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27
Sep 13

Surprise! You Don’t Have to Golf to Enjoy Hilton Head Island!

hilton-head-harbor-resizedWe recently vacationed on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, which is well-known for its beautiful golf courses. We had a wonderful time, even though no one in our party is a golfer. There is little doubt that Hilton Head’s reputation as a golf destination has been the major factor in its success as a tourist destination, but we’d like to offer you another side to vacationing on the island.

Hop on a Bike

Bicycling is so popular on the island that bicycle shops will deliver rented bikes right to the door of your vacation condo! Once you get your hands on your “beach cruiser” bicycle, you can ride for miles on the hard-packed sand of the public beaches or ride the paved pedestrian/bicycle pathways throughout the island. Many sections of the paths are shaded, making for pleasant rides, even on hot, humid days. You will pass by many natural and man-made ponds, providing you with a glimpse of exotic wading birds, turtles, and even alligators. We also used our bikes to find different restaurants and enjoy the local scenery.

Settle into a Rocker

Be sure to allow yourself a little time to sit in a rocker on a shaded porch, listening to live music at Harbor Town. We spent many a happy hour singing along with old songs, tapping our toes to new ones we didn’t know yet, sipping a cold drink or licking an ice cream cone, all while soaking up the harbor scenery. The iconic red and white striped lighthouse is the centerpiece of Harbor Town and was built solely as a tourist attraction. It serves its purpose well, allowing folks the chance to climb the stairway to the top and walk the observation platform. It also serves as an effective mood-setter as you dine at one of the Harbor Town restaurants on delicious seafood (try the crab cakes at The Quarterdeck). Charter fishing boats and harbor/island tour boats all make their home here, too.

Lots of History

For history buffs, we heartily recommend a visit to the Coastal Discovery Museum, situated on the historic Honey Horn plantation. The museum contains the only original plantation house on the island and a collection of some of the oldest buildings on Hilton Head. The 68 acres that comprise the present Honey Horn property are well maintained, and visitors can stroll two marsh side boardwalks, as well as spend time in a butterfly habitat. A lot of knowledge about the Lowcountry’s cultural heritage, history, ecology, and residents can be acquired by simply spending an hour reading the exhibits inside the museum.

An easy walk around the grounds allows you to see an old cemetery as well as well-marked vegetation. A huge steam cannon was situated on Hilton Head Island during the Civil War, and coastal batteries were staffed there during World War II.

Only about 40 houses existed on the island prior to the completion of a bridge from the mainland during the 1950’s. Prior to the bridge opening, most of the island’s inhabitants made their living from growing Sea Island cotton, harvesting the hardwood forests, and hunting. Through the foresight of a developer named Charles Fraser, tourist and residential development was planned around preserving the trees and essential character of the island. Fraser’s main contribution at Hilton Head Island is the Sea Pines Plantation area, and since its beginnings, that development has become a model for many communities throughout the United States.

Perhaps you have visited Hilton Head Island? Did you like it as much as we did?

25
Sep 13

Bringing your Apartment to Life with Color

brightly-colored-bookshelf-and-desk-resizedFour white walls making you want to scream? Want to add a little color to your space? Experts suggest a 60-30-10 approach to adding color to a room, but in an apartment you’re renting, you might not be able to paint the walls or add wallpaper. So what do you do to dress up your space with the color you so desperately want (and I daresay need)? Here are a few simple ways to bring color into your life and still keep those walls white:

Furniture

Generally we think of furniture as being neutral shades of brown, black, silver or white – think about your cabinets, your dining room table, or your bookshelves, for example. But you can liven up that tradition by trying out a few bold colors on your furniture. A brightly-colored bookshelf will add pop to a room and will match the eclectic colors of your book collection perfectly. A richly upholstered chair (think deep blue or golden yellow) will add color and provide an enticing place to cuddle up with a book.

Artwork

Large color prints, whether art or photographs, are a great way to spruce up the palette of your living room. But have you thought about color frames? Most frame shops can make you simple, single-style frames for all your artwork, and then they (or you) can paint them to suit the tones in the images they frame or the color of your space. Don’t be afraid to try a slightly different shade of a similar color to further accent your art.

Lighting

Replace those boring metal and black lamps with ones that provide color! Whether it’s a new lampshade or a beautifully-hued lamp base, both will add eye-catching color to your room. If you can, try using multi-colored Chinese lanterns on ceiling fixtures, or hang sheer, colored cloth from the ceiling to give your rooms a soft, colored glow. Colored lighting will paint your walls without you having to!

Living creatures

Indoor plants can add a feeling of freshness and color to a room. Try flowering plants (like orchids) and flowering cacti or plants (like the palm lily with its bright magenta leaves). Just make sure to choose varieties that don’t need full sun. Aquatic plants in decorative vases or antique jars are another option for a little added green in your space. For a different pop of color, try adding multi-colored tropical fish that are both relaxing and beautiful. Your local pet shop can help you pick out just the right kind.

Keep the ideas coming

Lastly, look for spaces that inspire you – other friends’ apartments, magazines, even a scene from nature – and pay attention to how color is used. Choose a few colors that you’d like to use — too much of a kaleidoscope will end up looking cluttered– then get creative and think out of the box on how you want to use them.

Adding color makes spaces more inviting, uplifting and vibrant. And it’s easy to do – it just takes a little thought and imagination, even when the walls are white.

24
Sep 13

The “Fall” of “Downtime”

kitty-taking-nap-resizedFall is here and that means that the days are shorter, the temperatures are cooler, and you won’t be spending every waking moment outside any longer. So, what will you do when you have a spare hour or two?

Put Yourself on the Schedule

I don’t know about you, but the only way I get any downtime is if I actually plan it into my busy schedule. The first thing you’ll want to do is to ask yourself what you’d like to do with your extra time:

  • Do you want to do something productive, just hang out and have fun, or catch-up on your sleep?
  • Is there someone you’d like to spend time with that you haven’t seen in awhile?
  • Is there something you’ve been meaning to do for a long time or something you’ve missed?
  • Do you have budget or time limits that you need to factor into your planning?

