Fun and Cheap DIY Halloween Projects!

My favorite time of the year is upon us! I know I am not alone when I say I LOVE fall weather! It is a nice welcome from the hot and humid summer heat and it brings cooler temps and changing leaves. One of the things I love so much about fall season is the decorating! I enjoy bringing out the pumpkins, and leaves, and acorns. It is the official start to decorating season in my house and I look forward to it each and every year.

To kick off the decorating season is Halloween! Scary? Fun? Contemporary? The choice is yours! The possibilities are endless as you prepare to decorate your Camden home for the Halloween season. An even better part about decorating for his fun holiday is that there are several ways that you can decorate inexpensively and you can do it yourself! A DIY project with your family or friends is a great way to customize your projects and make them fun and original. I have a set of crafty boys at my house so we do all sorts of fun projects and set their finished products all over the home for all to enjoy. Not sure where to start? Try some of these ideas and I am sure your wheels will start spinning!

Coffee Cans/ Canned Foods:
Most of us are coffee drinkers. Keep your empty metal coffee cans because they are great to use in projects. You can use these in several ways. Take a metal coffee can and paint it a color of your choice. I typically pick black but feel free to use which ever colors fits your personality and décor. My boys will paint them black and then the real fun begins! They decorate them to look like scary monsters or witches or black cats for the season. You can glue eyes to the can to create part of the face. Construction paper or paint can be used to create the mouth or nose or warts or whatever you want to add to the can. Pipe cleaners are great additions as well because they can serve as arms, ears, horns, tails, etc. Want more of a 3D affect? Styrofoam balls are great additions to projects! They can be painted numerous colors and simply glued on to the can to give you the look you are after. Once you have painted the can and added all of your fun additions step back and look at your customized product that you created! These are cheap, cute, and personalized to decorate your home with!


The same principal with the coffee cans can be applied to canned food. These are smaller cans so they are perfect for adding small touches throughout the house. One of my favorite projects that I completed with the canned food is my letter cans! My boys painted the cans either solid black or solid orange. They cut out letters with either orange or black construction paper. We hammered small pin holes throughout the can. Once that was completed we glued letters to each individual can. The black cans received orange letters and the orange cans received black letters. My boys choose the word “Spooky” to spell out but you can choose whatever word you choose! Place a battery operated tea light in them and it is complete! You can add ribbon or other decoration to personalize even more if you choose. These cans line my fireplace mantel during Halloween. It is super cute with the dancing flames from the tea light and the best part is my boys created it themselves to add to our home holiday decor.

Milk Cartons:
Do you go through milk at your homes like I do at mine? I am always buying a gallon of milk! Recycle those empty milk cartons and use them in your Halloween decorations. They make perfect ghosts. Clean out your milk carton, use a black Sharpe marker to draw the eyes and the mouth, insert a battery operated tea light or clear Christmas light strands and you now have ghosts! Yes, it really is that simple



One of the easiest things to bring into the home to decorate and no it doesn’t have to be carved! The common misconception is that pumpkins have to be carved. That is false and in fact there are a number of ways to decorate a Halloween pumpkin without carving it! And you pick the size, color, and shape of the pumpkin you want to use! Use Halloween ribbon and tie a large bow at the top of the pumpkin and wallah! You have a decorated pumpkin! Want a little more than just ribbon? You can use glitter, buttons, stones, etc. to spell out words on your pumpkin. Spelling to the word “Boo” or “Spooky” with some fun stones and decorative ribbon makes for a cute pumpkin that fits right into the holiday season. My kids paint scary and happy faces on their pumpkins and they are creative and personalized. They each decorate their very own and are eager to show it off and for it to be on display. It is a fun project that they enjoy and its quality time spent together.



Decorating your home for any holiday does not have to be super expensive. There are several projects that you can do using things you already have to create your own decor that fits the personalities of your home! Perhaps you prefer to just decorate for fall so that it carries you through Thanksgiving! Here are some great tips to get you started into the fall season! Look around your home and let your imagination go wild. Wine bottles, paper grocery sacks, empty jars, old sheets, etc can all be transformed into fun holiday decoration.I am sure you will find all sorts of things you can use to make your beautiful Camden home holiday perfect!

