Jul 17

How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes

The beautiful weather in the summer makes you want to be outside all day and all night, but your enjoyment of the outdoors can easily be ruined by the appearance of mosquitoes. These bloodsucking flying pests seek out human hosts to feed on, but you have a few options to help keep your cookouts and pool days bug-free.

The easiest way to get rid of mosquitoes is to eliminate the places they can breed. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in and around standing water, the bugs need only a small pool or puddle (around 6 inches in diameter and ½ inch deep at a minimum). Look for and drain any flower pots, decorative buckets or dishes, and even tarps that might cover your grill or yard items; if the tarp is loose, water can pool in the folds.

If there are troublesome spots that seem to fill with water no matter what you do, look for “mosquito dunks,” or “mosquito bits.” These come in a small ring or handful of pellets that you drop right into the water, and they kill off the mosquito larva. They contain a biologic pesticide, mostly a bacteria that feeds on the larva, and are safe for children, pets and other wildlife.

If you are already in the midst of an infestation, there are a couple of ways to keep the bugs at bay.

Using essential oils, or burning a candle loaded with essential oils, is a time-tested method to keep insects away. Look for citronella or lemon eucalyptus oils, available as an oil, a spray or in candle form.

However, there might be an easier solution that could help keep flying bugs from pestering you. An electric fan could be the key to keeping your cookout bug-free. Mosquitoes and flies are not the strongest flyers, so a simple oscillating fan can help push them away from people and food. Additionally, mosquitoes are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we exhale, as well as other scents released when we sweat. A fan might help disperse these fumes, so you will be less of a target for the biting insects.

If all else fails, it’s time to reach for the bug spray, which can give you a few hours respite from the bloodsuckers. Look for sprays that contain DEET or picaridin, two formulations that are reported as highly effective scientific studies and customer reviews. Picaridin is recommended especially if you find that a spray with DEET irritates your skin. Look for products that contain 15 to 30 percent DEET or 20 percent picaridin. Follow the safety instructions on any bug spray you buy and apply.

Jul 17

Summer Cleaning

Maybe you waited a little too long for spring cleaning, or maybe the warm weather and outdoor activities set back all your progress. Either way, use these tips to try to conquer the clutter and survive the summer.

Clean out your fridge

When you are piling up the meats, plates and condiments for a backyard barbecue, take stock of what you are bringing outside, and what you are leaving. Can’t remember how old that bottle of mustard is, and whether it is from this summer or the one before? Ditch it and pick up a fresh bottle, you and your guests’ taste buds will thank you. Did you buy that jar of relish for a family member who was in town, but no one in your house will touch the stuff? Ditch it. Check the fridge and freezer for items that have seen better days, odds are that you’ll never use that frozen chicken breast from 2014.

Make sure your tools are up for the job.

At the end of last summer, maybe you left out your barbecuing tools, or just a stray spatula or pair of tongs. Depending on where you live, the fall and winter might have left your tools warped, rusted or broken. Now it’s time to treat yourself to some new tools. This also applies to any other gear that may have spent the winter outside and has been rendered unusable. If your grill has succumbed to rust, it might be time to get a new one.

In the same vein, look around your kitchen and house for things that may have seen better days. Is there Tupperware or other food storage containers in your fridge or cabinet that might have taken on some funky odors? Are your other containers a jumbled mess of missing lids and mismatched pieces? A simple refresh of your food storage containers can help you become more efficient and safer when it comes to your leftovers and packed lunches

Prepare for mosquitoes and flying pests

While not technically summer cleaning, everyone knows the warm weather brings an increase in flying pests. Whether they are out for your food or your blood, use these tips to try and keep them away.

The easiest way to get rid of mosquitoes is to eliminate the places they can breed. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in and around standing water, the bugs need only a small pool or puddle (around 6 inches in diameter and ½ inch deep at a minimum). Look for and drain any flower pots, decorative buckets or dishes, and even tarps that might cover your grill or yard items; if the tarp is loose, water can pool in the folds.

Using essential oils, or burning a candle loaded with essential oils, is a time-tested method to keep insects away. Look for citronella or lemon eucalyptus oils, available as an oil, a spray or in candle form.

If you find that mosquitoes and flies are becoming an unbearable nuisance, a lot of experts are offering up a simple solution: an electric fan. Mosquitoes and flies are not particularly strong fliers, so a ceiling fan or rotating fan should be able to disrupt them on their path to you or your food. The fans also help dissipate your human odors and the carbon dioxide that you breathe out, two ways mosquitoes know where you are. Finally, that fan will provide a welcome breeze to get you through even the hottest days.

