Space Might be Limited, But Not the Party Fun

When living in an apartment, it’s a little harder to plan a holiday party since you have to consider the amount of space you have and the number of guests and activities you can comfortably fit into that space .

Why not take some of the party-planning stress off of yourself by designing a party theme that’s so much fun that your guests won’t even notice the close quarters?  But make it easy on yourself too! Here are a few examples of themes you might consider:

Love that ugly old sweater

Like the time-worn holiday decorations we pull out every year, we probably all have an old, ugly Christmas sweater tucked away somewhere. We know we should give it away, but our favorite aunt gave it to us and we can’t quite part with it.

Why not unpack that sweater and wear it proudly?  Host an ugly-sweater party! Ask your guests to break out their ugly holiday sweaters and wear them, too. Add a little more fun by holding a contest to see who has the most creative/festive sweater, and, of course, the ugliest one!

The elephants come out to play

Everyone loves a cheap and cheesy gift, right?  Why not throw a party with a white-elephant-gift-exchange theme? Invite your guests and ask them to bring something from home that they’d be willing to give away. Remember, the cheesier the better! The gift exchange works this way – guests choose a number from a hat to see who goes first. That first person picks a gift, opens it, and shows it to everyone. Then in turn, the guests choose to either unwrap a new gift or to “steal” a previously unwrapped gift. If a gift is “stolen,” the person who had their gift taken from them gets to unwrap another unopened gift.  The game continues until all the presents have been opened.

It’s all a crock

Maybe you’d just like to have some friends over for dinner, without the added commotion of Christmas sweaters or party games?  But the thought of making dinner for everyone in your small kitchen isn’t exactly appealing.  You don’t need to go to all that work!  Just have each of your guests bring a crockpot dish to share.  Maybe some of them could bring a mini-crock, filled with an appetizer or a dip.  Others could bring a full-sized crockpot filled with their special chili, or a delicious, hearty soup.  There might even be someone who’s willing to whip up a tasty dessert in their crockpot.  All you’ll need to provide is some warm bread and cold drinks.

With all the guests bringing dinner, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the party, too.  And when they all go home, your kitchen will be just as tidy as it was before they arrived and there won’t even be one pan to wash in your sink!

Holiday entertaining can be fun and easy, even if it is in close quarters. So, if you have an idea for a great apartment party theme that we haven’t thought of, let us know.  We all love holiday parties!

Successful Teams Build Successful Organizations

Last Friday night we all saw what successful team building can accomplish for an organization.  By now, you all may know that RMK Management had quite a triumphant evening at the Chicagoland Apartment Association’s CAMME Awards.  The company brought home a bucketful of awards, spanning almost every awards category – awards that acknowledged the hard work of both the properties and the people who work there every day.  So before we say anything else – we’d first like to say CONGRATULATIONS to the entire RMK team for a job well done!

In light of such a successful evening, it seemed an appropriate time for a short summary of what it takes to build such successful teams.  So, while we won’t cover every aspect of team building, we can at least touch on several of the most important aspects.

Define your team members – Then select them.
First of all, some of the most important work in the process comes when you’re selecting the right mix of talents and expertise in the team leaders. Most of that initial work falls on the shoulders of the organization leaders who must bring together the right mixture of individuals to aid them. This can easily be the “make or break” phase for any organization and no choice should be taken lightly.  Once the choices have been made however, the second phase immediately vies for attention – keeping everyone singular in focus and motivated to accomplish the tasks at hand.

Find out what motivates team members
It sometimes takes some real digging to find out what motivates your team members. Never forget that they each have individual needs and desires.  What is important to one is not necessarily of any significant value to the others.  So ask them: What do they want to achieve at work? Ask them on a regular basis and once you feel you truly understand their professional needs and goals, you’ll also have a better idea of how to keep them motivated.  If your team members feel that you’re concerned about their needs, they’re more likely to help you meet the company’s goals.

Define the goals and challenges.
Set achievable goals with them and share your vision with all team members in order to drive initial teamwork motivation.  With all of the distractions that come up each day, it’s often difficult to keep the final goals in mind.  Part of being a good leader is to find ways to keep the focus clear on specific, reasonable, and achievable goals. Give everyone reasons for the challenges and you might even let them set the goals for themselves.  When individuals feel they are part of the decision making process, that feeling becomes a motivator in itself.

Delegate work – clarify expectations.
Motivation quite often starts from little things, like delegating work responsibilities.  When you turn work over to your team members, you still maintain a certain degree of responsibility, but you have also shown your confidence in someone else.  It’s still your responsibility to set clear expectations, but you’re also allowing a team member to find their own successful pathway to accomplish the tasks successfully.  This can provide a whole host of new discoveries that could lead to unplanned routes to future success.

And – Let go!
While you as a team leader should always clarify your expectations, coach the team, and monitor their activity, don’t expect the team to always (or even sometimes) carry it out exactly as you see it happening. Teamwork very seldom works properly when it is motivated by force. You must let go, allowing them the right to do the job through their own skills and styles. Don’t try to control each and every task they do.  Let them inject their individual style and even appreciate that uniqueness. Let them grow in the teamwork and assignments and you may even find they do the job even better than you had imagined.

Now why not be a good team member and take the time to add your congratulations to your fellow team members for their 2012 CAMME accomplishments?  Then get busy making 2013 your year to shine!

 

Stop the World – I Want to Get Off! (At Least for the Weekend)

Sometimes our weekends are as stressful and schedule-driven as our workweeks.  We rush around, running errands, having company, and going to social events. We’re constantly on our cell phones and computers, just like when we’re at work.

Sometimes it’s nice to remember when we were children and just enjoyed doing simple things.  Life wasn’t so complicated and full of demands back then.  Maybe it would be good, once in awhile, to go back to that simpler way of being and autumn is a perfect time to do it.

Did you ever jump into a pile of leaves as a child and just feel the joy of doing it? Do you remember the earthy smell of the leaves and the way they flew into the air when you landed in the pile?  Time stood still for a moment as you were filled with those sensations.

Now that we’re adults, we probably wouldn’t jump into a pile of leaves anymore.  But we could go for a leisurely stroll through the local park or a forest preserve.  We could slowly walk through a pile of fallen leaves, and listen to them crunch under our feet.  To really enjoy the moment, we’d have to stop thinking about all the other things in our lives and just be present, just enjoy the simple pleasure of hearing the leaves crackle underfoot.  And how about looking up at the trees themselves, seeing the blazing reds, oranges and yellows? The colors are so bold that they blot out everything else we might have been thinking about. Time stands still for a moment when we stop to take in such a view!

We wouldn’t have to make a “production” out of doing this – driving to a faraway “special place,” setting aside a whole day, or making elaborate plans.  In fact, it might be better not to do those things.  We could just have a quiet adventure where we can connect with nature and feel a moment of stillness.  Let the world and all of its bustling activity stop for a moment. Just be children again, enjoying a few simple pleasures.

How about letting this week-end also be the end of the pressure and schedules of everyday life, if only for a little while?   Even if you’re hurrying around “doing things” this weekend, how about taking some time to be a child again and go walk in the leaves?  Listen to the crunch under your feet and look at the splendor of the colors.  Maybe the complicated, hurried “grown-up” world will disappear for a few moments. And we’ll all be a little calmer, a little quieter, and a little better because of it.

Posted in Apartment Living

Faster, Easier Ways To Clean Your Apartment!

Does it seem like there’s never enough time to finish small household jobs in your always busy days?  Do those little jobs begin to pile up because you never seem to have enough time to do them?

Maybe you really don’t need a lot of time to finish them after all.  In fact, if you just do them more efficiently, you’ll be able to finish them so quickly that you’ll hardly realize that they’re done.

For instance, does it seem like it takes forever to unload the dishwasher?  If you just randomly put the dishes into the dishwasher, it does take a long time to unload them because you have to organize them before you put them away.  It won’t take you any longer to sort them as you put them into the dishwasher, but it will drastically reduce your unloading time.  Here’s how easy it is to do:

  • Group all the same-sized plates together, all facing one way.  When you unload them, you can just slip your fingers between them, lift them out, and slide them in the cupboard.
  • Keep all the forks, knives and spoons separated in the silverware baskets.  When you put them away, they’ll already be grouped together, no sorting needed.  (To keep them from spooning together, just put some of them in upside down).
  • Separate the cooking utensils into groups and put them together on the top rack.  When you unload the dishwasher, they’ll all be ready to pop neatly into the drawer.

Do you hate how long it takes to sort laundry?   There’s an easy way to skip that chore altogether.  When you put clothes into the laundry basket, turn them right-side out the minute you take them off.  Then put them into dark and light piles in two separate laundry baskets (or just make two piles in a regular sized rectangular basket.) The sorting will already be done before you even start the washer!

With the dishes and laundry taken care of so quickly, you can tackle your other chores by multitasking. Just do them while you talk on the phone!  Keep a list of things that need to be done so that you’ll have a task in mind as soon as the phone rings.  You’ll actually start looking forward to talking on the phone if you’re also accomplishing something while you chat. Empty wastebaskets, dust the living room, clean the bathroom sink, or sort thru that pile of junk mail on the counter.  Your “to do” list will disappear in no time!

As you work around the apartment, see if you can come up with your own ways to finish your household chores in a faster, easier way.  Then, drop us a note and tell us about them.  Pretty soon,  we’ll all have shining clean apartments and even have a little extra time left over!

 

Helping ONE Often Helps ALL

As a community, sometimes WE can provide the best protection for each other.  That was dramatically demonstrated recently when Kent Watson, who works as part of our building maintenance staff at RMK’s Versailles on the Lakes Schaumburg community, rushed to the aid of a Schaumburg police officer who was being attacked by a possible suspect.  Mr. Watson was given an Outstanding Citizen Award by the Village of Schaumburg in recognition of his selfless and timely action on behalf of the inured and struggling officer.  We would like to extend our own congratulations and thanks to Kent for helping to keep the community safe.

This also seems like a prime opportunity to take a moment and reflect on the fact that the safety of everyone in the community is enhanced when all of us watch out for each other.  We can do this by staying alert as we move about within the community, being willing to contact the proper authorities when something is wrong, and acting to assist our fellow residents when it is safe to do so.

Here are a few simple steps we can all take to help ensure everyone’s safety;

  • Never admit anyone to the building unless you know for sure that they are a resident.
  • Always be vigilant as you approach your car in the parking lots or garages.  If you see a stranger lurking about, contact the office or civil authorities.
  • Keep your car doors locked and valuables out of sight to discourage thieves.
  • If you should happen to see evidence of a struggle or attack taking place, contact the police immediately.  Offer assistance if it is safe for you to do so.

Together we have the power to make a difference!

 

End the Summer with a Big Splash!

It’s been a sweltering hot summer for most of us and we’re coming up on the time when families try to fit in one more summer adventure before school starts.  Why not go to a water park where the whole family can cool off and have a little fun?

We went online and researched the best outdoor water parks in the US and picked the four parks that appeared on every list. We only had room here to give you a small sketch of each park, mentioning its highlights, but maybe our profiles will give you an idea about where you’d like to go.

Noah’s Ark

America’s largest water park is located in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. Its attractions include      the world’s only 4-D Dive-In Theater, bumper boats, and 49 water rides, 2 wave pools, 2 endless rivers, 4 children’s water play areas, and one of the longest water coasters, the Black Anaconda.

The park is open from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.

Schlitterbahn

This park has three locations in Texas (Galveston Island, South Padre Island, and New Braunfels) and one location in Kansas City, Kansas, but the  New Braunfels location is the one that’s on everyone’s list.

Often proclaimed the best water park in the world and having won the Golden Ticket Award for “Best Water Parks” seven years in a row, Schlitterbahn covers 65 acres and includes 17 water slides, 3 miles of tubing fun, 3 uphill water coasters, 7 children’s water playgrounds, and a lazy river.

The water park is open mid-May through mid-September.

Typhoon Lagoon

The world’s most visited water park is located at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The park looks like a tropical paradise, where you can snorkel with real sharks and stingrays at Shark Reef, ride the 6-foot waves in the Surf Pool (the world’s largest), float away the afternoon in Castaway Creek, or ride the thrilling rides. The play area for young children offers 10 different activity areas.

It’s open May through November.

Water World

A combination of theme park and water park, Water World in Federal Heights, Colorado has over 44 attractions.  Here, you can ride Voyage to the Center of the Earth (a dinosaur-themed ride), the Ragin’ Colorado (America’s first tube ride for groups), or be on the lookout for cobras and mummies in the Lost River of the Pharaohs, a whitewater raft trip. For a little less excitement, float along the Lazy River or enjoy to the circus-themed Big Top Family Fun Zone.

Open late May through early September.

We could only give you the highlights about these four parks, so you might want to go online and find out more about them.  Or if you don’t want to pack up the family for a trip, just check out a water park near your hometown.  After the summer we’ve had, most of us would love to take a little break from the heat and spend some time in a cool, relaxing water park.  Maybe you’d be willing to do it for us and then drop us a note and tell us about your adventure?  We’d love to hear about it!

Our thanks to Tots and Travel. com, VacationRentals.com, and Hubpages.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Take a Vacation Right Where You Are!

Did you ever feel like you needed a vacation?  Ever stop to think what the word means to you?  I think of sunny beaches, beautiful mountains, interesting hiking trails and blue water and sky. Add warm temperatures…not too hot, not too cold. And we can’t forget good food and browsing leisurely through stores with unique collections of home furnishings and interesting interior design ideas. And lastly, I think of spending time with my family and friends and sharing the experience.  To me, that’s the perfect day!

