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Welcome to the blog page for Lease-an-Apartment.  On this page, we share information that we believe can be helpful to existing and potential future tenants in our various apartment buildings.  We hope you find our musings to be useful and/or interesting.  Please feel free to leave comments to add your own two cents!

10 Downtown Events You Don’t Want to Miss!

The people of Joliet are embracing the cool weather with tons of fun family activities.

1.  Grab your costume and head out to the Haunted Museum, tonight from 6:00pm – 9:00pm.  You’ll have a great time ghost hunting, exploring the haunted galleries and finding your groove at the Monster Mash dance party featuring DJ Don Gray.

2.  Also going on tonight, and tonight only, is the Public Library’s After Hours Halloween Rave.  Enjoy the food, fun and games and wear your best for a chance to be named winner of the costume contest.

3.  Follow the leader through the spooky woods of Joliet on a family-friendly guided Halloween tour.  You’ll see scenes and skits and have opportunities to take part in storytelling around the campfire and other fun activities.

4.  Head out for a night of fun at Harrah’s Casino for Pumpkin Payouts every Saturday and Sunday this month.  Five lucky winners will be drawn each hour for a chance to play for prizes – including up to $5,000.

5.  November 3 rd will be an action-packed day at CPX Sports Paintball Park.  Play with some of the top U.S. paint-ballers at the Shoot for the Cure event, and help raise money for breast cancer research at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

6.  Enjoy reading the 50 Shades series?  Check out Spank! The 50 Shades Parody on November 17 th at Rialto Square Theatre.

7.  Don’t miss the Caroling Party at the Jacob Henry Mansion Estate on November 20 th .  Enjoy the lovely voices of this Victorian caroling ensemble as they bring the true meaning of the holidays to Joliet.

8.  Adults will love the Festival of the Vines Wine Tasting on November 26 th .  Rialto Square Theatre hosts this event that lets you sip on some of the best.

9.  On the 29 th. Joliet will light up the town with the annual Light up the Holidays Festival and Parade.  Join the community in welcoming the holiday season with this fun family event.

10.  Want to learn more about this historic town?  Enjoy free admission to the Joliet Area Historical Museum on November 29 th .  Bring the family for a fun day of history and learning, and grab a bite after at the ongoing Festival just outside.

Pantry Organization for Small Kitchens

As apartment renters, most of us know what it’s like to live with a small kitchen.  At times, it can feel cramped, cluttered and just plain unmanageable, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  All it takes is a little patience and organization to make a smaller kitchen work wonders.

If you’re limited on cabinet space, consider hanging a closet pocket organizer on the back of the pantry door.  These usually hook right over the door, and are perfect for storing things like packs of oatmeal, granola bars, and more.

For a clean, consistent look consider placing cereals, pastas and other grains into clear plastic storage containers.  These are really cheap and can be purchased at places like Costco or Ikea; plus, they look extremely organized when lined up in a cabinet.

Bring in some decorative baskets to place bags, bottles, cans and any other odd items out.  Organize them into snacks, breakfast items, etc. Need to grab a quick item on your way out the door?  Now you’ll know just where to look.

Rather than taking up kitchen space with things like spices and condiments, try using rotatable spice racks to hold these items.  You can usually fit quite a few onto each rack level, and if there’s extra space you can even use them to store cans of soup, beans, or other items.

Lastly, try to keep larger items like that toaster oven you keep stored away from taking up too much valuable cabinet space.  Instead, try placing your toaster or crock pot on top of the fridge, where it’s partially still out of sight but still easy accessible when you need it.

Working with a small kitchen can be frustrating at times, but it can also be totally manageable.  Think twice about how you use your available space and try a moving a few things around in order to keep things clean and organized.  Share your favorite kitchen organization tips with us in the comments.

