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Friday Five // June 27, 2014

We're back with the Friday Five this week to bring you a list of Charleston fun for the weekend. This week, we've got some really unique to-do's to share with you!

Whether you're a history buff or not, chances are you've been on a Charleston carriage tour or walking tour. Well, now there's a new tour in town. Charleston Steeplechase takes runners on a three to four mile tour of our beautiful city, stopping at key points for the guide to give the history behind each area. If you're into running, think about checking it out this weekend!

Head over to Mount Pleasant's Memorial Waterfront Park Friday evening for an outdoor movie. This week, Cinebarre will show The Lego Movie on their giant screen. Admission and parking are free. Food and drinks are available for purchase.

Don your best superhero costume and head out to the Third Annual Super Hero Bar Crawl Saturday night! The event begins at Mynt at 7pm and continues until 2am with other stops at Life, Prohibition, King Street Public House, and a few others. There's a costume contest with a grand prize that includes a weekend trip to Charlotte.

Are you a fan of reality television? If you're one of the many loyal fans of the hit show The Bachelor and have a dream of appearing on the show, head over to Cinebarre on Saturday from 1pm to 5pm for a casting call.

If you love barbecue as much as we do, then you know a summer BBQ cookoff is a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. The Lowcountry Firefighter Support Team hosts its first annual Battle of the Grill Masters BBQ Cookoff this Sunday from 11am to 6pm. The event takes place at Relics Antique Center & Flea Market on Johns Island. Enjoy delicious BBQ, live bands, a kids' corner, antique and flea market vendors, and fire trucks on display.

 

8 Advantages of Booking a Vacation Rental

The main goal of a vacation is to get away from it all. But travelers often miss some of the comforts of home. It's hard living out of a suitcase and making sure you have cash on hand any time you want to eat. If you prefer the conveniences of home to the restricted space of a hotel room, think about searching for a vacation rental at your travel destination. This is much simpler than you might think it is. Sites like VRBO and AirBnB make booking vacation rentals easy peasy. There are several advantages to choosing a vacation rental over a hotel room. Here are our eight best reasons for booking a rental home instead.

1. Vacation rentals are usually friendlier on the bank account than hotels are, especially when you consider what you get for your money. Vacation rental rates are often less than a comparable hotel room, and the nightly rate usually decreases for extended stays. For example, a rental owner might charge $200 per night but $1,100 per week (7 days), saving you $300 versus a $200/night hotel room. On top of those savings, vacation rentals can house more people, making it possible to split the cost.

2. There's plenty of room to breathe. In a hotel room, your space is limited. The room acts as your bedroom and living room (and sometimes kitchen, too). And chances are you'll be living straight out of your suitcase. Unless your vacation rental is a studio apartment, there will be defined rooms, including a living area, bedrooms, and kitchen. You'll be able to hang your clothes in the closet and store your suitcase out of sight.

3. Having a kitchen means you won't have to dine out for every meal or be restricted to certain dining times. In the interest of saving money on food, swing by the local market and pick up a few staples: cereal or bagels for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, etc. And when you get thirsty, you won't have to resort to drinking lukewarm tap water or spending a fortune on the mini bar.

4. You can choose your lodging based on your lifestyle. Need a place on the beach? In the middle of the city? Prefer to stay close to a suburb? No problem! It's easy to find a house or a flat pretty much anywhere within a given location.

5. Pets can join in on the family fun! No need to worry about seeking out a hotel that allows pets (which can be pretty difficult). Many vacation rentals allow pets with a small deposit or fee. If you're renting a single family home, you might even have a back yard for your dog to run around.

6. Vacation rentals are usually mroe kid-friendly. A lot of rental owners are more than happy to make certain accomodations for their guests. Your house or apartment might even include a playpen or crib, which means your travel load will be lighter. Most rentals also have various forms of entertainment, like board games, DVDs, or spacious yards for outdoor fun.

7. The amenities are numerous! There's a good chance that the rental will have a washer and dryer, free parking, kitchen necessities, linens, free cable and internet access, and possibly a private pool or spa. There shouldn't be any hidden fees whatsoever.

8. Owners of vacation rentals are almost always ready to provide their guests with helpful information. Renters will often find packets including literature about their vacation destination, recommendations for activities, and info about nearby restaurants and stores. Many owners try to make themselves available to answer any questions guests might have about the area. Some will even help you book tours or take you on a guided tour themselves.

Have you ever stayed in a vacation rental? What was your experience with it? Tell us in the comments below!