Once you’ve established a few priorities, write each one down (no more than four so you aren’t overwhelmed) and how much time you plan on spending on each one. If you have trouble thinking of things to do, maybe you can start with a few easy ideas — call up a few friends, read a book, or follow up with that nap. Maybe you could also visit a local park or museum. (While you’re relaxing and getting the hang of this idea, you can even use some of your downtime to plan future downtime!)

Just Do It!

The most important thing is to ensure that after you schedule your downtime, you actually DO it! In today’s fast paced world, it’s very easy to work a few more hours or take care of that extra work because it’s there. It’s OKAY to say NO!!! The key to a full life is to make sure you have balance and that balance includes some leisure.

Flick that Switch!

It’s okay to “switch off” as well. With today’s technology, it’s harder and harder to disconnect from the world. Our cell phones constantly bombard us with the latest headlines, email, games, and all the events on the internet. Having some quiet time to listen and observe the world around you will help you dispel the strain of digital information overload. (And don’t worry, the news and emails will still be there when you get back!)

Finally, it really doesn’t make sense to have downtime if you spend it feeling guilty, worried, or impatient. It’s your time to chill and to let go of the usual daily grind. So let it be a time directed by your desires, not your “should do’s” and let yourself be as creative or as lazy, or a mix of the two, as you’d like. Relax and enjoy!

 

23
Sep 13

Let’s Hear It for Failure!

mondaysignpostThere’s a story from the early days of IBM and its legendary CEO and founder, Tom Watson, which offers an instructive lesson about failure.  According to company accounts, one of the senior vice-presidents made a mistake in his department that cost the company a huge amount of money.  When the summons came for a meeting in Watson’s office, the VP was so sure of the outcome that he wrote his letter of resignation before going to the meeting.  Imagine his surprise when Watson did not chew him out, but instead simply asked him for his version of what had happened.

Greatly relieved, the man confessed that he had expected to be fired because his mistake had cost the company 10 million dollars. Watson’s response was a laugh and the quip, “Are you serious?  The last thing I’d do is fire you for an honest mistake, and besides, I just invested 10 million dollars in your education!”

Unfortunately, most bosses today would find it very difficult to forgive such a mistake.  We live in an era that demands perfection from business leaders and employees, politicians, celebrities, sports stars, family members, friends and neighbors, etc.  No one wants to acknowledge that everyone makes mistakes – often lots of them – and that there’s real value in those failures if we learn from them.  The general rule seems to be that, especially in business, we get paid to succeed not fail.

But think about it.  What if we lived and worked in an environment where we could actually step back and take a thorough look at our failures – and ask ourselves “How could I have done this better?”  Look it up, most research on the subject of failure actually shows that it can be a key factor in personal growth.  When we stop and take a look at an experience, it often leads to a change in the way we view the world, and most often that change is positive.

Business research also finds that when companies put too much emphasis on goals, it can actually entice employees to cut corners and reduce the quality of products and services in order to look good in the eyes of their superiors.  Unfortunately, those same decisions tend to have exactly the opposite effect in the eyes of the business’s customers, since they are the ones who get the final results of those decisions.  And the resulting problems are harder to correct too because any meaningful discussion about the situation will now take place in hidden corners and behind closed doors.

It often takes heroic effort to get our mistakes and failures out in the open where everyone can work together to fully examine them and extract the nuggets of learning they can offer.  Sure, it seems that people are really hard on each other these days and quite often looking for somewhere else to place the blame when they are stinging from a failure.  But social media and reviews are showing us each day that we are also pretty quick to forgive each other when someone owns up to his failures and makes an honest attempt to correct the misstep.

If others are willing to forgive, shouldn’t we then be quicker to forgive ourselves and move on?  If we don’t, we most certainly risk falling into a consistent pattern where we become unwilling to take chances and grow.

Now,”Get Out There And Make It A Great Week!”

20
Sep 13

Weekend Camping Made Easier

camping-sign-resizedFor people everywhere, camping trips are the ultimate family fun. Families head to a national park or the woods to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The joy of being in nature and taking a break from our daily routines keep us camping year after year. School might have started, but the days of Indian summer are still warm and sunny. So why not take advantage of one of your weekends and go camping? Here are some tips and resources to make you and your family camping pros.

Weather the weather

Even if it’s still hot at home, remember that up in the mountains or deep in the woods, temperatures are cooler and drop even lower at night. Pack warm clothes, boots for the mud, and easy to slip-on shoes for middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.

Make sure to have enough blankets and sleeping bags to keep everyone warm for that 3 a.m. chill. Purchase the right size tent and make sure that it has a rain flap for the top and a tarp to put under it so that you’ll stay dry and warm even if the ground is cool or damp. Rain ponchos are a lifesaver in case of a downpour.

Cooking fireside

Cooking in the woods doesn’t have to mean hotdogs or toasted marshmallows (although it wouldn’t be a real camping trip without making them at least once!). Try taking along some homemade granola for an easy breakfast. If you are a gourmet at home, you don’t have to deprive yourself because you’re not in your regular kitchen. The perfect meal just means a little prep time before you leave the apartment. Plan your menus and pre-chop veggies or marinate meat in plastic bags overnight before you go.

Pack small amounts of the condiments you’ll need in jars or bags and make sure anything with the possibility of leaking (oil, butter, etc) is in a container with a secure lid. When packing up your cooler, try tucking small bags of ice in the food – it will keep everything more evenly cool than a big bag of ice at the bottom.

Purchasing the right kind of campfire pots and pans will save ones at home from getting dented or scorched. Lots of multi-functional campstoves and grills are coming out on the market, making even the most complicated meals simple and cutting down on the amount of stuff you need to bring camping. Don’t forget a good thermos for your coffee or tea.

What else?

An air mattress that can be hooked up to your car’s cigarette lighter is a great back saver. Make sure that every member of the family has a good flashlight and extra batteries.

