Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Moving Out for the Summer

Are you moving home for the summer?  Packing can be a pain, but these great tips will help you.  If you are graduating, these tips will help you move back home or to your new place.  You can learn more at Real Simple!  Congratulations on your great semester, and we can not wait to see you again!

Use the right size boxes.
Put heavy items, like books, in small boxes; light items, like linens and pillows, in bigger ones. (Large boxes packed with heavy items are a common complaint of professional movers. They not only make the job harder but also have a better chance of breaking.)
Put heavier items on the bottoms of boxes, lighter items on top.
And if you’re loading the truck yourself, pack heavier boxes first, toward the front of the truck, for balance.
Don’t leave empty spaces in the boxes.
Fill in gaps with clothing, towels, or packing paper. Movers often won’t move boxes that feel loosely packed or unbalanced.
Avoid mixing items from different rooms in the same box.
It will make your packing quicker and your unpacking a lot easier, too.
Label each box with the room it’s destined for and a description of its contents.
This will help you and your movers know where every box belongs in your new place. Numbering each box and keeping an inventory list in a small notebook is a good way to keep track of what you’ve packed―and to make sure you still have everything when you unpack.
Tape boxes well.
Use a couple of pieces of tape to close the bottom and top seams, then use one of the movers’ techniques―making a couple of wraps all the way around the box’s top and bottom edges, where stress is concentrated.
If you’re moving expensive art, ask your mover about special crating.
Never wrap oil paintings in regular paper; it will stick. For pictures framed behind glass, make an X with masking tape across the glass to strengthen it and to hold it together if it shatters. Then wrap the pictures in paper or bubble wrap and put them in a frame box, with a piece of cardboard between each framed piece for protection.
Bundle breakables.
As you pack your dishes, put packing paper around each one, then wrap bundles of five or six together with more paper. Pack dishes on their sides, never flat. And use plenty of bunched-up paper as padding above and below. Cups and bowls can be placed inside one another, with paper in between, and wrapped three or four in a bundle. Pack them all in dish-barrel boxes.
Consider other items that will need special treatment.
Vansant says his movers treat TVs like any other piece of furniture, wrapping them in quilted furniture pads. He points out, however, that plasma TVs require special wooden crates for shipping if you don’t have the original box and can be ruined if you lay them flat. If you’re packing yourself, double-box your TV, setting the box containing the TV into another box that you’ve padded with packing paper.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finals Week Preparation

Finals are coming up!  Are you ready for your exams East Carolina University?  Here are some great tips on how to ace you finals and enjoy the rest of your semester!  You can learn more here.

1. Plan your schedule: Spend a few minutes writing down everything you need to do in your calendar, from doing laundry and sleeping to writing papers and studying. Time has a tendency to slip away during finals week, so plan and keep track of it the best you can. Just because you've been able to pull all-night study sessions earlier in the semester doesn't mean it's a good idea to do so now.

In most college classes, a significant percentage of your grade depends on your finals week performance. Don't let weeks of hard work go to waste because you didn't budget your time well during the last week of the semester.

2. Set reasonable expectations: Be realistic when it comes to planning your schedule. Allocate (and use!) time to sleep, get some exercise, eat well, and just hang out. Your brain needs a break from all the studying, so let it relax by hanging out with friends, surfing the Internet, or just mentally checking out for a while.

3. Take care of your physical self: You can't rock that chemistry final if you're sleep deprived, in funky clothes that needed to be washed a week ago, and fighting a cold. Treat your body kindly during finals week, and it will return the favor! Will you get as much sleep as you ideally need? Probably not. But you should get enough so that you can be mentally sharp both during your study sessions and during your exams themselves.

Allow yourself the luxury of a long, hot shower and the comfort of freshly washed clothes. It's the little things, sometimes, that can allow you to really focus on the task at hand during a difficult exam. Make sure you feel at your physical best if you hope to perform at your mental best.

4. Eat well and get exercise: When you're short on time, these are often the first to go, unfortunately. Technically, what you've eaten over the last 24 hours may count as food—but it didn't provide much nutrition. You don't need to visit your doctor to know how much better you feel when you've had a good breakfast, a respectable lunch, sensible snacks, and a smart dinner. Additionally, even a 20-minute walk around campus can do wonders for your physical and mental health. You're in college to learn how to live an educated, examined life, so start simply and realize how important physical health is to your academic success.

