It’s Time to Dinner Party with These Top Tips

Hosting a dinner party is a great way to enjoy an intimate evening with friends and family. But it can feel like the pressure is on: the menu, the music, and the atmosphere all come into play. We’ve collected a few top tips to hosting a successful dinner party. Get cooking!

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A coordinating, at-home tablescape. (Photo via 100layercake.com)

Dinner Party Tips

Plan ahead. You’ll want to give your guests plenty of notice about when you’re hosting your party, and you’ll also want to ask about any food allergies in advance. Remember to choose friends who get along together (or whom you think will get along), and aim to keep the group at about six people.

Failsafe food. Your dinner party should include menu items that can largely be prepped in advance and simply need to cook through in the oven. No made-to-order entrees or desserts here (souffles? Just say no). Instead, opt for family-style preparations when possible. Take a look at our sample dinner party menu below, featuring a Mexican flair:

Set the table the night before. Trust us: even with the most careful planning in place, chances are you’ll have your hands full the night of the dinner party. Do what you can in advance, including setting the table the night before. Make sure you have enough chairs plus proper utensils, extra napkins, and a bit of design elements — candles or flowers (or both!) are usually a nice touch.

Buy ice. Whether your dinner party includes a signature drink or not, no beverage is quite as palatable when it’s warm. Even if you have an ice maker in your apartment, have at least one bag of ice on hand if the drinks really start to flow!

Make a playlist. Or rely on someone else’s! Music is an integral part of a dinner party, and streaming services like Spotify and Pandora offer pre-made lists based on artists you enjoy or a particular mood you’re after.

Lighting, lighting, lighting! Both you and your guests will likely appreciate soft lighting. Dim the lights a bit and use lamps where possible to strike a mood that feels fancy and fun, but not too formal.

Gym 101: Fitness Center Etiquette

A heart-pumping workout is a great way to reduce stress — unless the gym creates a stressful environment in and of itself. While you can’t always control the actions of others, you can help create a focused workout zone by following basic gym etiquette. Take a look below, and follow these simple rules while you get your burn on at one of our many 1st Lake Fitness centers!

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The fitness center at Bella Ridge.

Fitness Center Etiquette

Pack your gym bag like a pro. Stash your gym bag with essentials like a towel, wet wipes, and a water bottle. This means you won’t have to hog the water fountain, and if for some reason the gym is out of towels or wet wipes, you’ll be prepared.

Wipe down equipment. Most gyms provide antibacterial wipes specifically for gym equipment. After your workout, wipe down any surfaces you’ve touched, whether a bench, weights, treadmill, bicycle, etc. Remember, even if you can’t see any evidence of sweat, germs are still present. Clean up after yourself to ensure the next person using the machine gets a truly fresh start.

Follow time limits on machines. Gyms can be busy places, especially at peak hours like after work or early in the morning. Because of this, many fitness centers implement a time limit rule on machines like treadmills or ellipticals. Be courteous of others and only exercise for the allotted period of time. If you’re not quite finished working out, use the opportunity to try out a new machine instead.

Stay home if you’re sick. While some doctors recommend a light workout to help your body recover more quickly from ailments like a cold or virus, plan to do an at-home workout video rather than put others at risk at the gym. If you do go, take extra care wiping down all the equipment, and wash your hands before and after you’re finished exercising.

Mind headphones. You might be tempted to chat to your neighbor to help you get through a tough workout, but if they have headphones on, be respectful: they’re in the zone!

Dress appropriately. Gyms are for focusing on your workout — not on someone else’s distracting clothing. If you’re worried about your outfit, test it out first at home to make sure everything stays put as you exercise.

Put weights away. Dumbells can be hazardous when left on the mat for people to trip over. Always put free weights back after you use them. Please unload the weight bar as well to keep the weights area accessible for everyone and free of any obstacles.

Watch your rest time between sets. If you’re resting for more than 10-20 seconds between sets, plan to excuse yourself from a machine to give someone else a chance to use it. However, keep in mind that ideally you’ll want to rest for no more than 10 seconds: studies show that short rest periods lead to increased caloric burn and a higher metabolic rate.

Be courteous. Allow other gym-goers their space and respect during a workout session. If the gym is busy and you have the flexibility to come back later, consider adjusting your time.

