Thursday, November 29, 2012
Indoor gardens aren't impossible, but it's important to choose plants that are well-suited to an indoor environment. Zillow helps you turn your brown thumb green and have a luscious apartment garden!
You can place your garden wherever it works for you, just be sure you have enough light. If you do not have a space with ample light for your plants, you can use HID, high intensity discharge, lights to grow your potted friends. The best locations for your shelf or table of plants is one that has durable floors such as tile. If you much place your garden on carpet or wood, put down plastic or a tarp to protect your floors from water damage. Whatever you decide to grow, plant it in potting soil specifically designed for indoor plants.
Herbs are great for growing indoors. Just fill a pot with the right type of soil, plant your chosen herb seeds, and place in an area that sees approximately six hours of sun daily. Tomatoes are also wonderful to grow indoors. Cherry and grape tomatoes are the best for this and you can even grow tomatoes upside down from the ceiling if you don't have a lot of extra space.
Salad greens are another tasty option for your apartment garden. They're easy to grow and are short-season crops, meaning you can continually harvest them by just planting a little more every couple of weeks. Lettuce does need to be in soil that is moist throughout without being soggy. Watering from the bottom using a watering tray every other day will work in most environments.
Radishes are simple to grow, so they make a great choice for beginner gardeners. You can grow them in almost any pot that's at least a foot in diameter. You'll have radishes ready to enjoy in 3 weeks and can continue enjoying them by just planting more every week or two.
Finally, green beans can be grown indoors, but they do need at least six hours of sun a day. If you don't have that level of sun, grow lights can do the trick and you'll have tasty green beans to eat in a couple of months! Happy gardening!
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Incentive deals will be required to pay at least $11 hourly in Travis County, Statesman.com reports. In other words, companies who want to set up shop here and get a tax break will have to pay a living wage to their employees.
The new wage will apply to construction workers as well, who currently only get roughly $7.50 an hour. The new rules came about after both Austin and Travis County were criticized about the incentives they gave to companies such as Apple and Marriott. Tuesday's rules marked the first official policy governing incentives.
A City Council committee also said that Austin should make the $11 hourly rate standard for any companies they give incentives to as well. Mayor Lee Leffingwell is against the minimum, which he believes will push companies to relocate in other cities and that it might hurt Austin's economy. The Austin Chamber of Commerce and minority contractors also spoke out against the changes.
The Austin Chamber of Commerce Vice President said that among the most recent incentive deals the city and county have engaged in, the only one that would meet the new hourly wage requirement is the one with Apple, who will be paying $12 an hour for construction at its new North Austin location.
Friday, November 23, 2012
The Emily Morgan Hotel in downtown San Antonio is in the midst of a $5 million renovation, My San Antonio.comreports. It will also become a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel when the renovations are completed in December.
The entire interior will see upgraded floors, furniture, tubs, tile, beds and paint, from the 177 rooms to the lobby and restaurant. The 1920s Gothic revivalist exterior will not see any changes. The building was originally called the San Antonio Medical Arts Building when it opened in 1926, but has been a hotel since 1985. A $3 million renovation was started in 2000, but stopped when the September 11th attacks happened and was never completed.
The Emily Morgan is the official hotel of the Alamo and sees the seven-year agreement with Doubletree by Hilton as a way for the hotel to become more visible, especially to business travelers. All of the hotel employees will be required to go through at least 100 hours of hospitality training under the deal.
The hotel saw an increase to almost $5 million in revenue for the three month period of July through September, which was up roughly 7 percent from the same period last year. Hotel occupancy also went up 5 percent to almost 65 percent and revenue per room was also up 5 percent to $77.12, a figure still below downtown's average of $91.17. However, it is expected that the reboot of the hotel's interior will improve all revenue figures for the Emily Morgan dramatically.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
The holiday blues can really get you down this time of year. Perhaps it's the first year since a loved one has passed away, or you have lost your job or broken up with your significant other, but whatever the reason, the holidays can be a lonely time. Apartment Therapy helps you keep your chin up and your spirits high during the holiday season.