5. Utilize the resources that are available to you: You don't have to be failing or on academic probation to utilize campus resources. Take your final paper to the campus writing center to have someone look it over before you submit it. After all, what do you have to lose—other than a bad grade, of course?

Check with your department to see if there are study groups forming that you can join. Utilize any free peer mentoring or tutoring that is being offered on campus. Make an appointment with your professors during office hours to have them go over the material you're studying, the thesis for your final paper, or any other material you want (and need!) to do well on during finals.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Allergy Relief in Cleaning

Are you an allergy sufferer?  Apartment Therapy has some great cleaning tips to help reduce the reactions you have to some allergens.  Anyone can suffer from allergies when the weather changes, even in sunny North Carolina.  Read these great tips on how to prevent allergens in your apartment.

What to Clean:
If you suffer from allergies, pay attention to these areas of your home when you undertake a bigger spring clean.

1) Mold in bathrooms. While you may not usually be affected by mold, the combination of spring pollen and dust in addition to mold may overload your system, and you could find yourself reacting to mold. In any case, you probably want to clean any mold or mildew in the bathroom, where humid conditions often encourage their growth.

2) Curtains are giant allergen collectors, and they should definitely be cleaned periodically. Make sure to read care instructions. Some curtains you can throw in the wash. Others you might be able to steam clean. If you have to take them to the dry cleaners, try to air them out before you put them back in order to minimize exposure to the dry cleaning chemicals, which could also induce an allergic reaction.

3) Ceiling fans. I try to clean mine every month, but sometimes I just don't get to it. Like any flat surface, however, the blades accumulate dust — which gets introduced into your breathing zone when the fan is turned on. Use a microfiber duster, which will "grab" dust rather than just stirring it around. Or try using a pillow case.

4) Upholstered furniture. While the most allergen-resistant furniture is made from leather or other materials that can't harbor allergens (like wood), most of us have at least some upholstered pieces in our homes. Vacuuming or steam cleaning are great ways to drastically reduce the amount of allergens in furniture.

5) Under things. If you're not the type to move furniture and get thoroughly under, behind, and around every crevice every time you vacuum, now's the time. Getting rid of hidden dust bunnies will definitely help you breathe easier.

6) Blinds and shutters. While these types of window treatments tend to be better than curtains when it comes to harboring allergens, they still need to be dusted or wiped down.

How to Clean:

Many allergy sufferers would start sneezing just at the thought of the cleaning mentioned above. Indeed, cleaning often kicks up allergens that are present but not necessarily in our breathing zone. Following are some cleaning principles to stick to in order to minimize allergy attacks while cleaning.

1) Wear a dust mask.
2) Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
3) Clean "top to bottom" so that you make sure to clean any stirred-up dust and other debris that settles on the floor.
4) Avoid harsh cleaning chemicals, which can exacerbate sensitive nasal passages and airways.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Keeping a Small Space Clean

Are you trying to keep your apartment clean? It can be hard with a limited amount of space and storage in apartments. However, every apartment can be clean. Apartment Therapy has some great tips and tricks on how to keep your beautiful apartment in the best condition. You can learn more here.

1. Declutter. This is rule number one for a reason! If you don't love or use an item—why do you still have it? Ditch the clutter and free up space. Open spaces appear more clean, and bonus—you don't have to dust as many things!

2. Clean as you go. Have a tiny kitchen? Make sure your dish washer or sink is clear before cooking and drop dishes in the washer and hand wash as you cook. That way, all you have to clean at the end of the meal is the pots and dishes you ate on! Moving from the living room to the bedroom at night? Fluff those pillows, straighten your things and place things back where they go. The next morning, you'll thank yourself for the clean room.

3. Don't buy things you don't need. Refer to rule number one—if you don't love it or use it, then why do you have it? Keep clutter to a minimum.

4. Rely on smaller furniture pieces with ample storage space. If you just can't get rid of some of your "stuff" find a way to store them away in cabinets, or double-duty furniture. That way, you'll have less to dust when you clean.

5. Clean five minutes a day. Straighten the kitchen during the commercial break. declutter your desk by tossing mail and trash the minute you walk in the door. Put your shoes and outdoor items away when you get home. All of these little five minute increments add up to a cleaner home.

6. Invest in an air filter or ceiling fan. Dust settles on everything, but an air filter or ceiling fan may circulate air and keep your small space a bit cleaner.

