Gainesville Brewery Tour

brewery

In case you somehow haven’t noticed, craft beer is a booming business. Large national chains are losing favor with the populus, especially Millennials, and small local breweries are on the rise. You won’t hear any complaints from me about this because I’ve been a fan of sourcing things locally for years – and beer is no exception here. If you enjoy a good beer for the flavor more than the eventual effect, then you’re in the right place because Gainesville has several burgeoning breweries complete with great beer and a fun atmosphere for you and your friends to enjoy on a nice spring evening.

Swamp Head Brewery was founded in 2008 and strives not only to brew great beer, but to be an environmentally conscious and sustainable brewery. Hang out at the brewery for a tasting, a food truck dinner and a drink, or come for the special events. They boast a large range of all-year-round beers, seasonal beers, and rarer releases which you can read all about on their website, swamphead.com

First Magnitude Brewery is located a little bit east of the University of Florida and comes complete with an indoor beer tasting room as well as an outdoor beer garden. Try one of their 18 taps of beers and ciders in a glass with their cute little mermaid logo on it. Fmbrewing.com

Tall Paul’s Brewpub / Alligator Brewing Co. has been serving up local beers and cocktails for 5 years now. The Alligator Brewing Co. is part of Tall Paul’s, which also offers other locally crafted beers as well. Come for the beer and the events, as well as the games (tabletop shuffleboard!). alligatorbrewing.com

Steal That Apartment’s Style – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

audrey

If you’ve never read or seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, then you should add it to your list. Despite how charming and fabulous she was, I’m not a crazy Audrey Hepburn fangirl like some, but I do adore her, Truman Capote’s novel, and the later screen adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What the film lacks in Capote’s brilliant prose, it makes up with style. When I first saw the film I immediately wanted Holly Golightly’s New York apartment and all the goodies inside it (cat included). It’s simple, yet eclectic, not overdone, and screams of the 1960’s which I may or may not have a mild obsession with- ok yes, I have an obsession with the 60’s.

So if you want to recreate Holly Golightly’s fab apartment, here’s what you need:

Zebra print rug – One of the central pieces in Miss Golightly’s living room is her zebra skin area rug. It adds a big, bold pattern to an otherwise minimalist room. You can find affordable versions of the original at Wayfair and Overstock.

Stacked Vintage Suitcases – Add retro suitcases stacked up like Holly has in her entrance to give your apartment some 60’s adventurer flair. Also, doubles as luggage for your next road trip. Find them at antique stores near you or somewhere like this on Etsy.

Wooden Crate Coffee Table – You can scour flea markets and antique shops for one of these, make your own, or you can get one on Etsy (for a price – check local flea markets first!).

Fuschia Throw PillowsThese velvety throw pillows from World Market are just the right throwback to the swingin’ sixties. Embrace the pink or pick another color to suit your style.

Black Rotary Phone – Details count – use it for real or just as a lovely decorative object on a stack of books. These are easily found at antique stores, but you can also order one from Amazon.

Sleep Mask – Not exactly part of your decor, but you could always hang it up on the wall if you don’t actually need one to help you sleep. The sleep mask from the film is so iconic it’s been reproduced by a number of people over the years. Find one here on Etsy.

Bathtub Couch – Easily the most memorable part of Holly’s living room is her half clawfoot tub couch. This is the most difficult and expensive to recreate, but if you’re really serious about investing in this design idea it can be done! They are available on Etsy here or here. Go big or go home!

Unorthodox Urban Libraries

library

If you haven’t heard of the Little Free Library Project, you may be enthralled to find out about it for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a great way to find a new book to read and you don’t have to worry about returning it. Secondly, you never know what you’ll find in there. Third, it’s a great way to get rid of unwanted or already read books that you don’t want to throw away.

So what exactly is the Little Free Library? It’s a project which encourages the placement of homemade wooden boxes, or “libraries” around towns, filled with books for anyone passing by who may be interested. You may have walked past one without even noticing it before – they are often creative and colorful, but are not always incredibly conspicuous due to their size and placement. There is no loaning system, no fees, no expectations. Just books and a simple give and take philosophy. The idea started in 2009 in Wisconsin and has expanded to locations all over the globe.

