Lofts of Merchants Row http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com Downtown Detroit Loft Apartments Mon, 19 Jun 2017 05:53:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Apartment Kitchen Pizza Parties, Part III: Pizzas http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-kitchen-pizza-parties-part-iii-pizzas/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-kitchen-pizza-parties-part-iii-pizzas/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 05:53:21 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5956 You know by now what we’re up to — we’re not even going to waste any time here. BEGIN!

The Italian-American Classic: The Margharoni

  • A crust. We’re going to assume you know which kind you want on each of these recipes, and just leave it right there for you to do with as you please.
  • Pizza sauce. If you’re doing this from scratch, start with a can of tomato sauce, and add several shakes of salt, twice that much granulated onion, and at least a teaspoon of dried (or tablespoon of fresh) oregano.  Optionally, a few shakes of Italian seasoning or dried basil.
  • Pepperoni. Goes directly on top of the pizza sauce. Don’t pack it in too thick, or the oils it releases will make your crust soft and the whole thing too sloppy. It doesn’t take much to get the flavor everywhere, so be conservative with it.
  • Fresh basil leaves. Also goes directly on top of the pizza sauce, with or without overlapping the pepperoni. Be more generous with these, especially if you can get your hands on Genovese basil (typical sweet basil is less forgiving).
  • Mozzarella cheese.  While your experience will almost certainly vary, the “common” ratio of cheese to pizza size is 0.062 ounces of cheese per square inch of surface area, which translates into about 7 oz. for a 12-inch pie, 9.5 oz. for a 14-inch pie, and 12.5 oz. for a 16-inch pie.

And that’s that: a classic tomato-basil-cheese Italian standby with the added American kick of pepperoni — can’t go wrong with that!

The Pacific Northwest’s Uniquely Thai Creation: The Peanut-Sauce Pizza

  • A crust.
  • Thai peanut sauce. If you’re brave enough to make your own, it’s (relatively) simple: minced garlic and ginger (a few tablespoons each), half a minced yellow onion, sautee. Add a squeeze of sriracha, juice from a lime, about that much fish sauce, and a pinch of brown sugar. As all that boils, add a can of coconut milk and a healthy wooden spoonful of peanut butter. Stir until smooth, bring to a simmer, and taste. If you want more spice, add some red pepper flake. If you want more peanut flavor, add more peanut butter – but be careful; too much and the oil from the peanut butter will cause the sauce to break. It’ll still taste good, but it’ll leak extra oil all over the crust and make the crust too soft and the pizza too messy.
  • Chicken. Pulled or chopped and cooked soft, your choice.
  • Veggies. Steam up some broccoli and carrots, wilt some onions and spinach, and pat it all dry before you stick it on the pizza.
  • Mozzarella cheese — about half of what you’d put on the Margharoni, maybe 2/3rds. Too much will get in the way of the peanut sauce flavor.

This pizza, according to the lore, was discovered outside of Chong Mai in Thailand and brought back to Portland where it spread like wildfire up and down the West Coast before coming Eastward.

General Tso’s…Pizza? Darn Tootin.

  • A crust.
  • General Tso’s sauce. As above, you can use a prepared version, but we think it’s 100% better if you make your own. It’s not hard: 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons dry sherry, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 3 tablespoons chicken stock, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon corn starch, and optionally 1 teaspoon sesame oil and/or 1 teaspoon red chili flake, stirred smooth and then brought to a boil is your standard recipe. A bigger pizza might take a double batch.
  • Chicken. Chopped and cooked soft, or if you’re completely crazy you can even bread and deep-fry it, though we’re not going to get into the specifics of that process here.
  • Sliced green onions, and optionally thinly-sliced carrots, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, and/or steamed broccoli.
  • Mozzarella cheese — again, about half of what you’d use on a typical American pizza.

Made this one up ourselves, and liked it enough to share. If you try it, let us know in the comments how it turned out!

Swedish Pizza: No. Just No.
If you’re inclined to try a pizza inspired by the insanity going on in Sweden, you’re on your own. Any culture that gleefully puts cheese and chocolate on the same pie, or decides bananas are a pizza ingredient can stay the heck out of my mealtimes, thanks.

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Apartment Kitchen Pizza Parties, Part II: Principles http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-kitchen-pizza-parties-part-ii-principles/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-kitchen-pizza-parties-part-ii-principles/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 05:45:26 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5954 We talked last time about what makes a pizza, and what makes a pizza party. Now, we’re going to give you some of the principles you need to create your own unique apartment kitchen pizza awesomeness, in the style of one of our favorite cookbooks. OK, maybe a little less hippie than all that, but something like.

