Leafy Greens: Good for More Than Just Salad

Did you know that houseplants are good for your health? It’s true: plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen, improving air quality for humans. Plus, green stuff livens up a home and makes it feel cozier and more inviting.

Here are three tips for adding leafy greens to your home:

  1. If you’re new to keeping houseplants, start with something easy. Hearty plants that do well in low light and don’t require much watering are easiest for beginners. Check out this site for some really easy plants to keep. Our personal favorite is mother-in-law’s tongue, also known as a snake plant.
  2. Ready for plants that have been proven by NASA to help improve air quality? Check out this info-graphic, and note t
    pet friendly apartments
    While house plants are good for humans, not all varieties are pet friendly, so make sure you check plants before bringing them into your home.

    hat there’s some overlap between these plants and the hearty varieties that are easy to grow: snake plants, spider plants, and peace lilies.

  3. Pet owners should note that not all houseplants are pet friendly. The ASPCA has an expansive list of plants that are toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses. Filter this list by your specific pet(s) to know which plants to avoid. For a quick look at plants that are both cat and dog friendly, check out this site.
  4. Bonus tip: get a spider plant. They’re easy to keep alive because they thrive in low light and don’t require frequent watering, they’re proven by NASA to help purify the air, and they’re both cat and dog friendly. What more could you ask for? Well: if you know someone who already has a spider plant, they can break of a sprig for you to plant for free! As your own plant grows, you can break off its offshoots and plant them in new pots. Soon, you’ll have a spider plant for every room in your home.

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.

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.

Make yourself at home with window treatments

When you first move into a place, one of your first steps in nesting should be to put up window treatments. They reduce echo, make a place look cared for and lived-in, and even make your home more energy efficient.

Window Treatments
Not all window treatments have to be exclusively for privacy and blocking out the sun. Even simple sheers can add a homey feel.

Lots of rentals don’t have blinds as a standard feature, so you’ll want to put up something in a hurry for privacy on that first night, but remember that this is a temporary stopgap. Unless you’re living in a college dorm, it’s just plain tacky to use a blanket or flag as a curtain, especially when decent window treatments aren’t that expensive.

  1. Start with is blinds. If you have a pet or a child, you’ll want to stay away from corded blinds to keep your loves safe. Also, you’ll want to know the rules about whether you’re even allowed to drill into the walls and window frames to mount blinds. Chances are, it’s not allowed or you’d have to pay the maintenance man to do it. Luckily, Redi Shade has your back! They make cordless blinds that you trim, peel, and stick. Now, we are a bit skeptical as to how long they stay put and how annoying it will be to clean the glue residue off the window frame once the blinds are removed, but color us intrigued!
  2. Next: drapes. If you’re lucky, you’re renting from a place like Alvern Gardens, where each window comes with its own curtain rod. If not, you’ll need to buy those. Luckily there are sturdy temporary options. If your window frame isn’t conducive to spring-loaded rods, you can use Command hooks to mount your rod instead. Now, you’ll want to measure your window not just for fitting the rod but for finding the right size curtains. Floor-to-ceiling drapes in a heavy fabric lend luxurious drama, but you don’t want the bottoms to drag across the floor.
  3. Finally, maintenance. Now that you have blinds and drapes, you’ll want to clean them regularly. Give blinds a good dusting every week or so, and take drapes down once or twice a year to wash them. We recommend taking drapes to a laundromat with commercial sized washers and dryers to get them fully and properly clean.

Pet sitters, kennels, and doggie day cares of the South Hills

Looking for a pet sitter or kennel to take care of your fur baby while you go on vacation? There are plenty of options in the South Hills for these services and more. From pet taxis to dog walking while you’re at work, these are the top hits for getting pet care in the area.

Camp Bow Wow

If you’ve driven or ridden the T through the South Hills, you’ve probably seen Camp Bow Wow on Killarney Drive (they also have locations in Greentree, Highland Park, and the North Hills, all of which appear in Yelp’s top 10 for pet sitters and boarders in Pittsburgh). It’s a day camp for dogs that also offers overnight stays and obedience training. Dogs stay in “cabins” with beds and blankets and get access to indoor and outdoor play areas. You can even check on your pup while you’re at work or on vacation with the Online Camper Cams. Plus, you can have your dog groomed while it’s there.

pet friendly apartments
Going on vacation as a pet owner doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are plenty of pet care providers throughout Pittsburgh.

You might not think of a dog camp as a place to adopt a dog, but Camp Bow Wow also fosters adoptable dogs. So if you’re on the market for a furry friend, consider checking them out.

The Dog Stop

The Dog Stop advertises itself as an “all-inclusive dog care facility.” As their name suggests, they only offer services for dogs, but those services are indeed all-inclusive. They have their own doggie day care and grooming services, but they also offer boarding while owners go on vacation, dog walking, in-home dog care, and training.

It seems that, because they’re dog specialists, they offer more specialized services. For example, their in-home care ranges from simple pet sitting to in-home obedience training. They also have a pet taxi and a concierge that delivers food, treats, and toys right to your home.

Fetch! Pet Care

Fetch! is number 4 on Yelp’s top 10 pet sitters in the Pittsburgh area. They offer dog walking as well as routine visits for cats and small caged pets. You can also schedule an “almost overnight” visit where one of their pet sitters visits your pet for 2 hours in the evening and again for an hour in the morning. Their concierge matches your pet with the best sitter for them, and they also offer free consultations for when you’re thinking about hiring one of their sitters.