Gainesville has 6 mapped Little Free Library boxes, but there may be more undocumented ones around town. You can check any location for official free libraries using this link here.

If you want to start your own library, you can have it documented and put on the map by following the website’s instructions. Even if you don’t want to start your own, you may find one in your neighborhood to frequent. I used to pass by two on a regular basis in my previous neighborhood, both within a quarter mile of each other.

The Little Free Library project is great for recycling books and sharing things you love with other avid readers. It’s also perfect for finding your next favorite read! So when you’re doing all that lovely spring cleaning, check the map for a Little Free Library near your apartment and consider donating the books that didn’t make the cut.

How Long Has That Been In There?

spring

Yes, it’s that time of year! It’s time for the spring cleaning to begin if it hasn’t already. There are a million ways to purge, repurpose, reorganize, and straighten your apartment. If you’re not exactly thrilled about the thought of spring cleaning, focus on the sense of accomplishment and peace of mind you’ll feel when you’re done!   If you don’t want to do a total closet overhaul or complete reorganization, then just focus on one easy area: getting rid of old, expired things in the bathroom.

I’m guilty of keeping a bottle of nail polish for 5 years or a bottle of perfume even longer, but these products do actually expire and should be thrown away if they haven’t been used up within their good by date. Most products like this don’t list a specific date on them, but these are the recommended guidelines:

  Medicine – Most medicine is safe beyond its expiration, however if you want to play it safe or you haven’t used something in a very long time and see no need to keep it, use this guide for instructions on how to safely dispose of medications.

Makeup – Makeup will break down once it is opened and oxidize over time. If it has not been opened it has about a 2 year life if stored away from heat and the sun. Mascara is the one to throw away the quickest, after three months. Bacteria can collect, grow, and cause infections if it is kept too long. Pencil eyeliners, eye shadow, pressed powder, and lipstick can be kept for about two years. Liquid facial makeup should be kept no longer than six months.

Sunscreen and Lotion – about three years is the limit to sunscreen’s effectiveness and it should be thrown out if it starts to smell bad. Lotion does not have any active ingredients, but some ingredients will break down after this time.

Perfume – Perfume lasts about 3-5 years, or longer. There is a little bit of debate as to how much perfume really breaks down over time. One trick fragrance enthusiasts swear by is storing it in the refrigerator where it is safe from sunlight and heat. So you may just want to move your fancy smells to the fridge.

Cooking For One

bowl

If you live in your apartment alone, why is it so ridiculously difficult to cook a good meal for just yourself? I know the reasons why I mainly subsist on a diet of grilled cheese and potato chips when I live alone. I don’t feel very motivated to cook myself a fancy meal because I don’t really care if I know how to cook something impressive or not and there’s nobody else to see me cramming my face with junk food. Aside from that, I get tired of eating the same things for weeks because the leftovers seem to never end. Also…I’m a little lazy.

So if you feel similarly and you want to start eating something other than Hot Pockets for dinner, here are some ways to thwart the boring single-person meal dilemmas-

Shop for ingredients that you can make a lot of different meals out of. It’s like a capsule wardrobe for your pantry- the more versatile your ingredients, the more likely you won’t get tired of what you have.

Embrace the freezer. If you make a recipe and it makes too much for a few meals’ worth, pack up the leftovers and freeze them. Remember to put the date on top so it doesn’t become a mystery meal left in there.

Take your neighbors some food. It’s less economical than saving it all for yourself, but if you really have too much food, share it!

Shop bulk items because you don’t have to buy a whole box of something. You can purchase by the ounce or pound and get just as much as you need, which will save it from going bad later.

Make mug cakes for dessert in the microwave instead of making a big batch of something. There are tons of great recipes for them!

 

Portable Sound

record

Unlike most people my age, I started collecting records in high school. Not that this makes me special or anything, but at the time CD’s and digital music files from Napster were the preferred musical mediums my friends chose and I was one of the odd ones out. Now the great pendulum has swung back and records are making more money than CD’s in the music industry. I’m glad to see the change because there is a great enjoyment that comes from putting a record on and enjoying the warmth of its sound, complete with the occasional pop and crackle.

