5 Chic Ways to Instantly Improve your Patio

5 Chic Ways to Instantly Update your Patio


The goals are simple. Keep off the leasing staff’s radar and show off your decorating know-how to make all neighboring patios jealous. There are already quite a few at Camden Sierra at Otay Ranch that make me want to update my decor ASAP.

Walking my dog every morning around these apartments, I get to see some unique ideas which I’ve made a mental note about these past few weeks. Here are some of those chic and cheap ways to instantly improve your patio.

  1. Use decorative string lights for that mediterranean vibe.
    Patio String Lights
    Not only are they energy saving because they are battery-operated and LED but you can hang them without causing a fire hazard. We are in San Diego, after all, so if you are missing that relaxing beachy vibe, this will make your patio feel warmer and cozier. You can find some stylish options at the local Pier1 Imports in Eastlake. Hurry, there is one on sale right now for $18.95!

  2. Cheap crates make for cozy seating.
    You can find them at any hardware store like the local Home Depot or Lowes. If you can make the trek, I found some at IKEA for only $9.99! You can paint them any color you choose to go with your patio theme or leave them unfinished.Set an outdoor cushion on top of two or three crates and decorate with a plush throw and a mash of  your fave decorative pillows. Click here for an idea.You can also set one on its side for use as a cheap alternative for an end table! Click here for an example.

  3. Flip over a tomato cage for a space-saving plant holder.
    These usually cost less than $7 a piece and may come in a variety of colors already! Sometimes, all you need are pops of color to add some personality to your patio. These run tall so you have to cut off the legs >>  Get the easy instructions here. You can also check out other planter box ideas here.

  4. Add a mini garden.Create a mini garden
    How about building your own garden in that urban jungle? This always adds an instant update to your patio. Go with all greens because flowers tend to be short-lived. You can choose a pair of small palms, or get a wide aluminum planter to grow tall lemongrass (It’s a great mosquito repellant and chic way to grow some privacy like this.) You can always go with fake flowers and fill a colored mason jar with a few blossoms from the local Dollar Tree as well.

  5. Spray paint an outdoor rug.
    Oh the things you can do with a can of paint and masking tape! Start simple and do stripes or angled lines. Get two of your favorite colors (complimentary or contrasting) of Rustoleum paint and you’ll be ready. Click here for the insanely easy instructions.You can also transform any table cloth into an outdoor rug by doing this neat trick – which consequently, also makes it pet proof for those outdoor oopsies.If you want that backyard feel, add some grassy green turf as a rug instead!

Thank you to the residents who inspired my patio envy with their beautiful designs. If you need more patio inspiration, check out how to build an urban jungle for your apartment here.

Until next time,


5 Ways to Save on Road Trips You Probably Aren’t Using

Sometimes you just want to get away and scratch off something from the bucket list. With 76 percent of travelers still choosing to road travel over air (USA Today), it is still one of the more popular vacation ideas to take with family and friends. With road trip season coming up, there are absolutely no excuses to stay home.



  1. Choose a destination no more than 8 hours away.
    Anything more than that and you are going to be adding a one night stay in a roadside inn or hotel. Avoid the cost and keep it pushing. Living in San Diego, I have planned weekend road trips to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and most recently the Grand Canyon.
  2. Bring your own food.
    Need I say more? Even as the driver, you are expending energy and as your body uses it up, it wants to eat and drink to replenish itself. Load up a small cooler with ice or chillers and drop in some water bottles, energy drinks, cut up fruits and even veggies. Don’t forget to eat a meal in town before hitting the road so you don’t end up getting the hunger pains and spending unnecessarily on fast food.
  3. Depart at off peak times.
    Recently, my family and I headed to the Grand Canyon and we left on a Saturday evening around 8 pm. What was the advantage? Not only was there no traffic, but we also avoided pit stops like outlet malls that are tourist traps for more spending!
  4. Don’t buy it, borrow it! 
    I spent countless hours online trying to find the perfect tent for our camping trip, but  realized that I didn’t know one iota about what to expect at the Grand Canyon. Instead, my cousin let me borrow hers. All it took was a post on Facebook and a phone call. The power of social media is unbelievable. So believe in it.
  5. Don’t go it alone – go in a group – or quid pro quo.
    It’s the same concept that a business like Groupon thrives on. The idea is to limit costs be splitting it within members of the group. The larger the group, the cheaper the cost. In my case, planning the Grand Canyon meant reserving a camping spot early. I could not wait for others to confirm and pay beforehand, so I decided to delegate duties! In lieu of paying for the reservation, my friends and family could bring a meal for everyone to share. This took meal planning off my shoulders and it gave us all one less expense to worry about.


