Top Workplace, Again!

For the third year in a row, 1st Lake Properties received recognition as one of the top midsize places to work in New Orleans!

Since the inception of Nola.com’s “Top Workplaces,” 1st Lake consistently ranked in the top three workplaces. With a 1st place victory in 2015 and a 2nd place victory each year following, our  team members continually prove their momentum and passion.

In addition to this achievement, 1st Lake also received the 2017 award for “the employer who encourages their team members to innovate new ideas.” Each quarter, team members submit company suggestions. Then at our company-wide quarterly meetings, we announce the top submissions, which become part of our business practices.

They say it takes a village to raise a family, and at 1st Lake we believe it takes a family to raise a company. Our 1st Lake family continues to grow, and we want you to be a part of what we’re doing.

If you want to join our team, visit our careers page!

Our 1st Lake team at the 2017 TopWorkplace Awards.

 

How to Prepare Your Apartment for Summer

Our very best tips to stay cool in summer involve one of our sparkling pools and a snowball from your favorite local stand, but sometimes it’s tempting to simply run the A/C at full capacity, open the freezer, and stand in front of it to cool down.

thermostat

Keep your thermostat at about 78 degrees for energy efficiency. (Photo courtesy Flickr user Philip Shoffner)

While we certainly don’t blame you (the Gulf South gets hot!), we do think it’s important to conserve energy. Using the following energy-saving tips for apartment dwellers is important not only for your monthly utility bill, but also the environment in general.

Air Conditioning

Don’t turn your A/C off during the day.

Your A/C unit will actually have to work harder to cool down your apartment if you only turn it on when you’re at home. Instead, keep the A/C running while you’re gone at a higher temperature… read more below!

Keep your thermostat at 79 for optimal energy use.

Did you know that for every degree below 79 degrees you set your thermostat, your bill will increase by as much as 3 percent? When you’re not at home, keep your thermostat at 79 for optimal energy use.

Replace your air filters monthly.

Keeping air filters clean is one of the easiest ways to not only save energy but also improve air quality at home. For best results, replace fiberglass filters monthly. The air filter keeps debris and pollutants out of your home’s air system, which improves overall HVAC performance and can even help mitigate allergy symptoms.

Invest in a fan.

You probably spend long periods of time in a certain part of your apartment, whether it’s at your desk on the computer or on the sofa watching television. For these stretches, it’s great to have a small, portable fan you can take with you to keep you cool. Rather than waste energy (and money) cooling down the entire apartment, point a fan your way to stay cool and comfortable economically.

Check your ceiling fans.

Like a portable fan, ceiling fans are a great way to stay cool. However, you’ll want to check to make sure that your bedroom fans are rotating counter-clockwise for maximum cool-down potential.

Lighting

Use CFL lightbulbs.

Most modern CFL lightbulbs no longer have that annoying buzz or hum, and they use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs, so there’s no excuse not to use them! Make sure that the CFLs you use are compatible with your lighting controls though, as most motion sensors and electric timers are not designed to work with CFL bulbs. Be sure to also only use bulbs labeled as dimmable on dimmer switches.

Opt for 1 large lightbulb instead of many smaller ones.

Use your lights in a smarter way. For more light, it’s better to use one large bulb rather than several smaller ones. For example, according to Entergy, one 100-watt bulb uses the same amount of energy as four 25-watt bulbs, yet it produces 50 percent more light.

Dust and clean bulbs and lampshades regularly.

In addition to our collection of cleaning tips, this one is simple: dust and clean bulbs and lampshades every so often – you’ll be surprised at the difference! You can get up to one-third more light from the same amount of money simply by keeping bulbs and shades clean.

Try blackout curtains.

If you like to sleep in, blackout curtains are a must. But they’re also great for keeping out the heat during the summer months. Pick up a cheap pair at Target, or line your existing curtains with blackout fabric available at retailers like JoAnn’s.

Kitchen

Optimize your refrigerator and freezer for efficiency.

Ideally, your refrigerator temperature should be between 37 and 42 degrees; the freezer should hover between zero and five degrees. Leaving town for a summer vacation? Use up the foods that will spoil, then turn your refrigerator up two or three settings (but keep the freezer’s temperature steady at all times).

Don’t overcrowd your fridge, as it can interfere with air flow and efficiency. The opposite is true for your freezer, however; freezers are typically most efficient when fully stocked.