Camden Cares – Tampa, FL – Paying it Forward at it’s Finest!

Helping the homeless, making paracord bracelets for our troops overseas, welcoming our veterans home
from an honor flight to DC… These are just a few ways that Camden employees volunteer to show our love and support for the community we live in. What I’m talking about is Camden Cares, a yearly nationwide effort. We’re more than just a community: we’re family!


The most recent Camden Cares event in Tampa, Florida where we helped paint the interior of the Starting Right Now campus, which is a program that meets the needs of the growing population of homeless families and children in Hillsborough County.

This was an extremely heartwarming event not only because of the bonds we made with our community and each other, but also because it was our second time helping Starting Right Now. Last year we helped paint the exterior of the campus and we also got down and dirty with some landscaping. We pulled weeds, cut branches from fences, we raked, and we planted. We poured our StartingRightNowLogoCamden blood, sweat, and tears into this incredible project.

We’re helping our community and we’re helping each other. We’re doing great things and we’re giving back to those who have given so much to us! When you do great things, great things begin to happen everywhere. It’s like a contagious happiness!

CamdenCares 2015-2

Keep following our blog to learn more about what Camden Cares is all about and to learn what we have planned for upcoming volunteer events – Because I’m happy!

#CamdenCares #CamdenHappy

September is Hunger Action Month

I recently had the opportunity to do some volunteer work. I have always wanted to help around in the community but always used the excuse that I didn’t have time, didn’t know where to start, and so on. I attend a large church, Church By The Glades, in Coral Springs, FL and they hosted a volunteering event throughout South FL with 1300+ volunteers coming together to make a big difference in one afternoon. This was a great opportunity and I didn’t want to miss out. There were so many options to choose from, and I decided to help at Feeding South Florida. They are the leading domestic hunger relief organization in South Florida, and together they rescue and distribute over 40 million pounds of food throughout the 4 South Florida counties- Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, and Monroe. It’s very exciting for me to think that we have so many Miami Camden Properties throughout these areas. I actually drove past Camden Plantation and Camden Portofino on my way there!

Can you tell that I was so excited to be a part of this great event?

Can you tell that I was so excited to be a part of this great event?

There were 2 time slots, and having a 2 year old, my husband and I couldn’t volunteer together, so he took the morning shift, and I took the afternoon shift. When I got there, they had us meet up in a conference room where they showed us a video with some helpful facts and chatted about the different roles and split us up into groups -inspectors, sorters, and distribution . I was a part of the inspection team. We would gather foods donated from retail and local growers, and make sure that the food did not over exceed the shelf life, and was safe and healthy enough to eat.


We had over 100 volunteers in this group pic. Photo courtesy of Church By The Glades instagram.

We had over 100 volunteers in this group pic.
Photo courtesy of Church By The Glades instagram.

Being that I work for, Camden, a company that values teamwork and having fun, I am very comfortable with a little friendly competition. They told us at the beginning that the Morning Team sorted through 21,000 pounds of food, at the end of our shift we were told we sorted 23,000 pounds. It’s always fun to brag or “win” but when you are doing a good deed and know how many people you are helping, it makes it all worth it.

My experience with Feeding South Florida was truly a memorable and rewarding one and I am looking forward to working with them again in the near future. I enjoyed this experience so much so, that I’m looking forward to October 7th, as I will be helping out at our Camden Cares volunteer event along with my fellow co-workers. I can’t wait for you to read about our experiences there.

I would suggest everyone volunteer at some point in their lives. Get involved, get out there and do something good for others, I promise it will make you feel good about yourself too!

Where’s the Cake? Fluff Bake Bar!

Birthday Cake - funfetti cake, vanilla buttercream frosting, cake crumble and and sprinkles on top. Photo courtesy of http://fluffbakebar.com/thegoods/

Birthday Cake – funfetti cake, vanilla buttercream frosting, cake crumble and and sprinkles on top. Photo courtesy of http://fluffbakebar.com/thegoods/

Recently I went to a birthday party with a friend of mine. The cake came out with the typical candles on it as we sang “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl, but as I glanced at the cake I noticed this was no ordinary birthday cake. It was a 3 layered vanilla buttercream funfetti cake with sprinkles and crunchy bits on top! It was a cake that just made you smile from ear to ear before even trying it! This was no store bought cake. This had to be an expensive cake from a bakery I had never been to.

