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I’m not much of a chef. In fact, the only thing I’ve really perfected cooking in my lifetime is spaghetti, until now! I found an amazing recipe online and it was so delicious and easy I wanted to share! This ravioli paired with a little garlic bread and salad is simply to DIE for!

The great thing about this particular recipe is, if you don’t like or eat meat, you can use cheese-stuffed ravioli pockets and make it a vegetarian meal! How awesome is that?! Just a reminder, if cooking for a vegetarian, opt for a regular tomato sauce, rather than marinara. Only 3 ingredients and a 45 minutes to bake, how can you go wrong with this recipe? Oh, that’s right, you can’t.  Check it out!

Ingredients

You can purchase all of these ingredients at your local grocery store

1 bag (25 Oz. Bag) Frozen Ravioli

1 jar (26 Oz. Jar) Marinara Sauce

2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Parmesan Cheese, For Sprinkling

Preparation

Heat oven to 400°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 9×13 rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread 3/4 cup of the pasta sauce in baking dish. Arrange half of the frozen ravioli in a single layer over the sauce; top with half of the remaining pasta sauce and half of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once, starting with ravioli. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly and hot in the center. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Baked Ravioli

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As a Camden employee the perks seem to be endless. Working in the prominent neighborhood of Buckhead at our Camden Phipps and Camden Paces locations surely have their perks.  My meat-eating life was changed, when our team received a VIP invite to the Grand Opening of  wine and burger bar, Zinburger.

Tiny Delciousness

The Samburger, Chinese Chicken salad, and Zingria

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road trip

 

 

The summer is time for road trips and adventures!

 It’s crucial to make sure you’re prepared, you don’t want to be 2 hrs from a gas station without water or snacks, nor do you want to be without a pair of sunglasses when hiking that trail.

  1. A Pair of Sunglasses
  2. Wet Wipes
  3. Small Cooler for Water and Snacks
  4. First Aid Kit
  5. Pocket Knife
  6. Cash
  7. Travel Bag <— Who needs a bulky suitcase for a weekend getaway?
  8. Reusable Water Bottle
  9. Neck Pillow
  10. Car Charger

Now, head out on that open road and explore! Check out these 12 Best Weekend Getaways from US News.

 

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HikerzAZDUST2

A large dust storm rolled in early July 2014 through Phoenix. Photo courtesy of @Hikeaz vis Instagram.

If you have traveled through the southwest United States between June 15th and September 30th you may have experienced monsoon season. According to www.ArizonaExperience.org a monsoon is caused by warm air creating surface low pressure zones that in turn draw moist air from the oceans. Arizona winds usually come from the west, but shift to a southeasterly wind in the summer, bringing moisture, most often from the Gulfs of Mexico and California. The wind shift and increase in moisture combine with the surface low pressure from the desert heat to produce storms in a cycle of “bursts” (heavy rainfall) and “breaks” (reduced rainfall). Before the rain, the wind shift can trigger dust storms known as haboobs, which appear as loose swirling walls of dust several hundred feet high. The word monsoon is derived from the Arabic word mausin meaning “wind” or “season”.

I am originally from Colorado and had never experienced a weather pattern quite like a monsoon. One of my favorite parts of the monsoon season are all the amazing sunrises and sunsets you can capture. Besides the beautiful skies during monsoon season Arizonans also get relief from the heat due to all the rain received.

 

Monsoonclouds

Here is a monsoon storm that I photographed in Tucson.

Even though I find monsoon season to be beautiful there are many dangers that come with the monsoon. When the winds pick up during a storm across the desert a dust storm usually begins to roll in. It can happen within minutes and does not always allow enough time to seek shelter. Fortunately a severe weather alert will most likely come through on your cell phone to give you a warning. If you are in an area that does not allow you to find shelter these are the recommended safety precautions to take according to the National Weather Service:

-If dense dust is observed blowing across or approaching a roadway, pull your vehicle off the pavement as far as possible, stop, turn off lights, set the emergency brake, take your foot off of the brake pedal to be sure the tail lights are not illuminated.

-Don’t enter the dust storm area if you can avoid it.

-If you can’t pull off the roadway, proceed at a speed suitable for visibility, turn on lights and sound horn occasionally. Use the painted center line to help guide you. Look for a safe place to pull off the roadway.

-Never stop on the traveled portion of the roadway.

-Turn off your headlights! In the past, motorists driving in dust storms have pulled off the roadway, leaving lights on. Vehicles approaching from the rear and using the advance car’s lights as a guide have inadvertently left the roadway and in some instances collided with the parked vehicle. Make sure all of your lights are off when you park off the roadway.

