CSVFD Annual Carnival

Next week is the Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department’s annual carnival.

Funnel cake 20040821 172200 1.1655x1275
Funnel cake is our favorite carnival food. What’s yours? Tell us in the comments below an share where in Pittsburgh you’ve had the best!

 

It’s not too late to get your $1 ticket for the car raffle and enter for your chance to win a Chevy, up to a $30,000 value.

The carnival starts at 7 p.m. each night and runs from Monday the 25th to Saturday the 30th. Closing times of the carnival will depend on attendance and the weather each night. The carnival takes place at the CSVFD, right off the Memorial Hall stop on the Blue Line of the “T”, and walking distance from Place Seville Apartments and Alvern Gardens Apartments.

Ride tickets can be bought for $2.50 at the ticket booth at the carnival. The typical carnival games of chance are also featured at the event, including poker tables and a duck pond.

There will be delicious carnival food: hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, hot sausage sandwiches, cheese sticks, french fries, funnel cake, ice cream, cotton candy, snow cones, and more.

This carnival is a key fundraiser for the Volunteer Fire Department, so we hope lots of people turn out to play games, ride rides, and enjoy tasty food. And, of course, one lucky visitor will drive home in a new Chevy!

Parking is free, but limited, so if you can take the “T” or walk, we don’t recommend driving to the carnival.

 

Phote by Lorax at en.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Pd THOR at en.wikipedia. (Taken by user Lorax and released under the GNU FDL) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

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.

Looking for a new home? Check out Alvern Gardens!

Alvern Gardens is currently offering a special on pet friendly three bedroom apartments: second month’s free rent and no pet fee! There are only a few three bedroom apartments available, so if you’re interested, call 412-561-4663 today for a tour.

Alvern Gardens
Residents of Alvern Gardens have access to green space around the property for planting their own small gardens.

The on-site leasing office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fridays. Walk-ins are welcome during these hours. If you’d like to schedule a tour outside of these hours, agents are available by appointment on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The rent for the 822 sq ft three bedrooms is $815/month plus electric, all other utilities are included in rent, including heat, cooking gas, and hot water. All apartments are cable and internet ready (Comcast is the provider).

The spacious layout features separate living and dining rooms, a coat closet by the front door, and a linen closet by the bathroom. The apartments are equipped with brand new wall-to-wall carpeting, a full-size gas stove and refrigerator, ample cabinet space in the kitchen, and a ceiling fan in the dining room. Additional storage is included with each apartment.

Residents have full control over the radiator heat and are welcome to install as many window air conditioning units as they desire. All windows come with screens, locks, and stays, and are designed for easy ac installation.

Coin-operated laundry facilities are located in the basement. Four apartments share one facility, and there is a change machine in the on-site leasing office for the convenience of our residents.

The on-site dog park is open to residents and their pups during daylight hours. Plus, with pool season fast approaching, it’s worth noting that Alvern Gardens has a pool.

pool

Parking is on street, first come, first serve, with permit-only off street parking included with certain units. Garages are available for rent for $55/month.

Alvern Gardens is situated just a five minute walk from the St. Anne’s T stop, where both the Red and Blue Lines stop every five to twenty minutes. This quiet residential neighborhood is just minutes from shopping, restaurants and recreational areas such as the Ice Castle skating rink and South Park.

If Alvern Gardens sounds like the place for you, please call us at 412-561-4663 to inquire about the application process.

Best Dogs for Apartment Living

We’ve been posting a lot about cats lately, so we decided it’s time to post something about dogs. Really, we’re shocked we’ve gone this long without offering a list of the best dogs for apartment living. So here’s our list. These dogs don’t get bigger than 40 lbs, so they’re all approved for Alvern Gardens Apartments, but they each have more traits than size alone that make them great apartment dwellers.

