How to Freeze Soups and Stews the Right Way

Did you know March is National Frozen Food month? The freezer is an incredible tool for preserving foods, but knowing the right way to freeze foods is key. A frozen pizza from the grocery store is easy – just pop it in the freezer and move on – but certain foods take more preparation. That’s why we’re showing you how to freeze soups and stews the right way. To defrost, simply heat and stir, and you’ve got a homemade meal in no time.

chicken rice soup

Learn how to freeze soups and stews the right way for a quick weeknight dinner. (Photo courtesy

How to Freeze Soups and Stews

  1. Cool it! Freezers cannot cool hot soups and stews fast enough to be food safe. You’ll need to speed up the process. You can let the soup come to room temperature naturally before packaging it for the freezer, or you can place the pot of hot soup in a bath of ice water, stirring frequently to help release extra heat.
  2. Zip it! Use zip-top plastic freezer bags to store the soup. We recommend gallon- or quart-size bags. Label and date them first using a permanent marker, then fit the bags over a bowl (similar to how you fold the edges of a garbage bag over a trash can). Pour or ladle the soup into the bag, and be sure to remove any excess air before sealing.
  3. Freeze it! Lay the bags flat in the freezer one on top of the other. They’ll last about a month in the freezer.
  4. Eat it! If possible, move your soup from the freezer to the fridge and let it thaw slowly throughout the day. Then, when you’re ready to eat, heat up the soup normally over low to medium heat.

Insta Inspiration: Our Favorite Home Décor Accounts to Follow on Instagram

Our Favorite Home Décor Accounts to Follow on Instagram

A beautiful picture can spark inspiration, which is why we’re obsessed with Instagram. Whether it’s searching for what to make for dinner or scrolling through images of cute animals, spending a little quality time on Instagram is one of our favorite hobbies. We also find it’s an especially good tool for home décor ideas.

Check out our list of the best home décor accounts to follow on Instagram below!

Favorite Home Decor Shops on Instagram

Following brand accounts brings multiple benefits – you’ll see incredible images of gorgeous interior spaces, plus, you’ll know exactly where to buy the products in each picture!

  • @westelm Find beautiful images of the brand’s modern home furnishings and décor. You can also follow the New Orleans store specifically (@westelmnola) for up-to-date information on sales and NOLA-friendly imagery like Mardi Gras floats and local eats.
  • @jonathanadler A designer and a brand, this Instagram user is your destination for snappy, preppy-chic design with loads of color and graphic prints.
  • @fab –’s Instagram highlights everyday design from around the globe. The shoppable brand recently featured a photo-realistic clutch from DVRA – a New Orleans-based company!

Favorite Home Decor Publications on Instagram

Print magazines and online publications are a great resource for on-trend designs.

  • @elledecor A classic. Sophisticated interiors that cater to a range of aesthetic styles plus a dash of wanderlust – to-die-for homes in Capri, Milan, and Los Angeles are all part of the mix.
  • @dominomag No longer a print publication, Domino Magazine has fortunately taken their eclectic interiors to the digital world. Expect a mix of decorating inspiration, entertaining ideas, and bright bursts of color.
  • @apartmenttherapy One of our favorite websites is also one of our favorite Instagram accounts. This apartment-specific Insta is chock full of space-saving tips, DIY tutorials, and the latest design trends.

 New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)
New Orleans interior designer Whitney Jones shares design inspiration and DIYs on Instagram. (Photo courtesy whitneyjdecor on Instagram)

Favorite New Orleans Design Inspiration on Instagram

In a city full of style and character, these Igers serve up some serious design inspiration.

  • @whitneyjdecor – This New Orleans based interior designer offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a day in the life of a designer and sneak peeks of DIY home decor projects.
  • @hattiesparks – The Uptown boutique owner’s Instagram feed is a beautiful blend of local life and spot-on design inspo.
  • @perchneworleans – The stylish Magazine Street home goods shop offers up antique, vintage & contemporary decor finds.

Favorite Home Decor Designers on Instagram

Take cues from these interior designers’ Instagram accounts  it’s like having a private consultation for free!