Just like Camp Bow Wow offers services both while you’re on vacation and while you’re at work, Fetch provides pet care when your pet needs it.

Park Your Paws Pet Care

Park Your Paws  offers in-home boarding where a background checked and insured pet sitter stays with your pet while you’re away, or your pet stays in the pet sitter’s home. If that’s not your style, they also offer potty breaks and walks. You could even hire a regular dog walker through Park Your Paws to let your pooch out while you’re at work. If you’re leaving for vacation and are strapped for time, Park Your Paws also has a pet taxi service for taking your pet to the kennel.

The service employs pet sitters who are experienced with cats, dogs, bunnies, ferrets, birds, reptiles, and more.

If you’re curious, the company offers free meet-and-greets between you, your pet, and the pet sitter before you sign up for services.

Park Your Paws offers many of the same services as Fetch!, but what sets them apart from Fetch! is their Doggie Day Care, a service much like Camp Bow Wow and The Dog Stop.

Looking for a pet friendly apartment in Pittsburgh? Contact Prudential Realty Company to find out about their pet friendly communities throughout the area.

Put a leash on it

As most dog owners know, leash laws vary from place to place and the rules about whether your dog is allowed off leash in a certain area or not aren’t always clear. When in doubt, keep your dog on its leash.

Even dogs that are well trained and obedient when running off leash can become unpredictable in new situations. Some of the worst areas to let your dog off the leash are high traffic areas where cars and people, some of them with other dogs, pass by frequently. This area might be right outside your front door and your dog might think of it as an extension of its territory, but that doesn’t mean it will stay put no matter what. A new dog or a new person might come by and provoke a reaction. Even if your dog wants to run off just to say hi, it’s still running off and out of your control. Especially if it turns out that the other dog isn’t friendly, things could get ugly. Another scenario to consider: what if your dog wants to greet a person who is afraid of dogs? You might assure them that your dog is friendly and won’t hurt them, but that’s like trying to tell Indiana Jones that the snakes in the pit don’t mean him harm. As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to not only keep your dog safe, but to make sure it respects other animals and people who don’t want to interact with it.

Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments
Even the best behaved dog can have a lapse in obedience. Keep your dog safe by keeping it on its leash.

So where is it OK to let your dog roam off leash? Your local dog park is the ideal place. The area is fenced in so Fido can’t run far, and the whole point of it is to have a safe space for friendly dogs to socialize. Many dog friendly apartment communities like Alvern Gardens and Cloverleaf Village have dog parks for their residents to enjoy. These parks are designed for those who don’t have a fenced in yard of their own to give their dogs exercise in a safe place. So why even bother letting your dog off the leash anywhere else?

Consider this as well: if you live in an apartment community, your landlord might have rules about keeping your dog on a leash when walking the community grounds. Abiding the rules of your community is important not just because the rules are in place for a reason, but because breaking the rules has consequences. For example, if you let your dog off the leash in and your landlord has prohibited this, you could lose the privilege of having a pet in the apartment at all. You could even be evicted for breaking the terms of your lease.

Whether you already have a dog or are thinking about adopting one, familiarize yourself with the leash laws of your county and state, as well as any ordinances that might be in place in your municipality. If you do choose to let your dog off its leash, always have the leash handy to reel your dog back under your control if needed.

Get organized: tips for your home filing cabinet

Even though the modern world is moving more and more to digital spaces, we still have a lot of paperwork to keep track of. Especially if you’re a renter, there are a few very important documents that you need to store in a safe place. So this week, we’re offering a few tips for getting—and staying—organized.

First of all, you’ll need a filing cabinet or a file drawer inside a desk. If you’re tight on space and don’t have many documents to organize and store, consider picking up a filing box. There are a variety of styles of varying size, portability, and durability, so pick what’s right for your needs. An office supply store will have the biggest selection, but places like Walmart and Target have what you need as well. While you’re at the store, you’ll need to buy some hanging folders and file folders to fill your new box. You can go as colorful and decorative as you want, and sometimes color-coding can be a fun, simple way to further organize your papers. Ideally, you’ll want to get a box and folders that fit legal size paper so you don’t have to fold and cram to make stuff fit.

Once you’ve brought home all your supplies, it’s time to categorize your papers and label your folders. How you choose to organize the individual folders is up to you, but alphabetizing or placing things in order of importance are the two simplest ways to do it.

For example, you might label your first hanging folder “Home” and fill it with file folders that contain your lease, records of rent and utility payments, your renters’ insurance policy, pictures you’ve taken of your apartment pre-move-in as well as all your personal belongings, and any correspondences from your landlord.

Your next folder might be for your kids’ documents (birth certificates, passports, school and medical records, etc.).

If you’re a renter and pet owner, it’s also important to keep your pet’s records organized. For example, if you have any additional paperwork with your landlord permitting your pet in the rented property, you’ll want to save that either with your lease or with your pet’s vet records (or make a copy and save it in both places to be extra thorough).

The rest of the things you should file away are either pretty obvious (work papers, financial records, etc.) or unusual. By unusual we mean the instructions and manuals that come with electronics, appliances, and furniture. Why file these things? Because when you move, you’ll want to have the instructions handy for dis-assembly and reassembly of bulky furniture. Just think: you brought that entertainment center into the apartment in pieces, and if it won’t fit through the door fully assembled, you’ll kick yourself if you’ve lost the instructions in the shuffle.

Any papers that seem even a little bit important should be filed away for safekeeping. When spring cleaning time comes around, you can go back through your files and get rid of anything you definitely don’t need anymore. Just remember to shred documents that contain personal information before recycling them.