Country Living’s tips for downsizing

We came across this Country Living article earlier this week and decided it’s a must-share. We’ve given lots of advice in the past about moving and how to make a smooth transition to a new home, but we’ve never shared anything about what to keep when you’re downsizing.

Alvern Gardens
Residents of Alvern Gardens have access to green space around the property for grilling, setting out patio furniture, and even planting their own small gardens, so moving here hardly feels like downsizing at all.

A fair number of our new residents are moving to apartments after living in houses for several years, and although they’re relieved that Alvern Gardens Apartments feature spacious layouts and included extra storage, there’s usually some stuff that has to go. Country Living advises putting special mementos, family heirlooms, and collections amassed over the years in storage rather than throwing them away. These are things that are important to you and your family, so they’re worth keeping in a safe space. For our part, we recommend buying plastic bins with tightly sealing lids to store those things securely. The article also notes the importance of wiping all personal information from electronics before getting rid of them, a key step that many people forget.

We also agree one hundred percent that important documents must be kept safe through a move. A small filing cabinet or even a filing box doesn’t take up much space and will help you keep your life organized.

Are you downsizing? Consider making Alvern Gardens your new home! We have a couple of three bedroom apartments available right now, and at 822 square feet with additional storage included in rent, we’re confident that you won’t have to compromise much on space. Call us at 412-561-4663 or email us at alverngardens@yahoo.com and be sure to ask about our move-in special.

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Spring into action with these seasonal events

Spring is in the air in Pittsburgh this week, so we decided it’s time to check out what’s happening in the area. As plants begin blooming, animals begin waking from hibernation and returning from migration, us humans are getting moving too. Here’s what’s going on in Steel City this spring.

Spring events in Pittsburgh
Spring and Easter are just around the corner, and there’s plenty to do all around Pittsburgh as the weather warms up.

Trax Farms

Starting on Monday, the Trax Farms store will be open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. If you’re looking for the perfect wine for your St. Patrick’s day, check out Trax Farms’ Green Apple. For the kids, the annual breakfast and lunch with the Easter Bunny kicks off next weekend and continues through Easter. Tickets for Easter events are $8 and are on sale now. The store will be closed on March 27 for Easter Sunday. On April 23, there will be an Arts and Crafts Show. Also arriving in early April: perennials, shrubs, and trees.

Soergel Orchards

Soergel Orchards has green apple wine for St. Patrick’s day as well. For any aspiring gardeners, there’s a $5 class at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 24 all about cultivating a lush lawn. Their Bunny Festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Saturday, March 26th. Unfortunately their meals with the Easter Bunny are sold out. The festival, however, is free to attend and it features an Easter egg hunt, a scavenger hunt, crafts, and other activities. Plus, you can order your Easter baked goods from their Bakery now. They even offer peanut free and gluten free options.

Kennywood

The 2016 season of Pittsburgh’s amusement park kicks off on Saturday, May 7. Although that’s still a while off, now is the time to look into season tickets. The Ride and Slide pass for $134.99 gives you season access to Kennywood as well as Sandcastle (which opens Saturday, May 28). The $129399 Premium Pass is limited to Kennywood, but it comes with some pretty sweet perks. You can use it to get into the park 15 minutes before it opens, you get 5 parking vouchers, a souvenir cup, 1 VIP coaster tour, and more. Now, if you don’t need all that, a regular season pass is $89.99, and you’ll get a discount when you renew it next year (this year, renewals are $5 less than buying a new season pass). If you’re 55 or older, you can get a Senior Pass for just $54.99. Is a season pass worth it? Well, if you go to the park at least 3 times with your regular season pass, you’ll have saved money. The Park’s diner, Johnny Rockets serves up some seriously good burgers. Plus, Noah’s Ark just got a renovation, so that classic is all shiny and new again this season.

Market Square Farmers Market

Once more farmers markets start announcing their 2016 seasons, we’ll be posting a roundup of all of them. For now, we can confirm that the Market Square Farmers Market is coming back on May 12, along with the Lunchtime Concert Series. It runs through October 27. Keep an eye out for the list of this year’s vendors, set to be announced later this month. This will be the 12th season of the market, and with 30 vendors hawking their fares each week last summer, you can bet this year will be just as, er, fruitful.

Roundup: Most Popular Posts of 2015

On this, the first year of 2016, we’d like to take a look back on last year’s most popular posts. Happy New Year!

Pittsburgh First Night
Happy New Year!

45 Uses for Dryer Sheets This is post links to one of our favorite life hacking articles of 2015 featuring more uses fro dryer sheets than we could have ever dreamed of.

Farmers Markets in the South Hills of Pittsburgh This post is actually from 2014, but a popular post is a popular post (even if it’s not farmers market season right now). Keep these markets in mind come spring, and you’ll be enjoying fresh, local produce for as long as it’s in season.

Day trips and weekend getaways around Pittsburgh Though this post is from summer, it’s still relevant in January. Sure, Cedar Point’s out, but, Seven Springs as a year-round wonderland of fun for the whole family.

Christmas safety

By this time of the year, most halls have already been decked, but for those who haven’t gotten around to trimming their tree, here are some safety tips.

  • Know what kind of tree you’re allowed to have. If you’re living in a rental, chances are your landlord doesn’t allow real trees. Real trees are a much more serious fire hazard, so make sure you follow your landlord’s rules.

    Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
    Don’t let me eat the Christmas lights!
  • Decorate the tree evenly. If your decorations are concentrated too densely on one side of the tree, the extra weight could cause your tree to topple, so distribute weight as evenly as possible.
  • Keep decorations away from heat sources. Make sure no tinsel is touching radiators and that nothing is dangling into the fireplace.
  • Use only indoor lights indoors. Christmas lights are designed to for use either indoors or outdoors, so if you want to string lights inside your home, make sure they’re designed for indoor use.
  • Also, use only outdoor lights outdoors. Just like indoor lights are designed for safe use indoors, make sure the lights you use to decorate the outside of your home are designed for outdoor use.
  • Secure decorations so they can’t be torn down or damaged by children or pets. The safest way to do this is to place or hang them well out of reach.
  • When in doubt, don’t put it up. If you’re not sure it’s safe, don’t use the decoration. This is especially important with regard to fire hazards and child safety.

Fun things to do in Pittsburgh this holiday

It’s that time of year again where families come to town to celebrate the holidays, the kids are home on winter break, and everyone needs to get out of the house and do something fun. Here are some ideas for things that’ll get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Winter fun in Pittsburgh
We might not have snow on the ground yet, but the holiday season is in full swing here in Pittsburgh.

Kennywood’s Holiday Lights is in full swing, with millions of lights decorating the park. The park is open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday. Though it will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the park will be open the following Saturday and Sunday. The 4-D Theater in the park is showing The Polar Express: A 4-D Experience, there’s a petting zoo in Kiddie Land featuring all the usual critters plus two camels, and a few kid-friendly rides are open. Tickets are still available for Dinner with Santa on the 19th and 20th of December at 4 p.m. The most affordable park admission tickets are on sale at participating Giant Eagle stores.

If you’re looking for a less traditional version of the ubiquitous photo with Santa, visit the National Aviary  on any Saturday from now until Christmas for a pic with the big guy and his penguin helpers. Parents can enjoy a night without the kids while the kids enjoy a night with Fleury the Snowy Owl at the Aviary from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on December 19th. Plus, the seasonal show Wings in Winter is playing through January 3rd.

The People’s Gas Holiday Market is back at Market Square downtown. It’s the place to go for unique gifts, and it’s open through December 23rd, perfect for last-minute shoppers. The market opens at 11 a.m. daily, but closing hours vary. Santa is in the house starting at noon daily. Plus, enjoy the BNY Mellon Season of Lights show every half hour after sundown. One of the best parts of the Market is the food: haluski, sausages, and hot beverages. It’s free to walk around the market, and it’s close to the Gateway T stop so no driving downtown required.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show and Light Garden offers fun for all ages. The Light Garden is open 5 p.m.-11 p.m. and includes candlelit walkways and live music. For the kids, Santa visits between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, plus on December 21st through the 23rd. Pictures with Santa are free with admission to Phipps. Phipps has some cool post-Christmas events coming up as well, so be sure to ask about them when you visit.

Now that winter is here, the penguins of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium are going on parade again at 11:30 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday. There are also winter camps, a New Year’s Eve event, and other exciting things happening, so keep an eye on their website for news and events for all ages.

Cooking Safety for the Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing, and with one huge feast behind us and the next family gathering just a few weeks away, we decided it’s time to share some important cooking safety tips.

  • Never leave the stove unattended. Even if it’s a turkey that’ll take three hours, make sure someone is keeping an eye on things at all times.

    pet friendly apartments
    Keep us out of the kitchen with a baby gate.
  • Ventilate by opening windows if you don’t have a range hood. Even just a cracked window can make all the difference.
  • Keep kids and pets out of the kitchen. If don’t already have a baby gate for your own little ones, invest in one for when you have young guests to make sure they don’t wander into the kitchen and start turning knobs on the stove.
  • Read the recipe first. You’ve probably glanced at the ingredients list before heading to the grocery store, but if you’re trying a new recipe, it’s always a good idea to read the recipe in full before getting started.
  • Don’t do too much at once—prep what you can the day before. When you have too many pots to watch at once, things can get overwhelming and messy. To keep things simple and organized, mix dry ingredients for baked goods the day before, and make whatever else you can ahead of time as well.
  • Recruit an assistant—but not five. Having an extra pair of hands in the kitchen is nice, but too many people can create chaos. You might put someone to work chopping or measuring ingredients in the dining room, but make sure the kitchen doesn’t get too crowded.
  • Do it potluck style and instruct each guest to provide something. To keep things organized and make sure no one brings doubles, post a list online somewhere for everyone to edit. You can do this through comments on a Facebook event, in a shared Google Doc, or any other web app that’s equal to the task.

Things to do in Pittsburgh on Black Friday that aren’t Shopping

So your family is in town for the holiday, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and no one wants to go Black Friday shopping. What else is there to do in Steel City on November 27th? Plenty!

Pittsburgh in Autumn
Festive fall foliage can been seen all over Pittsburgh, and soon your family will be here for the holidays as well. By John [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Family Day 2015 at the Mattress Factory art museum features lots of kid-friendly activities that are free with admission. The Mattress Factory, bursting at the seams with modern art installations, is normally not the most kid-friendly place, but giving kids a chance to make their own works of art, get their faces painted, and participate in a scavenger hunt through the museum.
  • Allegheny County Park ice rinks will be open in North Park as well as South Park. The rinks will be open 9 a.m.-11 a.m., noon-3 p.m., 4:30 p.m.-7 p.m., and 7:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Weather permitting, it might just be the perfect day for a skate.
  • The Warhol Book Hunt is on! Follow #warholbookhunt on Twitter, Instagram, and Vine to get clues on where the latest book is hidden. Then, go on a scavenger hunt through the city to find the book and return it to the Warhol Museum to be added to the shelf. Finding the book gets you some pretty nice prizes, including free admission to the museum.
  • A Waltz Tradition at Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts is at 8 p.m. This kick-off to the holiday season will feature the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater School. Close out your anti-Black Friday with some nice culture.