If you can't travel to be with your family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, host a holiday potluck! Ask around to see if others you know also aren't leaving town and throw a big party full of food, people and fun. You may find yourself coming up with excuses to skip the family dinner next year and stay home with friends!
If you feel like your tight finances prevent you from giving gifts, think again! Use your skills to make, bake or craft gifts for loved ones that will be adored because you put a little of yourself into giving it. If you won't be putting up holiday decorations, consider an interior design make-over for your apartment. Paint a room, sew some new pillows for the couch, or rearrange your furniture for a fresh take on the place you call home.
Make a plan for the New Year, whether it's a trip, learning a new skill or making another exciting goal come to fruition. That way you'll be looking forward to the turn of the calendar rather than dreading a less-than-exciting New Year's Eve. Another way to feel better about your situation is to volunteer to help out the less fortunate, whether it be at soup kitchen, a toy drive or other event. United We Serve is a great way to find volunteer opportunities in your area.
If you plant a smile on your face and reach out to help others, you will instantly lift your mood and the moods of those around you. Helping others releases happy-making endorphins, just as taking a walk will, another simple way to put a spring in your step. Other great ways to perk up your mood include taking a solo trip during the holidays, and sending a letter, making a phone call, or having lunch with an old friend. Finally, if seeing other's (mostly manufactured) happiness during the holidays gets you down, break up with social media until the new year. Don't worry, it will still be there when the calendar rolls over to 2013!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Securing your apartment is your first line of defense against getting burglarized or worse. Zillow.com helps you make sure your castle is a fortress.
The most important life-saving items you need to have in your apartment are smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector. However, they won't do you any good if the batteries aren't working. Be sure to test your detectors when you first move in and to change the batteries when the time changes in the Spring and the Fall.
If your building has a single outer door, call your landlord immediately if the locks don't work. Those outer doors are the first bit of security keeping ne'er-do-wells from entering your apartment. Also, if you have buzzer and a stranger buzzes and asks to be let in, don't do it. Either don't answer the buzzer or go and see who is trying to get in. If you just let anyone in, you are inviting solicitors at the best and criminals at the worse to harass yourself and your neighbors.
If your door doesn't have a deadbolt, ask your landlord to install one that extends into the door frame far enough to keep burglars out and always use it. When someone comes to the door, look through your peep hole to see who it is and if you don't know them, don't open the door. If your peephole has paint on it, scrape it off or put in a maintenance request.
Additionally, if you live on the first floor, be sure all your windows can lock or have grates. Also, never leave your blinds or curtains open when you're away from home, just as you wouldn't leave valuables out in plain sight in your car. Finally, get renter's insurance just in case you are the unfortunate victim of a break-in.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Two more West Nile Virus deaths occurred recently in Travis County, Statesman.com reports, bringing the total for 2012 to 5. Before 2012, there had been two West Nile deaths in Travis county in 2007 and one in 2003.
Both of the newest deaths occurred in people over 50 with other medical conditions, risk factors for West Nile, and occurred October 31st and November 6th. The season for the virus was at its peak at the end of August and the number of cases continue to decrease. In fact, the medical director for Travis County said that people no longer need to use insect repellent when they venture outdoors.
Statewide, we've seen 79 West Nile deaths, not including the two new Travis County deaths. Across the state, there have been 1,754 human cases this year, which is a sharp increase from last year's 27 cases and two deaths. A third of the country's 2012 West Nile deaths were in Texas. Nationally, there have been 5,054 cases and 228 fatalities this year.
Dallas County had the most cases and the most deaths, with 18 deaths and 383 cases.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
San Antonio hoteliers saw an increase in revenue and were able to increase the price for a hotel room because of a strong summer season, My San Antonio.com reports. This was the best summer since the economic downturn and the opening of a bunch of new hotels combined to make the San Antonio hotel industry cut their room rates in 2009.
