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Monday, August 1, 2011

Meet Your Neighbors

Do you know your neighbors? If you answered no to this question, what's holding you back? Meeting those around you is both a rewarding and possibly life saving thing you can do.

Making friends with your neighbors or people in your complex can reward you with life-long friendships for both you and your children. It also fosters a sense of community and togetherness.

It can also be an important safety step to keep you and your family safe from danger or burglary.  By becoming friendly with your neighbors you are erecting one more defense against crime, since you will have a few people looking out for both you can your home.  Talking to your neighbors and others in your complex, and asking them to look out for suspicious behavior can save both you and them from theft or harm.

Can't think of a way to meet those around you? Try going door to door and introducing yourself, or go door to door and invite them to a small party at your place. It doesn't have to be a big deal just some wine and cheese and good company. If you aren't that bold, then hold a garage sale/ yard sale to get rid of some of your of belongings and have a reason to talk to your neighbors. You could also volunteer around with your complex and see if they have any activities that can get you out there. There are other places like the pool and other common areas that you can introduce yourself to people and make new friends.

Do you know some of your neighbors but not all? Get your complex to throw a block party and invite everyone. This is a fun and low key event that will draw in a lot of people and make a fun social atmosphere.

Just by being open and friendly you can meet your neighbors around you and become a little safer in the long run.

So what are you waiting for? The summer is the perfect time to make new friends and meet your neighbors.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stay Safe When Walking

Staying fit and active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and waking outside is an easy way to do this. It's important to stay safe, aware, and healthy though. Here are some tips that will help you with your walking routine.

  • Get proper walking shoes- don't stress your feet out and put tension on your ankles and feet. Not every shoes offers stability and cushioning.
  • Don't overdo it- Let your body adjust to its new walking routine and frequency of workouts.
  • Remember to breathe- Your breathing should be elevated but you should not be gasping for air. If you are slow down. The opposite is true if you can carry on a full conversation you need to increase your speed.
Walking outside
  • Find a buddy to walk with- It's safer in pairs or a group. The other person can also motivate you and make the time more enjoyable.
  • If you walk alone make sure to tell people where you are going, what route you are taking, and when you are expecting to get back.
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Dress in bright colors- Make sure you are wearing reflectors or bright bold colors when walking in the morning, evening, or night. You want to be seen so no cars are caught unaware.
  • Walk on designated paths or well lit areas- You don't want to put yourself in a dangerous situation so make sure you are aware of your surroundings and what's around you.
  • Walk against traffic if there are no sidewalks- It's easier to see what is coming and become aware of any danger coming towards you.
  • Vary your route- This will make your exercise time more enjoyable in that it's a change of scenery, but it will also help prevent others from memorizing your routine.
  • Be aware- this is the most important thing. Be conscious of what is going on around you whether it is people, traffic, or nature.
  • Don't wear headphone- they distract you from what's going on around you. If you have to keep only one ear bud in.
  • If someone attempts to attack you in public scream at the top of your lungs, "FIRE, FIRE". Studies have shown that people are more apt to respond if they feel threatened by fire.
What to bring with you on a walk
  • Carry pepper spray or a whistle in case you run into any bad situation
  • Cell phone to stay in contact in case of emergency
  • An umbrella in case of rain or defense
  • Walk with a pet for safety if you have one
  • Always have your ID with you so people know who you are just in case.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Charlotte-Area Home Prices Improve Slightly

The recent Charlotte Observer Article says that home prices in Charlotte and around the country climbed in May from the month before, but prices remained down from the previous year, a sign the improvement might be related to seasonal fluctuations rather than economic recovery.

Prices in the metro area increased 0.8 percent from April and fell 5.1 percent from May 2010, according to the closely watched S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Despite the widespread improvement, Standard & Poor's index committee chairman David Blitzer was hesitant to celebrate.

"This is a seasonal period of stronger demand for houses, so monthly price increases are to be expected," he said.

