4 Apartment Warming Gift Ideas

Moving into an apartment can be thrilling, exhilarating, and slightly frightening particularly if you’re a first time renter. To celebrate the move, apartment warming celebrations thrown by family and friends are becoming more and more common. The following are several gift ideas that are great for people who rent apartments!

Gifts for Emergencies

Everyone should be prepared for emergencies. When coming up with gift ideas, a fireproof box along with a basket of emergency supplies is a good gift for practical people. The fireproof box will protect important paperwork and sentimental items in case of emergencies like fires, floods, and severe weather. And the basket of emergency supplies will come in handy in case of a power outage.

A wireless security alarm is also a pragmatic gift and, most importantly, offers some peace of mind. Some alarms activate when doors or windows are opened, others will turn lights off and on when the apartment is vacant. Prices vary from about $25 and up.

Other gift ideas for first time apartment tenants include gifts of convenience.

Who wouldn’t like to relax on the couch while the floors are cleaned by robot vacuums? These vacuums, like iRobot’s Roomba, clean at the push of a button and some can be scheduled to automatically run during certain hours of the day. There are various types to select from depending on what you’d like it to do and what kind of floor it’ll clean. The price depends on these factors and the model that you choose.

Whether they’d admit it or not, a lot of people love singing in the shower. That means sometimes getting lost in song and losing track of time. Mull over the idea of gifting a shower radio with a clock display. With this gift, your friend can listen to their favorite songs, sing along, and be on time for work.

So long as you put thought into it, a good present isn’t determined by the amount of money you spend. When considering first time renters, think of presents that will be useful and appreciated, and you’ll be sure to gift good presents at the next apartment warming party you attend.

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In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to create and securely store passwords. Each year hundreds of millions of consumer accounts are hacked, thanks to passwords that were easily guessed or reused after they were revealed following large information breaches. The solution, of course, is to create strong and unique passwords regularly. And the easiest way to do this is by using a password management program. Management programs not only help mitigate the worst of our habits, preventing us from reusing the same password over and over with simple variations like character substitutions rather than character strings that are  arbitrary, but they are also the most secure for this task, as they are specifically designed and encrypted for password storage.

Password managers can generate secure passwords for every site you use and put them in a list. The only catch is you have to create a master password to have access to this list. Security researcher and creator of Have I Been Pwned? Troy Hunt says that, when developing a master password, it must be strong. What does this look like? Human behavior, even faulty behavior, follows certain patterns and rules. So the main thing is to create a password that will come to you unnaturally and will require memorization. Secure passwords have plenty of things in common: they are long, distinctive, involve a character mixture, and avoid hints and references to our personal lives.

Lorrie Faith Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University says people are predictable. They place their unique characters at the start and end of passwords rather than mixing them up in the center, or use common phrases and patterns, such as iloveyou. In addition, people frequently choose passwords which are too short. For a secure master password, at least 12 characters long is a good rule of thumb. For Lorrie, the key measure of password security is entropy. “This, in computer science terms, is a measurement of how unpredictable a password is based on how long it’d take an attacker to work it out by making a guess at each character.”

By this standard, longer passwords are more secure. Nevertheless, people are bad at being arbitrary. So it’s best to find a good password program that will store and create unique, difficult-to-guess passwords for you, like 1Password.

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How to Store PaintWe all know the situation. You buy a few gallons of paint to paint a room. You proceed to paint the room. And then you have a few gallons of paint left over. Where and how should you store it all?

Storage

The first thing you’ll want to do is seal the can of paint. Do this by wiping the edges of the lid, making sure no paint will stick between the lid and the can’s seal. Next you’ll want to press the lid down. Do this by either using a mallet to tap the lid down, or cover the lid with a piece of wood and tap the piece of wood with a hammer. Never hit the lid directly with something dense like a hammer, as this could cause bends and breaks in the lid, preventing a secure seal.

Next, store the paint cans in an environment not susceptible to extreme changes in heat. Cold air can cause latex paint to separate and heat can cause it dry out. If moisture is consistently present in the environment, elevate the paint cans to keep them dry.