So of course I asked, “Where did you get that cake?” The birthday girl said, “Fluff Bake Bar. It has only been open for a few months.” Well no wonder! Here in Houston, when a new restaurant or bakery opens word travels fast…especially if it’s good. Once I got my hands on a slice and took the first bite, I was transported back to my childhood. There was something so familiar about this cake! It was moist but at the same time had a little crispy crunch, and the frosting was creamy sweet buttercream goodness. I couldn’t believe how yummy it actually was!

Rebecca Masson - Fluff Bake Bar owner and chef. Photo courtesy of http://fluffbakebar.com/contact/
Rebecca Masson – Fluff Bake Bar owner and chef. Photo courtesy of http://fluffbakebar.com/contact/

While researching this new local bakery, I found out the owner of Fluff Bake Bar, Rebecca Masson, is an award-winning pastry chef who went to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France for culinary school! She also competed on Top Chef: Just Desserts, didn’t win, but made Houston proud even with a pink cast on her left arm! She has made quite a reputation for herself in the pastry world, and is even “a highly sought consultant creating signature dessert menus for the top tier of Houston restaurants, including, Vic & Anthony’s.” Rebecca also supports the Lucky Dog Rescue with various charity events! She is a pastry angel in my eyes, and I am going to be a long time customer of Fluff Bake Bar…no wonder she is known in Houston as “The Sugar Fairy.”

Veruca Salt
Veruca Salt

Being the foodie I am, I rushed over to Fluff Bake Bar with an excuse to get a cake! While I was in there I noticed all the other goodies they had in the glass display case. I was a kid in a candy store, or in this case, a cake store! In addition to their cakes, Fluff Bake Bar has different kinds of cookies and cakes, but my eyes were draw to something I had never seen before! Cute little 8 oz. clear cups which looked like mini versions of their cakes with a clear lid on top (great way to have a few bites and save the rest for later). It just so happens that’s what they call their “cup|cakes!” How genius!

Chocolate Chip Cookie, SOL - (their version of a moonpie), Cup|Cakes - Birthday Cake (vanilla), Carrot Cake , Black Velvet, and Birthday Cake (chocolate)

Chocolate Chip Cookie, SOL – (their version of a moonpie), Cup|Cakes – Birthday Cake (vanilla), Carrot Cake , Black Velvet, and Birthday Cake (chocolate)

I picked up the Veruca Salt cake along with a few cookies, and some cup|cakes (of course). The Veruca Salt was so yummy with devil’s food cake and a salted caramel buttercream frosting with some chocolate crunch pearls and pretzel toppings! The marriage of sweet, salty, and a little crunch most of us crave, on a plate! My dad had the carrot cup|cake and said it was one of the best carrot cakes he has ever had, and this is one picky man! I took a bite and fell in love with this cake…the moist carrot cake with half-baked cheesecake, candied carrot pieces, hazelnut crunch, and cookie-butter buttercream icing! I have no words for pastry chef Rebecca Masson for creating this amazing carrot cake!

If I lived at Camden Midtown, Travis St., or even City Centre I would be a regular at the Fluff Bake Bar, and by regular I mean daily visitor. However, Midtown isn’t that far from anyone in Houston, right? Run, don’t walk, over to the Fluff Bake Bar for a sweet treat today! I recommend taking home a little of everything! Can’t stroll over to the Fluff Bake Bar? Well why not place an order online or by phone and pick it up later…I’m placing an order right now!

No Label

No Label What?

Once there was this little town in Texas named Katy. Sure, it is a nice place to live and raise a family- just ask some of our friends who live at Camden Downs at Cinco Ranch or Camden Grand Harbor. Katy has award winning schools with great high school sports teams that we watch on Friday nights- “Go Tigers!” (sorry, my hubby played varsity basketball for the Tigers). Aside from all of that, did you know that it is also the home of the craft brewery, No Label Brewing Company?