Since the resurgence of record listening, it’s no surprise record players have made a big comeback, too. Traditionally one needs a turntable (record player), a receiver, and a set of speakers for the complete record playing setup. This changed somewhat with the emergence of the portable record player in the 1950’s. Early gramophones had the speaker and all necessary electronics built in, but they were hardly portable. Portable record players became very popular in the 1960’s, despite the often poor speaker quality in them. The great advantage was this – they were (obviously) portable. They could be packed up and carried by the handle wherever you wanted to take them.

Portable record players have made a huge comeback and are readily available from a number of manufacturers. One of the wonderful things about these machines is they fit better in an apartment than a standard turntable-receiver-speaker-cabinet setup. And if you’ve frequented any Pinterest boards lately or shopped at Urban Outfitters you’ve probably noticed they’re used almost as much for a piece of decor as they are as an appliance. Companies are producing the record players in a myriad of patterns, shapes, and colors so you can find the perfect one to complement your particular design style.

So, here are some of my favorite contemporary throwbacks to the portable record player:

This is the most simple (while still attractive) stand-alone player you can spring for

This mid-century replica takes up a little more space in your apartment, but is such a beauty!

This one is wonderfully 60’s looking and has a higher grade speaker than the bare-bones version (this is my favorite of the lot)

This one’s a splurge, but it’s a very high quality player if you’re concerned about the sound

If you’re looking for records to buy in Gainesville, try Arrow’s Aim Records or Hear Again Music & Movies. Happy listening!

Apartment Illusionists: The Fastest Ways to Make Your Space Look Bigger

There are a multitude of ways to make your small apartment feel like a big airy, open space, but I’m loving one of the current trends which works such magic: translucent furniture. If you don’t have much choice over paint color, layout, windows, or other such inevitabilities in your apartment, you can at least spring for furniture which helps lighten things up in your space. It’s especially helpful if you love minimalist style or even if you are a maximalist but you want to accentuate some pieces without diminishing others, see-through furniture is a fantastic way to open up spaces and prevent visual clutter. Anything which lets light through is going to inevitably lighten up and magically make your small apartment look larger. Here are some of my current recommendations for trying out this trend:

These acrylic nesting tables are compact, fit together for perfect storage, and keep things light, three tray tables for $199

The Classic IKEA Tobias dining chairs help minimize the density of a dining set and open up spaces which usually feature heavy furniture, $79 each

This bar cart doesn’t detract from the beauty of your glassware, bottles, and accessories, $200

Make your books look like they’re suspended in mid-air with this tall, slim bookshelf, $249

Complete splurge, but wouldn’t it be neat to have this completely transparent dining table? $5099

How to Have a Happy Dog in Your Apartment

dog

One of the many challenges of small space living is the task of living harmoniously with your pets. This is especially challenging when you have a canine friend with seemingly limitless energy and a knack for getting into trouble. Most dogs are adaptable and with the right training, exercise, and care can get used to living in a small space and be perfectly happy with it. It just takes a little bit of work!

If you don’t have a dog yet, but miss having a companion and want to adopt or find a new friend from a breeder, you may want to keep certain breed choices in mind. Some breeds tend to do better in small spaces than others and if you’re not completely set on one already it may help you decide what to get. The AKC recommends these breeds as the best for people living in apartments. Choosing a well-suited breed for the lifestyle may help prevent future stress for both you and your dog.

One of the most important things is exercise for your dog. Being confined all day is difficult for dogs (you wouldn’t want to be stuck inside by yourself all day either!) and it can help curb other destructive behaviors like chewing. Taking multiple walks each day is important; some dogs require more and need to run freely to truly expend energy, so a dog park is a good option. Dog parks also will more than likely provide socialization for your dog as well, which is another good way to help him or her have a fulfilling day.

