About sroman

Stephanie Roman is a copywriter and freelance writer in Atlanta, GA. Her favorite things about apartment living are meeting her neighbors' cute pets and having a helpful maintenance person just a phone call away!

Downsizing to an Apartment? Here’s What You Need to Know

Downsizing to an Apartment? Here's What You Need to Know

Grigio Metro Apartments in Tempe, AZ

Whether you’re leaving home to find your first apartment or just want to save some money, downsizing from a house to an apartment can be overwhelming if you aren’t prepared.

You may find that you have many items that you no longer need or want in your new space, and it will help to do a little research before moving in. Does your new apartment allow pets? Will your unit come with a garage or storage space?

By finding the right information before hand and devising a game plan to deal with your accumulated belongings, you can stay sane while downsizing. Here’s how.

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Super Bowl 2013: Party Planning for the Non-Football Inclined

Keep any non-football inclined guests entertained at a Super Bowl party by offering creative eats.

Keep any non-football inclined guests entertained at a Super Bowl party by offering creative eats.

Bets are being placed at offices across America, giant flat screen TVs are on sale and the liquor stores are packed. That’s right — it’s Super Bowl time, occurring this year on Sunday, February 3. And if you’re excited to watch the game (or even if you’re not), you may want to use this opportunity to gather your friends for a Super Bowl party.

Though it’s a no-brainer to invite fans that are already hyped about the game, remember to also make guests feel welcome who may not be football fans. Sound impossible? Try these tips.

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Time Out
When you set out to decorate your party space with balloons, banners and team colors, be sure to leave a “football-free zone” that guests can escape to when they’ve had their fill of player stats and scores. Furnish this space with a table and chairs, cushions and snacks for your non-sporting guests to mingle.

The Way to a Guest’s Heart…
All of your attendees will enjoy a creative take on food and tasty appetizers. Besides traditional football fare like chips and dip, wings or burgers, offer unexpected options like sushi or a fancy fruit and cheese plate.

Give everyone something in common to chat about by choosing a fun theme for your food. For example, you could coordinate eats with team colors. For a red team, mix up pomegranate martinis and red velvet cupcakes, or for gold, trick out your treats with a gold leaf dusting and champagne as an option to drink (besides beer!). The more creative, the better.

A Game Within a Game
For guests who prefer not to camp out in front of the TV, provide a few other game options. Set up a cornhole board in the next room, start a game of darts or offer incentives to encourage people to follow the Super Bowl as it happens. For instance, have everyone choose three random players at the beginning of the game. If any of these players score a touchdown, hand out a small prize to the guests who chose them!

Delegate an “event photographer”
Any shutterbugs in attendance might enjoy capturing photos or video of the fans as they react to the game. They can also be in charge of keeping your social network involved by posting updates online. But make sure they get permission from other guests first—before the alcohol starts flowing! Plus, everyone will have memories of your Super Bowl party to enjoy after the festivities end.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/sdstockphoto

Apartments With a View in Richmond

For great views of the James River, consider moving into a Richmond apartment in the Church Hill neighborhood.

For great views of the James River, consider moving into a Richmond apartment in the Church Hill neighborhood.

Moving into a new apartment can help you look at life from a different point of view – literally! One of the many considerations when choosing a new home or apartment is often which vistas will be seen through your new windows. And the variety of beautiful surroundings for newcomers looking for apartments in Richmond, Va. will not disappoint.

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This photogenic city can be admired from several prominent spots throughout town. So whether you’re looking to gaze upon a downtown skyline, take in a tranquil park view or be charmed by historic homes, consider searching for your next apartment near one of these Richmond sites.

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Which Richmond Neighborhood Suits You Best?

Riverfront Living
The Canal Walk is a concrete pathway that winds over a mile through downtown Richmond along the banks of the Haxall Canal, the Kanawha Canal and the James River. Here, historic tobacco warehouses re-purposed into lofts contrast with modern construction and colorful urban art murals. Glimpse industrial scenes or check out the beautiful park near the James River with great views of the city. At night, the downtown skyline provides a glittering backdrop that is reflected in the water, while lighting along the path enhances the atmosphere for an evening stroll.

Historic Architecture
In Richmond’s East End sits the historic Church Hill neighborhood. Included in its boundaries are sections of the oldest intact residential blocks in the city – some dating back to 1737. The hilly location provides an excellent vantage point to take in restored antebellum homes ranging from modest cottages to magnificent mansions once home to the neighborhood’s original residents, wealthy factory managers. Intricate iron grillwork surrounds porticoes fronting wide streets and decorates long verandas that lead to lush gardens. Gas street lamps and brick sidewalks along certain streets add to the area’s historic ambiance.