  • @ryankorban Elegant, decadent spaces juxtapose designer Ryan Korban’s witty captions.
  • @kellywearstler You’ll love her sartorial style as much as her interior design expertise. Swoon!
  • @mrorlandosoria The interior designer’s Instagram account is equal parts travelogue, foodie paradise, and clean-lined interior spaces.
5ftinf instagram

Instagram user 5ftinf packs a rainbow of color into every photo. (Photo courtesy 5ftinf on Instagram)

Lagniappe – Irresistible Instagrammers

A few other favorites we couldn’t resist including.

  • @5ftinf Flowers! Botanicals! Tea! A dreamy Instagram account that celebrates natural simplicity.
  • @themakerista DIY prodigy Gwen Hefner shares some of her favorite projects.
  • @sfgirlbybay Stylist and blogger Victoria Smith shows us “the world through rose-colored glasses.” California dreaming at its finest!

Looking for more interior decorating inspiration?

Be sure to follow our Apartment Decorating board on Pinterest for even more home décor ideas!

How to Clean a Refrigerator: 5 All-Natural Fridge Cleaning Hacks

You’ve been there before. Craving a snack or looking for dinner ingredients, you open the fridge, and whew! What is that smell?

Sometimes, even after a thorough cleaning, fridge smells can linger. Read on for 5 all-natural  fridge cleaning hacks for freshening up your refrigerator. (These quick eco-friendly tips go far beyond the tried-and-true box of baking soda).

orange peel air freshener

Fill a hollowed out citrus peel with salt for an all-natural air freshener perfect for the fridge. (Photo courtesy

Eco-friendly Fridge Cleaning Hacks

  1. Coffee Grounds

Spread freshly ground coffee evenly on a plate or shallow dish, and place it in the fridge for 24 hours. The coffee will absorb any rogue odors and also give off an energizing scent. Not a coffee drinker? You can also place several tea bags (or loose leaf tea) on a plate for the same effect.

  1. Citrus

Choose your favorite citrus (we recommend navel oranges or grapefruit for their size, but lemons and limes will work, too) and cut it in half. Scoop out one half completely so you’re left with a bowl-shaped hollow. Fill with sea salt and place in the fridge for a citrusy, neutralizing scent!

  1. Vanilla Extract

This baking staple has a hidden purpose: creating a soft, lovely scent for your fridge. Pour a bit of vanilla extract into a small dish, then place a few cotton balls inside. The cotton will soak up the vanilla extract and slowly release its aroma into the fridge.

  1. Tomato Juice

Perhaps you’ve heard of tomato juice’s deodorizing powers for anyone who encounters a skunk. The same holds true for your fridge. Simply soak a cloth or sponge in undiluted tomato juice and wipe down your fridge’s surfaces. Rinse with soapy water, then wipe dry. You can repeat the process (or try substituting vinegar) for any lingering smells.

  1. Alka-Seltzer

Similar to baking soda, Alka-Seltzer is an oxidizing agent that can neutralize unpleasant scents. Drop a couple of tablets into a glass of water and place in the fridge to help mitigate odor.

Remember, setting your fridge at a proper temperature is an easy, preventive step to avoid odors in the first place. Learn how to ensure your fridge and freezer are at the right temperature here.

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Things to Do in Covington LA

Things to Do in Covington LA

Photos courtesy of Infrogmation and St. Tammany Parish on Flickr

Though Greater New Orleans gets much of the glory, the Northshore is a destination all its own. Just across Lake Pontchartrain, you’ll find Covington, LA, a robust community full of cultural treasures, historic homes, and delicious dining. You’ll also find one of our favorite 1st Lake Properties: Brewster Commons at River Chase:

brewster commons

Our Brewster Commons community is close to several things to do in Covington.

This peaceful community in Covington, LA, is located on the Northshore close to dining, entertainment, and retail. With cozy amenities like energy-saving appliances, self-cleaning ovens, granite counter tops and wood-finish flooring, you may not want to leave your apartment… but if you decide to venture out, here are a few of our favorite things to do in Covington.

Drink Tea at the English Tearoom

This charming spot transports guests to England via a piping hot cup of Earl Grey, organic Ceylon or jasmine tea (their full menu includes many more options). Whether you attend breakfast, lunch, or High Tea, save time for shopping afterward: their “Queen’s Parlor” shop is full of gift items, teas, and treats.

