Pets of the Month

Gojira: The Boston Terrier
My name is Gojira aka Goji and I live with my human, Kimmy Laposky, at LionsHead Apartments in Omaha, Nebraska. I am a one and a half-year-old Boston Terrier. My Mom says I am the friendliest little pup who loves everyone. I was rescued from a puppy mill auction along with my brothers by the MidAmerica Boston Terrier Rescue. I enjoy spending my days sunbathing, doing tricks for treats and giving kisses. I also have an Instagram account: @gojikingofbostons.

Tali: The Cat
My name is Tali, and I live at Le Palais Apartments in Houston, Texas with my human, Rachel McCarn. My Mom says that I am a precious princess diva kitty. My favorite things are being brushed and relaxing in the window. I am also an explorer and like to jump up on top of the kitchen cabinets. I don’t care for company that much, so I’ve become a pro at hiding from visitors!

10 Survival Tips For Holiday Travel

Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too. But don’t let invasive security scanners, terrible drivers and long lines at the airports get you down. We’re giving you tips to survive the holiday travel season without a Frosty the Snowman-size meltdown.

  1. Do your research.
    Plan alternative trips if traffic makes your way home too overwhelming. Is there a scenic drive that might be longer but has less traffic? Break up a long drive by finding a few places to stop that will get the kids more excited than a truck rest stop. When flying, make sure you check the airline’s restrictions ahead of time on carry-on luggage and fees for checked bags.
  2. Stay connected.
    Stock up on the latest travel apps before you leave home. GateGuru gives you approximate times you’ll spend in the security line. Heading out on the road? Find the cheapest gas with GasBuddy.
  3. Pack light.
    Avoid checking bags altogether if you can. You won’t have to wait for your luggage on the conveyor belt, and you won’t have to worry about your mom’s Christmas present getting lost in an Airport. If you do check luggage, make sure you have all your medications,
    important documents and a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage, just in case your checked luggage gets lost.
  4. Pack earplugs.
    Short of doing yoga in the airport, the best way to mentally escape your stressful surroundings is to turn the volume down. The easiest way to do that is with earplugs. Is there a crying baby in the next seat over on the plane? Earplugs. Sister’s music in the car driving you mad? Earplugs. If you really want to check out for a bit, bring an eye mask (as long as you aren’t driving)!
  5. Don’t get hangry.
    When your tummy growls, your mind can’t think straight, and you could unknowingly get in the wrong line, take the wrong turn, or worse, upset an innocent flight attendant. Pack snacks and drinks, so you and your family will be fueled up for a road trip. If you’re flying, definitely get some grub before you board the plane so you won’t have to rely on airline food if you’re sitting on the tarmac for hours.
  6. Ship gifts or give gift cards.
    TSA suggests to ship wrapped gifts or wait until you reach your destination to wrap them, as they might have to unwrap a present to inspect it. Ship gifts ahead of time or bring the gift that can’t go wrong: gift cards!
  7. Travel on off-peak days.
    The day before the holidays is always the busiest time to travel and can also cause you the biggest meltdown. A better option is to leave early on the day of the holiday and avoid the traffic the night before. Same goes with flying: If you fly on the actual holiday itself you’ll be avoiding the long lines and hoards of travelers.
  8. Travel early or late in the day.
    Flight statistics show that planes traveling earlier in the day have a better on-time performance. If your flight is canceled, you will have the option of taking a flight later in the day and, there will be fewer lines at security. When is the best time to hit the road? When everyone else is asleep — early morning or late at night. You can always take a nap when you arrive at your destination or on the ride there (if you aren’t the driver, of course).
  9. Plan for the unexpected.
    Have only a half-hour before connecting to another flight? Traveling to Rochester, N.Y., during snow season? Think ahead and plan accordingly. Leave extra time before flights to deal with security, extra time between connections and, for road trips, pack tire chains for snowy conditions, flashlights, and of course, a few bandages.
  10. Inhale. Exhale.
    The overly friendly person next to you on the plane, the canceled flights, the luggage that fell off in the middle of the highway? All of it will make for great stories over dinner when you finally make it to your destination.