  1. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Quiet, cuddly, and friendly, these dogs do well in small spaces. We know one who is a proper, lazy gentleman who won’t lift a paw if it’s above 78 degrees outside, and once round the block is plenty exercise for him, too.Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  2. Pug: Quiet, friendly, low energy, at home in small spaces, and highly adaptable, pugs are popular for a reason. We’ve met a pack of pugs who are devoted sailors, so you can bet a pug will adapt just fine to any environment, even the tight quarters of apartment life.
    pug
    By DodosD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  3. English and French Bulldogs: Low energy (read: lazy), gentle, quiet, and good in small spaces, French and English Bulldogs make lovely companions in apartment life.
  4. Dachshund: With proper training, these stubby legged and spunky little guys make friendly, loyal family pets. They need a little more exercise than the other breeds on the list, but their short legs make for slow, easy walks, and they can get their workout indoors as well.dog-1083690_1920
  5. Shih Tzu: A calm, friendly breed that does well in small spaces, shih tzus are a classic lapdog companion. Plus, the goofy bow in the fur is not a requirement.dog-220393_1280
  6. Chinese Crested: Yes, this is that weird naked dog, and a member of this breed has been crowed ugliest dog alive, but did you know there’s a furry version too? Whether you prefer your crested hairless or powder puff (yes, that’s what they’re called), he’ll be low energy, he’ll do well in a small home, and he’ll be happy to spend hours just laying around.
    Powderpuff_Chinese_Crested_1
    By DodosD (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
  7. Japanese Chin: This little fluff ball is surprisingly low maintenance in the grooming department, requiring just one weekly brushing (as opposed to the daily brushing many fancy lapdogs demand). This is also a breed that does well in small homes.dogs-956677_1920
  8. Toy and Miniature Poodles: As their names indicate, these are small dogs that do well in small spaces. Additionally, poodles are very intelligent and easy to train, making them well disciplined apartment dwellers.dog-706958_1920
  9. Mutt: Although we’ve just listed a bunch of fancy pure-bred dogs, we have to confess that we love a good mixed breed rescue. Most shelters will be able to give you a rough idea of what’s mixed in, and researching the component breeds will give you a good idea of size, energy levels, intelligence, ease of training, shedding and grooming needs, as well as overall temperament and whether a pup will be suited to apartment living. It’s always a good idea to give a dog an in-home test run if you have the option.Dogs welcome at Alvern Gardens Apartments

Preventive treatments against mold

We’ve posted a lot in the past about natural ways to keep your home clean, and we just came across this article on natural mold treatment and prevention methods. As it warms up (and gets more humid) here in the Pittsburgh area, we’d like to highlight a few of these preventive measures.

natural cleaning
These natural mold prevention methods will help you keep your bathroom (and the rest of your home) mold free.

The most important thing to remember about mold is that it thrives in moist environments, so keeping your home dry and ventilated is key. Opening windows when it’s nice out, drying the shower with a rag or squeegee after each use, and keeping your shower curtain closed to let it dry are simple steps to make habitual. In basements, crawl spaces, or other areas without proper ventilation, a dehumidifier might be in order. But there are other factors to keep in mind as well.

If you have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, kitchen, or elsewhere in your home, it’s important to clean it regularly. A clean fan is a functional fan. The same goes for air conditioners and heating/cooling ducts. If you rent your home, familiarize yourself with your lease and know who (you or your landlord) is responsible for maintaining whatever heating/cooling system you have.

An air purifier can calm your concerns about airborne mold spores. While some models are pricier than others, a little research will help you find the right unit for your space. They’re great for allergy sufferers and most don’t require much electricity to run. They can even help deodorize your home when it’s too cold out to open a window.

Now, we’ve already told you about how great vinegar can be for cleaning mold, but did you know it can help prevent mold as well? It can! Just spray it onto susceptible areas such as the grout around your bathtub, your bathroom ceiling, particularly moist corners of your basement, wherever, and let it dry. You’ll just have to deal with the smell for a little while, but that will fade. If the smell is too much, try diluted citrus seed extract instead. Whichever method you choose, you’ll need to reapply regularly. Luckily both of these preventive substances are natural and nontoxic.

If you find that you have a persistent problem area resistant to your every attack, it’s time to contact your landlord, or if you’re a homeowner, a mold specialist.

Related Posts:

Battling Mildew

How to clean your acrylic bathtub

Spring cleaning the natural way

Spring cleaning to protect your security deposit

How to keep your acrylic bathtub sparkling (and protect your security deposit)

We’ve posted in the past about security deposits, spring cleaning, and other tips for renters. This week, we’re going hyper focused: how to maintain an acrylic bathtub. Why? Because a lot of tubs are acrylic now, and keeping acrylic clean requires slightly different methods from porcelain or enamel. Plus, the return of a renter’s full security deposit depends largely on how clean the rental is after they vacate it, and the bathroom (along with the kitchen) is one of the places renters tend to lose most of their security deposit.

bathtub cleaning
Bathtubs can be hard to keep clean, but giving your acrylic weekly attention will make your move-out process much easier.