-During threatening weather listen to commercial radio or television or NOAA Weather Radio for Dust Storm Warnings. A Dust Storm (or Sand Storm) Warning means: Visibility of 1/2 mile or less due to blowing dust or sand, and wind speeds of 30 miles an hour or more.

Besides the potential danger monsoon season poses to motorist, it can also be dangerous for pets. Scottsdale Animal Healthcare’s Dr. Casuccio recently did an interview on ways to keep your pets safe during the monsoon season. Knowing the risks the storms can cause your pet may help save their lives. Click here to see what Dr. Casuccio has to say.

For all the ways to stay safe during monsoon season visit www.monsoonsafety.com .

HikerzAZDUST

The beauty of a dust storm captured by @Hikeraz via Instagram.

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photo provided by thepetwiki.com

photo provided by thepetwiki.com

Summer is in full swing and so is the heat! The hottest months of the summer season are now upon us and we are feeling the temperature rising! I know that we all love summer and the ability to get out and enjoy the outdoors with our friends and family, but it is important to remember our pets during this time. Summer temperatures can prove to be uncomfortable for ourselves but it can also be just as uncomfortable for our pets as well. Many of the same effects that external temperatures play on our bodies will impact pets as well. Their bodies do not respond to heat the same as our bodies do so it is important to remember a few safety tips when it comes to protecting your four-legged friends this summer season.

Never Leave Your Pet in A Parked Car. On warm summer days the heat held within a vehicle can climb up to dangerously high temperature levels. Within 10 minutes inside of a car with the windows open can raise the temperature inside the car up to 20 degrees!Within 30 minutes it can be up to a 40 degree temperature difference than it is outside. And this is with a widow open…. can you imagine the temperature difference if the windows were rolled up? A minimum 20 degree temp spike on top of the sweltering heat we are already enduring can be tragic for a pet trapped inside. Leaving your pet in this environment can easily lead to organ failures, dehydration, heat stroke, and possibly death.

Fans Are NOT a Solution. We all work to keep our electric bill as low as possible during these hot summer months. None of us look forward to the utility bills that come along with trying to keep us cool during the heat. Often times we will rely on fans to help cool the area so we can turn our thermostats up. It is important to remember that fans do not cool pets as effectively as they do humans. Dogs release their heat, or sweat, from their feet therefore making fans less effective in cooling them down. I am not telling you to crank your AC down to 70 to keep your pets nice and cool and soar your electric bill up; however, I just wanted to make you aware that if you are relying on fans to keep the area cooler then you may want to consider another option for your pet in keeping them cool.

fandog

Exercise. When exercising your pet this summer try to limit your activities to the morning or the evenings when the temperature is cooler rather than during the extreme heat of the day. Make sure that the activity you have planned is in accordance with the temperatures of that day. During your outdoor summer activity make sure you have water for your pets to keep them the cool and hydrated to prevent a heat stroke.

photo provided by saragingerich.com

photo provided by saragingerich.com

Humidity. Although it is easy for us to look at a number to determine how “hot” it will be that day, however, it is important to consider the humidity levels as well. Humidity can affect your pet just as much as the temperature can. According to Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD of the Human Society Veterinary Medical Association, “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperatures will skyrocket to dangerous levels.” There are several parts of the US where humidity levels are a huge concern for pets. It is important to remember to consider humidity levels along with the temperature when you plan outdoor activities for you pets.

Shade and Fresh Water are a Must. Pets need to be able to get out of the direct heat. Allowing them the ability to get out of the sun and into shade is very important to prevent them from getting too hot. Shade trees, a tarp that they can get under, a covered porch are great ways for outdoor pets to get a break from the heat. When possible, especially on extremely hot days, it is recommended that pets be brought inside to keep them cool. A dog is house is not an acceptable form of shade! Dog houses trap heat much like a car does making the temperature soar. It is also important for pets to have access to fresh water through the day to keep them cool and keep them from getting dehydrated. Make sure to check their water bowl throughout the day to make sure they have plenty water available to them.

Heat Stoke is one of the biggest concerns for pets that are exposed to extreme summer temperatures. If you think your pet may be suffering from a heat stroke take them to vet immediately! Some signs and symptoms of a heat stroke include rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, vomiting, deep red or purple tongue, dizziness, and fever. If you see any of these signs your pet may be suffering from a heat stroke and needs medical attention as soon as possible.

I hope that you and your pets enjoy your summer season! We all love the summer months because it gives us the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy fresh air, warm sun on our bodies, and the fresh scent of flowers, grass, and trees. I know your pets do as well and we want to keep them safe for many more summers to come. You can get more pet safety tips at www.humanesocity.org. After your day of funfilled summer activities we want to welcome you home to your pet friendly apartment home at www.camdenliving.com!