Quick Test to Determine if Paint is Good after Storage

Reopening paint cans is an awful experience for most, especially if left to their own devices. You’ll definitely want to avoid using screwdrivers and hammers because if you bend the lid, you might not get a good seal in the future. Rather, purchase a paint can opener. Then reopening won’t be such a huge deal.

Lowe’s recommends the following, to test your paint.

If you have latex, smell it. If it emits a rancid odor, it’s bad. Secondly, if film is on the top, remove it. Stir the paint. Then test the paint by brushing it on newspaper to discover whether it is clumpy. If it is, then it’s bad.

If you have an oil-based paint, it is good for up to fifteen years so long as it hasn’t been exposed to extreme temperatures and was sealed adequately.

That’s it! It’s pretty simple. Follow these tips to know how to store paint and whether paint you’ve retrieved from storage is good or bad!

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What’s worse than waking up in the morning to a sour cup of coffee: a cup of coffee that, for all the routines and tasks for which you need it to energize you, you cannot stomach? The National Coffee Association gives us a few tips on how to store coffee, in order that your storing techniques won’t contribute to an awful morning coffee experience.

“Your beans’ greatest enemies are air, moisture, heat, and light.”

The best container is light-proof and air-proof. Light will diminish or change the flavor of your coffee, and has the greatest effect on your beans directly after roasting. Light actually causes coffee beans to go stale. So the best container will be one you do not open often and that houses the beans in total darkness. For the chemical changes light causes, take a look at eLightBulbs’ blog.

Another coffee killer is air. This is because carbon dioxide is responsible for most of the aroma and flavor aspects, according to The Atlantic. As carbon dioxide leaves the coffee beans, oxidation begins, which “degrades quality by altering coffee’s essential oils and aromatic components….” Although it is pleasing to smell the bright coffee aroma as you open the sealed container, each time you do diminishes the quality of coffee you can brew.

In fact, all of these elements: air, moisture, heat, and light contribute to the oxidation process, and that’s why the best coffee container blocks these elements.

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Tips for Storing Financial Documents

As you move from apartment to apartment, the task of storing financial documents can seem daunting at first, not only because some documents might be relevant in the foreseeable future while others virtually useless, but because typically financial documents include sensitive personal information. On top of a good organization system, storing financial documents requires a certain level of security not usually demanded of other kinds of storage. Read the following tips to get on you on the right track.

First thing’s first, for documents you don’t want to keep, destroy them: do not simply recycle or toss them in the trash. Because these documents contain sensitive information, the only safe way to dispose of these is through a shredder or incineration. If you don’t have a shredder, and don’t care about incineration, just visit Office Depot, or other office supply stores, to shred documents, as these businesses usually offer shredding services.

Physical Storage

For financial documents you won’t need access to, but should still keep in storage, just place them in filing boxes. To keep it simple and easy for the future, you might name boxes by category. For  security, a filing cabinet with a lock is the best direction to go, or even a locker where you can stack the boxes on top of each other.

On the other hand, if you want certain financial documents accessible, there are a few things you can do. Of course a filing cabinet is optimal, and then categorizing financial document types by file color. Also breaking down categories by date needed or date received could be useful.

Other, long-term financial-relevant documents you might need, like birth certificates, you can store at a safe deposit at your local bank, or purchase a safe for their keeping to protect it from possible future damages.

Digital Storage

A good way to keep your financial documents accessible while also adding an element of security is to purchase a small external hard drive. You probably won’t need more than 5 or 10 GBs, given how little space documents themselves take up, when compared to pictures and videos. With an external hard drive you can add a password protection. Another advantage is you won’t have your financial documents directly on the computer designated for everyday use. This will keep your sensitive files out of the hands of hackers and, maybe, your children. You won’t have to worry about accidentally sending the files or deleting them, as they’ll always be on the external hard drive, which you can disconnect from all devices when you don’t need access to the files stored there.

Another easy way to store sensitive documents is through the cloud, which will enable you to have access to these documents on any network-connected device. A free option is Google Drive, but there are other services like iCloud that provide similar services. You might also just want to look into getting a sensitive document storage program.

Whatever you do, remember to balance security and accessibility.

How to Avoid 3 Common Moving ScamsThe three most common moving scams all involve money. Before you continue to read about the common scams of moving companies, just know that all can be avoided, quite simply, if you sign a contract before you officially decide to hire or use moving services.