2019 Holiday Gift Guide

This year’s top gifts are all about gadgets, comfort, retro comebacks and products they’ll love and never realize they needed. Check out the hot gift items on everyone’s wishlist in 2019.

1. Polaroid Camera 

A modern twist on a retro camera, Polaroids are making a come back and are all the rage. It features simple operations for instant print pictures, plus automatic functions that pick the best camera settings. It comes in multiple colors, as well as gift packages that include film packs!

2. Smart Phone Portable Theater Projector

For the person who makes you huddle around all the time to show you videos on their phone, turn their smartphone into a portable theater projector! It’s not just for smartphones, you can connect a laptop, USB Drive or video game console as well. Depending on the model, most offer full HD resolution and up to a 100” screen size. What’s better than receiving a gift that allows you to watch your favorite shows and movies anywhere you like?

3. Wireless Mini Mobile Photo Printer

For the one who loves taking photos! With this photo printer, they can skip the hassle of ordering pictures, and instantly print photos at home via wifi or the free mobile app. Its small size makes it portable, perfect for taking it along on adventures to give photos to friends!

4. New Nintendo Mini Game Console

This gift is perfect for the gamer or retro-loving person in your life! Bring back memories with the 2019 Mini Nintendo Game Console that features 620 built-in games! Some of the pre-installed games include Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, PAC-MAN, Dr. Mario, Mega Man, Final Fantasy and dozens more.

5. Bamboo Bath Caddy Tray 

This versatile gift is perfect for someone who would love getting away to enjoy a good book, movie, or glass of wine while taking a relaxing soak. It features a wine holder, cup holder, soap dish, phone slot, and book/tablet space.

6. Monthly Subscription Box

Monthly subscription boxes are a great gift choice because there are so many different kinds of subscriptions to choose from! It can be anything from makeup, clothes, wine and cheese, craft beer, food, books, candy, pet products, and more! Subscriptions can be delivered weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the brand and what they offer.

Some popular ones include My Coffee and Book Club, Ipsy (makeup), My Craft Beer Club, FabFitFun (women’s beauty, wellness and health), HelloFresh (weekly ingredients and recipes for healthy meals), Vinebox (wine), Barkbox/Kitnipbox (toys, treats and more for dog or cat in your family) and the list goes on.

This is a gift that keeps on giving all year long, that they will be excited to receive every month. Because it is delivered right to their door, there is no wrapping or hassle involved for you! Because of the huge variety of choices, you’re bound to find a box that perfectly fits each person on your list, right down to the family pet.

7. Weighted Blanket

Who doesn’t love getting plush fluffy blankets? But add in the feeling of a weighted blanket and you’ve got the ultimate comfort gift. These blankets are filled with weighted materials that create a calming effect and improve relaxation. They come in a wide variety of sizes and weights (from 5 – 30 lbs) and can be used by any age group. They can help improve sleep and can help with many different things such as stress, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and more.

8. Bottleloft by Uncommon Goods

Make his bottle of beer float in mid-air! OK, not really. He’ll be magnetized by this set of two strips that help him save some serious space in his fridge (and it looks cool, too!). If you want to get him something he’ll actually want to show off to his buddies, this is the real deal. These super-strong magnetic strips will display three beers, making room for those drunken eats (or more beer). It’s the one product he’ll love and never realize he needed.

 

What Laundry Detergents Should You Buy?

 

 

We tested 3 different brands of detergent. Check out our results!

 

Liquid Detergent
The most widely used among consumers, Liquid Detergents perform particularly well on oil and grease stains. Conveniently, it can be used as a spot pre-treater and you’ll never have to worry about it not dissolving. Don’t forget to use the correct amount, though. Sometimes they are hard to see, but the lines on the measuring caps are there for a reason! Follow the label instructions to ensure you don’t use too much or too little. Too much will cause over-sudsing and the soap may not rinse out when the cycle is over or it can even shut down your machine. If there is too little, your clothes won’t get clean. Many of us just pour detergent directly into the washing machine or dispenser and hope for the best but trust us, you get better results when you use the directed amount!

