Spring is finally here and that means change and new beginnings, not only with the weather, but in your own apartment, too.
Whether or not you’re on the messy or neat-freak side of the spectrum, the spring cleaning tradition is always a good annual practice. Spring is all about fresh starts and rebirth, so your apartment should mirror that.
Besides regular chores like putting clothes or dishes away, sweeping, and cleaning the bathroom, this is your chance to pay attention to detail and store, sort, or get rid of extraneous clutter.
Use this guide as a checklist for spring cleaning the areas of your apartment that aren’t usually on the cleaning to-do list:
Part of making room for the new is getting rid of the old, and one of the best ways to do that is to take inventory of your possessions and evaluate what you want to keep.
We love the method outlined in Marie Kondo’s best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The gist is this: starting with your clothing, go through all of your possessions, category by category, and keep only those items that spark joy when you hold them.
Once you’ve decided what to keep, you can pass on the remaining items to others in need. After you’ve gone through your drawers and closets and sorted your discarded items in a donation section, decide where and how to give them away. Use these places below for ideas:
Shelters – Community shelters in your area are a great option to donate your clothes and household items. Shelters can always use donations and there will always be people who are in need of clothing and other items. Bridge House and Hagar’s House provide services to those in need in the southeast Louisiana region.
Online – We live in a digital era where most things are done online. Freecycle, Craigslist and EBay are free and easy online tools to use to give away your old clothes or appliances. You can manage the entire process by listing the items you want to give away for free or sell, and coordinate your own shipping or delivery.
Clothing Swaps – Another great way to pass on your unwanted items to someone who might be happy to take them, plus discover some new treasure of your own, is to participate a clothing swap. A clothing swap is a gathering of people who all contribute clothing that doesn’t fit or that they don’t need anymore, and anyone can take someone else’s clothing if they choose. If you don’t know of anyone having one, host your own and invite family and friends!
Salvation Army – The Salvation Army is always a great option that accepts all types of donations to sell for a discounted price to underprivileged people, or anyone looking for a bargain. Check your area for Salvation Army drop-off locations.
The Green Project also provides a recycling guide for the greater New Orleans area, with details about local organizations that accept donations of various materials.
If you accomplish all these tasks, you’ll be well on your way to being completely spring cleansed! Other than looking shiny and new, your living space will be rid of dirt and dust that you may have not even been aware of that can make you and your guests sick. So tie your hair back, put on those yellow gloves and spring into action!
With its meaty texture and family-friendly size, cabbage is a versatile vegetable for weeknight meals (bonus: it stores beautifully and has a long fridge life of up to two months!). Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that boasts anti-carcinogenic properties, so it’s a great food to incorporate into your diet. Whether you caught a cabbage in the St. Patrick’s Day parades or just picked one up on special at the grocery store, here are a few cabbage recipes ideal for a side dishes or entrees.
Sauteed Cabbage and Apples: A quick saute of green cabbage helps the vegetable retain its satisfying texture while also adding a touch of sweetness thanks to tart, crisp apples. Get this basic recipe from My Recipes. Once you’ve mastered it, feel free to improvise! Try adding an egg on top for breakfast or stirring in some grainy mustard (and keep scrolling to learn how to transform this side into a main dish).
Cheesy Cabbage Casserole: Who needs mac ‘n’ cheese when there’s cheesy cabbage casserole on the table? This recipe from The Pioneer Woman is an instant comfort classic. The green cabbage casserole pairs great with brisket or chicken, but as recipe author Ree Drummond points out, “Sometimes, this really feels like a meal in itself.”
Braised Red Cabbage: This dish from Bon Appetit can be made ahead and reheated — perfect for a busy weeknight! Pantry ingredients like vinegar and chicken broth are all you’ll need (bacon is optional).
“Unstuffed” Cabbage Rolls: Cabbage rolls are a beloved preparation of the vegetable, but they can be tricky. Get all the flavor without any of the persnickety rolling by cooking all the ingredients together in a skillet. About Food has the easy recipe.
Smoked Sausage with Cabbage and Apples: Remember the quick sauteed cabbage and apples recipe in our Sides section? Simply add in your favorite smoked sausage (we like turkey kielbasa) for an instant main dish.
Shortcut Choucroute: Chef Mark Bittman found a quick and clever way to prepare a whole cabbage with his shortcut choucroute recipe. This easy main dish requires just about 5 minutes of prep. Let the oven do the work — you’ve got better things to do!
For more recipe ideas, visit our Cooking Tips hub on the blog.
In our busy culture, free time is often painted as a luxury rather than a necessity, but it is exactly that: a necessity.
To give your body and mind a chance to unwind, refresh, and rest, you need to take time for yourself.
Since free time is precious, here are some ways to help you make the most of the time you have and carve out more free time to yourself:
In order to create more free time for yourself and spend it wisely, you must first know where your priorities lie.