May 17

Nontraditional Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

May 5th is Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates a military victory that took place during the Franco-Mexican War in which the outnumbered Mexican troops halted France’s army. Festivities in U.S. communities with high Mexican-American populations tend to be bigger than those in Mexico (Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in its native country) and are often full of parades and historic reenactments of the battle. In fact, the prevalence of Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. just goes to show how much of an influence Mexican culture has had on its neighboring country. If you’re observing the holiday, here are four ways to honor it:

1. Color your home
Mexico celebrates Cinco de Mayo with colors galore, including, of course, red, green and white. Bring the joy of the holiday to your home by sporting bright and saturated tones. While the colors of the Mexican flag are a good place to start, yellow, pink, orange and blue are also up for grabs.

One way to bring the brilliant hues into your home and also enjoy spring, is to decorate with fresh Cinco de Mayo flowers. Any brightly colored bouquet will make a beautiful addition to the festivities.

2. Prepare an authentic meal
The conflict that took place on Cinco de Mayo in 1862 is also known as the Battle of Puebla, named after the town where the event occurred. Many celebrations of Mexico’s victory include dishes native to the area, such as mole poblano. After all, according to Business Insider, Puebla is the foodie capital of Mexico, so whipping up traditional cuisine is both a tasty and appropriate way enjoy the day.

Chicken tinga, chalupas and molotes are all other iconic foods to try on Cinco de Mayo. Do some research into ingredients that are native to Puebla to plan your menu.

3. Go to a museum
To truly understand the history of Cinco de Mayo, or to better appreciate Mexican culture, consider seeking out a Mexican-American museum or cultural center in your community. See if the locale is holding any festivities or hosting special exhibits. If not, you can still learn a lot from the material already available.

This is also a great celebration option for families with kids, as your little ones will have the opportunity to explore a new culture. Call the museum ahead of time to see if it has programs for kids. You can also create a worksheet before going to the museum for your children to fill out while you’re there.

4. Enjoy local festivities
In addition to observing Mexican culture by visiting a museum, you can experience Mexican-American traditions by checking out festivities where you live. Whether it’s attending a parade or watching a re-enactment of the Battle of Puebla, you’re sure to find something new and exciting if you live in a diverse community.

If your town doesn’t observe Cinco de Mayo with as much flair, you can watch parades on TV or online to enjoy the celebrations.

5. Attend a concert
Discover another part of Mexican culture by attending a concert. Not only will seeing live mariachi give you more insight into Mexican culture, but it also supports the artists and can be a fun time – few things are more energizing than live music.

Apr 17

Things You Can Donate To Goodwill

Spring has sprung and for many residents, de-cluttering is a big part of the Spring Cleaning task. Purging your unwanted or unnecessary items is a great way to cleanse not only your home, but your soul. But what do you do with all of the excess stuff? Consider donating your items to Goodwill. Goodwill isn’t just another Thrift Store; the non-profit has helped hundreds of thousands of people “reach their full potential through education, skills training, and the power of work.” Your donations will contribute to this mission!

Before you donate, however, be sure to inspect your items for stains or tears, make sure they have all their pieces and parts, and that they are in good working order. While Goodwill will occasionally accept items that don’t meet these standards, your items will do the most good if they do.

As long as your items are in good condition, Goodwill will accept most household stuff, but you’ll want to call ahead for a few things. Check out their guidelines below before dropping off your items:

Accepted items:

shoes and boots
hats, gloves, mittens and scarves
books, records, compact disks, video tapes and DVDs
games, toys, and sport equipment
dishes, glassware, and kitchen utensils
small appliances
collectibles, antiques, knickknacks
hand tools and small power tools
linens, curtains, and blankets
stereos, radios, VCRs, DVD players
Call before donating:

personal computers
computer accessories
flat-panel monitor HDTVs
dressers, tables, chairs, sofas and bed frames

Highland Haus

Mar 17

Welcome to Highland Haus

We love city living! There are so many factors contributing to the undeniable energy of our urban lifestyle. Whether one prioritizes the proximity to work or recreation, there are countless attractions – culture, nightlife, restaurants, sports, and parks, and events in every direction.

And, as we know here at Highland Haus, our list of benefits goes even further. Even leaving aside all of the incredible, modern amenities of our brand new, state-of-the-art building, Patterson Park and Highlandtown offer the ideal starting points for many adventures.

Nestled conveniently amidst all the action but far enough from the traffic, we’re just minutes away from downtown and the Inner Harbor attractions to the west, easy access to Interstate 95 to the east, and a stone’s throw away from Patterson Park! Our neighborhood has everything that city life has to offer along with easy access to Interstates 95 and 895 to exploit any destinations outside of our fair city as well.

