Getting Outdoors: Paynes Prairie

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With the weather getting nice outdoors we thought we would give you an idea of something spectacular to get out and see in our area.  Paynes Prairie is a treasure right here in our backyard, which is also Florida’s first state preserve.

Paynes Prairie is teeming with wildlife and visitors will see some type of wildlife while they are there.  There are wild bison and horses throughout the park, as well as hundreds of species of native and migrating birds, alligators (lots of alligators), deer, bobcats, rabbits, and other animals.

The park’s eight trails, including the 16-mile paved Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, allows one to explore the park’s interior and observe wildlife, while a 50-foot high observation tower provides for panoramic views.

The Seminole Indians once occupied a village along this vast savannah due to the diversity of land.  And, the prairie has some beautiful vistas. You and your family will really enjoy getting out there and exploring.  Due to the abundance of wildlife at the park, pets are not permitted in many locations.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/paynes-prairie-preserve-state-park

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Indoor Plants for Beginners

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Growing indoor plants can give you a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment.  Research shows they also help purify the air, increase humidity in your home, and just make you happier.

To be successful the needs of the plant must be met.

Plants require sunlight and water to live. To keep it simple start with plants that can live with little care. Aloe Vera is a plant that is easy to grow. It also has an added benefit with the juice from the leaves aiding with sunburn pain and healing of scrapes.

  1. Figure out where you want to put the plant. A sunlit window or a spot by a sliding glass door are good places. Just make sure the plant will get some direct or indirect light for a few hours a day.
  2. When you get a plant and have it placed where you want it, leave it alone. The plant may go through a period of adjustment because of conditions being different in your house than where it was grown. This is normal and Aloe is usually easy to adjust to theses changes. Watering usually once a week should be enough. With Aloe Vera the leaves dry up so it takes a long time to hurt them. Do not overwater.
  3. In a few weeks you will see new growth and thats when you know you are on the right track.

Spotlight Community: Savannah Apartments

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This week’s spotlight community is the lovely Savannah Apartments.  Nestled within a naturally wooded landscape, Savannah offers comfortable apartment homes you’ll love.  Thoughtfully designed to blend with the surrounds, each floor plan of this community features a lovely enclosed patio or balcony with beautiful nature views.  They have 1 Bedroom, 2 Bedroom, and Three Bedroom options, as well some that are one floor and some that are two floor townhomes.

Terrific amenities include a fitness center, sparkling pool and spa, volleyball, basketball, dog park, and more.  Conveniently located, shopping, dining and entertainment options are within walking distance.  Also close by are the North Florida Regional Medical Center  and the Oaks Mall.  Archer Road and all of its establishments are also not far away.  This property is conveniently and centrally located making it very convenient for everyone calling Savannah home.

You’ll find our attentive staff contributes substantially to this higher standard of living.

Welcome to Savannah. Lifestyle Within Reach.

Stop by to take a tour today or give them a call to find out more. 316 SW 62nd Blvd, Gainesville FL 32607.  352.331.0101

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Simple Rental Kitchen Cabinet Transformations

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I think I spend more time each day in the kitchen than any other room – do you find this is also true for yourself? I know we’re all different and we prioritize certain rooms of our apartments over others when it comes to the amount of work put in. To me, the kitchen is an area I want to enjoy every time I’m in it. Whether I’m cooking, eating, or even washing dishes, it’s nice to have a fun and friendly space. So when you’re stuck with bulky, oppressive kitchen cabinets (sometimes in a less than attractive hue), it’s good to have some options for making your kitchen a little more tolerable.

One way to quickly make a kitchen feel airier and more open is to simply remove the kitchen cabinet doors. This is so simple and totally renter friendly – just keep up with the screws and which doors go where…hint hint, draw a diagram. With open shelving, you won’t be looking at blank cabinet fronts, but at your collection of dishes instead. You can even organize your dishes by color or in a way you find aesthetically pleasing.

Another option for lackluster kitchen cabinets is using decorative contact paper on the doors. This you’ll want to test on another surface to see how easily the contact paper can be removed before trying on your cabinets. But if you can find a good paper with a pretty color or pattern, you can liven up your cabinet fronts. You can even make bold geometric designs with the contact paper to spruce things up.

