Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Kenzie at the Domain

The Kenzie at the Domain is a new apartment complex being built right in the center of the Domain.  Construction on this luxury apartment complex just steps from high-end shopping and dining, as well as employers, began this past summer and the first units should be ready in summer of 2014.
The Kenzie will have 279 apartments from studios, which will be 500 square feet, to three bedroom units, which will be 1600 square feet.  While rental rates for the Kenzie have not been announced yet, leasing will begin in Fall of next year.  The developer, StreetLights Residential, sees the Domain as a prime location for new apartments due to the diverse tech employers in the area like Apple, IBM, and Dell.
The Kenzie will have two outdoor courtyards and be directly connected to the new 12 acre park that is planned for the Domain.  Some units will also have screened porches, so you can enjoy the amazing Austin weather year round.  
Steps outside your apartment, the Domain doubles as your own personal shopping and dining playground.  Without even getting in your car, you can walk to high end shops such as Neiman Marcus, Banana Republic and Anthropologie and delicious restaurants like Cru and Fleming's Prime Steakhouse.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Travis Heights

Bordering South Congress, Travis Heights is a fun, vibrant, historic neighborhood located just south of Lady Bird Lake, West of I-35, East of Congress Avenue, and North of Oltorf Street.  Within walking distance of the block of shops, restaurants and music venues known as SoCo (south Congress), houses and apartments in this adorable enclave are highly desired and tend to be priced at the higher end of Austin rental prices.  Rents range from $1500-$2600 monthly for apartments in the middle of the action on Congress Avenue.

If you like eating, Travis Heights will be a great destination for you.  South Congress is home to loads of tasty eateries, many of which have been written up in national publications.

The Mighty Cone Trailer serves food in, you guessed it, cones.  The unique food combination grew out of a concept that was originally created by Hudson's on the Bend as an easy to eat food to serve at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2002.  
Vespaio is a tasty little Italian restaurant that has been delighting local and visiting diners alike for over 14 years.  Vespaio isn't afraid to evolve with the times, though.  They now offer gluten-free pasta and added a Trattoria next door a few years ago that provides food to go and a more casual dining experience.
South Congress Cafe is a delicious spot for nouveau American food from the owners of Austin's beloved Mexican Restaurant, Trudy's.  They're famous for their brunch (and brunch cocktails), and accordingly usually have a wait, but it's well worth it.
After you've filled your belly full of food, go shopping!  Or maybe before, if you're concerned about the clothes you're trying on fitting;)  South Congress is full of locally grown boutiques featuring clothes you can wear without fear of running into someone else dressed in the same exact outfit.  You'll also find lots of knick knacks for your home that are out of this world.
Parts and Labour is about as Austin as they come.  Exclusively featuring the work of artisans and crafters who reside in Texas, you can pick up an ironic t-shirt, handmade jewelry, or a baby gift that will blow the minds of everyone else at the shower.
Uncommon Objects is the mega-store of Antique stores, and soooo Austin!  Spend an afternoon in here scrounging for anything from an antique quilt to some extremely old medical instruments to aging taxidermy.  Definitely one not to miss on any trip.  Or any Saturday for that matter, as their inventory is constantly changing!
Want to get fancy?  Check out Maya Star for amazing designer dresses and accessories, as well as more reasonably priced girly couture.  Get a special frock to don for an evening out on South Congress at The Continental Club listening to music with a Texas flair in a Texas institution.
You're exhausted and need somewhere to lay your head?  If you haven't found the perfect Travis Heights Address yet, hit the pillows at Hotel San Jose, the amazing boutique hotel located in the heart of the action.  But before you close your eyes, make time for a cocktail in their secluded courtyard; you might just find yourself sipping your juice across from a celebrity!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Perfect Christmas Tree

