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Dining Etiquette 101

 

Proper etiquette is important in making a great first impression. From eating soup, cutting meat or proposing a toast, each has its set of rules to follow. Whether you are the hosting a formal dinner or just attending one, the guide below is perfect for a quick crash course in dining etiquette 101. 

dining etiquette



How to Cook In Small Spaces

 

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The kitchen is the center of the household and where most of the action takes place – it is the room that people gravitate to and where conversations begin. But how do you entertain in a tiny apartment, let alone cook a meal in a tiny kitchen? The thought for some can be a frightening task. The lack of space to maneuver and spread out can entice even the best of cooks to order takeout. Cooking in a tiny kitchen can have its disadvantages but according to Terri Lee, Creative Director of Great Performance, it also has its advantages,

“Learning to cook or entertain in a small space is a fantastic skill-building exercise! It forces you to be organized, stay simple and start perfecting techniques to help maximize your space,” says Lee. “Soon enough you’ll rediscover the joys of cooking.”

Just because your kitchen is tiny doesn’t mean it can’t be mighty! Here are a few helpful tips that will make your life easier while cooking:

Plan Ahead

Efficiently is key! Before you get started on your cooking adventure, plan out exactly how much food you're really going to need and only take out that amount; you'll save a lot of counter space by only taking out the essentials. If you’re really feeling wild, prep the food you are going to cook the night before, store it in Tupperware and it will be ready for you the next day; eliminating the need for a cutting board, etc., freeing up even more counter space.

Clean As You Go

No one likes a dirty kitchen, so why not clean as you cook? Cleaning as you cook will not only clear away the clutter but it will eliminate the nightly task altogether, allowing you time for some R&R. 

Only The Essentials

You have to focus on functionality and not gadgetry. It's nice to have all the latest gadgets for all kinds of things you can do in the kitchen, but if you don't have the space to store them, they simply become clutter and take up valuable space. Be realistic about the things you will actually use; if you don't anticipate using your small appliances several times a week, you don't need it. Make sure that you have the basic essentials, a chef's knife, a spatula, wooden spoon, saucepan, and a fry pan. Most people can get a pretty decent meal done with just these items.

Cooking in a small kitchen can be very frustrating if you're not organized. Learning to focus on only those things that are going to be used regularly and are going to prove to be worth the investment is the secret to a smooth running kitchen. Take the advice of Gloria Dawson of Earth 911,

"An apartment dweller can't flip through cookbooks or culinary magazines without feeling inadequate. Images of spacious countertops, shelves that hold every spice imaginable and long dining room tables all strike envy in the hearts of city cooks. It's enough to make you want to call for takeout and never cook again."

Yet, with a little practice you'll soon learn that you can cook fabulous meals in the smallest of spaces without missing a beat. With careful organization and a little creative thinking you can show that size really doesn't matter when it comes to your kitchen. It may take some time to get used cooking in a small apartment kitchen, but you'll soon discover that once you apply your creativity to kitchen design there will be plenty left over to throw into you cooking.

Useful Cleaning Tips For Your Apartment

 

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Everyone loves a spotless apartment - when a home is clean and tidy people are happier, healthier, and more productive in their day to day lives. Even though we all love a clean apartment, it is not always easy to find the time. With work, children, friends and more, life tends to get in the way of chores and lack of motivation can come into play. This is a common problem to most of us, as stated by Andrea Atkins of Woman's Day magazine,

"You love a spotless house - but you don't want to spend the bulk of your time actually cleaning.... you can make chores easier, more effective and much less time-consuming, so you can have a tidy, sparkling home in no time flat. Even Mom would approve."

Kick-off in the Kitchen

Cleaning experts have found that starting in the kitchen and cleaning in a clockwise motion, starting on the right of the stove, is a more natural and instinctive approach to completing the job. Since the stove is usually the dirtiest area in the kitchen, cleaning it last will keep you from spreading the dirt and grease around the room as you go. Always sanitize your sink, first wash with soap and water and then spray vinegar followed by hydrogen peroxide and let dry before washing away. Wipe down your dishwasher with baking soda and run an empty cycle with Dishwasher Magic, for a deep clean. To keep your oven looking shiny and new line the interior with a non-stick overliner, this also makes cleaning the over fast and easy! Clean your garbage disposal with a cut-up lemon, ice and salt to clean it inside and out.