The Generic All-Encompassing Flourless Pizza Crust Recipe
We’re not going to get into all of the tiny variants on a theme regarding flour, yeast, water, etc. You can Google all that. Instead we’re going to share with you the basic form and function of the all-purpose flourless pizza crust recipe. It goes like this:

  • A decent amount (maybe 1-1.5 cups) of tender stringy things,
  • A modest amount (maybe .5 cups) of Mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese,
  • Optionally some filler material (maybe .5-1 cups),
  • An egg, and
  • Flavoring (typically oregano, basil, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and/or pepper).

The crucial part here is that whatever you use as tender stringy things be relatively strong in terms of stringiness (i.e. in the long direction), but super easy to bite through the short way. Also, it can’t be something that leaks water all over the place as it cooks. Examples include Mozzarella cheese (and then use all Parmesan for the second bullet point), pulled pork or chicken, not-overcooked and pat-dried spaghetti squash noodles, mandolined zucchini noodles (let them air dry for a bit after mandolining), or if you’re a certified insane super-villain you could even use barely-cooked ramen noodles.

Also, the filler material you choose needs to be almost unnoticeable in texture, low in flavor, and not wet but also not dry. Riced cauliflower is the current hip go-to, but you can use ground cashews or sunflower seeds, riced beets or rutabaga, or — if you want a genuinely starchy (but not low-carb) flourless pizza crust — you can use riced taro, malanga, or eddo — the three tubers are very similar despite being from very different parts of the world. Whatever you use, before you put it in the pizza, wrap it up in a tea towel and squeeze as much moisture out of it as you can.

What you’re effectively doing is using the tensile strength of the tender stringy things along with the sticky magic of melting cheese and cooking egg to create a crust that can hold up to the task of…well, holding up while also being edible and hopefully delicious.

How to Cook a Pizza Properly (and Why All Pizzas should Cook About the Same Way)
Set your apartment kitchen oven to 425. Or at least 400. Cook for 12-18 minutes depending on the pizza. Always use (mostly) Mozzarella cheese. And always pre-bake your crust to the desired level of crispness. Those are the rules. Now let’s talk about the principles behind those rules.

The temperature is crucial for getting the pizza hot enough fast enough. Put the pizza on too slowly, and the moisture from the cooking sauce will soak into the crust and make it soft — we need it to turn into steam and go up.

That’s because the steam is a crucial part of getting that perfectly-browned cheese — and having Mozzarella cheese is another crucial part. Science tells us that cheese browns in a process: first, steam pushes up bubbles in the cheese; then the oil runs off and exposes the proteins in the cheese; then the proteins cook and brown where exposed. The low oil and high elasticity of Mozzarella are required. You can mix in some specialty cheeses for flavor, but you don’t want to add too much inelastic cheese (like crumbly Feta or Cheddar), or your cheese bubbles will burst instead of browning. And you don’t want to add cheese that’s too oily (like Gruyere or Provolone), or your cheese bubbles will remain oily and won’t brown.  In short, keep your cheese at least 70% Mozzarella or risk a pizza that doesn’t look right.

Also, because your pizza is going in for a relatively short time at a relatively high temperature, you have to keep your ingredients small enough to cook through in a short time, but hardy enough to survive the high temperature. No leaves (except those sandwiched entirely between cheese and sauce), because they’ll burn. If you’re going to use something that takes a while to cook properly — say, chicken — cook it first, then put it on the pizza.

All right, we know you’re itching to see a recipe or three — one more break, and we’ll come back with a few front-to-back apartment kitchen recipes you can follow to turn your pizza party into an event either traditional or exotic.

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Apartment-Kitchen Pizza Parties, Part I: Preparation http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-kitchen-pizza-parties-part-i-preparation/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-kitchen-pizza-parties-part-i-preparation/#respond Tue, 06 Jun 2017 05:38:36 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5952 A pizza party is kind of the classic apartment-kitchen feast.  With nothing but the oven, a decent pile of money and/or the ability to put up with bargain-basement pizza, and some friends, you’ve got yourself an evening of whatever you can do with a grease-bomb in your other hand. But what if you’re trying to level up a little and get beyond college-level grub? You could start by scrounging up four or five times the cash and investing in some serious frozen pizza, like the Newman’s Own or California Kitchen types. Or, you can call the apartment-kitchen gourmet up for a lesson in how to pizza.