Opt for the oven whenever possible.

Use the oven rather than the stovetop whenever you can, especially during the heat of summer. Insulated ovens retain heat much better and use less energy than stovetop counterparts, but be sure to use a timer, as opening the oven door lets up to 20% of the heat escape.

If you need a little culinary inspiration, BuzzFeed has you covered with one-tray oven dishes.

Did You Know?

Entergy offers a service called Level Billing to help you take control of your monthly utility bill. You can sign up for Level Billing on their website so your bill will be about the same price month after month.

 

 

Parks & Rec: Kenner’s Newest Parks! 

Kenner is upping its game with a new dog park and skate park, plus plenty of playgrounds for the kids. Get the scoop below!

Parks in Kenner

City Park Dog Park

Dogs in Kenner had it “ruff” without any designated city dog park. But it’s official — Kenner City Park has started phase one of construction on a brand-new, dedicated dog park. The dog park will be one of only three others in Jefferson Parish (besides ones at our properties like Bella Ridge, of course). Dogs and their pet parents will love this fully fenced park, featuring watering stations, benches, lush landscaping, and fun, decorated fire hydrants scattered throughout its expansive grounds.

kenner-dog-park

City officials broke ground on a new dog park in Kenner City Park on May 5. (Photo via Facebook)

“This dog park is a tremendous addition for Kenner’s City Park, and it’s the kind of quality of life feature that families look for when choosing a place to live,” says Kenner District 5 Councilman Dominick Impastato, who added that the dog park is “part of a master plan to transform City Park into a premier destination for Kenner residents and others in the region.”

Once the park is complete, it will feature three areas for different types of dogs, including an area for small dogs, one for large, passive dogs, and another for large, active dogs. Planners say they also hope to include agility equipment, a splash pad, and a memorial brick paw walkway.

The dog park isn’t all that’s coming to Kenner City Park, either. Just-announced plans for a 2,400-square-foot synthetic ice skating rink for the expanded Christmas Village mean that plenty of fun is available for humans, too!

Wentwood Skate Plaza

Skateboarders will (kick) flip over Kenner’s new Wentwood Skate Plaza at 200 W. Loyola Drive. Clocking in at 2,400 square feet, the state-of-the-art skate park is the first of its kind in Jefferson Parish.

The park is open daily from 10 a.m. until dusk with the potential for expanded hours after new lighting is added.

Kenner Mayor Ben Zahn notes that the skate plaza spotlights Kenner’s commitment to outdoor spaces.

“The timely opening for our youth to have another recreational attraction with summer right around the corner is perfect for all Kenner residents to enjoy,” Zahn told NOLA.com.

Kids’ Playgrounds

Families can enjoy Kenner’s wide variety of parks and playgrounds, including Woodlake Playground on Esplanade Avenue. This spacious spot features recreation leagues for soccer, football, baseball, volleyball, cheerleading, track, and more. Plus, clean, well-maintained play equipment like slides and swings are great for the little ones. Other great Kenner playgrounds include those at Kenner City Park and the Lions Playground on Williams Boulevard.

Take a look at all our convenient Kenner properties — plus, they’re dog friendly!

Beat the Heat with These Cool Recipes

We love having warm weather year round… except maybe during summer, when it gets really warm. Whether you choose to chill in one of our pools or maybe just crank up your air conditioner, you might want to add these easy, no-bake summer recipes to your arsenal of cool-down tricks.

panzanella

Panzanella. (Photo via The New York Times)

No-Bake Summer Recipes to Beat the Heat

 

Savory

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail — A spin on the traditional shrimp cocktail, this version calls for creamy, cool avocado and Cholula hot sauce (though we bet you could substitute with Crystal). It also happens to pair perfectly with frozen margaritas!

Ingredients:

  • 10 jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, and steamed
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Cholula hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup pico de gallo
  • 1/2 avocado, cut into chunks
  • 2 cilantro sprigs
  • tortilla chips to serve

Recipe: 

  • Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, ketchup, and hot sauce.
  • Add salt, pepper, pico de gallo, avocado, and shrimp. Stir gently to combine.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.

Italian Panzanella — This no-cook salad is full of texture and pairs well with a variety of main dishes. You can serve it at room temperature or chilled.

