Be Prepared for Hurricane Joaquin!

With Hurricane Joaquin expected to make landfall in the DC area this weekend, be prepared by following these guidelines provided by the City of Alexandria government:

How to Prep Your Home for Fall

Spring cleaning may get all of the glory, but there’s certainly something to be said about deep cleaning your home before the fall season hits. Here are some of the best things to do to prepare your living space for the chill of fall.

  1. Thoroughly wash windows. Prepare your windows for fall by cleaning each one thoroughly with a steak-free cleaner.
  2. Deep-clean any carpets. Whether you own a carpet shampooer or you decide to pay for a professional, it’s important to deep-clean the summer’s worth of dirt out from inside of your carpets.
  3. Organize your closets. Donate any unworn clothing, pack away summer items, and organize your colder weather clothes throughout your closet.

Fall Homekeeping Tips [Martha Stewart]
Fall Cleaning Checklist [Real Simple]
5 Tips for Cleaning for Fall [How Stuff Works]

Easy Decorating Tips Every Renter Needs to Know

Decorating the bare walls of your new apartment may seem overwhelming at first, but even if you’re not a professional interior decorator, you can create a magazine-worthy rental by following a few simple tips. Here are just a few smart tricks that you should know before hitting the home goods store.

  1. Incorporate storage wherever you can. Choose furniture items that contain built-in storage, and make sure to hang shelves in spaces like the kitchen or bathroom.
  2. Replace the hardware. Showerheads and drawer pulls are easy to replace to reflect your style. Hit up your local hardware store and invest in a high-pressure, filtered showerhead, and then choose kitchen and bathroom pulls in whatever style you like. You can easily switch these back once you move out.
  3. Work around a rug. Unsure about the color scheme for a room? Choose a rug first, then decorate around it since it will likely be the largest item in the space.
  4. Add temporary wallpaper. Try temporary wallpaper in a fun color or edgy pattern to create a designer-inspired look that you can easily remove.

The 10 Commandments of Rental Decor [PopSugar]
5 Easy, High-Impact Rental Decorating Ideas (That Can Move With You) [Apartment Therapy]
6 Ways to Decorate Your Rental—Without Losing the Deposit [Oprah]

Read All About It: Nifty Ways to Reuse Old Magazines and Newspapers

You love reading magazines and newspapers, but you don’t love having to throw them out after you’re done reading. Instead of tossing out your old reading materials, use these creative tips for making something new and exciting out of your favorite periodicals.

Starburst Clock []
Use this surprisingly simple DIY project to make a gorgeous mid-century modern-inspired clock that actually works. Simply roll the pages of magazines into small tubes, string them together using sturdy twine and attach some attractive hands to the center.

Recycled Gift Bows []
Instead of purchasing pre-made gift bows for birthdays or holidays, make your own out of colorful magazine or newspaper pages. Cut the paper into strips, do some crafty folding, and glue it together to create a bow that looks just like the ones from the store.

Woven Magazine Basket []
Weave a cute and quirky basket by folding the pages into accordion shapes and securing them with a bit of string. These can be used to hold knick knacks or brighten up an empty shelf.

Nail Art []
Press old newspaper pages onto your fingernails for a unique manicure that you won’t find at the nail salon. All it takes is some nail polish, rubbing alcohol, and a few pages from an old newspaper.

Easy and Healthy On-the-Go Snacks

Whether you’re going on a summer road trip or just going to the gym, there are always times in your life when you could use a healthy snack to keep you going. Rely on these simple, on-the-go snack recipes for a boost of energy — whenever you need it!

Gorp []
This unique take on trail mix includes a tasty and nutritious mix of nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate chips for a bit of added sweetness. Make a big batch and keep it sealed in an air-tight container at home, then scoop out just as much as you need for those days when you’re just too busy to stop and eat.

Baked Kale Chips []
Instead of grabbing a bag of fattening potato chips when you’re feeling hungry, make this crispy kale chips at home. These offer the same salty flavor and satisfying crunch as traditional chips, but with much less fat and calories.

Spiced Apple Crisps []
If you frequently crave sweet treats throughout the day, replace your usual chocolaty indulgence with these spicy, sweet apple crisps. Their only ingredient is dried apples and a bit of cinnamon, but they still offer a deliciously sweet taste that is sure to satisfy.

