Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Well-Organized Kitchen in 9 Easy Steps!

A well-organized kitchen can make you eat in more, which in turn saves you money and makes you healthier!  So in the spirit of making your wallet a little heavier and you a little lighter, Apartment Therapy shares the secrets to a well-organized kitchen.

Even if you hate your stove, sink and refrigerator, if you're an apartment dweller, they aren't going anywhere.  So start with a good scrubbing down of the inside and outside of these well-used kitchen staples.  Next, create stations for all the things you do in the kitchen, just like chefs do at restaurants.  Think of things like cooking, cleaning, baking, prepping food, etc.

Now you need to organize the items needed for each task around that task.  For example, have the cutlery right by the sink so you can put it away as soon as you're finished washing up.  Move other stuff around so that it's located conveniently to where you work.  Spices, pots and pans should be near the stove, knives and cutting boards in your prep station, and store baking ingredients and supplies near your baking station.

You can store things you only bring down once a year, like the electric knife to cut the turkey at Thanksgiving or Christmas cookie cutters, up high or down low.  "Merchandise" your kitchen stuff.  Keep it organized, arranged by size, color and frequency of use to make cooking an even more pleasant task.  When buying storage items like canisters, make sure they are super-functional (i.e. the lid is easy to get off), in addition to looking nice. 

Finally, once you've assigned everything a spot, continue to put it away in its assigned place!  That way if you're out of something you can quickly notice it and add it to the grocery list or wash up, in the case of a cupboard empty of glasses.

Short-Term Rental Regulation Controversial

Short-Term Rentals and their regulation have been a contentious issue across the country.  Now it's Austin's turn.  The City Council is set to approve a policy next week allowing commercial short-term rentals in neighborhoods, Statesman.com reports.

Both those who are for short-term rentals and against them have been fighting hard to have their voices heard through the media, online petitions and protests.  The short-term rental market is estimated to comprise more than 3 million properties nationwide.  New York, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon have banned short-term rentals entirely, while Maui, Hawaii allowed them, but sets a cap of 400 properties and makes renters pay a 9.25 percent hotel tax.  So far, Austin hasn't imposed any regulations at all.

Austin's debate is centered on commercial rentals, homes that are only used to be rented out as short-term rentals.  A study recently done by the city found about 1,500 short-term rentals in the city, with a third of those in the 78704 zip code.  The city proposes allowing short-term commercial rentals and requiring all renters to register with the city and pay a 15 percent hotel tax.  It would also limit the amount of short-term rentals to 3 percent of the number of houses in a ZIP code.  These rules don't apply, however, to multifamily properties.

Neighborhood groups opposed to the rentals are concerned that they "hollow out" urban neighborhoods by keeping houses out of the hands of potential residents and in the hands of what are essentially business owners in a residential zone.  With a shortage of urban housing already a problem, and urban neighborhood schools already in danger of closing because of decreased attendance, neighbors see short-term rentals as a real threat to their way of life.  Recently, many people in the short-term rental opposition protested in front of the headquarters of "Home Away", a service which allows owners to rent out these properties online.

Those in favor of the short-term rentals, such as the president of the Austin Rental Alliance, says that a ban on residential rentals of less than 30 days won't work and cities are also missing out on the chance to collect hotel taxes.  He worries that a ban will just drive short term rentals underground.  They also see the ban as an infringement on property owners' rights.  Portland, Oregon has a person on staff just to peruse online rental listings to find violators of their ban.

Looking for an apartment where you can start your own staycation?  Apartments Now can help!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Alcohol at the Alamo a Controversial Issue

Alcohol at the Alamo has been banned for years by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the caretakers of the Alamo.  But many veterans are saying that toasting with apple cider, as the DRT suggests they do, is insulting to men who have served our country and want to raise a glass to their fallen comrades, My San Antonio.com reports.

