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Better to Rent or Own? It’s a question a get a lot. Again the answer isn’t a ‘one-size-fit-all’ type thing because it depends where you live and how expensive it is to purchase vs. rent. However, Trulia has a great...

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Selling in 2011? 5 things you MUST know. If you are considering selling your house in 2011 here are my top 5 things you need to know as a seller. This is one of my few longer posts, just so you’re prepared! Of course my standard disclaimer...

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Pflugerville home – 2000sqft+ for under $150K View Full Album Yes, the Austin market is still strong. For those who are relocating to Austin, TX, Pflugerville is just minutes away from Austin, and about 20 minutes to all the downtown fun! This...

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The New Mueller HEB!

Posted on : 02-08-2013 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Austin Life

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I have been an EastSide resident on and off for several years now, and have been waiting a LONG time for a decent grocery store. Finally! That day has come!

 

Went on a Friday morning at 11am. Was a medium to light crowd. Live music outside, lots of mamas with babies enjoying and dancing (or bouncing, as it were!).

Love the Café area, the selection of bulk food and bulk spices were nice, but limited. It is more of a mix between Central Market and HEB. Works fine for me and my needs! Large floral area, seemed like better quality baked goods as well.

The biggest issue is going to be parking. At an off-peak time, the parking lot was FULL. Like 0 spots. Not even far away. I gave up looking for a closer spot, and parked over in a different section by the coming-soon Verts. However, once that retail section opens up, what will become of the parking situation then? I don’t know if they underestimated the number of people who would be attending this HEB, or what… but it’s going to be a problem.

As far as me… I always tend to shop at off-peak times as much as possible, AND, I don’t mind walking, so hopefully this should save me!

How Bad Will Austin Traffic Get?

Posted on : 12-06-2013 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Austin Life

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Having been in Austin 13 years, I’ve noticed an increase in traffic in the time I have lived here for sure, but it seems the past 2 years have been way worse than years past. This makes sense considering that the Austin City Demographer estimates that 85+ people are moving to the Austin area a DAY. Yes every single day. And our city’s current transportation methods are definitely not set up to accommodate for the growing population.

I notice more people complaining about traffic, and in my very informal survey’s with friends they all concur. I find myself looking to avoid traffic times as much as possible.. which can be tricky with my line of work, especially with a downtown office. This feeling was further validated by the following articles in the past few years.

The city is working on solutions, and one of the most interesting propositions I’ve seen is called the ‘cut-and-cap’ idea. It certainly looks interesting, and their rendering of what downtown could look like is definitely intriguing and appealing. The good news is that this project organizer is looking for feedback from the community and has the backing of several downtown groups.

Several other cities have also done similar things, including Dallas (although their park is built on top of part of the highway), and I figure, if Dallas can back a project like this… Austin certainly can. Check out the Klyde Warren Park

Read the full article by following this link: Community Impact – Central Austin, cut-and-cap

cut and cap

So, in answer the question that started this post, traffic is definitely going get bad in the mean time, my estimation is at least another year. Whatever plan is adopted, will need to go through several levels of approval process’ so…. as much as I hate to say it… I don’t see traffic getting any better any time soon.

Oh, and before I forget, once the city approves a plan… well, then, we deal with the actual construction process itself, which is no doubt, going to be quite the adventure. I say ‘bring it on!’.

How to Organize Eye Shadows

Posted on : 08-11-2012 | By : Sumina | In : Craft/Hobbies/Organization

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While my blog is primarily a real estate blog, I also have a crafty side…. and an organized side. Especially, when it comes to making the most of space, and coming up with space saving solutions to common problems. Or at least, problems that are common to me!

The problem: Too many eye shadows! I started thinking that I couldn’t be the ONLY girl with this problem. And even if it’s not eye shadows, this same technique can apply to a variety of items.

So back to the eye shadows; I have to sift through my whole drawer to find a color I KNOW I have. It’s makes ‘getting ready’ time messier and more time consuming that it has to be. Especially if I have a few girlfriends over, and we are all getting ready to go out… my bathroom space is very limited, so the quicker people can find what they need and get out of the way, the better! More time for me to get ready! Smile

Here is also a short video I did for more clarification and some ‘learned lessons’ about this project: Organizing Eye Shadows

My ‘before’ picture.

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Here is my idea: Create a ‘hiding place’ for the items, preferably on a wall surface to save drawer space and make it easy to visually look at all the colors at once, and make finding the right colors quickly. So, I started brainstorming, and tried a variety of items from magnets, to sticky dots to finally Velcro! The overall idea is to get some artwork you like and matches you décor, and hide eye shadows behind it! Let’s get down to the step-by-step instructions.