Vacations can sometimes be stressful and disappointing.  They may involve tedious hours of travel, long ticket lines, unfamiliar highways, and lots of unpredictable and uncontrollable factors. They obviously involve added expense.  Or do they have to?

Living in the Fox River Valley, I have access to a walking and biking trail along this beautiful river within a few miles of my home.  Nearby small towns, such as Geneva, offer unique shopping opportunities. Naperville has a charming riverwalk and excellent restaurants.  Even though the nearest mountains may be 1,000 miles away, there are beautiful hiking trails an hour away in Starved Rock State Park which allow me to walk amidst rocks, hills and trees, through mountainous looking terrain.

The next time you think that you need a vacation, ask yourself, “What do I really want?” Am I yearning to reconnect with a friend or family member?  Am I in a contemplative mood, and wanting to sit quietly and watch the boats on the river?  Is today the day I want to go shopping for something fun or interesting to enhance the beauty of my home?  Or am I more in the mood to experience the outdoors and explore a favorite haunt or discover new and interesting parks or landscapes? Would my day be complete if I could experience the sweet taste of a good ice cream sundae or stroll through beautiful flower gardens?  No matter where your apartment is located, I’m betting that all of these things are within a few miles of your home and cost little to enjoy.

I’ve discovered that the cost of a successful, inexpensive vacation is well within reach for most of us.  And, it’s often more satisfying to plan a mini vacation or weekend close to home than to travel and incur the added expense and stress that comes with vacationing away from home.

What’s your idea of a great but economical vacation?  What has worked for you and your family?  Do you have other ideas for how to relax and forget the cares of the world without having to pack your suitcase and travel all the way across the country?  How about sharing them with us?

 

Posted in Apartment Living

Legend Has It…

Be careful today! Don’t walk under any ladders, break any mirrors, or run into any black cats. After all, it IS Friday the 13th!

So why is today considered an unlucky day? How did people begin to believe this? It’s a combination of two sets of superstitions.  First of all, thirteen has been considered an unlucky number for centuries.  Legend has it …

  • that the number 13 was hated so much by the Turks that they completely wiped it out of their language.
  • that the number 13 is somehow irregular or unnatural. In ancient times, they would count numbers by using their 10 fingers and two feet, and that totaled the number 12, and anything after that….like the number 13…would be considered wrong or bad luck.
  • that if 13 people sit down together for dinner, one of them will die within the year
  • that if you have 13 letters in your name, you will have devilish luck! Check out the following names with 13 characters in them: Jack the Ripper, Theodore Bundy, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Albert De Salvo…to name a few.

The number 13 isn’t the only thing that’s considered unlucky. Did you know that Friday also has some pretty odd superstitions tied to it as well?

According to legend…

  • back as far as the 1300’s, Friday was considered the unluckiest day of the week.
  • starting in the 1800’s, fishermen thought Friday was unsafe and they would refuse to sail that day.
  • you should never change your bed on Fridays, or it will bring you bad dreams.
  • If you start a job on Friday, you won’t work there long.

When you add the superstitions about Friday to the ones about the number 13, you might think that Friday the 13th sounds twice as unlucky! At least that’s what many believe.  And the 1980 slasher film, Friday the 13, (and its many sequels) helped tie the two things together and confirm those beliefs in the minds of Americans.Now, there are 17-21 million people in the United States who actually fear Friday the 13th. They won’t eat in restaurants or even go out of the house on that day. If you’re one of these believers, there is a name for your condition: Paraskevidekatriaphobia.  And if you are afraid, you’d better brace yourself.  Friday the 13th will occur three times in 2012 – today and in April and July! It could be a long year for you!

What do you think about Friday the 13th?  Do you believe it’s unlucky or do you think all these old legends are just foolish superstitions?  Have you ever had any bad – or particularly good – luck on Friday the 13th?  Let us hear about it. 

Stop, Look, and Stay Out of Harm’s Way

Regardless of whether you live in an apartment community, a city high-rise with a doorman, a walk-up, or a vintage residence building, there are times when you may come face to face with potential danger. Since no one will likely ever take more responsibility for your general well-being than you, it pays to give some thoughtful consideration to the possibility. Accepting this responsibility and actively keeping a sharp eye on what is happening around you can help to safeguard your daily activities and those of your neighbors as well. Happily, the most important steps you can take are based in common sense. For example,

  • Get Acquainted With Your Neighbors – Perhaps one of the best ways to better secure your environment is to know your neighbors. Residents who know each other will have an easier time of determining who belongs in the community and who doesn’t.  No matter how nice a stranger may look, you should NEVER let anyone into your building if you don’t recognize them. One of the most common mistakes is letting someone in who buzzes your apartment from outside. This rule should be unbreakable: if you don’t recognize the individual, do not let them in! Just practicing this simple maxim will benefit everyone and keep trouble at bay.
  • Know Your Neighborhood – Become familiar with every possible inch of it so that you are comfortable moving about during both day and night. When you leave your apartment for such everyday activities as taking out trash, heading for the pool, or visiting the laundry room, keep your eyes open.  The more you pay close attention to your surroundings, the less likelihood of being surprised by unexpected circumstances.
  • Report Potential Problems – This includes lighting in hallways, about the grounds, and in parking garages or lots. Make sure you know where your closest exits are located and even pay attention to the best evacuation routes for an emergency. Obviously, you should take note of what type of security doors are installed on all the buildings and what kinds of gates protect the property. Then, of course, be sure that all door and window locks within your apartment unit are functioning properly. If they are not, report the problem to the management or maintenance staff immediately.
  • Change The Locks - If it hasn’t been taken care of already, request that your manager change the locks when you move in. This ensures that you and management are the only key-holders to the unit.  And we know it sounds simple, but the number one safety tip you can always practice is: keep your door locked at all times!

These are just a few of the most common ways to protect yourself, your apartment and everyone around you.  We’re sure you have plenty of suggestions of your own.  Let’s hear them.  Personal safety is one concern we should always be willing to share with everyone around us.

 

Good Dad. Bad Dad. A Look At TV Fathers Through The Years

With Father’s Day upon us, we started thinking about what influence TV has had on the American view of fatherhood.  Generally dads were portrayed in two main ways – Good Dads and Bad Dads.

First, let’s take a look at the Good Dads.  Included in our list is a cast of characters that stretches all the way back to the 50’s, including such iconic dads as:

Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont in Leave It To Beaver) – Wally and Beaver Cleaver’s dad, Ward would always summon the boys to sit down in the living room, where his fatherly advice was dispensed solemnly and quietly, but didn’t leave any room for disagreement.

Jim Anderson (Robert Young in Father Knows Best) – was a bit more relaxed than Ward, but the show always ended with an important moral lesson learned.

Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show) was an early example of a modern real life trend – the single parent family.  His homespun wisdom and gentle parenting approach always taught the same important lesson – do the right thing.  This approach was mirrored in many of the family shows which followed, i.e. The Courtship of Eddie’s Father starring Bill Bixby, My Three Sons with Fred MacMurray, Little House on the Prairie with Michael Landon, and Bonanza starring Lorne Greene.

These fathers were obviously reflective of the time during which their shows were broadcast, from the 50s through the 70s, when TV fathers were portrayed as the fonts of family wisdom and rationality.

Then came the era of fathers whose parenting skills were, shall we say, a bit more questionable?

This formidable list was led by:

Archie Bunker (Carroll O’ Connor in All in the Family) was a blue collar dad, had strong opinions, and wasn’t afraid to express them, even though most of them were VERY politically incorrect.  It was always apparent that Archie was wrong and that his family’s job was to somehow convince him to do the right thing before he made a complete mess of the situation.

He was followed through the years by the likes of Al Bundy (Ed O’Neill in Married….with Children) and present day’s Phil (Ty Burrell in Modern Family), who appear generally incompetent,  usually make no attempt to solve family problems, and quite often are the cause of the current crisis.

No contemplation of TV dads would be complete without at least touching upon that consummate buffoon of a dad – Homer Simpson!  Homer is essentially out to do the absolute least amount of parenting and advice-giving he can get away with.  His solutions to life’s age-old problems tend to be infantile, and the kids easily outsmart him at every turn.

After considering all the good and bad dads portrayed on TV over the years, one prominent celebrity stands head and shoulders above the rest (at least in our humble opinion) – Bill Cosby.   As Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, with his wise-cracking style (and great sweaters), he was very deliberate in his attempt to restore parents to their traditional role of respected figures who did indeed have at least some of the answers to life’s inevitable challenges.

There are so MANY Good and Bad TV fathers to consider, and we know we’ve only scratched the surface of this topic!   Who was YOUR favorite TV dad?  Why not drop us a comment on what you liked about how he was portrayed?

 

 

Six Steps to Candle and Incense Safety

Take a quick look at the photo accompanying this post.  Believe it or not, this is an actual photograph of an RMK community apartment after a recent fire.  The cause? Incense was left burning unattended.  The result – the apartment was a total loss, plus $100,000.00 in water damages to the rest of the building!

No one ever wants to experience a home fire of any kind, especially one as devastatingly destructive as this.  The sad truth is that it could so easily have been prevented.

Burning the occasional candle or incense stick can certainly be very pleasant.  It can provide a dose of tranquility in a particularly chaotic day, a romantic atmosphere, or even odor control.  Whatever the purpose, remember that these are ultimately flammable products and they must be handled with the proper care.

Here are six quick tips for candle and incense safety:

1) Use a proper holder.  Incense and candles need to be held firmly in a proper flameproof holder with a stable base of support that won’t fall or can’t be tipped over.

2) Always place them on a fireproof surface. Be especially careful with metal incense holders, wax warmers and tea lights, which can get hot enough to even melt plastic!

3) Don’t locate incense or candles too near curtains or other fabrics or near drafts that could blow fabrics into the flame. Make sure that burning incense or candles are never within the reach of children or pets.

4) If there’s any chance you could forget that a candle or incense is there and lean too close to it, find another location for it.  It’s very easy to set your clothing or hair on fire.

5) Never leave burning incense or candles unattended. Extinguish them before you leave a room. And never, ever go to sleep with incense or a candle still burning.  Also, never leave a burning candle, incense or oil burner unattended by an adult in a child’s bedroom!

6) Never allow any flammable device to totally burn out. Depending on the type of holder, it could break – or even catch fire itself in some cases. 

In addition to the tips above, please don’t forget to allow adequate ventilation when you’re burning incense… the idea is to enjoy the fragrance, not end up being smoked like a ham or gasping for a breath of fresh air!

Properly handled, candles and incense can be pleasant additions to your home.  With a little extra effort, they can also be entirely safe.  The next time you light a candle or incense, be sure you’re following all of the safety rules and keep yourself, your family, and the rest of your apartment community out of harm’s way.

Have any additional safety items you can contribute to our list?   Or tell us what you do to make sure your candles and incense won’t cause a fire.  We’d all love to hear your ideas and stories.

 

The Art of Balcony Gardening

We are excited to post a blog written by one of our very own RMK residents, Marcia Gage, who lives in The Churchill Apartments, located in Minneapolis.  Thanks Marcia!  We encourage all of you to follow Marcia’s lead and join the conversation.

Many of us find ourselves transitioning from single family homes to apartments due to downsizing, economic or health considerations, or just because of the many conveniences this type of living has to offer.  As long as you have a patio, balcony or some sort of outdoor space, moving doesn’t mean you have to give up your love of gardening.  In fact, if you haven’t gardened in the past, this may be the ideal time to start! Balcony gardening eliminates the drudgery of mowing, shoveling, and heavy digging and lets you discover the joy of nurturing and puttering.

Getting Started

Begin with carefully assessing your individual space to determine your gardening plan. Consider the amount of sun and wind that your space receives. If you are living on a higher floor, wind may also be an important factor in your planning. Your nursery or farmer’s market will usually have plants labeled according to the amount of sun or shade needed. Of course, there are also books and plenty of information online about the light requirements of plants.

A couple of fail-safes that grow just about anywhere are petunias and impatiens. They are long-lasting and come in a variety of colors and sizes.  If your sun coverage is limited, begonias will add beautiful color to your space.  When you are arranging window boxes or planters, be sure to consider adding vines such as vinca or sweet potato vine to give your display a little extra “trailing” aspect.

Consider Your Climate

Perennials may not survive to the next season in colder climates, so it is best to stick with annuals. Spring bulbs planted in the fall are also risky, but if you yearn for tulips and daffodils in the spring, check with your nursery about forcing bulbs early in the season.

Add Some Herbs and Vegetables

Vegetables and herbs can also be fun to grow.  Herbs provide beautiful greenery and wonderful aromas.  There is nothing quite like picking fresh basil, dill or rosemary and adding them to the meal as you cook dinner. Wafting the scent of lavender as you sip a glass of wine is pure pleasure! Make sure you harvest your herbs frequently to keep them from going to seed.  If you end up with more than you can use, gather the extras and give then away, dry them for the winter months, or use them in making vinegars etc.

The Topsy-Turvy and other such devices can be great for growing tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other vegetables.  If you live in a high-rise much above about the 10th floor, however, it is not advisable to use an upside down growing method.  Even if your planter is secure, your little upside down seedling is no match for high winds!  Large pots with simple cages work well in that scenario.  Cherry and grape tomatoes do especially well in limited spaces.

You’ll want to use good quality potting soil and unbreakable pots with proper drainage.  Resin pots come in a variety of styles and colors and they are remarkably lightweight for their size. Make sure to water frequently, at least daily in hot and windy conditions. Add fertilizer to your water every 7 to 10 days, but no more than that.

Do Some Decorating, Too!

