Dog Friendly Outings In Houston

This weekend is perfect for getting outside with your dog in Houston and there are plenty of places inside and outside the loop to explore together.  From restaurants and bars to dog parks and dog boutiques Houston is the place to be with your dog!

Dog Friendly Fine Dining

Dog Fine DiningPhoto Credit: Houston Press

Hugo’s/Backstreet Café/Caracole: James Beard award winning Houston chef, Hugo Ortega’s three upscale restaurants not only provide impeccable service and phenomenal cuisine, but they also all have dog friendly patios. Hugo’s in the Montrose Area offers earthy, authentic Mexican cuisine. Caracol in the galleria area showcases coastal Mexican cuisine, and Backstreet Café in River Oaks offers intimate American dining out of a cozy bungalow complete with a weekly jazz brunch and lush, spacious patio. For other dog friendly patios in Houston visit Dog Friendly Houston

Dog Park+Brunch

theDunlavyPhoto Credit: CultureMap

Johnny Steele Dog Park/The Kitchen at The Dunlavy: On those spring-like winter days in Houston what better to do than take your furry friend for a brunch in the heart of the city that feels like miles away. The Kitchen at The Dunlavy is part of Buffalo Bayou’s park renovations and the patio is surrounded by trees and a creek that drowns out the busy Allen Parkway traffic nearby. After a healthy brunch with your pup a beautiful dog oasis is just a quick walk away. Johnny Steele Dog Park is a two-acre dog park with separate areas and water features for dogs big and small. Enjoy chatting with fellow dog owners while your pup tires himself out with new friends. 

Dog Friendly Artisanal Food Market

Revival MktPhoto Credit: Local Sugar

Revival Market (Heights): A nice 11 minute stroll from Camden Heights, this neighborhood butcher and artisan food market in the Heights area has outdoor seating for you and your pooch to enjoy fine coffees and locally sourced breakfast and lunch items. After polishing off one of the best BLTs in Houston peruse their selection of artisan jams and spreads or chat with the in-house butcher about best cuts of grass-fed sirloin or the day’s cut of antelope.

Holistic Pet Food Store and Bakery

Natural PawzPhoto Credit: Natural Pawz Facebook

Natural Pawz (several Houston locations): Boasting a variety of products from paw balm to all natural dog food to dog-friendly cakes and treats, Natural Pawz has your pooch covered from the day-to-day necessities to an array of puppy party goodies.

Dog Boutique

Funny FurPhoto Credit: Funny Fur

FunnyFur (River Oaks): The boutique that provided all of the costumes for Disney’s “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, FunnyFur is a local shop that provides all of your pup’s clothing and accessory needs. They have every day basics such as collars and carriers and the more off-beat items such as dog formalwear and swimwear. Less than a mile from Camden Greenway and Camden Plaza, it’s a great shopping destination for pet and owner alike.

Pet Grooming

Haute PetsPhoto Credit: Haute Pets Facebook

Haute Pets (serves various Houston areas): Don’t feel like leaving your apartment? Haute Pets is a mobile grooming truck that comes to you and provides grooming services for your dog or cat. Haute Pets uses only chemical-free products and offers luxurious extras such as olive oil conditioner, hydrotherapy massages, and blueberry facials.

Dog Training/Boarding

Rover OaksPhoto Credit: Rover Oaks

Rover Oaks Pet Resort (locations in Houston and Katy): Rover Oaks offers group and individual training for you and your dog as well as boarding and “lodge and learn” options. Close to several Camden properties, with the Katy location less than 1 mile from Camden Grand Harbor.

Dog Swimming Facility

RummysPhoto Credit: Rummy’s Beach Club

Rummy’s Beach Club (Spring):  Rummy’s beach Club is a private swimming facility for dogs and their owners. The park requires reservations starting at $63/hour and provides several warm and cool pools. They also offer extras such as warm water swimming pools for assistance healing arthritis, walking problems and injuries and staff assisted underwater dog photography.

