Welcome Thy Neighbor Sunday, Aug 7 2016 

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The Making of the Gratitude Jar Wednesday, Jan 20 2016 

I had seen ‘The Gratitude Jar’ idea around for a few years and I finally decided to make one. They are really simple to put together, and they are a great way to remember the positives in life. For those of you unfamiliar with ‘The Gratitude Jar,’ it is simply a container (jar) that you put your positive, grateful, happy memories into. The tradition is to wait until the end of the year to open up the jar and read all of the notes, however the notes can be read whenever you like, especially if you need a little reminder that life’s not so bad. It’s never too late to start your own gratitude jar.

Here’s how:

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DIY Ornaments Sunday, Nov 30 2014 

DIY Ornaments / Bayareaassistant.com
Here is an easy, fun craft that you can do with your kids — Snow Ornaments with miniature figures. They will look great on your Christmas tree or lined up on your mantle, and they make great gifts.

Here is what you need to make these cute little ornaments: Supplies / bayareaassistant.com

Clear glass ornaments (available at craft stores)

Perlite (available at garden stores)

Small animals or figures (available at toy stores and/or craft stores)

Rubber bumpers (available at hardware stores)

Tweezers and/or chopsticks

Small soft brush on a wire (available at most drugstores in the cleaning isle)

Funnel or cardboard

Ribbon

bayareaassistant.comTake the ornament and add 4 bumpers to the bottom of the glass so the ornament will stand upright.













bayareaassistant.comNext, remove the top of the ornament and add the Perlite about 1/3 of the way up the ornament. Use a funnel or some cardboard to pour the Perlite in the ornament.

















making the horse ornament / bayareaassistant.comNow place your desired figure or small animal in the ornament. Once you get the figure in, use the tweezers or the chopsticks to position your figure. Once the figure is positioned, slightly tap the ornament to make sure the figure is stable. Once the figure is stable use your brush on the wire to clean off the dust from the inside of the ornament. If the figure falls over just reposition it.




German Shepherd Ornament / bayareaassistant.comPlace the top back on the ornament. Once the top is back on, you can add a ribbon to the top if you desire.

It’s Rough Out There Thursday, Apr 10 2014 

Cottage I manage a duplex in Berkeley for my family and see first hand how hard renting in the San Francisco Bay Area has become – for many it is harder than finding a good job. The Open Houses are packed with people, sometimes up to 50 applicants for one apartment (I hear in San Francisco the numbers are much higher), and the number of emails and inquiries are triple that.   After selecting the renter, I always send the other applicants an email to let them know they didn’t get the apartment. This past rental, several prospective tenants wanted to know if there was anything they could have done to improve their chances, and with some it was just a numbers game, but for others there were things they could have done that may have improved their chances.   Here are my tips:   It’s in the Details This is similar to finding and applying for a job. Read the rental Ad and follow any instructions listed in the Ad (how to contact, application/showing process, etc.) Pay attention to the details of the rental such as: vacancy, items included (parking, utilities, laundry), lease or month-to-month, pets allowed. Remember this is a very competitive process and the way you communicate with the landlord/rental agency may be considered in the end.  If the Ad is fairly descriptive and the rental process is outlined you should save your questions for the showing. Is it a Match? After reviewing the listing, make sure it works for your needs. If you need a place for six months, don’t waste time with a place that wants a one year lease, if you need a garage don’t waste time with a place that only has street parking, if you have a pet and the place does not take pets don’t waste time on it, etc. Also, check out the neighborhood of the apartment, either by using maps online or by going in person, but don’t bother the current occupants of the unit, you don’t want to be seen as pushy.   Be Flexible If the listing provides information on a public showing try to make it to the listed showing. Most landlords are overwhelmed with responses and they don’t need to and don’t have time to have several showings for an apartment.   Be Prepared Bring with you a current credit report that includes your credit score. Provide an explanation if your score is low. Bring proof of income (pay stubs, letter from current employer, etc.). If you don’t have a job but have plenty of funds, bring proof (bank statements, etc.). Bring the information you will need to fill out the application or bring an application that you have pre-filled out. The information you may need is: current and past employers, current and past residences, personal references, credit report, proof of income, and bring a pen. If you can, you might want to bring letters from current or past landlords or neighbors attesting to the type of tenant you are, this is especially useful if you are a dog owner.   Pets If you have a pet and pets are allowed, bring a pet resume (include a picture of the pet if you are not bringing the pet to the Open House) and references. Landords will want to know the pet is not going to be a problem. The San Francisco SPCA provides information for tenants on how to put together a  Pet Resume.   At the Showing When going to the showing make sure you park on the street and are considerate of the neighbors, you don’t want to be seen as pushy or entitled. Once there, take your time and really look at the place. I don’t suggest asking for an application or turning over your personal documents until you have spent some time looking at the unit and have asked some questions about the place. You want to clearly communicate your interest in the unit, so tell the landlord a little about yourself and the people/pets that would be living at the unit, and how it is the right place for you (be brief, especially if there are others waiting to speak to the landlord). Mention anything that might enhance the property for example, you like to garden and take pride in where you live.   It seems like a lot of work, but if you put a packet together you will be able to use it for multiple places, and it may make the difference in getting the place you want. Most landlords want hassle-free, low maintenance tenants, and the more you can convey that to the landlord, the more likely you will be chosen. Good luck in your search!