Supplies:

  • 12×12 piece of hang-able artwork
  • small hinge and screws
  • velcro squares
  • level
  • and your eye shadows of course!

Step 1: Find your art!

Find a photo/painting in a 12×12 size. I found this one on sale, and it worked with my bathroom décor, so $12 later, it was mine. Make sure that the depth of the artwork is at least 2 inches thick.

IMG_3784

Step 2: Mounting the Hinges

You don’t want to mount this artwork up on the wall the ‘regular way’. You want to mount it on a hinge, opening to either the right or left side. I found the hinge at Home Depot for around $2.50

If you have a piece of artwork like I do which is canvas mounted on wood, you can drill your hinges directly into the back of the canvas/wood frame. Do that FIRST… THEN mark and drill the holes for the wall part of where the hinge will attach.

IMG_3785IMG_3789IMG_3787

So now you should be able to open and close the ‘door’ you have just created.

 

Step 3: Background….

Just to make it pretty, I found a complimentary colored piece of scrapbook paper and created that as the background for the eye shadows. I just put that up with thumbtacks, but in retrospect, I’d probably just recommend attaching your Velcro directly to the wall as I can already tell that the paper is going to start tearing eventually. (See my YouTube link for a video explanation) So, now you should have a ‘door’ that you can open and close with a pretty background!

IMG_3790IMG_3791

Step 4: Start Velcro-ing!

Get your eye shadows and Velcro squares and start putting a piece of Velcro on the back of your eye shadow pots.

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Step 5: Start sticking the eye shadows up

Put the other side of the Velcro on your background, and start putting your eye shadows up! I would recommend doing these a few at a time so you don’t over crowd your background, and can still close your ‘door’ seamlessly.

IMG_3802IMG_3805

 

And Voilà! Before and After

IMG_3797 IMG_3809

Here is a link to a YouTube video I did a few days later with some more info. Organizing Eye Shadows

Where is the Indian Food in Austin?

Posted on : 29-10-2012 | By : Sumina | In : Austin Life

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If you are new to Austin, and especially if you are coming from a larger metropolitan area, you may be wondering where one goes for good Indian food or an Indian grocery store. In my quest to be the ‘go-to’ person for my clients who are new to town… and more honestly, because I’m just lazy, I decided to take the time and compile a Google Map that can give you a visual of all the Indian Restaurants and Grocery Stores. Some food trailers are on there as well.

There is currently a lack of Indian clothing stores in Austin. However, there are a few women who have a home-based/online business. As I find them, I’ll add them to the map as well.


View Indian Places Around Austin in a larger map

If there is a new place that’s opened up around town, please message me and let me know. You can reach me @Sumina on Twitter, or on FB.

ACL 2012–A 30-Something Guide

Posted on : 21-10-2012 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Austin Life

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After having been in Austin for 12+ years, I thought it was finally time that I get around to IMG_3647one of Austin’s biggest musical events of the year. Austin City Limits!

Being in my 30’s, I thought I’d post a bit about my experience and what I learned and how my overall experience went. Especially when I looked at the 20-something year olds (or younger) and found myself thinking, “So glad I am not tempted to do THAT!” One example; Wearing any shoe with a heel. Crazy people!!

IMG_3706Hopefully, if it’s your first time going, you may be able to grab a few tips to improve your experience and have a better time than if you hadn’t read this post!

Here is my Picasa Album from the event

 

 

 

 

 

Onto the fun stuff…. ACL Tips!

  • Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Not being a big weather IMG_3669checker, I did make a point to check the weather daily before I headed out. For this weekend, we had sun, rain, high humidity, and of course some pretty gorgeous weather thrown in. We had a 20 minute downpour on Saturday. Enough to make EVERYTHING muddy, slippery, sticky and overall disgusting.
  • If rain… then pack a poncho, and several plastic bags to throw damp clothes into. Also recommended are a few Ziploc bags for cell phones, digital camera or to keep any other electronics safe and dry. image
  • Wear comfortable shoes. I had something like these. Not sexy, but definitely allowed me to walk through all kinds of gunk for hours, and trek back and forth between the 46 acres that is ACL.
  • How to best find your group. Look out for people with a flag or other ‘marker’ to locate your group. This is the best way to find people and be found. IMG_3624
  • Be prepared for little or no cell reception. Be prepared that you’ll have either no, or very limited cell reception. I had mostly ‘no-service’ for about 80% of the weekend, but even when I had 3 bars of signal, it was very difficult for text messages to get through. I had a few pre-determined spots to meet people, and that worked out better than trying to send text messages which didn’t get there in time. Granted, I have AT&T, and people with other providers didn’t seem to be struggling as much as I was.
  • Be aware of your alcohol consumption: One other perk about being in your 30’s is that most of us have learned how to pace our alcohol consumption by now. Especially at a weekend-long, outdoor event. But, just to reiterate, alcohol is dehydrating, drink carefully and hydrate more than you think you should. Which leads me to my next tip….
  • Anticipate dehydration. If you are not from Austin or Texas, the heat can be deceptive. The humidity makes it feel like you are really not losing too much sweat, but you are. By the time you start feeling lightheaded, or get a headache etc, it’s already too late. Start pounding the water and electrolytes.
  • General supplies that were helpful:
    • Sunscreen – lotion not aerosol cans
    • Hat – keeping the sun off your face and head helps you not feel as hot throughout the day
    • Camelback or similar water delivery device. There are filling stations throughout the park. Keep hydrated!!!
    • Emergen-C or other electrolyte product. I liked Emergen-C because the packets are dry, lightweight, and I can literally mix them in my mouth if I don’t have a spare water bottle. This came in handy when we were standing for hours in order to catch a band we liked and someone started feeling lightheaded.
    • Take breaks. If you are going to go for all 3 days, save up your energy for the bands you are most excited to see. Perhaps sit under a tree and people watch for an hour to recoup in the middle of the day. On Saturday I headed out to the park at 2pm knowing I would be there all day.

    Bands I saw

    • Delta Spirit – just caught a bit of the end of their show was a GREAT start to the festivities.
    • Ben Howard – I didn’t know anything about Ben Howard, and was pleasantly surprised. I am definitely a new fan!
    • Tegan and Sara – having been fans of their for YEARS, I was excited to see them, and was not disappointed!
    • Florence + The Machine – This was definitely the band I was most excited about seeing! It was a great show, I was up close, and her performance was beautiful.
    • The Black Keys – I was in the very front for this show, and started feeling too claustrophobic and somewhat dehydrated (see ‘Tips’ above), so I watched a part of it from afar. GREAT show, high energy and fun, fun, fun!
    • AVICII – having never heard of AVICII before ACL, I wandered over here and was blown away by a GREAT light show and some high energy dancing. Also a big fan. Techno/electronic fans would have been pleased!
    • Metric – this was the second band I was most interested in seeing. Having been a fan of theirs for a while, I was thrilled to see their name in the lineup. Did not disappoint, AND they jammed out through the rain! (Which is why I have almost no photos of this show.)
    • La Vida Boheme – randomly saw this band while heading to the bathroom area. Great sound and a very happy surprise
    • The Roots – was WAY back for this show, but honestly, I didn’t think it was the best performance I saw
    • Bassnectar – also an enjoyable show, but not as good as AVICII.
    • The Devil Makes Three
    • Bad Books
    • NEEDTOBREATHE
    • The Lumineers – GREAT show, but WAYYYY too crowded. They were on too small a stage and it was not possible to see anything.
    • Iggy & The Stooges
    • Childish Gambino – another unexpected find that was fun, and a GREAT way to end my first ACL!

How Awesome is Austin?

Posted on : 23-07-2012 | By : Sumina | In : Uncategorized

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The Austin Business Journal released an article today with a great summary of the various lists and ranking that Austin appears on. While this is not a comprehensive list, it does highlight the best lists that Austin appears in.

Everything from Forbes, to GrubHub and others… lists for vegetarian friendly cities, to the best cities to find BBQ, to the best cities for investment, best city for college grads (with a 6% unemployment rate, it’s no wonder), best city for technology start-ups…. and well the list goes on. Literally!

However, the issues I’ve been complaining about for years… traffic… Sadly, we also rank fairly high for having some of the worst commutes in the nation, which is surprising considering that Austin isn’t a huge city by most national/world standards.

Austin Traffic Sucks… A Lot

Posted on : 27-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Uncategorized

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A short time ago, I wrote a post about how Austin is ranked highly among telecommuters. Well it better be, because, as a city, we are REALLY bad when it comes to traffic. It’s hard for me to dog on my city. Really it is, I love Austin, but traffic isn’t going away.

A little under a week ago this story came out from the Austin Business Journal about how bad traffic is in Austin. Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know from attending meetings with State Senators and Legislators, the top issues Texas will be facing in the next few decades seem to be traffic and water issues. image

The ‘Urban Mobility Report’ ranked us has having the third worst traffic time index in 2009. What does that mean? That the time it takes to travel at non-traffic hours compared to traveling the same route during traffic times pretty much sucks. I tend to avoid I-35 as much as possible… but the times I do have to take it, I try to time my drive at non-peak hours. Overall we are spending 39 hours a year in traffic. Ouch.