Be sure to stay tuned to our new blog for information about upcoming events, local attractions, and ideas for your well-deserved leisure time. We’ll explore the neighborhood and beyond together, perpetually reinforcing your great decision to make Highland Haus your home. Written by a long-time Baltimore resident, this blog will be yet another in the long list of amenities that make this the perfect home-base for all of your upcoming adventures.

*** We would love to hear about some of your favorite places to go or things to do in the Downtown Baltimore area. Reply to our post and tell us all about it!

Highland Haus

Mar 17

4 Foam Roller Exercises For Your Apartment

Foam Roller Lower Back
Foam rolling — where you literally roll your muscles on a piece of foam to help loosen them up — might not be the most “showy” exercise on the planet (hello weightlifting), but it can play an important role in keeping your muscles loose, thereby reducing soreness and helping avoid injury. If you’re searching for a way to help yourself stretch, you should consider adding foam rolling to your routine. Regularly rolling your muscles out can help you maintain flexibility and your range of motion too. Certified trainer Robbie Davis, who started his career 20 years ago working with the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, has created these four exercises that apartment renters who live in small spaces can perform. If you do these exercises a few times per week, expect to notice a significant difference in the way you move, says Davis. Consider rolling before or after exercise.

What you’ll need: a soft, carpeted area or a yoga mat, and a foam roller.

General tips: You’ll want to ensure you have proper positioning before you start rolling. It’s also important to roll slowly to allow your muscles to release.

Foam Roller Calves

Sit upright on the floor with your legs out in front of you so your body makes an “L” shape. Slide the foam roller underneath your legs so it rests right below your calves near your ankles. Place your hands flat on the ground on either side of you, and lift your weight off the ground. Slowly push yourself forward and backward, rolling up and down both your calf muscles.

Tip: For added intensity, cross your feet and focus on each leg individually.

Foam Roller Quads

Lie on the floor face down and place the foam roller between the ground and the area right above your knees. Be careful not to roll directly on the knee. Plant your hands in a push-up position, lifting yourself up so only your hands touch the ground. Use your upper-body strength to move your body back and forth, rolling across your quads.

Tip: For added intensity, cross one foot behind the opposite knee so your legs make the number “4” and focus on one leg at a time.

Foam Roller ITBands
IT Bands

Before we get into the specifics of this exercise, we want to give you some background information on your IT bands. Your iliotibial band, or IT band, is a ligament that starts at the side of your hip and ends at your shin. Tight IT bands can contribute to injuries and can be painful too.

Turn so you’re lying on your left side, then push your upper body up with your left hand so you’re resting on your left elbow. Bend your right knee and plant your foot on the ground in front of your left knee. Lift up off your hip and place the foam roller at the top of your IT band, or just below your hip. Push your body forward and backward, slowly rolling along your IT band. Repeat on the right side.

Tip: For added intensity, press firmly against the roller, inching along any tight spots.

Foam Roller Foot

Stand up straight and place the foam roller under one bare foot. Push into the roller as your foot rolls up and down, working the heel, arch and sole. Repeat on the opposite foot. It’s best to stand near a wall if both feet are on the roller so you can catch yourself should you fall. Keep one foot on the ground if balancing is something you struggle with.

Tip: For added intensity, angle the foot to roll along your instep or the arched middle part of your foot.

Highland Haus

Feb 17

Spend More on these Things


Crossing the threshold into adulthood is signified by many telling things. Paying off a constant bombardment of bills, for instance — and reckoning with forces like quickly decelerating metabolisms and heartburn (after just two slices of pizza, at that).

It’s also marked by a slow-but-sure learning process where habits shift — where you begin to optimize your routines, learn what to invest time and money on, and generally how to live better.

Figuring out all that stuff takes time, though, and it’s much easier to just ask other people who’ve been there, done that. So, from someone who’s been adulting for a few whole years now (and with plenty of advice from much more experienced adults), here are some of the things that are always worth the money.

Eating Well
I’ve never really found the “Think about what you put in your body!” admonishment compelling, since I often think that my body just wants a greasy cheeseburger. Instead, it’s more effective to remind myself that stateside healthcare is extremely costly, and maintaining long-term wellness will mitigate those expenses.

Spend more on meat raised without antibiotics, and use this guide to find seafood that’s raised or caught with minimal chemical use and damage to habitats. When it comes to produce, buying fresh, local, and in season will provide various benefits: Not only is it cost effective, but fruits and veggies are also at peak taste and vitamin content when they’re picked while ripe and consumed quickly, rather than being trundled cross-country on a truck.