Ingredients: 

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups cubed country bread
  • 1 pound plum tomatoes cut into small pieces
  • 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Recipe: 

  • Whisk together oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
  • Add all ingredients except basil and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (but no more than 8 hours).
  • Stir in fresh basil just before serving.

Cantaloupe, Lime & Chili Soup — Complex flavors and a gorgeous color make this the most elegant dish on your summer menu. Plus, it only takes four ingredients!

Ingredients:

  • 3-pound cantaloupe
  • 3/4 teaspoon sambal oelek (Asian chili paste)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Recipe: 

  • Cut cantaloupe flesh into large chunks and puree with sambal oelek, lime juice, and salt until smooth.
  • Refrigerate at least one hour until thoroughly chilled. Serve in a chilled bowl with more sambal oelek, to taste.

Sweet

No-Bake Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies — The recipe pretty much says it all. Yum!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup Nutella
  • 3 cups quick oats

Recipe: 

  • Over medium heat, cook sugar, cocoa, milk and margarine. Boil one minute. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in vanilla, salt, peanut butter, Nutella and oats. Stir until combined. Drop by teaspoon on wax paper and cool. Refrigerate until chilled, and enjoy.

Ice Cream with Honey-Poached Apricots — Fruity and refreshing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 strips peeled lemon zest
  • 4 apricots, pitted and quartered
  • 1/4 cup toasted coconut

Recipe: 

  • Bring water, honey, and lemon zest to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add apricots and poach until fork tender, about 2-5 minutes.
  • Drain apricots, reserving the syrup (remove lemon peels)
  • Serve apricots with vanilla ice cream and top with syrup.

No-Bake Strawberry Tart — This elegant dessert is deceptively easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 32 Oreo cookies
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 7 ounces milk chocolate
  • 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 7 ounces heavy cream
  • 10 ounces fresh strawberries
  • Chopped nuts (almonds, pistachios, etc), optional, for serving

Recipe: 

  • Place Oreo cookies into the bowl of a food processor and blend until crumbs form. Add melted butter and pour over the crushed cookies. Process until evenly moistened. Press cookie mixture with the back of the spoon or fingers into the bottom and edges of a rectangular 5×14 inch tart pan. Freeze until you prepare the filling, just for few minutes.
  • In a small saucepan, place cream over medium-low heat for a few minutes to get hot. No boiling or simmering needed. Remove from heat, pour over chopped chocolate and let rest for 1-2 minutes. Stir until dissolved.
  • Pour chocolate filling over Oreo crust, and top with fresh strawberries.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

Create Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

If there’s one thing that adds instant depth to homemade recipes, it’s fresh herbs. Basil on top of Caprese salad, rosemary with grilled chicken, dill with pan-seared salmon, minty lemonade — herbs are more than just garnishes. And while you could use the powdered versions, you’ll get so much more flavor with the real deal. Take advantage of a windowsill or countertop and create your own indoor herb garden with these tips.

basil-coffee-mug

Coffee mugs are a creative way to house fresh basil.

DIY Indoor Herb Garden

Pick your vessel — Mason jars, vintage tea cups, mugs, traditional pots… they’re all fair game when planting herbs. Create drainage holes using a jewelry drill, or look for pre-made, attractive pots at places like Home Depot.

Consider sunlight — Make sure your herb garden gets about 5-8 hours of sunlight per day. Choose a south-facing window if possible to help ensure they receive enough light! If this isn’t an option, consider herbs that don’t require as much light — that means you’ll probably want to stay away from cilantro and parsley!

Watch how much you water — Thyme likes dry soil while basil needs a little more water. Once you pick your plants (side note: Trader Joe’s, Target, and Home Depot are great places to look for herbs), read up on how to best care of them.

One-pot wonder — Hearty herbs like sage and rosemary can coexist together happily in one pot. This is a great solution if you’re short on counter space or can’t devote much time to indoor gardening. All they need is a little water and as much sunlight as possible. Check out the tutorial on Apartment Therapy. Other great one-pot combinations are:

  • Parsley and basil
  • Oregano and thyme
  • Chives and nasturtium (bonus points — these produce flowers!)

Kickstart with a kit — If you’re less inclined for a DIY project, you can buy an herb garden kit on Amazon. These kits can get pretty high-tech: some are self-watering, and others include a light that replicates natural sunlight.

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