Outer Loop Dog Parks

Bill ArcherPhoto Credit: Huffington Post

Bill Archer Dog Park: Just north of the Energy Corridor is another amazing dog park. With two bone shaped pools and separate areas for large and small dogs, Bill Archer Dog Park is a great place for pups of all sizes. Open from 7am-7pm. the large park offers walking trails, agility courses, and several wash stations.

KatyPhoto Credit: Katy Animal Control

City of Katy Dog Park (Katy): This off leash dog park in Katy, convenient to Camden Downs and Camden Grand Harbor, provides 14 acres for dogs to roam. The park is separated into large and small dog areas and has two water fountains for dogs and people, several paved areas and lots of shade provided by trees. It also hosts several pet friendly events such as an annual Howl-O-Ween and Easter Egg Hunt.

SONY DSCPhoto Credit: Oh Mi Dog

Millie Bush Dog Park (West Oaks): Nestled inside of George Bush Parks 7,800 acres is Millie Bush Dog Park. Open 7 days a week from 7AM-7:30PM, this gorgeous dog park makes for a fun-filled day. The dog park has two lakes, seating areas, and three wash stations. The long walking trails are another great option to explore with your dog if you’re in the area. 

3 Season Passes You Have to Get in Tampa

Looking for something fun to do this weekend in Tampa with your family? With an active toddler  in my life, finding a few fun places to go to on the weekend is essential! My husband, daughter (Reagan) and I own multiple season passes to a few museums and theme parks in the area so we can enjoy unlimited admission all year long. By having passes we don’t feel rushed to get everything in at a park or museum completed in one day. We can enjoy an hour or a whole day whenever we want. Tampa is a great city with so many fun things to do anytime!

Here are a few of my family’s go to places around town with their season pass options:

Glazer Children’s Museum

With over 170 hands on activities and play stations, Glazer Children’s Museum is a perfect place to spend hours on end with your little ones. The museum has 17 different themed areas from a play Publix, doctor’s office, theatre, fire house and hands on art studio. The huge water table area is one of Reagan’s favorite exhibits. She loves making boats and getting them across the water, playing with the fun fountains and creating a thunderstorm inside!

Reagan’s Shaving Cream Snowflake she made in the Art Studio at the Glazer Children’s Museum was a beautiful masterpiece!

Reagan’s Shaving Cream Snowflake she made in the Art Studio at the Glazer Children’s Museum was a beautiful masterpiece!

Season Pass: As low as $100 for a whole year for a family of 5! Along with admission for a year, you will receive special invites for Member-only events, discounts on other local museums and tickets for others to the museum.  For a family of 5, one day’s admission with two adults and three children will cost $58.50. You will pay for the pass with only two visits!

The Florida Aquarium –

The Florida Aquarium brings the world’s sea life just inches from your face. From penguins, otters, eels, stingrays and Goliath grouper the huge tanks hold a ton of ocean and bay wildlife. The touch tanks are a kid favorite! You are able to touch a stingray, horseshoe crabs, sea stars, sea urchins and much more! On a hot summer day in Florida a perfect place to relax is the Explore A Shore kids’ outdoor water play area. (This attraction is currently under renovation, but should be open just in time for spring!) With water cannons and fountains, it is a must see when visiting with your children.

The beautiful Coral Reef Exhibit! Photo courtesy of The Florida Aquarium

The beautiful Coral Reef Exhibit! Photo courtesy of The Florida Aquarium

Season PassFor a family of 4 it is only $126 when you pay online! This season pass allows for 12 months of unlimited admission to the aquarium, free parking during regular hours, and discounts on food, gifts and tours. Adult admission is $21.95 and for a child over 3 it is $17.95 if you buy them online. For a family of four that is $79.80. Two visits and these passes are paid for!