Bring a good-sized trash bag for all your leftovers and a rag, bucket and biodegradable liquid soap to wash dishes. The bucket can do double duty as a sink and carrying case. Bringing along your own dry firewood will save you the trouble of purchasing or gathering it yourself. And last, but not least, remember your first-aid kit and camera!

Before the school workload gets too heavy or the days get too chilly, it’s time to experience the adventure of camping. So, try to get out of town and enjoy nature!

20
Sep 13

Weekend Camping Made Easier

camping-sign-resizedFor people everywhere, camping trips are the ultimate family fun. Families head to a national park or the woods to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The joy of being in nature and taking a break from our daily routines keep us camping year after year. School might have started, but the days of Indian summer are still warm and sunny. So why not take advantage of one of your weekends and go camping? Here are some tips and resources to make you and your family camping pros.

Weather the weather

Even if it’s still hot at home, remember that up in the mountains or deep in the woods, temperatures are cooler and drop even lower at night. Pack warm clothes, boots for the mud, and easy to slip-on shoes for middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.

Make sure to have enough blankets and sleeping bags to keep everyone warm for that 3 a.m. chill. Purchase the right size tent and make sure that it has a rain flap for the top and a tarp to put under it so that you’ll stay dry and warm even if the ground is cool or damp. Rain ponchos are a lifesaver in case of a downpour.

Cooking fireside

Cooking in the woods doesn’t have to mean hotdogs or toasted marshmallows (although it wouldn’t be a real camping trip without making them at least once!). Try taking along some homemade granola for an easy breakfast. If you are a gourmet at home, you don’t have to deprive yourself because you’re not in your regular kitchen. The perfect meal just means a little prep time before you leave the apartment. Plan your menus and pre-chop veggies or marinate meat in plastic bags overnight before you go.

Pack small amounts of the condiments you’ll need in jars or bags and make sure anything with the possibility of leaking (oil, butter, etc) is in a container with a secure lid. When packing up your cooler, try tucking small bags of ice in the food – it will keep everything more evenly cool than a big bag of ice at the bottom.

Purchasing the right kind of campfire pots and pans will save ones at home from getting dented or scorched. Lots of multi-functional campstoves and grills are coming out on the market, making even the most complicated meals simple and cutting down on the amount of stuff you need to bring camping. Don’t forget a good thermos for your coffee or tea.

What else?

An air mattress that can be hooked up to your car’s cigarette lighter is a great back saver. Make sure that every member of the family has a good flashlight and extra batteries.

Bring a good-sized trash bag for all your leftovers and a rag, bucket and biodegradable liquid soap to wash dishes. The bucket can do double duty as a sink and carrying case. Bringing along your own dry firewood will save you the trouble of purchasing or gathering it yourself. And last, but not least, remember your first-aid kit and camera!

Before the school workload gets too heavy or the days get too chilly, it’s time to experience the adventure of camping. So, try to get out of town and enjoy nature!

18
Sep 13

Pamper Yourself! Have a Spa Day Right At Home

spa-tools-resizedWe all need to take time out to relax and unwind. But most times, we don’t make time for ourselves because we get overwhelmed by our schedules or we think we don’t have the time or money for a getaway.

Going to an expensive, faraway spa isn’t the only way to treat yourself. Why not turn your apartment into your very own day spa? There are lots of ways to create a relaxing space right at home and here are some great ideas about how to get started.

The Week Before

Plan your “spa day” on a day you know you can have the apartment to yourself. A full 24 hours is best, but even 8 will leave you feeling refreshed. Get someone to watch the dog or the kids, find out when your roommates will be out of town, or just simply turn off the phone and shut out the world.

The Day Before

Prepare for what you might need, so that you don’t have to leave home if you don’t want to. Buy some favorite foods for each meal, bring out a favorite tea or coffee, and make sure to have plenty of bottled water in the fridge (more to come on that later).

Cleanliness might not really be next to godliness, but it sure will help you to relax in your space. It’s just too tempting to get up and sweep the floor or clean the bathroom, so do your cleaning ahead of time or hire a cleaning service for the day before – it will make all the difference in the world.

Your Personal Day

Do what you enjoy. Try to stick to activities that will relax and refresh you. Maybe for you that’s baking bread, reading a book, or having a leisurely breakfast. Try to avoid distractions like the phone, the television, or your daily work. Take some time to be with yourself and contemplate your state of well being. Try practicing some yoga, cooking an incredible meal, or watching your favorite movie. This is not a day to catch up on your to-do list – it’s a day to forget about that list!

An in-home massage is a great way to relax without leaving the apartment and most don’t cost more than a massage in a spa. Make sure you surround yourself with calming elements. Burn lavender or sandalwood oil, both of which have calming properties, take a warm bath or shower and use products to pamper yourself. Take a nap – they’re so important for our well-being. And make sure to drink lots of water. Water not only diminishes aches and pains, but it also flushes harmful toxins from our bodies, reducing stress.

Only you know what’s relaxing for you. Hopefully, these tips will help you decide what you’d like to do on your own spa day. It’s easy to reduce your stress and increase your vitality on your personal “day off,” all in the comfort of your very own apartment.

17
Sep 13

Up and at ‘em – Time for Soccer!

deflated-soccer-ball-resizedIt’s coming America! NBC has bought the rights to the English Premier League [EPL] (or the PREMIERSHIP, if you prefer), and we’re all going to be seeing a lot more of “the beautiful game,” as soccer is referred to around the world.

What’s it all about?

The EPL deserves a primer. It’s the biggest soccer league in the world, but following the games which are played an ocean away poses difficulties for the average American. You should be warned ahead of time that devoting yourself to the EPL will alienate you from your family and friends. Because of the time difference, you’ll be setting your alarm clock for dawn if you want to watch the games live and you’ll probably be skipping the football game everyone else is watching for the “football” game played 3,000 miles away. It can make for a lonely, confusing life. But don’t worry, it is all worth it.

