Let’s Get Organized!

Is the clutter around your apartment driving you crazy, but you just don’t know where to start?

Keep in mind that it doesn’t all have to get done in one day. Take 30 minutes each day to tackle a small project and little by little the clutter will disappear.

Start by going through that stack of papers on your desk or kitchen counter. To make the process easier, make four piles – to file, to toss, to shred, to do – and separate the stack into each pile accordingly. Chances are you will end up getting rid of a majority of the stack. Create folders for the documents you want to file and the documents you still need on hand. Keep the folders in a drawer to keep them hidden or pick up a fun folder stand to keep on your desk as an accent piece.

Next, look around your apartment and see how you are storing things. Is there a better way to use the space? For example, that old coffee table, try replacing it with something that doubles as extra storage. Take all those blankets from the couch and store them in your coffee table; and all those miscellaneous objects on the shelves can be stored in baskets to make your space look a lot cleaner. This same technique works wonders for your under-the-bed mess. Get a set of plastic containers that can slide easily under the bed and presto, no more mess!

Oftentimes, bathroom cabinets and under the sink can be a catch all for cleaning supplies and other household items. An easy solution to this problem comes in an unobvious form. You may be surprised to learn that a simple item used to store shoes can also be used to organize all of your cleaning and maybe even laundry supplies. Hang a shoe organizer on the inside of a closet door and simply fill the compartments. Now, all of your tools for a clean apartment are all in one place.

Last, but not least, it’s easy to make extra storage with DIY shelves. Do you have more books than you know what to do with? Install a shelf in the empty space above your door and instantly you have a home for all your books or even decorative storage baskets! You can also use the empty side of your fridge by hanging a small shelf perfect for spices.

Can’t get enough of these organization tips? Go online and search easy organizing tips and you’ll have an endless supply of fun ideas to choose from! Happy organizing!

Recipe: No Bake Strawberry Pie Bites

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs fresh strawberries (diced)
Juice of half a lemon
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 or 2 boxes mini phyllo shells
Whipped cream

Preparation:
1. In a medium sized saucepan add the diced strawberries, reserving 1 cup.
2. Mash the berries with a potato masher until desired consistency is reached.
3. Add the lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
4. Stir the mixture together until the cornstarch is completely incorporated.
5. Turn the stove to medium heat, cooking and stirring the berry mixture until it thickens, about 8 minutes.
6. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the extracts.
7. Cool the mixture completely, then cover and refrigerate until cold.
8. Once the mixture is cold, stir in the remaining cup of diced strawberries.
9. Just before serving, fill each mini phyllo shell with a spoonful of the strawberry mixture and top with whipped cream.

No Bake Strawberry Pie Bites

Get Your Best Sleep in Comfy Sheets!

How well do you know your sheets? What’s the thread count, and does it matter? Are they crisp or soft? Oh, and how often should you wash them?
All good questions and really it mostly depends on personal preference, but here’s some helpful information for the next time you’re in the market for sheets.

First of all, what is thread count, and does the number really matter? Well, thread count is determined by the number of threads that run vertically and horizontally on each square inch of the fabric. Some may say the number matters, but in a Consumer Reports test, some of the top-scoring sheets only claimed a thread count of 280. That’s a low number when you’re comparing it to sheets with thread counts of 1,000. So, what’s the difference? Thread count is more about how the sheets feel as opposed to their performance and durability. The higher the thread count, the more fragile the sheets will be and the more they are washed, the faster they will wear. The most popular thread count tends to be in the 400 to 600 range.

As far as crisp or soft sheets go, it’s more of personal preference and can affect your sleep quality depending on how they feel when you lay on them. The crispness or softness depends on the type of fabric. There are several different types of fabrics including, cotton, flannel, satin and silk.

Cotton sheets are the most popular fabric choice among consumers and there are many types to choose from. Combed Cotton goes through a cleaning process, getting rid of any impurities making it extremely soft and smooth to the touch. Supima Cotton also has a very soft feel and is a high-quality very durable fabric that is made in the United States. Muslin Cotton is the least soft of cotton sheets, but is the most durable of them all. They are ideal for kids’ sheets and will hold up through frequent washing. Egyptian Cotton is well-known for being the highest of quality by not only feeling luxurious and soft, but is also very durable.

Flannel cotton sheets are made with either a plain or twill weave making them soft and pliable. However, they are not a good sheet for the summer as they will be sure to keep you warm and cozy (ideal for those who are cold when they sleep). They are often made from wool and other synthetic materials, so individuals with wool allergies be aware!