Single-dose Pods
These little packets are very convenient but on average, cost a little more. Don’t worry about using too little or too much detergent as it is already pre-measured. Usually, one pack is recommended for average size loads and two packs for large or heavily soiled loads. One pack may be too much for very small loads and you never want to break them. Keep in mind, some packs have trouble dissolving in some machines, especially in lower water temperatures. If you have a low-water using machine, make sure you add the packs before adding the clothes. Last but not least, make sure you store your packets away from children, pets, and anyone else who could be at risk of ingesting them or using them for anything other than laundry.


Laundry Tips

  • Get Sorted
  • Separate Linty Items
  • Wash Jeans Inside Out
  • Pretreat Stains
  • Apply Detergent Directly To Stain
  • Load With Detergent Then Clothes
  • Load Properly
  • Measure, Do Not Pour
  • Mark Fill Lines With Marker

 

While none of our picks could remove every stain completely, Persil definitly prevails as our top pick. Persil may not be the cheapest at .22 cents per load, but it is among the cheaper options especially for the quality.

 

5 Must have gadgets to make traveling easier

 

Sony Noise-Cancelling Headphones: Sony’s sleek headphones feature an adaptive sound control smart system that balances the noise-cancelling levels according to your environment. The Hi-Res Audio sound reduces distortion so you can enjoy your favorite tunes the way they were recorded. And you can customize all of your sound options in Sony’s app. The battery lasts up to 30 hours, which is quite impressive.

Micro smart phone charger: A high-capacity portable phone charger with 3350mAh rechargeable battery, Jackery Mini Portable Charger has enough power to refresh your phone to fully powered. The world’s smallest external battery charger and power bank is compact, portable & stylish and perfect for long flights, road trips, or whenever you need to charge your iPhone, iPad, or other smart device. Jackery Mini has a USB port, making it a versatile device capable of charging a wide variety of smart devices.

Internet/Communication: Pocket Wifi/GoTenna:
Pocket Wifi – Forget foreign SIM cards or roaming charges when traveling the world, Skyroam Solis has you covered. One of the best mobile Wi-Fi hotspots on the market, this ingenious connectivity gadget offers unlimited 4G LTE service in over 130 countries around the globe. Each device can support up to 5 connections and also works as a portable charger for your phone or tablet while on the move, thanks to its integrated 6000 mAh power bank. A day pass is $9 and gives you unlimited internet access for 24 hours. GoTenna – Going completely off grid? No problem. Designed to keep Android or iOS devices connected even when there is no cellular service, goTenna Mesh lets adventurers communicate while off the grid. Made of rugged materials, this slick, pocket-sized device uses Bluetooth-LE to pair with a smartphone, enabling users to share messages and location info instantly within a range of up to 4 miles in open areas. Compared to the original goTenna, this new and improved backcountry communications tool comes with revolutionary mesh networking technology that allows private 1:1 and group chats or public broadcast messages through other devices to extend beyond point-to-point range.

Purifying Water Bottle: Most of the travelers’ health problems are caused by contaminated drinking water, which means a water purification system is a must when traveling abroad. GRAYL’s Ultralight Purifier, is a state-of-the-art device capable of transforming almost any tap or clear natural water source into pure drinking water in just 15 seconds. Perfect for travelers and outdoor adventurers, each 0.50-liter bottle comes equipped with a replaceable purifier cartridge (lasts for about 40gal), providing protection against viruses, bacteria, heavy metals, as well as many chemicals. This is an excellent way to get safe drinking water on the go, while at the same time, saving money on bottled water.

Small Space Saver Vacuum: Need more room in your suitcase? Say no more! Small, smart, and stylish, VAGO is the ultimate travel packing gadget. Equipped with a pressure detecting sensor, this automatic vacuum pump removes all the air inside your suitcase, condensing the clothes to half their size, thus leaving plenty of room for souvenirs and other things you may buy on your trip. It’s an essential travel tool, especially if you’re adding a bit of shopping to your trip, or traveling somewhere cold and need to bring along some heavy winter wear.