There are twenty teams in the EPL. Every season, there is a championship team and the bottom three teams are “relegated.” Relegation means that the three teams that have the worst record go down to the lower league and the best teams in that lower league get promoted to the EPL. Imagine the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates getting demoted to Triple A and then the best Triple A teams being promoted to replace them the following year.

Since there are twenty different teams in the EPL, and we have limited time and space here, we would like to steer you to NBC’s site which breaks down each team for you, including their history, pitch (English version of a stadium), manager (or coach) and some of the key players to watch.

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nbc-yahoo-sports/nbc-sports-premier-league-primer-185305847–ocid.yahoo.html

What’s the Point?

So, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why should I watch these English hooligans run around on a field when I have a perfectly good American league (MLS for you non-soccer fans) and I don’t have to set my alarm for 6 a.m. to watch them?”

That’s a valid question and here’s my best answer: as Americans, we’re used to watching the most accomplished athletes in the world. Our basketball, hockey, and baseball players all belong to leagues that are considered to be “the best of the best.” When we watch the Olympics, we like to see the USA clean-up the medals in all categories, right? So, why would we settle for an “up and coming” soccer league with some decent players when we can watch the BEST IN THE WORLD play in the EPL?

That seems to be a no brainer. So, set your alarm and get ready for some incredible soccer. “The beautiful game” is coming to the US on primetime!!

16
Sep 13

Skill Is Over-rated!

mondaysignpost_resized-(1)There was a day, before the time of our parents, when many people made their livelihood via a particular talent or skill they possessed. My own father was a carpenter, an auto mechanic, and an engineer/technician at different times in his life. Sometimes he had to work two jobs to make ends meet, but he was always able to fall back on one of his core skills to make a living.

In today’s society, strong skills are certainly still useful. If you’re a surgeon or even a computer technician, it’s safe to say you can rely on your skills to keep you progressing economically.

But things are changing, and there now seems to be a new paradigm on the global economic horizon — the rise of the artist/entrepreneur. It bears great tidings for the rest of us, those of us who consider ourselves lacking in the advanced skillset department.

So listen up all of you out there who think you’re lacking in certified skills. Your time is at hand if you consider yourself more practiced in what we’ll call the fundamental human skills. In other words, if you’re pretty good at connecting with people, assessing what’s working and what isn’t in everyday situations, and dreaming new dreams about how to fix the world…in other words, if you’re someone with a very active imagination.

For a lot of people this isn’t as easy as it sounds. An important requirement, which can be very painful and frightening to some, is the necessity to put yourself out there. Like the adventurers in Star Trek, you sometimes have to be willing to “boldly go where no one has gone before.” And more than ever, you have to be at least willing to fail. But if you fail, you must also be willing to get the lesson from the experience.

However, here is the good news. With the help of the internet, it’s easier than ever to take your idea from start-up to working model and full marketing mode in less time, and in many cases with less financial output than at any other time in history! You just have to be willing to first make the effort.

New things are possible and your fellow world citizens are proving it every day. They are using the internet to announce their intentions, develop and actively market their ideas, and thereby help to create a new world with amazing benefits for all.

So unskilled craftsmen unite! Follow the lead of those legions of passionate entrepreneurs who are offering up their artisanal foods, craft brews, online education, and homemade creations. This is actually a time when anyone would be hard-pressed to say “I can’t find a job.” It could be that your real job is to explore your artistic side and create new opportunities… opportunities that could provide you with financial security and benefit the rest of your world. Why not start your personal exploration today? It could be an exciting journey, and one we hope would permit you to “Live long and prosper!”

Now “Get Out There And Make It A Great Week!”

13
Sep 13

Let’s Go to Vegas and …Hike??

fabulous-las-vegas-sign-resizedFor the last 20 years or so, Las Vegas has worked very hard to convince potential visitors that it is about more than gambling and glitzy shows. Yet, despite the city’s best efforts, when you tell someone you are going to Vegas, the image that immediately pops into their head is that of “The Strip” with its well-known casinos. They envision you seated behind a slot machine day and night, leaving only to catch a few hours of sleep, or perhaps to catch a show, such as Cirque du Soleil.

We recently escaped to Las Vegas, but our mission was to seek out some beautiful hiking spots in the vicinity that we had heard about. We were not disappointed!

So Close, Yet So Different

Only 30 minutes west of The Strip lays one of the area’s hidden gems – Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. If you’re into “windshield touring,” this park features a paved, thirteen mile scenic drive that is not to be missed. Every twist and turn of the drive opens up a new sweeping vista of interesting and colorful geological wonders. Streaks of bright red rock contrast with milky-white limestone hues. Rounded formations are scattered among jagged peaks.

If you are a hiker, Red Rock has about two dozen overlooks and trails, offering everything from short half-mile walks to strenuous scrambling over boulders and steep switchbacks. A couple of our favorites were the “Calico Tanks” trail, a short 1.25 mile trail which leads to the Calico Hills, and the “La Madre Springs” trail, a fairly easy uphill 1.5 mile path leading to the flowing springs. If finding water in the desert gets you excited, you will also like the “Icebox Canyon” trail, although getting to the water is a bit strenuous.

History Lesson AND Exercise

Anyone who leaves the casino to do some outside sightseeing usually finds himself driving (or flying over) the Hoover Dam, built during the 1930’s. The dam created Lake Mead, a huge and impressive sight in itself. The Lake Mead National Lakeshore features some dramatic hiking opportunities which allow visitors to see the many desert plants while walking alongside the lake and reveling in the cool breezes.

We also discovered the “Historic Railroad” trail, which is built on the former roadbed of a railway built to haul supplies to the dam site during its construction. The railway followed the contour of the nearby mountains. This required that five tunnels be dug through the mountains en route to the construction site and they have been preserved as part of the trail. Informational signs along the trail describe the living conditions of the workers and their families, as well as the process of tunneling through the mountains to finish the railroad. The trail eventually leads hikers to the Hoover Dam Visitor Center and soaring views of the recently completed new highway bridge spanning the canyon below the dam.

