Friday, March 29, 2013

5-Step Spring Cleaning + 10 Tricks

It's that time of year again.  Time to open the windows, leave your coat at home, slip into a pair of shorts, and clean your apartment from floor to ceiling.  Wait... what?!  Spring cleaning!  Maybe the first springtime breeze urges you to do it.  Maybe you've just been cooped up too long.  Or you're just tired of the mess.  Perhaps you avoid cleaning altogether.  

Love it or hate it, spring cleaning can be very kind to your health, mind, budget, and move-out time.  Get rid of those germs to avoid any spring cold.  Put your mind at ease by de-cluttering.  Sell or consign unwanted items and clothing.  And get a jump-start on your move-out cleaning so that you'll do a little less when that date rolls around.

Glitter Guide compiled a fantastic 5-step program to spring cleaning your apartment in just one day!  Breaking it down into five easy steps and building a portable cleaning kit to carry from room to room makes spring cleaning a whole lot less intimidating.  Check out the guide below:

See?  Not so bad!  It'll be so worth it when you get to add fresh flowers and light a candle at the end of your day in your freshly cleaned apartment.

BrightNest also shared their 10 Best Spring Cleaning Tricks Ever.  Who knew denture tablets, coffee filters, banana peels, and cinnamon could be so handy in helping you get your apartment spic'n'span?!  Check out all ten tricks below:

Now that you're armed and ready with your 5-steps and 10 tricks, it's time to hit the ground running... or, uh... the floor scrubbing!

Do you have any special cleaning tricks from Mom or a favorite blog?  Share them with us in a comment!  

Happy spring cleaning!

Fajitas, Burritos, and Tacos... Oh my! at Gringo's

As temperatures rise, maybe you've developed a hankering for some warmer food, too?  Warmer as in South of the Border.  For residents in and nearby Cedar Rapids, Gringo's Mexican Restaurant is a hot spot for enjoying "the flavors of Mexico in a relaxing Old World atmosphere."  

From fajitas, quesadillas, and enchiladas to chimichangas, tacos, and burritos... Gringo's serves up all your Mexican favorites. Munch on the free chips and salsa before your meal comes.  

On my visit, I chowed down on the Burrito El Charro. It's a HUGE char-grilled burrito stuffed with chicken, pork, or steak (I chose chicken), rice, grilled onions, and chile con queso topped off with enchilada sauce and sour cream. It was scrumptious and filling.  (Like, really filling. I was so stuffed I could hardly move... and still had half a burrito left over for the next day!)

Gringo's is located at 207 1st Ave. SE in downtown Cedar Rapids and is open Mon-Tue 11 AM to 2 PM, Wed-Thur 11 AM to 9 PM, and Fri-Sat 11 AM to 10 PM. 

Check out Gringo's website for a full menu as well as catering options.  Give 'em a "like" on the Gringo's Facebook page and be sure to check in on Foursquare when you hit them up for delicious Mexican food.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Prairie Pointe Decorating Guide: Model Unit Bedroom Inspiration

Prairie Pointe is our brand-new apartment community located next to DMACC in Ankeny.  While the resident units are currently under construction, the clubhouse, office, and model unit are just about finished.  In putting the final decorating touches on the model unit, we wanted the design to reflect the lifestyle of today's student.  We aimed for a modern, stylish, gender-neutral decor theme sure to please guys and girls.  In showing the model unit to prospective renters, we've received awesome reactions to the decor.  And we can't keep good design to ourselves.  

To share these modern, stylish, gender-neutral theme with you, we'll be featuring several Decorating Guides focusing on different parts of the clubhouse and model unit.  We're kicking it off with the model unit's bedroom.  

In the model unit bedroom, we stuck to a mostly neutral color palette of black and white with some grays, creams, and wood tones.  For most of the furniture (the bed, dresser, and nightstand) we opted for black pieces with contemporary silhouettes and clean lines while we went with a sleek metal-and-wood desk with a modern white chair for the study space.  Graphic black-and-white bedding adds pattern to the room.  When it came to accessories, we selected sheer gray curtains, typography prints framed in black, a cool white desk lamp, a few yellow boxes and green/turquoise pillows for some splashes of color, and a plant in a crisp white pot to bring in a little life.  

Our result is a contemporary, stylish, black-and-white scheme that both genders find appealing.  Modern lines make the room feel clean and up-to-date.  Pops of graphic pattern and a few splashes of color add personality.  The study space is kept simple and clutter-free, inspiring productivity.  And most of all the bedroom is clean, comfortable, and cozy... a perfect haven away from the hustle-and-bustle of campus.  

So how can you integrate this chic style into your bedroom?  We've compiled two inspiration boards to clue you in on what to look for when shopping for your own place.  