The perfect Christmas Tree can be yours with these tips from Apartment Therapy and designer Sabrina Soto.  From where to place your ornaments, to how many lights to use, they've got you covered to make sure your apartment shines with the gorgeous splendor of your Christmas Tree.
For a stronger visual impact, place the largest, most striking ornaments near the trunk, and the smaller, less ornate ornaments closer to the outside of the tree.  The large ornaments will still be seen through pine needles and the branches are at their most sturdy where they meet the trunk.  Large ornaments also work well to cover any bare places in the tree.
Placing smaller ornaments towards the top of your tree and the bigger ones towards the bottom will trick the eye into thinking your tree is taller than it actually is.  Also, once again the more fragile branches tend to be at the top of the tree.  But don't be afraid to top off the tree with a big topper!
Another way to make your tree more interesting is to use a variety of shapes and textures.  Consider using white LED lights, which are super-bright, to catch every facet of your ornaments and make them shine even brighter.  Placing the shiny ornaments in close proximity to bulbs will give you the most impact.  Also, think about how many lights you should use.  A great rule of thumb is 150 lights per foot of tree.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

STAAR Scores Won't Count Towards Final Grade

STAAR scores won't count towards the final class grade of high schoolers this year, reports.  The announcement was made by Education Commissioner Michael Williams today at a school adminstrator's conference.  
The original plan was for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR)'s score for students to be 15 percent of their final grade.  However, lawmakers filed bills this week that would change that requirement, by getting rid of it or allowing school districts to decide how much the test score will account for.  This reprieve relieves the pressure on students for the current year and gives lawmakers time to revisit the issue.
Parents and school districts balked at the requirement after the more difficult standardized tests were administered this past Spring, so the state allowed school districts to opt-out of it if they wanted to. 90 percent chose that option.   
The governor and other State House and Senate leaders requested Thursday that the Education Commissioner grant the deferral.  
Looking for a great Austin apartment near great amenities like schools?  A Plus Apartment Locators can help!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pre-Holiday Deep Clean

A pre-holiday decorating deep clean is a great idea before you put those Christmas decorations up.  If you clean before you cover your apartment with tinsel and lights, you'll have less to clean around later and you can spend your time on more fun holiday activities.  Apartment Therapy gives you a run down of what to do now so you can get on with the holiday fun!
Your first task is dusting.  Second, vaccuum and mop the floors to make sure your tree doesn't harbor any hidden dust bunnies.  Also, if you had a huge house of people for Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you've got a lot of dirty feet that need to be cleaned up after.  Run a feather duster or broom over your ceiling and in the corners to ensure all cobwebs are wiped away before lights go up that could put the spotlight on creepy crawlies.
Post-Thanksgiving dinner is a great time to give your kitchen a thorough cleaning.  Giving the oven, stovetop, sink, counters, cabinets, floors and sink the cleaning attention they deserve will make you want to bake those Christmas cookies, pies, cakes and candies.  
Now is a great time to go through your closets and get rid of things you don't need anymore to make room for not only house guests' belongings, but also any clothing or accessory gifts you may get for Christmas.  Finally, cleaning the windows can allow more light in during the short days of winter.  It also can prevent having those strands of light illuminate every finger smudge on your windows.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Austin Unemployment Rate Down

Austin's Unemployment rate decreased again in October to 5.3 percent, reports.  The data from the Texas Workforce Commission shows that construction and technology were responsible for most of the hires.
October's construction numbers were up after a decline in September and are a good indication that Austin continues to experience a building boom.  In the last year, the number of jobs in the Construction sector has gone up over 5 percent.
Many of our city's high tech occupations fall under the professional, scientific and technical services category, which was also up in October.  Over the last year, that sector has added approximately 6,600 jobs, an increase of almost 11 percent.  Local high-tech companies are reporting that they are having trouble getting workers for their positions, especially engineering and technical ones.
The unemployment rate of 5.3 last month was better than the 5.4 percent in September and the 6.6 percent a year ago.  
Across the state, we continue to have better job growth and lower unemployment that the rest of the nation.  Texas's unemployment rate, adjusted for seasonal changes, was 6.6 percent in October, a decrease over the 6.8 percent we saw in September.  A year ago, unemployment for the state was at 7.8 percent.
The U.S.' jobless rate was 7.9 percent in October, a slight increase from the 7.8 percent in September, but much lower than the 8.9 percent we saw a year ago.
Looking for a great new apartment to go with your new job?  Call A Plus Apartment Locators today!