Busch Gardens –

Animals, rides, shows, OH MY! Do you want an up close encounter with a cheetah or to take your chance on a thrilling roller coaster? Busch Gardens has that! All ages will love going to Busch Gardens to ride the fun rides and see all of the beautiful animals. One of our favorite areas is Sesame Street Safari of Fun. It has small rides for little ones and an encounter area for Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster to meet the kids! There is also and awesome fun splash pad area which is amazing anytime it is hot!

Splashing around and visiting all the animals is a great way to spend the day at Busch Gardens!

Splashing around and visiting all the animals is a great way to spend the day at Busch Gardens!

Season Pass – There a few options with passes for Busch Gardens. The first option is a Fun Card for $99 each that will allow you admission into Busch Gardens until the end of the year. Another option is to pay $14 per month, per person for an annual pass which give you a full year of fun in the park, free parking ($18 value), 10% off food, shopping and tours, and much more! One adult admission is $99 when you buy it at the park entrance– the Fun Card option is paid for in one visit and the annual pass in just two visits!

 

Tampa is a great town that has so many activities for children and adults alike. My family and I have hours of fun at the Glazer Children’s Museum, the Florida Aquarium and Busch Gardens. Since they are all within twenty minutes of most Tampa Camden communities, you can head there any time! Visit one this weekend or buy a pass and enjoy a whole year of fun!

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Metro Accessible Camden Apartments in the DC Area

camdenpropertieswithwamataaccess

If you are not familiar with the DC Metro area, just know one thing: traffic is intense. You may have read my previous blog post about commuting traffic on the Capital Beltway, and how much of a nightmare it can be. The great news is that there are several Camden communities in this area that are close to Metro stations, or offer close proximity to public transportation.

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Photo Courtesy of: http://www.bellymotions.com/dance-classes/zumba/

Taking the Work Out of Workout

Have you ever been to a Zumba Class? It’s like a super fun dance party with easy choreographed moves that make you forget that you’re even working out. The best part is, that you don’t even need to know how to dance to join in on the fun!

One thing you should know about Camden is that we really like to have fun! We had brain stormed so many fun ideas for resident events.-food trucks, pool party, etc. when we came across the idea of hosting a Zumba class here at Camden Plantation. We figured being that we have this enormous racquetball court, why not take advantage of our wonderful amenities?

We started to research local Zumba instructors in the area and reached out to a few of them. I emailed Catherine and immediately she was on board. We started promoting the event through our Facebook, Twitter, and flyers. We asked residents to RSVP through the mycamden.com portal.

There were 25 people RSVP’ed for the class, and we were so eager to see the turnout and ready to have some fun. Cristina, one of our amazing leasing consultants, and I decided to stay and take part of this awesome event. People that were registered and even some that hadn’t, showed up and were ready to get their dance on. The class was so fun and the instructor was great too! She was very patient and involved and danced with us and in between us. It was only one hour and you wouldn’t even think that with all the laughter and smiles that you we were burning calories. The group had  such a good time, that they asked for an encore!

We will now be hosting Zumba classes at Camden Plantation every Thursday at 7pm starting December 3rd. So if you haven’t taken a Zumba class yet or are looking for a great place to have fun with your neighbors, come to our very own Zumba class!

 

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Cruising for Beginners

I recently returned from my first 7 day cruise on the Carnival Valor. I have been back for 2 weeks now and am finding it hard to readjust to life on land. I had such a great time! The ocean, sun , sand…all of it is hard to forget.

Me loving every single second of the cruise!

Me loving every single second of the cruise!

When I think back on my thoughts and expectations before actually leaving for the cruise, I feel ridiculous. For some reason the sinking of the Titanic, falling overboard and being left behind on a deserted island were the only things that I could focus on. I was quite surprised to have experienced quite the opposite.

Because I know that I cannot be the only nutty person that actually harbors these types of thoughts, I have decided to choose my cruise as the topic of today’s blog. Hopefully these tips will help a fellow first-time cruiser overcome their fears as well.