If you have small cabinets you want to cover up, you can also use a tension rod to hang a curtain in front of them. That way you can choose the color of the curtain and the length to cover up the unattractive area.

Apartment Deal Breakers

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When shopping for apartments, it seems everyone has their own set of specifics and must-haves. Which neighborhood is it in? What does it come with? Is it cool? As unique and individual as we are in our personalities, our criteria lists for apartments are very similar. So what is that you’re looking for in your next apartment?

When I was searching for my last apartment, it was a balcony, a washer and dryer, old-school character, and a safe location. I thought these were pretty basic standards for most people searching for apartments, but then I talked to a friend of mine who was also in the market. She showed me pictures of some places she had toured and we discussed the ins and outs of the apartments in question. I thought she had found the perfect spot, but she commented, “the kitchen is so small!” I thought back to my last apartment with a shoebox sized kitchen. I never minded having a small kitchen, but obviously having a sizable kitchen was on her list. It was even high enough on her list to be a total deal breaker.

So if you’re shopping with a roommate, remember to discuss the deal breakers and how high on your list they are. Prioritize features, rent, location, parking, and efficiency. What are the things you want most? What would be a plus, but isn’t necessary? Compromises are almost unavoidable when it comes to choosing somewhere to live, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t end up being your perfect home.

How to Keep Your Couch Nice and Clean

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How often do you think about cleaning your sofa? Probably not very often, possibly even never. But when you think about it, it’s one of the central pieces in your apartment and you probably use it every day. You wouldn’t go for months on end without changing your bed sheets, right? Let’s hope not! So there’s a good solid chance your sofa could use a little bit of cleaning.

First you’ll want to identify what materials the covering on your couch is made from. The tag will probably denote materials and cleaning methods like this:

W means water is fine to clean with

S means use only solvent based cleaners

SW means both water and solvent based cleaners are suitable

X vacuum only

Hopefully your couch is made from natural materials and you can clean it with water based products. If this is the case, you can use these steps to give your sofa its much-needed cleaning:

Using a (white, non-colored to prevent color transmitting) dry cloth or a bristle brush, wipe down all the surfaces to remove any loose dirt and debris

  1. Lightly dust the couch in baking soda which will absorb odors. Let set for 15 minutes and then use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum cleaner to suck up all the baking soda, loose stuff between and underneath cushions, pet hair, and dust.
  2. Spot treat any stains with some gentle carpet cleaner and a white washcloth

Simple enough, right? For couches upholstered with materials other than cotton, use this comprehensive guide to find your perfect sofa cleaning instructions!

Unorthodox Urban Libraries

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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.

Valentine’s Day, Apartment Style

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I can truthfully vouch that Valentine’s Day restaurant experiences are often completely miserable. Restaurants are packed to the gills, its staff overworked and exhausted (and usually moody), the food is slow getting to the tables, and you sit wondering why you ever thought this was a good idea in the first place. Thankfully it is super easy to skip all that nonsense and have a great time in your own apartment, and no, I don’t mean Netflix and chill style.

It really all comes down to ambience. That’s why you wanted to go out somewhere in the first place, right? I mean maybe the food had something to do with it too. We’ll get to that next. Ambience is key- you want to create a mood for yourself and your date. Once you’ve cleaned up the apartment and arranged things how you want you can set the mood. Start with some fresh flowers (they don’t have to be expensive and try these tips to help arrange them). Next, adjust your lighting so it’s not as bright and sterile by dimming lights if possible or using lamps instead of overhead lights. Candles are obviously a nice touch, but be careful you don’t leave anything unattended too long! Last but certainly not least on the ambience list is music. Pick something easy to listen to that you love because it not only helps set a mood, but can be an easy conversation topic if you need one.