Get Your Bake On: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ice Cream, cake, pie — delicious desserts come in many forms, but we have yet to find a dessert that rivals fresh-out-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. There’s simply nothing like gooey, warm chocolate morsels melting in your mouth and soaking up some ice cold milk!  So, we took our taste buds to the kitchen and crafted  chocolate chip cookie perfection! On one of our apartment’s new granite counter tops, we might add!

Take a look at a few of our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes and get your bake on! Click on the cookie of your choice to be whisked away to its recipe! (Or just scroll down.)

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Recipe found at PinchofYum.com

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Recipe found at BettyCrocker.com

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Recipe found at CookiesandCups.com

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Recipe from CookiesandCups.com

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Recipe from PinchofYum.com

 

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Recipe from BettyCrocker.com

Enjoy!

Top Three Reasons It’s Great to Work in New Orleans!

There are way more than three reasons it’s great to live in New Orleans (example: Mardi Gras, Saints season, the history, the architecture, the food!) – but we’re particularly excited about the recent news from Business Facilities’ latest “Annual Rankings Report.” In the report, NOLA scored near the very top of national rankings like the lowest cost of business and places for leaders in entrepreneurship. Check out these three incredible rankings and what they mean for Greater New Orleans below.

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Business Facilities named New Orleans among the very top in mid-size cities offering economic, entrepreneurial, and logistical benefits.

Reasons Why It’s Great to Live in GNO: Business Facilities’ Annual Rankings

Lowest Cost of Business

New Orleans ranked second for having the lowest cost of business for mid-size regions in the entire country. This means that for cities with populations between 750,000 and 2 million people, New Orleans proved a competitive and affordable place to do business, beating out spots like Albuquerque, Nashville, and Memphis. What’s more, our overall region showed serious business prowess, with Baton Rouge taking the top spot.

Entrepreneurship Leaders

Salt Lake City just barely edged out New Orleans, who came in second for mid-size regions absolutely thriving in entrepreneurship. With annual programming like the city’s annual Entrepreneur Week in mind, in addition to startups in biotech, mobile devices, software, education, and more, it’s easy to see why New Orleans clocked in toward the very top.

Logistics Leaders

Business Facilities determined its logistics leaders by considering a number of factors related to transportation. Cities able to support a wide variety of transportation — including air travel, land, water, and rail — ended up in the top spots. Where did the Crescent City fall? Second place again! With massive airport expansions plus continued excellence in shipping and rail, New Orleans was a natural fit for a top logistics leader.

Making a Home in New Orleans

1st Lake Properties offers distinct, award-winning communities perfect for you to make your home in the Crescent City. Check out a few reasons why it’s great to be a 1st Lake resident, and contact us today for  more information!

 

Realistic Rental Redo: Creating a Home Office at Your Apartment

One of the greatest aspects of the technology revolution is the increased ability to work from home. But how do you stay as motivated at home as you do in the office? To produce at the same rate as you would at work, you need a space that is designated solely for your job. You need a home office.

1st Lake offers a lot of extra room in its indoor floor plans, especially with the new renovations at the River Ridge, Kenner and Metairie apartments.

These bonus rooms can easily be converted into offices, making it easy to work from home. Before you start furnishing a home office or workspace area in your apartment, use this checklist to make sure you have the best, most useful, office decor and supplies.

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Our interior designers whipped up a gorgeous, clutter-free desk at one of our 1st Lake Properties to help inspire you!

A Dedicated Desk Area: What You’ll Need

Space Saving Desk & Chair

The desk and chair are the most essential pieces of furniture in your home office or workspace area. You will be spending the most time using these items, and they need to be both practical and comfortable.

When choosing a desk, consider one that maximizes space. The Container Store’s Java Linea Leaning Desk  leans up against the wall, taking up minimal floor area while still allowing for plentiful work space.

Chair shopping should be centered around comfort, but you can still make room for style! This upholstered desk chair from Target has a cool, mid-century look at an affordable price.

Personalizing Your Desk

A closer look at our designer-approved desk.

A closer look at our designer-approved desk.