Pizza Basics
At its core, pizza consists of four parts: crust, sauce, Mozzarella cheese, and other. Notice that of those ingredients, only one is specific: the cheese must be Mozzarella — low-moisture if you have a thicker crust, either low-moisture or “real” soft Mozz if you have a thin or cracker crust. If there’s a cheese on your pizza other than Mozzarella, it goes in the “and other” category because you also have Mozzarella. (A special exception can be made for the occasional specialty pizza that is completely cheese-free for reasons of food sensitivity.)

Other than that, however, the concept of ‘pizza’ is possibly one of the most wide-open concepts in food.

  • Crusts can be flour, cornflour, cauliflower, any of a dozen much more exotic recipes.  (We’ll give you the basics for making your own much more exotic crust next post!) Furthermore, they can be cracker-, thin-, thick-, deep-dish-, double-decker, stuffed, or Sicilian crusts.
  • Sauces can be tomato (Marinara, Romeso, Arrabiata, whatever you got), cream (Alfredo, Béchamel, Ranch, whatever you got), pesto, salsa, satay,  BBQ, tapenade, chimichurri, hoisin, soy-miso, curry, tandoori, Thai peanut, hummus, garlic aioli, Balsamic, heck, yours truly has even personally made a General Tso’s Chicken-sauced pizza. Literally, if you can spread it over the dough and melt cheese over it without making it disgusting, you’ve got a potential pizza sauce.
  • And of course the ‘other’ category is limited only by what you make taste good with your sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Peanut sauce? Add broccoli. Tapenade? Try asparagus. Soy-miso pairs well with anchovies. And if you’ve got any ability to, you should always sprinkle anything pesto with toasted pine nuts. It’s only polite.

How to Prepare for a Proper ‘Partment Pizza Party
There are two ways to do a proper apartment-kitchen pizza party. The first way is to know what everyone can eat and mostly enjoys, and having pizzas that match those two ‘filters’ on hand. The keys to this kind of pizza party are:

  1. to have the pizzas premade,
  2. to have about 50% more pizzas premade than you could possibly need, and
  3. to supplement your pizzas with a few options for people who don’t want to load up on all the grease and/or bread.

The more complicated but far awesomer way to have a proper pizza party in your apartment is to prepare a large amount (3-6 each) of a small variety (2-3) of different pizza crusts and have them baked and ready to top. Then prepare 2-5 different sauces and a variety (8+) of toppings that can be effective with at least a few different sauces each.  Have each person put together their own pizza, customized from the (carefully-chosen) ingredients you’ve proffered, and pass each pizza around so everyone can sample everyone else’s culinary genius.

 

That’s a party! Tune back in next time for a few generic principles that you can use to put together your own personalized apartment-kitchen pizza recipes — and after that, we’ll offer some tried-and-true recipes we’ve used in the past.

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So You Have to Drive Through Uptown Detroit http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/detroit/so-you-have-to-drive-through-uptown-detroit/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/detroit/so-you-have-to-drive-through-uptown-detroit/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 23:09:55 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5948 We know that driving through downtown Detroit can be a pain in the butt — traffic is never awesome — but driving through some parts of uptown Detroit can be downright dangerous. The number of criminals that are willing to step up to a car and either rob or carjack you isn’t enough to make these crimes statistically likely to happen to you, but they very much happen to someone almost every day. But there’s cool stuff uptown! So here’s your quick survival guide to driving in Detroit’s less-driver-friendly areas:

Know Where to Be Alert
In Detroit, that means “basically anywhere between 6 Mile and 9 Mile, particularly at any gas station.” But there is one stretch of road literally called ‘Carjack Alley’ — it’s the bit of 7 Mile between Evergreen and Greenfield. Just going a few blocks off in either direction for those two miles might be a good idea.

Don’t Leave Valuables Accessible
Put anything you actually care about in the trunk, or at the very minimum under a seat. If that means going without your purse while you drive, that’s fine — just keep your license on you. The less a would-be robber can see when they get to your car, the less they’re sure they can steal.

Don’t Pull Up
When you come to a stop light or stop sign in uptown Detroit, leave yourself a full car length between you and the car in front of you. That way, if someone does approach your car, you can pull out of the lane and get away. (Just be careful not to pull directly into traffic!)