There are even more specific ways to travel without emptying your wallet, although, admittedly, nothing is quite free. Whether it be an app on your phone, a work perk you never knew about, a Groupon deal, a great vacation rental, or just keeping an eye out on travel sites like TripAdvisor, the cost of the adventure doesn’t have to outweigh the fun you’re supposed to have.

That last shot was all of us at the South Rim in the Grand Canyon. Which reminds me, don’t forget to take great photos! Here are some tips for taking photos like a pro.

Until the next adventure,





Finding and Joining Your Local Food Co-op

Do you know what a food co-op is? I’d heard of them for a while but hadn’t really looked into what it was until this past week. A coworker told me about Rawfully Organic– a local food co-op here in Houston that has pick up sites less than a mile from my apartment. Their site states that “a food co-operative is a community of individuals and families that come together to share in seasonal foods and to work together to create a better balance of peace and harmony for all. It’s for everyone, and it is helped run by everyone.” (rawfulllyorganic.com) In my terms, a food co-op is a community where you can purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables, become a part of the farm to table process, and really connect with where your food comes from.


Considering they offered this HUGE box of local, fresh produce for $25, I couldn’t help but check it out! (The juice was an additional purchase- SO TASTY! I did my research first of course, reading through their volunteer opportunities, FAQ, pick up locations, and finally heading over to order a share online. The process was incredibly easy. I ordered online Thursday afternoon, and Saturday, on my lunch break from work, I headed over to pick it up.


I just want to reiterate- I got this entire box for only $25! It included an abundance of spinach, kale, celeriac, pinto beans, beets, dinosaur kale, red cabbage, arugula, parsnips, chard, fennel, and fresh dill! Eating healthy on a budget never looked so good!

I was greeted with warm smiles and hugs! I got to speak with Kristina, the founder and chief-operator of Rawfully Organic about how the process works. They work closely with Gundermann Acres, a local farm in Wharton, TX. They purchase only what is needed based on the orders they receive, as not to be wasteful. EVERYTHING that they offer is organic! It’s an incredible deal.

I love this bit from her site about why organic is so wonderful:


There are SEVERAL reasons to buy organic, many having to do with not depleting our nature’s soil. Organic produce has 3x the amount of nutrients contained in non-organic produce. One person must eat 21 conventionally-grown oranges to get the same amount of nutrition contained in 7 organic oranges. Not to mention, they ALWAYS taste better! After a while, you will be able to even taste the difference in non-organic bananas and ours. YES! We also want to support sustainable practices, and when we put our dollars toward sustainable, that is exactly what we will create more of in the world! Lettuce create abundance!



I probably seemed a little overexcited while I was there, but I really enjoyed every part of this process and hope to get more involved soon. If you’re looking for a local food co-op to join in the Houston area, I’d definitely encourage you to check out Rawfully Organic. If you’re not in Houston, you can use this great Food Co-op search through Local Harvest to find what’s available to you locally.


Cheers to happy, healthy living!

-Cali Hix

Live at Camden. Work at CamdenLife at Camden.

What Exactly Does A ________ Do? Part II

In the first piece of the “What Exactly Does A _______ Do?” series,  told you what your community Leasing Consultant does. In part II of this informative, fun installment, I will focus on your Community Maintenance Technician/Groundskeeper!