Nearby Libby Hill Park showcases some of the best views from Richmond apartments, capturing the curve of the James River to the south and the city skyline to the west. This is the perfect place to watch a sunset or to have a picnic on a sunny day!

Peaceful Streetscapes
Just west of downtown, The Fan is home to 85 blocks of charming houses that represent some of the finest turn-of-the-century domestic architecture standing today. Its name comes from the way the streets spread out at angles from Monroe Park at Belvidere Street to the Boulevard. This area offers magnificent vistas courtesy of the neighborhood’s historic town houses and opulent Victorian and Edwardian mansions. Sprinkled among these homes are large statues, tree-lined parks and streets, beautifully manicured courtyards and cobblestone alleys. If you can’t find enough breathtaking views from your apartment here, visit nearby Maymont Park, a 100-acre Victorian estate with a museum, formal gardens, native wildlife exhibits, nature center and carriage collection.

The next time you’re on the lookout for a new apartment for rent with spectacular city views, set Richmond, Va. in your sights!

Photo credit: iStockphoto/bookwyrmm

Save Space By Properly Hanging Your TV

Apex Apartments in Los Angeles, CA

Apex Apartments in Los Angeles, CA

With post-holiday season sales (and the Super Bowl) on the horizon, now is a great time to consider purchasing a new TV! Whether you find a deal online, or receive one as a holiday gift, you’ll want to unpack and start watching your new television as soon as possible.

Not only do flat panel televisions look great, their thin profiles make them relatively easy to mount on a wall. Hanging your TV will save space and keep it well out of a baby or toddler’s reach in case you need to baby-proof your entertainment area.

Here are a few tips to properly hang your new TV in your apartment and hide those pesky wires.

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Maine for Francophiles

Travelers to certain parts of Maine can experience culture with a unique French influence.

Travelers to certain parts of Maine can experience culture with a unique French influence.

Are you a lover of French culture? The beautiful language, gourmet food and artistic contributions of the French can be found in many pockets of the United States including Aroostook County and the St. John Valley in Northern Maine. Travelers to this region can experience the rich heritage of the local Maine Acadian culture with its unique French influence.

Maine’s Acadian culture can be seen in the predominance of French names, the local architecture, the cultivation of potatoes and buckwheat and in local arts. It can also be tasted in traditional foods and heard in casual conversations.

Some Maine Acadians still speak “Valley French,” a mixture of old French and English with some Québécois terms from neighboring Canada. “Valley French” is mainly spoken rather than written.

The Acadians can be traced to 1604 near the St. Croix River, between what is now Maine and New Brunswick. Here, St. Croix Island held France’s first settlement in l’Acadie – or Acadia in English.

Franco-American culture also flourished in 1860 when thousands of French Canadians from Quebec and New Brunswick immigrated over the border to work in Maine’s growing mill and lumber industries. Many of these French Canadian immigrants changed their names to English translations to blend in with their American neighbors and escape prejudice.

Today, 30 to 40 percent of Mainers are estimated to be of French Canadian ancestry, and French makes up more than 60 percent of languages other than English spoken in Maine.

To experience the lasting influence of Acadian culture today, Francophiles can visit the Acadian Village (U.S. Route 1, Van Buren, ME 04785) where 17 reconstructed buildings dating from 1785 to the early 1900s overlook the St. John River. Each building also contains historic furnishings.

The Franco American Heritage Center (46 Cedar St., Lewiston, ME 04240) is also a great resource for keeping up-to-date with local events, education and heritage related to the region’s Franco-American culture.

The annual Acadian Festival (Madawaska, ME 04756) is a multi-day celebration that includes a reunion of Maine’s Acadian founding families with over 5,000 far-flung descendents from around the globe attending in some years. An even bigger party will occur in 2014, when the World Acadian Congress convenes in the St. John Valley.

To experience a taste of an original Acadian recipe, check out Bouchard Family Farms (3 Strip Road, Fort Kent, ME 04743). For generations, the Bouchard Family has been milling a light buckwheat flour to prepare “Ployes,” which resemble crepes or pancakes. Their recipe is based on one created by the French Acadian exiles who settled in Northern Maine. For store locations or to order online, visit ployes.com.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Lebazele

Host a Budget-Friendly Night In for New Year’s Eve

Host a cozy New Year's Eve gathering in your apartment without breaking the bank.

Host a cozy New Year’s Eve gathering in your apartment without breaking the bank.