Beware the ‘Bump and Rob’
One common technique in Detroit is for another car to bump gently into you at a stop, and then when you get out to investigate the damage and exchange insurance information, they’ll rob you — or have a passenger get in your car and drive away. If you get bumped in Detroit, assess the situation, and if you feel in the least bit uncomfortable, just stay in your car and drive away. The dent in your fender isn’t worth the chance of getting victimized. (Alternately, if you have navigation, ask for the local police station and signal the other driver to follow you there.)

Ditto the ‘Good Samaritan’
In this similar situation, a robber/carjacker will fake an injury, accident, or other problem in order to get you to pull over and offer your assistance. As much as it goes against most people’s basic humanity, it’s just not a good idea to offer aid to people who appear to be in need if you’re in the ‘danger zone’ (above).

Don’t Give Up on Your Vehicle
Interestingly, while carjackings are relatively common in uptown Detroit, what isn’t common is for the people who jack the cars to attempt to strip, sell, or even really abuse the cars. It happens, sure, but nearly half of all carjacked cars are discovered abandoned but intact a few miles away. Leading to the fascinating conclusion that the carjackers are doing it just so they can get a free ride somewhere. So if you do get carjacked, call the police, give them your license plate, and maybe you’ll get lucky and only end up shy a tank of gas and a few days’ lost time.

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Movement 2017: Looking Forward to a Memorial Day Weekend Tradition in Detroit http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/detroit/movement-2017-looking-forward-to-a-memorial-day-weekend-tradition-in-detroit/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/detroit/movement-2017-looking-forward-to-a-memorial-day-weekend-tradition-in-detroit/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 23:58:01 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5939

Memorial Day Weekend in Detroit has pretty much come to mean Movement Weekend. It’s kind of an odd mash-up, since Memorial Day evokes the past as we look back on those who gave their lives in service and Movement is all about progressive music and culture that looks forward.

Interestingly enough, in the past (beginning in 1579 to be exact), ‘to progress’ was a verb (an action word) used to denote the making of a journey. When Paxahau came together in 1998, the founders of Movement (the festival) gave people from all over the world reason to journey to Detroit for a carnival of festivities all weekend throughout the city and in Hart Plaza. And the music the festival celebrates has caused people to literally move (i.e. dance) since its founders moved the needle (okay, again often literally) from conventional classifications of music into a new genre that remixed the past with the future.

While other people travel from afar to come to Detroit this weekend in order to discover old favorites or new performers and places, I am lucky enough to live in a Downtown Detroit Loft where I can hit up every one of the Pre-Parties, Performances, and After-Parties.

And this year, I am even luckier, because I won weekend passes to the Movement Electronic Music Festival from Ann Delisi’s Essential Music on WDET 101.9. Disclaimer: I am listening, as usual, to WDET as I write this…WDET’s license was originally granted to the UAW in 1948 (the way past) and I’ve been listening to NPR since I was a kid (the past, but not that far past) yet they have programs like Ann Delisi’s, Culture Shift, and The Progressive Underground with Chris Campbell (just to name a few) that play upcoming new artists that will be on everyone’s playlist in the future….

Okay, and while I can simply walk the couple of blocks to the Riverfront and all of the Pre- and After-Party venues, this year people can move to and from the Movement Main Stage to their other destinations via the resurrected Detroit streetcar system that has been reborn and newly opened as the QLINE Detroit.

But no matter how you get to Movement, here are my recommendations for the Pre-Parties, the Performances, and the After-Parties to be sure to hit up.

First, you should get purposefully “Lost in Transit” (and Pre-Pre-Party on Thursday, May 25th) at the “Lost in Transit: Movement Edition” with fresh music from Rick Wilhite, m. woo / milieu, and Satin Panther aka Matt Berels at The Old Miami (which was established in the 1970s for Vietnam Veterans).

Whether you live here or come from afar, you should journey (progress) through Detroit (the old and the new) with the “Extended Techno Bicycle Tour” from Wheelhouse Detroit Bike Shop!  “This tour will bring the beats that electrify Detroit to life. Spend an early afternoon in the saddle visiting Detroit’s historic electronic music sites, including the Warehouse District, The Music Institute and the Packard Plant. There will be a stop at Submerge, Underground Resistance‘s HQ, for a tour of Exhibit 3000, a museum and gallery dedicated to preserving the history of Detroit Techno. There is also a record store onsite. This extended version of our annual Techno tour will venture into Hamtramck for a visit to the site of the venerable Motor Lounge, a stop at Detroit Threads record/vintage shop, and a cup of coffee at the charming Oloman Cafe.”