Don’t stop with just putting plants on your patio! Make your garden comfortable with outdoor furniture, cushions and rugs.  Make sure to include a storage container for potting, barbequing and entertaining supplies.  There are resin storage units that also provide seating.  No need to spend a fortune!  Check out garage sales. Even inexpensive furniture can be made comfortable with added cushions.

Your balcony garden can provide you with fresh herbs and veggies or just be a beautiful floral oasis. No matter how you choose to use it, don’t let that valuable space go to waste! Even though you’re living in an apartment, you can keep your green thumb and decorating talents alive! And you’ll get all the pleasures of gardening without the back-breaking work!

It’s Easy Being Green

Houseplants give your apartment a warm, alive feeling, especially in the cold wintry months.  But sometimes people feel like it’s too much trouble to care for plants.  That might have been the case in the past, but there are so many products on the market now to help you take care of your plants easily (and inexpensively)!

A quick trip to one big box home store yielded the following products to make caring for your plants a breeze:

Watering

You used to have to water your plants several times a week, a messy and time-consuming process.  No more.

Aqua globes are hand blown, decorative glass globes with a tapered neck.  Just fill them with water, put the tapered end into the pot, and you don’t have to water for up to two weeks. When the soil gets dry, the aqua globe releases the needed amount of water.  Small sized mini aqua globes come in a 3-pack.  There are also larger sized globes which come in a 2 pack.  The cost was $9.98 for either size.

Another way to cut back on the number of times you need to water is to mix water crystals into the soil in your planters.  When you water, the crystals absorb large amounts of water.  As the soil becomes dry, the crystals release the needed water to the plant.  They were $7.97 a package.

Feeding

Feeding plants used to be a hassle, trying to figure out if you were giving them too much or too little food.  That’s all simple now, too.

If you want to water your plants by hand, you can mix in a pre-measured packet of food that’s the exact amount needed for a normal watering can.  24 packets come in a package for $6.28.  You can also just add liquid plant food to the water.  A bottle of that food cost $3.73.

But for those of you who really want to save time, there are plant food spikes.  You just stick them in the soil and they dissolve a little at a time when you water, putting just the right amount of food into the soil.  They came in a 24 pack for $1.58.

Misting

The old way of raising the humidity in the air was to mist plants several times a day with a plant mister.  An easier, faster way is to group the pots together on a tray of wet gravel. One word of caution: Put enough gravel in the tray so the pots will not sit directly in the water and cause their roots to rot.

General Care

With all these time-saving products, you’ll have time to occasionally pick up your plants and take a good look at them.  If they have dried leaves, trim them off with scissors.  Turn them periodically so that all their sides face the light.  When they start to look dusty, give them a good squirt or a shower under a slow-running kitchen faucet.

You can keep your houseplants looking fresh and healthy with very little time, money or care.  Do you have something special you do for your plants?  We’d like to know about it.  We’d all like to have beautiful houseplants AND save time and effort!

 

 

POP BOTTLES IN YOUR SHOWER AND FLIP-FLOPS ON YOUR FLOORS!

Here’s something new to try.  Most of us have gotten into the habit of recycling, but maybe we can even do more for the environment.  Manufacturers are coming up with new ways to use recycled materials.  And the best part is that now you can easily find these items at your local home goods store or on the web.

“Soda Pop” Yarn

Evolution polyester yarn is made from plastic bottles that have been washed, crushed, and woven into yarn.  This yarn is used for making placemats, napkins and tablecloths that look like just like they’re made of normal fabric, but there’s a big difference.  If you spill liquids on them, the liquids just bead up on the surface.  If you stain them, the stains just wipe off with a damp cloth!  When you want to wash them, just run them through the washer and dryer. They have an attractive waffle design and come in a wide range of colors. (If you’re really into recycling, it’s also fun to read their labels and see exactly how many plastic bottles were used for each piece!)

This yarn is also woven into shower curtains.  Because the curtain itself is waterproof, no shower curtain liner is required!  They come in the same attractive design and variety of colors as the tablecloths.  Because it’s so durable, Evolution has also been made into area rugs which are ideal for outside use or inside locations where there is heavy traffic.

You can find the tablecloths at Bed, Bath and Beyond stores and on their website.  The linens, shower curtains, and rugs can be found on Amazon.

Plastic Bottles Under Your Feet                                                                                                                                 A different kind of recycled plastic rug is available on Giaim’s web site. The Reversible All-Weather Rug feels as smooth as a woven grass mat, but it’s even softer and lasts longer.  Its vibrant colors and beautiful designs stay bright through years of wear.   If it gets dirty, you can easily clean it with water.

More Floor mats from Tires and Flip-Flops

Plastic isn’t the only material that’s being recycled. Rubber is also used by Greenworks to make doormats.  This process uses 90,000 lbs of recycled rubber daily, keeping about 215,000 tires out of the landfills every year.

Do you see flip-flops on everyone’s feet in the summer?  Now you can also find them as floor mats!    “Flip-flop mats” are handmade, one-of-a- kind creations with bright colors and bold designs and they’re made from the manufacturer’s leftover flip-flop sandal scraps.

The Greenworks mats and Flip-flop mats are available in Bed, Bath and Beyond stores.

The next time you need to replace a tablecloth, a shower curtain, or rug, try looking for one that’s made of recycled material.  You’re going to have some exciting, new choices!  Just look around at the stores in your neighborhood or check out listings on the internet.  And then let us know what new recycled treasures you found!

 

 

Don’t Miss These Great Music Venues in Chicago

The Smashing Pumpkins.  Cheap Trick.  Smith Westerns.  Wilco. Plain White T’s.  Andrew Bird.  These are just a few of the bands and artists that started out playing at the amazing musical venues in the city of  Chicago.

Chicago is second to none when it comes to the scope and variety of music.  Whether you want to spend the evening at the symphony, listening to blues or sitting in at a jazz session at the world famous Green Mill, your options are endless.

But where do you go if you just want to take in a new folk artist or that next up-and-coming alternative band?  There are a number of affordable places that provide an exciting weeknight or a crazy Friday or Saturday evening.

One of the most popular venues where you can see lesser known artists for $5-15 is Schubas in Lakeview (www.schubas.com).  This is the place where you will catch that band you heard about on NPR last week or that band the will open for Wilco next month.  Schubas has a capacity of only ~100 people, but the acoustics would never lead you to believe that it’s that small.  Even though the space may be small, your experience will be big!

Another option in Lakeview is right down Lincoln Ave at Lincoln Hall (www.lincolnhallchicago.com).  Lincoln Hall picks up where Schubas leaves off.  It is easily three to five times the size of Schubas and the sound is superb.  Lincoln Hall has a wide array of artists that are starting to “make it” and that you might hear on college radio or on Pandora.  Many of the bands that played at Lollapalooza already have played or will play at Lincoln Hall this year.

Finally, you might be familiar with the Riviera Theater (www.rivieratheatre.com).  Located in Uptown, Riviera has the luxury of a large general admission area and balcony you can sit in as well. (If you are interested in sitting, be sure you arrive early as it is first come, first served.)  Many of the biggest acts that come through Chicago love to play at “the Riv,” since it seats a sizable audience, but still provides them with some intimacy.  Bob Dylan, Queens of the Stone Age and Sara Bareilles are just a few of the artists who have played there recently.

These are just three of the incredible music venues in Chicago.  Whet your appetite with these and then expand into some of the other boutique and grander locations.

Do you have a special place where you like to go hear music?  Let us know about it!

Posted in Apartment Living

Rain or Shine, it’s Time … For Punxsutawney Phil

Today is Groundhog Day! You undoubtedly sat in your apartment with a cup of coffee and eagerly watched the morning news to find out how much longer winter is going to linger, right?  Well, maybe not.  Whether you believe that Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow really has any bearing on weather forecasting or not, did you ever wonder how this offbeat ceremony got started in the first place?  We did, and so we did some research into it.  Here’s what we found out:

When German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania during the 1700s, they brought a religious tradition called Candlemass Day with them.  It was celebrated on February 2, halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. According to the tradition, if it was sunny on February 2, the rest of the winter would be severe. If it was cloudy, spring was right around the corner. When they had lived in their native Germany, the settlers watched the badgers to see if they could see their shadows on February 2nd. Since there were no badgers in their new Pennsylvania home, they chose the groundhog to fill in instead.

The first time that Groundhog Day was officially celebrated in Pennsylvania was in 1886. The groundhog was given the regal sounding name of “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of the Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.”  In similar grand manner, his hometown of Punxsutawney was proclaimed the “weather capital of the world.”

Phil’s annual appearance was just celebrated locally until 1993 when the movie Groundhog Day was released. Since then, the crowds have been growing at the event, with some years bringing as many as 30,000 people to town. Today, the ceremony is covered by most major television stations across the nation and is even featured on the JumboTron screen in Times Square.

To accommodate the new flood of visitors, a full weekend of events is planned. They can attend a chili cook-off, ice carving exhibitions, trivia contests, a Prognosticators Ball, weddings, sleigh rides, woodchuck whittling, a scavenger hunt, music, food, fun and games.  They can also visit Phil’s home, but it’s not a burrow in the ground.  He actually lives in groundhog splendor in a climate-controlled glass cage at the local library with his “wife” Phyllis, and dines daily on dog food and ice cream.  He also has two handlers and an “inner circle” of PR men to handle the arrangements for his yearly appearance.  On February 2, he’s taken to Gobbler’s Knob, placed in a heated burrow underneath a simulated tree stump on stage, and then pulled out for his grand entrance.

Considering Phil’s celebrity status, how accurate are his forecasts? Over the years, he has seen his shadow almost 100 times, not seen it 15 times, and nine years are somehow unaccounted for. So what is his success rate? A fairly disappointing 39%!

After learning about Phil’s dismal track record, maybe you didn’t bother watching him on the morning news today after all.  Despite his shortcomings, maybe we should cut him a little slack.  He might not be a great weather forecaster, but you have to admit he is a harmless, somewhat comical diversion from our seemingly endless winters. Maybe that isn’t a marvelous achievement, but it’s not such a bad legacy for a furry little guy who lives in Pennsylvania!

 

Posted in Apartment Living

LIGHTS, CAMERA, HOLIDAY MAGIC

For many of us, the Christmas holidays wouldn’t be complete without our annual pilgrimage to view our favorite Christmas lights.  When I was growing up in Ohio, our family always went to see two particularly spectacular displays that were famous all over our part of the state – a private effort put up by the Dr. Gherlinger family in the beautiful Cuyahoga River Valley near Peninsula, OH, and the lavish corporate extravaganzas produced at the corporate campus of General Electric’s Lighting Division in Cleveland’s NELA Park.  For their time, both these displays were about as good as they could get.

With today’s advanced technology, any private home can rival the scope of the corporate efforts in the by-gone era when we were awe-struck children.  And many times now, whole neighborhoods will work together around a theme to produce sophisticated presentations of lighting and music.

So do you ever wish that there was some kind of an online listing of the best displays in Chicago and the suburbs?   We’ve scoured the web, read the papers, and listened to the media to bring you some of the displays that might be worth your time and effort to check out.

Let’s start with the best-known events for those who either live in the City itself or love to make the trek into the city to see the lights.  This list usually includes the Chicago Christmas Tree and Christkindlmarket in the Daley Center, The Magnificent Mile, State Street’s new Lightscape, Lincoln Park’s Zoolights, Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest, Buckingham Fountain, and Brookfield Zoo’s Holiday Magic.  You can find details about what to see and do at these locations at gochicago.about.com/christmasinchicago.

For suburbanites, there’s plenty for you to discover as well.  If you live in the North/Northwest suburban corridor, you might want to put Glencoe’s Chicago Botanic Gardens displays on your must see list, but there’s also the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills, and of course, the Candy Cane Lane in the Edgebrook/Sauganash neighborhood off Devon Avenue, just west of the Edens Expressway.

West Suburbanites will find equally pleasing holiday light displays at Wheaton’s Crosley Zoo Festival of Lights, North Aurora’s Mooseheart Child City & School, Aurora’s Phillips Park displays, Elburn’s Brian Larsen home, Geneva’s Parcell Family Home, St. Charles’ Park District’s Holiday Lighting Contest, and for those in the know, The Rich Harvest Farms lighting displays in Sugar Grove.  Finally, making the holiday light tour really easy, don’t miss Naperville’s Holiday Light Trolley Tours. For more details on these displays, take a look at www.gowestyoungmom.com.

We hope that this Holiday light listing will be helpful, but it is by no means exhaustive.  Just hop on the internet, type in “local holiday lighting displays” and you’ll see what we mean.  In most cases, you won’t have to travel far.

This Christmas season might be a good time to start a new family tradition of visiting your favorite lighting displays.  Why not give it a try and let us know if it warmed up your family’s holiday spirit?

Make Your Holidays Green(er)!

Your upcoming holiday celebrations are sure to be full of fun parties, delicious dining experiences, and gift exchanges.  With this in mind, we want to remind you of a few ways you can save some greenbacks and be environmentally green all at the same time.  After all, green is one of the traditional Christmas colors!