Do you have family and friends in town for a visit? Is it your turn to have the neighbors over for New Year’s Eve? While we may look forward to the celebration itself, planning a party can be daunting if you spent too much over the holidays. But hosting a budget-friendly evening from the comfort of your home or apartment doesn’t necessarily mean handing out paper hats and streamers made from last weekend’s newspaper.

Here are a few tips for hosting a cozy gathering that your guests will remember without spending too much.

Go Potluck
While you should definitely provide a few appetizers and snacks (crowd pleasers like Chex Mix and popcorn cost little and make large portions), ask your guests to bring their favorite dish or cocktail to share. Not only will this save you money, but guests can also bring homemade recipes or unique foods that will start conversations and make your party more personal.

Ask the Experts
If you’re offering alcoholic beverages at your party, stop by your local wine or liquor store and ask for assistance from someone who works there. Mention your budget and ask for a recommendation within your financial limits based on their experience and customer feedback. Many shopkeepers will also help you pair a wine with the food that you’ll serve—and their advice is free!

Get Crafty
The Internet is a treasure trove of decorating tips, how-to videos and DIY advice for party hosts on a budget. Just because decorations are handmade, doesn’t mean they can’t look elegant. For inspiration, search YouTube or Pinterest for party decorations or favors that you can make for your guests and check out popular craft blogs. We found these pretty Clementine candles that would be perfect to illuminate your space or give as gifts.

Use What You’ve Got
Chances are, you already have many items that can help your party feel more festive. Before you put away your holiday decorations, fill clear bowls and vases with your leftover ornaments. Glass balls, tinsel or colored lights in white, silver or blue are always pretty. Keep everything coordinated by selecting only one or two colors to use throughout your space. You can also place shoeboxes, paint cans or containers of different sizes on a buffet or long table and cover them with a tablecloth to create risers for food and serving platters.

With a little planning and some imagination, you can transform your home or apartment into a welcoming atmosphere for an evening of fun! The key to a great party is the guests’ experience, not how much you spend.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/knape

Holiday Gifts for Fido

Keep your pup happy this holiday season with these gifts.

Keep your pup happy this holiday season with these gifts.

For dog owners, this festive season would not be complete without a cold nose or wagging tail amid the holiday hustle. Whether our dogs are begging for a bite of Christmas cookie or enduring a few embarrassing photos in a sparkly sweater, Fido and Fifi are part of the family and deserve some thoughtful holiday gifts.

Healthy treats for dogs
Although we may try to watch our waistline at the holidays, it’s also important to make sure we’re not handing out too many treats to our four-legged friends. To keep your dog from adding empty calories, try to offer only treats made from 100 percent natural ingredients. Three Dog Bakery makes dog biscuits from peanut butter, apples and oats that are both tasty and nutritious for your pet. Visit www.threedog.com for locations or to shop online.

Canine-friendly cleansers
If you’re planning to host family and friends during the holidays, a bath might be in order for your pup. Why not use a new organic shampoo to keep his coat cuddle-ready? Both Kiehl’s and many pet specialty stores carry organic dog shampoo and conditioner, or you may want to ask for a referral from your vet. Using a gentle cleanser can help prevent your dog’s skin from getting too dry in winter weather.

Join the neighborhood light display
Show off your dog’s holiday spirit on your next evening walk with a new LED leash and collar. Not only will these illuminated accessories keep him safe and visible to cars, they can also be a festive fashion statement in red or white. Make Clark Griswold proud!

Not a creature was stirring…
Winter is also the perfect time to bring home a cozy new pet bed for your dog. Choose a soft fleece or cotton fiber lining that will breathe while your pet snoozes after a hard day of opening presents. When the festivities are over, and the wrapping paper and gift boxes have been sufficiently pounced upon, Fido will be happy to sink his paws into a plush new bed.

The holidays are an exciting time of year for both people and dogs. Remember that animals can be sensitive and may need some quiet time away from new guests, noise and additional stimulation. Allowing for sufficient down time will also give them the chance to dream about their new toys and gifts. Happy Howlidays!

Photo credit: iStockphoto/cmannphoto

Learn Something New With Our Top 5 Educational Apps

Expand your mind without increasing your budget with these educational apps.

Do you want to learn something new, but don’t have the time to attend expensive classes? Whether you’re interested in picking up a new language, refreshing your grammar skills or simply curious about the world around you, the following educational apps will expand your mind without increasing your budget.

Grammar Up Eknath Kadam

Good communication is the key to many careers and relationships. Improve both grammar and vocabulary with the Grammar Up app for iPad and iPhone. The full version costs $4.99 and features a series of multiple-choice quizzes with over 1,800 questions covering categories such as verb tense, word choice and conditionals. A free version is also available that lets you track your progress.