Okay, it’s not technically a Pre-Party, but on Sunday and Monday you can join Movement Yoga to warm up (and get limber) for your day of moving from stage-to-stage.  This FREE yoga session will be presented by Detroit Yoga Lab at the Made in Detroit Stage from 1:30-2:45. (Because, yes, when you’re festival-going and after-partying sun-salutations don’t happen until after noon. )

On Saturday, you can (and should) start your day at noon, but you don’t want to miss The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin Saunderson) from 9-10:30 p.m. on the Movement Main Stage.

Then hit up the After-Party hosted by The Crofoot with The Belleville Three & Richie Hawtin at The Detroit Masonic Temple (here you get Guinness Book of World Records and history, since “Detroit’s Masonic Temple… the largest building of its kind in the world” was constructed in 1920 and completed in 1926).

Sunday is another full day of where you can shift from stage to stage to catch incredible acts all afternoon and evening, with Paranoid London (Live) from 8:40-9:40 p.m. at the Red Bull Music Academy Stage and Kevin Saunderson as E-Dancer (Live) from 10-11 p.m. at the Stargate Stage presented by Thump.

You need to get to TV Lounge for at least one After-Party, so check out “OK COOL 5 Year Anniversary, Official Movement After Party 2017” hosted Dax Presents with Dax Lee featuring John Tejada, Honey Dijon, Danny Daze, Doc Martin (Sublevel), Ardalan, Solar, Eddie C, Voigtmann, Rick Wade, Dax Lee, Mister Joshooa, Ted Krisko, Loren, Nate Manic, Ed Mazur, and Steve, The Amazing.

While this pretty much should take you right into Monday, you’ll want to get back to the stages at 1 p.m. for another full day—and I can’t think of a more perfect performance than Carl Craig presents Versus Synthesizer Ensemble (from 8:55-9:55 on the Movement Main Stage) to progress (journey) to on Memorial Day. With Classical Music meets Techno, Symphony meets Synthesizer, this creative collaboration brings together the canonized past and the cutting-edge present with remixes that give another whole new meaning to the word progressive….

Which brings me back to all the ways in which this Memorial Day/Movement Weekend, with its mash-up of the past and the future, is the perfect weekend to either be living in a city that has a long history of innovation or to be making the journey to Detroit so that you too can be a part of this tradition that celebrates creative visions of the future!

View the Full Schedule Here

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Why Home Ownership Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/why-home-ownership-isnt-all-its-cracked-up-to-be/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/why-home-ownership-isnt-all-its-cracked-up-to-be/#respond Sat, 20 May 2017 23:08:07 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5945 We’re pretty big fans of Adam Conover’s awesome show of TruTV, Adam Ruins Everything. So when we finally caught up with an episode we had missed earlier wherein Adam ruins home ownership (linked just there), we were all quite thrilled. We’ve known for a long time that the advantages of home ownership aren’t what they’re sold as, and to have someone as entertaining but accurate as Adam break it down was top-notch.

But because we know that not all of you have time to sit through a half-hour of the world’s nerdiest pompadour doing his ruining thing, we figured we’d give you the essential arguments here, in a five-minute read instead. Let’s dive right in!

A Home is Not a Good Investment
This is one of the biggest myths that Americans have been sold on since the government decided to promote home ownership in the 1970s. According to Yale economist Robert Schiller, “Capital gains [on housing] have not even been positive. From 1890 to 2012, real inflation-corrected home prices were virtually unchanged.” Inflation-corrected prices spiked between 2000 and 2007, and the correction from that bubble was one of the key elements of the Great Recession — shooting them right back down to baseline.

And really, if you think about it, all of this makes sense. All goods get cheaper when they’re made in higher numbers and when they’re made at a lower cost. Well, houses have gotten dramatically less expensive to create in the past half-century as a succession of power tools, improved construction techniques, prefabrication, and the ability to make solid houses out of cheaper lumber have all worn the price down. The only reason housing prices have stayed at baseline is that demand is always going up as the population continues to grow.