Demand for rooms in the summer of 2012 increased by an average of 6 percent over last year, according to statistics from the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Simultaneously, occupancy rates increased to 75 percent downtown. the highest since 2006, and 73 percent across San Antonio, the highest since 2008.
Hotel and motel revenues were over $271.3 million for the summer tourist season, an increase of 12 percent over last summer. An increase in government group meetings, a new water park at Sea World San Antonio, and improvements along the river have all attracted tourists who are now adding extra days to their visits.
Downtown hotels are at the highest levels of revenue per available room since 2008. This metric, called REVPAR, examines both room rates and occupancy to show how good a property is at getting its rooms filled and what it can charge for them. The higher the REVPAR, the better the city's hotels are doing. REVPAR was down 21 percent in 2009, but is projected to grow 6 percent this year and 9 percent in 2013.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Choosing the perfect paint color can be a nail-biting experience. Sure, it's only paint, but painting is a lot of work and you don't want to have to re-do it as soon as you're done. With Apartment Therapy's tips on picking the perfect paint, you'll never have to repaint a second time again.
Your first step is to be practical about what colors will work best in your particular space, and a lot of that depends on whether you have a bright room or one that doesn't get much natural light. Generally, white and light colors look the best in a room that's full of light and warmer, darker colors look best in a room that doesn't see much light. But no matter what color you want, you can find a shade of it that fits your space.
Neutrals like beige, taupe and grey aren't as easy to use as you might think. When picking a neutral, you have to pick carefully to make sure it looks good with the undertones of any large pieces in the room, like furniture or the floors. Now that you know generally what to pick, go to the hardware store and grab fistfuls of paint swatches. Pick anything that looks appealing to you and head home to determine what works.
Once you've got the swatches in your room, put them vertically against all the walls and at all points on the wall, near the floor, by the window, next to the couch, etc. Do this in the morning, afternoon and evening to check out what the colors look at all points of the day. Through this process you'll be able to narrow down to your top 2 to 3 choices.
Now that you've got your choices narrowed down, get a small sample can of each and paint swatches at least 10 inches square of all the colors on the walls throughout your room. Over the next couple of days, pay attention to how the colors look throughout the day. Hopefully one of the colors will jump out of you as a favorite and it's time to get to work! If not, go back to the swatch step.
Thursday, November 1, 2012
A clean house might not always be in our reach, but with About.com's tips, you can fake one in just a few minutes. Say a friend calls and says they're going to stop by in a few minutes. Rather than panic or meet her on the front porch, you can take 10 minutes and get your house presentable for company!
First, focus on odor control. Spray an air freshner, especially around the trash areas (for that matter, take out the trash if it stinks!). Turn on a fan or a/c, or open the windows to get the air moving. Another great idea is to put something to bake into the oven. Not only will it make your house smell great, you'll have something to serve your guests!
Clutter is the number one thing that makes a house look messy. So get a receptacle like a laundry basket or grocery bag and start throwing misplaced stuff into it. Don't worry about where the things belong right now. Just keep the basket or bag in a room or closet until your guests go home.
While you're at it, straighten yourself up. A change of clothes, hair brushing and addition of perfume will make you even fresher than your house. Next, focus on the living room, since that's where you'll be receiving your guest most likely. Quickly go across the room from left to right straightening up each surface and getting rid of any missed clutter. Run the vacuum over the main walkway of the floor as well.
In the bathroom, quickly wipe down the surfaces and mirror, remove any misplaced items, change the trash and check for hand soap, a clean hand towel and toilet paper. In the entryway, your guest's "first impression" of your house, remove the clutter, and use a broom or dust buster to clean up.
In the kitchen, put dirty dishes into the dishwasher or at least stack them neatly in the sink. Then wipe down the counters. If you have any time left over, keep doing small things until they arrive, only in the rooms they'll see. You could vacuum floors, dust the ceiling fan, or straighten books and magazines.