I am sure that if asked, most residents would immediately assume that all maintenance/grounds employees do work orders and pick up grounds. This is a fair assumption which is why this where I will start:

They complete work orders!


Richard, Camden Gallery, perfecting the community one window at a time!

When your toilet is clogged, your light bulb goes out or your garbage disposal ceases to dispose of garbage, who you gonna call? Your Maintenance Technician! The Fairy Godmother does not repair your apartment home – your Maintenance Technician does.

They run grounds!


Bill, Camden Ballantyne, doing his part to maintain the beauty and cleanliness of the community no matter rain or shine!

Your Maintenance Technicians/Groundskeepers are always making sure that your property looks up to standard. Loos trash, spills and other visual obstruction to the community are handled on an every day, sometimes more than once, basis. No one wants to live on a nasty looking, unsanitary property.

They “Lend A Hand”!


Lend-A-Hand in full swing at Camden South End!

Teamwork is everything at Camden! When a larger project needs to be done or a community is understaffed, the Camden Maintenance Technicians will gather, from near and far, to make sure the job gets done! Maintenance Technicians need to be selfless in order to make sure that Camden properties continue to remain a great place to live.

They take part in resident events!


Who does not love breakfast handouts at Camden Touchstone? Rick and Brad sure do!

Your technicians do their best to take part in resident events. It is equally as important to get to know your onsite technician as it is to get to know your office staff!

They take call!

When you forget your keys or get locked out of your apartment after hours, who comes to the rescue? What about that maintenance emergency you might have experienced? Yep! Your Maintenance Technician. Every week, these team members sacrifice their weekends, days with their families and general free time to make sure you know how much they care. They run grounds on weekends and are available to take care of your emergencies.


Joe, Camden Southline, handing out breakfast and having fun doing it!

Sometimes your maintenance technician is quiet. Sometimes outgoing. They ask for no limelight, attention, reward. They just do what is asked of them in a timely fashion. Regardless of whether you see them, hear them or even know them at all, always remember that your community still stands because of the work that these silent heroes do on a daily basis.

Next time you see your onsite Maintenance Technician, give them a big hug and say “Thank You”!

Focus on Your Future

5 Tips to Save for Retirement

Now, more than ever before, saving for retirement is all in our hands. Long gone are the days of corporate pension plans. It’s time for each of us to take charge of planning for our golden years no matter how young or old we are. Here are 5 tips that will jump-start your savings and investment process.


Rainy Day Umbrellas

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Saving for a rainy day!

I was fortunate that at a very young age, my parents encouraged me to set up a basic savings account at the local bank. It is a practice that I have kept up throughout the years and it is paying off! Although interest rates are at an all-time low, setting aside $25 to $100 or more from each paycheck really adds up. Each year you should re-evaluate your financial situation and consider increasing the amount of money you are contributing to your savings account. Financial experts agree that you should have a three to six month reserve of money that you can easily access in case of emergency.

If a savings account is not for you, consider a money market account.


Game Plan

Photo courtesy of realtrends.com

Develop a Game Plan                                                                       

Take time to visualize what you want your retirement years to look like, then make a plan for how much you will need to live the lifestyle you envision. Your plan may include short and long term goals. Now turn your goals into SMART goals. When you put your plan in writing, make sure it is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound. Review your game plan every year and make adjustments as necessary.  Remember to always keep the end in mind.



Photo courtesy of wealthartisan

The time to start is now!

Whether you’re in your early 20’s or approaching 50, it’s never too late to start investing. Consider an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), Roth IRA, or your company’s 401(k) plan.

Traditional IRA: You make contributions with money you may be able to deduct on your tax return. Any earnings potentially grow tax-referred until you withdraw them during  your retirement years.

Roth IRA: You make contributions with money you have already paid taxes on.

401(k)Camden offers a 401(k) plan through Fidelity Investments to all employees.

Employee contributions are on a pretax basis. Camden matches 100% of the first 2% of compensation contributed to the Plan and 50% of the next 5% of compensation contributed to the plan. Any time a company matches your contribution, that’s free money!  If possible contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the company’s match.