I discovered No Label beer one Friday night, while out to dinner with my hubby. We decided to be adventuresome and tried “No Label Brewing Company” beer. It was good! When I got home that night, I Googled “No Label Brewing Company” (ok, so that’s just what I do). I didn’t realize that they had brewed the beer literally right down the street from where we were eating dinner. Pretty cool!

No Label Brewing Company’s brewery is located deep in the heart of Katy on First Street. According to their website, the idea for the brewery blossomed out of the Royo family’s love of creating homemade craft beers back in 2009. Luckily for us, No Label supplies us with 5 year-round brews ranging from pale ales, a German Hefeweizen, to my personal favorite, a dark amber ale. In addition to these, they also produce many seasonal ales with local additives ranging from jalapenos to lavender. For those of us who live locally, we can purchase their beer at local grocery chains and Spec’s. I just sampled their “What the Hatch” ale last week at HEB. Guess what that contains…Hatch green chiles. YUM!No Label

In addition to many community events, No Label Brewing Company offers weekly tastings at their brewery just about every Saturday afternoon. As you drive towards downtown Katy, you cannot miss it. All you need is to bring a chair and, for $10, sample up to 4 beers while enjoying live music and local bands or the football game on television. They, also, enlist local food vendors to join in the fun or you can bring your own snacks. Kids and pets are also welcome.

If you are looking for a place to hangout on a Saturday and are in the area, go give No Label Brewing Company a try. It makes for a fun Saturday afternoon!


Don’t Miss Out on the Festival of Flavor

Ok, so I am going to let you in on a little secret….I am not a Texan. Ok, so I said it. As my Texan hubby would say, I am an honorary Texan or a Texan by default. I am a Colorado girl living in a Texan world. We call our kids “Texacos” because they are half Texan, half Coloradoans. I am sure you get my point, now.

Let’s get one thing straight, Texans know their Mexican food. Tex-mex is never better than it is in abundance in Texas. However, I grew up in the green chile belt aka the Southwest aka “not Texas.” Some people refer to the type of Mexican food that I grew-up eating as “mountain-mex.” One of the key components of mountain-mex is green chiles. There are two types of green chiles: Hatch and all others. We use these green chiles in stew, sauce, in cheeseburgers, eggs, and just about anything and everything else. Even McDonalds used to have a green chile cheeseburger.20150815_123028

To give you an abbreviated background on green chiles, there is this magical place in New Mexico, a little village named Hatch. These luscious green chiles grow there and were originally cultivated in the 1800s. According the the Village of Hatch’s website, Hatch is the self-proclaimed “Chile Capital of the World”. They are holding their annual green chile festival on Labor Day weekend. Only green chiles that grow in this region are allowed to be called Hatch green chiles.

During the month of August, in Houston, not only can you experience Houston Restaurant Weeks, but Hatch green chiles make their magical appearance everywhere. Hatch green chiles are harvested and angels deliver these bundles of green goodness to your local grocery store, farmers markets, restaurants, grandma, etc.

  • Stores such as Kroger, Central Market, HEB, Randalls all have Hatch green chiles both roasted or fresh chiles that are ready to roast available for purchase. Some of the stores even have celebrations here in Houston. Makes my heart happy! As a Colorado girl, it makes me teary eyed when I smell the roasters out in front of my local HEB and reminds me of home.
  • Grocery stores stock Hatch green chile items ranging from bacon, sausage, cheeseburgers, soup, and even macaroni and cheese.
  • Even Pappasitos sells a Hatch green chile margarita and has a special Hatch green chile menu . Chuy’s has an entire green chile menu, aside from their two types of green chile sauces on their regular menu.2015-08-17 09.01.27

Hey Camden residents, if you are lucky enough to live in Houston, go find you some Hatch green chiles. I promise that you won’t be disappointed!  Go and get you some!

Now, if I could only find some friends to try the Hatch green chile margarita with…

Welcoming Your Guests

“We’re about fifteen minutes away.” Music to my ears, when I am awaiting the arrival of a houseguest. It could be family, friends, or even a babysitting gig it doesn’t matter, I get pumped. I enjoy doing special things to make my houseguest feel welcomed and here are just a few tricks that make the experience memorable.