7. The Magic Eraser: this is your small space cleaning BFF. Generic or name brand, cleaning erasers have the power to get up just about any stain and make surfaces look great. Watch out though—these erasers can even take off paint!

8. Take early steps toward cleanliness. Buy good cleaning supplies with pleasant aromas that you like, and grab a good, organizational hamper to make laundry easier and to eliminate those dirty clothes that end up on the floor.

9. Designate a day each week as your "cleaning day." This is the day you vacuum the floors, couch, change bed sheets, towels, clean the bathroom, dust and wipe down counters with disinfectant.

10. Designate a day each month or quarter for your "deep cleaning day." This is the day you really scrub—grout, drains, the ceiling above your stove, hidden areas under furniture, the works! I also like to use this day to change toothbrushes, razors, toss old makeup or soaps I'm not using, vacuum the mattresses, change the Brita filter, etc. This way, your weekly clean isn't a true workout because your deep clean took care of the nasty.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Moving into Campus Towers Tips

Are you excited to move into Campus Towers next year?  We are very excited to have you in our community! East Carolina University and the surrounding area is a great place to live and learn.  Here are some great moving tips for next year! You can learn more here.

Make a Calendar

When planning a move, it's helpful to draw up a calender beforehand, to prevent tasks from taking you by surprise. Make your best estimate of the time it will take to pack and transport your belongings, and then, for safety's sake, add an additional 20 percent.

Measure the Space

Before moving your possessions, carefully measure both the space of the apartment itself and the hallways and staircases that lead to them, to make sure they'll fit. This is particularly important with large furniture and mattresses. There's nothing worse than purchasing a California king mattress, only to realize the staircase is too narrow to accommodate it.

Clean Up First

Before your apartment becomes crowded with furnishings, take advantage of its emptiness to do a thorough cleaning. Change the toilet seats and disinfect the fridge. Also, if you have any concerns about pests, including roaches, rats and bedbugs, the period before you move in is the time to spray and set traps.

Order Furniture and Utilities in Advance

If you're purchasing new furniture for your apartment, remember to order in advance, as there is often a few days' lag time between purchase and delivery. The same is true of utilities, such as electricity and gas, as well as cable and the Internet. Plan ahead to avoid spending your first night on the floor in the dark and cold.  

Move In on a Quiet Day

If possible, schedule your move for a quiet day, such as a weekend. Move-ins are stressful all by themselves, but can become well nigh intolerable if you're competing with heavy traffic. If you expect the move to be quick, avoid rush hour and do it in the middle of the day.

Keep the Furnishings Simple

When moving into your first apartment, that heady rush of independence can cause you to want to go all out with the furnishings. However, consider first how long you're planning to stay in the space: if your lease is short, you may be out quickly. Keep your furnishings simple and adaptable to a number of different spaces.

Change the Locks

Unless your apartment is brand new, you're not the first person to live there. After you've moved in, ask the permission of your landlord to change the locks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Cleaning Tips

Spring cleaning is something that everyone dreads, but it is important in any household.  Have you started your spring cleaning yet?  Read this blog for some great tips on how to make your spring cleaning that much easier.  You can learn more at allstate.

Make a list of what needs to be cleaned in each room.

Lists help me stay organized – especially if I have a huge project, like spring cleaning, on my plate. Before I even get started, I walk through each room and write down what needs to get done. Writing a list out also helps me make sure I have all the cleaning materials I need before I get started, saving me tons of time later. It’s a pain in the butt when you have to stop everything to run out and buy more carpet cleaning solution.
Make your playlist.

I have a cleaning playlist that includes the Black Keys, Boston and the Rolling Stones. Listening to music while I clean just seems to make things go by faster. Of course, you don’t have to make a playlist; you could always just turn the radio on to your favorite station.
Get a trash and donate box/bag.

As you go through each room, make sure to declutter. Throw away old magazines and papers from the previous year. Put items you no longer use or need, like that book you bought 10 years ago but never read, in the donate box. Once you’re done cleaning your whole house, itemize your donate pile because you may be able to deduct those donations on your taxes.
Work on one room at a time.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you want to clean your entire home all at once. Try writing down all the rooms in your home on a piece of paper and checking each one off as you go. If you can work on at least two or three rooms each weekend, you’ll get a lot more done and still have free time on the side.

Set an amount of time to work on each room.