We were pleasantly surprised by the number of great places available to hike in the Las Vegas area. A few questions at the front desk of our hotel led to us hiking up the aptly named Black Mountain, as well as other local trails. Have you ever taken a trip to Las Vegas? Did you spend the majority of your time inside the casinos or outside soaking up the sun? What were your favorite sights?

11
Sep 13

How to Have a Happy Hound

dog-with-blanket-and-ice-pack-lying-on-floor-resizedAs humans, we often talk about our own and other people’s stress and know how to deal with it. But what we often forget is that our dogs get stressed out, too. Lots of things can trigger stress for dogs: a change of routine, a new family member or additional pet, or changes to your work and home schedule. Your pooch’s reaction and adjustment time to the changes greatly depend on your attitude and consistency in doing a few simple things to alleviate his anxiety:

Make your apartment a safe refuge

Remember to allow time for any big shifts in your dog’s life. If there is a new member being added to the family, introduce him to your pet slowly. If there’s a change in the routine, try to keep as much stability in your pet’s life as possible. Keep his bed, blanket or crate available to him 24 hours a day so he has a safe place to go. Try to keep up the same or similiar routines that your dog is accustomed to, including feeding and play times. Try to maintain similar scents in the home – smells that are calming to both people and pets – like lavender oil.

Stay calm and your dog will too

Your dog may take up to several weeks to adjust to any big change and this may mean accidents in the apartment or bad behavior. Try not to scold him too much, but remember to praise him when he does what he’s supposed to. If your dog is needy or clingy, try to stay very calm and give him the same amount of attention as always, but don’t overindulge him – it will only convince him there is something to worry about.

Anxious dogs may start to have separation anxiety. Don’t make a big deal out of leaving or arriving. This way, your dog won’t think it’s a big deal either. You can also get your dog a few toys to keep him busy when you have to be out of the house, but make sure you spend plenty of time with him when you get home, letting him know that he’s important to you.

Stay attuned to your pet

Watch your dog closely for any changes in diet or habits and look for signs of stress. Remember to be patient. We all go through tough times and pets are no different, except they can’t tell you aloud what is bothering them, and so it’s a pet owner’s job to pay attention and treat them with extra special care. If you just give your dog’s feelings the consideration they deserve, he will thank you and you will feel like a better owner!

10
Sep 13

Who is benefitting from your Wi-Fi?

you-are-now-in-a-wifi-area-sign-resizedAre you inviting a hacker to steal your information when you use a wireless network in your apartment? You’re always safest when using “wired” networks because your information is not freely broadcast between multiple devices, but you can minimize the risk of using wi-fi by following a few simple steps:

First of all, it is important to know the wireless technical jargon.

The standard setup for a wireless network requires two components: a Wireless Access Point (WAP) and a computer with a wireless network adapter. The WAP connects to your high-speed Internet and/or your internal network. It gives you the ability to use a computing device (copier, printer, etc) without hard-wiring. A wireless network adapter, used for transmitting and receiving information, may be required for each device you connect to a WAP. The wireless network adapter is usually built into laptop computers, while it is an add-on component for other devices.

Tip #1: Make Sure to Enable Encryption

Encryption scrambles your data, reducing the risk of someone being able to monitor your communications if your signal is intercepted. There are several standards of encryption common to most WAPs. Newer wireless access points include Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2). WPA2 is the preferred, stronger method. If WPA2 is not available, it is recommended that you use WPA. If your network only allows for WEP (Wired Equivalency Privacy), an older standard of encryption, you should replace your wireless network with one that supports WPA2 or WPA. The encryption set-up can be accessed through your set-up disc or settings for the wireless router on your PC. If you have difficulty locating the set-up for the encryption, the help desk for your router can point you in the right direction.

Tip #2: Change the Default Password

This may seem like a “no brainer,” but it really isn’t. The default passwords used by manufacturers are well known to hackers. Be sure to use a strong password that is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lower case letters, as well as special characters. Again, these settings can be accessed through the “set-up” of your wireless router in the “settings” section in most cases.

Tip #3: Change SSID Name

The Service Set Identifier (SSID) is the name of your wireless network. Default SSIDs are also well known to hackers. Change the SSID name to something unique and be careful not to use a name that freely discloses information, such as your family name. Avoid descriptive or functional names as well, such as “Payroll” or “Accounting” since this would be an attractive target for an attacker. A good SSID can make or break your Wi-Fi security.

Tip #4: Turn Off SSID Broadcasting

By turning off SSID Broadcasting, your WAP does not advertise its presence. It is similar to having an unlisted telephone number. The only way to connect to a WAP with SSID Broadcasting turned off is to know the SSID name and password. Your SSID name and broadcasting are also accessed through the set-up of the wireless router. If you run into any difficulties, contact the service number for your router.

By taking just a few simple steps like the above, you can put yourself in a much more secure position when you are surfing the web and video streaming. For other information about Wireless Networks, we recommend the following links:

PC World: How to Use Your Wireless Network

http://www.pcworld.com/article/130330/how_to_secure_your_wireless_network.html

OnGuard Online: Securing Your Wireless Network

http://onguardonline.gov/articles/0013-securing-your-wireless-network

9
Sep 13

Ahhh, The Glamorous Life.

mondaysignpost_resized-(1)How would you like to be famous? Go ahead, pick your particular celebrity idol. Whether it’s a movie star, a sports hero, a musical superstar, or a billionaire businessperson, wouldn’t it be nice to be in their shoes for a day?

Well, the truth is – maybe, maybe not. While it seems like it might solve all of your problems if you had their lifestyle, notoriety, (and especially their money), if you look closely enough, there might be a few downsides to that image of fame and fortune.

Let’s consider a list of potential issues that a famous person might have to deal with that ordinary people never have to think about:

   1. This first one’s a biggie – Lack of privacy.

Being from Chicago, I remember the days when Michael Jordan owned the town. (Heck, a significant case could be made that he owned the world, but then Kobie Bryant and Le Bron James fans might have a differing opinion.) Michael couldn’t walk down any street, anywhere, without being mobbed by fans. It could get really annoying, really fast, if you couldn’t enjoy a meal in your favorite restaurant, go to movie, or spend a day at the park with your kids without being continually accosted by fans, even when most are well-meaning.