5 Good Reasons to Laugh More

Ever heard that laughter is the best medicine?  Well, this may actually be true.  Studies actually show that we change physiologically when we’re laughing and having a good time.  Pop in a funny movie, get together with some friends or head over to the local comedy club – your body will thank you for it.  Here are five great reasons to laugh more:

1.  When we laugh, our bodies stimulate the release of endorphins, putting us in a better mood.  Much like when we exercise, laughter causes our pulse to quicken and our blood pressure to go up, increasing the level of oxygen being circulated through our bodies.

2.  Not only is laughter good for the body, but it can help stimulate brain activity.  Psychologists have begun to theorize that a positive mindset and a little bit of laughter can help boost people’s problem solving ability and creativity by stimulating the brain’s reward center.

3.  It’s no surprise that getting in a few giggles can help to put us in a better mood, but did you know that it can significantly aid in eliminating strong symptoms of depression and anxiety?  Laughter reduces muscle tension over time, and can even stimulate the body to produce its own natural pain killers.

4.  Telling a few jokes is also a great way to break the ice.  Laughter is one of the best ways to eliminate anxiety over meeting new people, and it can help ease the tension of a difficult situation.  That being said, it’s a great way to win people over, too.

5.  In terms of attraction, people often gravitate towards others that can make them laugh.  Not only do we often find these people more emotionally and physically appealing, but psychologists have found that laughter can help to strengthen a relationship by increasing a sense of trust.

The next time you’re stressed out, or putting yourself out there in a new social circle, try using humor and laughter as a way to relieve any tension.  Chances are you’ll start to feel better in no time!

Natural Remedies for Summer Sunburns

It’s summer, and while sunscreen and keeping covered are still the best ways to avoid that nasty mid-summer sunburn, we’re all bound to get a burn every now and then.  When you do spend too much time in the sun, here are a few things to try in order to help naturally relieve the pain.

Throw back a couple of Advil or aspirin as soon as possible after you get a burn.  It might not seem like a big deal, but the medication will help to stop inflammation of the skin and help ease redness and pain.

Soak a small, clean cloth in ice-cold milk and press onto the burned area.  It might sound strange, but the fat, protein and pH of milk have soothing, anti-inflammatory effects on skin.  Plus, the extreme cold temperature will help to reduce any swelling.

Aloe Vera is a definite must-have for the summer season.  The gel has a wonderful cooling effect that takes place immediately upon application.  It also contains anti-inflammatory components that help skin heal quickly and efficiently. You can apply this gel directly from an Aloe plant, in gel form, or drink it in juice form in order to repair any affected areas.

For dry, cracked and sunburned skin, smooth a thick layer of mayonnaise over the affected area.  Leave it on for about ten minutes and then gently wipe away with a damp cloth.  The Mayonnaise will help to relieve pain and restore moisture to the skin, and as it’s wiped away with a damp cloth it will help to soften and remove any rough dead skin.

Another important thing to remember when dealing with sunburn is to keep hydrated.  Drinking plenty of water is key to recovering quickly from a bad burn.  Keeping skin well moisturized is also important.  Apply lotion regularly to each affected area.

Most importantly, keep that SPF handy!  Anytime you’re going to be spending a significant amount of time outside, apply a layer of sun screen.  Even on a cloudy day, burns are fairly easy to come by.

Fireworks, Baseball and Other Upcoming Local Events

This Fourth of July, we’re watching sparks fly at Joliet Memorial Stadium with an awesome fireworks display beginning at 9:15 p.m.  This historic building holds up to 10,000 people and is dedicated to Joliet residents who fought in World Wars I and II, as well as the Korean War.

Admission for this celebration is free, as is parking, and the show will be synchronized to music on Star 96.7 FM.  Grab a friend or round up the family to watch a wildly colorful and entertaining show.

If you’re a big baseball fan, you may want to check out the Joliet Slammers on July 3 rd and 4 th .  Join the team as they put on a fireworks show after the games at Silver Cross Field, and celebrate with a hot dog and cold beer.

Also this month are the city’s free concerts on the hill over at Bicentennial Park.  Relax and lay back on the grass while enjoying a variety of great music.  The peaceful scenic setting along the waterway, tasty concessions and family-friendly set-up will make it an experience you won’t forget.

