March Madness

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It’s just around the corner…. the squeaking of sneakers, the thumping of balls on the hardwood, the shrill of the referee’s whistle, and the roar of the crowd in either panic or celebration and possibly rushing the cour. It’s March Madness, a tradition that strikes basketball enthusiasts every spring. Continue reading

Photo courtesy of careerealism.com

The Best Version of Yourself

Photo courtesy of careerealism.com

Photo courtesy of careerealism.com

When it comes to our health, we all know what we should and should not be doing. Taking the first step toward a healthy lifestyle can be extremely difficult. I know because it took me many years before I decided to take it. First off, being healthy is not about losing weight or being thin; it’s far more than that. The mental effect of getting your body in shape far outweighs the physical. You hear it all the time. People who exercise have more energy, less stress, and are far more positive and happy overall. You know what.. It’s all true!

STEP 1: DECIDE
It all starts with a DECISION. You have to look deep inside yourself and DECIDE who do you want to be. That was extremely difficult for me as I discovered that fear was actually one of the things holding me back. Why Fear? Because I was stuck in my comfort zone and changing meant I had to break out of it and journey into the unknown. That meant new schedules, eating habits, and the GYM, a place I had never been. To me exercise was hard and didn’t come naturally, I hated it. Or so I thought.
 Last September, I took a look at myself and realized I was going in the wrong direction (on the scale). I was tipping the scales some 30lbs more than where I felt comfortable. One day, I just DECIDED to make a change. It was not easy! The reason I am emphasizing the word “DECIDE”, is because it means that you have made up your mind, that you are going to do something and there is no going back. If you enter into this with the idea of “well I’ll give it a try” or “let’s see what happens” you will more than likely end up right back where you started. So, it is that simple. Sometime when you are alone and can do some deep thinking, ask yourself… “Who do I want to be?” and then make the DECISION to do it.
STEP 2: SET GOALS
Now that you have made the decision to change your life, it’s time to set some goals. This is an incredibly important step in this process. Your initial goals need to be attainable. Do not attempt to accomplish this overnight. This is a journey. One that will continually evolve as you reach each milestone. Your initial goals should be very realistic and somewhat easy at first. Think baby steps. Here’s what I mean.
If your goal is to start eating healthier, than don’t just stop your normal routine cold turkey. Start by changing just one thing. Like removing the extra dressing or cheese or other unnecessary calories from your meals. You will find that it didn’t really effect the meal and you will feel better about your choices. As time goes on make another change. Maybe this time it’s slightly bigger, for example have the burger without the bun. These changes will inevitably lead you to more and better choices with your diet.
If your goal is exercise related again start small and slow. I remember the 1st few days, 10min of cardio nearly sent me into cardiac arrest! I started with 10min a day than went to 15min as I got more conditioned then on to 30 min and so on. This method does work and it supports our need to feel like we have accomplished something. Results will come as long as you don’t give up.
STEP 3: STAY MOTIVATED
One thing that really helped me stay focused was continually surrounding myself with motivational material. During this process, I learned that I love to listen to great motivational stories, speeches and music. I would spend time looking up motivational videos on YOUTUBE and then play them back during my workouts. There are tons of them available and they really work. That is probably why the good ones have millions of views! I have lots of favorites that I listen to week after week and they never get old. Bottom line is, whatever it takes, you have to figure out what motivates you and keep it coming.
There you have it. Three simple steps to becoming the “best version of yourself”.
About the author: Mike Eilertson is a Construction Project Manager for Camden.

Save Money With Your Phone

I really, really do love to save money!

I really, really do love to save money!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like every time I turn around I am paying more money for the things I use every day: after dropping so much in the fall, the cost of gas is rising every time I pass a station; the cost of produce is going through the roof; your amazing Camden apartment just sent you a rent increase; the phone bill keeps going up. Sheesh! A dollar just doesn’t go as far as it used to! I wish I had time to be one of those super couponers, but between work, kids, husband and just life in general, I barely have time to squeeze in a shower much less comb through circulars to find a good deal! At the end of last year I was introduced to two phone apps that promised to reward me for shopping at my favorite stores. Despite a great deal of skepticism, I decided to give Shopkick and Ibotta a try just for the month of December. I was pleasantly surprised at the results! Let me tell you a little about my two new favorite apps.