I know I can get easily distracted, looking at items I’d forgotten or old photographs, and before I know it I’ve spent the entire day cleaning just one single room. Set a timer so you don’t fall into this trap. You can also use the timer to give yourself a little break here and there. Much like a list, it helps keep me on track. Trust me, I get easily distracted.
Get some help.

Don’t do all the cleaning yourself. 

Recruit your kids, significant other or roommates to help you out. I know that when my roommates and I pitch in together to clean the kitchen, it takes about half the amount of time that it takes when I do it myself. To be honest, if those who live there make the mess, they should also help clean it.
Start from the top and work your way down.

This is just the law of gravity – 

clean from the top of the ceiling to the floor. Knock all the dusty cobwebs from the corner, wash the curtains, clean the windows, dust the furniture, vacuum the furniture and finally vacuum the floor.
Use natural cleaners.

Many chemical-based cleaners emit hazardous fumes. Some cleaners when mixed together can even emit toxic fumes that can seriously hurt you. Vinegar is a great substitute to use in your bathroom or kitchen and as a general household cleaning solution.

My grandmother had sworn off “newfangled” chemical cleaners some years ago. She only cleans with vinegar. It makes sense, though, because the acidity of vinegar is extremely high at a pH level of 2. A study in the Journal of Environmental Health found that vinegar is comparable to bleach when killing harmful bacteria like E. coli.
Be patient.

My dad always told me to work smarter, not harder. 

Take your time and let grimy surfaces, like the ones in your bathroom and kitchen, soak in your cleaning solution. Work on something else on your list while your cleaner does the hard work.
Reward yourself at the end.

For me, having something to look forward to at the end of a long day of cleaning sure makes things go a lot faster. Plus, you worked hard and deserve it. Treat yourself.

OK, so these ideas won’t make all the dirt magically disappear, but the tips above can make the process a little less agonizing. Just remember to pace yourself. You don’t have to do everything in one day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

College Apartment Decorating Tips

Are you tired of the way your apartment looks?  Here are some great ways to change up the look in your apartment without spending tons of money.    This is great for when you are moving back to your apartment for the second or third year.  You will feel like you are living in a whole new space.  You can learn more here.

1. Plants. Incorporate at least one bit of greenery into every room. I go for fake over real because I have a Black Thumb, but whatever you choose, it’ll go a long way towards making your temporary rental feel like a for-real home.
2. Soft Stuff. Curtains and rugs provide instant coziness, and are an easy way to add colors and patterns to a simply decorated space. Curtains in particular do wonders to soften a room, and you can find chic styles at low prices (try World Market and Urban Outfitters). You might also want to consider splurging on some pretty rods or tie-backs, which really make a room look finished and can easily come with you when you move (but be sure to fill in those holes so you don’t lose your deposit!).
3. Mirrors. They’re gorgeous, they make small rooms look instantly larger, and they’re fun to hunt around for at yard sales and flea markets. Try either one large mirror in a striking frame above the couch, or a selection of smaller mirrors in mismatched shapes and frames grouped on one wall.
4. Color & Texture. Since you’re probably working with a fairly neutral starting palette, look for creative ways to add interest, like the fabric headboard and “grass” rug in the above photo.
5. Lighting. Lighting is so important for making a place feel homey. In every rental apartment I’ve lived in, one of the things that’s made the biggest difference to me is having lots of good light – at the very least, consider a retro standing lamp to brighten a dark corner.
If You Have A Little Extra Time & Money:
1. Paint or Wall Art. A coat of bright paint on a single wall can make the entire apartment feel brand-new (you may also want to just paint the moldings; this is a quick way to give a room some character). Remember, though, you’ll have to return the apartment to its original look when you leave, so that’s something to keep in mind…and is the reason why you might want to go for interesting wall art (or decals) instead.
2. Ceiling Fan. A ceiling fan makes a world of difference in terms of the feel of your apartment, and isn’t all that difficult to install as long as you already have a central light fixture.
3. Pendant Lighting Fixture. I never wanted to invest in one of these because I thought, you know, how annoying to have to a) install and b) take with you when you move…but I put one inour nursery, and boom: the room instantly looked more finished and like an actual home that actual people lived in. And these can be more affordable than you think: I love the options fromWest Elm and, of course, the Mason Jar Pendant Lighting Fixture from Pottery Barn (100% putting one in our kitchen in the new place).
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