4 Reasons why Travel is good for you!

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear ‘travel’ – Vacation? Meeting new people? Or maybe, Instagrammable sunsets? While traveling can be exciting and exhilarating, it’s so much more than sipping margaritas on a sun-soaked beach.
It’s no news that travel is good for your physical wellbeing, but a significant amount of scientific research suggests that exploring a new place can do wonders for your mental and emotional health as well.
Here are five evidence-backed ways traveling makes your mind happy and healthy:

1. It’s a great stress buster.
“The stress of work and daily demands can distract us from what we find to be actually meaningful and interesting,” says Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg, a San Francisco-based clinical psychologist and author of Psychodynamic Perspectives on Aging and Illness. Thus, taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle is essential for your mind to relax, recharge and rejuvenate.
And what better way to do so than to pack your bags and cross wanderlust-worthy destinations off your bucket list? Traveling promotes happiness and helps you take your mind off stressful situations. This leads to lower cortisol levels, making you feel more calm and content. “It also helps us reflect on our personal goals and interests,” adds Greenberg. According to a 2013 study, more than 80% of Americans, who were surveyed, noticed significant drops in stress just after a day or two of traveling. “Even though I’m always busy when I travel, whether it’s sightseeing, taking photos or just exploring a destination on foot, I know I’m the calmest and most relaxed when I travel,” says Jacintha Verdegaal, an avid traveler and founder of travel and lifestyle blog, Urban Pixxels.

2. It helps you reinvent yourself.
Writer Patrick Rothfuss said, “ A long stretch of road can teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet .” Experiential traveling, particularly to a foreign country, can help you re-evaluate and reinvent your life. “If you allow it, travel has the ability to expand your mind in a way you never realized was possible,” says solo travel expert and founder of the Trusted Travel Girl, Valerie Wilson.
Moreover, the valuable lessons that you learn along the way broaden your perspective, making you more aware and open to new things. “I love traveling to places with different cultures because it forces you to think about your own,”

says Verdegaal. “Different is not better or worse, it’s just different. But being confronted with these differences helps me to re-evaluate my own principles and values and, sometimes, change them,” adds the professional globetrotter.
Exploring new places can also give you a fresh start if you’re recovering from a major transition in your life. “When I had Lyme disease, for several years, my world shrunk. I lost friends who didn’t know how to deal with a sick friend. I was quite alone and lost a lot of my self-confidence,” says Wilson, who began to travel “out of fear of relapsing.” “By traveling and interacting with the world around me, I found a new passion for life. I convinced myself to travel even when I wasn’t feeling well. It has brought me happiness, given me a purpose, and has made me a strong, independent woman,” she explains.

3. It boosts happiness satisfaction.
Apart from the obvious fact that you don’t have to go to work (and can legit eat pizza for breakfast), traveling gives you the opportunity to step away from the daily grind. The new events and experiences help rewire your brain, hence boosting your mood and self-confidence. “I think people, in general, are not meant to be tied down to just one place their entire lives. I especially feel “trapped” when I have to stay in the same place for too much time, without being able to really move about and explore,” says travel aficionado and co-founder of The Passport Memorandum, Marta Estevez. “My life feels most fulfilling when I’m outside, living through new experiences and learning,” adds the travel expert who has been to more than ten countries.
“Travel definitely makes me happy,” agrees Wilson. “Even the act of planning a trip gives me something to look forward to and brings me happiness,” says Wilson. Turns out, she’s not the only one who feels that way. According to a Cornell University study, the anticipation of a trip can increase your happiness substantially, even more than the anticipation of acquiring something tangible, like a new car.

4. It enhances creativity.
According to Adam Galinsky, a professor at Columbia Business School, visiting a foreign place and immersing yourself in their local environment (for instance, attending a ‘snake boat’ race in southern India or feasting on crispy tarantulas in Cambodia), increases your cognitive flexibility. It also enhances “depth and integrativeness of thought,” consequently giving a boost to your creativity. Galinsky is the author of multiple studies that look into the connection between creativity and international travel. Although, it’s important to note that traveling stimulates creativity only when you engage with the local culture of that place. Merely visiting a new city or a country isn’t going to cut it.