To start, pick a travel time frame. Now, we all know that travelling in June, July and August can be hectic. The weather is essentially perfect, the kids are out of school and everyone has the same idea. Try a quieter time frame – maybe September, October, November? Although these months are oftentimes labeled “hurricane season”, you are more than likely NOT going to experience a hurricane. Pick your travel destination and enjoy the lower priced cruise fares!

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Make sure to purchase a drink package. Cruise costs can add up quickly and nothing will add up quicker than drinks. With all the swimming, sweating and partying that goes on on the ship, you will need to stay hydrated. By purchasing the ‘Bottomless Bubbles’ package (or something equivalent) you are able to pay one flat charge for unlimited drinks. Now, the bubbles program will cover your soda charges, but many large cruise lines will offer an equivalent alcohol package. You never realize how much you spent until AFTER you get back, so be wise and splurge on the front end of your trip.

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

My third point brings me to cruise excursions. So, the cruise line will try to sell you on some magnificent shore excursion for days that you are able to leave the ship. DO NOT BUY THEM! Shore excursions are so fun, but would you not rather plan them on your own for a fair price? What I found was that the shore excursions that the cruise line schedules for you are the same as the ones you can schedule for yourself. When you get off of the ship you will find an army of locals attacking you for your business. You will oftentimes see the ship excursion group out on the same excursion you are on. Handle this yourself, but be cautious and make sure your plan involves legitimate sources.

The shore excursion at Grand Turk

The shore excursion at Grand Turk

To all of the parents out there: Do not be afraid to trust the children’s programs. I am what is known as a “helicopter parent”. I cannot seem to not worry about my child. I always want her near me and with me and sometimes following Elsa’s “Let it Go” is not something I am capable of doing. I decided to take my daughter to Camp Carnival for one day to let her see what was going on.  I saw all of the other parents doing it too so my curiosity was peaked. My daughter was there for 2 hours and did not want to leave. She had made friends, drawn her own T-shirt, watched movies and played in the kiddie pool. She loved it! Parents, take a leap of faith and go for it!

Camp Carnival cruiseweb.com

Camp Carnival
cruiseweb.com

Always remember, the bottom line is FUN! Enjoy the time you are out on the ocean. Think about your life, your choices. Take part in the activities that are planned for adults. Cruises are fun and you should really take the time that you are on one to truly enjoy it. It could be a while before you are able to experience it again.

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Camden Cares for YOU, Houston!

Have you ever gone to bed beyond tired, but in a good way? This is the tired that you feel after sweating all day in the Texas heat for a good cause.   You feel so good that you can even ignore how bad you smell afterwards… This is how many of us in Houston felt after our Camden Cares volunteer days.

As with other Camden offices, the Houston and corporate offices partnered with Rebuilding Together Houston to help the aged, disadvantaged, and or disabled out with fixing up their homes. Camden committed to rehabilitating 15 homes here in Houston this year; 8 having been completed on September 23-24 and the remaining 7 were completed on October 7-8. As with other cities, volunteers from all corners of the organization helped out with this cause. Everyone from vice presidents to average employees work side by side to accomplish our goal- to put smiles on the homeowners’ faces.

The houses that we are assigned by Rebuilding Together Houston are first toured and screened by a taskforce of Camden employees in order to assess what needs to be done in each of our assigned homes. Camden employees go out to the homes the day before to try to complete some of the preliminary work such as pressure washing or organizing and gathering supplies to insure that the each of the volunteer days run smoothly. Our crews show up early in the morning, receive their assignments, and get cracking. It is like watching an orange Camden swarm overtaking a house!