The best words of advice I ever received from a financial advisor is to diversify your investments in your 401(k). If you are a conservative risk taker, like I am, invest in some low risk funds, add in a few moderate risk funds, and if you can stand it, add in one or two higher risk funds.


$ Sign

Photo courtesy of cliparthut.com

Every time you get a raise, increase your savings and investments

The old saying “Every little bit helps.” is so true when it comes to saving and investing.Start small and try to increase the amount you save or invest on a regular basis throughout the year (every month, every other month, etc.). When you get a raise, consider increasing your savings and upping your contributions to your investment accounts.



Photo courtesy of bing.com

Never stop learning

There are numerous seminars, workshops, and classes to attend as well as books to read on saving and investing your money wisely. Check your local community college and university for credit and non-credit classes. Check the website of your IRA or 401(k) administrator for a listing of seminars that may be available at no cost to you. Take a look at books written by financial authors Suze Orman, Jean Chatzky, and Dave Ramsey. Additional resources to consider are your local libraries and AARP. You’re never too old (or young) to learn.

Whatever your age, start planning for your future.

Please consult a financial advisor for guidance on how to meet your short and long-term financial savings and investment goals.

What Do I Do When…Emergencies Happen?

One of the best features of luxury apartment living is have emergency on-call maintenance available 24/7. As a previous home owner, who had to wait 3 days (THREE DAYS!) to have my power restored and A/C unit repaired, I wholeheartedly appreciate Camden‘s emergency maintenance service. Below you’ll find a quick explanation of what are considered emergency maintenance issues, along with steps to having any of those issues addressed. Here at the Camden Contact Center, we are an extension of your local leasing office and treat your emergencies with the utmost care and importance.


Looking for more information from our What Do I Do When… series?
Check out our other posts on the Simply Camden blog.
Want to give a shout out to your awesome maintenance team?

Tell us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!
Don’t forget- #CamdenHappy and #SimplyCamden

We love to hear from our residents.
Happy Living friends!

Live at Camden. Work at CamdenLife at Camden.

DIY Luxury Headboard for Less


Refreshing your apartment bedroom doesn’t mean you have to spend your next rent check on a new bedroom set. This is a fabulous $400 look for only $26 and plenty of elbow grease. Ever since I upgraded to Camden’s technology package, I have been watching marathons of home remodels designed by the “Property Brothers” and “Fixer Upper” from HGTV. Needless to say, I got 3 projects done on my free time and this DIY tufted headboard was my favorite.

I ended up selling my outdated queen headboard and frame and replacing it with this $26 DIY Headboard. Also, knowing how easy this was to create, I can now customize my headboard anytime I want! It’s a much anticipated luxury makeover for my ocean-themed (hues: silvers, blues, lavendar, coral white) bedroom!

Materials you’ll need:

  • Posterboards ( 6 total with each at 20 x 30 in )
    Found them at $1 each at the local Dollar Tree
  • Yardstick ( 1 )
    Found one at Wal-Mart for less than $2
  • Superglue sticks
  • Superglue gun
    Be sure to have an oven mitt ready or you’ll burn a finger like I did!
  • Ball cover buttons 
    I bought enough to place 14 buttons in three different rows (5 x 4 x 5 pattern)
  • Packing tape
  • Quilt batting ( 2 )
    Found these at Wal-Mart for less than $9 each
  • Material to cover your headboard (2 – 3 yards)
    I found a great satin gray material that matched my comforter and pillows
  • Needle and thread
  • 3M Large Command Strips (3 – 4 pairs)
  • Iron





  • Before you start, have a large surface to work on. I cleared my dining room table and it worked perfectly!
  • Your workspace should have easy access to a power outlet for your glue gun.
  • Absolutely iron your material before securing this on your wall!
  • Plan out how many buttons you’ll need and the pattern you’ll follow.
  • Use an oven mitt to press down the material after using the hot glue gun.
  • Watch the video first!


Summary of Steps: Now let’s get to it!