Check Out Covington Trailhead and Tammany Trace

Covington Trailhead is a picturesque spot with a railroad and outdoor space that hosts free community concerts in spring and fall, including the Rockin’ the Rails concert series. Covington Trailhead is also the start of Tammany Trace, a 31-mile paved trail for hikers and bicyclists connecting several North Shore communities like Mandeville and Abita Springs.

Get Dinner at Lola

Offering a contemporary rendition of Louisiana comfort foods, Lola is the perfect union of fine dining cuisine and family-style presentation. Mascarpone cheese grits, thyme pan gravy, and oven-roasted chicken with Abita Amber pan jus are just a few examples of how Lola’s chefs put an accessible gourmet spin on Southern classics.

Shop Local at the Covington Farmers Market

Vendors at the weekly Covington Farmers Market offer up plenty of homegrown goodness, including delicious local produce and carefully prepared food. You can shop their wares every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at The Covington Trailhead or each Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon at the side yard of Covington Police Station (609 N. Columbia St.); they’re open rain or shine.

Go Wild With Wildlife

Get up close and personal with local wildlife at the Insta-Gator Ranch in Covington, as experienced tour guides walk you through the gator life cycle. The most adventurous animal lovers will even get the chance to pet a baby gator! Nearby, check out the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, LA and take a safari tour where you’ll have the chance to meet giraffes, zebras, kangaroos and other animals up close and personal.

Get Cultured and Discover Local Artists

Each fall, Covington plays host to the Three Rivers Art Festival, which draws more than 50,000 visitors to the area. Regarded as one of the best art shows in the region, the festival showcases 200 talented artists and craftsmen. If you haven’t gotten your fill of local art just yet, stick around for a few weeks, because another long-running craft show takes place the first weekend each December at the Covington Fairgrounds. The annual Christmas Extravaganza Expo in Covington brings more than 500 artists from across the Gulf South to town.

Relax In Affordable Luxury at Brewster Commons

Tired from all that exploring? Relax back at Brewster Commons at the on-site pool featuring a hot tub and tanning deck. Or, if you’re burning off your meal from Lola, head to the fitness center stocked with the latest Precor equipment and a separate yoga room.

Reserve your new Brewster Commons apartment home today – a place to work and play in the heart of Covington.

Plan a Romantic Date Night at Home with This Elegant Menu

Surprise your sweetie with a home-cooked meal – it’s a budget-conscious way to show you care, and you won’t have to compete with dining-out crowds to book a dinner reservation! We’ve outlined a complete, restaurant-quality meal below, including an appetizer, main course, salad, and dessert. While it may be a bit ambitious for a weeknight, the meal is a great choice for date night at home to serve during Sunday’s Oscars telecast. Bon appetit!

shrimp pasta

Try this champagne shrimp pasta recipe at home. (Photo courtesy Jeffrey W on Flickr)

Appetizer: Herb Coueur a La Crème

Typically a dessert, this savory take on the French dish coueur a la crème is perfect as an appetizer (the word “coueur” also means “heart,” in keeping with the date night theme!). The prep time is negligible in this make-ahead dish, but keep in mind that the cheese will need to strain for about 12 hours. Serve with crackers and fresh vegetables for an elegant appetizer. The best part? Any leftover coueur a la crème will taste delicious on a bagel the following morning.

Main Course: Champagne Shrimp Pasta

The addition of champagne is a romantic touch to this comforting meal. We love the use of angel hair pasta: it cooks up quickly and absorbs all the flavors of the creamy sauce. Make the meal come together even faster by purchasing peeled, deveined shrimp.

Side Salad: Fig and Arugula Salad

Fresh fig is an aphrodisiac, and its mellow, sweet flavors are the perfect contrast to bright and peppery arugula. The salad carries on the subtly Mediterranean notes of the meal with the addition of pine nuts (toast them first to bring out the flavor) and a drizzle of honey. Parmesan cheese is an apt topping to tie the meal together – it’s also used in the main course.

Dessert: Mexican Chocolate Pound Cake

Like fig, cinnamon has aphrodisiacal properties. Its floral notes also help intensify the semisweet chocolate flavors in this Mexican chocolate pound cake. Though the cake is plenty decadent on its own, we recommend serving it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

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