Our main point is prevention: the cleaner you keep your tub for the duration of your lease, the easier it will be to get it downright squeaky upon move-out. This is especially important if your tub is acrylic, a porous material that stains more easily than others but also requires gentler cleaning methods.

Tub Maintenance

Deposits from hard water and soap scum are the main culprits of tub stains. To prevent these from building up, rinse your tub with warm water after each use and have a squeegee or rag handy for wiping it dry. Bonus: this keeps grout clean and mold free, too.

Weekly cleanings are paramount to protecting your acrylic tub, but you don’t need heavy duty products. You could use dish soap, a mixture of vinegar and water, or even shampoo. Don’t use abrasive scrubbing pads, as this will scratch the acrylic. A plain old sponge will do just fine for regular cleanings. The final step of your weekly clean should always be a rinse with warm water followed by a wipe down with a rag or squeegee.

Be sure to include your tub surround—be it tile or acrylic—with all of the above maintenance measures.

For the Tough Stains

Comet, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, OxyClean, Scrubbing Bubbles, Lime-A-Way, CLR Cleaner, and the list of products goes on. Sure, these work great. But you know what else works? Vinegar, baking soda, borax, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar. Whether you’re making a paste from Comet powder or baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, consistency and duration are key. Paste should be thick enough to stay put on a stain for an hour or more. Another method is to soak a clean white cloth in vinegar and lay it on top of the stain. You could also fill the tub with a mixture of hot water and vinegar until the stain is submerged, let it sit for several hours, then drain and scrub the tub.

A quick Google search will bring up all sorts of odd methods: dissolve laundry detergent powder, dishwasher detergent, or even denture cleaner in your tub filled with hot water. Scrub rust stains with toilet bowl cleaner. The lesson: think outside the box.

When it comes to soaking away stains, be patient. Find something else to do for the hour or more that the cleaner needs to soak. If the stain is still there, repeat the process. Make sure to follow the directions to the letter and soak for the maximum length suggested. If you have to re-soak, soak it longer the second time.

Once your stain has soaked and you’re ready to apply elbow grease, use a soft sponge, nothing abrasive.

When You Move Out

So you’ve been maintaining your tub meticulously for the duration of your lease, and now you’re moving. You take the time to clean everything thoroughly, including your tub. How do you make sure you’ve done everything right? How do you protect yourself? First, consult any pictures you may (should) have taken of the vacant apartment when you first signed the lease. Compare the picture of the tub before you started using it to the picture of how it is now. Do they look the same? Perfect! You’re all set to turn in your keys. If your tub has stains that weren’t there when you moved in, take a little more time to get rid of them. If you notice them, you can bet your landlord will too and take the cost of cleaning out of your security deposit.

Once you’re confident that everything is how it was when you first moved in, take pictures of everything all over again. These will serve as evidence in the event that you have a dispute over the return of your deposit. If, however, you’ve followed all your landlord’s instructions and left everything as clean as how you found it, you shouldn’t have any problems.

What’s in a name? For Carbonara’s, it’s deliciousness

Fans of Italian food should do themselves a favor and visit Carbonara on Mt. Lebanon Blvd. in Castle Shannon. This restaurant and lounge is cozy and family friendly with a menu that features all the classics, but it’s the little touches that make it a truly nice restaurant.

The staff is genial and friendly from the moment you walk in the door. The booths are huge and

Carbonara Restaurant
If you love pasta, you owe it to yourself to visit Carbonara. Photo by gaku. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gaku/2730668353/in/photostream/

immaculately clean. The entire place is warmly lit. We ordered the pasta—the titular carbonara and a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce—which comes with either a tossed salad or a cup of soup as an appetizer and garlic bread as a side. We got two tossed salads, and boy were they tasty. The greens were lush (no ice berg lettuce here!), all the ingredients were crispy and fresh, and it was portioned just right. Our pasta was served in dishes that made the servings look deceptively small. It wasn’t until we twirled in with fork and spoon that we realized what we were in for. Everything was rib-stickingly rich and we barely made it through half of our plates. The rest, along with half of the baguette we received under the name “garlic bread,” (seriously, it was a lot of tasty, tasty garlic bread) went home in a doggie bag.

In cities, it can be hard to find a reasonably priced restaurant that serves food everyone in the party will like. But at Carbonara’s, not only is there free parking in a decently sized lot, there’s a varied Italian menu so tasty you’ll double check the receipt to make sure you weren’t under charged.

