How to Use Castile Soap for Nearly Everything

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I will say up front that this is not a sponsored post for anyone like Dr. Bronner’s. This is simply my testament to how much I love keeping this type of soap around the apartment for all manner of dirty jobs! The amazing product known as Castile soap is a plant-based soap originally from the Castile region of Spain and has traditionally been made from olive oil for thousands of years. Now Castile soap is still sometimes made from olive oil, but can be made from other plants as well. Castile soap contains no animal products whatsoever and is a greener alternative to most grocery store soaps.

In addition to it being more environmentally responsible than most contemporary soaps and detergents, it’s effective and incredibly versatile. It’s strong enough when concentrated to get down and dirty with the best of cleaning products and when diluted, it’s mild enough to use as body wash and shampoo. If you choose to buy the tried and true brand, Dr. Bronner’s, it also comes in a nice selection of scents- almond, citrus, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, rose, and tea tree. It comes in both liquid and bar forms, but I recommend the liquid for utmost versatility. You can order these online or find at stores like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and often local health food stores.

Some examples of what you can use Castile soap for:

  • Dish detergent
  • Mopping solution
  • Floor cleaner
  • Dog shampoo
  • Your shampoo
  • Body wash
  • Clean fruits and vegetables with it
  • Toothpaste(!)
  • All purpose cleaner
  • Shaving cream
  • Hand soap

That’s a lot right there! If you need a reference for how to use Castile soap for each one of these, try this dilution cheat sheet.

Best Etsy Finds for Your Desk this Fall

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University of Florida, Santa Fe College,  and neighboring schools are back in session for the fall and it’s the time of year when we organize, prioritize, and get ready for the upcoming season. Shopping for school supplies has always been the most fun part of heading back for the academic year and the enthusiasm hardly waned even as I went through four years of college. Having an organized desk and fresh supplies provides additional motivation to jump right into school, or work, or both, which may have seemed less enticing otherwise.

So when looking for the tools of your trade, don’t hesitate to check the handmade site Etsy. There is a great deal of attractive and useful objects for the desk in your apartment. These are some of my personal favorites:

Utensil organizer – This maple utensil holder is beautifully simple and incredibly useful. Keep all your best writing utensils handy and organized.

Docking station – This handmade wooden docking station is spectacularly designed to hold a myriad of personal items, including your phone while it charges.

Fancy pencils – A rainbow of colors to entertain you while you jot down notes and work those hard math problems.

A lovely planner – Keep track of all your homework, classes, and appointments in a marbled cover planner.

Hanging shelf– Hang this reclaimed wood shelf on the wall behind your desk for additional items you want to keep within reaching distance.

4 Ways to Make Your Apartment Look Straight out of a Wes Anderson Movie

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Wes Anderson has been carving out a special niche in the film industry for the past 25 years. His films are not great just because of the quirky characters and clever scripts, but they are so deliciously visually appealing. Have you ever watched one and not shamelessly coveted every interior space you see? Didn’t think so. The Royal Tenenbaums, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Moonrise Kingdom come to mind especially with their bright retro and eclectic styles.

 

  1. Buy brightly colored early to mid 20th century furniture from thrift stores, antique malls, estate sales, etc. If it’s not brightly or candy pastel colored, consider recovering it with any color that looks like it would make a good jelly bean. Mid-century is good, but the more elaborately detailed sitting chairs that are more formal (think Edwardian) suit the style better.
  2. If you can wallpaper, do. 1960’s and 1970’s inspired wallpaper patterns in warmer hues are a surefire way to get the look. If you can’t wallpaper, you can alternatively buy wallpaper and frame different sized pieces to hang on the wall, which will then be removable. Some companies also make temporary wallpapers which are easier to move. Don’t be afraid of plaid (cough cough, Moonrise Kingdom) or red wallpaper with zebras (The Royal Tenenbaums)!
  3. Stick to a color scheme. Just because the style is eclectic doesn’t mean it’s completely all over the place. Stick to three or four basic colors. For example, The Grand Budapest Hotel focuses mainly on pink, yellow, white, and teal.
  4. Don’t forget the details! Thrift shop finds are an easy way to add stylish details to your overall theme. A pink rotary phone like Margot’s in The Royal Tenenbaums, an old camera, or a vintage portable record player like Suzy has in Moonrise Kingdom will help pull it all together.

Tricks for Keeping Apartment Carpets Clean

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I can’t say I’m a huge fan of carpets – I definitely seek out apartments with hardwood floors or even laminate before going for the carpet. However, it’s not always avoidable and many great apartments come with carpeted floors. You may even prefer carpet to hardwood floors, which I won’t judge you too harshly for (I promise). One of my qualms with carpet is how dirty it gets, often unbeknownst to its owner. So if you are the proud renter of a carpeted place, keep these tips in mind.

Buy a vacuum – A decent one. You really can’t make do with anything else, so if you plan on staying in an apartment with carpets for any real length of time it’s one of the best things you can invest in. Spot treatment and those little rolly sweepers only go so far. Especially if you have any kind of dust or dander allergy, you will be thankful you did.

Get in the habit of using your vacuum regularly – Once a week or so is best for keeping little bits of food and debris from the outdoors up. If you have pets, think about how much pet hair is working its way into the little fibers in your carpet. Unless your apartment is massive, it takes a lot less time than you think to run the vacuum.

Spot treat – Stains should be blotted up as best as possible before applying cleaners. Do not rub them in! Use this Martha Stewart page to help find the right stain removal method for each kind of carpet and stain.