Next Move to the Bathrooms

Make your glass shower doors shine with lemon oil and throw your shower liners in the wash with a couple of towels to clean-off mold and mildew. To disinfect sponges lying around your bathroom, squeeze them out and then nuke them in the microwave for a minute, if they have a funky smell, toss them out. To get your toilet nice and clean, drop a teaspoon of Tang Drink Mix in the bowl and let the natural citrus acid work like little scrubbing bubbles. This is a great cleaning secret if you have pets and little children who may think that the toilet bowl is just another place to play in. It's non-toxic and does most of the work for you.

Finish with the Floors

Cleaning should always be done from top to bottom so last but definitely not least are your floors - another area that is often neglected and collects most of the dirt in your home. Whether you have carpets or hard surfaces, there is a right way to clean both. When sweeping hard flooring make sure that you use the right kind of broom for the area you're cleaning. Brooms with finer bristles work better on indoor and porous surfaces. And an outdoor broom will require stronger and stiffer bristles. Once you get the sweeping out of the way, make sure you mop to sanitize and wipe the dirt away. To keep your carpet nice and clean, vacuum once a week.

There are a variety of little tricks and secrets you can use to keep your home nice and tidy and it doesn't have to take all day to do it. One way to do this is to make cleaning a family affair - teach your kids to clean up after themselves, you are not only creating a clean and safe environment for them to live in, but also preparing them for a healthy future. According to Lifestyle.com,

"One of the best things to teach your kids from an easy age is to clean up after themselves and help with general home maintenance. This teaches children accountability and responsibility - and can help give you a much-needed break when you simply can't face doing the dusting."

Most people do not approach cleaning with relish, but if they do it right and they have happy helpers, they can find that the task can be very rewarding… and if that doesn’t work for you, just call a cleaning service!

How To Choose The Right Pet For Your Apartment

 

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Life can be pretty boring living alone, so why not spice it up with a pet?! Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, or fish, a pet can bring joy and happiness to your quiet little home. However, keeping a pet happy in an apartment environment can be challenging. Apartments lack access to large yard space and pets can get stir-crazy if they are left in an apartment all day. Luckily, all Shea Apartment Communities’ offer pet-friendly apartments with amenities any four-legged critter would enjoy - from pet wash stations, waste disposal stations, treats and more! If you're thinking about adding a furry friend to your home and not sure what type would be the best fit for your apartment, you probably feel like the pet lovers at Animal Planet,

"With all the adorably tiny options, it can be difficult to determine whether your family's new addition should have fins or fur. Some pets need massive amounts of care and attention, while others prefer to be left alone. It all depends on how much time and effort you're willing to put forth to become a pet owner."

To determine the best pet for your apartment, here are a couple of things you might want to consider before adding a new addition to your family:

What Are You Allowed?

Take into account your apartment community’s pet-policy. Some apartment communities have breed restrictions while others have weight restrictions; having a pet bunk with you may not be an option at all. When considering a pet, your apartment community policy is probably your best starting point to help direct you on your pet-purchasing journey.

What Do You Want?

Before you decide what pet you want to you call your own, you have to decide on what you can deal with when your new friend comes home. Most people think of dogs and cats when it comes to pets, but there are many more choices that may not require the same amount of TLC. Understanding your reasons for getting a pet will help you decide what type of animal you should consider.

What Is Your Level Of Commitment?

Most pets are cute and cuddly when they're babies but as they grow that cuteness fades away and the terrorizing begins - from snacking on furniture to accidents on the carpet. Before you take a dive into the pet-owner pool, ask yourself how much time are you are willing to spend caring for this animal. Ex: dogs need to be walked and receive plenty of exercise, daily, whereas both dogs and cats need to be cleaned up after, fed and given a good amount of TLC; think of it as having a child that will never grow up to be independent – major commitment!

When you are in the final stages of making your decision, just remember that if you've never cared for a pet before there is much more involvement than you might expect. It takes a lot of thought and care in providing for a pet; you not only have to think of your needs but you also need to think about the needs of your family and the pet itself. However, for those who do make the decision responsibly, your pet will reward you and your family with years of friendship, loyalty, and love. What more could anyone ask of a constant companion?

Ready to Move Up to Homeownership? Shea Homes Presents Brookland & Portico at Montage

 

Someday may be sooner than you think. With interest rates at an all-time low, exploring homeownership is a viable option for many Shea Apartment Community residents. In order to continue experiencing the quality and commitment to customer service you've discovered with Shea Apartment Living, we suggest visiting a Shea Homes community near you. 

When your new home feels easy and comfortable before you've even moved in - that's what we call livability. It's a feeling you get from Shea Homes - a sense that your house is ideally suited to its setting, the surrounding community and your family's lifestyle. Shea Homes has been designing and constructing new homes, custom homes and luxury homes for well over a century. And while tastes evolve and technologies improve, Shea livability is a quality that never goes out of style.