What are the solutions? Well it’s not an easy one depending on who you are talking to. Building more roads isn’t always feasible (think the Mopac area around 45th Street). The access point is already going through a neighborhood. Not to mention the cost, and building more/multi-level highways aren’t going to encourage citizens to change their behavior.

In my opinion, and from listening to those in control of our budgets, it seems that the options will have to get pretty painful before people will change their behaviors. Part of that is going to be to increase the cost of traveling on the roads. Partly in hopes of encouraging drivers to use public transportation, and partly driven by the severe budget cuts that are coming. The funds will have to come from somewhere, so penalties on driving at the peak times are sure to be in future plans. That’s my opinion anyway.

My takeaway: expect higher fees to maintain your car (higher car registration fees etc). More emphasis on public transportation, and more fees and inconvenience parking downtown at at peak times.

Better to Rent or Own?

Posted on : 25-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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It’s a question a get a lot. Again the answer isn’t a ‘one-size-fit-all’ type thing because it depends where you live and how expensive it is to purchase vs. rent.

However, Trulia has a great infographic which helps visualize the issue. Looks like Austin pans out pretty well, and leans toward the ‘renting is less expensive, but it might be better to buy’ category.

image

More interesting is New York, where the average price to buy is between $1.3M to $1.4M, and to rent is between $3000-$4000.

Overall though, Texas is definitely in the ‘better to buy’ category as a whole. Play around with it, there’s some great visuals when you change up the the ‘rent price’ and ‘list price’ options as well.

Top 5 Remodels

Posted on : 14-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Austin, Education

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What are the top 5 remodels that get you the best return? According to a recent study by Realtor.org here they are. Although the study supposedly does account for regions and areas, number 3 on the list is Basement Remodels… In Austin? …go figure.

Top 5 Remodels

  1. Replacing your entry door with a steel door will yield you 116% remodel
  2. Garage Door replacement
  3. Basement remodel – which I don’t exactly get, since Austin isn’t known for having basements considering that in most parts of the city, digging 4 inches down, you hit limestone.
  4. Attic Bedroom will get you 78% of your investment recouped
  5. Window replacements will get you 76% back. So use those Austin Energy rebates, and

What are the top 5 WORST ways to spend your hard earned dough?

Top 5 WORST remodels

  1. Sunroom Addition – with being able to recoup just barely 50% of your money back
  2. Home Office Remodel – anticipates converting a 12×12 room with built in bookshelves, cabinets, laminate desktop, computer workstation. Also, a rewire for electrical equipment, drywall, paint, trim and carpet.
  3. Backup Power Generator
  4. Bathroom Addition
  5. Roofing Replacement

So of course the question is, when would I tell my clients to do some of the least cost effective remodels? If it’s going to impact the quality of your life. If having a second bathroom will improve your day-to-day life and prevent you from screaming at the kids every morning, then for your sanity and privacy, get a second bathroom installed. Just know that you aren’t going to be getting back what you put into installing it.

Austin Best City for Telecommuters

Posted on : 06-01-2011 | By : Sumina | In : Austin

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AOL Daily Finance reported earlier this month that Austin ranks as one of the best cities for telecommuters. How so you ask?

The factors were a a mid sized city (1 million or so in population), average living costs, good education, good health ranking. Of course local technology and high-speed internet are a must as well.

It’s hard to be working from home and paying $5,000 a month toward a 2 bedroom apartment in an expensive city, when you could be in say Austin (#1 on the list), or Raleigh (#5). Of course, I’m pretty biased toward Austin with our amazing live music scene and focus on local business.

The top ten best cities for telecommuting are:

  1. Austin
  2. Cincinnati, Ohio
  3. Atlanta
  4. St. Louis
  5. Raleigh, N.C.
  6. Cleveland
  7. Pittsburgh
  8. Charlotte, N.C.
  9. Kansas City, Missouri
  10. Nashville, Tennessee

What problems do I foresee? Well I’ve mentioned it in other posts before, but traffic is trafficgoing to continue to be an issue. Hopefully more people telecommuting, the increase in flex-time work hours, and the the eventual increase in people willing to take the MetroRail… will alleviate some of those issues. But I really think its going to get worse, much worse, before it gets better.

 

Read more: Austin best city for telecommuters, report says | Austin Business Journal