Appreciation Is Often Over-Estimated
Granted, any single home generally will appreciate over time, but only at 3% annually on average (and that’s for traditional single-family residences — ‘alternative’ housing like mobile homes generally depreciate faster than that!). The problem being that the 3% only counts if you maintain the home, which according to HGTV should cost 1%-3% of the home’s total value per year. Hmm…3% appreciation, 3% maintenance. This doesn’t even touch the fact that it’s ridiculously easy to spend money improving a home in ways that don’t actually improve its resale value — which is why there are so many articles online telling you which home improvements will.

Mortgage Brokers Always Oversell You
When you’re getting a mortgage, the brokers who provide them are trained to get you to take the largest mortgage they can, including getting you numbers for “PITI” — Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance. That’s better than not giving you any financial guidance at all, but it will get you in quite a bit of financial trouble if you calculate your bills out the way they want you to. That’s because they’re not trained to guide you toward calculating out your actual expenses, like electricity, phone, internet, HOA dues, water/sewer/garbage, and so on. Once those bills hit, you can easily end up “house poor.”

And all that doesn’t even get into the most basic problem with home ownership vs. renting, which is that paying a mortgage is basically exactly like paying rent. After all, if you don’t pay your mortgage, someone will kick you out of your home, and you walk away with nothing, just exactly like you didn’t pay your rent — except that paying a mortgage doesn’t come with all of the services that your landlord provides you. No maintenance, no security, no nothing: you absorb all of the costs of ‘rent’ and all of the costs of upkeep (in both time and money!), and you realistically don’t actually have anything to show for it until 30 years later… at which point, as discussed above, you still don’t really have anything to show for it in terms of an overall increase in your net worth.

At which point we have to ask…why bother?

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Be Prepared: The Truth about Apartment Burglary http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/be-prepared-the-truth-about-apartment-burglary/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/be-prepared-the-truth-about-apartment-burglary/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 07:34:32 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5933 There’s never a shortage of stories on the news and around the water cooler about people who had their dwelling broken into. Unfortunately, like much of what we believe about cowboys, punching, martial arts, and giant blue sky-beams, most of our “common knowledge” about break-ins is informed by Hollywood instead of reality — and that needs fixing. So here goes:

Burglaries Mostly Happen in the Middle of the Day
It doesn’t matter if you live in a house or an apartment; your pad is at it most vulnerable when you’re not in it. Burglars know that you’re probably at home at night. They also know you’re probably not home in the middle of the day, because you’re probably at work. Suffice it to say, lock your door when you leave for work. Wait…your door? Yup:

Apartment Burglary Mostly Comes Through the Door (Not a Window)
To understand this, you have to look at the crime of apartment burglary from a burglar’s perspective. These guys aren’t Ocean’s Three — they’re not out there planning the perfect crime against your home. They’re actually mostly opportunists, especially in an apartment setting. They’re not plotting to steal your stuff — they’re plotting to steal stuff. So they’ll go down the hallway, testing doors to see which one opens. Which leads directly to the next point…

Apartment Burglars Want to Take One or Two Small, Pricey Items and Bug Out
Very, very rare is the burglar who is going to walk out of your apartment with something he can’t hide in his pocket. The reasons for this are simple: first, he doesn’t want to get caught by a neighbor (who might know you) walking out of your apartment with your TV in his arms. Second, he can’t run with a TV if it comes down to that. But far and away the most important reason is that…

Apartment Burglary Is Usually Over Within 30 Seconds
Seriously, when your strategy is ‘try every door, see what opens,’ you know you’re eventually going to open a door and find an angry bro with a kitchen knife in one hand and a frying pan in another. So you have to have a story handy to explain yourself — but equally importantly, you have to be ready to dip into an open door, spot the thing you can hawk for drug money within seconds, and get out before the scary man watching the football game can be arsed to get up and check out the weird noise. Of course, that story might also be important, which is why…

Most Burglaries Are Committed by Friends and Family
Apartment or home, the most-likely person to burgle your dwelling is a person who could explain their presence in your house somehow without getting his or her butt kicked and/or the police called. This makes sense given the above paragraph: if you were going to go steal something from someone, wouldn’t you choose someone who would be the least likely to punish you if you got caught?

Most Burglars Will Happily Come Back Again and Again
Again, this makes perfect sense given everything above. An opportunist looking for a quick buck who knows from experience that you’re not home at noon but can explain himself if you happen to be home sick? That’s basically the perfect reason to go try the same door again…and again…and again, until it stops working.

The takeaway from all of this is pretty simple: keep your door locked when you go to work, keep your valuables hidden and far away from the front door, and if you ever find a friend or family member in your apartment unexpectedly, lock your door even when you’re home until they get the message.