Lake Forrest, CA - Brookland

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Discover Brookland at Baker Ranch, located in Lake Forrest. Priced from the mid-$400's, this community of designer townhomes offers floor plans that feel like single family residences, along with high-end finishes and outstanding quality. Brookland is located in Orange County's newest planned community, Baker Ranch. Baker Ranch features a state-of-the-art clubhouse, complete with resort-style swimming pools, covered poolside cabanas, luxurious spas and private spaces to entertain. Close proximity to major employment centers, such as the Irvine Spectrum®, and easy access to major freeways. View more.

Livermore, CA - Portico at Montage

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Portico offers six distinctive floor plans combining the best of function and design into Montage's diverse community. Townhomes are priced from the high $400's. Centrally located to the homes at Montage is the beautiful swim and recreation center, where residents can enjoy convenient access to the pool, spa and state-of-the-art fitness center. 

As a Shea Apartment Communities resident, you are eligible to participate in our rent-to-own program. When it's time to buy your own new Shea Home, we'll apply $100 a month, up to $3,600 toward the purchase of a brand new Shea Home. Here's all the details.

Discover a wide range of new home styles from Shea Homes.

How To Create Functional Design For Small Spaces

 

 

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Every apartment has some little area, room, or corner that is just too small to use for any type of functionality. If you're like most people, it can be very frustrating to find a space that you are unable use to the fullest extent; usually leaving the area untouched and wasted. However, if you have a little creativity and determination, you'll be able to use the space, even the tiniest of corners. The words from the design experts from House and Garden say it best,

"Small spaces can be the bane of any flat-dweller's or home owner's life. But they can be a blessing in design disguise. Awkward, small spaces are often a catalyst for change, forcing you to a) clear the clutter and b) come up with clever design ideas you may never have thought of otherwise."

With a couple tips from professional interior designers, you will be able to convert your limited and restricted spaces into useful areas that reflect your inner character. 

Shelving

When you don't have a lot of storage options in your apartment, utilizing open wall space can be the next best thing. Tree shelves can make any wall area functional; the shelves can be attached directly to the wall and can be used to hang coats, bags - the options are endless. An ideal solution for small entryways and any area that has a confined space that doesn't allow room for movement or storage.

Simplify

Another simple, yet effective, technique you can use to make your small space work is to clear the clutter. Go through your belongings and start to eliminate the excess. We all have things that we have put aside for another day, but that other day never comes. Free your home (and yourself) of excess clothes, dishes, art, music, books, and anything else that you haven't used in over a year. If you haven't missed it in a year, you never will - so throw it away.  Once you've cleared out the excess clutter, slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls and add a few small accents and you'd be amazed at how new and fresh your room will feel.

Color and Lighting

The use of color can make a major difference to the appearance of your apartment. A bold and dramatic color in just one area of a room can give it a burst of energy; it will make a dull and drab area suddenly come to life. Then add some lighting to brighten the room. The combination of light and color will give your room a spacious feel, so that even the smallest of rooms won't feel cramped and closed in.

It may seem like a bit of a challenge to take a small and limited space and turn it into something that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, but you might want to take to heart the words of Martha Stewart,

"Making the most of a small space can be tricky but with some clever decorating tips, even the coziest studio can become a comfortable home."

Just remember that those who put a little imagination into their tiny space create a world of uniqueness all their own. How you use your space says a lot about you and the kind of person you really are. There are ways to create that perfect balance between function and beauty even in a tiny little corner.

 

 

Simple Yet Effective Apartment Decorating Tips

 

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There are many pros and cons to apartment living. While the cost may be considerably lower than a mortgage, the dilemma of finding creative ways to apply your own sense of style to the décor can be exhausting. This can be especially true for those living in smaller apartments; add to that, the challenge of decorating in a way that doesn't violate lease rules and regulations can be overwhelming. This attitude is reflected in the words of the Huffington Post,

"It can be a bit trickier for renters to create a space that is truly their own while still ensuring the security deposit is waiting for them when they do leave."

Still, with a few simple ideas (and creativity) you can pimp your apartment to reflect your own personal style, that are not only easy but budget friendly!

Furnishings

Your furniture is for comfort, yes, but most importantly your furniture defines your apartment’s sense of style - so make sure it rocks! It is the focal point of each room and is the foundation cornerstone of all your other decorating ideas. Therefore, when you buy furniture, you should consider it an investment in your personality and sense of style. Focus on colors and shapes that you can use other decorative accents to bring harmony to a room. The entryway, living room, and dining room are key areas of the apartment where the furniture will need to be big and bold enough to demand attention.