How-To Tuesday: Keep a White Kitchen Gleaming and Bright

Lately, we've seen a lot of sparkling white kitchens in decorating magazines and on Pinterest. All-white kitchens are gorgeous, but they're also considered largely impractical. When pristine kitchens show up in our 

Pinterest feed, we inevitably fall in love and drift off with visions of gleaming new counters, appliances, and cabinets dancing in our heads. But when the dream cloud bursts, we face reality and say, "Yeah, right." There's no way to keep a white kitchen white, right?

Wrong!

Honestly, if you're keeping any other kitchen properly cleaned, a white kitchen won't require any more upkeep than normal. The only difference is that the lack of color is less forgiving. The following tips should really be used in any kitchen but are absolutely necessary if you want to keep your white kitchen sparkly and new.

Cabinets
Cabinets are especially hard to keep clean, because they're not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you give your kitchen its regular scrub-down. But every little spot and splatter shows up on white cabinets. People have also complained that they tend to yellow over time. One of the culprits of yellowing is direct sunlight. This is a simple fix, of course; just hang some curtains or a shade and keep them
closed most of the time. When it comes to cooking, the exhaust fan is your best friend. Turn it on before you start cooking, and it will help get rid of some of those airborne vapors and particles that can make cabinets dingy. To clean them, mix 1 cup of vinegar, 2 cups of warm water, and 1 tbsp. or baking soda and give the cabinets a regular washing.

Sink
White sinks are beautiful, but they've become less popular these days because they seem almost impossible to keep clean. Again, prevention is key. Rinse the sink out immediately after pouring acidic liquids (tomato juice, for example) or items that are prone to staining (coffee, tea, wine). Wipe out the sink with a rag soaked in vinegar once a week. This will help remove the haze that builds up due to soap scum and hard water. To remove stains, line the sink with a double layer of paper towels, then sprinkle enough bleach to dampen the towels. Leave it overnight and give it a good wipe-down the next morning. Whatever you do, don't use abrasive sponges or cleansers. These will only serve to leave scratches in the surface, where dirt and stains can accumulate and make the sink look permanently dirty.

Tile
You can clean white tiles every day until they gleam and shine, but the whiter the tiles are, the dirtier the grout looks. Make sure you scrub the grout when you clean tiles. Make a paste using baking soda and vinegar. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle. Apply the paste to grout, spray with a light coat of vinegar, and scrub with a toothbrush or scouring pad.

Counter Tops
Sometimes, spills don't get cleaned up immediately. If you find a stain on the counter top, don't fret! For laminate counters, mix up a paste using 1 part household detergent and 2 parts baking soda. Apply and scrub with a nylon brush, then wipe with a damp cloth. For granite or marble counters, combine hydrogen peroxide with just a few drops of ammonia and apply to stain.

What are your best tips for keeping a white kitchen clean? Did we leave something out? Let us know in the comments below!

 

How-To Tuesday: Make Moving Into a New House Easy

So you just bought a new house. You've begun to pack your belongings. Moving day is scheduled. Before you jump the gun and start transferring everything to the new house, there are a few things you can do to make the process of moving in to your new home smooth and easy. Check out our to-do list of ten things to do before moving day.

1. Change your address with the post office. Make sure to do this in plenty of time for things to be switched over. You don't want to have to keep going back to the old house to pick up mail. And don't forget to do the same with any magazine subscriptions or other home deliveries.

2. Transfer utilities. Surprisingly, this is a step many people don't think about until an issue comes up. Turn on the utilities in your new home a few days in advance so you can take care of any tasks that need to be completed before move-in day.

3. While you're at it, set up your new internet, phone, and cable service. You'll probably need the internet and phone sooner than you think.

4. Pest-proof the house. Even if you don't see any pests, they could still be there. Set up a service schedule with your local exterminator, or simply set off a bug bomb before you move in.

5. Do a deep clean. This will be much easier to do before the house is filled with "stuff." You'll have access to all areas without having to move heavy items or reorganize. Bonus: you get to move in to a sparkling clean home.

6. Check out the neighborhood. Locate the nearest grocery store, coffee shop, post office, etc. While you're at it, buy a few drinks and snacks to keep in the new house for moving day.

7. Meet the neighbors. Curious neighbors might stop by to introduce themselves when you're unloading and unpacking, or they might not. Make an effort to get to know them early on. Your neighbors have a wealth of information and advice about the area that you'd otherwise have to research yourself.

8. Change the locks. This is important! There's always a chance that a stray spare key or two could be floating around somewhere. Re-key or replace locks and doorknobs to avoid any issues.

9. Paint. It doesn't matter if you plan to paint just one room or all of them. Doing it before you move in makes life so much easier. If you don't need to paint anything at all...well, you're one lucky homeowner!

10. Pre-stock the new place with essentials. Some things you might need before or while moving in: toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and items like paper plates and plastic utensils.

Do you have any other tips for things that should be done prior to moving in to a new home?

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