Additionally, extended traveling also improves your productivity, problem-solving skills and can even increase your chances of getting promoted at work!
However, “it’s important to remember that vacation can be very stressful for some,” notes Greenberg. If that’s the case with you, try taking “short, structured vacations in order to get used to the experience of having time off,” she suggests. Also, plan your trip properly, in advance, to avoid last-minute panic and chaos.

Now that you’ve finished reading about all the wonderful things travel does to your brain, it’s time to pack your bags and get going!

Pets of the Month

Say hello to this month’s featured furry friends!

Morty: Morty lives at LionsGate Apartments in Lincoln, Nebraska. He really likes to take walks around town, but his favorite thing to do is play with his friends and family. He is the chillest dog you’ll ever meet! I even have my own Instagram page: @adventure_of_morty

Gracie: Gracie lives at Kensington Apartments in Dallas, Texas. Her Mom says Gracie acts like a dog because she greets her meowing loudly at the door when she comes home, and then flops over for a belly rub when her mom comes inside. Sometimes Gracie even likes to play fetch! She craves attention and is addicted to cuddles.

 

Tips and Tricks on How to Beat the Summer Heat Naturally

 

Try these natural tricks to cool your body down during the hot summer months.

Some of us may enjoy the warm sunshine on bare skin, and look forward to spending the weekend playing outside. But no matter how much you enjoy the warmer months, everyone needs ways to cool down when the summer heat rises. There are plenty of ways to find that cool energy and seek cooler experiences without blasting the air conditioner. Here are 5 natural ways to help you balance your hot summer adventures with cool breezy activities.

1. Plan Your Day.

Depending on how hot your locale is, there are definitely certain times of day that are essential to capitalize on. Before the sun
rises and after it sets you have a few golden hours of cooler weather. Take this time to water your plants, go for a jog, or enjoy a meal outside.

2. Hydrate.

Invest in a Hydro Flask, S’well, or another brand of insulated water bottle that keeps water cold throughout the day. Hydration
during the warm months is crucial.

3. Essential Oils.

Peppermint and Spearmint Essential Oil both contain menthol which has cooling properties. Add a few drops to your
diffuser at home, or make your own body mist for when you’re on the go. You can even create event-specific essential oils by
mixing different scents together.

4. Swim!

Take a dip in your community’s pool or nearby beach/swimming area! There’s nothing better than
submerging in cold water on a hot summer day.

5. Eat Cool, Be Cool.

Consume foods that are cooling to your internal systems. Go for sweet and ripe summer fruits, fresh veggies, and foods that
are bitter or astringent rather than salty or spicy.

Patriotic Firecracker Centerpiece Craft

Supplies:

  • Pool noodle (preferably blue)
  • Glitter scrapbook paper (one sheet in red, silver or blue)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Red tissue paper
  • Decorative stems w/ red, white, & blue stars

Instructions: 

  1. Cut pool noodle to the desired size.
  2. Measure scrapbook paper to pool noodle and cut to size.
  3. Apply hot glue to one end of the scrapbook paper. Do not apply the hot glue directly to the pool noodle!
  4. Wrap scrapbook paper around the noodle and apply glue to the other end of the paper.
  5. Press the paper down to secure to the back of the noodle.
  6. Cut a small piece of tissue paper approximately 6 inches wide.
  7. Gather tissue paper and press in the center of the top of the pool noodle.
  8. Insert decorative stem into the center of tissue paper/noodle.
  9. Celebrate!
*Reminder for Richdale Residents: No real fireworks or firecrackers are allowed in the community.

 

Meditation 101 – Techniques, Benefits, and A Beginners How-To

Why Practice Meditation? 

Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist — so how do you learn how to meditate?

“In the Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing”. University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times. And different meditation practices require different mental skills.

It’s extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” We recommend using tools such as beginner mediation Apps or brain-sensing headbands to help you through this process when you are starting out. In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.

Concentration Meditation

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.

In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.

Other Meditation Techniques

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and walking meditation.

Benefits of Meditation

If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”

Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Help lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Contemporary researchers are now exploring if a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among mediators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.

In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is the liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.

How to Meditate

This meditation exercise is a simple introduction to meditation techniques.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably on a chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. We recommend using cooling eye masks or restorative eye pillows if lying down.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.