The controversy is centered around after-hours events that are hosted at the Alamo in the Alamo Hall, built in 1922 at the back of the complex and well outside the ground where men on both sides died in the battle for Texas' Independence.  The Land Office is in charge of re-writing rules on serving beer, wine and liquor starting in August.

Land Commissioner and retired Marine Jerry Patterson is of the opinion that moderate drinking will not tarnish the Alamo.  But the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who are in charge of the site for the Land Office, is against alcohol being served by caterers.  They believe that toasts anywhere on the grounds is disrespectful to the "solemn decorum" of the site.

Both active duty and retired military have different opinions on the issue.  Some think that it is important to respect the DRT's view because they have been "longtime caretakers of Texas history" and that the ban keeps the Alamo a reverent place.  Others think that many veterans who toast their friends with real alcohol have the right do so and that there is nothing wrong with serving alcohol in a controlled setting.

Looking for a San Antonio apartment where you can toast with whatever you'd like?  Call Apartments Now San Antonio today!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Routines: Make them Work for You

Routines are important to getting things done.  It may seem like they squash your creativity and free spirit, but really, if you know exactly what you need to do and when, you'll find yourself doing it without much thought.  Apartment Therapy.com has tips for getting those routines down to a science.

Begin by keeping track of what you're doing now.  What order do you do things in from the time you get up to the time you leave for work?  What do you do in the evening after work?  When do you do other chores like going to the store or paying bills?  Take a few weeks to just be aware of what you're currently doing.

How much time do these things take?  If you allot an hour to get out of the house in the mornings, but your routine takes an hour and a half, you need to do something to avoid being late.  On the other hand, if you only take 30 minutes to get ready, you've got an extra half hour to play with.
Now, make a list of things that you wish you had time for, but don't currently.  Also, write down your routines so you know what they are.  Now, look at the two lists and see where you can streamline your process and make time for those "wish list" items.  Move things around and try shaking up your same old routines to see if a new order works better for you.

A couple of great tips for staying on task are to not be distracted by surprises that don't fit into your routine.  An email, phone call or other interruption can throw off your routine.  Let that call go to voice mail or don't read that email it until it's time for reviewing those things.  Also, time yourself.  If you set a timer for 30 minutes, your 45 minute getting ready routine will most likely only take 30 minutes, racing the timer is just too tempting.  So now you've bought yourself 15 extra minutes to do with what you will!  Keep periodically reviewing your routines and don't be afraid to try something new.

Looking for a great apartment where you can smooth out your routine?  Pencil a call to Apartments Now into your routine!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crazy Ideas to Make Your Life Saner

These little tips will make your life in your apartment easier, even if they sound a little insane.  Apartment Therapy.com gives you a whopping 15 ideas, but I'll highlight some of my favorites here.

Store a marker in the freezer so anytime you put something in there, you can label it. It will save you from hunting for a marker and from wondering what something is or even worse when you put it in there.  Everything looks the same in Freezer bags!  Also, keep the refrigerator organized and always put your food in the same places.  That way you'll always know at a glance whether you need more of something.  You can keep your medication and vitamins in the fridge as well so you can grab and take them when you eat your breakfast.

Snag travel-sized bottles of your favorite toiletries and keep them in your suitcase.  That way you're always ready to go and those travel versions don't crowd your linen closet.  On the same note, keep your beach and ski stuff packed and ready to go.

Always losing your keys?  Hang them on the back of the front door or get a lock that has a key lock on the inside.  This way you'll always know where your keys are!

Keep cleaning supplies in the bathroom and kitchen so you can take a couple of minutes to wipe stuff down everytime you use the bathroom or kitchen, rather than spending a long time cleaning on the weekend.  Another time saver is to put several trashbags in the bottom of your trashcans so when you take the trash out, you can just put a new one in its place.  If you combine this with a dryer sheet, your trashcan will smell much better too!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Texas' Refusal to Join Medicaid Expansion Will Hurt, Officials Say

Texas' refusal to join the Medicaid expansion, announced by Governor Rick Perry Monday, will cost hospitals, clinics and taxpayers a lot, according to local health care officials.  Statesman.com reports that these leaders predict higher costs for taxpayers and patients with insurance to cover the shortage.