Make Good Use of Art

If you want your apartment to make a statement about who you are, do not settle for dime store posters.  Upgrade your style and find artistic pieces that you truly love, invest in a few original works-of-art to accent your home. Art is about personal taste, so you can't go wrong if you're looking to express your own sense of style with artistic inspiration. The key to choosing the right pieces will depend largely on what kind of art you like and where you plan to showcase it in your home. On a budget? No problem! You can buy affordable, one-of-a kind pieces, direct from up and coming artists on Zatista or if your pockets are really running low check out Tiny Showcase for some great pieces.   

Be Bold With Color

Do not be afraid to splurge with a little on color. The days of the eggshell white and neutral tones are gone. If you have the luxury of painting your walls at your apartment, use bright and bold colors on the main walls and reduce the trim down to a neutral color. The neutral trim will create a cohesive look and feel that will run throughout your apartment, while allowing each individual space to rock its own style with color. According to Divine Caroline, your color choices should reflect your personality,

"Deciding how to decorate your apartment really begins with one step: picking the right color scheme.... Start with the basics and check out the color wheel. Everything you need to know about color schemes is in that circular rainbow."

Decorating a new apartment is an exciting time, but does means that you'll have to make adult choices and spend a little dough. If you don't like those plain blinds that came with the apartment then it’s time to make some changes. While most landlords won't allow you to remove them, you can cover them up with some fab window treatments that will make them disappear (well kind of)!

If you are one of those who are not sure what their sense of style truly is, don't fret. It's pretty easy to find out; simply start window shopping and picking out the things that draw your attention. It won't be long before your personal sense of style will begin to emerge and the real you will begin to show.

 

Seabrook Apartments to become over 85% smoke-free

 

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We are proud to announce that Seabrook at Bear Brand will become over 85% smoke-free in 2014. Smoking will no longer be permitted in most of our apartment homes (88% to be exact), in addition, all common areas, including our resort-style pools and park areas, are now completly smoke free. 

The anti-smoking movement has been gathering steam in California and throughout the country ever since secondhand smoke was declared a risk over a decade ago.  State and local governments have restricted smoking in the workplace and many other outdoor public areas and are now turning their attention to the multi-family housing industry.

Many cities have passed ordinances restricting smoking in multi-family housing common areas and are requiring owners to set aside a certain numbers of units as Smoke-Free.  This movement, coupled with recent surveys indicating that over 80 percent of renters in California prefer housing with Smoke-Free areas has inspired Shea Apartment Living to be ahead of the curve and offer this as an amenity to our residents. 

Seabrook Apartments Interiors Have Been Upgraded!

 

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On the hunt for an apartment that is close to the beach with a convenient centralized location in Dana Point? Look no further! Seabrook at Bear Brand Apartments in Dana Point is just minutes to Dana Point Harbor / Marina / Doheny Beach and located next to Ocean Ranch Village Shopping Center. With a Trader Joe’s, 24-Hour Fitness, Cinepolis, restaurants and more, you can hit the waves during the day and get your social life on at night.  

On top of having one of the most sought-after locations in Dana Point, select interior apartments at Seabrook just went through a major upgrade, and we upgraded it all: granite countertop in the kitchen, white cabinetry with brushed chrome hardware and vinyl plank wood flooring in the kitchen, dining areas and bathroom. Still want more? These Dana Point apartments are dog friendly, offer garages (some with direct access) and even have luxury townhomes available. Not to mention, Seabrook received ApartmentRatings.com “Top-Rated” Award and SatisFACTS “Superior” Score Resident Satisfaction Award.

For more information about Seabrook Apartments in Dana Point call (888) 674-0174 or rent online 24/7

Shea Apartment Communities Portfolio Recognized as Top Rated by ApartmentRating.com

 

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Shea Apartment Communities announced today that its entire eligible portfolio received the prestigious “Top Rated” Award by ApartmentRatings.com, the leading online ratings and reviews website for the apartment industry. The award recognizes apartment communities who have achieved superior customer satisfaction scores, as reported by residents and customers.

“We are extremely pleased that our commitment to customer satisfaction has been recognized on ApartmentRatings.com, especially since the site’s content is comprised entirely of actual resident and customer feedback,” said Steve Gilmore, Senior Vice President for Shea Apartment Communities. “Caring about the people we serve is always our first priority. That’s the Shea Difference,” he added.

Only 7% of the properties listed on ApartmentRatings.com qualified for the award in 2013, positioning Shea Apartment Communities’ portfolio among the highest rated in the industry.

For more information about Shea Apartment Communities, visit http://www.sheaapartments.com

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