Make the Move Wednesday, Feb 12 2014 

Art Care Sunday, Jan 19 2014 

The Pros & Cons of Gravel & Rocks in your Garden via Houzz.com Monday, May 27 2013 

Get the Frizz Out! Friday, Jan 25 2013 

Keratin Treatment Week Two

Keratin Treatment Week Two

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Keratin Treatment Week Six

I have been on a quest for quite some time for a solution for my frizzy hair. I thought Argan Oil might be it, and it helped, just not enough. I finally succumbed to a Keratin Hair Treatment (Brazilian Blowout). I have straight (with some waves and now lots of frizz), processed (graying) hair. My hair has always been weather sensitive, which means it tends to be pretty flat when the air is dry and very frizzy when the air is humid, misty, foggy, etc.  However, in the last few years my hair had been more on the frizzy side, even on non-humid days.

As more gray hair grew in, I started having more issues with my hair. My hair’s texture was changing and becoming more wiry and frizzy. In fact, the reason I went with the Keratin Treatment was I had a section of hair near my face that would poof up no matter how much product or styling I did, and the rest of my hair would lay relatively flat. I was also finding that I was having a lot more hair in the shower drain, on my pillow and on the bathroom floor. I kept thinking I was going bald. Every time I had my hair cut I would ask my stylist if I was balding. Of course she said no, but it was hard to believe with the amount of hair I was seeing everywhere.

My hair stylist recommended the Express Keratin Treatment to make my frizzy hair more manageable, and told me it would last about six weeks. I was also told that my hair might be very limp/flat for a week or so after the treatment. The original Keratin Treatment lasts up to 5 months, but is much more expensive and the treatment takes much longer to do. The Express sounded good. If I hated my hair after the treatment it would only be a matter of weeks, not months, before it washed out.

The Express treatment at the salon goes like this: wash hair with a clarifying shampoo that opens the cuticle, towel dry hair, apply Keratin Complex, blow dry and then flat iron the hair. The treatment added maybe another twenty minutes onto my regular color/cut appointment.  It is recommended that you use a sodium chloride free shampoo after the treatment so you don’t strip the keratin from your hair.

My hair was definitely flat/stick straight and super shiny after the treatment My hair stayed flat and stick straight for about a week after treatment (I wash my hair everyday). After the first week I got some body back in my hair, but without the frizz.

My treatment lasted over 9 weeks, however during the last few weeks my hair was not as smooth and shiny, and the frizz was starting to return – it was still way more manageable than before the treatment. The best part for me was (and is) that I no longer am seeing gobs of hair in the shower drain, on my pillow or on the bathroom floor. My hair is back to what my hair was like before all the crazy gray hairs invaded. It is definitely worth the week of super flat, straight hair.

Keep it Covered Wednesday, Nov 28 2012 

I found this by accident when I was in the Crate and Barrel Outlet store a few weeks ago. It was only $1.50 — a great value. I use this microwave cover all the time.  How did I live without it? It saves on plastic wrap that always stuck to the food and it saves on microwave clean up. Every office and home should have a few of these covers.  Office microwaves get a lot of use, and unfortunately not much in the way of clean up. If you have an office microwave you know what I’m talking about. The microwave cover is vented to let steam out, yet protects against splatters, and it is dishwasher safe. You can find it here.