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Let’s Bust some Household Cleaning Myths http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/lets-bust-some-household-cleaning-myths/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/lets-bust-some-household-cleaning-myths/#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 07:29:12 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5931 All that Spring Cleaning talk has got housekeeping firmly in the communal brainspace around here. So of course when one of us brought up the idea that throwing ice in the garbage disposal ‘keeps the blades sharp,’ it was Google time. Turns out, there is a little bit of truth there: while garbage disposals don’t have blades, throwing some ice in can help knock stuck-on gunk out of its machinery and help it process better. But it lead us to ask: what do people believe about housekeeping that they probably shouldn’t? Here’s what we learned.

Myth: Vacuums for Carpets, Brooms for Floors
If you’re one of those people who have always switched to the broom (or mop!) for your non-fibrous floors, you may want to reconsider. According to OSHA, any vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter — and most modern vacuum cleaners without HEPA filters — clean dust more efficiently than any mop or broom. Granted, if you have stains on your floors, a mop is probably still a necessary second step, but keeping the vacuum in hand for the hard floors is more effective than switching to a broom.

Myth: Over-Vacuuming can Damage Carpets
OK, technically, this can be true — but we’re talking like constant vacuuming. In literally every realistic scenario, the dirt that gets into your carpet fibers is going to damage those fibers more than running the vacuum over them every day. Or even twice a day. There is a caveat on this one, though: you do have to set your vacuum cleaner to the correct pile(height) setting. Vacuuming a plush carpet on bare-floor height will totally damage the carpet — and the vacuum cleaner, too!

Myth: Don’t Rinse Your Dishes Clean Before Putting them in the Dishwasher
This one is a subject of lots of debate: there are several significant articles on the ‘net that insist that pre-rinsing your dishes went out with the turn of the century, and that it’s a huge waste of time and water. But there’s a clever information hack that reveals the truth: if you talk to washing machine sellers, they say “don’t pre-rinse.” But if you talk to washing machine repairmen, they will tell you straight-up that even modern dishwashers magically end up with all kinds of food particles getting not just through the filter, but into the water pump assembly — which means you’re washing all of your dishes in dirty water. It’s better to pre-rinse for the cleanliness of your dishes and for the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Myth: Newspaper Makes Great Window-Cleaning Wipes
Umm…what? Well, one of our maintenance guys heard this one, so we figure we’ll just debunk this right quick: NOPE. Newspaper that gets wet leaks black ink, which can stain your windowsills. But more importantly, newspaper is actually a crappy absorber of liquids and a crappy latch-onto-er of solids, making it actively bad for window cleaning. Stick with paper towels — or better yet, microfiber cloths.

Myth: More Soap/Detergent Makes Things Cleaner
This is just common sense, right? If soap makes clean, more soap makes cleaner. It’s intuitively obvious! It’s also intuitively incorrect — you can tell if you take the argument to its next obvious step…does most soap make cleanest? Obviously not! It’s easily possible to imagine what would happen if you washed a load of laundry with an entire bottle of soap in it: you’d end up with a slimy mess. The fact is that every soap and/or detergent is designed to work with a set amount of water, and if you don’t put enough water in, the soap or detergent will function less effectively. The same is true if you put in too much soap for the amount of water you’re using. (Incidentally, this is why modern washing machines require less laundry soap — because they use less water!)

All right, hope you’ve learned something — we certainly did writing this! Now, don’t forget that you were Googling all of this cleaning stuff for a reason. Time to get back to work!

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Apartment Spring Cleaning, Weeks 2+: The Clean-ening http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-spring-cleaning-weeks-2-the-clean-ening/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/apartment-living/apartment-spring-cleaning-weeks-2-the-clean-ening/#respond Fri, 05 May 2017 20:15:25 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5928 (Writers note: I started this bit way back at the beginning of Spring, and proceeded to get too sick to type — sorry — but while it’s not all that timely anymore, it’s still relevant!)

Last time, we talked about The Purge: that first part of the Spring Cleaning process that consists of getting rid of all of your unnecessary stuff. Now, it’s time for Week 2 (which may, depending on a few factors, last anywhere from one to five weeks): the actual cleaning.