Beautiful nosh cheese plate, with fruit and pastrami.

Beautiful nosh cheese plate, with fruit and pastrami.

After a long day on the road or at the airport, your guest can work up quite the appetite. Providing some easy to manage small bites, is a great idea to knock the edge off before your dinner plans.

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Sleeping Beauty's Castle Disneyland

Apartments That Rival Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Okay, I am beyond lucky to live in Southern California and I know this. A lot of people across the country are dealing with cold temperatures, shoveling snow and I am running through Disneyland on a random Friday night in 70 degree weather. Did I mention it’s the middle of November? Disneyland is a travel destination for many. People visit from around the world to experience the park during the holiday season and it never disappoints. The amazing team at Disneyland decks out the park with lights, decorations and holiday music. It’s an incredible experience for people of all ages. There is so much to see and so much to do. You may even run into Pluto if you’re lucky.

Just hanging with Pluto...

Just hanging with Pluto…

Are you a little on the futuristic side like me? Tomorrowland has rides like Space Mountain, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue and the high-flying rocket ships, also known as Astro Orbitor. I recently got my friends to ride the rockets with me. This tends to be a ride for the little ones, but we owned it and had an amazing time. Yes, it felt a little weird waiting in line for a ride with no child in tow, but whatever. It’s okay to be a big kid sometimes, especially when you have friends that stand alongside you.

Is the Haunted Mansion more your style? What about Pirates of the Caribbean? Head over to New Orleans Square and chow down on some of the best Cajun cuisine in California. I recommend eating at Blue Bayou Restaurant. The Portobello Mushroom and Couscous Macque Choux is pretty amazing. Don’t forget to make a reservation. As one of the highest Yelp rated restaurants at the park, it’s not a secret and they get really busy.

I know you’re still a little full from the couscous, but now that you’re feeling like a kid again, let’s grab a churro and get a little adventurous. Race me to Adventureland, where we can climb Tarzan’s Treehouse™ or journey deep into the unknown thrills of the Indiana Jones™ Adventure. When you’re at Disneyland, your worries disappear and you feel like you’re ten years old again. Everything is magical and there is always a new adventure waiting just around the corner.

Imagine if you could experience this excitement all the time. What if you could live in California? Better yet, what if you could have an apartment that rivaled Sleeping Beauty’s Castle? Lucky for you, Camden has multiple apartment communities throughout Southern California. What’s that old saying? “Work hard, play harder.” Yeah, that tends to happen when you live thirty minutes from The Happiest Place on Earth. Our Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego apartments are ready for you. Are you ready to experience Southern California living? Having Disneyland in your backyard is pretty amazing. If you don’t live here yet, come visit. The weather is perfect and you’re bound to fall in love our amenities.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle - I'm an amazing photographer.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – I’m an amazing photographer.

I mentioned some of my favorite things, but please leave your favorite Disneyland ride or favorite thing about the park in the comment section. Share this post and remember that it’s okay to be a kid sometimes, even if it’s for a day, a weekend or a fun afternoon. You’re never too old for Disneyland.

Camden vs. Atlanta Falcons

The energy was very perceptible, as I rode into the VIP entrance of the Georgia Dome for the Atlanta Falcons versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game. The crowds paraded towards the dome, for what turned out to be a big win for the Atlanta Falcons. Even though attending a NFL football game is exciting, I was more excited about the opportunity to share the experience with my Camden family via my Twitter feed. Imagine if you will something big happening and you can’t wait to call your family to share. That’s how I feel, when I have the opportunity to experience super cool events  and the opportunity to represent the company I work for.

Lights, camera, action.

Lights, camera, action.

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The “School of Shopping” is in session!

back to school

Nationwide there is a sense of excitement as school begins, yet at the same time a feeling of sadness as summer comes to an end. With the memories of family vacations, summer blockbuster movies and sleepovers fresh in their mind, parents and children alike are preparing backpacks, uniforms and lunch boxes in anticipation of a great school year.

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