For an at-home office space you’ll actually want to work at, consider blending form and function. Our 1st Lake Properties interior designer has a few great tips to personalize your desk in a way that looks beautiful and helps facilitate workflow:

Have a good lamp for task lighting — In addition to sufficient overhead or ambient light, select a desk lamp with a movable head to spotlight your work as needed. This is also a great opportunity to incorporate metallics or color for a personalized look.

Keep papers and pens in check — Rather than a bulky file system, our designer suggests a simple letter organizer to place on your desk to keep papers neat and easily accessible. For pens, use brightly colored multi-purpose holders (a favorite mug, for example) to hold them all in one place.

Consider a glass desk — If you can only dedicate a small corner of a room to your workspace, opt for a glass or translucent desk to help the room appear larger. Light (both natural and artificial) can also pass freely through this material, creating a brighter, cheerier ambience for your workspace.

Just add greenery — Orchids, succulents, and air plants are all great choices for a desk: they’re low-maintenance yet still offer a pop of life and color.

Keep it neat — Books and magazines are usually part of any desk space, but you can maintain a cohesive look by organizing them by color and size. The color and size rule works well for everything else on your desk, too — sticky notes, highlighters, pens, you name it!

A hands-on approach — If you’re right-handed, keep all of your pens, notebooks, etc. on the right side of your desk. Vice versa for lefties!

Remember, no home workspace is complete without the personal touches. Your office should reflect you as a person. Hang pictures and photographs that keep you positive and driven. Add a chalkboard for daily notes or inspirational quotes. Decorate in a way that will make you happy and excited to work.

Even More Home Office Tips

Diverse Storage

When developing the floor plan of your home office, you need to consider two types of storage: bookshelves and file cabinets.

Bookshelves are obvious storage options for work-related literature, workbooks and manuals. They also offer additional storage for decorative items. When choosing a bookshelf, remember to remain space-conscious. Consider a ladder bookshelf that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

One of the hardest parts about working from home is staying organized. Though bookshelves are great for bound documentation, any loose or private paperwork should be filed away. If your desk doesn’t have a built in file cabinet, try a portable rolling one that will fit right under your desk.

Necessary Electronics

Most office work is done electronically, so a computer or laptop is a necessity. If you are looking for a cheaper option and don’t plan on moving around much, buy a desktop. If you want to be able to take your work with you, consider a laptop.

If you want both, you can hook up an extra monitor to your laptop giving you the feel of a desktop with the convenience of a portable computer.

Where to Buy Office Supplies & Furniture in New Orleans

Now that you’ve got some ideas about how to decorate your office, go out and start collecting supplies! Here are our favorite office furniture and supply stores in the city:

CORT Furniture

CORT Furniture allows you to rent chic, of-the-moment furniture for reasonable prices — they also have a great clearance section full of deals!

5035 Bloomfield Street
Jefferson, LA 70121
(504) 733-8381

Doerr Furniture

Doerr Furniture offers a classic approach to home decor with several wooden desk designs.
444 Port Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
(504) 943-0110

Modern Market

Modern Market takes a modern, sleek and minimalist approach to its furniture.
3138 Magazine Street Unit C
New Orleans, LA 70115
(504) 896-2206

Box Paper Scissor

Box Paper Scissor designs one-of-a-kind office supplies.
3638 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
(504) 891-4664

How to Organize Your Home Office

If your home office is unorganized, and is more a source of stress than productivity, it’s time to tackle that space. Your work space should help you get work done, not hinder it! Read through this list of  free ways to create a more organized desk and workspace:

  1. Cut back on clutter: As time passes, you inevitably accumulate clutter — way too many pens, pencils, highlighters, paper clips, and rubber bands. So, take a few minutes to edit your ever-growing collection down. Keep the few things that you like and use, and give the rest away!
  2. Build a digital file cabinet: If your drawers are overflowing with papers, consider moving some of those items into a “digital file”. Shred the items that you honestly don’t need, and scan and save on your computer any paperwork that you need, but don’t need a hard copy of. Also, be sure to back up this file to an external hard drive or to a cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox for safe keeping.
  3. End all unsolicited mail: Junk mail can be annoying and a source of a lot of clutter. If you get way too much in the mail, the Federal Trade Commission has put together a list of ways you can stop most of the unsolicited mail that arrives in your mailbox. Also, you can call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit optoutprescreen.com, to stop all credit card and insurance offers for five years.

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