  • Ibotta – This is a free app that awards rebates on items you purchase every day.
    Ibotta is a great way to get rebates on your purchases.  photo courtsey of Ibotta.com

    Ibotta is a great way to get rebates on your purchases.
    photo courtsey of Ibotta.com

    Ibotta has partnered with major stores that can be found in close proximity to any of our Camden communities. The list in my area includes Kroger, Target, Walmart, Whole Foods, CVS, Walgreens, and many, many more. The list of rebates changes on a regular basis, but it consists of regular grocery items like milk and cheese, but also specialty items such as organic coffee and frozen dog treats. You will find several items that you can submit rebates for on every shopping list you create. You simply unlock the rebates by performing simple tasks such as watching a very short video or answering a quiz. Once you have purchased the items you have unlocked, you snap a picture of the receipt with your phone and upload it to the app. Ibotta says the funds will be deposited into your account within 24 hours, but in my experience it usually takes less than an hour. Once you have accumulated $10 you can cash out your funds by either redeeming them for a gift card to Amazon.com, Best Buy, iTunes, Starbucks and a few others, or you can transfer the total to a PayPal or Venmo account. In just 2 months I have earned a total of $257.30 by just shopping for my regular home staples! I personally have decided to transfer my rebates to my PayPal account so that I can save some spending money for an upcoming Disney World vacation. I love free money!

  • Shopkick – This is also another free app that rewards you for simply walking
    Shopkick gives you points for just walking into a store.

    Shopkick gives you points for just walking into a store.

    into your favorite stores and scanning various items while you are doing your regular shopping. Since a visit to Target, Kroger or Walgreens seems to be pretty much a given on any day, it makes sense to earn points while just going about my normal routine. You can also link credit cards to your account to earn points for purchases at store like Best Buy, Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters. These points can be redeemed for gift cards to many different retailers like Target, Old Navy, Coach, and Tiffany & Co. You can even use your points to buy an iPad or KitchenAid Mixer. Since I signed up in December I have accumulated over 22,000 points which is enough to redeem for almost $100 in gift cards. Again, free money for simply doing the things I do every day!

I know there are many more apps that can either save you money or actually pay you for shopping. Ibotta and Shopkick are two of the most popular and reliable apps out there, but I might try a couple others after seeing the success I’ve had so far! If you have any great recommendations, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! I hope you can find some great, innovative ways to save money! Happy Shopping!

courtesy of jazzercise.com

Jazzercise Ain’t Your Momma’s Workout

Have you been looking for a new workout to maintain your 2015 resolutions? I have the workout for you, and yes, you did read the title of this post correctly…it’s Jazzercise! I started Jazzercising about a year ago and not only has it changed my entire outlook on exercising, but it has also changed my life! Seriously! Here’s how:

  • In less than one year, I have lost nearly 30 pounds! Just by going to Jazzercise an average of 3 times a week.
  • I sleep better and am more awake throughout the day- Goodbye 2:30pm cup of coffee!
  • As I started to workout more, my eating habits just naturally got better because I learned that if I ate a chocolate donut in the morning, it would slow me down in Jazzercise.
  • This part still amazes and excites me: My skin and hair have both become healthier!
  •  And the best result from Jazzercise? I feel 100 times better about MYSELF.

I got into Jazzercise through a friend who was sick of me complaining about how fat I was going to look in my wedding dress and I gave her the same reaction that you probably have right now and that I get from a lot of people: “What? No way am I sweating with ladies wearing leg warmers clapping their hands to soft jazz hits of the 1980s…” Well, I’m glad I finally joined her for class one day because I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Jazzercise that I thought I knew is not what Jazzercise is today. Every week there are new dance routines from Top 40 artists like Pitbull, Britney Spears and Meghan Trainor. In a one hour Jazzercise Dance Mixx class you get a total body workout and it’s fun!

As my instructor, Jane Luco, who has been a Jazzercise instructor for 35 years in the Houston Heights explained, “Jazzercise works all your muscles in all directions, strengthens your flexibility, improves your coordination, works your brain, relieves stress and builds brain cells because you are learning on your feet.” Even though I didn’t know what I was doing at the beginning, I was able to relax and laugh at Jane’s sharp humor, which helped me forget that I was even exercising!