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There is this challenge circulating the globe. It is called the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Perhaps you have you have heard of it or noticed some of your friends on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter participating in this 100 Happy Days Challenge. If you did notice it, did you know that it is an actual honest to goodness challenge? That it isn’t just some hashtagging thing where you post photos all willy nilly each day? It is completely legit and has a true purpose. The website is www.100happydays.com.  Here’s the skinny. You sign up on the website, create your own hashtag and get to posting. You take one thing out of your life each day, take a photo of it and then post your little piece of happiness. Everyone from the you’s and me’s of the world to celebrities are doing it. Even The Today Show just accepted the 100 Happy Days Challenge.

Here is why this is such an epic and important challenge…

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Nothing multiplies faster than my household laundry! At least one, out of my two days off during the week is spent doing from between 6 – 7 loads; mostly from my husbands hamper. When I look at all the stains on his clothes, I often wonder how he stays fed. Because it seems that his lunch misses his mouth and ends up on his dress shirts and slacks! Stains happen of course; I just wish (more…)

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Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 9.24.36 AMOur population is addicted to reviews.  Yelp, Google, Angie’s List and Amazon are all heavy hitters that affect business or product reputations. Apartment hunting is no exception.
As with any business, an online apartment review is only part of the equation.  Camden has an entire site dedicated to the interaction between our customers and the results achieved by sincere feedback. This page is called Voice of the Customer. Our best ideas, amenities and policies are born from feedback from our customers.  Reviews offer transparency to a small portion of their reputation.  It often deserves a better look.
Things to Consider:
  • Apartment quality, price and experience can vary greatly in any market.
  • People are far more likely to voice their opinion in the heat of a bad experience, misunderstanding or irritation. Since reviews can be written in the moment, the problem may be resolved and the reviewer may not have been able to log in to change his/her opinion. Have you ever signed up for an emailed newsletter and could never figure out how to un-subscribe because you couldn’t remember the log-in credentials?
  • Unlike Amazon,  apartment ratings have historically been based on bad reviews from people searching out places to voice their frustration.  Only in the last couple of years have rental companies sought out reviews and asked for public feedback.
  • No one will ever live anywhere without having problems of some sort. Homeowners deal with many of the same problems renters have.  Repair delays can be a reality in the best places to live.  Quirks, unavailable parts and similar repair situations can be as frustrating for the owner/manager, a homeowner or a renter all the same.
Apartment rating sites can also be a great source of good information when apartment hunting.   Look at the overall experience throughout all of the reviews.   When looking at reviews try to consider the reasoning behind the review.  People expect to be happy with their rental experience therefore they don’t feel obligated to report an expected experience.  People sometimes complain and focus on things that are very typical for multi-family living:  parking is insufficient, noise can be heard from other apartments, they have bugs on their patio and their rent went up. Other times, people can be angry because they were charged a late fee, had an unauthorized pet, occupant, or liked to grill on their balcony.
Who writes the reviews on apartments?
  • People who have been asked to rate them.
  • People who are angry about an outcome they can’t change.
  • Long-time customers who became aware of an outlandish negative review and wanted to set the record straight.
  • People with limited experience in apartments and housing responsibilities.
  • Someone experiencing unexpected regional differences in apartments (scorpions in the desert, large water bug in the south).
  • Someone angry about something else in their life.
  • Someone having a bad experience.
  • Someone who has been ignored or invalidated by the staff.
  • Someone who tried to be reasonable but had one too many bad experiences.

review wordsSome signs the apartment review might be emotionally charged and could be biased:

  • The reviewer names people in an inappropriate manner. “The manager (named) needs to get a life”.
  • The reviewer has a laundry list of complaints. This can indicate they are unloading anything and everything.
  • The reviewer talks about how long they have lived there and for some reason they are now mad about something. ” I have lived here three years and the new management company is terrible”. It could mean the new management is enforcing a rule that had not been enforced previously.
  • The story cannot be confirmed. Crime can usually be confirmed online or by inquiring with the police department.
  • Security deposit complaints and rental rate increases are often the most debated issue.
  • A lone review (good or bad) without any other corroborating experiences.
Other Resources:
  • Local news station online. Search the name of the community to see what comes up. 
  • Social media:  It’s a good sign when you visit a Facebook page for a community and see a consistent amount of posts, resident functions, various communications and equal involvement by customers or vendors.  It often means management is focused on people and communication. You might see post about resident functions followed up with photos from that event. You might even see communications to the residents about dates and times of pest control or water being turned off on a building at a specific time. 
Do your own review when you visit an apartment community.
  • Are common areas clean?
  • Are the lawns and common area flower beds neatly manicured?
  • In the winter months is the pool kept clean and free of fallen leaves? This could tell a lot about the mind-set of the maintenance team. Be more forgiving if there are seasonal trees surrounding the pool.
  • Call first to gauge their phone mannerisms.  See if they invite you for a visit.
  • Consider engaging in conversation with current customers.
  • If you are interested in a community as a serious contender, but see a post that is concerning, ask management about the review.  Start a dialogue to better understand how the communities respond to inquiries.