  • If you like to decorate your apartment with holiday lights and are still using old bulbs, switching to LED lights will use 90% less energy and can save you money on your electric bill.
  • A live tree smells great!  But besides the expensive price tags year after year, do you realize how much energy it takes to get a tree to your apartment?  It needs to be cared for in a nursery for many years and then it has to be cut and shipped to your location.  You have to transport it home, and eventually pay someone to haul it away to the local landfill.  Most of the time the trees come on a truck that originated many states away, so imagine all the fuel that trip takes. That’s a lot of energy and money, considering the availability of beautiful artificial trees that can be used year after year.  If you want the fresh smell of an evergreen tree, try a scented candle instead.  Check out some of these other eco-friendly tree options by visiting http://www.oureverydayearth.com/top-five-eco-christmas-tree-ideas/
  • Wrapping paper obviously destroys trees and it takes fossil fuels to get it to your store, so consider some alternatives this year.  If you just have to have traditional wrapping paper, at least purchase gift wrap that is made from 100% recycled paper.  But even better, try using plain brown butcher paper you can customize yourself or save some interesting newspaper articles you can use to personalize your wrapping.  For instance, if your gift recipient is a big fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, it would be a unique surprise to wrap their gift with the front page of the Sports section announcing their World Series Championship.  All it takes is a little advance planning and each gift can be personalized with an appropriate section of the paper.  Better yet, place all your gifts in reusable bags the recipient can use again.
  • You can also lessen your carbon footprint by purchasing all your holiday foods from local sources.  Not only does this help the local farm economy, but you save all the fossil fuel it takes to ship fresh ingredients from faraway places.

We’re sure this isn’t a complete list, so let us know what you do to make your holidays greener.  We can all use some new ideas to help the planet.

Posted in Apartment Living

Don’t Be Surprised by the Sirens!

We are posting this notice for all our residents because Wednesday’s test is unusual and we don’t want anyone to be startled or frightened when they hear the emergency warning system.

FIRST NATIONWIDE TEST OF THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM

Test to Take Place November 9 at 2 p.m. EST

The test will last for 30 seconds. During this period, regularly scheduled television, radio, cable, and satellite shows will be interrupted as the system is being tested. RMK Management would like to ensure that all of our residents are aware that this event will be just a test, and not a real emergency alert.

The test is being conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as part of their ongoing efforts to keep the nation safe during emergencies and strengthen our resilience against all hazards.

The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system that can be activated by the president, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies.  NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency.

Similar to emergency alert system tests that are already conducted frequently on the local level, the nationwide test will involve television and radio stations across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Under the FCC’s rules, radio and television broadcasters, cable operators, satellite digital audio radio service providers, direct broadcast satellite service providers and wireline video service providers are required to receive and transmit presidential EAS messages to the public. A national test will help federal partners and EAS participants determine the reliability of the system, as well as its effectiveness in notifying the public of emergencies and potential dangers both nationally and regionally.  The test will also provide the FCC and FEMA a chance to identify improvements that need to be made to build a modernized and fully accessible Emergency Alert System.

RMK Management, along with FEMA, encourages the public to use this event as a reminder that everyone should establish an emergency preparedness kit and emergency plan for themselves, their families, communities, and businesses.  Visit www.Ready.gov for more information about how to prepare for and stay informed about what to do in the event of an actual emergency.

 

 

 

Stack and Stash That Kitchen Cache!

No matter how big our apartment kitchens are, it seems like we’d always like to have more space in them.  Maybe what we really need isn’t more cupboard space, but the know-how about using our storage space more efficiently.  If you take an honest inventory of your kitchen and use a few organizational tricks, you can really get a lot more in there!  Here are a couple of ways you can get the maximum storage space out of your kitchen:

Keep It Neat and Organized

When you open the cupboard where you store your plastic storage containers, does it look like an explosion went off in there?  Do you spend five minutes trying to find a container and a lid that match?  If the answer to those questions is yes, it’s time for some streamlining!

Clean out all your old mismatched containers and buy a set of matching containers that nest into each other and take up much less room.  (They are not expensive at all these days.)  Plus, the tops fit several sizes of the bottoms and they snap into each other, keeping them from spilling all over the drawer.

While you’re inspecting your cupboards, how does the one look that contains your measuring cups and bowls?  How about your pots and pans?  Are they all mismatched and thrown in there without any organization, taking up valuable space?  Get a matching set again and you’ll be surprised at how much space this saves.  Also, you can purchase a small rack to hold your pan lids upright.  Besides taking up less room, the lids will be easy for you to find.

How does your utensil drawer look? Like another explosion?  Don’t worry!  Just buy a tray with dividers in it and organize your utensils in groups.  Your drawer will be tidy before you know it and you’ll have room for everything you need to put in there. (It wouldn’t hurt to get rid of any old utensils that you don’t use any more either!)

Use Every Square Inch of Space That You Have

Do you have a tall cupboard that only has items stored on the bottom because there’s no second shelf?  That’s easily remedied with a portable, rubber- coated wire rack.  Buy one that will fit over the items you have stored in there already and that fits into the depth and width of your cupboard.  Just that quickly, you’ve doubled your shelf surface.  Do the same thing in the cabinet under the sink.  Buy stackable bins that will go to the top of the space and let you use every inch of it.

That Was Easy!

Getting the most out of your storage space isn’t hard at all.  First, just look around and get things organized and neat.  Next, see where you have dead space and find a way to use it.  Then drop us a note and let us know how you reorganized things.  We’d all like to know how we can have more storage in our apartment kitchens!

Posted in Apartment Living

E….asy Rolling. An Economical (and Cool) New Way To Commute!

A few weeks ago we used this space to talk about why living in an RMK Apartment Community is really convenient for the commuter. In that posting, we pointed out that most RMK communities are located very close to transportation options that make life easier for the workaday commuter.

Recent announcements by several of the major automobile manufacturers made us want to take a new look at this subject from an entirely new perspective.  It seems as though their newest research is focusing on a new solution for those who want to become less “petroleum dependent”…they’re working on bringing us the ECycle!  With an ECycle, you could leave the car at home and whisk off to the nearby public transportation hub in a matter of minutes.

Last week in Frankfort, Germany, Ford became the latest of the major auto producers to jump into the pool of those who want to manufacture a plug-in electric motorcycle/scooter that would be appropriate for city driving and suburban errand running.  This field isn’t exactly lacking in competitors, however.  New products from BMW and VolksWagen are already beyond the concept stage: they are either already on sale or are expected to be on the market by the end of this year, and luxury manufacturer Lexus is not far behind.

Now, electric bikes are not a new concept by any means.  What’s new here is the entrance into the market by the major auto companies with products that are both practical and great looking.  As you can see from the picture, these new machines have some major “WOW” factor!”  As a group, they are fast, stay powered up for a reasonable length of time, and could generally make riding an electric cycle COOL.

Most of these new ECycles are applying the latest Formula One racing technology to keep the cycles lightweight, and Hybrid Auto technology to offer the right blend of battery life and charging ease.  Hopefully these advantages will make the decision to consider purchasing one of these cycles a no-brainer.

What do you think?  Could one of these ECycles actually persuade you to use your automobile less?  Can you see yourself navigating city streets or making suburban shopping trips on one of these electro-appliances?  We’d like to hear your thoughts.  Not too far in the future, you might ride off on one of these bikes and arrive at your local train or bus station without needing to use your car at all.  And then you’d have one more reason to be happy that you made an RMK community your home!

Posted in Apartment Living

Our Residents are Ideal!!

Since August was our designated “Resident Appreciation Month”, we thought it might be timely to write a few words about the wonderful qualities we have come to see in our residents.  A few qualities that come quickly to mind are:

Loyalty

Our residents tend to renew their leases year after year.  Why do they do that?  We think it’s because they like the idea of being part of a friendly, close-knit community.  Neighbors get to know one another at our resident activities, and they form close friendships that can last for many years.  Our residents directly contribute to creating a great quality-of-life within their chosen apartment community by having a genuine, loyal concern for one another.

Helpfulness

A spirit of caring permeates our community.  Our residents take an active role in watching out for one another, as well as offering valuable feedback to our on-site staff when they see something that requires attention.  This community spirit ensures that our buildings and grounds are safe, relaxing, and aesthetically appealing – in short, all the things we want our home to be.

Community Spirit

Our residents are always willing to support community service projects, including those that might rescue stray animals, foster pet adoption services, provide food to the local food pantry, or collect warm winter clothing for the less fortunate in the community.

Within their individual apartment community, our residents enthusiastically support decorating and beautification contests which always enhance the livability and “neighborhood feel” of the community.

Friendliness

The management staff always looks forward to the community events at our properties, because it gives us a chance to mingle with all of our residents.  Everyone is always friendly and personable.  It’s really fun to get to know you all, linking your names with your faces and watching your children grow up before our eyes.

Creativity

Our residents exude creativity.  That becomes apparent when we run a balcony beautification contest or a holiday decorating contest.  We are continually amazed at the variety of ways residents find to add beauty or a festive air to their living space.  Of course we sometimes get the chance to visit residents inside their homes, and that reveals just how well you all tailor your living space to your particular tastes.  That endless variety is what makes each of you such a unique and wonderful part of our community.

In closing, we would just like to extend our sincere thanks to all of you for choosing to make our community your home.  We are sure that you could add many more qualities to the list we’ve compiled above.  Whether you’re a long time resident, or fairly new, why not add a few comments of your own about what qualities you have come to appreciate about your neighbors and the RMK community where you have chosen to make your home?  We’ve provided the space, and we’d love to hear from you.

 

THINGS TO MAKE YOU THINK AS YOU DRINK

About 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water.  If we have so much water, why is everyone always talking about water conservation?   97% of all the water on the planet is salt water from the oceans and can’t be used without undergoing expensive cleaning processes.  2% of the world’s water is in the ice caps and is cost prohibitive to melt and ship.  So, only 1% comes from usable sources in lakes and groundwater.  With the U.S. population doubling over the past 50 years, our thirst for water tripling, and at least 36 states facing water shortages by 2013, the need to conserve water is becoming more and more critical.

Water Conservation Saves More Than Water!

Have you ever thought about all the resources it takes to deliver the water that flows out of the tap in your apartment?  First, water pumps have to push the water through miles of pipe and those pumps are normally run by electricity.  Not only that, but before and after water leaves your apartment, it has to be cleaned at a water treatment facility and that takes a lot of energy as well.  If you want your water warmed, then it takes additional electricity or gas to run your water heater.  By conserving water, you’re also helping preserve our other precious natural resources.

Five Easy Ways to Help (and Cut Your Water Bill!)

There are countless numbers of ways to reduce your water consumption, but below are a few of the easier things you can try to help conserve the amount of water you consume each day.

1.  Report any leaks or drips in your apartment, no matter how small, to our Maintenance Department and we’ll make sure to have them fixed as soon as possible.   Fixing one faucet that drips 20 times a minute can save nearly 700 gallons of water per year.  Just try placing 7oo gallon containers around your apartment and you’ll quickly see how much water that really is. Multiply that by the number of apartments in your complex, and it adds up to a lot of H2O!

2.  Simply turning off the water while you brush your teeth saves 3 gallons per day, which is over 1,000 gallons each year.

3.  Keep a reusable bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator.  This beats the wasteful habit of running tap water to cool it for drinking and it will save up to 300 gallons a month.

4.  We rarely think about water usage when we see a car, but choosing a fuel-efficient model will help because it takes 44 gallons of water to refine one gallon of crude oil and 1,700 gallons of water to produce a gallon of ethanol.

5.  Save water by adjusting the water level in your washing machine to reflect the size of the load.  A typical washing machine uses 27-54 gallons per load, so you want to use those gallons as efficiently as possible.

Saving our precious water, one drip at a time, adds up quickly!  Do you have any other water conservation tips you can share with us?  Let us know what you’re thinking below.

Posted in Apartment Living

Rock On!!!

The Chicago Music Festival is probably the best in the nation.  Very few cities have as many huge music festivals (Blues Fest, Pitchfork, Old St. Pat’s Block Party and the Schubas/Lincoln Hall New Band Showcases to name a few).  But everything else takes a back seat to Lollapalooza.  Now it’s that time of year again for this blowout event, running the weekend of August 5 -7.  This year’s line-up is very good and you can find many bands to see on any given day.  To whet your appetite, check out these acts from just Friday’s schedule:

  • Tennis (1 to 1:45 p.m., Grove) You have to search pretty far to find a better disc than “Cape Dory” by Tennis.  Tennis has a pop-60’s throwback flavor with amazing melodies and a full sound, despite the fact that they are only a married duo.  This is the perfect start to a festival day.  Tennis’ music isn’t overpowering, but it is big enough for you to chill and enjoy during the early afternoon.
  • Los Bunkers (1:45 to 230 p.m., Playstation) We recently heard this Chilean band on a local college radio station and were quite impressed.  They are a nice hybrid between folk and pop.  What is the point of Lollapalooza if not to take a chance and try out a new live band?
  • Foster the People (3 to 4 p.m., Sony) Foster the People, from LA, is the epitome of a festival band.  They are a charismatic, dance outfit that is sure to get you up on your feet and embarrassing yourself in front of numerous festival goers.  It will be well worth the effort!
  • The Kills (4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Bud Light) The members of The Kills are well-regarded by Jack White of White Stripes fame, otherwise why would he have founded Dead Weather with them?  They are definitely our choice for an early- evening rock out.
  • Sleigh Bells (6 to 6:45 p.m., Grove) We love this duo that plays “noise-pop”, maybe because we’re just suckers for male/female duos.  Take a listen and see what you think.
  • Crystal Castles (7:15 to 8:15 p.m., Sony) If you are feeling adventurous, we would check out Crystal Castles.  We’ve heard that their live shows are legendary, and that their front woman, Alice Glass, gets CRAZY.  We’re sure there will be lots of dancing regardless of whether the pre-concert talk is true.
  • Coldplay (8:30 to 10 p.m., Bud Light) Call us “mainstream” but we love Coldplay, and especially Coldplay live.  We think Friday is the day to go to Lollapalooza, if for no other reason than to see Coldplay.