The latest data from the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association show local home sales fell 8 percent in June from June 2010. The median selling price fell 3.7 percent to $156,750. But the number of pending residential contracts - home sales that haven't yet closed, a good predictor of future activity - jumped 18 percent in June, the Realtor association data show.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Reading Suggestions

Are you looking for a good pool or beach read this summer? Here’s a few suggestions that will help with your search.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett- Three women — a white socialite and two black maids — work on a tell-all book about black domestic servants in 1960s Mississippi.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin- In the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are mustering.
The Hunger Games Trilogy, by Suzanne Collins- A girl fights for survival on live TV. This trilogy will grab you and not let go.
Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling- If you haven’t read these books, you might live under a rock since they are a best seller and an icon of a generation. With the last movie out in theatres nows the perfect time to read what you saw.
Bossypants, by Tina Fey-  A memoir from the former Saturday Night Live star and creator of "30 Rock." It’s Tina Fey so you know it will be funny.
Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell- Why some people succeed — it has to do with luck and opportunities as well as talent. Very interesting nonfiction book filled with anecdotes and random facts.
Now You See Her, by James Patterson- A successful lawyer and loving mother, Nina Bloom would do anything to protect the life she's built in New York--including lying to everyone, even her daughter, about her past. But when an innocent man is framed for murder, she knows that she can't let him pay for the real killer's crimes. 
The Southern Vampire Series, series True Blood was based off, Charlaine Harris- This is a vampire series, but it is so much more then what they show on TV. Telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse lives in Bon Temps and deals with being the interest of multiple vampires.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddonis a murder mystery of sorts--one told by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behavior of his elders and peers. This book is so good! You can read it in a day and it will make you smile.
The Dragon Series by Katie Macalister- Romance novels filled with lots of snark, humor, and romance. They are all easy and fun reads good for a day relaxing in the sun or curled up on the couch, but be warned you will have the urge to laugh out loud.
The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning- Is amazing paranormal series, set up around Mac who travels to Dublin to find her sisters murderer. It’s a fast paced series that will have you reading the books one after the other!

I suggest going to Borders before they close and getting some of these books at discounted prices! Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

10 Easy and Cheap Ways to Enhance You Apartment

Do you want to spiff up your apartment without spending a lot of money or breaking any rules? Here are a few clever ideas for renters.
  1.  Accent Wall- Most places don’t want you to paint the walls unless you paint them back to the color they were, before you move out, but a quick make over tip is to just paint one wall to make the room pop. It will bring life into the room, and won’t be difficult to paint back if you have to move out.
  2.   Lighting- lighting and lamps can give the room a modern feel. Head down to IKEA or even Home Goods to pick up a lamp to spruce up a room.
  3.   Pillows- Use pillows on your couch to give your room some more color and pop. If you pick a cool design or pattern you can change the whole feel of the room.
  4.  Window treatments- Putting curtains on the windows can provide both a splash of color and make a drab room happier. Try Anna’s Linens or a Bed Bath and Beyond store.
  5.   Tapestry- You can use the 3M sticky tape to hang up a piece of fabric to a whole wall and give it a wall paper feel without spending a lot of money and without damaging the wall.
  6. Rugs- rugs can give a whole new feel to your place. Choose one that will complement the rest of the d├ęcor in your room, but remember light rugs will show more wear and dirt then dark rugs.
  7.  Glass wear- See-through things that allow light to flow through them make a space look beautiful. You can tie thick silk ribbons to ordinary drinking glasses and turn them into beautiful small vases. Save your wine bottles (or apple cider bottles) and display them in a cluster on window sills or your living room table. Beautiful glass jars like the honey bear ones are also beautiful to display.
  8.  Plants- Greenery and flowers have a calming and uplifting feeling on people. It makes the room feel alive. It’s best if you can use live plants, but if that gets too expensive or hard to upkeep then silk fake flowers and plants work fine. Tree branches give a very modern feel to a room and look great in glass vases.
  9.  Posters- You can buy cheap posters of famous art work and images in stores and on the internet. If you use blue painters tape to hang them, then they will not damage the wall, and make bare walls pop
  10.   Vinyl decals- They are becoming a very popular way to decorate a room without damaging the walls. You can find them at most home stores and even Target. They have many designs that will also help cover some bare space on your walls.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Queen's Feast

Summer is the time to try new things and explore the city and all it has to offer. This week is the Queen's Feast, which is Charlotte's version of restaurant week. It began on July 15 and will go until Sunday the 24. There are more than 90 restaurants across five counties participating this year!

