Map of Pittsburgh Area Farmers Markets

farmers markets
Buying fresh, local produce at a farmers’ market is a great way to stimulate your local economy, provide healthier food for your family, and even help the environment.

We’ve already posted some information about the 2016 farmers market season here in Pittsburgh, but this map posted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is worth sharing. This interactive map lets users see all the farmers markets happening in the Pittsburgh area on any given day. Scroll down the page, and you’ll find every farmers market listed. Now you’ll know exactly where to go for your fresh produce, and when!

5 Tips for Eliminating Odors

It’s spring cleaning time again, so we’re offering five tips on how to clear the air and get rid of any nasty lingering odors in your home.

natural cleaning
Baking soda and vinegar just keep showing up in cleaning tips. If you haven’t tried this pet safe, environmentally friendly cleaning method, it’s time you did. Image attribution: By katerha (http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/5703151566/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  1. Clear the drains: Garbage disposals are notorious for getting stinky, but even drains without disposals can get funky when they’re clogged. You might not even notice yet that the the sink is draining slowly, but whatever’s down there is stinking up the place. Start by pouring down a mixture of baking soda and vinegar followed by very hot water. If that doesn’t do the trick, call a plumber, or your maintenance department if you rent.
  2. Keep the humidity down: mold and mildew thrive in humid environments, so keeping your home well ventilated is key. Although mold doesn’t typically have an odor, so mildew is the most likely culprit when your home smells musty. If your bathroom doesn’t have a fan, open the window after each shower (or during if possible), and create as much of a cross breeze as you can by leaving the bathroom door open. Wiping down the shower/tub and sink after use also helps to cut back on mildew growth.
  3. Clean soft surfaces: Fabric absorbs odor, so to get your home smelling truly fresh you’ll want to take down all your drapes to wash them (take them to a laundromat with industrial sized machines). You’ll also want to either rent a carpet shampooer or hire a professional cleaner if you have large area rugs or carpeting. Hiring someone is the best route to go because they’ll be able to clean your upholstery as well.
  4. Banish smokers to the outdoors: This may seem obvious, but tobacco smoke deposits tar on all surfaces it comes into contact with, so the smell of one cigarette lingers for ages. To keep your home smelling fresh, smoke outside.
  5. DIY odor eliminators: Most of us know the old trick of keeping an open box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors, but that trick applies to more places than the fridge. Plus, coffee grounds do the same thing, so before you throw out your used grounds, consider saving them. A jar full of used, dried coffee grounds soaks up stink just as well as baking soda.

Update: Farmers’ Markets

As promised, we have an update on the start dates for this season’s farmers’ markets.

Mt. Lebanon Partnership’s Uptown Farmers’ Market opens its season at 9 a.m. tomorrow. It takes place around 710 Washington Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15228, by WesBanco and the Mt. Lebanon Municipal Building, just a couple blocks down from the Mt. Lebanon T station (Red Line) and walking distance from Prudential’s own Cornell Place Apartments. The market runs 9 a.m.-noon every Saturday through November 19th. On the second Saturday of each month, the market will include live music and other special activities. The first Second Saturday will take place on May 14th and will feature music from local bluegrass band The Mackin Family.

The twelfth season of the Market Square Farmers Market starts at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 12. This downtown event is just a short walk from the Gateway T Station. The event runs 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Thursday through October 27th and coincides with free outdoor concerts from 11:30 to 1:30. Special events like Christmas in July and Navy Week will take place throughout the season.

The Mt. Lebanon Lions Club Farmers’ Market won’t open until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1. This one takes place 4-7 p.m. every Wednesday (no end date listed) at the Mt. Lebanon United Lutheran Church (975 Washington Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15228)

Pittsburgh Celebrates Earth Day

We’re posting a little bit early this week so we can tell readers about all the exciting things happening this Friday for Earth Day in Steel City.earth-405096_640

Paint the Square Green is taking place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Market Square. The event includes live entertainment, local vendors, and educational stuff as well. This family friendly events coincides with the Solar Powered Food Truck Festival taking place between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on 10th Street. All the food trucks will be powered by the sun. Also taking place 11 a.m.-2 p.m. is the Mellon Square Lunchtime Bluegrass Concert and Market.

Art + Artifact Market will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. This is another all ages event featuring live entertainment, local artists, and more Earth friendly vendors.

All of the above events are free and open to the public. There are more ticket required events taking place throughout the weekend.

To coincide with Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory is hosting the grand opening of its Butterfly Forest in the Stove Room on Friday. Butterflies are vital to biodiversity, so it’s fitting that these pollinators are being celebrated on Earth Day.

At 7 p.m. on Friday, Phipps will host screenings of The Power of One Voice and Sustainability Pioneers to kick off its environmental film series. Tours of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes will also be available throughout the weekend, and there will be two open houses showcasing the SEED Classroom from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Also happening on Sunday at Phipps: free outdoor family yoga at 11 a.m. on the front lawn (weather permitting, RSVP required).

To round out the Earth Day celebrations at Phipps, on Monday, anyone wearing a green shirt will get half price admission, and Cafe Phipps will be celebrating Meatless Monday with a vegetarian special.

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.

Urban gardening is about to get easier

IKEA, the Swedish master of innovation in affordable home designs, is going to unveil their new hydroponic counter top garden kit next month.

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Here’s an example of a DIY hydroponic garden. flickr photo by J Wynia 

It’s OK, we didn’t know what hydroponic gardening was before this either. Hydroponic means growing plants in water instead of soil. The advantage seems to be that it can be done in a much smaller space—and it can be done year-round! There’s no price yet for IKEA’s KRYDDA/VÄXER, but we are definitely intrigued by the possibilities.

Now, as it turns out, people have hacked other IKEA products into hydroponic gardens long before the company came out with their own. So for anyone interested in an even more DIY option, check out ELIOOO.

Now that we know that hydroponics exists and seems to be fairly simple to DIY, we’re excited to start growing our own veggies, no matter the season, no matter how busy we are, no matter how much space we may or may not have.

An Ode to Vinegar

We’ve touted the wonders of white distilled vinegar as a natural cleaner on many occasions. Today, we’d like to share something new that we’ve read: vinegar can help prevent mold growth! We’re not sure if it’s true, but since it seems to be true that it prevents mildew growth, why can’t it do the same for mold?

natural cleaning
Baking soda and vinegar just keep showing up in cleaning tips. If you haven’t tried this pet safe, environmentally friendly cleaning method, it’s time you did. Image attribution: By katerha (http://www.flickr.com/photos/katerha/5703151566/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
This is how it apparently works: if you find mold growing, clean it up by soaking it in vinegar for an hour then wiping the area clean. After it’s all cleaned up, spray some more vinegar and just leave it there. Reapply every few days. Because vinegar is safe and non-toxic, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give this a try.

Now, obviously this is no substitute for finding and repairing the source of the moisture that’s allowing the mold to grow in the first place. It is, however, a nice way to give yourself peace of mind that you’ve done everything you can to stop mold from growing.

Have you heard of this trick? What other uses do you know of for vinegar? Share in the comments below.