Let's start with the bedroom and dresser area:

Bed & Dresser Space
Furniture: When choosing furniture, pick black pieces.  Though they may vary slightly in style or shape, the color unites them in the space.  Go with a classic rectangular headboard or more trendy one with cut-out shapes depending on your preference.  Think about drawer space when picking a dresser.  (Although at Prairie Pointe, you will be spoiled with a walk-in closet!)  If you can't find a black headboard, dresser, or nightstand to your liking, consider buying a wooden one you like, sanding it, and painting it black.  

Textiles: Hang sheer or solid gray curtains on the windows to let in just enough light while still having some privacy.  Spruce up the floor with a fun rug.  (We love graphic patterns, stripes, and typography!)  Do the same on your bed with a black-and-white duvet or comforter.  Don't be afraid to mix and match different patterns.  The black, white, and gray colors will tie them all together and give the space a fun, trendy look.  Plus, pillows are one of the easiest ways to switch up the look in your room.  By swapping out a pillow or two for different ones, you can change up the patterns, colors, and textures, giving your room a whole new look.  

Accessories: Continue the modern, black-and-white theme with your lighting and decor accessories.  Lamps with a metal base can look sleek and industrial.  Or go with a glass base for a more glamorous style.  A black or white shade will keep things classic.  Store magazines, textbooks, and supplies in black or white baskets and bins.  Hang black-and-white photography and typographic prints as wall art.  

Pop of Color: A black-and-white color scheme is classy and classic, but throwing in an accent color gives it extra style. You can use any color (perhaps your favorite color) as an accent.  We went with a sunny pop of yellow.  Use just a few pieces.  For instance, we placed a yellow jewelry box on the dresser and some colored pillows on the bed.  You could also integrate the accent color with a picture frame, poster/print, alarm clock, or other item.  

Every student deserves a calm, organized space to sit down and do homework, Skype, or just play around on the internet.  Let's move on to the study space, shall we?

Study Space
Furniture: Sleek and modern are the key styles in the model unit's study space.  We chose a clean-lined desk featuring a wood top and metal frame and legs.  Be it made of all metal, all wood, glass topped, a combination... the material isn't a big concern here.  The silhouette is.  Choose something sleek, lean, rectangular, and modern that features black, dark wood tones, or metal.  All four of the desks above are great examples. A white and chrome desk chair pairs perfectly with the desk and carries on the black-and-white color scheme.  One or two black floating shelves above the desk add vertical storage, saving you on floor place without overwhelming the wall.  

Accessories:  Think clean and functional when picking out desk area accessories.  Crisp white bins, file holders, and boxes are ideal for stowing away notebooks, magazines, textbooks, reference books, extra paper, and additional school supplies.  Keep handy items close at hand: writing utensils in a simple white cup, paper and binder clips in glass jars with metal lids, and a stapler on your desk or nearby shelf.  Tuck an industrial metal or modern white waste basket under your desk.  (And empty it often!)  Choose a stylish, brushed metal or white desk lamp for task lighting.  Hang typography and black-and-white photography as art.  And pick out accessories that echo your chic, modern theme: black bookends, books wrapped in white covers, a plant in a shiny white pot, and a cool clock.  The little details make a big difference.  

Less really is more when creating a clean, modern, stylish space that you can relax in, do homework in, and hang out in.  

Questions about this decorating style?  Leave a comment!  

And stay tuned for the next Prairie Pointe Decorating Guide!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Decorating Prairie Pointe

Our Prairie Pointe clubhouse has come a long way since the construction phase and barnwood ceiling installment.  Walls have been painted, fireplace stone finished, couches cushioned, lighting installed, and Haleigh has been putting some decorative touches in the office, lounge, and model unit.

We couldn't wait for these gorgeous custom-made lights to go up!  A cluster of five of these hand-blown Edison bulbs will hang from the ceiling, illuminating the clubhouse in all its rustic, industrial, modern glory.  (The lighting was crafted by Tangerine Zebra!)

Mix-and-matched pillows add punches of pattern to the custom-built couches in our clubhouse lounge.  Graphic prints, black and white, and a cow... oh my!  (We think that the cow complements the spirit of our barnwood ceilings perfectly!)

Hanging prints and art on your walls is the easiest way to add visual interest and color.  At Prairie Pointe, Haleigh selected some typographic prints and colorful photography to hang in black and white frames in the model unti.  (The color photography features the century-old barn we took down to create the barn wood ceilings!)

In the model unit bedroom, this typographic "Focus" print leans on the wall above the dresser.

Haleigh continued the black and white theme, but added a couple green and turquoise pillows for a splash of color.

A clutter-free workspace was created at the other end of the model unit bedroom.  A "Work Hard and Stay Humble" print, camera art, and plant occupy a floating shelf.  She accessorized the sleek desk with boxes to hide clutter and a modern desk lamp.

What's your favorite part of the clubhouse or model unit so far?  We'll keep you posted as more decor comes about!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Go Over the Pond to The Royal Mile

With St. Paddy's Day right around the corner, we thought we'd venture "over the pond" when it came to the weekly hot spot.  Though we're not focusing on Irish cuisine or really venturing over the Atlantic, we think you'll like the British atmosphere, beer selection, and food that can be found at this downton Des Moines establishment.  Located at 210 4th St, The Royal Mile is open Monday through Saturday from 11am to 2am and Sundays noon to 2am.  Want to grab yourself a plate of modern or traditional British food?  Come in any day before 9pm!

