Tips for beating the heat on the cheap

It’s been a bit stifling recently, and air conditioning is probably causing a spike in everyone’s bills. So we thought we’d share some tips for staying cool while saving money. (See our previous post on saving on air conditioning for additional tips and tricks.)

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise, and it’s a great way to stay cool on a hot day. (Residents of Alvern Gardens Apartments can enjoy their summer poolside for a $10 season pass.)
  • Use your ac wisely by turning it off while you’re not home, adjusting the temperature at night, and using any energy saving mode your unit might have. For example, here at the Alvern Gardens leasing office, we set our ac to “energy saver mode” where it shuts off as soon as the desired indoor temp is reached, and then it turns back on if it gets too warm.
  • Circulate air with ceiling and floor fans to spread the ac’s magic throughout your home.
  • Close doors to closets and unused rooms to make the work easier on your ac. The smaller you can make the space, the faster it will cool off, and the more energy you save.
  • Open your windows at night to let cooler air in, then close them in the morning before temperatures start to rise to trap that nice cool night air inside. If you have a box or window fan, run it in your open window at night to suck even more cool air in.
  • Close your curtains and blinds to block out added heat from direct sunlight. This works especially well if you have insulated energy saving curtains.
  • Avoid cooking when you can, and definitely don’t bake. There are plenty of no cook/no bake meals and desserts out there, so there’s no need to add to the heat in your home by using the stove. What a great excuse to add some new recipes to your repertoire!
  • Hang out in cooler places like the basement or under the shade of a tree. Better still, spend a day lake- or pool-side.

Roundup: public transportation

We’ve featured several posts in the past regarding public transportation in Pittsburgh. We’ve rounded them up here in one convenient spot just for you!

Keep these tips and tricks in mind, and you’ll find it much easier to find a new home in a neighborhood you love with full access to all Steel City has to offer.

Alvern Gardens now offers virtual tours!

If you’re moving from across the country—or even across the globe—to Pittsburgh, finding an apartment can be challenging. How are you supposed to know what you like if you can’t see it in person? Fear not: Alvern Gardens has the solution!

living room
Here’s an example of the living room and dining room of a 2 bedroom at Alvern Gardens. This floor plan goes for $675/month plus electric.

We got a call about a week ago from a future resident looking to move north from the deep south. The only hitch was that she wouldn’t be able to come up north to tour apartments before making a decision. She asked if we had a virtual tour option, so, on the fly, Chi Quach, assistant property manager set up a Skype account for Alvern Gardens. Using his smartphone’s camera, he gave a tour of our 2 bedroom model and then of the available 1 bedroom apartment.

The tour made it possible for our new resident to see everything almost as if she was there in person rather than miles away in Louisiana. She liked what she saw so much that she submitted an application the same day.  And so, through the power of technology, she found her new home without having to leave her old one.

Spending a lazy day pool side is just one way to enjoy summer. Residents of Alvern Gardens Apartments can enjoy their summer poolside for a $10 season pass.

After the first Skype tour was such a success, we have decided to make it available as an option for all those who can’t make it in person but would like to tour our apartments before applying. Virtual tours make it possible for future residents to tour the available apartment(s), as well as the grounds, pool, and dog park all from the comfort of their couch.

Anyone interested in a virtual tour may send a Skype contact request to alvern1000 and call our leasing office at 412-561-4663 to schedule a tour.

Go to Someone Else’s Bar

The name might be confusing, but there’s no mistaking the deliciousness of the menu at Someone Else’s Bar.

Located on Willow Ave. just down the road from Alvern Gardens, Place Seville, and Sleepy Hollow, the dive is named for its owner, Else Franzmann. There’s no smoking, and the whole locale is family friendly. The most unusual part (other than the name, of course)? There’s a candy dish (or two, or three) at every table. Think peanut M&Ms instead of the regular bar peanuts. Also Twizzlers. But make sure you leave room for your actual meal.

Someone Else's Bar
From burgers to quesadillas to grilled cheese, family friendly Someone Else’s Bar has something for everyone.

Besides serving fish-n-mac on the last Friday of every month, Tuesday night is Burger Night. Every Tuesday, Someone Else’s Bar serves up the “5th best burger in Pittsburgh” (according to their website) for just $8.

The Blazing Saddle burger, for example, has just the right amount of heat, and it’s beautifully balanced with the homemade chips. The chips are crispy, crunchy perfection.

But it’s not all about the burgers, this menu is full of classics. The steak quesadilla was elegantly assembled and perfectly portioned. We had it with a side of sweet potato fries. On trend and tasty.

Chi Quach, assistant property manager of Alvern Gardens, loves going to Burger Night, but he also recommends the chicken wings and chicken quesadillas. He says, “it’s a very family oriented place,” and he sends all new residents down to check it out. After all, nothing makes you feel more at home in a new neighborhood than joining the fold of locals at the pub. Even though it’s called Someone Else’s Bar, it’s definitely everyone’s bar. No wonder it’s always packed.