Just like I tell all of my friends, I encourage you to try a Jazzercise class. In my opinion, it is a workout that nearly anyone can do and have fun with! It’s easy to walk into your first Jazzercise because there’s no intimidating equipment or judgment from others. You may feel like the new kid, but everyone was the new kid at one point so you’ll be met with encouragement and support. To prove this, I invited my teammates from the Camden Marketing Team to join me for a class. Every one of the girls that went had a blast and felt so welcomed by the group. They also felt their sore muscles the next day…

Posing before our workout

Posing before our workout

In case this article didn’t convince you that Jazzercise might be the workout for you, then check out this video! After you try Jazzercise for yourself, then comment on this post and let us know what you thought.

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DIY and Creative Solutions to Overcome a Tricky Floor Plan

Each Camden property throughout the nation has unique floor plans. Have you ever come across the floor plan that is a fantastic price, but there is something about the floor plan that scares you? Maybe there are angled walls in the bedroom, or perhaps your bedroom does not have a door? As a Leasing Consultant, I try my best to paint the picture of how to decorate a floor plan that may seem like a challenge at first sight, but in reality is the perfect apartment. As hard as I try, sometimes you just need to see a furnished apartment to see how it will work out.

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Lyndsay’s floor plan

At Camden Fairfax Corner, we have over 70 floor plans. Each one has a characteristic that makes them special. From our 650 square foot studios to our 1488 square foot 3 bedrooms, we have floor plans that work with every lifestyle, and every piece of furniture. There are a few apartments that at first glance seem like a challenge, but I see them as an opportunity for creativity.

Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

How to keep your apartment mostly clean most of the time

Keeping my home clean is a constant struggle. Should I do it all on the weekend? Should I clean one room each day? Here are a few tips on how to keep your apartment mostly clean most of the time, so you don’t feel like you’re living in a mess.

Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

Make your bed

Your mom always said it and she was right – you should make your bed. It’s an important task because it helps you feel like you’ve accomplished something, no matter how small, and that there is at least one thing in your house that is neat and orderly.

Photo courtesy of animal-kid.com

Photo courtesy of animal-kid.com

 

Vacuum frequently (or get a Roomba!)

I have to admit that I HATE vacuuming, but I do it all the time because I can’t imagine walking on dirt in my house. My solution? A Roomba. I LOVE my Roomba. I can literally vacuum my whole apartment while I’m cooking dinner. Who doesn’t love multitasking? Plus you might be able to coax your cat to ride it around the apartment.

Photo courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Photo courtesy of keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

 

Always do your dishes

Doing the dishes has got be my least favorite chore. Walking in the kitchen and seeing a sink full of dishes is one of the most disheartening feelings. If you just wash the few dishes you have each day, there won’t be that feeling of dread when they’ve piled up.

Photo courtesy of purecleaners.com

Photo courtesy of purecleaners.com

 

Keep the laundry moving

I used to only do the laundry on weekends, but that made it an all-day task. It’s so much easier to rotate the laundry loads each day. You will always have more available clothes on hand and you’ll never feel like you can’t leave the house for all the laundry you need to do.

Hopefully these tips will help you to keep your Camden apartment mostly clean most of the time. These are just some easy tips that will hopefully free up your weekend and keep your stress to a minimum.

Story Behind the King Cake at Mardi Gras

Have you ever wondered what the story is behind the King Cake that is served during Mardi Gras?

The Mardi Gras or Carnival season officially begins on January 6th or the “Twelfth Night,” also known to Christians as the “Epiphany.” Epiphany comes from a Greek word that means “to show.” Jesus first showed himself to the three wisemen and to the world on this day. As a symbol of this Holy Day, a tiny plastic baby is placed inside each King Cake.

King Cake Photo courtesy of: www.bettycrocker.com

King Cake- photo courtesy of: http://www.bettycrocker.com

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans from France in 1870. A King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy, crossed between a coffee cake and a French pastry that is as rich in history as it is in flavor. It’s decorated in royal colors of PURPLE which signifies “Justice,” GREEN for “Faith,” and GOLD for “Power.” These colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany. In the past such things as coins, beans, pecans, or peas were also hidden in each King Cake.

Today, a tiny plastic baby is the common prize. At a party, the King Cake is sliced and served. Each person looks to see if their piece contains the “baby.” If so, then that person is named “King” for a day and bound by custom to host the next party and provide the King Cake.

Mardi Gras Day has a moveable date and may occur on any Tuesday from February 3rd to March 9th. It is always the day before Ash Wednesday, and always falls 46 days before Easter.

Information provided by: Manny Randazzo King Cakes

Interested in making a King Cake? Click Here!

