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Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Photo Courtesy : christmashappynewyear.com

Photo Courtesy : christmashappynewyear.com

I have NO idea where in the world 2014 went. I’m going to place most of that blame on having a baby. I’m pretty sure that particular life-changing event jumps the continuum at which time travels by an exponential amount. So as the dust of 2014 settles behind me, I’ve decided to be very pro-active about the upcoming new year. While early December has been spent eagerly checking for shipment notification emails on long awaited Christmas presents, chasing after a 9 month old who in the blink of any eye can be in another room (I am convinced she has magical powers) and turning 34, I plan on spending the latter part in a much calmer way, with hot cocoa, feet up and deep breathing. I also plan to reflect on the past twenty years. I say twenty because that is the amount of years that I feel I can truly be held accountable for my own life. I have consciously decided to do things differently and in true type A personality form, I am going to map out my assault on 2015, healthily and productively of course. Instead of throwing out the obligatory New Years resolutions I am going to be pensive and deliberate. I have made the decision to make this year be the one they will write about. And even though I have said that many times before, I feel like becoming a mother has not only given me an entirely new perspective on life, but on myself as well. I have this little one who will look up to her mommy one day.  Whether or not you had a life changing event in the past year, you could 100% still be in the frame of mind that I have found myself in. I’m pretty sure with my long list of failed mulligans each year – I’ve become an expert on what not to do, so in essence, what to do. Trust.

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Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

A long time common thread in science fiction novels and movies, Home Automation has become a part of our 21st century reality and it is here to stay. Not only is Home Automation really really cool, but it can actually save us money, increase safety and security plus save us valuable time.  Feeling like the future is here and knowing that we are a part of it is well and good, but the challenge that many of us Camden residents face is how to automate our homes without installing a costly system that requires ripping open walls, rewiring or setting up bulky equipment.

Fret no more! Apartment residents seeking home automation need look no further than our smart phones and tablets! With the increased connectivity of smart phones and tablets, simple and affordable home automation products are available and becoming increasingly popular. I did some research and found my 10 favorite Smart Home products that can easily be installed in your Camden Apartment home today and simply make your life easier.

1) The Rise App

Courtesy of theriseapp.com

Courtesy of theriseapp.com

The Rise is an extremely simple device that could make all the difference in your electric bill. The Rise attaches to your regular window shades, turning them into automatic and programmable smart shades that you can control from your smart phone or tablet. Excited? Wait until you read next on the list.

 

2) August Smart Lock

Photo courtesy of gearpatrol.com

Courtesy of august.com

Home security just got simple and quick with the easy to install August Smart Lock. Using Bluetooth to communicate with your smart phone, the August Smart Lock is installed with your existing deadbolt and key set. The August Smart Lock App acts similar to the key fob you use to get around your Camden Community: it automatically unlocks when you approach with your phone and then automatically locks when you are 100 yards away. It also allows you to hand out unlimited digital keys, making house-sitting and entertaining a breeze!

3) Nest Learning Thermostat

Photo courtesy of nest.com

Courtesy of nest.com

One of the top rated smart thermostats, the Nest Learning Thermostat could lower your heating and cooling bills by up to 20%! It does this by learning your temperature likes and schedule then programs itself to adjust automatically while you’re home and away. You can also access Nest from your smart phone when you’re miles away to manually adjust the temperature in your home!

 

Haiku Fan

Courtesy of gearpatrol.com

4) Haiku Fan

This revolutionary ceiling fan could improve your energy efficiency by 80%. Not only does it have a sleek design and virtually silent motor, but this smart fan uses an infrared motion sensor to detect movement and heat so that it turns itself on or off based on when you enter and leave the room or the temperature heats up! Genius right?

5) Logitech Harmony Ultimate Smart Home

Courtesy of gearpatrol.com

Courtesy of gearpatrol.com

Most of the products on this list are controlled by your smart phone each using their own app, their own system and virtually speaking their own language. Makes you wish you had one remote that would control all of them at once right? That’s where the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Smart Home remote comes in. It is programmable with your smart phone and it controls every switch, light and robot that you bring in for your own Home Automation. It even works with your TV!

 

 

6) Belkin WeMo Home Automation Products

Courtesy of belkin.com

Courtesy of belkin.com

I was so intrigued by the WeMo family of home automation products that I couldn’t pick just one! Belkin has smart wall plugs, light switches, light bulbs, netcams and more that you can control with your smart phone to increase energy efficiency. There’s even a WeMo crockpot that you can control remotely from your smart phone or tablet to make sure that dinner is ready when you are. Yum!

7) SkyBell Video Doorbell with Motion Sensor

Courtesy of skybell.com

Courtesy of skybell.com

Install your own personal door man with the camera and voice capable Skybell! I love the features of this simple device; it’s motion sensor will alert you if someone comes to your door but doesn’t ring the button, you can keep an eye on your front door at all times from your smart phone and you can even see visitors after dark with night vision! Who doesn’t love night vision?