Silk and satin sheets are popular for many reasons including the fact that they are hypoallergenic, making them a huge comfort for allergy sufferers.
Most silk sheets are made from mulberry silk making the fabric very durable, but just be sure to watch for snags. Lastly, silk sheets are ideal for those who tend to get hot when they sleep because they reduce sweating and make sleep much more comfortable, especially in the summertime.

Now that you have a better idea about what sheets are right for you, let’s talk about the best way to clean them and how often. It is recommended that you wash your sheets once a week to prevent any allergy and sickness causing bacteria from forming. It’s a good idea to have two sets of sheets in an effort to help prolong their life by allowing one set to rest while the other is in use. The best way to wash your sheets is to use cold water and a detergent made for cold water. For optimum results, start the water and throw in the detergent before adding your sheets. This will prevent the detergent from staining your sheets and will allow it to get completely washed out. It is also suggested that you NOT use bleach. Bleach will often wear out the fabric causing rips or tears and can even cause yellowing. Use a white distilled vinegar, which will remove any odors and will not leave a vinegar smell behind. To prevent wrinkles after wash, be sure to pull them out of the dryer promptly and fold them neatly if you’re not using them right away.

Pets of the Month

My name is Percy. I am a domestic shorthair cat whose hobbies include, but are not limited to, hiding in the laundry basket, trying to run out to the deck and playing with any toy with a feather on it. I was adopted in Sioux Falls, SD after being found alone in an alleyway. Shortly before my first birthday, I made the 4-hour move with my humans to Lincoln, NE to my new home at LionsGate. I have since become a Husker fan and am looking forward to my first football game!


My name is Lola, and I live in Omaha! My mom and I moved in mid-April and we are already loving LionsHead! I am a 6-year-old “Morkeranian” aka a Maltese, Yorkie, Pomeranian mix. I love taking the squeakers out of toys, eating treats and playing tug of war. I also love laying in the sun!

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it? There’s nothing wrong with being a show off! Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com!

What’s New in Technology?

Amazon’s newly released Echo Show is everything Echo users love about Alexa, but now with all the capabilities of a screen. This high-quality screen is combined with Alexa’s skill set to create a seamless interaction with the use of voice command. Echo Show is also equipped with eight microphones, beam-forming technology and noise cancellation allowing it to hear you from any direction even if music is playing.

The Alexa Skills Kit now has more than 15,000 skills making it easier to customize and add skills. Updates have been made to optimize skills for the screen, allowing individuals to connect their smart home cameras, which gives them the ability to see any room by simply asking Alexa.

Echo Show’s optimized display and video interfaces make streaming videos quick and easy with the option to control playback with both voice and touch. The new screen also allows you to make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have the Echo Show or the Alexa app on other devices with video capabilities.

This new technology is also equipped with the powerful room-filling speakers, which makes listening to music even easier and fun! Stream music through Amazon Music or other apps like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio with the ability to show on-screen lyrics so you can sing along with your favorite songs.

Be sure to visit Amazon.com to find pricing and to see what other cool features the Amazon Show has to offer.

Work Out Your Brain

Everyone knows the importance of eating healthy and getting some sort of exercise on a regular basis, but many people forget the importance of also exercising their brain. Studies have shown that doing regular “brain exercises,” along with regular exercise and eating plenty of antioxidants, can increase your brain’s cognitive reserve. There are several types of software that can be purchased to put your brain to work, but experts recommend practicing more real-world activities for more effective brain training. Here are 10 effective and less expensive ways to give your mind a workout.


1. Test your recall: Do something as simple as making a grocery list and try to memorize everything on it. Put it away for an hour or so and then see how many items you can recall.

2. Music: Studies have shown that learning to play a musical instrument over time or singing in a choir can do wonders for an aging mind.

3. Mental Math: With all the technology available today, math is made simple, but figuring out problems the old-fashioned way can be a great mental stimulation. To really test your cognitive abilities, try walking at the same time!

4. Cooking Class: Whether you’re a natural in the kitchen or are more of a microwave chef, try cooking something new. Because cooking involves so many senses (smell, touch, sight and taste) it is ideal for working several different parts of the brain.

5. Learn a new language: Not only does the listening stimulate the brain, but having a rich vocabulary has been linked to reducing the risk of cognitive decline.

6. Visualizing Words: Think about a word and the way it is spelled in your mind and then use either the first two or last two letters to form another word. This activity helps to refresh your brain on the things you already know.