9 Ways to Cool Down Air Conditioning Costs

Is your AC skyrocketing your electric bill? Here are 9 cool ways to beat the heat without breaking the bank.

Clutter Cramping Your Style? Here’s How to Get It Under Control!

So you might not be the neatest person in the world, but that doesn’t mean that you have to deal with clutter cramping the style in your apartment. There are a number of smart, simple ways to de-clutter your space without spending hours cleaning every day. Here are just a few tips for managing the mess.

  • Think function, not fashion. Sure, that matching furniture set might look great, but that doesn’t mean that it actually works in the room. Having too large furniture (or even too much furniture) is a surefire way to make a room look cluttered. Downsize to maximize your space.
  • Create a place for everything. Go through your home and make a note of everything that doesn’t have its own designated space, from the stack of mail to your everyday beauty products. Invest in small bins or drawer organizers where you can toss things to keep them out of sight.
  • Add shelving. Keep things off of the floor by adding shelving anywhere that clutter frequently accumulates. Add attractive bins or boxes that you can put things in.
  • Spend a few minutes. Take a few minutes before bed each night to make one final sweep of your home, putting things away and getting organized. Waking up to a tidy house will make you want to get in the habit of de-cluttering.

Clear Clutter and Take Control of Your Life [All You]
Clutter Control in 10 Steps [Family Circle]
25 Ways to Clear Clutter [Style at Home]

The Gin Rickey: A Crisp & Refreshing DC Cocktail For the Dog Days of Summer!

July is the official month of the Gin Rickey! This signature DC beverage was once called "air conditioning in a glass" for its refreshing balance of spicy gin, effervescent club soda, and tangy lime.

Try the recipe and learn more about the interesting history of the Gin Rickey by clicking the link here. Cheers!

Give Old Furniture a Paint Makeover With These Must-Know Tips

Furniture is expensive, which is why you can’t exactly run out for a replacement when your sofa starts to look worn or your coffee table shows some signs of wear. With a bit of elbow grease, you can make over your outdated furniture and turn it into something fresh and new — without spending a fortune.

  • Choose the right paint. If you decide to paint a piece of furniture to give it new life, be sure to buy paint that's made specifically for the material of your piece. Use a high quality brush (or an easy-to-use spray) that won’t leave behind stray bristles or residue.
  • Sand away old paint. If your furniture is already painted — and most is — be sure to start with a rough sandpaper and sand away the old paint. Finish with a finer grade paper to create a smooth, blank canvas.
  • Add a primer. Many first-time painters don’t realize that some pieces of furniture require a primer before painting to help the paint stick. If you’re worried about how thorough you were with your sanding, a primer might be a good choice.
  • Fill in holes. If your wooden furniture is filled with nicks and holes, make it look like new again with a simple wood filler from your local hardware store. Fill the holes, let it dry and sand away the excess for a smooth finish.

Paint Makeovers: An Expert Tells All [Bob Vila]
How To Paint Furniture [Live Love DIY]
Quick Furniture Makeovers for Fashionable Results [Benjamin Moore]

Imponderable of the Day: Why Does Looking at the Sun Make You Sneeze?

It’s a very curious sensation: You’re inside a dark room for a bit too long and when you step back outside into the bright sunlight, you suddenly feel a sneezing fit coming on. What’s the deal?

Staring at the sun makes about 20 to 35 percent of humans sneeze, and although scientists have a general idea of what causes this sensation, it’s still a very confusing conundrum. The phenomenon, which is known as “photic sneeze reflex,” is actually a genetic trait, which is why it only affects a small percentage of people. These people have visual systems that are more sensitive than those of other people, causing them to become agitated by the sunlight and send panicked responses to all of the nerves in the face, including the somatosensory system, which controls sneezing!

Now, go ahead and impress your friends with this new tidbit of information!

Looking at the Sun Can Trigger a Sneeze [Scientific American]
Why does bright light cause some people to sneeze? [Scientific American]
Does the sun make you sneeze? It's not just you [NBC News]
How Staring at the Sun Can Make You Sneeze [Gizmodo]

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