  1. The first step is to watch this tutorial from Alexa Katherine. I skimmed through at first and spent over an hour on the ball cover buttons. My thumbs were so sore! Then I watched the tutorial again and had an “aha” moment.
  2. Now that you’ve got the gist of it, start assembling your poster boards. I superglued a pair of them together to provide more strength and thickness. It was well worth it in the end. Then I taped the three pairs together along the tall edge. Since I had a queen bed, I did not need to make additional cuts like it mentioned on the tutorial. (Measurements are provided on the tutorial.)
  3. Spread out your first layer of quilt batting over the poster boards and measure a 4 inch border all around. Cut off the excess. Pull each side taut before supergluing the batting onto the back of the poster board. Repeat for the second layer of quilt batting.
  4. Spread your material over the poster board and again, measure a 4 inch border all around. Cut off the excess. Pull the material tight and superglue it down onto the back of the poster board.
  5. Iron out the material at this point.
  6. Now work on getting the fabric onto the buttons. The trick is to use the template provided on the back of the product and cutting out several pieces ahead of time. Once the material has been cut, apply it over the button and ensure that the teeth have caught onto it to prevent the material from coming loose. Use the backing to click and lock the material into place.
  7. Use a thread and needle to sew the buttons onto the headboard. Be sure to pull tight! This creates that tufted look.
  8. In order to hang this on the wall, I cut out pieces of cardboard and superglued it on each corner of my new headboard. Why is this important? It is where I taped each 3M Command Strip to secure it safely on my apartment wall. It’s the perfect invention to ensure I don’t damage my bedroom walls.



With that said, I am IN LOVE with this new luxury look. Since I chose a fabric with a sheen to it, it really added dimension to my wall, especially since my apartment has flat wall paint – meaning it has a matte finish.

This was a great luxury look for less and am certain I will be customizing my headboard to match my future Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter bedroom makeovers!

What other luxury looks should I try next? Add your thoughts in the comments below.










What Do I Do When…I Want A Furry Friend

Looking to adopt a new pet? We love our furry friends here at Camden and welcome them with open arms and treats! If you’re looking to bring a new pet home, there are a few things that you will need to keep in mind before doing so. Following the steps below will ensure you are best prepared to be a new pet owner and that you’re aware of all the great perks Camden has to offer!

wdidw-i-want-a-furry-friend (1)

There’s plenty to consider and prepare for when getting a new pet. Check out this online quiz to see if you are ready to adopt! You may be interested in learning about the best ways to move in with your new pet as well.  You can keep up to date with new tips and tricks on pet ownership here with us on SimplyCamden.com.

We love our residents both two and four legged!
Happy living friends!



Live at Camden. Work at CamdenLife at Camden.



Since my early childhood days, I have been a proponent of lifelong learning. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a family of educators. Perhaps it’s because 17 years ago I followed in my family’s footsteps when I entered the Training and Development profession. My goal each day is to learn something new.

My quote

In today’s world, we all should look at ways of taking learning into our own hands. There are numerous routes to take such as getting a degree at a community college, university, trade or vocational school.

However, if a degree is out of the question, why not take individual classes that focus on specific areas of interest? Many educational institutions offer both credit and non-credit classes. There are also numerous seminars and workshops offered by companies such as SkillPath, Fred Pryor Seminars, and American Management Association.

Do you enjoy the feeling of a good old fashioned book in your hands? There are thousands of business books just waiting to be explored by authors such as Kenneth Blanchard, John Maxwell, and Marshall Goldsmith.

Bookshelf 2                                       Bookshelf

More recently, the wonderful world of technology has opened up a whole new world of learning. There is a plethora of webinars, podcasts, and on-line classes right at our fingertips.


Photo courtesy of https://stocksnap.io


Do you work for a company that fosters and promotes lifelong learning? Employees at Camden Property Trust are fortunate to have the opportunity to continue their learning throughout their Camden career. Whether it is a Camden U instructor-led class, Camden social media and leasing webinars, or online classes through Grace Hill, Dale Carnegie, or Lynda.com, we provide an array of learning options that best meet the learning needs of each employee. Our focus on lifelong learning comes from the top down. Our CEO, President, and COO are raving fans of continuous learning.