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Mrs. Terrel’s house Camden Cares Crew. What a lovely lady! – Samantha Dickerson

One of the best things about your volunteer day is hearing everyone’s stories. You hear stories about employees’ past experiences volunteering for Rebuilding Together and the homeowners that they had the pleasure of meeting. This was my first experience with Camden working for Rebuilding Together. I had volunteered in another city for another company with this same organization years ago, but it did not feel as good as this experience that I had with Camden. One of the homeowners that we were helping was a beautiful 80 year old lady and mother of three children. In her home, she had fostered over 100 children over the years. Some of which she still has contact with today. The best part of our day was seeing the smile on her face when she saw her home re-painted for the first time.

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Here’s a picture of me and the amazing team I got to spend the day with in front of the house we worked on. – Stephanie Oribhador

On a side note, the other benefit of Camden Cares is meeting and spending time with people who we may not get to interact with on a daily basis. As a Camden newbie, it was great to hear about how long many of the employees have worked with the company. It just shows how much our employees love Camden. It also showed me how much our employees care about the community and provided us with a unique opportunity to give back.

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Mrs. Terrel’s dog, Coco.

Camden Cares is something we at Camden look forward to every year! No matter how much paint you get on yourself or how beat up you feel at the end of the day, it’s always such a special feeling to truly make a difference in someone else’s life. Even Coco’s…

This was a collaboration from Stephanie Oribhador and myself.

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Camden Cares for YOU, Houston!

Have you ever gone to bed beyond tired, but in a good way? This is the tired that you feel after sweating all day in the Texas heat for a good cause.   You feel so good that you can even ignore how bad you smell afterwards… This is how many of us in Houston felt after our Camden Cares volunteer days.

As with other Camden offices, the Houston and corporate offices partnered with Rebuilding Together Houston to help the aged, disadvantaged, and or disabled out with fixing up their homes. Camden committed to rehabilitating 15 homes here in Houston this year; 8 having been completed on September 23-24 and the remaining 7 were completed on October 7-8. As with other cities, volunteers from all corners of the organization helped out with this cause. Everyone from vice presidents to average employees work side by side to accomplish our goal- to put smiles on the homeowners’ faces.

The houses that we are assigned by Rebuilding Together Houston are first toured and screened by a taskforce of Camden employees in order to assess what needs to be done in each of our assigned homes. Camden employees go out to the homes the day before to try to complete some of the preliminary work such as pressure washing or organizing and gathering supplies to insure that the each of the volunteer days run smoothly. Our crews show up early in the morning, receive their assignments, and get cracking. It is like watching an orange Camden swarm overtaking a house!

20151007_135209

Mrs. Terrel’s house Camden Cares Crew. What a lovely lady! – Samantha Dickerson

One of the best things about your volunteer day is hearing everyone’s stories. You hear stories about employees’ past experiences volunteering for Rebuilding Together and the homeowners that they had the pleasure of meeting. This was my first experience with Camden working for Rebuilding Together. I had volunteered in another city for another company with this same organization years ago, but it did not feel as good as this experience that I had with Camden. One of the homeowners that we were helping was a beautiful 80 year old lady and mother of three children. In her home, she had fostered over 100 children over the years. Some of which she still has contact with today. The best part of our day was seeing the smile on her face when she saw her home re-painted for the first time.

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Here’s a picture of me and the amazing team I got to spend the day with in front of the house we worked on. – Stephanie Oribhador

On a side note, the other benefit of Camden Cares is meeting and spending time with people who we may not get to interact with on a daily basis. As a Camden newbie, it was great to hear about how long many of the employees have worked with the company. It just shows how much our employees love Camden. It also showed me how much our employees care about the community and provided us with a unique opportunity to give back.

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Mrs. Terrel’s dog, Coco.

Camden Cares is something we at Camden look forward to every year! No matter how much paint you get on yourself or how beat up you feel at the end of the day, it’s always such a special feeling to truly make a difference in someone else’s life. Even Coco’s…

This was a collaboration from Stephanie Oribhador and myself.

TICK OR TREAT PUMKINS

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!

boo-lantern

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

babble.com

babble.com

Pumpkins:
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.

homedit.com

homedit.com

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!

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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!

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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!