Looking to escape and experience another culture?  Do it without leaving town by joining the All

Saints Greek Orthodox Church for its Taste of Greece celebration.  This festival is free to attend and lasts for an entire weekend.  Come out and celebrate with authentic Greek food, drinks, music and dancing.

There’s a lot going on in Joliet this summer, so come out and experience it with friends, family and community members.  For more information on upcoming events, click here.

Organization Tips for Busy Families

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a working couple or a single father of four, keeping things organized at home can be tough.  The laundry might not always get folded or the mail might start to stack up on the counter, making things seem chaotic and unorganized.  Family life is both wonderful and messy at times, so we thought we’d share a few tips for getting the basics under control.

If you have a fairly large group of people and schedules to manage, consider setting up a family command center in your kitchen.  Invest in a dry erase calendar to keep up on your wall or fridge with all of the upcoming month’s events.  Have markers and post-its readily available for last minute changes and messages.

In the same area set up a small filing station with a folder for each family member.  Distribute mail, messages, and other to-do items in each folder as they come in.  Then, each person can check their folder at the start or end of each day, without anything piling up on the counter.

For laundry, toys and any other items that might be left around the house, assign each family member a basket.  Fill up each basket with the things you find throughout the day, and have each family member take their basket to bed with them at the end of the night.  When they get up the next morning, the basket should be empty and back in place in case it needs to be filled up again.

When it comes to keeping track of personal documents like birth certificates, medical bills, etc. consider putting together a family binder.  Organize it by person, category or however else you choose, but this will ensure that all of your important paperwork is kept in one place.  Check out sites like Pinterest for free printables that will help get you started.

5 New Healthy Sandwich Recipes

Racking your brain for a healthy alternative to your usual turkey sandwich lunch?  Here are a few delicious and nutritious sandwiches, perfect for packing and taking to work.

1. Grilled Portobello and Goat Cheese- This sandwich is tasty, filling and packed with nutrients.  Lay a large grilled mushroom on a slice of wheat bread and top it with some goat cheese, lettuce and tomato for an easy alternative lunch or dinner.

2. Ham, Cheese & Carrot-  Start out by placing a slice of fresh cheese on bread, or smear on a light layer of spreadable cheese.  Add a layer of thinly sliced ham, and top it off with some carrot shavings.

3. Tuna Melt- This sandwich is a classic, but by using less mayo and topping it with fresh tomatoes and a light sprinkling of cheese, you can keep the calorie count under control and still have that same favorite flavor.

4. Hummus with Chopped Pepper & Cucumber- Cover one slice of bread with a thick layer of hummus and add some chopped peppers and cucumber on top for a light and fresh-tasting lunch, especially perfect for summer.

5. Prosciutto and Asparagus- Try this one as an open-faced sandwich to save on some carbs.  This sandwich tastes best with thinly sliced prosciutto topped with grilled asparagus and some lettuce.  Drizzle on a little olive oil and lemon juice for a light dressing.

Don’t settle for turkey and cheese or PB&J every day.  Get creative and try to find some alternatives that are healthy and taste great.  Leave us your favorite sandwich recipes in the comments!

Clever Storage Tips & Tricks

Have a hard time keeping your bed sheets together?  After folding, store your fitted sheet and flat sheets inside a pillowcase from the set. Your sheets will look better when stored in the closet, and when it comes time to change them you’ll know exactly where they are.

Drink a lot of wine?  Here’s a reason to drink even more:  cardboard wine boxes can be reused as closet shoe organizers.

Use fabric or colorful wrapping paper to cover old shoe boxes and lids.  These are great for holding photographs, recipes/menus, baseball cards and more.  Stack and display them on a shelf or slide them under the bed for easy access.

For the Living Room:

If you’re in the market for some new shelving, but want to avoid chunky book cases and anything permanent, consider this:  get some cheap wooden crates from Michael’s or your local grocery store and paint the insides with bright colors.  Stack the crates against a wall (open end facing out) and fill them with books and other goodies.