More fall fun: things to do in the South Hills this weekend

We’ve told you about places to go to celebrate fall as well as a few places to get decent scares, but we’re not done yet. As long as the season continues, a gorgeous one thanks to the area’s changing foliage, we’ll dig up new things to do this Autumn in Pittsburgh.

Pumpkin Patch Parade in Mt. Lebanon

Pittsburgh in Autumn
In addition to enjoying the gorgeous fall foliage, there are plenty of autumn activities to keep Pittsburgh residents busy throughout the season.
By John [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
If your kids love Halloween, consider taking them to the Pumpkin Patch Parade this Saturday in Mt. Lebanon. The parade will take place no matter the weather and will start at 11 a.m. from the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery and head down Washington Road all the way to Lebanon Avenue. Kids (accompanied by parents) may join the parade after The Great Pumpkin passes. After the parade, local businesses with special orange signs will open their doors to trick-or-treaters.

Oktoberfest Menu at Atria’s

Can’t get enough German cuisine? Atria’s in Mt. Lebanon—the original Atria’s, by the way—is still serving Oktoberfest fare. You can be sure that the official caterer of The National Aviary serves good food. Chi Quach, assistant property manager of Alvern Gardens Apartments, recommends the pork shank, a true classic and perfectly hearty for a chilly fall day. He adds that the Mt. Lebanon location is the only one that serves free chips. While you’re in the swing of fall, consider booking a Thanksgiving reservation, they’re accepting them now.

Kitten saved, finds new home

About a month ago, Chi, assistant property manager of Alvern Gardens Apartments, found a tiny kitten under his sister’s porch. He waited for hours but the mother never returned. Because he’s severely allergic, he scooped the grey fluff ball into a shoe box. His nieces and nephew took the kitten in for the night, keeping it in a car so that no raccoons or other animals could snatch it and to keep it safe from the family dog.

kitten saved
Pepsi was too busy exploring new territory to pose for a picture, but she managed to hold still for a second while attacking the hand monster, a favorite activity of hers.

The next morning they brought the kitten to a local animal shelter. The shelter had to regretfully turn it away because kittens must be at least 1 lb. and capable of eating on their own before they can be put in a kennel. So they brought the kitten to the Alvern Gardens leasing office in hopes that a kind soul there would take it in. Fitting into the palm of a hand, this kitten needed to be bottle fed special kitten formula every 6 hours. Dave, the maintenance supervisor, called his wife to see if she knew anyone who could take the kitten. Owning several large dogs and a few cats themselves, they had no time or space for such a small kitten. After his wife, he called Angie, the woman who cleans vacated apartments.

Angie walked into the leasing office, making a beeline for the kitten. She cradled the kitten in her hands and announced that she would name it Pepsi, after her favorite beverage. Just like that, a tiny life was saved and brought into a loving home. She was taken straight to the vet, and though her chances of survival were slim, she’s beaten the odds.

Pepsi is thriving. As she grows, it’s become clear that her fluff will eventually transform into luxurious long fur. With darker fur fading to light from her back down to her belly, Angie says she resembles a great white shark. “I call her the ferocious beast,” Angie said of her rambunctious new charge.

Looking for a place to raise a kitten of your own? Contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at or 412-561-4663 to inquire about their current availability.

Frisch’s: tasty food, quick service

It’s time for another look at good local eats: Frisch’s deli restaurant in Caste Village Shopping Center in Whitehall.

Located just a quick drive from several Prudential Realty communities, this family-owned restaurant offers some of Chi Quach’s (assistant property manager of Alvern Gardens Apartments) favorite lunch specials. According to Chi, Frisch’s has, “the best broasted chicken in Pittsburgh,” and he’s tried all of their delicious homemade soups. The soups, by the way, are also sold frozen by the quart, so you can take them home for later.

Frisch's serves good food fast
If you’re looking for a quick, simple meal, check out Frisch’s.
Photo By Michaela den (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
While their Reuben is nowhere near as big as the delectable monstrosity served at Bado’s, it’s a delicious and perfectly portioned meal. Their burgers aren’t fancy or overstuffed with gimmicks—they’re simple, backyard fare cooked to perfection and carefully assembled with all the classic fixin’s. Really, you can’t go wrong with any item on Frisch’s menu.

If you’re a lover of desserts, the chocolate mousse alone is worth a visit to Frisch’s. If you’re not already a chocoholic, you might become one after indulging in this gourmet-level decadence.

Is your mouth watering yet? In addition to the restaurant, Frisch’s also has a deli counter where you can buy bread, meats, etc. and make your own sandwiches with the finest ingredients at home… or you can order a hoagie to go, hire their catering, or take advantage of their new delivery service.

Frisch’s is the place to go for a good, simple meal served on the double. Skip the fast food chain and stop by Frisch’s instead.