Friday, November 9, 2012

5 Home Cook Essentials

Home cooks' needs are different from those of professional cooks, but sometimes it's hard to know exactly how different.  The Kitchn shares the advice of two professional chefs who are also cooking teachers as to what you need to be a successful cook at home.
First, rather than having the timer let you know when your food is ready, use your senses, letting the sound, smell and textures of the food tell you when your dish is done.  Cooking times are just suggestions, and the actual cooking time depends on factors such as your individual oven or stove and the dish you are using.  Also, have a tasting spoon by the stove and taste your food continuously as you cook.  
Second, when you have stale bread, don't throw it away.  Instead, turn the bread into breadcrumbs with the help of your food processor and then put them in the freezer in an airtight container.  The breadcrumbs will taste great sauteed in butter or oil and then put on pasta, fish, salad, pretty much anything!
Don't like lingering cooking smells?  Fill a bowl with plain, white vinegar and put it on the counter while you are cooking.  It gets rid of cooking odors, particularly ones that linger if you leave the bowl out overnight.  It's great at getting rid of bacon and fried food smells, even fish!  
Next, to see if your meat is done, poke at it with your finger to test its level of doneness.  Finally, measure how big your pinch of salt is so you can salt food to the right amount.  You should also pour a teaspoon of salt into your palm to get a feel for how much that is so you can just eyeball it in the future.  
Ready to use all your senses to cook an incredible meal?  Need a great new kitchen to do it in?  A Plus Apartment Locators can help you find the perfect apartment where you can showcase your culinary skills!

Friday, November 2, 2012

US Economy Adds 171,000 Jobs

The US Economy added 171,000 jobs in October, and there was more hiring in August and September than initially thought.  The unemployment rate did increase slightly to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent in September, reports.
In the last 4 months, 173,000 jobs, on average, have been created a month.  That's a large increase from the 67,000 created monthly in April through June. However, the President still faces voters on Tuesday under the cloud of the highest unemployment rate of any incumbent since FDR. 
The number of people in the work force, which includes both those with jobs and those looking for them, rose by 578,000.  410,000 more people said they were employed, but the number of unemployed people increased by 170,000 to 12.3 million.  The increase in the work force may be a sign that people are starting to see better job prospects, so that actually could be a positive aspect to the report.  The stock market certainly reacted favorably to the news.
The government also reported that 84,000 more jobs were added in August and September than was previously thought.  The economy has added jobs for 25 consecutive months and there are now 580,000 more than when President Obama became president.  The housing recovery is generating construction jobs, manufacturers are started to add jobs, and professional services, hotel and restaurants, and education and health care all added jobs.  The government got rid of 13,000 positions, after increasing employment for three months.
Looking for an apartment near one of Austin's great jobs?  Call A+ Apartment Locators today!

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Story

Today, I've been asked to share my story of overcoming and surviving breast cancer.  I'm happy to do so because I want to encourage and inspire others who are experiencing what I have experienced.

I was 28 years old when my doctor told me I had breast cancer. Words I never expected to hear. I was healthy and exercised daily. I had breastfed my daughter for a year. I had no family history.

After navigating through the shock of my diagnosis, it was time to fight. I can vividly remember looking at my daughter sleeping peacefully that Sunday night, while my mind was racing with fear and anxiety. I told my Mom, "I'm more scared of how she is going to have to see me go through this". And that's when my fight really started.

I went through many treatments and procedures over the course of the next couple of years. As of December 2010, I was done. I am done. No more surgeries, no more chemo. I'm cancer free...but that's just one side of my story.

The other side is, I am a breast cancer SURVIVOR! I have learned so much about how strong I can be and myself. I was inspired by a survivor here in Austin, Texas, who said that she "didn't want to waste her cancer." When I heard that, it really struck a chord with me. I knew that what I had been through stunk. It was hard. I didn’t want to do it again. But I also knew I had to do something with it. I may have been cancer free, but I wasn’t done. That is the other side of my story… and it’s just beginning.