  1. Inflating Prices after Packing All Your Belongings

One thing you want to watch out for is hiring a moving company without having a contract with an established, agreed upon price for the move. If you don’t have a contract, some rogue moving companies will pack all your belongings and then require that you pay a fee two or three times larger than estimate or refuse to unpack your stuff. This is a terrible situation: avoid it at all costs!

  1. Inflating Prices after Giving an Estimate

Some dubious movers will just glance at all your belongings and give a “rough” estimate of how much moving fees and services will cost. Do not trust this, and do not base your final decision on the estimate being true. Rather, if you receive an estimate or not, do not agree to use the services of a moving company without signing a contract with an agreed upon price.

  1. Deposit Required before Moving

Lastly, unscrupulous moving companies might require a deposit before showing up to move your stuff. Never do this. This is the sure sign of a scam. Scammers will just take your deposit money and never show up. Then you’ll be out of both movers and out of money.

Signing a contract is the best way to avoid the scams listed above. But there is also more you can do to protect yourself. First of all, never give a deposit. The only time this might be necessary is if you move on a holiday, but otherwise virtually no reputable moving company will require one of you. Another thing you can do is ensure the moving company is licensed by the Department of Transportation. Simply visit their website and do some research on your movers. Additionally, the Department provides a checklist brochure so you’ll never be in the dark about whether your movers are legitimate or not. Lastly, you can always check online reviews. Chances are, if they’re scammers, other people have already reported them.

A new study, as reported by Consumer Reports, draws a correlation between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and cancer risk. This is the first study to connect ultra-processed foods to cancer, although these foods have already been connected to obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

“In the new study published Wednesday in the medical journal The BMJ [British Medical Journal], participants were followed for eight years. They kept 24-hour food diaries, indicating which types of food they ate. Researchers then measured what proportion of each individual’s diet was ultra-processed.

The researchers’ analysis showed that for every 10 percent of a respondent’s diet that was made up of ultra-processed foods, there was a 12 percent increase in overall cancer risk (and an 11 percent increase in breast cancer risk).”

So what are processed foods? CNN reports, “ultra-processed foods occupy a growing part of the world’s diet. A 2016 study found that 60% of the calories in the average American diet come from this kind of food. A 2017 study found that they make up 50% of the Canadian diet, and they make up more than 50% of the UK diet. And more of the developing world is starting to eat this way.

According to The Guardian, “Ultra-processed food is a definition created by a group of scientists led by Prof Carlos Monteiro in Brazil, a country which also has national dietary guidelines urging they be eaten as little as possible. The classification system, called Nova, puts foods into four groups – raw or minimally processed foods including seeds, fruit, eggs and milk; processed culinary ingredients such as oils and butter; processed foods including bottled vegetables and canned fish and cheeses; and ultra-processed, which are ‘formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives’.”

BBC produces a general list of foods that count as ultra-processed:

What counts as ultra-processed

  • Mass-produced packaged breads and buns
  • Sweet or savoury packaged snacks including crisps
  • Chocolate bars and sweets
  • Sodas and sweetened drinks
  • Meatballs, poultry and fish nuggets
  • Instant noodles and soups
  • Frozen or shelf-life ready meals
  • Foods made mostly or entirely from sugar, oils and fats

In general, ultra-processed foods include anything canned, sealed, or frozen, but especially if the sugar content accounts for about 20% or more of the calorie count.

Although the news appears diresome, researchers warn not to worry. A well balanced diet should be sought, in any case, which will include consuming whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Most perishable food items will not be ultra-processed, although in the case of breads it is more difficult to judge.

To show the ramifications more specifically, the BBC reports:

  • On average, 18% of people’s diet was ultra-processed
  • On average, there were 79 cancers per 10,000 people each year
  • Upping the proportion of processed food by 10% would lead to nine extra cancers per 10,000 people per year

So although this may be a call to be more conscious of your diet, there is still much more research to be done to determine the exact mechanisms that propel this increase in cancer risk.

The trope of new neighbors typically brings to mind movie scenes involving casserole dishes. In our day and age expectations of neighborly courtesy have certainly changed. Traditional gifts like food dishes become less and less appealing when you think about the possible allergies any dish, even by accidental ingredient inclusion, might agitate. We are required to be mindful of food allergies. There are alternative gifts that are perhaps even better than the food dish.