Looking for a good way to store those extra TV cords or Xbox wires? Wind them up and stick each one into an empty toilet paper role.  Put them in a drawer or stack them on a shelf for easy and tangle-free storage.

For the Bathroom:

Drawer organizers aren’t just for silverware.  Purchase a few extra and use them to keep bathroom drawers, jewelry and other small items sorted.

Up-cycle cans and tins to hold items like makeup brushes, scissors, and more.  Wrap a colorful sheet of scrapbook or wrapping paper around it to give your bathroom a nice pop of color.

8 Easy Ways to Stress Less

It’s easy to get caught up in work, school or an overwhelming social agenda, but it can take more than a busy schedule to get us really stressed out.  Deadlines, relationships, finances, and medical issues are common causes of anxiety, and while some people handle it better than others, stress can become taxing on the mind and the body.   Here are a few things to try the next time you’re fighting anxiety:

1.  Laugh it off.  Research has shown that laughter really can be the best medicine.  When you’re feeling stressed, take a break and watch something funny.  Look up a friend’s favorite YouTube clip, or watch a comedy while winding down at the end of the day to decrease the level of stress hormones in your body.

2.  Boost your intake of Omega-3.  This fatty acid has proven to help increase feelings of general happiness, so while you might be craving sugar, having a small piece of fish or some walnuts might be a better option.

3.  Remember to breathe.  Shallow breathing can cause even greater stress by causing the heart to beat faster and muscles to tense up.  Instead, try taking a few deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling from the mouth.

4.  Limit your caffeine intake.  That extra cup of coffee in the morning may actually increase the level of stress hormones in the body and boost your blood pressure, making it harder to relax.

5.  Press pause.  Take a break from what you’re doing and try acupressure to relieve stress.  Use your fingers to press and gently massage the point between your eyebrows where the bridge of your nose meets your forehead.

6.  Drink some tea.  Chamomile tea brewed and steeped to perfection has tons of calming properties.  Even the smell of chamomile can help reduce tension in the body and decrease your level of stress.

7.  Talk to someone.  Not only does it feel good to vent, but people who engage socially with others often react better in stressful situations.  Call up a friend and talk it out, or grab some coworkers and hit up happy hour in order to relieve anxiety.

8.  Worry.  Working to decrease your stress doesn’t mean you have to avoid thinking about your issues altogether.  Schedule yourself twenty minutes or so to really dwell on the problem and give it some attention.  Then, after your time is up, let it go and move on to something else positive.

Roommate Wanted: A Guide to Searching Online

Living with close friends or even friends of friends can be stressful, but the idea of shacking up with a complete stranger can be equally as terrifying.  Here are a few tips for sorting through the applicants and picking out a good one.

First thing’s first- know what you’re looking for before you start your search.  Make a list of the important qualities you want your new roomie to possess. Paying the rent is important, but there might be other core traits to look for.  Does this person like loud music?  Have a boyfriend/girlfriend that will be present?  Keep a clean living space?  These are just a few of the many things that could make or break a roommate relationship.

When you do pick out a potential match, make sure you make a date to meet them in person before signing the lease.  It’s one thing to connect with someone on paper, but making sure things click in person is important.  Find out what you can about each applicant’s background, and confirm important details when you meet them in person.  Try bringing a friend along with you for the first meeting and get a second opinion afterwards.

If you’re renewing or just now signing a lease, make sure each person living in the apartment is on the contract.  This ensures that you won’t get stuck in a bad situation if one person were to skip out early.  Also, consider putting together a contract of your own spelling out how any additional expenses will get paid.  If you’re going to be splitting things like cable, electric or groceries, this is a great way to make clear which roommate is responsible for getting those things paid on time.

Finding a roommate via Facebook or Craigslist doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  If you put the right amount of time and effort into really looking for a good match, you might end up finding a new friend.

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