Earlier this year, I was chosen as one of eleven Models of Courage for Ford Warriors in Pink. What an incredible experience! Models of Courage are survivors from across the United States--nine women and two men--that are doing something with their cancer. Ford Motor Company has raised more than $115 million dollars to fight against breast cancer in the past eighteen years. You can watch a new documentary featuring the Warriors in Pink program, Bang the Drum: Living Out Loud in the Face of Breast Cancer, at their website

I'm also very proud that the company I work for, WTA, is helping in the fight against breast cancer with their Go Pink Campaign, which has raised nearly $13,000 for breast cancer awareness, treatment and research over the last 4 years. You can learn more at

Please consider contributing to or joining our Race for the Cure Team, Forever Young, and help us race towards ending this disease.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hawaii Party a Great Success!

A big thank you to all the property managers and agents who came to our annual Hawaii Party Friday, October 5th at Molotov.  It was a phenomenal success!  We loved having the opportunity to talk to all our highly valued managers and leasing agents and toast you for your hard work.  

 We want to give an especially big congratulations to Kathy Chomycia from Broadstone Travesia who won the trip for two to HAWAII!  Kathy was a great sport as she grinned from ear to ear while donning her grass skirt and showing off her certificate.  Aloha, Kathy!

As always, we're very grateful to the Austin Rental Community for all that you do.  It's been a pleasure working with you for the last 25 years and we look forward to 25 more and beyond! 

Until next year!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Essential Kitchen Cleaning Tools

Kitchen cleaning isn't fun, but just like any job, it can go a lot faster and be a lot less painful if you have the right tools.  The Kitchn makes sure you're prepared to tackle the mess that goes on in the most important room in your apartment.

First of all, you need a scrub brush to get nasty caked on food off of your hardworking pots and pans.  You also need a good supply of dish cloths so you can change them out every time you wash the dishes or wipe down your counters and other surfaces.  Using a dirty dishcloth can spread germs and make you sick!  

Non-abrasive scrubbing pads are a must for really tough jobs, as is steel wool for those times when you really need to put some muscle into it like in the oven and on the stovetop.  Cloth or paper towels are good to have close at hand to quickly wipe up messes and spills.  A plastic scraper is another important tool to clean enamel or nonstick cookware without damaging it.  

Rubber gloves will protect your hands and nails from harsh cleaners, those steel wool pads, and leftovers that have become one with their container.  A grease-cutting dish soap like Dawn will make sure you can remove caked on food with ease.  You also should have a multi-surface cleaner for your counters, tile, sink and appliances, as well as the floor.  Finally, make sure you have a dish drainer for anything that must be washed by hand.  Just stacking stuff by the sink is a recipe for broken dishware!

Friday, October 5, 2012

City Council District Boundaries: Who Should Draw Them?

City council districts are on the ballot in November.  There are two competing plans, one of which has district lines drawn by a citizen commission, and the other which doesn't specify how districts will be drawn.  If one of the measures passes, who draws the districts could be another hotly contested issue, reports.

The first plan would have 10 district representatives and a citywide mayor and specifies that citizens will draw the boundaries.  Currently the council is made up of seven citywide members.  There are strict criteria for how these citizens will be chosen, which critics of that plan say will make the pool of eligible commission members too small.  Applicants have to fit several criteria to ensure that they do not have ties to city or state lawmakers.  The city auditor would disqualify the applicants that don't fit the basic criteria, auditors would then reduce the pool to 60, allow each council member to remove one and then draw eight names at random.  Those eight applicants would be in charge of appointing the last six members.  The group would not be able to talk to the city council.  They would then hold public input meetings across the city and at least nine of the members would have to agree on the final district lines.  The districts would be final and could not be changed.