2. How do you know who your real friends are?

When you’re famous (and rich), long lost relatives suddenly show up at your door, on the telephone, or wherever you happen to be. Believe it or not, you are the only one who can help them with their money problems, lack of a job, or just about any other problem they have. It doesn’t matter that you have your own set of problems – and your own life – you are now the answer to their prayers.

3. The pressure to always perform.

Didn’t think about this one, did you? Have you ever sat in a major league ballpark or sports stadium and really watched fan behavior? It isn’t always adoring. Sure, it’s all good when you hit a homerun that wins the game, or sink the championship winning basket. But, how about when you’re batting under .200 and haven’t had a hit in five straight games? How would you handle the string of insults directed your way by those same fans that were cheering you last week? How many of us are under that kind of pressure in our everyday lives and jobs? Sports heroes make the money they do because they can do what they do, day in and day out. Do you really want that kind of pressure every minute of your life?

And that leads us to…

4. Learning to live a normal life.

Now here’s where the rest of us often have an advantage. After all, is anything in the life of a celebrity really normal? By the very fact that they have the fame that they do, and have the money they do, they never get to experience a lot of what we consider everyday normal activity. Most of us don’t get the same kind of forgiveness for making life’s mistakes. We aren’t held up on a pedestal and given special treatment. We, unlike them, learn quickly that there’s no such thing as total acceptance for anything and everything we decide we want to do. And that, my friends, can lead to some potentially rough experiences when our hero meets a barrier that his status will not transport him over.

So take another look at this very brief list of celebrity perks. Then ask yourself, are they really better than the life I already have? You just might surprise yourself at how blessed you already are!

“Now Get Out There and Make It A Great Week!”

 

6
Sep 13

Balancing Fun with Exercise

baby-boomers-on-bicycles-resizedAs the “baby boomers” reach age 65, the U.S. population is blessed with a larger-than-ever group of senior citizens. We’re definitely living longer, but we all need to stay active if we want to live independent and healthy lives into our 70’s, 80’s or 90’s. Aerobic exercise is an excellent way to do that. And bicycling is one form of aerobic exercise that allows us to get a good low impact workout outside while we enjoy the beautiful fall scenery.

So Many Bikes…So Little Time

When the boomers were growing up, buying a bike was pretty simple. We went to the store, chose the color of Schwinn that we wanted, and took it home. For those who wanted to be at the cutting edge of technology, there were bicycles that had three or five speeds and maybe even a set of handbrakes to boot.

As everything else, the modern-day bicycle has evolved, and shopping for one has become almost as confusing as buying a car. Of course, you can just drive over to the nearest big-box department store and grab a “generic” bike for under $100, but we’re betting that if you start riding with any regularity, you will regret that decision. Even a short ride on an uncomfortable bike will make you start to re-consider your resolution to exercise.

Say What?

We recommend a visit to at least one specialty bicycle store. You will probably be amazed at the array of bicycles on display! If you are a “newbie” to modern bicycles, you will have to ask the sales people to explain the terminology to you. Suddenly you’ll be hearing about “derailleurs,” “grip-shifters,” “drop-downs,” “hybrids,” “road-bikes,” and “recumbents.” You might feel a little overwhelmed and be tempted to ask where the Schwinn Black Phantoms are stored, but just be patient with that 20-something salesperson. Tell them what body parts hurt the most when you ride. The new bikes are actually designed to eliminate and/or radically reduce your discomfort.

Don’t be surprised to see adult tricycles, as these are growing in popularity with (ahem) older riders. These are very low to the ground and feature very comfortable seats and disc brakes (that’s right – we said disc brakes!).

Most of these modern bikes have at least 18 gears which makes for vastly easier hill climbing. The multiple gears are also easy on riders’ joints because they require much less pressure to ride uphill or to pick up speed. Nowadays, most riders do very little “standing” on the pedals because the gears do the work for you.

Shopping is Fun

Be sure to ask to test ride any bikes that look interesting to you. The more bikes you ride, the better idea you’ll have about what features you’ll want. This is a great time to try out new designs. You may be surprised to find that you really like that mountain bike or recumbent, even though you’ve never ridden one before.

Sticker Shock

One more thing! We have to warn you that inflation and the technology revolution have taken their toll on bicycle prices. A good, well-made bicycle will usually cost at least $500, and the price tag goes up from there! We were shocked when we asked the price of tricycle recumbent and the salesperson replied $2600!! (Maybe it’s a sign of old age, but we can name several good cars we’ve purchased for less than that!)

A fall weekend is the perfect time to go bicycle shopping. Most models are on sale and there’s still plenty of pleasant riding weather ahead. Why not go shopping and try out a “modern” bicycle that’s perfect for the older generation?

4
Sep 13

Nothing Like A Good Book Club

diverse people discussing bookI love to read! I mean I really love to read. I’m happiest on a cool, rainy day, wrapped in a warm blanket, sipping a cup of tea, and engrossed in the pages of a great book. The crinkle of the outer book cover and the feel of the smooth pages on my fingertips make me feel like I’m wrapping my arms around an old friend.

If you love books the way I do, then maybe you should consider starting your own book club. Your apartment could be the perfect place to have the meetings (and maybe even meet some of your apartment complex neighbors too!) Here are some start-up tips:

What Kind Of Club Do You Want?

The great thing about starting your own book club is that it is yours, so you can make it exactly the way you want. Maybe you love a good mystery or great non-fiction. Do you want your club to be more of a social venture or to focus on intense discussions of serious academic topics? As long as you invite those who share your vision, it should be a success.

How to Pick That First Book

It might be best to pick your first book from a list of popular book club books. These lists also include discussion questions for their books, so you don’t have to add “making questions” to your list of “to do” items for your first meeting.

What About Members?

It is best to choose members who share your passion for reading. It is also really important to pick people who enjoy the same types of books as you. If you spend all your time arguing about what to read and hating each other’s choices, it will NOT be fun!