Vending machine confections have passed their heyday: 40% of the snacks consumers carry these days are classified as healthy, and better-for-you snacks are readily available on supermarket shelves. If you’re craving something savory, reach for nutritious picks like seaweed snacks or dry-roasted edamame. For sweet treats, indulge in Nature Valley Granola Cups, which strike the perfect balance between creamy and crunchy, decadent (chocolate and nut butter!) and wholesome (whole-grain oats and nuts).


Cooking is a skill that’s worth investing time in, since it’s conducive both to saving money and eating healthier meals. Even if your cooking savvy is questionable, investing in a few good knives — or even just one chef’s knife, which are extremely versatile — will make a significant difference in the kitchen. Here’s a great guide to essential knives. A cast-iron skillet is another must-have; with proper care, the thing will last a lifetime, and it will only set you back about 20 bucks.

Stuff You Spend Your Nights On
Nights! They happens every 24 hours, and it’s in our best interest to spend most of them sleeping. According to The Handbook of Clinical Neurology, we spend a third of our lives sleeping, or trying to do so — all the more reason to invest in things that’ll make our beds more comfortable. Good mattresses will make a difference in your sleep quality, but they can be prohibitively expensive. Try retailers like Casper and Tuft & Needle, which offer 100-day trial periods before you decide whether or not to commit.

Another alternative is buying a mattress topper, which can elevate a sad bed without breaking your bank. The same philosophy applies when buying pillows, comforters, and sheets — quality products will make the difference between the feel of a cheap motel and a snug, serene sleep sanctuary. (A friend of mine even “has a guy” for quality sheets.) Another thing to consider: If you’re sharing a bed with a blanket-hogging partner, picking up an extra flat sheet and comforter might save your relationship.

Tools That’ll Make Your Home More Livable
There’s a reason that apartment maintenance, be it cleanliness or even interior decor, can cause so much strife between roommates and partners. Upkeep of a living space is important, and it’s psychologically beneficial to retreat to a place of comfort and belonging.

My roommates and I went through a series of cheap vacuums, which all disintegrated in a matter of weeks and ended up on the curb. We’ve since invested in a $200 vacuum that not only works better, but has already lasted us several years with no loss in efficacy — extra important, since I’m the mother to a furry pet.


A fancy surround-sound system isn’t necessary unless you’re a serious audiophile — but if you find yourself engaging in any type of passive listening (putting on podcasts or music while you perform chores, for instance), decent speakers are worth investing in. If you’re not sure where to start looking, a good portable bluetooth speaker is a breeze to use and will serve all of your basic audio needs.

Buy a heavy-duty toilet plunger before you need one. Have you ever lived with a serial toilet-and-drain–clogger? I have, and none of us were ready until it was too late. And while we’re on the topic of lavatorial habits — if you haven’t stocked your bathroom with strong, two-ply toilet paper, you’re not living your best life.

Highland Haus

Jan 17

Skiing near Maryland


We haven’t much of a white winter, but don’t let that deter you from making the most of your skiing experience! The resorts listed below have had their mountain tops covered with powder for weeks now, so the snow is good and packed from active users. Plus the mild temperatures and sunshine mean you won’t freeze!

Not everyone in your family wants to ski? No problem, these places offer other amenities and activities for both kids and adults; like snow tubing, exercise rooms, restaurants and more.

Liberty Mountain Resort—78 Country Club Trail, Carroll Valley, PA, 717-642-8282,
Ski area: Elevation is 1,190 feet high with a vertical drop of 600 feet and 100 acres of ski-able terrain. It has 16 trails and three terrain parks, serviced by nine lifts, with complete snow-making coverage.
Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and non-holidays; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends and holidays. Snow tubing is 4-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and non-peak times, 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends and holidays.
Cost: Lift tickets are $55 midweek, $67 weekends and holidays. First-time skiers and snowboarders can get a lift ticket, lesson, and equipment rental for $78 midweek, $92 weekend/holidays.
Other amenities: Tubing, lessons, equipment rental, child-care center, and restaurants and bars. An exercise room, wireless Internet, and a hot breakfast buffet are included with hotel rates.
Driving distance: One hour, 24 minutes.

Roundtop Mountain Resort—925 Roundtop Rd., Lewisberry, PA, 717-432-9631,
Ski area: Ten lifts take downhill enthusiasts to 16 trails, plus a terrain park with a super pipe and half pipe. Elevation is 1,400 feet with a vertical drop of 600 feet and about 103 ski-able acres.
Hours: 9 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays and non-holidays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends and holidays.
Cost: An eight-hour lift ticket is $55 midweek and non-holidays, $64 on weekends and holidays.
Other amenities: Fireside Pub and Grill, sports shop, ski and snowboard schools, and tubing.
Driving distance: One hour, 30 minutes.