Have a drink of some kind on hand for your guest in case dinner is running late or just to have a few minutes beforehand to talk. Pick a special cocktail, mocktail, or bottle of wine. Don’t worry about not knowing much about wine- the most important thing to know about it is how to open it! Make something for dinner that you’re familiar with cooking, so there’s less chance of something going awry. If you really want to make something special, I recommend practicing it the night before! Dessert is always a good idea, but you don’t have to make everything so why not pick up something locally crafted from bakeries like Dolce Vita, Patticakes, or Gigi’s Cupcakes?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Keeping Your Sleep Sanity

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Are you one of those could-pass-out-anywhere-in-the-middle-of-anything types of people? I most certainly am not. It has to be dark, quiet, tranquil, a pleasant temperature, my neck has to be in the right place, my back in the right place, my knees not rubbing together, the stars in the correct alignment, and somewhere a wizard has to clap his hands three times before I can sleep properly. I’m positive I’m not the only persnickety sleeper out there – admit it!

Living in an apartment is not always conducive to perfect sleep for those of us who require high maintenance at bedtime. It never fails- when you want to go to bed, the bumbling buffoons who live above you will start dropping things, stomping around, or worse…crack open a case and start the party. Or maybe you live in a part of the city where you have those lovely bright city lights filtering in through your blinds like the blinding ones at a football stadium. Possibly your neighbors act like they’re hard of hearing and throw the TV volume up past 11. Need I go on?

Here’s how I keep my sanity and make it through the night:

Sleep Mask

I’m ultra sensitive to light when I’m trying to sleep, especially that horrible blue toned light electronic devices emit, which inevitably gives me a raging headache. So if your other half insists on watching Netflix in bed while you’re trying to sleep, get yourself a good sleep mask and you’ll thank me later. Make sure you get a good one- my first mask’s band that fits around the head was too thick and uncomfortable. Do your research before you buy! Some masks even have lavender inside to help you relax.

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Plaid Eye Mask, $11

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Kitty Sleep Mask, $16.50

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Tempur-Pedic Sleep Mask, $29

 

Sound Machine

My other go-to is a white noise machine, which instantly calms me and helps me drift off. It filters out all the other annoying little neighbor noises for peaceful sleep. I already have such a Pavlovian response to it that as soon as it’s on (no matter what time of day) I instantly feel sleepy.

This is the sound machine I have and love (as seen on TV!). It’s adjustable with a nice range of pitch and volume-

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Sleep Easy Sound Conditioner, $26

Now go catch some zzz’s!

 

 

title photo credit: agirlwastestime.tumblr.com)

 

#ApartmentGoals2016 (and Why Slowness is Key)

Quote

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“O Snail

Climb Mount Fuji

But slowly, slowly!”

-Kobayashi Issa

This haiku by Issa is such a simple, but wonderful explanation of how the journey is more important than the destination. It’s easy to set a lengthy list of goals at the beginning of a new year, and equally as easy to forget about the journey towards them.

I think 2016 sounds like as good of a time as any to take a step back and embrace some slow living. The fact that “slow living” is even a term, much less an unorthodox way of living, is bizarre to me. But I know as well as anyone it’s easy to get swept up in everything going on around me, adding more and more to the to-do list, feeling expected to have this, that, or the other, so forth and so on, ad nauseam. So maybe, at least for January, slowing down will do us all some good.

It seems counter-intuitive to take a “slower” approach when the new semester is starting and many of you will have a plethora of new challenges and deadlines to meet. However, “slower” in this case may translate to “more realistic”, in which case piling on as many tasks as possible (which can be self-defeating) is less desirable than choosing fewer tasks with optimal importance. Classes are already chosen at this point, but extra curricular activities and organizations can still be adjusted. Remember to provide yourself time to decompress and unwind every day. Otherwise you may find yourself several months down the road, frazzled and completely worn down.

Your apartment is your home, your domain. No apartment is perfect and we will always want to improve this room or fix that closet, etc. Don’t let the pinterest boards get to you- the internet is a fabulous place to get ideas for improvements (which I love to post!), but don’t think you can’t have a happy and attractive space without going nuts overhauling the place with expensive changes. I personally prefer eclectic spaces with more character, which usually comes from a lived-in looking space full of photographs and well worn furniture. Embrace what you already have and feel comfortable in your apartment.

Take a deep breath and enjoy some slow living this year. You may find that with more time to do things like reading, observing, and reflecting, you’ll have a more fulfilling year. Here’s to 2016!

 

(photo credit: yama-bato.tumblr.com)