What better reason to go out and discover new restaurants the city has to offer? Plus dozens of places offer the amazing deal of 3 courses (or more) at dinner time for only $30 per person.

Think about it... you will get an amazing meal, and help out some of Charlotte's local restaurants and small businesses. The previous Charlotte Restaurant Week in January 2011 generated approximately 85,000 dinners and almost $4 million in revenue for 83 participating restaurants.

You could try a whole slew of new cuisines by the time the week comes to a close.

Check out the Queen's Feast Website and check to see what restaurants are participating this July.

Some that I recommend are: Cajun Queen (Elizabeth), 131 Main (Dilworth), The Melting Pot (Midtown), Lulu (Plaza Midwood) or Nikko(South End).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Road Trip Tips

Road trips are a summer tradition for many people, but the price of gas is going up at an alarming rate, so how do you balance your need to get in the car and drive, with your wallet? Here are some road trip tips to help with gas, planning and road tripping.

Gas-Saving Tips
  • ·         Drive 55 on the highway- It's a good constant speed, and AAA estimates that driving slower can boost mileage by 5%.
  • ·         Avoid stopping and starting- Accelerating from a standstill requires more fuel then gently letting up on the gas pedal and coasting for a few seconds before accelerating. It can also help to look ahead and let up on the gas pedal when you see a red light, coasting will help with constant breaking.
  • ·         Use cruise control- it helps control your speed and keep you at a constant saving more gas.
  • ·         Watch when you fill your tank- overfilling your tank is both dangerous to your car and to your wallet. When you overfill your tank you can mess up your car's engine and gas can slosh around in the tank and escape, leaving you with less gas then you paid for. Click the gas cap 3 times to ensure that it is on tightly and gas won't escape. Every year 147 million gallons of fuel vaporizes from tanks in the US.
  • ·         Drive when its cooler outside- this one might be hard as it is never very cool in the summer down in the south, but it does help if you leave early in the morning or once the sun sets at night. According to AAA, cooler, denser air can increase power and mileage.
  • ·         Use AC instead of windows- at least in newer cars, air conditioners in newer cars are more efficient, since they cause less drag on the engine then driving with the windows down.
  • ·         Pack light- the lighter your possessions the better your mileage will be. Keep your suitcases and gear in the car too, as objects on the roof create more drag and kill your mileage.
  • ·         It's best to have a plan of action before hitting the road. Chart where you want to go and look up directions online from multiple websites before getting in the car.
  • ·         Don't always trust your GPS- You want to think that it will always give you the correct route, but sometimes the maps and routes on your machine are out of date, which will cause you to get lost or add miles to your trip.
  • ·         If you have kids think about activities for them- nothing is worse than getting in the car and having the kids saying "are we there yet?" every 3 minutes. Make sure you have something for them to read or play with. Highway games are fun like the Alphabet game. You can also find cheap road trip bingo cards at Wal-Mart and toy stores.
  • ·         If you are bringing a pet make sure you have them taken care of- you will need to consider a doggie seat belt or training your dog to handle road trips. Many small outing will prepare them for being in a car for hours. Make sure you make time to stop and let your pet walk around outside.
Other tips
  • ·         Have all of your documents with you- license and car registration are all good to have just in case you do get pulled over.
  • ·         Pull off if you get tired- you don't want to cause an accident, it's better to pull off at a rest stop and rest for a few hours then falling asleep at the wheel and getting into an accident.
  • ·         Join AAA- It's worth the money to have peace of mind that if you do get stuck somewhere with a car issue that you won't be stranded.
  • ·         Learn to read a map- don't always rely on gps. It's better to know how to read a map. It's not hard to learn.
  • ·         Pay attention- It's easy to let your mind wander when you have locked into cruise control, but be aware of your surroundings and the traffic around you. Also keep track of the change in speed limits, you don't want to get a ticket.
  • ·         Learn to change a tire- Even if you have AAA, it is good to know how to do it just in case.
  • ·         Stock your car with essentials- Extra oil, jumper cables, flares, coolant, spare tire, water, ect.