Paper FiftyThree

Improve your drawing skills and release your inner artist with Paper. Winner of the 2012 Apple Design Awards for Best iPad app, Paper was downloaded 1.5 million times within the first two weeks of its release. So, what’s the hype about? Paper’s clean design, convenient tools and filters help both designers and beginners create beautiful works of art. Email or print your final creations, or use them for storyboarding or presentations. The basic drawing function is free, but additional color or brush tools must be purchased for $1 or $2 each.

Star Walk Astronomy Vito Technology Inc.

Where can you use the latest science app? Just look up! Download the Star Walk app for iPad, point your device toward the sky and discover stars, constellations and satellites in real time. Star Walk also won an Apple Design Award, and allows users to identify over 200,000 celestial bodies with extensive information about stars and constellations. This app includes a calendar to keep you informed of upcoming cosmic events, and the Time Machine feature can be used to see star maps for years into the future or at historic moments of the past. For just $4.99, this visually stunning app is perfect for astronomy students or people who simply enjoy the night sky.

Babbel Language Learning Babbel

One way to learn a foreign language is to continually practice reading, writing and speaking as often as you can. If you want to learn a language, a good mobile app will allow you to practice on the go. Free iPhone apps from Babbel come in seven languages: German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portugese, Swedish and English. These apps are aimed to boost your vocabulary, and provide access to 3000 words used in sample sentences and pronounced by a native speaker. Babbel’s apps compliment their web-based courses, but you don’t need to be a course subscriber to use the apps.

WikiHow wikiHow, Inc.

Finally, if you’re unable to decide on one new skill to acquire, why not learn how to do just about everything? WikiHow contains 140,000 different how-to articles that can solve many of your DIY project questions—from knitting a scarf to replacing a flat tire. Simply type your query’s keywords into the app, and you’ll receive an article on your topic that includes descriptive steps with photos or videos, a list of supplies needed, warnings and related wikiHow articles for further investigation. This app is free for both Android and iPhone, and the iOS version also contains a “Survival Kit” with articles inspired by real-life emergency situations including self-defense, wilderness survival, home emergencies and first aid.

These educational apps are perfect for learning fun and useful information on the go. Give one a try today!

Photo credit: iStockphoto/wragg

Get Your Apartment’s Kitchen Holiday-Ready With These Space-Saving Ideas

Get your apartment’s kitchen holiday-ready with these space-saving ideas.

At the holidays, the kitchen often becomes the focus of family gatherings and parties. But in most apartment kitchens, space is at a premium. If your holiday plans call for entertaining or hosting friends at your home, having an organized kitchen will assist with meal preparation and help keep your holiday hub show-ready!

Check out these easy space-saving ideas to keep your apartment’s kitchen organized this season.

Magnetic Spice Rack

Ever thought about how much shelf space you’d save by eliminating all of the little bottles in your cupboards that contain spices and seasonings? A revolving spice rack is one option to stack and store all of your spices in a compact space, but it still needs room to stand on your countertop. The Large Magnetic Spice Rack from A Place for Everything takes up zero counter or shelf space, and it looks cool! Made from 18-8 stainless steel, each individual spice holder is clear on top and magnetic on the bottom. They will stick to your refrigerator, or they can be arranged on the included stainless steel back plate.

Hang Pots and Pans

Install a hanging rack above your kitchen counter or island to save space in your cabinets — and make your pots and pans easier to find. Place them near the range or oven for convenient access.

Storing Knives

Here’s an amazing tip from the queen of kitchen organization – Martha Stewart! Say goodbye to bulky knife blocks or dangerous drawers filled with loose sharp utensils by transferring your knives to a shallow drawer lined with artists’ drawing-board liner (available at most art supply stores). The fabric wipes clean easily and has a slightly rubbery surface to keep knives in place.

Hanging Bike Baskets

Bowls filled with fruit can add a pop of color to your kitchen, but not everyone has precious counter real estate to spare for a large bowl or basket. But if you have some spare wall space available, purchase a few baskets designed to hold fishing tackle or those that hook onto a bicycle’s handlebars. These baskets come with holes in the back and can be easily hung on a kitchen wall with hooks, or onto a peg board. Choose a few to hold kitchen tools, potatoes or fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be kept in the refrigerator.

There are many stylish ways to save space in your kitchen, and with a bit of planning and creativity, you’ll soon be hosting and toasting in the most organized kitchen on the block!

Photo credit: iStockphoto/mattjeacock