Obviously, music lovers are by nature a subjective breed, and we know that plenty of you out there will have differing opinions on what bands are the ones to see.  Do you have your own “ideal day” to attend Lollapalooza?  Are you happy with this year’s lineup? Join the discussion and let us know!

Posted in Apartment Living

Cedarburg: Completely Charming, Conveniently Close

Do you ever want to get away from it all for a weekend, but don’t want to drive forever or wait in long lines at the airport?  Then maybe a quick trip to Cedarburg, Wisconsin is the perfect getaway for you.

Located just north of Milwaukee, Cedarburg was originally settled by German and Irish immigrants who built textile mills on its river.    Although the mills themselves are long gone, the buildings that housed them are still very much alive and well, since the forward-thinking citizens of Cedarburg have carefully preserved their town’s past.  One of the many pleasures of visiting Cedarburg is a stroll through the streets to admire the historical buildings, as well as to soak in the atmosphere of the river and the myriad artisans who thrive here.

Washington Street, the main thoroughfare, abounds with small, unique shops offering artwork, gifts, cookware, scrapbooking supplies, garden ornaments, and ecologically conscious goods.  For the latter, check out Lillies or Weeds, both offering a huge variety of fairly traded, earth friendly, meaningful goods, as well as organic and natural clothing.  Interesting items we saw there included:

  • bracelets and key chains made from old bicycle chains, used guitar strings, and bicycle spokes
  • paper pads and books made from elephant dung
  • specialty soaps and lotions
  • toys made from recycled flip-flops
  • Tibetan prayer flags

A 100 year old mill building has been converted into the Cedar Creek Settlement Shops, which include a winery, restaurants, and even more intriguing shops offering original hand-made pottery, artwork, and unusual gifts.  The Cedar Creek Winery offers wine tasting any time the store is open, so be sure to sample some of the many great wines.  Our personal favorites included the Strawberry Blush, Old Mill Red, and Cedarburg Spice, but they also feature an excellent Pinot Grigio.  The Vidal Blanc is made from grapes grown in Prairie du Sac Wisconsin!

If you get hungry as you stroll through the well-preserved downtown, you’ll find a nice variety of restaurants.   If you like crispy thin-crust pizza, try Tomaso’s, a family owned Cedarburg institution.  If you prefer more a New York style of pizza, stop in at Sal’s just down the street.  If a sandwich is more to your liking, try Chocolate Factory Subs & Ice Cream, Morton’s Restaurant, or T.J. Ryan’s.  Gourmet coffee is offered at several shops where you will see folks sitting outside bistro-style throughout the day.

Cedarburg is very proud of their landmark bed and breakfast lodgings located right on Washington Street.    Both The Stagecoach Inn and The Washington House Inn are housed in historic buildings and immerse guests in a nostalgic atmosphere with antique furnishings and a staff which is more than willing to entertain you with stories about the buildings’ past lives.  The Washington House further enhances the vacation feeling with a complimentary nightly wine and cheese hour, as well as scrumptious     homemade baked goods at breakfast.

As if all of this isn’t enough to lure you to this relaxing setting, Cedarburg plays host to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail.  Completed in 2002, it is a 30-mile paved multi-use trail that spans the entire length of Ozaukee County,  passing through Mequon, Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington and Belgium.  We enjoyed bicycling to Port Washington and having lunch next to Lake Michigan (try the Harbor Deli), all the while watching boats glide in and out of the harbor.

All in all, there is far too much to do in and around Cedarburg in a single weekend.  Its many charms call us back again and again to soak up the beauty of different seasons, as well as to absorb the relaxed atmosphere of this historic town.  Have any of you visited Cedarburg?  We’d love to hear about your favorite restaurants, shops or hotels!

That’s the Way We Roll!

The wind blowing through your hair, the sounds of nature all around you, the added benefit of aerobic exercise – all are inducements to dig the bike out and enjoy that feeling of freedom and exhilaration that only riding a bicycle can provide.   It’s interesting to note that the number of people commuting to work by bike has tripled In Chicago over the past two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  And, the fact that gas prices are hovering at around the $4 per gallon mark certainly has pushed more people into considering this practical and economical mode of transportation.

For those of you who are lucky enough to live in one of our Uptown, River North or Streeterville apartment homes, a bicycle commute to your office in the Loop or downtown couldn’t be easier.  All of our Chicagoland properties feature bike-friendly locations which offer proximity to shopping, recreation and work.  Residents can bike to the Metra station, and bikes are even allowed on the trains. For some folks having a safe spot to keep their bicycle is just as important as having parking for their car.  That’s why we offer bike parking and storage at each of our communities.  Of course during inclement weather cyclists can stay in shape by taking advantage of the stationary bikes in the onsite fitness centers at each property.

Our area is especially bike-friendly, due to the large number of bike routes and bike trails located close at hand.  Summer is a great time to either ride or transport your bike to the Chicago lakefront and ride the 30 miles of paved trail that offers spectacular city and lake views along its entire length.  Other notable trails in our area include the Prairie Path, I & M Canal Trail, and Fox River Trail, which runs from Aurora to Algonquin.  People who have ridden the Fox River Trail  have raved about its scenery and variety, which includes many bridges, a working windmill, historical markers, an abundance of restaurants, and interesting towns along its entire length.

Plenty of information on local trails is available on the internet.  A good place to start is at www.TrailLink.com, a site sponsored by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.  A quick glance at the maps shows how Chicago’s history as a rail hub has directly benefitted today’s bicyclists.  Many former railroad right-of-ways have been converted to beautiful trails linking cities to rural landscapes, as well as other cities.  Train buffs will know that these railroads make ideal bike trails because trains don’t operate on grades steeper than 3%.  This means that trail conversions make very family-friendly places to ride!

We know that there are lots and lots of interesting trails in our area.  How about sharing a quick review of your favorite local trail with us?  As you know, it’s always a fun adventure to try out a new trail.

 

Posted in Apartment Living

Two Brothers Tap House

We’re always on the lookout for great local spots which offer unique opportunities for food, drink and entertainment. Two Brothers Tap House certainly fills the bill.  This local Warrenville brewery has been expanding rapidly and is one of the best, if not the best, craft brewers around.  But you may not know that they also offer an amazing brewpub restaurant on location as well.

The restaurant is attached to the brewery and offers some of the best organic pub food we’ve have had in recent memory.  On recent trips, we’ve tried many items from their wide-ranging menu.  If you are in the mood for traditional pub cuisine, you can’t go wrong with their wings or with their burger.  We recommend the tap house burger as it has some extra kick, with fresh jalapenos mixed into the patty.

Some of you more adventurous eaters may prefer Two Brothers’ less traditional fare.  The mac & cheese with ham and bacon is amazing.  It’s a nice variation on a standard “par for the course” item.  We believe you’d have to look pretty hard to find a better pulled pork sandwich than what is offered here.  The pork is supremely tender and the addition of the coleslaw adds a nice mix-up to the flavor.

Finally, we have to mention the brewery itself.  You can join a brewery tour every Saturday at either 1 or 2:30 p.m.  It is a short 45 minute overview of the brewery’s founding (by two actual brothers) and of the brewery building (which is actually a renovated gymnastics training facility).  At the conclusion of the tour, you get your choice of micro-brew samples.  Our favorites are the Domaine Dupage and the Resistance IPA.

It is one of the classic, “Come for the beer, stay for the food” type of establishments.  A friendly warning; finding the tap house is an adventure in itself since there is no sign on the exterior indicating what’s inside.  The brewery is located at 30W315 Calumet Avenue in Warrenville (just northwest of the intersection of Routes 56 and 59), in a building which appears to be an industrial building of some kind.   The best way to find it is to use your GPS map device, and trust it when it tells you that you’ve arrived.  The lack of signage appears to be a part of the quirky marketing of Two Brothers Tap House.

 

 

 

Posted in Apartment Living

Take Time To Say “I Love You Dad”

It’s almost here, the third Sunday in June, which is the traditional time for remembering our Dads on their special day.  History says the first actual Father’s Day was celebrated in 1910 in Spokane, Washington.  Established by Sonora Dodd, it celebrated the life of her father who single-handedly raised the family’s six children after his wife died in childbirth.  However, it took until 1972 before President Nixon made it an official holiday by signing it into law.

Today’s generation sometimes seems better at telling a parent that they love them, but many of us have found it awkward to do that.  So, we began thinking about how we could tell our dads how important they are to us in a comfortable and meaningful way.

Whatever the status of your relationship, it’s a pretty good bet that your father would at least appreciate hearing from you.  This could be handled simply by a handwritten note or card, a phone call, or a visit.  If you’re married and have a family of your own now, most dads would love to be a part of your experience.  Thus, it’s always appropriate to send photos, let the kids call or write, and of course add a bit of supporting commentary yourself.  If you’re the gift giving type, consider his interests and possibly plan to attend a sporting event or concert together.  You could also simply arrange a picnic, a dinner event, or a nice afternoon/evening together.  After all, a little of your time is the most valuable gift you can bestow.

If your dad is getting well into his older years, choosing gifts and spending time with him can present special difficulties, but even a little effort to keep an open connection can pay huge dividends for both of you.  It’s your opportunity to let him know that the time and experiences he gave you as a child were important to you,  and now it’s your turn to give of yourself when he may need it most.

No matter how you choose to observe the holiday, we hope it will be a special one for you and your family.  Having said that, all of us here on the staff would also like to say to our own fathers….We Love You Dad, and Happy Father’s Day!

If the spirit moves you, we’d like to hear about how you celebrated with your dads.  Maybe some of the creative ways you find to express your feelings will give us all some inspiration for the future.  Please take the time to share.  We’d love to publish some of your thoughts and ideas.

 

 

Posted in Apartment Living

It’s Time to Get Outside!

How many times did you wish for warm weather as you cleared snow and ice from your car over this past winter?? If you’re like most Midwesterners, you feel like you’re coming out of months of dark, dreary hibernation to finally feel the warmth of the bright sunshine again.  You’ve packed away your wool cardigan and replaced it with a cool, casual, cotton shirt. And, with the delicious taste of warm temperatures of last weekend, we’re all really looking forward to the three day Memorial Day weekend ahead!

Memorial Day has become the unofficial “first day of summer,” and nothing says “holiday” like friends gathering for that first summer cookout.   Remember, at many RMK communities we provide grills in our community recreation areas so that you can try out that new barbeque recipe for the gang.  After your picnic, maybe you’ll stroll around the property and look at the spring flowers, or burn off the potato salad and baked beans by taking a hike or bike ride in the great outdoors.

Whether you live in the city or a suburb, being able to spend quality time outdoors is important for your health and well-being.  In today’s hectic world, “green space” gives us a relaxing place where we can recover, re-focus and re-energize.  And you don’t have to travel away from home to enjoy that “space”.  We’ve tried to provide little “pockets” of relaxation right here at your property.  Spend a little time at the pool, on your balcony, patio or terrace.  Take a few minutes and go sit and enjoy the beauty of our landscaped grounds, or visit the park or playground.  It’s part of our management philosophy that we want all of our residents to feel like their home gives them every opportunity to be comfortable and relaxed – inside and out.

But if you’re feeling adventurous and want to “go somewhere” to enjoy that fresh air and sunshine, here are a few of our favorite spots for doing that in the Chicagoland area:

  1. Lincoln Park (especially the zoo), Chicago
  2. Grant Park (especially near Buckingham Fountain), Chicago
  3. Millennium Park , Chicago
  4. Morton’s Arboretum, Lisle
  5. Cantigny Park, Wheaton
  6. Ravinia Festival, Highland Park
  7. The Fox River Trail (Aurora to the Wisconsin border)
  8. Doerhoefer Park, Downers Grove
  9. The Palatine Trail, Palatine
  10. The Naperville River Walk, Naperville

We’re sure our list is far from complete.  You undoubtedly have your own favorite outdoor spots, and we’d like to hear about the places that help YOU stay grounded and rested.  What’s your favorite spot for spending time outdoors?  Let us know!

Is Renting The NEW American Dream?

With all that’s been going on over the last few years in the housing market, it’s hard not to reflect on some basic changes to the American psyche.  One pronounced trend may be that owning your own home is not the “American dream” it once was.  This leads us to create our own list of “the top 10 reasons why renting is better than buying.”

10.  No Yard Work – You never have to worry about doing yard work on weekends.  One of the great perks with renting in a luxury apartment community is that all that fabulous landscaping is handled by someone else.  You don’t spend your time mowing the grass, raking the leaves, or spreading fertilizer.

9.  Better Amenities – Since you’re not making a long-term commitment to any one dwelling, you can shop around each year and decide whether your present apartment home offers all the amenities you desire.  It’s much harder to pick up and move when you have to sell a house first!

8.  More Leisure Options – Are you the kind of person who likes a lot of options for your leisure time?  Most apartment communities offer a fitness center (saving the cost of a health club membership), a clubhouse with big screen TV, and even a pool on the premises. 

7.  Greater Career Mobility – When your job moves, so can you.  In today’s world, it’s not unusual to seek a career move to another city, state, or even country.  As a renter, you are much more mobile.

6.  Less Responsibility For Taxes – There is never, ever an overdue property tax bill to worry about.   Schools, roads, fire and police departments are funded through property taxes, and those taxes can be considerable in some of the more desirable communities.

5. Fewer Maintenance Worries – There are absolutely no maintenance headaches.  Instead of being concerned with painting the siding, washing the windows, fixing the roof, or getting the central air conditioning re-charged, you can kick back with a cold drink on the balcony.