Gift Cards & Local Places

One of the best ways to connect with new neighbors is by introducing them to places around town. Just pick up a gift card next time you dine at your favorite restaurant and acquaint the new neighbors to one of the best spots in town. Likewise, you can pick up a gift card for a Netflix subscription, HBO, and other streaming services! In this day and age, who wouldn’t appreciate a free month of streaming?

Favorite Gifts

Have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share but don’t want to agitate allergies? Give a gift basket that includes all the ingredients, a nicely printed recipe, and maybe a spatula. This can work with favorite foods or even favorite movies, television series, or books.

Utility Gifts

This can be a rather unusual and quirky option, but sometimes the best gift is a set of basic tools. Who couldn’t use a basic hammer or screwdriver set? Anyway, if your new neighbor already owns these, they can regift them!

It’s time to get creative. Use this article as a launching pad to think of new ways to welcome new neighbors and let us know what you did in the comments below!

Prevent Bugs and Pests in Your Apartment

Yes, it is a harrowing thought that one day when you get home from work it is possible that the beloved family dog will have eaten half of the living room carpet the leasing office just installed. But there is nothing worse than cooking dinner and, upon reaching for the cup of flour you poured a few minutes ago, your hand grazes the hard skeleton of an energetic cockroach. Pests in the apartment are the worst. The good news is you can prevent these uninvited guests by maintaining a few best practices for apartment cleaning.

The place with all the food is the best place to begin: the kitchen. Food crumbs from dinner are not the only culprit here, week-old pet food outlining the exterior of pet food bowls is an attractant to cockroaches particularly. Either be sure to clean up any grounded food whenever you feed your pets, or give more restricted portions to limit the amount of misplaced pet food. Another thing to watch out for is standing water, either in the sink, on the counter tops underneath dish racks, or on the floor. Standing water anywhere in your kitchen attracts bugs and pests in your apartment. Wipe counters dry after you clean dishes, and do not leave standing water in pots or pans for longer than a few hours.

Likewise, if you have a carpet, vacuum at least twice a week, and more if you have pets, to reduce dandruff, dead skin, and stray hair on the floor. These things will inevitably be there, so removing them as often as possible will remove food sources and breeding grounds for pests.

These few tips will prevent a large majority of pests from making your apartment their new home. Just be consistent with your cleaning, remove food and water from surfaces, sweep hardwood floors and vacuum often, and you won’t have to worry about the vast majority of pests and bugs entering your apartment.

Tips for Moving with PetsWith all the boxes, fragiles, and furniture you’ll pack into the moving truck, it’s easy to lump your pet’s belongings with everything else. But your pet’s belongings are key to comforting your pet during this time of change. As you think about moving, don’t forget your pet. Below are two important pieces to making the move with your pet as smooth as possible.

The Vet

Before you move, you’ll want to make sure you have your pet’s vaccination records, especially if you’re moving to an apartment. If you schedule a check-up with your pet you can get any records your missing and, more importantly, you can check the state of your pet’s health to ensure it can handle the stress of moving, especially if the move covers a long distance. Some vets will even provide a sedative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to schedule a vet checkup before your move, so that you will have all the relevant information on your pet, including its current state of health, and any extra tools that might make the move easier.

Your Pet’s Belongings

Moving day can be as stressful for your pet as it is for you. In the rush to move everything, you might be tempted to just throw all your pet’s toys and beds into a box and move them out with everything else. This will only exacerbate your pet’s anxiety. Your pet’s belongings have its scent, and this scent is an important signal to your pet that they are in a familiar place. When things get stressful, your pet will look for familiar things and places to comfort it. Taking your pet’s belongings away at the beginning of the move will make a bad situation worse, as it will leave your pet without the comfort of familiarity. Confine most of your pet’s things to a room and leave your pet with them while you move everything. This will help ease the transition to the new place.

While comforting your pet in a time of change, your pet’s belongings will also play an important role in introducing it to its new home. Introduce your pet to its new home by furnishing a room with its belongings, which already contains it scent, so that the new environment will already contain elements of familiarity. This will reduce the shock of transition and create a welcoming environment in a new space.