Camden U logo

Grace Hill

Photo courtesy of grace hill website

Dale Carnegie

Photo courtesy of Dale Carnegie website









Photo courtesy of Lynda.com website

Camden has upped the game when it comes to taking Lynda.com classes. Every Camden employee has their own license and they are able to select from the more than 3,000 classes Lynda.com has to offer. Our internal Training page features playlists containing classes recommended by Camden employees along with employee testimonials. Monthly class promotions appear on Camden’s internal home page and in our HR newsletter. In addition to the playlists, our Training page contains additional information for registering, upgrading, and signing on to Lynda.com along with links to the Lynda.com library of classes.

Self-directed learning is the name of the game. It is up to each one of us to take learning into our own hands and choose the method of instruction that works best.

Visit the Camden Careers section on the Camden website if you are looking for a company that offers an awesome work environment, excellent benefits and lifelong learning opportunities.

Camden Logo

What Do I Do When… My Neighbors Are Noisy!

It happens to the best of us. We brush our teeth, hit the lights, and as soon as our head touches the pillow…we hear our neighbor’s new surround sound system. Maybe they’re rearranging their furniture or having a loud conversation on their patio. Most residents aren’t aware of how sound travels in and around their apartment home, so if you’re feeling the bass of your neighbors stereo, Camden is here to help!

We want your apartment living experience to be the best it’s ever been and that’s why we’re committed to Living Excellence. If you have a chance, check out all of the features available to you online through Camden and take advantage of all that’s offered from the apartment search to your community lifestyle.

Have questions? Let us know! We love to hear from you!



Cali Hix

Want to be a blogger like me? Join Our Team!

Read Any Good Books Lately?

One day I would like to own a house that would fit all of my books...

One day I would like to own a house that would fit all of my books…

You know that friend you had when you were growing up that always had her nose stuck in a Judy Blume book? The one who welcomed being sent to her room because it meant she could start her next Sweet Valley High novel? Well, that was me! I might as well have been born with a book in my hand. Some infants have stuffed animals and Continue reading

Feels like home at Camden Dunwoody … We invite you!

Feels like home at Camden Dunwoody...We invte you!Camden Dunwoody is the featured of the week. This community perfectly nestled in the area of Dekalb County’s heart of Dunwoody. We are close to Interstate-285 and just minutes from Perimeter Mall, Buckhead, Midtown and other popular dining. We offer convenient living for those who want the subtle lifestyle of a family environment but expect to mingle within the life of the city.

Now that we are getting ready for the spring, we certainly believe this is a wonderful time to show off what Camden Dunwoody has to offer. At first glance, you notice Camden Dunwoody’s beautiful landscape. The landscape is such eye candy to those that don’t just call it an apartment, but they call it home.

Fitness Center_resized

24-hour Fitness center       With all the equipment and free weights, residents can enjoy the amenities without paying any additional costs. Camden Dunwoody residents enjoy this amenity and look forward to the certified yoga trainer that visits

Saltwater PoolPool Bld 10_resized

Camden Dunwoody offers a resort style experience and is the centerpiece of this community. You can be assured that Camden Dunwoody’s salt water pool won’t leave residents to suffer any of the symptoms of a chlorine-filled pool.

Gorgeous Landscape

Azaleas      Cherry Blossums      Japenese Maple

 The maintenance team makes sure the grounds are well kept daily, and landscaping treated once a week.  It’s such a peaceful atmosphere and having the visual of the beautiful shrubs, the Azaleas, the Cherry blossoms, and even the Japanese maples certainly helps on the days of reflection. No matter if it’s 12 month or 5 years that you are lived here, its home. Grilling is available and located in the pool area. You can bet you’ll always have availability even with the “first come first served” policy. Whenever there is a need for a little more privacy, the Gazebo is the perfect location to get away without leaving the Gazebohome.                                             Grillz