Step away from your computer and spend some quiet time by yourself with pen and paper. Imagine how you want to remember your life, looking back on it in old age. Think about what aspects of your life you want to fill those memories. Maybe it’s time spent with friends and family, or maybe it’s running marathons around the world.
Plan out your priorities and write them down. Keep a copy of this list close at all times, and when life begins to get hectic, take a step back and remember what really matters to you.
When work, friends, family, and hobbies all add up to a packed schedule, free time can be hard to come by, but actively scheduling time for yourself to spend free of obligations can help reset your mind and make you a happier person.
Sometimes that means carving out when you give yourself permission not to worry about anything else in your life. Add daily or weekly appointments to your calendar for self-care and honor this time with yourself.
During your scheduled “me time”, don’t cheat yourself. Unplug and don’t let work creep into your well-deserved time away.
Ignore emails and stop checking social media for just a little while. Try to stay away from television and the computer all together. Your brain needs a rest in order to maximize productivity when it’s time to get back to work.
Instead, go for a walk outside, read a book, meditate or throw a one-person dance party in your living room. Your future self will thank you for this time spent re-charging.
In our digital age, technology and social media can keep us from interacting in person. In addition to scheduling time in your calendar for yourself, schedule recurring dates with close friends and family as well as your spouse or partner.
Make regular plans to meet friends or family for dinner or coffee. Enjoy laughing with your favorite people. You’ll remember how much you crave and miss that connection the moment you see their faces.
Make time to do things that are authentically you. If you care about animals, volunteer at an animal shelter; if you love painting, get outside and paint something new.
Make time to do those things that make you who you are; doing this will not only remind you how much those things mean to you, they can bring a renewed energy, as well.
If you are a busy person, one of the best things you can do for yourself is take a rest. Schedule a nap or take time to lounge around and do nothing.
Our bodies, minds, and souls function best when rest is included in our lives regularly. Balance is important for achieving our best possible selves.
Our time is precious and finite, and as much as we would like, it’s not possible to say yes to everything.
Show some respect for your own time by saying “no” more often. Before saying yes to a new project or event invitation, take a moment to really evaluate if that opportunity aligns with your goals for your life.
How would you describe your apartment? Is it a little bit of everything? An Oriental rug with a leather chair, perhaps? Stark, elegant flowers on a rugged coffee table? Different eras and periods all coming together to create one happy home? If so, you probably lean toward an eclectic design style. We’re exploring exactly what is eclectic home decor — plus a few tips on how to achieve it.
If your apartment hones in on some of the following characteristics (or if you’d like it to!), you probably prefer eclectic interiors.
The Furniture: Eclectic furniture tends to be a mix of pieces from different eras, like a mid-century modern sofa paired with opulent, leather club chairs, for example. Antique pieces and modern designs play together nicely in an eclectic home. However, all the mixed furniture shares a unifying feature: the same color palette. Typically, eclectic design styles favor neutral hues for furniture and brings in dazzling color through fabrics and accessories. On that note…
Fabrics and Accessories: Eclectic home decor features a wide variety of fabrics ranging from patterned, textured, trimmed, or all of the above — there’s truly room for everyone in an eclectic design scheme! Again, color palette is important. Use shades that go well together, whether you keep it in the same color family and play with textures or opt for complementary colors.
Finishes: Do you like wearing mixed metals for jewelry? If you have no qualms pairing a gold necklace with a silver bracelet, you’re probably a good candidate for embracing eclectic home decor. Because the furniture often comes from different eras in an eclectic style, so do the finishes — bronze, brass, nickel, and iron are all welcome!
The Takeaway: Eclectic home decor is all about mismatching — but there’s a method to the madness. Remember to choose a unifying color scheme to tie everything together.
A homemade bowl of chili is kind of like a hug. It wraps itself around you, comforts you, and is there for you at the end of a long day. Using common pantry items and a slow-cooker technique, you can assemble this easy chili recipe in the morning. By the time you get home, it’s ready to go — simply add toppings of your choice like sour cream, thinly sliced jalapeños, crushed tortilla chips, avocado, fresh cilantro, or shredded cheddar cheese (or all of the above!).
Our favorite part about this chili is that it tastes even better after a day or two. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry together, then enjoy a bowl for lunch the next day, use it as a topping for chili dogs, or make late-night nachos with the leftovers.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Transfer browned beef to a 6-qt. slow cooker. Add chuck-eye cubes to the skillet, and saute them for 6 to 8 minutes, or until brown on all sides. Then, add the chuck-eye cubes to slow cooker. (Note: You can brown the meat the night before, sealing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, to save time)
Add the remaining ingredients into slow cooker except the stock. Then, pour in the stock and stir. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours, or until beans are tender. (Note: Using pre-soaked or canned beans can shorten the cooking time)