Preparation: Clear two Spaces
The Spring Cleaning process requires that you empty out various areas of your apartment  — which means you need spaces to empty into. We find it’s often convenient to move your couch a few feet into your living room and use the space between the couch and the wall as your primary ‘staging area.’ Then use the dining room table as your secondary area. Whatever it takes, clear at least a dozen square feet of space that you can assign to the primary staging area, and three square feet to the ‘details zone.’

The Process
This is the process that you will perform once or twice for every section of the apartment (depending on size and amount of stuff). If you work diligently, you should be able to get through the process entirely in about an hour and a half per section.

  1. Take all of the movable objects out of the area, putting the topmost items furthest ‘back’ in your staging area, and the bottom items in front, so you can easily put them back in reverse order.
  2. Clean all of the exposed surfaces in the appropriate fashion.
  3. If there are any large items that can’t be entirely removed, like furniture, first strip the item of any coverings (i.e. bedsheets, upholstery covers), clean them, and then clean the item itself. Then move it so that its new footprint doesn’t at all overlap its usual footprint, and clean under and behind where it usually sits. Then put it back.
  4. Now go back through the staging area and go through it one item at a time. For each one, go through the following substeps:
    1. If the item is a container full of other objects (as opposed to food or hand lotion or whatever), empty it into the details zone, follow the rest of these substeps, and then repeat these substeps with each item in the container.
    2. Strip the object of any coverings, clean them, then clean the object, inside (if any) and out.
    3. Check to ensure that you actually need the item. If the item is a container that holds a specific thing (such as a box of Band-Aids or a binder full of D&D characters), ask yourself if there’s another container of the same thing that you could combine this one with.
    4. If you don’t need the object, decide whether it’s best donated, sold, recycled, or trashed.
    5. Put the item back where you want it (unless it’s a container object and you haven’t put anything back into it yet). Note that this is your chance to decide that you want to rearrange that area.
  5. Once your staging area is empty, take a look at your section and reassess the arrangement of things one more time. If there are things you use often that are on the bottom/in the back, rearrange so that they’re more accessible, and vice versa.

The Big List of Sections
This list contains a lot of items that won’t apply to every apartment. Just skip the ones that don’t apply to you.

  • Bedrooms
    • The closet (main clothes-hanging area)
    • The closet (top and bottom, usually best done when the middle area is still empty)
    • The dresser (just take each drawer as-is to your staging area if you can carry them)
    • The bed
    • Any other furniture
    • The rest of the room, including the garbage can, laundry hamper, and hanging art
  • Bathrooms
    • The vanity (top and inside)
    • The cabinetry, including the medicine cabinet
    • The commode
    • The tub
    • Any other furniture
    • The rest of the room, including the garbage can, plunger, and toilet brush
  • Hallways
    • Each closet (linen , or otherwise)
    • Any other furniture
    • The rest of the space, including any hanging art
  • Dining Room
    • The dining set
    • The china hutch
    • Any other furniture
    • The rest of the room
  • The Living Room
    • The entertainment center
    • The bookshelf
    • Other storage areas
    • The couch and chairs
    • Any other furniture
    • The rest of the room
  • The kitchen
    • The pantry
    • The fridge and freezer
    • Individual. Cupboard.
    • Including underneath the sink
    • The stove, including the broiler/under-the-stove drawer thingy
    • Any other appliances
    • The rest of the room
  • Any other room
    • Every storage space
    • Every piece of furniture
    • The rest of the room

And if you haven’t decided to cut this whole Spring Cleaning thing short and just vacuum really well and wipe everything off with a damp rag, you’re doing better than many. Kudos, and good luck!

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2017 Lofts of Merchants Row Spring Open House http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/videos/2017-lofts-of-merchants-row-spring-open-house/ http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/blog/videos/2017-lofts-of-merchants-row-spring-open-house/#respond Fri, 05 May 2017 17:29:10 +0000 http://www.loftsofmerchantsrow.com/?p=5903

Spring is officially here! The temperature outside is rising while the rain brings forth green grass and beautiful flowers. In the apartment industry, Spring is evident by greater demand for loft availability. The Lofts of Merchants Row decided to treat their potential new residents to a Spring Open House. The day was filmed with great food, a tour of the community, and new friends. Future Lofts of Merchants of Row residents were treated to great cuisine from some of Downtown Detroit’s best restaurants including Downtown Louie’s, Parc, and Golden Fleece. They also were able to tour some of Lofts of Merchants Row luxury Studio and 1 Bedroom lofts. Just another day in the life of The Lofts of Merchants Row.

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