Eight to sixteen members is a good number to get a good discussion going. If you go over sixteen, member’s voices can easily be lost. At your first meeting, you can discuss how often you would like to meet, if you want to include refreshments, how long the meetings should last, etc.

There are lots of ways to keep in touch with your members these days. You can create an event on Facebook, send an email, make a book club group on the website Meetup, post a sign in your apartment building, or even put a sign up in your local library branch.

A book club is a wonderful way to meet some new people in your apartment complex or really connect with your current friends and neighbors. You can work out the details with the other members at your first meeting. As you finalize the arrangements, your love of books will point you in the right direction!

3
Sep 13

Managing Stress So It Doesn’t Manage You

man buried in paper holding up help signResearchers are finding that job stress (and just plain “living” stress) can increase the probability of many health problems.  If you’re feeling a lot of pressure in your daily life, you’re more likely to develop health issues than people who aren’t feeling strained to the limit.  That seems pretty self-explanatory, right?

So, how do you go about reducing stress?  Here are just some of the easiest (and almost “well DUH!”) ways for you to protect your health:

Attempt to have a balanced life

We often try to control the demands of daily life by pushing ourselves to get more done, no matter what it takes.  This may involve working longer hours or taking work home with us.  In situations like this, it is better to focus on doing your best vs. trying to meet unreasonable expectations.  And then we can spend those extra hours taking time for ourselves and our families.

Eat well and exercise

Exercise and relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing or yoga) actively reduce the harmful effects of stress on our bodies.  We also cope with problems better when we’re calm and healthy.

Keep your sense of humor

Study after study has proven that even the anticipation of laughter can lighten a person’s mood.  In the middle of a crisis or a bad day, it can be hard to see the funny side of a situation, but laughing with coworkers, friends, or family is an ideal way to alleviate tension.

Control what you can and recognize what you can’t control

That sounds like an ancient Chinese proverb, but it is true on so many levels.  People who feel in control of their lives are less prone to stress.  However it is important to remember that family members will get sick, work will get crazy, and people will show up unexpectedly to dinner.  Control what you can and handle the rest with as much grace as possible.

Practice Mindfulness.

The Mayo Clinic defines “mindfulness” as being awake to what we’re sensing or feeling without judgment or interpretation.  Practicing “mindfulness” is very important, especially for giving a sense of calm focus to those who pride themselves on multi-tasking and hurriedly jumping from activity to activity.

Remember, a life with no stress at all probably wouldn’t be worth living (or at least it probably wouldn’t be very interesting).  But responding and coping with that tension in ways that help us stay balanced and mindful can lead us to a happier, and hopefully a healthier, life.

30
Aug 13

Things To Do For Labor Day Weekend

labor-day-3d-sign-resizedIt’s that one last trip before the school year really swings into gear (sigh) – and it’s your last chance to relax and have fun with the whole family. There’s an extra-long weekend stretching ahead, but perhaps you’ve run out of ideas to take advantage of the time. Well, have no fear, you know you can always count on us to come up with a few suggestions – so let’s get started. Whether you’d like to leave town, or just hang close to home, here are a few of our favorite ideas:

Light Up The Grill

If there’s one thing most of us like to do on our holidays, it’s eat. Gather your friends, family, or neighbors and head for the local park, forest preserve, backyard, porch, or balcony. If everyone brings their favorite dish or beverage, you’ll have plenty of great food to share and you can take advantage of some of the warm weather that comes with the last gasp of summer.

Head Outdoors

It’s just a wild guess, but I’ll bet it’s been a little while since you last visited the zoo. The animals are missing you and they wonder why you’ve been away so long. C’mon, let them see all of your faces again. They may not see you again over the winter.

But if the zoo’s not your thing, then how about a trip to the Water Park? It’s the end of the season for that type of fun, and it’s a great place to spend at least one of the weekend days if you don’t have a beach handy.

Road Trip!!!

Just think! Everyone will be on the same schedule for that last weekend! No soccer practice, no baseball games, no music lessons. You just pile into the family car and head out on the summer’s last great adventure. Maybe there’s a great national or state park within driving distance? Or maybe you could take in a little Americana and travel either the Great River Road or your particular region’s section of the Mother Road (old Rt. 66). Even better, get the family or friends together and make that trip on a bicycle. You may not get as far, but you’d sure get in a lot of good outdoor time.

Visit A Theme Park or A County Fair

Everyone loves the rides, slides, the animals, and the delicious fair food – especially the kids. Unless you live in one of the warmer climates, the theme parks will be shutting down soon when fair and festival season comes to a close. You’ll have all winter to recover from the tilt-a-whirl rides, the cotton candy, and the fried foods on-a-stick, so give in for the weekend and just have fun! It’s what Labor Day was designed for, so jump in with both feet and have a blast!

If we haven’t discussed your particular brand of fun, then it’s your turn. Take a few minutes and tell us what you plan to do over the three-day weekend. But most of all, have a fun-filled and safe holiday. We’ll see you right back here when we all return next week. Happy Labor Day!

28
Aug 13

Do Less Cleaning and Have More Summer Fun!

cleaning-supplies-in-plastic-dish-pan-resizedWhere has the summer gone? It’s almost Labor Day and most of us haven’t even done half of the fun things that we had planned for the summer! Even though summer may be about over, there’s still lots of warm weather ahead that we can enjoy, but we need to get outside to do it. But how can we go outside and have fun when we have work to do inside?

One of the biggest chores that stands in our way is cleaning our apartments. There will be overcast fall days ahead when we’ll be happy to stay indoors, but for right now we need to find ways to clean quickly so that we can get outdoors. Here are some tips to get you out the door fast on cleaning day:

Make it a Clean Start

Keep your apartment tidy. If your apartment is in order, you can quickly go through and clean it. So, make sure that you put away clutter every day. If you spend six minutes putting things away every weekday, that will give you half an hour of time to go outside on the weekend. (And think about how much time could be saved if everyone in your family spent six minutes a day picking up after themselves!)