Dogs love to be by our sides, so the more you take them out with you the better they will be when they have to stay home. Too much time alone causes anxiety and restlessness. If you live in a highly walkable neighborhood, consider taking your dog with you on errands. Many businesses are more flexible now on allowing pets and many restaurants with outdoor patios gladly allow dogs in the outdoor eating areas. Check with your neighborhood businesses to see if it’s acceptable to bring your canine buddy next time you’re out.

If all else fails and you are too busy to do as much as you want to provide your dog with a happy, active lifestyle, consider investing in some doggy day care or hire someone to check on your dog and take him out for walks during the day. You and your dog both will appreciate it!

 

Goodbye, Downton Abbey – What We Can Learn From the Crawleys

castle

After six years of Downton Abbey I count myself among the completely smitten, unabashed fans of the show despite knowing it’s a bit of a crowd pleaser. The facts remain: the Dowager Countess has the sharpest and most amusing wit of all, Lady Mary follows closely in her steps but with a bit more cheek, and it is fascinating seeing the inner workings of a grand old house in England at the turn of the century. Not to mention the clothes. The clothes! I could go on and on about the triumphs, heartbreaks, and pivotal moments of Downton Abbey, ad nauseum, but I shall spare you all. Instead I will point out its virtues and what we can all learn from this beloved show and how they so easily apply to our contemporary lives.

Kindness Reigns: So many times characters showed immense kindness to one another. Lady Sybil helped Gwen, a housemaid, learn to type and apply for jobs as a secretary. Later on, Gwen returns to the house with her husband with whom she has started a college for women. Without Lady Sybil’s help Gwen may not have had the same opportunity to rise above the life of service. So think…WWLSD? (What Would Lady Sybil Do?)

Change is Good: After Matthew’s and Lady Sybil’s deaths, Tom and Mary become the agents of the estate and wish to streamline the household and update its operations. The Earl of Grantham is none too pleased, but learns in the end that change is indeed good and to keep up with the world, one must change with it. Let it go.

Family [and togetherness] is Key: No matter what the challenge or how divided they become over it (this past season’s hospital debate), the family sticks together and is loyal to one another. There have been many moments of heartbreak and forgiveness, which are both inevitable facts of life. So remember to forgive and forget…and when in serious doubt of someone’s forgiveness, you can always play the Countess’ hand and give them a puppy.

Keep your family/friendships strong

Though fictitious, the Crawley family represents any family which inevitably deals with life’s ups and downs and constant challenges. They remind us that all hardships and difficulties can be overcome through strength, love, and unity.

Dealing with Tiny Kitchens

utensils

If you live in an apartment and have a great big ol’ kitchen, well, bully for you. Most of us have to deal with unbelievably small kitchens, often with little to no counter space, few drawers or cabinets, and about enough room to stand in one square foot and turn yourself around (but not enough to do the hokey pokey). Living with a small kitchen can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you love to cook. But thankfully, there are ways to alleviate the pains of an insufficient apartment kitchen.

When in doubt, put it on the wall Wall mounted shelves, bars with hooks for pots and pans, magnetic strips for knives, all help get things off the counter and out of your way. Pegboards and hooks are one of the cheapest ways to hang things up and if you don’t like the look of white, they’re easy to spray paint and brighten up. One of the popular trends with spices and things that usually take up cabinet space is to put them in magnetic tins and stick them to the refrigerator or to a wall-mounted magnetic board, which saves you lots of space in the long run.

How often do you use it? If you have kitchen appliances that you don’t use every single day, store them on shelves or in cabinets. If you have space on top of cabinets, this is another great spot to put things you don’t use every single day. Just remember to wipe them down before using. With these things off your counters, it frees them up for prepping your meals.

Add an island Islands don’t have to be big, there are kitchen carts that just provide enough space on top for prepping and working with storage space below to help you out where you need it most. If you get one with wheels, you can move it when you’re finished with it to a less conspicuous location.

Don’t buy a giant trash can Kitchen trash can pile up quickly, but you’ll regret the lost space if your trash can is too big. Narrow trash cans fit against the ends of counters nicely or even underneath the sink if necessary. Plus this also may encourage you to create less trash in the long run and help you to form habits like using reusable bags and buying things with less packaging.