4.  No Shoveling – You never have to shovel snow from your driveway or sidewalks.

3.  No Mortgage Hassles – You will never be stuck in your home because your mortgage is “underwater”.  In fact, the chances are good that your rent payment is significantly less than a mortgage payment on a house of the same size with similar amenities.   Also, unlike new home purchases, there’s no down payment necessary.

2.  No Homeowner’s Association Fees -You’ll never have to pay fees to a Homeowners Association….fees which tend to increase every year as the price of everything else goes up.

1.  You’ll Save Money – And the #1 reason that renting is better than buying; it’s cheaper!  When you factor in insurance, taxes, maintenance, and utilities, it’s often much less expensive to rent than to buy.  As an added bonus – the money you save can be used for other purposes,  such as investments which can make you money.

These are just a few of the reasons renting may make more sense in today’s economy.  What are your experiences?  Do you think the dream of owning your own home has seen its day?  Let us know what you think.

Calling All Commuters

What would you do with an extra 70 hours – or nearly three days – a year? Take a long weekend get-away or spend more time with friends and family? Well, if you live in Downers Grove  and commute by car, you’ll be spending that time in traffic.

For the first time, the Chicago area has earned the not-so-prestigious designation of having the worst traffic jams in the country, according to the Urban Mobility Report, issued in February by the Texas Transportation Institute. As a result, we’re finding that renters are putting an increased emphasis on the importance of proximity to public transportation as commuting times – and costs – increase. Of course, people would much rather spend their time and money on things they enjoy, and so they look for apartment communities that offer easy access to the Metra or CTA.

Renters at Residences at the Grove have the benefit of being less than five miles from a Metra train station, which include bike racks and park-and-ride options. Was that an important feature to you?

If you are among the thousands hitting the roads by car each day and would like to see if taking public transportation could help you cut your commute, here is a link to the map and schedule for the Metra train line with service to and from Downers Grove:

http://metrarail.com/content/metra/en/home/maps_schedules/metra_system_map/bnsf/map.html

Posted in Apartment Living

10 Ways To Celebrate St. Patricks’s Day

It’s almost here, one of our most enthusiastically celebrated holidays –St. Patrick’s Day.  Now you might be asking yourself why the average person may want to deck themselves in green and pretend that they were Irish for a day?  Actually, there are any number of reasons, but we’re going to try to give you ten of the most common incentives to get you up off of the couch and out celebrating this beloved holiday with food, drink and all things green.

  1. This is a great opportunity to wear all of that emerald green clothing that you usually have buried in the back of a closet or deep in one of your drawers.  Perfectly acceptable items are green blazers, skirts, sweaters and vests and yes… green ties.  Maybe you even have one of those “Special” St. Patrick’s Day T-Shirts that say “Kiss Me I’m Irish.”  (This one can be considered a little “tacky” by those who are truly Irish, but hey, it’s only for one day!)  If you’re really adventurous, you can even dress in a Leprechaun costume, but this can be stretching it a little if you’re more than five feet tall.
  2. For those who would just like to accessorize with a little green, some form of a Shamrock is always appropriate.  This can include buttons and pins, as well as more traditional jewelry and green hats.  Some of you may even want to break out the lime Kool-Aid and give your hair a blast of emerald for the day.
  3. If you’re a Chicagoan, the day just isn’t complete without a visit to the Chicago River, which is dyed green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Even though the actual holiday comes after the Saturday parade, the river usually stays green for at least a few days afterward.  Make sure you pay your respects.
  4. Attend Local Parades.  Sure now, you may have missed the city’s big parade but there are still plenty of local efforts you could check out if you’re so inclined.
  5. Check out the bar scene.  Like it or not this is by far the favorite form of celebration for the holiday.  In some locales the local pub crawl is even considered to BE the parade.  Even better, there are usually special prices on beer, food and cover charges for pub festivities and music.
  6. For those of you who don’t usually imbibe in the traditional spirits, this is the perfect day for one of those Shamrock Shakes at your local fast food outlet.  Hey, it gets the kids in the spirit too!
  7. For the culturally inclined there are always plenty of musical presentations -chorus and choir concerts of traditional Gaelic music and Irish Dance presentations.  If you’re really fortunate, one of the traveling productions of Riverdance may be visiting your community stage.  Just look through the local newspapers and community calendars to discover what might be happening in your town.
  8. Grab some traditional Irish food.  Almost every restaurant finds a way to get in on the celebration.  You usually don’t have to look very far to find a place serving up corned beef and cabbage (even though this isn’t a traditional Irish meal, it’s become accepted as such). Bakeries take the opportunity to offer plenty of Irish soda bread, and the local eateries offer plenty of diverse potato dishes, Irish stews, and meat pies.
  9. Host your own party! You’re not required to go out. This is a great opportunity to have a few friends over and celebrate with an Irish themed dinner party or even an open house where larger groups can join in the festivities.
  10. OK, so maybe wild celebration isn’t your thing.  Spend an intimate evening with a close friend of your choice – share a beer and some snacks and watch a good old Irish Movie. The Crying Game, My Left Foot, The Commitments, Waking Ned Devine, and The Quiet Man come instantly to mind, but there are plenty to choose from so take your pick.

Hopefully this gives you a start toward your own celebration.   March 17th is the day everyone enjoys being Irish for the day…don’t be left out.  Have fun, celebrate responsibly and don’t forget your GREEN!

Here are some ideas for festivities already scheduled in your local neighborhood:

Ballydoyle Irish Pub & Restaurant
157 Main Street, Downers Grove
Phone (630) 969-0600

Shanahans Pub
2009 Ogden Avenue, Downers Grove
(630) 725-9110

Posted in Apartment Living

Does Anyone Really Care about Valentine’s Day?

Valentine's DaySince Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, we were wondering if anyone, men or women, really cares that much about the holiday.  We’ve heard pros and cons from both sides in recent years. Everything from “it’s just a commercially created holiday to benefit the vendors of flowers and candies”, to “he’d better not forget!”

For most of us, we’ve been exchanging Valentine’s cards or treats since early elementary school, and gone from including everyone so that their feelings wouldn’t be hurt to just buying “that perfect gift for that special someone.” A case can definitely be made that the holiday is so ingrained that no one would dare take a chance on overlooking some kind of affectionate gesture for their loved one.

So, what we’d like to know is what you, our residents, think about this. Is this occasion really something special to you, or would you like to overlook it this year?  For or against, we’d like to know how you feel, and we’d love to have you take this space and share your thoughts with us.

For those of you who would just like to skip over the whole question and get straight to “I DO want to do something, but I have no idea what to do for her/him this year and it’s getting too close to the actual day,” we’re going to try to help you out here and include some last minute possibilities for romantic ways to celebrate.

  • Make a list of the top 10 reasons you love him/her and include it with a card.
  • Spend a couple of hours together writing romantic ideas on slips of paper.  Stuff them into a jar and then take turns pulling out one of the suggestions on special occasions throughout the year.
  • Give a gift certificate for a massage, spa day, manicure or pedicure.
  • Cook a special meal for your significant one, (or pick one up on the way home since Valentine’s Day falls on a work day this year).
  • Do something especially thoughtful for the day, something that‘s out of the ordinary, and lets the other person know you actually spent quality time thinking of them.
  • Have friends over and just play some fun games that everyone enjoys.
  • Fresh flowers and one of those special “I Love You” helium balloons delivered to your partner’s workplace are usually a hit.
  • Spend a day just photographing each other at local spots that have some sentimental attachment for both of you. Frame one of them as a reminder of this special day.  For that matter, frame some of the others too and present them on special occasions in the future.
  • And yes, you can always find an especially romantic local restaurant for dinner if that is something you both enjoy doing.

If you choose the last suggestion, we’ve even gone a step further and researched local places that are featuring some type of Valentine’s Day special. So, we’ve done a bit of homework for you here. The rest is up to you!

Don’t forget! We still want to know whether you think this holiday should even be celebrated. Warm up those laptops and let us know what you think. And of course, we’d love to hear your thoughts on our Valentine suggestions. If you used any of them, we’d like to hear how it went. No matter what you think, we’d love to hear from you.

And since we have to admit that we’re kind of sentimental, especially about our residents, we’ll take this opportunity to say a heartfelt Happy Valentine’s Day!

Carlucci Restaurant
(630) 512-0990
1801 Butterfield Road
Downers Grove
Friday through Monday, Feb. 11-14
carluccirestaurant.com

$39 per person: Four-course prix-fixe menu. Long stemmed strawberries with fudge and white chocolate dipping sauces caps off an evening of menu items, including Mozzarella con Prosciutto, cast iron shrimp, beet salad, filet mignon and New York strip. Live entertainment by the Brill Babies will be provided on Saturday, Feb. 12. Valentine’s menu available upon request; regular menu items also available. Reservations are recommended.

Pianist Eugene Kwok
Indian Prairie Public Library
401 Plainfield Road
Darien
2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13
Contact the Indian Prairie Public Library, (630) 887-8760, ext. 239
indianprairielibrary.org

Free: Pianist Eugene Kwok with play a selection of romantic songs at the Indian Prairie Public Library in Darien. A reception will follow the performance.

Posted in Apartment Living

Important Notice

Chicago BlizzardTo All Residents

The entire Chicago Area is preparing for a major snowstorm.  In the next few days we could be facing record amounts of snow accumulation, and while our maintenance staff is getting ready to meet the challenge, we also need your help.  Please note which parking areas the maintenance team is clearing during the storm’s progress and promptly move your cars to those areas to keep your vehicles from being “plowed in.”  This will aid everyone involved in keeping things fully cleared and get you moving again as quickly as possible.

For those of you who have wooden balconies, please keep your screens in an “open position” so that we will have smooth access to all balconies if snow removal is necessary.  If you plan to be out of town during this event, please maintain a small “drip” at your bathroom faucets and keep your heat at a minimum of 66 degrees.  The storm is expected to be followed by plunging temperatures and this will help prevent “freezing” issues.  We appreciate your help and please let us know immediately if you have weather related emergencies.

Posted in Apartment Living

Get Ready For Some Changes

It’s a new year! Whether it’s dieting, hitting the gym more, or saving a little extra money, this is the time of the season when many people decide to do things differently for the coming year. Our New Year’s resolution? Heading into the new year, we’d like to become a lot more interactive with the RMK blog. We’re going to present more topics that we hope will prove to be useful in everyday life.

More News You Can Use

Our thought is to take a closer look around our neighborhood and find local entertainment, shopping, dining, undiscovered gems and just about anything else that would be of interest to our entire apartment community.

Tell Us What You Think

Along the way, we really want your reaction to this new approach. Do you agree with our choices, our ideas and our reviews, or do you see things differently? Did you find an awesome restaurant, boutique or shop that we missed? Send it in! We think the possibilities for making exciting new discoveries are all around us and no one person can uncover them all. Together, maybe we can find the brightest and best of the world around us.

So continue to watch this space for each of our new posts. Start collecting some ideas of your own as well! Let’s share the exciting new finds, and together maybe we can make 2011 a rewarding and life-changing time for all of us in our corner of the world.

 

Posted in Apartment Hunting

Renting in Downers Grove: Tips for Finding an Eco-friendly Apartment in Downers Grove

For many of us, environmental responsibility has become a part of our way of life. That includes finding a luxury apartment in Downers Grove that is eco-friendly, too. And as the property manager for Illinois first Gold LEED certified rental high-rise building, helping our residents live greener is especially important to my company. So weve put together a checklist of questions to ask an apartment manager or landlord to determine how green the apartment community is while conducting your Downers Grove apartment search. Apartment with a Pool in Downers Grove Are eco-friendly cleaning supplies used in the apartment common areas, like the halls and lobby? Are green paper products used, when possible? Does the apartment management office use recycled paper, when possible? Are the apartment common areas lit with CFL bulbs or other energy efficient lighting? Are the lights on a sensor so they are only lit as needed to save energy? Are the pest control products eco-friendly? If applicable, is the landscaping perennial (meaning the plants come back each year, rather than planting new plants each season)? Is the community able to re-use rainwater for watering the plants? If applicable, is there any green space or natural areas? Does the Downers Grove apartment complex offer a recycling program?

If the answer is yes to at least half of these questions, then its considered a green apartment in Downers Grove. And you may be surprised to find that the greenest apartment communities offer luxury apartment amenities, too. So you can enjoy a fitness center, apartment swimming pool and more, and be environmentally-friendly, too. Do you have tips for incorporating green living into your everyday life? Please share them with our readers in the comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Posted in Apartment Hunting

The Ultimate Downers Grove Apartment Moving Checklist

Residences at the Grove Apartment Dining AreaNow that youve found the perfect luxury apartment in Downers Grove, its time to think about moving. Making a move whether to Downers Grove or just across the street is stressful. But here is what I consider the ultimate moving checklist. Print it out and use it to help stay organized in the days and weeks leading up to your move into your new Downers Grove apartment.

Set the date to move into your luxury apartment in Downers Grove. Weekdays can be your best choice because banks, offices, etc. are open in case there is an issue.

Arrange for utility transfers. Notify current and future utility providers of your move date. This includes: Cable/satellite television Cell phone service Electricity Gas Internet/broadband Phone service Recycling pick-up Security system Trash pick-up Water NOTE: It’s a good idea to schedule utility “turn on dates” at least one day prior to the move date and “turn off dates” at least one day after the move into your new Downers Grove apartment to allow for issues that may arise.

File a change of address. You can do so online with the USPS.