Whitetail—13805 Blairs Valley Rd., Mercersburg, PA, 717-328-9400,
Ski area: Elevation is 1,800 feet with a vertical drop of 935 feet. Nine lifts take skiers and boarders to 23 trails and two terrain parks, with 100 percent snow-making coverage.
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Cost: Eight-hour lift ticket is $58 midweek, $69 weekends and holidays.
Other amenities: Tubing, child care, ski and snowboard lessons, food court, slope-side Windows Restaurant, and adaptive snow-sports program for children and adults with mental and physical challenges.
Driving distance: Two hours.

Highland Haus

Dec 16

Next year, sit less


Many people make resolutions for the New Year that involve making radical changed in order to lead a longer, healthier life. While a complete change of diet or committing to hit the gym everyday would be a major change for most people, some smaller decisions can also help improve health and vitality.

Consider committing to simply spending less time each day sitting down, and spending more time up on your feet. In recent years, researchers have been taking longer looks at what effect being seated for extended periods of time has on health. Research has connected extended periods off your feet with higher incidences of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and shorter life spans.

If you work a job at a desk, you are already in a chair for almost eight hours a day. When you add in time spent going to and from work and time spent relaxing at home, all the accumulated time spent sitting down could be harmful. Of course regular exercise can help counteract these effects, but getting out of your chair is the best bet.

Ulf Ekeland, a professor at the Norwegian School of Sports Science released a study this year where he and his team found that one half hour spent exercising per four hours spent sitting could help reduce some of the associated risks. For most people, this means that 60-75 minutes of exercise a day would be beneficial. All of this activity does not have to be at once, so a 15 minute walk during downtime at work could pay off in a healthier you.

Another small change that can be applied is to use a standing or adjustable height desk. These desks allow you to work on your feet, an option that also helps to reduce the risks associated with extended sitting. Standing or adjustable desks are becoming increasingly popular, and are available at many furniture stores, or you can go the DIY option and construct your own with instructions available online.

Dec 16

Can You Rent an Apartment If You Have Bad Credit?


Unfortunately, having bad credit can affect many different aspects of your life, from job applications to apartment hunting.

If your credit is bad, you can rent an apartment, but the process will probably be more challenging. Here are some tips for getting an apartment lease on bad credit.

Check your credit
If you think you might have bad credit, the first thing you’ll want to do is look at your credit report. You can order a free copy from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — through AnnualCreditReport. You’ll want to look at all three, as one or more may have an error. If you do see errors on your credit reports, take steps to fix them immediately and be prepared to explain these to your prospective landlord. Since the formal dispute process for fixing a credit report takes time, you may try and get statements from the bank or credit card company involved explaining the mistake.

Think like a landlord
If your credit reports accurately reflect your credit situation, your challenge will be to convince your prospective landlord that you will be able to pay rent on time. It may be helpful for you to take a moment and role-play a would-be landlord, and think: what would you need to be willing to rent an apartment to a person with your credit profile? This can help you anticipate landlords’ objections and be able to react with less fear.

Repairing your credit
One strategy is to ask the institutions that reported delinquencies on your credit report to send letters stating that you have met, or in the process of meeting, your obligation. (Remember that a mark on your credit can stay for up to seven years.) You can also include letters of recommendation from previous landlords, especially those who have rented to you most recently. And you can write a letter yourself, explaining how you are meeting the debts and how you will be able to pay rent even though you have debts to pay. The more evidence you can amass that shows that you’ve thought hard about this problem and are tackling it, the more convincing your case.

Get a cosigner
Another possible strategy — for renters with very little credit history, as well as those with bad credit — is to find a co-signer on your lease. A parent, relative, or close friend might be willing to do this for you. Keep in mind, though, that if you end up falling behind on this obligation, you’ll be in trouble not only with your apartment community but with the person who put their credit at risk to help you.

Pay a larger deposit
There’s a third strategy, especially for an apartment you really love: offer a larger initial deposit. Some apartment communities have set rules as to how deposits are set; others can be more flexible. If your larger deposit is accepted, make sure it’s reflected accurately in the lease you sign. If you stay in the apartment for a year, paying rent on time, and choose to renew, you might not need to make as large an upfront payment for the second year’s lease.

If none of those options work well for you, there are apartment communities which don’t conduct credit checks. But even if your credit situation is negative, don’t give up hope on finding an apartment until you’ve used the above strategies!

* Type the characters in the picture below.