Paying it Forward

I wanted to share a story about one of Camden Main & Jamboree’s own, Otto Ruano. Otto has been with us for 7 years. He is one of the most humble, genuine, hard-working people I’ve ever met. When Otto is not at work he is helping others through his church and at an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico.otto5

 In 2007 a church member took Otto down to Casa Hogar Ebenb-Ezer, an orphanage, and immediately Otto and his wife wanted to be more involved and help out. Casa Hogar has 30 children ranging from 3-18 years of age and 6 full-time staff members. All the school-age children attend school so they have the opportunity to attend the University in Mexico. When you turn 18 you have a choice to go to the University and stay at the orphanage or if you don’t attend the University you have to leave. The young adults who do attend the University also help out with the smaller children.  The schools are a fairly long distance from the orphanage and on un-safe streets so Otto donated a van so the children would stay safe and away from the corrupt streets.otto4 Continue reading

It’s ALWAYS Valentine’s Day

Ahhh love is in the air!

LOVE

LOVE

 

One of my favorite holidays is Valentinus’s Day!   I know.. I know “It’s not a holiday, Danielle!” But I really love-LOVE! The candy, the beautiful color scheme (pink and white) and hearts everywhere!  Everyone should feel extra LOVE on this day!  Don’t worry its ok if you do not have a significant other to share this Hallmark holiday with; I am going to give you some non-Valentine’s Day activities. There are so many other fun activities you can take part in, without feeling left out.

  1. Visit a local pet shelter! Who doesn’t want a cuddle or snuggle from a furry companion? The best part about visiting a pet shelter are the animals will enjoy the time spent with them as much as much as  you enjoy the seeing those wagging tails when you open their cage. Hey, maybe you can take one home! Many of our Camden communities are pet friendly!
  2. Visit a local nursing home! Many of our “seasoned” citizens love to get visitors! This time of year I am sure most of the adults in the Active Living homes would love to speak with someone young and spunky!  I am certain most of the residents in those homes are pretty spunky themselves! Nothing would make their Valentine’s Day better then to see a new face.
  3. Make it a Girls Night/ Guys Night Out! During my college days; the best times were hanging out with my girlfriends! Watching our favorite romantic movies and eating all the chocolate with no guilt! I know most guys would rather spend that time talking sports; so maybe go to a basketball game or the local sports bar.

As long as February 14th is spent with the people you care and love- that is all that matters. Many of our Camden communities have been showering our residents with love too! Hey, what can we say, we LOVE our residents!

 

Camden Paces sending some LOVE to their residents!

Camden Paces sending some LOVE to their residents!

 

 

 

The ideal places for Valentine’s Day in Las Vegas

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching; if you haven’t already decided where to go then you’re already behind! Valentine’s Day is known for chocolates, roses, and love. This is the one day of the year you really have to show the one you love romance! I am here to help guide you in the right direction on where to take that special someone. If this is your first Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, or the day you choose to propose, I have you covered on the place.

First Valentine’s Day

image courtesy of  googel

image courtesy of Google

So this is your first Valentine’s Day and you want to impress. Giada at The Cromwell is one of those restaurants that fulfill just that! You’ll get amazing Italian cuisine, great cocktails, delicious desserts and a beautiful view of the Bellagio Fountains and the Strip. Just make sure to ask for a table by the window!

The Proposal

Image courtesy of Google

Image courtesy of Google

Everyone knows Paris is one of the most romantic cities in the world, so taking your date to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris. Located eleven stories above the Strip, the restaurant serves gourmet French food with a view of the city’s lights below. You can customize your own proposal package to include everything from a seasonal tasting menu from the chef to a special window table, pick from a bottle of wine or Champagne, and you can’t forget the flowers and photos. You can even pick a special dessert that can house an engagement ring. If that’s not a proposal on Valentine’s Day, I don’t know what is!

The Anniversary

Image Courtesy of Google

Image Courtesy of Google

So now it’s your anniversary on Valentine’s Day which means your spouse has put up with your quirks for long enough, so it’s time to show them some love and appreciation.  The place to go for your anniversary in Las Vegas is Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand. Robuchon, known as the “Chef of the Century,” serves a six-course or a 16-course menu at his sophisticated restaurant. Over the course of the meal you will not only indulge in gourmet food, you will also enjoy a bread cart, cheese cart and a dessert cart at the end of your meal. This place will be sure to impress your sweetheart for years to come!

Of course if any of these restaurants are just a little out of your price rage you can always enjoy a romantic homemade dinner in the comfort of your Camden home!