What to live close to tasty local eats like Carbonara’s? Contact Prudential Realty Company for our current availability at a variety of our Castle Shannon communities: Alvern Gardens, Place Seville, and Sleepy Hollow Townhouses and Apartments.

Happy Thanksgiving! Here are some things to do with family while they’re in town

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and the Pittsburgh area is gearing up for Christmas. If you have family visiting, here are some things to do and sites to see.

Holiday

If your family is coming to town early, consider taking them to Light Up Night tonight.

Holiday Events in Pittsburgh
Sure, Steel City is cold this time of year, but there’s still plenty to do!

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market opens in Market Square at 11 a.m. today and runs through Tuesday, December 23. Take your family to eat delicious foods from around the world, enjoy local entertainment, and buy extra special gifts. Adults will appreciate the cultural diversity and kids will be excited to meet Santa! Pictures with Santa are free if you give a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

This weekend is the Castle Shannon VFD Ladies Auxiliary Holiday Craft Show. Parking and admission are free, and the show is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday. If you’re looking for a personal, handmade gift, you’ll probably find it at one of the 120+ tables in the CSVFD Memorial Hall and Fireman’s Hall.

The Castle Shannon Library is hosting Be Thankful Story Time at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 25. The reading is for kids ages 4-10 and requires registration.

Film

This weekend is the last weekend of the Three Rivers Film Festival, held at various theaters throughout the city. The last films of the festival are all playing at the Harris Theatre. Actress is playing at 7 p.m. tonight, followed by What Now? Remind Me at 9 p.m. Tomorrow, The King and the Mockingbird plays at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Theater

The Contemporary Choreographers show at Point Park University, performed by their Conservatory Dance Company, is in its last weekend. The show through November 23. Their next show—and the last for 2014—is the ballet Romeo and Juliet. It runs December 5-14.

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is also in its last weekend at the Benedum Center. Tonight’s performance starts at 8 p.m. an there are matinee and evening shows through Sunday.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theater Studios is hosting The Nutcracker Holiday Party this Sunday, November 23. from noon to 3 p.m. There will be dance classes, holiday crafts, and performances from the show.

Disney’s Newsies is playing November 25-30 at the Benedum center.

If you’re looking for a musical performance of a totally different nature, the Misfits are playing the Altar Bar on Saturday, November 29. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Museums

The Warhol has a couple of special exhibits on display right now. Chuck Connelly: My America will be on the 4th floor until January 4. 13 Most Wanted Men: Andy Warhol and the 1964 World’s Fair is on display on the 2nd floor, also until January 4.

If you have a history buff in the family, take them to the Senator John Heinz History Center to check out Pittsburgh’s Lost Steamboat: Treasures of the Arabia. The exhibit is on display until January 4.

All of these events are conveniently located for residents of several Prudential Realty Communities in the South Hills. Downtown locations are easily accessible via the “T”.

How to keep your cat from costing you your security deposit

A pet is a wonderful thing…. except for when they’re hyper and out of control. If you live in an apartment with a misbehaving cat (or two), you stand a risk of not getting your full security deposit back. To help you out, here are some tips for keeping your cat happy, healthy, and well behaved.

Maintaining the Litter Box: The Cornerstone of Saving your Carpet

No, you don’t have to take a cat outside to go potty, but you do have to maintain the litter box(es), and if you get a kitten, you have to teach it how to use the box. A dirty litter box could lead your cat to pick the carpet as its potty instead, so scoop daily and change litter weekly. A mixture of boiling water and vinegar is a cheap method for cleaning the box, just make sure you scrub all the nooks and crannies and let the mixture sit long enough to do its job. If your box is clean but your cat refuses to use it, it could mean the cat is sick and needs a visit to the vet. Nipping health issues in the bud is cheaper than paying to replace the carpet in your apartment. Sometimes, healthy cats are picky, or have behavioral problems. It’s still cheaper to try every kind of litter on the market, maintain multiple boxes, and replace kitten-sized boxes as your cat grows than to gamble on your security deposit. Finally, if you have multiple cats, you need multiple boxes: at least 1 box per cat.

goofy cat
Your cat might be a high energy goofball, but if you do your part as pet owner, you can make sure she doesn’t cost you your security deposit.