 

 

Courtesy of chamberlain.com

Courtesy of chamberlain.com

8) Chamberlain MyQ Garage

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had that nagging feeling that you forgot to close the garage door! Now, say goodbye to that feeling with the Chamberlain MyQ Garage. This smart garage door control is an easy install that runs off your home’s wifi and has a corresponding app that allows you to control your garage door from anywhere!

9) iRobot Roomba 650

Courtesy of irobot.com

Courtesy of irobot.com

The Roomba has been the butt of jokes for years, but it continues to be the leading vacuum cleaning robot. This little guy can get where upright vacuums can’t to pull up dirt, pet hair, you name it, from your home carpet or flooring. This latest model features increased battery life and programmable features! The Roomba is perfect for small apartment spaces.

 

10)  Towl Hub

Courtesy of towlhub.com

Courtesy of towlhub.com

You may have seen the last, but certainly not least product on the list in the latest edition of Sky Mall. The Tower of Power USB Charging Paper Towel Holder, capable of charging up to four devices at once is the simplest and yet, in my opinion, most useful product for Home Automation. How are you going to keep your smart phones and tablets charged so that you can continue controlling your smart home? With your Towl Hub paper towel holder, of course! Bonus: the knob of the paper towel holder is a removable wine stopper.

So what now? All of these products are available on Amazon.com and with an Amazon Prime membership you can still receive them before Christmas. For further reading about the advantages of home automation, read this article.

Courtesy of The Iron Yard

Courtesy of The Iron Yard

Camden is thrilled to announce an exciting educational offer exclusive to our residents! The Iron Yard, a company committed to educating and empowering coders, is offering a $2000 scholarship to qualifying Camden residents to join them on January 5th and learn to code—consider it a New Year, New Opportunity scholarship!

The Iron Yard teaches intensive, three-month coding courses that mentor you into a professional, junior-level programmer. Their program goes far beyond tactical skills and teaches you to think like a software engineer. They’ll even help you get a job when you graduate! Whether you are seeking a career change or an opportunity to learn new skills, The Iron Yard is a solution for you.

Courtesy of theironyard.com

Courtesy of theironyard.com

Applicants must meet a few basic requirements:

  • Provide own Macbook laptop
  • Demonstrable desire to learn a coding language in a full immersion environment! The Iron Yard trains professional programmers, not casual enthusiasts. The average student puts in 60 hours per week, many invest more than that.
  • Completion of pre-work assignments prior to the start of class.

The next round of classes begins January 5th and spaces are still available! Interested? Apply here and when prompted mention that you heard about The Iron Yard through Camden! Act now while space and scholarships are still available.

Contact The Iron Yard: (713) 425-3797houston@theironyard.comtheironyard.com/houston

If you’re not already done with all of your Christmas shopping, then hopefully you’re just about done. So why not let the fun begin early and check out some neat holiday events to attend right here in Corpus Christi that you can do!

Scuba Santa at the Texas State Aquarium: Our city’s aquarium is really one to see, especially with the new Nearshore Exhibit. So if you’re looking for holiday fun for the entire family or just looking for an exciting date place, then check out the Texas State Aquarium. You can now see Scuba Santa deliver some special treats to the underwater residents while you learn! Scuba Santa will arrive daily from 11am-2pm every day until December 24th, and as an additional bonus, for every adult ticket purchased, a child gets in free! Purchase tickets upon arrival or for a discounted price online here.

The Nutcracker: This weekend is the last weekend you can purchase your tickets to see the Corpus Christi Ballet’s holiday classic The Nutcracker at the American Bank Center. Lucky for you, the Gala Orchestra will be playing live during the performance so don’t wait to purchase tickets.

Winter Wonderettes Live Play: If you’ve never been to a live play at the Aurora Arts Theatre, you should certainly try to check this out to get into the holiday spirit. This live musical performance will take you back in time to 1968! You’ll hear a few hit jingles from the 50s and 60s as Betty, Missy, Cindy, and Suzy resolve chaos at Harper’s Hardware Store’s holiday party. You don’t want to miss the action when Santa goes missing!

Candy Cane Lane: This lane is particularly special to Corpus Christi and its’ residents. It’s located on the Southside of Corpus Christi off of Everhart. Candy Cane Lane is a neighborhood where you’ll see people stroll up and down the streets to see all the beautifully lit homes. The residents in this neighborhood have put in much effort to ensure others get into the holiday spirit with all their unique holiday displays. Just follow the lit candy canes and you’ll discover Santa, live music, and maybe some treats!  It’s a free event that the whole family can enjoy, but put your walking shoes on because you’re not going to want to get away from the beautiful lights! You can visit this neighborhood until January 1st!

New Year’s Eve Sing-Along Piano Bar: Can’t wait to bring in the New Year with a bang? Try something new and check out Brewster Street Ice House on New Year’s Eve. Sing out loud with the piano and the crowd and toast to 2015 at midnight. Admission varies with the option of adding dinner, hotel, and transportation to the midnight champagne toast so get your tickets and make New Year’s Eve plans before it’s sold out!