Never assume an apartment review is the whole story.  Even the best community could have a negative apartment review.  Use your best judgement when apartment hunting.  Do a little more digging when it seems like a good fit. Lastly, don’t let one persons opinion keep you from a great experience.

 

 

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Whether it is by choice or necessity, a lot of people these days are finding themselves living with someone else, i.e. a roommate. This someone else could be a friend, a family member, a bestie, a significant other, an acquaintance or yikes…a stranger. I have seen quite a few lease breaks in my day because roommates could not get along. And I’m not talking the “conscious uncoupling” kind of break-up like Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin made famous this year. I’m talking the dirty Hollywood divorce kind of break-up. I’ve heard and seen it all…from fights over cups left in the sink to the more serious things that ended with lock changes.

So how did they get there? What could have been done to prevent it? There are basics that everyone should know when living with a roommate and then there are the specifics depending upon who you are living with. Find out how to live drama-free with anyone by following some easy tips from an industry insider (me) as well as someone who has lived in most of these situations (yep. you guessed it. me, again).

Photo Courtesy : www.bubblews.com

Photo Courtesy : http://www.bubblews.com

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willow

Nice cool grass can be a relief to a warm pet in the summer heat. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Pigford

 

I love the Arizona heat but one thing that I don’t like is how restricting it can be for my dogs. With temperatures reaching over 110+ degrees it’s hard to think of ways to keep my dogs dog cool while getting them they daily activity they need. For safety it’s important to think about what activities you plan on doing with your pet in the summer. A visit to your vet to know your pets health and health risks prior to the summer heat is helpful. Learn potential risks to your pet for the area of which you live; some dogs are prone to sunburns, some breeds can overheat faster than other dogs. It’s important to make sure your pet is up to date with their shots. If you have planned vacations with your pet make sure you have the proper vaccinations. I like to take my dogs hiking and I want to take them swimming at the lake, my vet let me know there are certain vaccinations recommended for dogs who do those types of activities.

-If you want your dogs to be able to get physical activity try taking them to the dog park or for a walk before 7:00 am or after 8:00 pm. Many Camden communities have dogs parks as well.  Always remember if it feels too hot for you than it’s probably too hot for them. Learn the signs for overheating so that you can monitor their activity.

My dogs Dug and Sophie having a playdate with their friend Sophie at the dog park. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Pigford

My dogs Dug and Sophie having a playdate with their friend Sophie at the dog park.
Photo courtesy of Ashlee Pigford

-Doggy daycare is a great resource to allow your pet to socialize with other dogs and allows them to have supervision while playing. I send my dogs to Camp Bow Wow or Pete & Macs in Arizona. I went to Yelp and asked other dog owners recommendations for doggy camps. The dogs come home exhausted and I have a worry free day knowing they are not cooped up in the house or burning up in the heat outside.

- I test the ground outside with my bare foot to see if it’s cool enough for my dog. Their paws are similar to the skin on our feet so you can get a pretty good idea if it’s too hot. Burned pet paws are painful and can get infected. One option you can try if you dog will let you is paw protector shoes. They are adorable shoes that fit over your dog’s paws and prevent them from burning but they do take a minute to put on and some dogs do not know how to walk in them. They are sold at most pet stores and come in all kinds of colors and sizes.

- Make sure your pet is hydrated all day long. Having enough water is very important all year long but especially in the summer months. Last summer I felt like my dog was not eating but was drinking a lot of water, my vet told me that sometimes dogs will drink more than they will eat when its warmer out. To make sure my dogs stay hydrated this summer I bought them a bag a of ice before the dog park. The love the ice and by the time we are done at the park the ice is chilled water which they finish off. Pet popsicles are also a great way to keep them cool, Pinterest has a ton of recipes.

-Never leave your dog in the car! Windows down, and just a quick second can be dangerous to your pet and it is not worth it. If I want my dogs to run errands with me I try to avoid it during the hot times of the day and I make sure I have someone to stay in the car with them with the A/C on.

Follow these tips and check with your vet to see more ways to keep your pet safe.

Cheers,

Ashlee

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