Make it Last Wednesday, Oct 31 2012 

These days every where you look you see buy local, buy fresh, shop at Farmer’s Markets, and so on. Buying local and fresh is great. However many of us don’t have time to shop every few days, so I have some tips to help keep what you’ve purchased last longer.

If you plan ahead and allow a little extra time after you shop to package and prep items you will find you can shop less often and still eat great food.

Here are some tips for keeping items longer:

Bread: Buying local fresh made bread is great but it doesn’t last long. One trick I use is to freeze bread. If I buy a loaf of fresh bread I ask the baker to slice it for me and then I freeze it the same day I bring it home (minus what will be used that day). I usually freeze the slices in heavy ziplock bags, then when I need a couple of slices I take out what I need, wrap it in foil and pop it in the oven (toaster oven’s work great for this) at about 350 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes. I will also freeze baguettes. I will cut a fresh baguette into sandwich length pieces and wrap each piece in foil and then freeze the individual pieces. When I need a baguette for a sandwich, garlic bread or just to eat I pop the frozen baguette piece in the oven, and in less than 10 minutes I have fresh bread.

Bagels: Bagels freeze well in freezer bags. I usually do not pre-slice the bagels. I will put the frozen bagel in the microwave for about 15 seconds (just until it is soft enough to slice) then I slice and toast.

Pastries: I will also freeze muffins and scones that I have either purchased or made from scratch. Take the fresh (must be at room temperature before freezing) pastry and wrap each one in foil (remove any paper first) and freeze. Then when you want a fresh muffin just pop one in the oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Fresh Produce: Buy extra produce you really like when it is in season and at its peak. Take the extra produce and freeze, preserve, pickle and/or make sauces and soups with it.

  • Fresh berries freeze well. Gently rinse and dry off the berries and then spread out on a flat tray that you can slip in your freezer. Once the berries are frozen you can store the berries in air tight containers in the freezer.
  • Tomatoes can be slow roasted and/or made into sauce and then frozen.
  • Carrots and celery can be washed and prepped for snacking on the go. Put the cleaned and prepped vegetables in a container with cold water in the fridge. The water will keep the vegetables fresh and crisp. Change the water every day or so.
  • Bell peppers can also be cut in strips and stored in the fridge in a container between damp (paper) towels.
  • Lettuce and leaves of fresh basil can be washed and dried then layered in (paper) towels and kept in a container in the fridge.
  • Garlic is great when peeled and kept in oil in the fridge. You can use the garlic in cooking or just the flavored oil.

Fresh Herbs: Soft herbs like cilantro, tarragon, sage and basil can be pureed with (olive) oil and then frozen in ice cube trays. Once frozen the cubes can be stored in the freezer in labeled containers or freezer bags. Then when you need to flavor a dish just pop in a cube of the frozen herb. Hard herbs like rosemary and thyme can be frozen in ziplock bags. First clean and dry the herbs, then place in a small freezer bag and freeze on the stem. They can be kept on the stem or once frozen it is easy to remove the leaves from the stems and then seal the leaves in small bags or containers in the freezer.

Home Cooked Meals: Soups, sauces, casseroles and stews are all good items to make extra of and freeze. When freezing make sure the food is at room temperature, and it is best to freeze food in small quantities (one or two portions per container). If using freezer bags, squeeze out the excess air and then seal, label with the date and name of the item, then freeze flat with nothing stacked on top. Once the item is frozen it can be stacked. If using a container allow a little room for expansion (about 3/4 inch) and then make sure the lid is sealed, label and freeze. Here is a source for (Martha Stewart) freezer labels you can print at home with adhesive backed paper: Clip Art Freezer Labels

Remember to always label and date frozen food. Also, in the refrigerator and in the freezer make sure the older items are used first by keeping the older items in the front and the newer items in the back. Every week or so go through your refrigerator and throw out anything that is expired. Here is a basic guide to how long many items will last in the refrigerator: Storing Fresh Food Audit your freezer about every month.

More helpful tips at Every Day Food

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