Perry sent a letter to the federal government Monday stating that he refuses to expand Medicaid as the new federal health care law expects because it would "threaten even Texas with financial ruin."   He's also bothered by what he sees as an intrusion into states' rights.  The Texas State legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, is expected to agree with him.

However, patients without insurance will still have to get their medical care somewhere, most likely at hospitals and emergency rooms which have a higher cost for care.  They also will be likely to utilize clinics that take care of uninsured people and people on Medicaid, the state-federal program that pays for care for the poor, disabled and many nursing home residents.  So the bulk of the cost will fall to local communities.

Central Health officials believe that a Medicaid expansion would save Travis County's public clinic system $7-$8 million a year.  To pay for uninsured people who cannot pay for their care, hospitals will charge paying patients more and this will likely result in higher private health insurance premiums.

About 360,000 people in Travis and other area counties are uninsured, and many would have gotten on the Medicaid rolls if the expansion had happened. Statewide 1 in 4 Texans, 6 million total, do not have health insurance.  Due to this, Texas had been set to get a large share of federal money to expand Medicaid, about $13 billion a year, starting in 2014.  The federal government would have been responsible for all of the costs of the expansion until 2017, when the state would start sharing costs up to 10 percent by 2020.

Looking for an apartment where you have easy access to amenities like hospitals?  Apartments Now can help! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Texas A&M-S.A. Offers Vets Free IPad Rentals

Texas A&M at San Antonio has started a new program to offer veterans enrolled at the school iPads for rent for free.  The program is designed to help veterans access ebooks for class for free and to help veterans who may be injured by allowing them to use the lightweight iPad rather than lugging around heavy books, My San Antonio.com reports.

The University announced the program on Tuesday, which allows current service members, veterans and their family members to rent free Apple iPad 2's from the school beginning this fall.  To be eligible, they have to be enrolled full time and meet certain GPA requirements.

There are 250 iPads available for distribution to service members.  Texas A&M-S.A.'s manager of military relations says its similar to a paid rental system that is in use at the School of Business.  The iPad is easy for veterans because it is a touch screen, small and will be easily operated by those who are injured.

Army Sgt. David Guillen, who will be studying business at the university beginning this fall, says he looks forward to using the program.  He currently drops his books off at his car between classes because a back injury sustained in Iraq keeps him from being able to carry around heavy college textbooks.  He couldn't afford the iPad rental fees without the program.

Looking for a great San Antonio Apartment near Texas A&M-S.A. or anywhere else in the River City?  Apartments Now San Antonio can get help you find the perfect fit.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Flying the American Flag Properly

Flying the American Flag properly is an important lesson to learn, especially today when we celebrate our independence.  Apartment Therapy.com reads the U.S. Flag Code and imparts the important stuff to us. 

The flag code was drafted in 1942 by President Roosevelt as a set of rules for civilians to to use when displaying the American Flag.  Not following the code has no legal repercussions, but it is encouraged so that the flag is shown the respect it is due.

A United States flag is required to have 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and fifty stars representing all fifty states.  To raise the flag, you should do it quickly and when you are lowering the flag, it should be done slowly and ceremoniously.  The flag should be saluted at both times.  A flag should only be flown during daylight hours, unless it is illuminated.

If a flag is hung from the window or balcony of your apartment, or a building, the union, (the blue square with the stars), should be at the top of the flag staff unless the flag is at half-staff.  When hanging the flag over a street, it should be hung vertically with the union facing north or east.  The flag should not be displayed in rain or snow unless it is an all-weather flag.

When the flag is no longer fit to be displayed, it should be discarded in a respectful way, preferably by burning.  There are many more guidelines for making sure our flag is shown the proper respect, be sure to read them all at Apartment Therapy.