In the other plan, there would be eight district representatives and three citywide seats, including the mayor.  Although it does not specify who would draw lines, most likely the City Council would have a final say, probably after an advisory group came up with an initial map.  Critics say this could result in the council drawing lines that benefit them.  Most U.S. cities with district-based city council members use a model drawn by the city council members themselves, which often results in odd lines being drawn that keep incumbents in office or make sure certain factions retain their voting strength.  Supporters of the second plan say that other checks and balances such as term limits and voting rights laws would keep council members from drawing the lines to serve themselves. 

It remains to be seen which plan, if any, will win on election day.  If no plan receives a majority of the vote, the council remains entirely at large.  If one plan receives over 50 percent of the vote, it will be enacted, and if both plans receive a majority (you can vote for both plans), then the one with the most votes will be put in place.

Looking for an apartment where you can draw the boundaries?  Call A+ Apartment Locators today!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Safely Thaw Frozen Foods: 5 Methods

Thawing frozen foods must be done safely, or you can make yourself sick.  While freezing food does put microorganisms that can cause disease in "suspended animation", once food is warmed up to above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the bacteria can start multiplying.  Apartment Therapy helps you thaw that food without worrying about getting sick.

The simplest way to get that food from frozen solid to ready to eat is to thaw it in the refrigerator.  It does have the longest lead time, however, so you have to plan ahead.  Some of the reasons why this is a great method include the fact that you don't have to actively be involved in the thawing process and the refrigerator makes sure your food remains at a safe temperature.  You can thaw dinner while you're away at work, and if you change your mind about using the food, it can be eaten later or refrozen safely.

Another method is using cold water.  Place the sealed package of food in a bowl, pot or sink and drain and refill the water every half hour until the item is no longer frozen.  Or you can thaw your meat under cold running water.  You can also use the microwave, but this method can cause the food to thaw unevenly, resulting in not very tasty food or even bacteria.  Only use this method if you plan to cook the food, or for frozen fruits that will be served immediately.

You can set out frozen pastries, breads and fruits on the counter and allow them to thaw at room temperature for 2-4 hours.  Never use this method for meat, fish and vegetables, however, to avoid getting sick.

A Plus Apartment Locators can help you find a great apartment to thaw your food in, no matter what your method!

Monday, September 24, 2012

WTA is going PINK!

WTA realizes the importance of using our resources to give back to our community. To that end, we have participated in raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the last 4 years. WTA's Go Pink Campaign has raised almost $13,000 for breast cancer awareness, treatment and research and in 2012, our fifth year, we want to raise at least $3,000 through our Passionately Pink Campaign for Susan G. Komen. 75% of the funds raised stay in the five county area: Travis, Williamson, Caldwell, Hays and Bastrop.

WTA is proud that in 2011 we were one of the top 20 Austin fundraisers for the Susan G Komen Foundation's Race for the Cure. Our team, "Forever Young" had 13 racers from 3 cities and raised more than $2,500.  As a breast cancer survivor and Ford Warriors in Pink Model of Courage, I am very proud to lend my name to WTA's Race for the Cure team!

We need your help to make 2012 our best year yet! If you are an onsite, you can mark your referrals 'Susan G Komen' and we will donate an EXTRA $25 to Susan G Komen on top of your referral fee through November 4th, 2012. Want to do a little more? You can spend some face time with us by joining our race team, Forever Young! You can also donate on your own to the Forever Young fundraising team.

Thank you so much for your support as we continue to race towards the goal of ending this disease.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall Closet Cleaning

Closet Cleaning usually happens at the start of the year thanks to New Year's Resolutions.  But Apartment Therapy makes the case that just after Labor Day is a great time to assess your wardrobe and clean out that closet for the new Fall season.

First, clear your closet out and clean the floor and baseboards.  Dump your Fall and Winter clothes out of your storage bins and set them aside.  Now you're ready to sort your summer clothes into the newly empty storage containers, as well as a donate and toss pile.  Summer is rough on clothes and pool water, beach sand, sunscreen and sweat can get your clothes looking raggedy pretty quickly.  Resist the temptation to store stuff that's clearly past its prime and put them in the toss pile.  Any items you didn't wear all summer, go ahead and donate them.  You're not likely to put them on next year either.  Don't store a plethora of summer purses and hats.  Pick two or three favorites and donate the others.  Label your bins and store them either on a shelf in your closet or under your bed.