Notify specific people of your change of address. Some of the people who might need your new apartment address:

  • Accountant / tax preparer
  • Alumni associations
  • Attorneys
  • Babysitter / child care provider
  • Banks (auto loans, checking accounts, credit cards, home equity, IRAs, mortgage, safe deposit box, savings account)
  • Cell phone provider
  • Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Doctor
  • Health clubs
  • House cleaning service
  • House of worship
  • Insurance providers (auto, health, life, other vehicles)
  • IRS (form 8822)
  • Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Employer
  • Parent-teacher association
  • Passport
  • Pet sitter / dog walker / pet day care
  • Pharmacy (BONUS: get year-to-date expense summary for taxes)
  • Professional organizations
  • Schools
  • Veterinarian

Hire movers or reserve the truck. Recruit help for the move. If you’re moving into your luxury apartment in Downers Grove yourself, start recruiting friends and family for the big day. Offer breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks for your workforce. Also, getting some friends to help you pack can make the move much easier and more fun. Hold a packing party and supply food and drinks.

Make arrangements for child care and/or pet sitting. Having small children and pets cared for on moving day can eliminate a lot of stress on the big day.

Get the essential moving supplies. Youll need:

  • Markers to label boxes (preferably wide tip, dark color)
  • Moving boxes Newsprint, packing peanuts or other cushioning material
  • Packing tape
  • Scissors or utility knife

Make a moving organizer. You can make a moving organizer for all your important notes and receipts by getting: 3-ring binder Pocket dividers to separate sections and hold important receipts Paper for keeping your notes

Start separating important items from those you no longer need. One of the biggest secrets of moving success is eliminating as many items from the move as possible. Donate items to charity, give them to friends or throw them away. You will probably want to get a few new things once you move, anyway, for decorating your apartment.

Make arrangements to return items. Here are some critical items to return prior to moving:

  • Cable / satellite receiver boxes, remote controls, dishes
  • Cable / DSL modems
  • DVD and video game rentals
  • Library books

Make arrangements to retrieve items. Be sure to retrieve items such as:

  • Clothing at dry cleaners, tailors or in storage
  • Items at repair shops

Start packing! Start with items and rooms you wont be using and save the main living areas for last.

Create one “Open Me First” box for each room in your new apartment. You’ll need to access certain packed items almost immediately after you arrive at your luxury apartment in Downers Grove, and they need to be packed together in special boxes, marked so you can spot them easily.

Examples:

Kitchen:

  • aluminum foil
  • break-proof or disposable flatware, cups, and plates
  • coffee maker (don’t forget the filters!)
  • dish detergent
  • frying pan and spatula
  • pet food and bowl

Main bathroom:

  • bath mat
  • bath towels
  • first-aid kit (aspirin, band-aids, hydrogen peroxide)
  • hair dryer
  • shampoo shower
  • curtain and rings
  • soap
  • toothbrushes and toothpaste

Tool room or drawer:

  • batteries
  • duct tape
  • flashlight
  • flat-head screwdriver
  • hammer
  • level
  • Phillips-head screwdriver
  • picture hangers
  • tape measure
  • utility knife or scissors

DAY BEFORE YOUR MOVE TO DOWNERS GROVE: Confirm start time, current address and future address with movers. Make sure you have enough cash. Be sure have cash on hand for moving expenses, deposits, tips, and anything else you’ll need on moving day. Pack a snack bag. Youll want to have water and healthy snacks available to keep energized.

MOVING DAY: Start early. Moving always takes longer than people expect.

Make sure drivers have your cell phone number and you have theirs. Things come up on moving day- make sure you have a way to stay in contact. Be available for movers’ questions.

Perform final checks before leaving current home. Here are some final items to verify before shutting the door for the last time: Are the air conditioning, fans, and heat turned off? Is the water shut off, including hoses? Are the light switches turned off? Did you remove all garbage? Are the keys and garage door openers for current home turned in or left on the kitchen counter? Anything left in refrigerator, freezer, closets, bathroom, garage? I hope you find this moving checklist helpful in your upcoming move to your new apartment in Downers Grove. And if you have additional tips for making a move easier, please share them in the comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Renting in Downers Grove: Five Ways to Make the Most of Your Apartment Fitness Center

Luxury Apartment in Downer's Grove with a PoolHaving an apartment fitness center at your luxury apartment in Downers Grove is one of the most sought-after apartment amenities. But many renters dont always make the most of this terrific benefit. Below are five tips to help make the most of your Downers Grove apartment fitness center.

1. Learn how to use the apartment fitness centers equipment. Ask your apartment manager or fitness center coordinator to give you an overview of all of the equipment and any classes or programs at the fitness center. Knowing how to properly use the exercise equipment and about all of your options will make a trip to the apartment fitness center less daunting.

2. Set a routine. Find a set time in your day to use the fitness center and make it a part of your routine. That way you arent trying to fit in your workouts theyre simply a part of your day. And create a routine for your workout, too. Having a plan for your workouts can help you make the most of your time.

3. Work out with a neighbor. Using the buddy system with a neighbor at your Downers Grove apartment community can help motivate you both to stick to your fitness routine.

4. Set realistic goals and give yourself rewards. Determine goals for yourself and be sure they are attainable and realistic. Also, set short-term goals to earn small rewards like perhaps a manicure or a new DVD for motivation to use the apartment fitness center through positive reinforcement.

5. Have fun! If youre not having fun, its easier to make excuses to skip your workout. So create an energizing playlist on your MP3 player or get a new book youve wanted to read. Make your time at the fitness center enjoyable and youll look forward to it each day.

For more tips on beginning a fitness routine, determining your fitness level and keeping your workout fresh, check out this article from WebMD.com. And if you have any additional tips for making the most of your Downers Grove apartment fitness center, please share them in our comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Six Reasons to Rent in Downers Grove

Luxury Apartment Courtyard in Downers GroveChoosing whether to rent an apartment in Downers Grove rather than buy a home is a big decision. And while there are many benefits to home ownership, there are just as many if not more reasons to rent. Here are six reasons why it can be better to rent in Downers Grove:

1. Costs of homeownership: Owning a home isnt as simple as paying your mortgage. There are a number of additional costs some of which are unpredictable. For example, homeowners are responsible for property taxes, which often increase, and sometimes monthly assessments, which can increase as well. On the other hand, renters have a set monthly rent without additional property taxes or fees. Homeowners are also on the hook for all repair costs, while renters have an apartment manager or landlord to call for maintenance issues. This convenience not only saves money but also offers peace of mind.

2. Access to amenities: Most rental apartments offer far more amenities and a better location for less than it would cost each month to own a comparable home. Buyers would pay a premium for a swimming pool and fitness center, for example, yet many renters can find a luxury apartment in Downers Grove with an apartment pool, fitness center and other perks, like a club room or clubhouse and BBQ areas.

3. Save your savings: People may make the assumption that those who rent do so because they cannot afford a home, but that simply isnt true. Many renters have more than enough money in the bank to finance a down payment on a home. But with the uncertain real estate market, many renters would rather hang onto that cash. Instead, they opt to rent a luxury apartment in Downers Grove with all the bells and whistles and have the peace of mind of money in the bank.

4. Live simply: Rental apartments in Downers Grove offer a far simpler way to live, versus owning a home. There is no lawn to mow, no leaves to rake, no snow to shovel. There are no repairs to make. Renters can also enjoy luxury apartment amenities like a swimming pool or fitness center without any maintenance or extra cost.

5. Mobility: In todays job market, people find themselves moving from city to city because of a transfer or a new job. And sometimes people move simply for a change. That kind of mobility is seriously complicated by having a home to sell. Renting an apartment allows the renter freedom to move whether to a new city or just a larger apartment without the hassle of selling a house.

6. Diversity: One of the things many renters love about their rental apartment is the diversity of their Downers Grove neighbors. You can find professionals, young couples, families and retirees all within the same apartment complex. Many people appreciate the energy that comes from having people with different life experiences sharing the same building, and find they build lifelong friendships with people they may otherwise never meet.

Need more reasons to rent in Downers Grove rather than buy? Check out this MSN.com article, which lists the Chicago area as a location where its better to rent. And if youre currently a renter, please share some of the reasons you choose to rent with our readers in the comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Tips for Finding the Best Downers Grove Apartment Floor Plans and Features for Living Alone

Luxury Apartment Dining Room in Downers GroveLive alone? Well, youre not alone. According to the Census, roughly 25 percent of renters live by themselves. For those of you scouting Downers Grove apartments solo, Ive put together this list of great floor plans and features for living alone.

1.) Save money with a studio apartment in Downers Grove. A Downers Grove studio apartment is a great option for many singles who simply dont want or need that much space. Studio apartments tend to have lower rents, and you can save on utilities each month, since there is less space to heat, cool and light.

2.) Factor in flexibility. While a studio apartment may save money, it doesnt offer the same flexibility as a 1 bedroom apartment or even a 2 bedroom apartment. What if you decide to get a roommate? What if your single status changes and you have a spouse or significant other move in? So if you arent certain youll be living alone longer than the short term, consider apartment floor plans that are flexible.

3.) Look for on-site management. Selecting a Downers Grove apartment with on-site management can be a big convenience when living alone. Not only will it offer peace of mind to know that management is there looking out for you, but it can also save a lot of time in the event you have any issues with your apartment that require repair.

4.) Ask about community social events. Just because you live alone, doesnt mean you always want to spend time alone. So look for a Downers Grove apartment community that offers social events, like movie nights or picnics, which help you meet your neighbors.

5.) Consider space for guests. If you have frequent overnight guests or enjoy entertaining, look for an apartment floor plan that is spacious enough to accommodate your company.

6.) Look for time- and money-saving amenities. Having on-site luxury apartment amenities, like a swimming pool, fitness center or business center, can be great for renters living alone. It saves money, as you wont need to pay extra for a gym membership or pool pass, and it saves time because you wont have to leave home to exercise, go swimming or send a fax.

Looking for more fun reading about single living? Check out Forbes list of the best cities for singles Chicago ranked as number three. What are your favorite spots or activities for singles here in Downers Grove? Tell me in the comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Luxury Apartments in Downers Grove: The Five Best Four-Season Luxury Apartment Amenities

Luxury Apartment Courtyard in Downers GroveWe all love an apartment complex with a pool and sundeck, but its an amenity that you can only use for a few months out of the year. If you want to get the biggest bang for your rental buck, look for these five apartment amenities that you can use all year long.

1. Apartment fitness center: Whether youre kicking off January with a New Years fitness resolution or preparing for swimsuit season in May, an apartment fitness center is one luxury that renters use every month of the year.

2. Apartment clubhouse or common room: A clubhouse or common room is a perfect spot for Super Bowl parties in February, watching March Madness playoff games, holiday parties and more. Its a practical amenity that gets a lot of use.

3. Apartment business or computer center: If you need a spot to work on a big project free from the distractions in your Downers Grove apartment, want to send or receive a fax, or have something to print thats too big of a job for your personal printer, an apartment business or computer center is a year-round lifesaver.

4. Community social events: When its too cold and snowy to meet up with friends, community social events, like a cooking class or movie night, can keep you from going stir crazy. Even in nice weather, joining a community softball league or attending a Downers Grove apartment complex picnic is a great way to socialize.

5. Apartment barbecue area: While most of us think of barbecuing as a warm weather activity, hosting a cookout in the fall can be a lot of fun, too. And I know more than a few grill enthusiasts who brave even the coldest of conditions to enjoy a perfectly grilled steak. If youre one of them, a BBQ area is a nice four-season amenity to look for.

Here in Downers Grove, fall and winter are just around the corner. So tell us what are your favorite things to do at your apartment complex in the cooler weather? Let us know in the comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Luxury Apartments in Downers Grove: 13 Apartment Features to Look for When Renting with a Roommate

If you are planning to share your luxury apartment in Downers Grove with a roommate, there are a number of apartment features and amenities youll want to consider. Below Ive listed the top 13 for you to print and take with you on your apartment hunt, or to use as a starting point to create your own apartment checklist. 1. Two or more apartment bedrooms. To ensure privacy and comfort, be sure each roommate has their own bedroom. And if you expect a lot of overnight company or would like a home office, a third bedroom can be handy. Check the apartment floor plan to make sure there is enough room for everyone.

2. Two or more bathrooms. As with bedrooms, having your own bath may be important, too.

3. Layout for privacy. Look for a split layout, which means the bedrooms are on opposite ends of the apartment.

4. Ample kitchen storage. Since the apartment kitchen is a shared space, be sure there are enough cabinets and drawers for both of your plates, glasses, utensils and food.

5. Large living room. Again, the apartment living room is a shared space, so check that it is large enough to comfortably fit seating for not only for you and your roommate, but guests as well. Again, check the apartment floor plan.

6. Apartment Fitness Center. A roommate can be a terrific fitness partner! With an on-site fitness center, you can motivate each other to exercise and work together to achieve your fitness goals.

7. Business Center/computer area. If one roommate has a major work or school project, but the other roommate has friends over, an on-site apartment business center with a computer, printer and fax machine is the perfect spot to focus on work.

8. Apartment Clubhouse or entertaining area. Likewise, it can help keep the peace to have an alternative spot for entertaining friends, like an apartment clubhouse, movie room or patio with tables and chairs.

9. Apartment Complex Pool. Even in the most amicable of roommate situations, sometimes you just need to get away. A little R & R by the pool at your apartment complex can do the trick.

10. Convenient location. Be sure that the location of your apartment in Downers Grove is convenient for both roommates commute to school or work and offers nearby recreational and entertainment options that appeal to both.

11. Apartment Parking. Check that there is parking for each roommates car. Or, if only one spot is available with the apartment, inquire about renting an additional spot.