Keep Houseplants Safe from Felines

Vinegar is a powerful and versatile cleaning agent (you can even use it on carpets and upholstery), but its other super power is that cats hate the smell of it. Spraying vinegar on houseplants will keep cats from eating them. Also, don’t keep houseplants that are potentially toxic to felines. After all, eating something they shouldn’t can make cats vomit, and you don’t want that mess on your carpet. You can also distract your kitty from the plants it shouldn’t eat by giving it access to cat grass on another shelf. Find a way to secure potted plants and other objects so your cat doesn’t accidentally (or intentionally) knock them over. The fewer breakables and other knickknacks, the better (and the easier it is to dust).

How to Handle Scratching

First things first, never declaw a cat. Here’s why: declawing is equivalent to removing a human’s fingertip down to the first knuckle of each finger, cats naturally walk on tip-toes so when you remove the tips of their toes they walk differently and develop arthritis much more easily, and they can be in such excruciating pain that they stop using their litter boxes because it hurts too much to dig. Treating all the health issues related to declawing will empty your wallet much faster than humane methods of deterring scratching.

Obviously you need to provide your cat with a scratching post. A kitten needs to be taught to use it, and once they know how, you’ll find they routinely use it. Keeping a variety of posts—traditional vertical posts wrapped in twine, horizontal pads with refillable cardboard, soft wood, and variously angled posts and pads with all kinds of materials—will keep things as interesting as scratching trees and bushes in the great outdoors.

Sometimes even regular use of a scratching post can’t keep your cat’s claws short, and scratching can cause a lot of damage to your apartment and belongings. Claw trimmers come in a variety of styles and price ranges, and getting your cat used to this process early will make it an ordinary part of your routine. If you’re not comfortable trimming claws at home, ask your vet to do it or take your cat to a groomer.

If your cat insists on scratching your upholstery, you can give it the same vinegar spray treatment as your plants. You might also consider a pheromone plug-in as a last resort (they’re a bit expensive).

Groom, Groom, and Groom Some More

It’s certainly true that cats keep themselves quite clean with regular personal grooming sessions, but shedding + personal grooming = hairballs. The best way to prevent the hacking up of hairballs—and an excellent way to spend quality time with your pet—is to brush kitty regularly, daily if possible.

Get Kitty Some Exercise

Cats need exercise for their bodies as well as their brains. Use an interactive toy for 15-20 minutes of play each day during the times you find your cat is most active. To keep your cat busy while you’re out or asleep, have some toys for individual play laying around. Puzzle toys are especially stimulating and easy to make at home:

Cut some paw-sized holes into an empty box or or oatmeal container, stick a crinkle ball inside, tape the lid shut, and let kitty go at it.

Or: Cut some kibble-sized holes into a water bottle, fill it with a handful of dry food or a few treats, screw the cap back on, and see how long it takes kitty to get the goodies out.

Giving your cat vertical space to explore in the form of cat trees will offer more benefits than just mental and physical exercise. Cats like having a good vantage point from which to watch over their territory, and having that high outlook post will give your king of the apartment jungle added confidence and contentment. Also be sure your cat has a comfortable view out as many windows as possible with either store-bought or home-made shelves, if necessary.

 Looking for a cat-friendly apartment in the South Hills of Pittsburgh? Contact Alvern Gardens Apartments at alverngardens@yahoo.com or 412-561-4663.

Tips for a safe, fun summer spent by the pool

Because the Alvern Gardens Apartments pool will be opening for its 2014 season over Memorial Day weekend, now is  the perfect time to discuss some important tips for safety and fun at the pool.

Most every pool has its rules, so make sure you’re familiar with the rules of the pool you frequent. Typical rules include:

pool
Residents of Alvern Gardens Apartments can enjoy their summer poolside for a $10 season pass.
  • Shower before entering the water
  • Wear proper swim attire
  • No glass containers
  • No swimming during inclement weather
  • No diving or splashing
  • No profanity

Of course you should always be courteous to your fellow pool patrons, and never leave children unattended.

Here are some additional tips for a healthy day at the pool:

  • Apply sunblock half an hour before going outside, and reapply frequently
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat or some other head covering to protect yourself against sunstroke
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Be aware of your surroundings and your fellow swimmers

Whether you live in a community with a pool or you frequent a public or country club pool, following the rules and taking precautions will ensure you have a fun summer.

If you’d like to move to Alvern Gardens Apartments just in time for the 2014 pool season, contact us at 412-561-4663 or alverngardens@yahoo.com for our availability and current specials. Current residents are welcome to come buy their season passes at  the leasing office.