Corpus Christi is growing and it’s been really exciting to see all the new things coming to the city I have grown up in. I hope that you, too, will get out this holiday season and enjoy what Corpus Christi has to offer. Then, after your hairdo falls out and your feet are hurting, invite your family over to your beautiful Camden home and relax!

Not Another Holiday Blog

Image Credit: planetchristmas.com

Image Credit: planetchristmas.com

It is December, which means that all over the internet, including our page, there are blog posts about Christmas, Hanukah, and other holiday related things. I thought to myself, I am not going to post about any of those things. I don’t proclaim myself as being a Scrooge, but I just like to be different. Being different is what makes the world interesting.

What else happens in the month of December?

Continue Reading »

December is filled with holiday cheer and if you haven’t caught it already there are still plenty of chances. There’s nothing like bundling up in your winter gear – not heavy winter gear in Houston – and going out on the town when the whole city has been turned into a mini Winter Wonderland. Houston has all sorts of events and activities to keep you busy and get you in the mood for the holiday season. Here are the top five that I recommend!

Photo courtesy of the Houston Zoo

Photo courtesy of the Houston Zoo

  • Zoo Lights: The Houston Zoo hosts Zoo Lights every holiday season where the entire zoo is decorated with cheerful Christmas lights. Check it out and enjoy the more than 2 million lights – tickets can be purchased at a discount online. This event is held nightly until January 4th.
Photo courtesy of the Houston Press

Photo courtesy of the Houston Press

  • The Nutcracker: Nothing can compare to dressing up for the night and experiencing The Nutcracker story as told by the Houston Ballet. The music is familiar and the dancing is enchanting. By the end you’ll be ready for some sugar plums! You can enjoy this ballet through December 28th.
Photo courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

Photo courtesy of the Houston Chronicle

  • Lights in the Heights: This special activity is only available one day a year. Lights in the Heights is scheduled along Highland and Omar streets in the Woodland Heights from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, December 13th. Walk the streets and enjoy the highly decorated homes, live bands, and carolers. Bring your own hot chocolate to make it a magical experience.
   Photo courtesy of the Houston Press

Photo courtesy of the Houston Press

  • Dickens on the Strand: This holiday festival, held annually in Galveston, brings the old-fashioned Victorian feel to the holiday season. This festival includes parades, six stages of entertainers, carolers, bagpipers, and a whole lot more. Street booths sell holiday food and drinks, crafts, clothing, jewelry, holiday decorations and gift items.
Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens

Photo courtesy of Moody Gardens

  • Festival of Lights: This holiday light extravaganza is held at Moody Gardens each year. More than one million light and sound displays will ensure that you get into the spirit! On Fridays, if you bring a non-perishable food item you will receive a two-for-one Festival admission. The food will be donated to the Galveston County and Houston Food Bank. This event goes on nightly through January 3rd.

Take advantage of these activities while you can; all within easy reach from our Camden communities. Get out there and get in the holiday spirit!

Holiday Events in Austin!

Do you live in the Austin area and looking for some fun activities to do during this holiday season?

I found this great website with a great list of the Top 26 Holiday Events in Austin & Central Texas.

Top 26 Austin Holiday Events.  Courtesy of: rwethereyetmom.com

Top 26 Austin Holiday Events.
Courtesy of: rwethereyetmom.com

Some of my All-Time Favorites:

Zilker Park Trail of Lights-

The Trail of Lights is one of the most anticipated events here in the Austin area. Zilker Park is laced with beautiful Christmas lights and displays. It is one of my favorite holiday traditions. This is a great event to go to with friends and family of all ages. My favorite part is the Holiday Tree at the end of the Trail of Lights. The Zilker Tree stands 155 feet tall and has a total of 3,309 lights.  The diameter is 120 feet.

To learn more about this awesome event, go to: austintrailoflights.org/

The entrance tunnel to the Zilker Park Trail of Lights. Courtesy of: photoblog.statesman.com

The entrance tunnel to the Zilker Park Trail of Lights.
Courtesy of: photoblog.statesman.com

Zilker Holiday tree that stands 155 feet tall. Courtesy of: examiner.com

Zilker Holiday tree that stands 155 feet tall.
Courtesy of: examiner.com

 

Evergreen Tree Farm (Elgin, Texas):

Every year on Black Friday, my family goes to Evergreen Tree Farm in Elgin (About 20 minutes Southeast of Austin). This is a small family run business and if you are looking for something other than a store bought Christmas tree, this is the place to go! They are very friendly there and you have the option to cut down your own tree on their land or they have some precut trees to choose from as well. They have fun family activities, such as, a hayride around the farm and feeding the various animals on their farm. Definitely worth a drive out there to check it out!

Evergreen Tree Farm in Elgin, Texas.  Courtesy of: www.evergreen-farms.com

Evergreen Tree Farm in Elgin, Texas.
Courtesy of: http://www.evergreen-farms.com

 

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