12. Meet-and-greet events. If you and your roommate have only recently met, participating in community events, like a wine tasting or cooking lesson, can help you get to know each other and your neighbors better.

13. On-site management. In the event you need a repair done at your apartment in Downers Grove or have any issues, on-site management makes dealing with it far easier. They can make repairs more quickly and often neither roommate will even need to be home.

Do you have other luxury apartment features you have found to be ideal for living with roommates? Or are there any features you wish you had when you had a roommate? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Eight Credit Report Tips before Renting an Apartment in Downers Grove

Luxury Dining Area in Downers Grove ApartmentCredit reports most of us have heard of them and all of us can get one. But for many renters, that is where the knowledge on the topic ends. So before looking for a luxury apartment in Downers Grove, here are eight tips to help you understand your credit report and how it could affect your ability to rent.

1. Its not only banks and credit card companies reviewing your credit history. Many service providers, apartment landlords and employers use credit report information in assessing applications for an apartment or job.

2. Routinely check your credit history. Because lenders and credit card companies, landlords and even future employers are reviewing your credit report, you should be, too. There are a number of websites that offer a free credit report every 12 months. You wouldnt want any surprises that could cost you that luxury apartment in Downers Grove.

3. Credit bureaus track borrowing history. The three major credit bureaus in the U.S. are Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These companies keep records of whether you paid previous loans back on time, who you still owe money to and how much you still owe.

4. Credit reports include several types of information. Your credit report contains four types of information on you: identifying information such as your name, address, Social Security number and date of birth; account history for each credit card or loan, such as the date opened, credit limit or loan amount, balance, monthly payment, payment status and payment history; information from public records, such as bankruptcy records and overdue child support payments; and a record of the people and companies that have made inquiries into your credit history, such as your apartment landlord.

5. Some credit report information could be wrong. Your credit report may contain some incorrect information. It’s important to address errors since they could negatively affect your credit score. If you find any mistakes, get them corrected by contacting both the credit bureau that included the error and the creditor that supplied the inaccurate information.

6. Credit report data is used to calculate credit scores. Like a grade point average sums up all your grades with a single number, your credit score sums up your borrowing history.

7. FICO score is the most commonly-used credit score. The FICO score created by Fair Isaac uses a formula to convert a consumer’s credit history into a number ranging from 300 to 850. Generally, a score of 760 and above is considered very good, while the average score is around 680 to 700.

8. Credit history is free; credit score for a fee. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, credit bureaus must provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. However, consumers interested in viewing their credit score will need to purchase one. There are a variety of websites that offer this service.

If you have any questions about how your potential landlord may use your credit score in determining your eligibility for an apartment in Downers Grove, please post your question in the comments section below or click on my name to e-mail me directly.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Ten Questions to Ask a Landlord before Renting a Luxury Apartment in Downers Grove

Luxury Apartment to Rent in Downers GroveOnce you have found your ideal luxury apartment in Downers Grove, the landlord will no doubt have questions for you and require an application. But its just as important that you ask certain questions of him or her. Below Ive created a list of 10 questions to ask before signing an apartment lease. Print it out and take it with you on your Downers Grove apartment search or use it as a guide to create your own list.

1.) When is the apartment available? Is that date negotiable? Is the apartment currently occupied? Will the landlord arrange for you to talk with the current occupant or other tenants at the apartment complex?

2.) How much are the apartment rent and deposit fees? What is the deposit policy, such as whether any portion is refundable? When is rent due? Is there a grace period after the monthly rental due date? When is a payment considered late, and is there a penalty charge for late payment?

3.) What are the terms for renewing the lease? Can you move into an apartment you like better within the apartment complex if one becomes vacant? What are the conditions if you have to move before the lease expires? What is the policy on subletting?

4.) Is it a pet-friendly apartment? What is the pet deposit policy?

5.) What is included, such as parking, utilities, or amenities like an apartment swimming pool or fitness center?

6.) Can you paint the walls or make other decorating changes?

7.) Will you be responsible for any property maintenance? Is there an office onsite or a 24-hour phone number in case of emergencies?

8.) How is garbage removal handled? Is recycling available?

9.) How does the landlord handle rule violations?

10.) What is the Downers Grove neighborhood like? How close are the nearest public transportation, post office, grocery stores, banks and restaurants in Downers Grove?

What other questions have you found important to ask a potential landlord? Let us know in the comments section below. Or if you have any questions about any of the information above, spend me an e-mail by clicking on my name.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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How to Create a Household Budget for Renting a Luxury Apartment in Downers Grove

Apartment to Rent in Downers GroveWhen searching for a luxury apartment in Downers Grove, the most important thing to consider is how much you will spend each month. Here is a budget worksheet to print out to help estimate your living expenses for renting an apartment in Downers Grove.

Step 1: Calculate your total monthly household net income (after taxes).

Step 2: Multiply your total from Step 1 by .30. This number, according to most financial experts, will give you a general idea of the amount you can afford to spend each month on your Downers Grove apartment.

Step 3: Add up all of your other monthly expenses, such as car loan or credit card payments. Include estimates for food, entertainment, car and renters insurance, transportation, etc.

Step 4: Add together the totals from Step 2 and Step 3. Make sure this total does not exceed your monthly income listed in Step 1. If you find that your total in Step 4 is more than your monthly income, youll need to adjust the amount of rent you can afford. You can also look for other ways to save money, such as finding an apartment with parking included to save money on a garage or an apartment with a fitness center to save on gym membership. Splitting bills with a roommate can save money, too.

Do you have tips on ways to save money each month? Please share them with us below in our comments section.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Renting in Downers Grove: A Renters Overview of Downers Grove

Looking for an apartment in Downers Grove? Here is a brief look at the village: Luxury Apartment for Rent in Downers GroveLocated 17 miles west of Chicago, Downers Grove offers its residents a terrific suburban location. Interstates 355 and 88 offer easy access to surrounding communities, while the Metra train offers service to Chicago in as little as 30 minutes. Downers Grove is also headquarters to several national companies, including FTD and Butterball, and offers residents a variety of employment opportunities both within the village and in surrounding communities. The village of Downers Grove maintains its small-town charm with on-going events like the informal antique and specialty car show held each Friday in the summer, a seasonal farmers market, and an ice sculpture festival each January. Downers Grove also plays host each August to the National Criterium Championships, an event drawing racers and cycling enthusiasts from all over the world. There are homes available to suit nearly every style, from 19th century historic single-family homes to luxury apartment rentals. Downers Grove is a popular place to rent an apartment in the Chicago area because of all it has to offer. What is your favorite thing about Downers Grove? Please share it in our comments section below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Renting in Downers Grove: 10 Must-Have Luxury Apartment Summertime Amenities

There are about 90 days of summer in Downers Grove, and warm-weather lovers look for ways to take advantage of each and every one. To help you find a luxury apartment building in Downers Grove that helps make the most of your summer, Ive created an apartment hunting checklist of ten amenities your luxury apartment rental must have. Print it out and take it with you on your apartment search. Apartments with a Pool in Downers Grove 1. Apartment Swimming Pool. One of the best things about summer is a refreshing swim on a hot day. Forget the crowded beach or spending money on a community swimming pool pass; look instead for an apartment complex which offers poolside relaxation right at home. 2. Sundeck. There are many benefits of soaking up a little sun

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The Ultimate Apartment Hunting Checklist for Downers Grove Apartments

Luxury Apartment in Downers GroveWhether youre in the market for a 1 bedroom singles pad or a spacious 3 bedroom apartment home, start your search for your luxury apartment in Downers Grove by listing your top priorities. Ive started a checklist below that you can print out and take with you or use as a guide to make your own:

  • Location of apartment building in Downers Grove (safety, proximity to places you visit often, schools)
  • Location of the apartment within the building (lower floors are easier to move into, upper floors may be more secure)
  • School district in Downers Grove
  • Emergency exits
  • Smoke detectors/fire extinguisher
  • Elevator or stairs (ease of moving, evacuation)
  • Hallways (well-maintained, well-lit)
  • Number of apartment bedrooms and bathrooms (1 BR, 2 BR, 3 BR; 1 BATH, 1.5 BATH, 2 BATH)
  • Furnished or unfurnished
  • Apartment with home office or den
  • Natural light
  • Hardwood floors
  • Apartment with fireplace
  • Apartment kitchen space (dining area, counter space, storage for cookware and small appliances)
  • Kitchen drawers and cupboards (storage, ease of opening)
  • Appliances included (condition of refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, washer and dryer)
  • Gas or electric heat
  • Gas or electric oven
  • Air conditioning
  • Apartment closet space and other storage
  • Outlets in all rooms (quantity, location)
  • Phone jacks for phones and modems
  • Television reception (cable required or provided)
  • Door locks (locks on all doors, deadbolt and security chain on entry door)
  • Windows (ease of opening, locks, screens)
  • Soundproofed walls (neighborhood and building noise)
  • Privacy of apartment, privacy of bedrooms
  • Curtains or blinds
  • Water heater (large enough to keep showers hot)
  • Faucets and shower heads (condition and water flow)
  • Tap water (odd color and taste might indicate a problem)
  • View (are there obstructions, view of pool, gardens, or skylines?)
  • Apartment laundry facilities (hours of operation, adequate lighting)
  • Apartment with parking (cost, in-building, covered, gated, street)
  • Bike storage (security and lighting)
  • Mailboxes (security and lighting)
  • Private outdoor space (garden, yard, balcony, patio, rooftop)
  • Public outdoor space (swimming pool, sundeck, barbecue and picnic area, playground)
  • On-site amenities
  • Common areas
  • Apartment with swimming pool (outdoor or indoor pool, locker rooms, showers, hot tub, sauna, steam room)
  • Apartment with workout facilities (hours of operation, quality and quantity of equipment)
  • Business center (computers, printers, Fax, WiFi, hours of operation)
  • Family-friendly apartments (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, school district)
  • Pet-friendly apartments (cats and/or dogs, size, outdoor areas)
  • Community-sponsored events
  • Neighborhood flavor
  • Onsite management (accessibility, concierge services, deliveries)
  • Wheelchair access

Do you have other things you include on your apartment hunting checklist? If so, please include them below in our comments section. Happy hunting!

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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Renting a Pet-Friendly Apartment in Downers Grove

As any pet owner will tell you, having a pet is a big responsibility. And a large part of that responsibility is finding the right home for you and your animal companion. Below I have four tips for finding the perfect pet-friendly apartment in Downers Grove.

Apartment to Rent in Downers Grove1.) Understand apartment fees and pet restrictions Most pet-friendly apartments in Downers Grove do come with restrictions, regulations and fees, so be sure you completely understand them before signing an apartment lease. Ask about weight restrictions; whether pets are allowed in common areas, like an on-site park or BBQ area; and whether your pet fee will be a one-time payment or a monthly addition to your apartment rent.

2.) Choose a Downers Grove apartment with enough space Having enough space is an important consideration, especially if you have a dog. A studio apartment and a Great Dane wouldnt be a good fit, but even the smallest of dogs needs enough space to play. Most pet owners opt for a minimum of a one bedroom apartment. Take time to look at the apartment floor plan from your pets perspective in order to find a floor plan that fits.

3.) Select a pet-friendly location You want to be sure youre living in a Downers Grove apartment that offers easy access to space for walking your dog, such as the apartment complexs grounds or a nearby park. And depending on your pet care needs, you may want to look into the closest vet and pet-sitting companies. Youll find there are several pet-friendly apartments in Downers Grove.

4.) Be prepared with paperwork You could be asked to provide veterinary records or perhaps even a letter of recommendation from a previous landlord for your pet, so have those documents ready. Being a pet owner is so rewarding and selecting the right rental apartment makes it all the more enjoyable.

I hope these tips help you with your Downers Grove apartment search for a pet-friendly home. If you have any additional advice to offer to pet owners, please add it below

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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How to Find the Right Downers Grove Apartment: Small Things that Make a Big Difference When Renting an Apartment

When looking for an apartment in Downers Grove, your apartment search checklist is often comprised of big considerations like size, location and price. But often its the small things that can make a big difference in your rental experience. Besides apartment size, location and price, Ive listed a few additional tips to consider when searching for an apartment in Downers Grove that will save you time and money and make your rental apartment feel like home. Luxury Apartment with a Clubhouse in Downers Grove

Inquire about apartment amenities beyond the fitness center. These days, nearly every Downers Grove luxury rental offers an apartment pool or a community fitness center and, while these are still must-have apartment amenities, there are some extras that can save you time and money. These include a business center, cyber cafe or media room. Nearly every renter in Downers Grove Ive talked to has told me that these amenities, while initially not considered a high priority, have turned out to be a very appealing feature of their apartment rental. They love having access to the Internet, printer, and fax machine not to mention the movie theater and free coffee right within their apartment complex.

Is Management on-site and online? Renters can save a lot of time and potential aggravation by having the apartment complexs management staff on-site. Forget about having to hunt down a landlord when you have a question or need a repair in your apartment. Also, ask about submitting requests and even paying rent online, which is another time-saver.

Ask about community activities. Knowing your neighbors can really enhance your Downers Grove living experience, so ask whether the apartment complex hosts events for renters to meet each other, like wine and cheese gatherings, holiday parties and other community activities. Some luxury apartment buildings take it a step further and encourage resident interaction each day by offering coffee and tea or snacks and cookies in a common area like a lounge or apartment clubhouse.

I hope these tips help your search for the perfect apartment in Downers Grove. If you have other small things that have made a big difference in your rental experiences, please share them below.

Apartment Living in Downers Grove Diana Pittro Executive Vice President, RMK Management Downers Grove Luxury Apartments

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