Now it's time to examine your Fall Wardrobe.  Try stuff on, make sure it's still in good shape and is something you actually want to wear.  Again, if there are items you didn't wear the previous Fall, you aren't likely to wear them this year.  Make sure you have cold weather accessories like a pair of matching gloves, a hat, boots and that your winter coat doesn't need repair.  It may not be cold now, but you want to be sure to be ready before the temperature plummets and you can't find what you need!

You can follow the same logic for your hall closet and trade summer accessories out for Fall accessories.  You can add a small drawer unit to the floor of the closet to store gloves, mittens and hats, or use an over-the-door shoe organizer.  Another option if your closet is too small for these items is to put a small dresser in your entryway to contain the winter accessories.  Limit each family member to only one or two pairs of shoes in this closet and donate any kids' winter accessories that they've outgrown.  Now you're done and can kick back and enjoy your apartment!

Friday, September 7, 2012

GM Technology Center Coming to Austin

General Motors' Technology Center will come to Austin, the company announced today.  The IT Innovation Center will employ nearly 500 people, reports.

GM is building the facility to make sure its information technology capabilities are on par with its business practices.  The company plans to open four IT centers in the coming years and plans to use information technology to decrease the cost of operations and increase how quickly new products and services are developed.

GM is going to be hiring software developers, project managers, database experts, business analysts and other information specialists and chose Austin because we already have a lot of workers in those fields.  In order to make sure that IT keeps up with what the GM business partners are coming up with, GM is going to change their employment model over the next three years so that they are hiring enough IT workers that "the majority of IT work is done by GM employees focused on extending new capabilities that further enable our business."

General Motors says that its target for the Austin Center is 500 jobs, but they do plan to eventually hire nearly 10,000 IT workers across the company.  They have already leased space in Northwest Austin and have hired a few employees.  They are now planning on quickly increasing recruiting efforts at other companies and in colleges and universities with computer science programs in Texas and beyond.

Although GM did review applying to the city and state for economic incentives, they decided against it because the need to get the center open quickly outweighed the benefit of the incentives.

Looking for a great apartment in Northwest Austin and beyond?  Call A Plus Apartment Locators today!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Scanning Important Documents with Your iPhone

Scanning important documents with your iPhone can help you go paperless and get rid of a lot of paper clutter.  You suddenly don't need a filing cabinet and a lot of other bulky stuff in your apartment.  Apartment Therapy shows you how to scan papers with your iPhone and how to store them.

You can take a picture of anything you need to hold onto such as bills, paystubs, your lease, etc, with your iPhone and then shred and throw away the paper.  The best thing about using your phone is that it's always with you, as opposed to a scanner that you need to take that extra step of going to to save your papers.  Once you've taken the picture of your important stuff, you need a way to store it.

The best way to store your stuff is "in the cloud" so you can access it wherever you need it.  Dropbox is a great program for organizing and saving stuff on the net.  You simply download the program for free, then you can store all your important files.  Inside your Dropbox folder, make a folder only for important documents.  Then you can make sub-folders for anything that you need to be able to find on a regular basis, such as bills, receipts, work, or however else it makes sense for you to organize them.

Another great tool for scanning and keeping images with your phone is TurboScan.  It's only $1.99 and it takes images you've taken with your iPhone and adjusts the lighting and contrast of the image to make sure the text is completely readable.  It also lets you save files in PDF format, e-mail them or save them to Dropbox.  You can then open your files in any application that will open PDFs, even apps like Dropbox and Evernote.

The most important part of this process is to actually scan all those little pieces of paper you have lying around.  Of course, you may not be able to get through the backlog, but go ahead and scan your most important stuff and anything new that comes through.  Enjoy your new paperless existence!