The Royal Mile inhabits a cozy pub atmosphere and boasts 28 ales and lagers on draft along with over 120 bottled beers available.  They also serve up modern and traditional British dishes like Scotch eggs, shepherd's pie balls, banger bites, chips and curry, Guinness chicken, pasties, and fish'n'chips as well as sandwiches like The Beef Eater, The Earl of Sandwich, and the Ingelhoffer.

For more information and the full food or beer menu, check out The Royal Mile website.  Like The Royal Mile on Facebook for updates and specials.

How To: Host a St. Paddy's Day Shindig

St. Paddy's Day is Sunday!  'Tis time to bring out the luck of the Irish, leprechauns, shamrocks, and everything green.  If you're looking to gather friends for a festive St. Paddy's shindig, we've rounded up some simple ways to add Irish flair to your gathering.  

Look the Part

1. Layer on the Irish flair.  A festive party starts with the host looking festive.  Scavenge your dresser for green clothes.  Go through your jewelry, finding all the green pieces.  May hit up the thrift store or pop some tags at Goodwill.  The more green apparel and accessories, the better!  (Going all out with a leprechaun hat is optional.)

2. Deck the halls.  But rather than boughs of holly, go for for garlands of shamrocks.  Pick some up from your local hobby store or make some yourself with some green 

Eat the Part

3. You don't want your party guests going hungry.  Load up on a hearty Irish stew.


4. Whip up some of the comfort food colcannon, an Irish staple.

Sweet the Part

5. These minty green crinkle cookies are "impossibly easy" to make.  


6. Put an Irish twist on a classic with these green velvet cupcakes.

Drink the Part

Not old enough for the green beer and Irish flag cocktails?
Try one of these instead:

Left: Shamrock Shake, Center: Cut out clovers to add to straws and stick into glass soda bottles. (Jones Soda, anyone?), Right: Make ice cubes out of green Koolaid and pour Sprite over it for a fizzy, green concoction.

7.  What's St. Paddy's Day without the green beer?  Squirt a few drops of green food coloring into the bottom of your pint glasses before pouring in your lager.  (Lighter hued beers work best, while the food coloring will really only turn the foam green in darker beers.)

8.  Not a beer fan---green or otherwise?  Make your own homemade Irish cream, then use it to create tasty Irish flag cocktails.  

How are you ringing in St. Paddy's Day?  

Are you just sticking with wearing green and pinching those who don't?  Or are you going all out with some festive shenanigans? 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Leaning Tower of Pizza in Ankeny

Located at 512 SW 3rd Street, Leaning Tower of Pizza has been serving up pizza and Italian in Ankeny since the 1970s, when the owners moved it to Ankeny from Des Moines. In 2001, Kevin Harrington purchased the restaurant and continues to manage it today.

Leaning Tower of Pizza products are homemade---most of them made on-site/by hand and many from homemade recipes. Besides pizza, you can order sandwiches, onion rings, pasta, and salads. 

The pizza joint has also been voted as Ankeny's Best Pizza 8 years in a row, 2005-2012.  Best-sellers include The Potter (a pizza topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni, ham, onions, green olives, mushrooms, celery, and green peppers) and The Harrington (a pizza covered in sausage, pepperoni, cheddar, mozzarella cheese, and a zesty sauce).  

Leaning Tower of Pizza is open from 4:30 PM to 10 PM Monday through Wednesdays, 11 AM to 10 PM on Thursdays, 11 AM to 11 PM Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 AM to 10 PM on Sundays. Check out the full menu on Leaning Tower of Pizza's website, give them a like on Facebook, and stop in for some mouthwatering pizza!

Barnwood | From the Farmyard to the Clubhouse

Did you know that the ceiling in our Prairie Pointe clubhouse lounge is made of wood from a 100-year-old barn?!  Construction is coming along at Prairie Pointe and the barnwood ceiling has been installed.  But let's start back at the wood's beginnings and have a look at the original barn:

This rustic, red beauty once stood out in the middle of Iowan farmland.  

After deconstructing the old barn, the wood was cleaned and cut down to correctly sized planks.

And up they go!  The barnwood adds rustic texture and rich color overhead in our clubhouse lounge.

A medley of colors and textures come together in the clubhouse: sleek and modern white surfaces, natural stone on the fireplace, rustic barnwood on the ceiling, and smooth, warm gray on some of the walls.  

The aged barnwood contrasts nicely with modern, industrial light fixtures.  

We used an old wooden floor beam from the barn as a fireplace mantle...

 ...and some floor beams as a counter top, too.

We love an old Iowa barn being brought back to life in our modern, rustic, industrial clubhouse! 
What do you think?