7. Maps: After traveling to a new place, sit down and try to visualize a map that you used and draw it from memory.

8. How good are your tastebuds: When eating a meal, try and identify the different ingredients that you are tasting, like the different spices or other tastes that may be harder to place.

9. Hand-eye coordination: Instead of watching television or using various forms of technology, try a hobby that requires the use of your fine-motor skills like knitting, drawing/coloring or doing a puzzle.

10. Learn a sport: Try a new sport that not only uses the body, but also the mind, for instance yoga, golf or tennis.

The Scoop on Sunscreen

Any sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun, right? – Wrong! There are several factors that play in to how well a sunscreen will protect. Consumer reports tested over 60 sunscreens ranging from lotions to lip balms and found that there are more important factors than just the SPF number. The sun protection factor (SPF) measures how long a sunscreen will protect you from ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation. This radiation is the main cause of sunburn and it also contributes to skin cancer. They also tested for protection against ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which tan and age your skin, but can also contribute to skin cancer.

In order to get the most out of your sunscreen, Consumer Reports suggests using a broad-spectrum sunscreen that provides protection from both UVB and UVA rays. It is recommended that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and is water resistant. It’s important to apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. If you’re using a lotion sunscreen, a teaspoon per area is a good amount to ensure full coverage. If you prefer spray-on sunscreen, apply a thick layer that can be rubbed in (rub it in) and repeat it one more time. Consumer Reports stresses the fact that sunscreen, no matter which type, is to be reapplied every two hours as well as after swimming and sweating to get the best results.



To find out more about sun protection and to see the top-rated sunscreens by Consumer Reports, go to www.consumerreports.org and search for “sunscreen buying guide”. Below you will find some other helpful tips on keeping your skin protected from the sun this summer.


CLOTHING: Wear clothing that covers your skin when in direct sunlight for a long period of time. Hats also help to shade your face.

SHADE: When spending an extended amount of time in the sun, be sure there is a shaded area or bring something like an umbrella or canopy to create a shield from the harmful rays.

SUNGLASSES: Not only are sunglasses an easy way to make a fashion statement, they also are essential for protecting your eyes from UV radiation.

TIME OF DAY: It’s a good idea to spend your time outside when it’s earlier in the morning and in the evening when the sun isn’t as high in the sky.

NO BURN: Try your best to prevent any red, sore or blistered skin and use sunscreen as a last resort. It is best to avoid the damaging rays if at all possible.

UV INDEX: Be sure to check the UV Index to help plan your outdoor activites and avoid sun exposure.

 

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/sunscreens/buying-guide.htm
http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/?gclid=CLrjydWy5dMCFQa4wAod8LICew

Recipe: Firecracker Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • Splash of Grenadine
  • 2 Shots of Bacardi Razz Rum
  • 2 Shots of Lemonade
  • 2 Shots of Blue Curacao Liquor

Directions:

  • Fill glass with ice
  • Pour splash of Grenadine over ice
  • Slowly pour in Bacardi Razz Rum
  • Pour in Lemonade
  • Pour in Blue Curacao
  • Drink and Enjoy!

*Must be 21 or over to consume alcohol. Drinking and driving is prohibited. Please drink responsibly.

Pets of the Month

CAT of the Month:

My name is Kendall Marie Hawthorne, and I recently transferred from TurtleCreek in Des Moines, to Breckenridge in Omaha.  I love traveling with my mom, whether it is in a car curled up on her lap while she drives (I don’t think she likes this, but I do) or under the seat in front of her on the plane.  I am 9 years old, and I have been going everywhere with my mom since I was rescued at 3 months old from the streets of Phoenix.  My favorite place to hang out is in mom’s laundry basket on a fresh, fluffy pile of anything I can get my hair on.  My favorite activity is to chase toy birds, but only inside of the apartment.

DOG of the Month:

My name is Kevin. I live at LionsHead Apartments in Omaha, NE with my mom and dad. I am a Pomeranian and I am almost 6 years old. I was adopted 4 years ago from my mom’s friend. Cuddling is my favorite pastime, next to stealing socks. I also enjoy going on hikes; my mom has a special backpack for me to hang out in when I get tired. I absolutely love children. I am training to become a therapy dog, so I can help sick children have happy days at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center here in Omaha.

Think you have the world’s cutest pet and want everyone to know it?
There’s nothing wrong with being a show off!  Enter your pet in Richdale’s Pet of the Month contest for a chance to win a BarkBox or KitNipBox for your furry friend. Tell us about your furry friend and if he or she is featured, YOU win! Send pictures and a brief description to: TheLeaf@richdale.com.