Rent a steam cleaner twice a year – If you’re lucky you may know someone who owns one you can hopefully borrow it, but otherwise you can rent one. It will be worthwhile to really deep clean your carpets. If you’re not confident in your steam cleaning abilities there are companies who can be hired to do it for you. Totally worth it so you can breathe easily in your apartment.

Always talk to your property manager before you bring in professional cleaners – they may have a preference or even require tenants to professionally clean the carpets before moving out.

 

All A-Board

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I may have started out with a really bad pun (atrocious, at best), but I think it’s forgivable once you’ve had a moment to realize how helpful this one simple tool is. The bulletin board has been around forever, but I think it’s hardly utilized as often as it should be. If you don’t want to call it a bulletin board, don’t worry – it has a myriad of trendier names these days: message board, idea board, mood board, inspiration board…the list goes on. It’s hard to resist something called an inspiration board because I think we could all use a little more of that. In all seriousness, the new school semester is around the corner and whichever board you decide to use can tremendously help you organize your day to day activities, thoughts, and general existence. Or maybe it will just keep you inspired and dreaming.

The best part is all you need is an old fashioned cork board, which you can pick up for a few bucks at Target or any big box store. It’s how you use your cork board that matters!

The To-Do Board

No more post its and slips of paper piling up on your desk or vanity! Liberate yourself by pinning them on the wall on your board. The To-Do board should include a calendar (I know you have one on your phone, but sometimes it helps to just keep it out in front of you), a list pad or dry erase board, and any reference materials you may find helpful

Try making a to-do board like this one

The Mood Board / Inspiration Board

Lots of push pins, tape, or places to tack up pictures and small items you find inspirational or interesting. Customize your mood board to be aesthetically pleasing and to suit your own particular style.

This is a great example of how to make an inspiration board

The Message Board

This one is simple and to the point. Its best placement is near the entryway or in a high-traffic area where messages and notes can be left between roommates or significant others. Magentic boards or magnetic chalk boards make perfect message boards.

Try this wine cork DIY message board

Back to School – Foods that Help You Focus

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If you’re heading back to school soon, it’s tough getting out of the lazy summer days mindset and back into the swing of going to class and studying every day. There are many changes to include in your back-to-school routine, but one of them that could help is your diet. Some foods are proven to help brain function and boost your ability to concentrate. According to Webmd.com, these are the best brain-boosting foods you can eat.

Fish – Of the reasons fish is good for you, keeping your brain healthy is a major one! The omega 3 fatty acids in fish are incredibly beneficial to your brain. Those who eat more fish are also less likely to develop degenerative aging disorders like dementia later in life.

Avocado – Avocados promote healthy blood flow through lowering cholesterol. Good blood flow = good brain function!

Nuts – Vitamin E rich nuts are great for your brain (and your skin!) and help keep you healthy now and as you age. Those with Vitamin E-rich diets are less likely to develop problems later in life, like Alzheimer’s.

Dark Chocolate – Eating dark chocolate is delicious and good for you. The antioxidents in dark chocolate are great for your brain and the small amount of caffeine in it can give you a quick boost.

Blueberries – Not only are blueberries rich in antioxidents as well, but they actually help lower your blood sugar. In studies using rats, they also have been proven to increase the rats’ ability to learn.

 

 

Etsy Finds To Spruce Up Your Pet’s Side of the Apartment

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Sometimes pet accessories are not quite up to our own personal interior design standards. Thankfully, there are a number of talented craftspeople making unique and appealing pieces to pamper your pets with inside the apartment. From fancy houses to cute food dishes, Etsy has a wide selection of handmade goodies for your fur babies.

Pet houses

This minimalist pet house is sleek, attractive, and even customizable – it’s made from walnut and you get your choice of colored laminate accents $159

This beautifully crafted wicker basket house for small pets is perfect for a rustic and natural look. It’s sure to be cozy for your critters. $46

This is a funky boho teepee for your cat or dog that’s as cool as it is practical. Good vibes only. $115

Litter Box Cover

This midcentury mod litter box cover is a little on the pricey side, but wow is it retro cool! Keep the litter box out of sight in style. $345

Pet Beds

This little felt cat bed is pod-shaped and too cute with its own little ears sticking up off the top of it. $109

This pet bed embraces a masculine, rustic feel and is made out of a wine barrel! Super cool. $250

These pet poufs come in an awesome array of patterns and colors. Pick one that best accents your interior decor. $70+

3 Simple Steps to Create a Better Entryway

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The space closest to your apartment door is integral to the flow of traffic and functionality within your living space – aside from your dog, it’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door after a day at work and it’s the last thing you see before heading back out the door. Having an organized and efficient entryway makes your apartment life that much better.

  1. Add a surface An end table, a floating shelf, or a tv tray can all help provide a place to put things down (mail, keys, a drink, etc.) as you walk in the door. Adding a mail divider on your table surface will prevent it from getting too cluttered up with paper. Once your hands are free you can do the all-important coming home rituals, like petting the dog and collapsing on the couch.
  2. Add a seat The second component to the ideal entryway is something to sit on, and like the surface there are many different ways to accomplish this. A stool, a chair, a bench (with storage underneath, perhaps!), a pouf or ottoman, can all come in handy depending on the amount of space you have and look you’re going for. If you have a chair by the entryway, you can sit and put on your shoes, Mr. Rogers style, before heading out for the day.
  3. Decorate Simply because the space is utilitarian does not mean it can’t be attractive. Adding a framed picture and some decorative lighting to the space creates a good-looking nook. Go the extra mile by putting a small rug in front of your seat and some shoe storage nearby.