Stay Organized

You don’t want to waste time gathering together your supplies every time you clean, so keep them together in a bucket or cleaning supply caddy. You can carry it with you when you clean or even buy carpenter’s apron with big pockets to hold your supplies. Another speed-cleaning secret is microfiber cleaning cloths that pick up dirt quickly. Carry two with you – spray one with furniture polish for wooden surfaces and one with glass cleaner for all the other surfaces. Or you might even want to cover one of your hands with an old sock. Spray it with a little cleaning solution and everything you touch will be instantly cleaned! Move quickly from room to room, dusting furniture and wiping off counters. After you finish, run the sweeper and mop over the places that need it.

Crank up the Volume

To keep your energy level high, put on your headphones and play some of your favorite toe tapping music. (But if you feel yourself getting carried away with the dance moves, remember that the reason for the music is to get the cleaning done, so put your energy into wiping the bathroom sink!)

It shouldn’t take you long to move through your rooms and give them a quick buff and shine. If your apartment was in order before you started, you’ll be surprised at how nice it looks with just quick run through. (Just resist the temptation to look in the corners for cobwebs!)

After you’re done, put your cleaning supplies away, take one last glance at your clean and tidy apartment, and head out the door to enjoy one of those summer adventures that you just haven’t quite gotten to yet (maybe even a Labor Day outing!) But don’t stand in the doorway admiring your handiwork for too long! Remember that time’s a’wasting!

 

27
Aug 13

YOU’VE GOT TO TRY THESE GAMES!

plants-vs.-zombies-image-resizedToday, almost everyone could probably be called a “gamer” at one time or another. A few years ago, this label would have been reserved for only the “nerds” who played for hours and hours on their PC, Playstation, or Xbox. However, with the advent of cell phone games today, almost everyone has played some type of game when they are commuting to/from work, waiting for the bus, or just killing time.

If you haven’t already discovered them, below are a few of the games (beyond Angry Birds and Words with Friends) that you really should try:

Cut The Rope

Cut the Rope kicked off the puzzler genre game trend with its cute visuals, difficult puzzles, and frequent free-content updates. A “puzzler” can be classified as any type of game that presents the player with puzzles that usually have several different ways to solve them. The goal of every stage is to get a piece of candy into the mouth of the adorably-named creature Om Nom. No individual stage takes too long to finish, but the $.99 app currently contains over two hundred levels in total. That’s only a half penny each, folks.

Bad Piggies

Bad Piggies takes the puzzle gameplay of Angry Birds and mixes it with simple and rewarding vehicle building. The result is a much deeper, more rewarding and creative experience. The game’s open-ended puzzles test your brain while also providing you with the freedom to be creative. The game keeps an amusing, cheerful tone throughout that will keep you smiling while watching your vehicles come to life, regardless of whether you succeed or fail.

Plants Vs. Zombies

If you only ever play one other cell phone game, Plants vs. Zombies should be it! The goal is to plant an enormous variety of vegetables in order to ward off some crazed zombies. It’s addictive and charming (just like how all mobile games should be). This continues to be one of the most popular games on any platform (Android or iOS) and with good reason…because it’s GREAT fun!

These are three of the best games that you have to try on your phone. In addition to these, there are countless others that you’ll want to try to see if they are something you would enjoy doing whenever you’re waiting in line or have a few minutes of “downtime.” No matter which games you choose, the good news is that you don’t have to be a dedicated “gamer” anymore to enjoy a quick escape into the entertaining world of mobile games.

 

27
Aug 13

YOU’VE GOT TO TRY THESE GAMES!

plants-vs.-zombies-image-resizedToday, almost everyone could probably be called a “gamer” at one time or another. A few years ago, this label would have been reserved for only the “nerds” who played for hours and hours on their PC, Playstation, or Xbox. However, with the advent of cell phone games today, almost everyone has played some type of game when they are commuting to/from work, waiting for the bus, or just killing time.

If you haven’t already discovered them, below are a few of the games (beyond Angry Birds and Words with Friends) that you really should try:

Cut The Rope

Cut the Rope kicked off the puzzler genre game trend with its cute visuals, difficult puzzles, and frequent free-content updates. A “puzzler” can be classified as any type of game that presents the player with puzzles that usually have several different ways to solve them. The goal of every stage is to get a piece of candy into the mouth of the adorably-named creature Om Nom. No individual stage takes too long to finish, but the $.99 app currently contains over two hundred levels in total. That’s only a half penny each, folks.

Bad Piggies

Bad Piggies takes the puzzle gameplay of Angry Birds and mixes it with simple and rewarding vehicle building. The result is a much deeper, more rewarding and creative experience. The game’s open-ended puzzles test your brain while also providing you with the freedom to be creative. The game keeps an amusing, cheerful tone throughout that will keep you smiling while watching your vehicles come to life, regardless of whether you succeed or fail.

Plants Vs. Zombies

If you only ever play one other cell phone game, Plants vs. Zombies should be it! The goal is to plant an enormous variety of vegetables in order to ward off some crazed zombies. It’s addictive and charming (just like how all mobile games should be). This continues to be one of the most popular games on any platform (Android or iOS) and with good reason…because it’s GREAT fun!

These are three of the best games that you have to try on your phone. In addition to these, there are countless others that you’ll want to try to see if they are something you would enjoy doing whenever you’re waiting in line or have a few minutes of “downtime.” No matter which games you choose, the good news is that you don’t have to be a dedicated “gamer” anymore to enjoy a quick escape into the entertaining world of mobile games.

 

The Apts at Woodfield Crossing

The Apts at Woodfield Crossing
Office Hours

  • Mon - Tues: 9:00 - 6:00
  • Wednesday: 9:00 - 7:00
  • Thurs - Fri: 9:00 - 6:00
  • Saturday: 10:00 - 5:00
  • Sunday: 11:00 - 5:00
Address

  • 4700 Arbor Drive
  • Rolling Meadows, IL 
  • 60008
Contact Us

  • phone: (888) 557-5527
  • fax: 847-397-2268