can provide quick and neat homes for keys, hats, towels and more.  Artistically groupings or arranging baskets, mason jars, and other decorative containers can be aesthetically pleasing while keeping everything you need within arm’s reach.
  • Self-Containment – Every room and every area within that room should have adequate storage for the things that are used there. If you have a home office in the dining room, this could mean a small filing cabinet and desktop organizers.
When you decide to organize your small space, scrutinize all your possessions and ask yourself whether you want to ditch it, display it, or stash it.  Get rid of anything that isn’t beautiful or useful: if you love the way something looks or use it multiple times a day, it’s best left on display.  Your small space will be organized and tidy in no time!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SKIN CARE TIPS FOR THE WINTER SEASON

For many, the cold clear days of winter bring more than just a rosy glow to the cheeks. They also bring uncomfortable dryness to the skin of the face, hands, and feet. 

For some people, the problem is worse than just a general tight, dry feeling: They get skin so dry it results in flaking, cracking, even eczema (in which the skin becomes inflamed).  

"As soon as you turn the heat on indoors, the skin starts to dry out," says Bonnie LaPlante, an esthetician with the Canyon Ranch resort in Lenox, MA.  "It doesn't matter if you heat your home using oil, wood, or electricity. The skin gets dry."

Sound familiar? Read on to get the top 10 tips for boosting your winter skin care regimen, so that your skin stays moist and healthy through the winter months.

1. Seek a Specialist
If you go to your local drugstore, you'll be hard put to find a salesperson who can give you good advice. That's why going to an esthetician or dermatologist even once is a good investment. Such a specialist can analyze your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen, and give you advice on the skin care products you should be using.  

But that doesn't mean you'll be stuck buying high-end products. "Inexpensive products work just as well as high-end ones," says David Voron, MD, a dermatologist in Arcadia, Calif. "In fact, the extra price you pay for the expensive stuff is often just for packaging and marketing. What's most important is how your skin responds to the product -- and how you like its feel, not how much money you paid for it."

2. Moisturize More
You may have found a moisturizer that works just fine in spring and summer.  But as weather conditions change, so, too, should your skin care routine.  Find an "ointment" moisturizer that's oil-based, rather than water-based, as the oil will create a protective layer on the skin that retains more moisture than a cream or lotion. (Hint: Many lotions labeled as "night creams" are oil-based.)  

But choose your oils with care because not all oils are appropriate for the face. Instead, look for "nonclogging" oils, like avocado oil, mineral oil, primrose oil, or almond oil. Shea oil -- or butter -- is controversial, because it can clog facial pores. And vegetable shortening, LaPlante says, is a really bad idea. "It would just sit on the skin," she says. "And it would be really greasy."  

You can also look for lotions containing "humectants," a class of substances (including glycerine, sorbitol, and alpha-hydroxy acids) that attract moisture to your skin.

3. Slather on the Sunscreen
No, sunscreen isn't just for summertime. Winter sun -- combined with snow glare -- can still damage your skin. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they're exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside a long time.  

4. Give Your Hands a Hand
The skin on your hands is thinner than on most parts of the body and has fewer oil glands. That means it's harder to keep your hands moist, especially in cold, dry weather. This can lead to itchiness and cracking. Wear gloves when you go outside; if you need to wear wool to keep your hands warm, slip on a thin cotton glove first, to avoid any irritation the wool might cause.  

5. Avoid Wet Gloves and Socks
Wet socks and gloves can irritate your skin and cause itching, cracking, sores, or even a flare-up of eczema.  

6. Hook Up the Humidifier
Central heating systems (as well as space heaters) blast hot dry air throughout our homes and offices. Humidifiers get more moisture in the air, which helps prevent your skin from drying out. Place several small humidifiers throughout your home; they help disperse the moisture more evenly.  

7. Hydrate for Your Health, Not for Your Skin
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Drinking water helps your skin stay young looking. In fact, it's a myth. Water is good for your overall health and "the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from fluids. But the average person's skin does not reflect the amount of water being drunk," say Kenneth Bielinski, MD, a dermatologist in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  "It's a very common misconception."  

LaPlante agrees. "I see clients at the spa who drink their 10 to 12 glasses of water a day and still have superdry skin. It just doesn't do that much."  

8. Grease Up Your Feet
Yes, those minty foot lotions are lovely in the hot summer months, but during the winter, your feet need stronger stuff. Try finding lotions that contain petroleum jelly or glycerine instead. And use exfoliants to get the dead skin off periodically; that helps any moisturizers you use to sink in faster and deeper.  

9. Pace the Peels
If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are "deeply hydrating," rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.  

10. Ban Superhot Baths
Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after frolicking out in the cold. But the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. "You're better off with just warm water," LaPlante advises, "and staying in the water a shorter amount of time." 

A lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry it has become itchy, Bielinski notes. So, too, can periodically reapplying your moisturizer. If those techniques don't work, go see a dermatologist. "You may need a prescription lotion to combat the dry skin," Bielinski says. "Or you may have a condition that isn't simply dry skin and that requires different treatment."  

Friday, January 17, 2014

QUICK RECIPE: Melt In Your Mouth Chicken Breasts


Fast and easy dinner for these cold winter days!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 55 minutes

INGREDIENTS

4 boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

Mix mayonnaise, cheese and seasonings. Spread mixture over chicken breast and place in baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, serve either with a salad, or a serving of mixed vegetables.  

(Recipe courtesy of Food.com)

Monday, January 6, 2014

WARMING TIPS FOR THIS WINTER SEASON

Believe it or not, we are only three weeks into the 2013/2014 winter season although it seems much, much longer.  This winter has been colder and snowier than recent seasons, and Old Man Winter shows no signs of easing his icy grip on us.  Rather than give up and sob silently in your cold soup as you shiver and shudder for warmth, take some time and follow a few steps to keep warm and toasty despite this winter's best shots:

EXERCISE: 20 minutes of vigorous exercise can warm you up and keep you warm well after the exercise session. Do a couple sets of jumping jacks, or just run in place to get your blood flowing - moving around produces body heat! The more active you are, the better your blood circulation will be. This means that warm blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm.  

DRINK WARM BEVERAGES:  Warm beverages will raise your core temperature. The process can be very relaxing and even stimulating. Make a cup of tea or coffee. Sip on some warm broth.  Treat yourself to a hot toddy.  

WARM UP WITH A HOT SHOWER:  Take a hot shower or bath and use oil or lotion on your skin when you get out. It's almost like putting on another thin layer of clothing.

KEEP YOUR HEAD COVERED:  Wear a cap or head covering of some sort even when indoors.  A lot of body heat is lost through the scalp, especially if you have short or close-clipped hair.  The head covering will help retain body heat and keep your core temperature up.  

BAKE COOKIES OR A PIE: Your oven will help to dry the air and heat the kitchen. The kitchen will be warm while you are cooking, and then you can have a great home cooked meal too!  However, limit cooking that gives off steam, as this will increase the humidity in the air and make your house damp.

TURN ON SOME INCANDESCENT LIGHTS: The average incandescent light bulb releases up to 95% of its energy as heat rather than light, making it an extremely efficient heat source.  Compact fluorescent and LED lights are not helpful in warming your room, so save them for warmer days and use the money you saved to pay the heat bill.  

Just follow a few of these tips and you will find yourself in fighting shape to deal with the cold weather.  BRING IT ON!