Cleaning Up Compton

Thousands of volunteers will come together tomorrow to help clean up the city of Compton!

Nothing feels better than helping others, especially those in a city like Compton. Ernst & Haas’ very own Angela Renteria, Brooke Karli, and Mia Renteria – as well as former Ernst & Haas property supervisor Ivan Velasquez and Ernst & Haas vendors Robert Renteria of Angels Landscape and Clemente Ramirez of Absolute Painting – regularly participate in Emmanuel Reformed Church’s quarterly Compton workdays, and will be there again tomorrow.

The workdays, part of The Compton Initiative, take place four times a year and consist of more than 2,000 volunteers coming together and improving the city of Compton by doing yard work, house repairs, painting over graffiti, improving school and parks, and much more.

The first workday for 2011 is tomorrow, January 29,  and volunteers will be meeting at Compton High School, located at 601 S. Acacia Ave., at 7 a.m.

This is a great opportunity to do something great for others and a great way to get your family, friends, and co-workers involved. If you can’t make it tomorrow, here are the upcoming workdays for the rest of the year:

-April 30

-July 30

-October 15

Be sure to wear comfortable clothing that you’re willing to get dirty. Breakfast and lunch are served throughout the day.

Hope to see you there!

This One’s For You, First-Time Renters

Renting your first apartment can be exciting, but there are things to consider before moving!

Renting your first apartment can be very exciting, and very hectic at the same time. Whether you’re moving out of your parent’s house, or graduating from college, being on your own is liberating and brings a sense ownership. But with that comes great responsibility in keeping your place in tact and your finances in order.

In the world of renting, maneuvering tight spaces and dealing with obnoxious neighbors barely scratch the surface when it comes to problems that can be encountered during your renting experience. But have no fear because with every problem, there is a solution.

The following are Kiplinger.com’s 7 major mistakes first-time renters (or seasoned renters, for that matter) make when transitioning into a new place, and how to avoid finding yourself in those situations:

1. Underestimating the Cost: It’s vital knowing how much you can afford to spend on housing – and being completely honest about it. Tally your monthly expenses and calculate how much money is left over to spend on rent. After seeing what apartments in your area are renting for on Web sites such as www.Craigslist.com and www.MyRentalList.com, you can then determine whether or not you can afford to be on your own – or if you need a roommate.

More importantly, don’t forget to plan for start-up expenses such as application fees, security deposits, utility turn-on fees, parking fees, pet deposits, and of course, first month’s rent. And a note of caution: try to refrain from relying on your credit cards to fund your move-in expenses – your new life of independence shouldn’t be shackled down by never-ending interest payments.  The best way to handle start-up expenses and keep yourself on track every month, is to build your budget. Budgeting will help you pay for your bills, and hopefully have a little extra left over to enjoy – without getting into debt.

2. Not Getting Your Priorities Straight: It’s really as simple as writing down a list separating your needs from your wants. For clarification purposes, needs are those things that you absolutely cannot live without (i.e. living close to work or public transportation because a bike is your mode of transportation), and wants are those things that would be nice to have (i.e. a killer view of the city from your living room).

Sorting out your needs and wants will help keep you  from making a choice you may regret later. Keep in mind, your first place isn’t going to be perfect, so you need to know which things you can let slide beforehand.

3. Not Seeing the Apartment Before Moving In: It’s a good idea to take a look at the place you plan to call home before finding out your couch doesn’t fit through the front door on moving day. When viewing a unit, bring a measuring tape to measure spaces and take note of the number and location of phone and cable jacks and electrical outlets. Turn on the faucets. Flush the toilet. Turn on the lights, oven, air conditioner, and other appliances. Tune into the surroundings – the traffic, neighborhood noises, and any strange smells. And don’t forget to check your cell phone’s reception from inside the apartment. Put the apartment through the ringer!

4. Failing to Read the Lease: A lease is a legally binding contract between you and the landlord, spelling out each of your rights and the rules you must abide by while living in the space. But it’s worth your while to read through all of it before signing on the line. Every lease includes basic information such as the length of the lease, the amount of rent due, the amount of the security deposit, etc. But some leases outline penalties for late rent, policies for owning pets, what utilities you’re responsible for, policies on painting or altering the apartment, and more. Lastly, make sure to be aware of what happens to your lease agreement at the end of the term.

5. Not Asking About Utilities – Or Forgetting to Turn Them On: On occasion, eating takeout by candlelight may be romantic. But doing it every night, storing your garbage on your balcony, and taking cold showers every morning is just uncalled for and unnecessary. So before you move in, make sure you ask your landlord or management company specifically what utilities you’re responsible for paying – and turning on. And don’t forget the extras – phone line, Internet service, and cable TV. Once you’ve figured out what you’re responsible for, contact the local utility companies and arrange for them to turn on your services the day before you move in.

6. Going Without Renter’s Insurance: Unless you have enough money saved to replace everything you own in the event of theft, fire or other disaster, you might want to consider renter’s insurance. Most property owners and landlords have insurance, but it usually only covers the building and infrastructure – not the stuff you keep in your own unit. Some landlords may require renter’s insurance before you move in, which on average costs anywhere from $150 to $250 a year. You may pay more or less depending on your neighborhood and level of coverage.

7. Forgetting Basic Items to Make a Home: If you’ve never lived on your own before, you’re bound to be short a few essentials. Things like shower curtains, can openers, trash cans, and dinnerware are easy to forget, but are must-haves for any place. Of course, you need the big things like a couch, bed, dresser, etc. But don’t forget the small essentials like cleaning supplies, towels, sponges,bathroom rugs, flashlights, lamps, and the always needed toolkit, complete with hammer, pliers, and screwdrivers.

For more help on what you’ll need in moving into your place, print off these apartment checklists from About.com.

Stay Healthy!

Drinking plenty of water and exercising can help fight off the common cold!

There are a handful of us here at the Ernst & Haas headquarters sneezing and coughing our way through the day. We have been hit with a cold that seems to be lingering in our office, bouncing from one germ-invested keyboard to another. We’ve learned our lesson and are well aware of the steps we need to take the next time we’re feeling a bit off. So if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, or are wanting to avoid catching a cold, follow these few simple steps (you’ll thank yourself later):

1. Hydrate: Drink a LOT of water – dehydration weakens the body’s ability to fight infection.

2. Load up on Vitamin C: A daily multivitamin isn’t enough – complement your vitamins with orange juice, and Vitamin C supplements such as Emergen-C and Vitamin C drops.

3. Rest: Sleeping, whether it be 8 hours overnight or a quick cat nap, will help keep you strong – physically and mentally.

4. Be Healthy: Eating right and exercising is key to being healthy – period. Fruit, vegetables, and protein energy and antioxidants throughout the day. Exercise keeps the body active and the immune system working. But be careful working out while you’re sick – sometimes it can cause more harm than good when you’re already weary.

5. Load Up: Tea and cold medicine quickly become your best friends when you’re not feeling well. Chamomile tea is a mild sedative and helps stomach ailments, while cold medicine can help fight off the early symptoms of a cold.

We wouldn’t wish our sickness upon anyone, but in the event you begin to feel woozy, replace that coffee mug with a bottled water and your lunchtime burger with a salad and your bound to beat off the germs!

C’mon Get Happy!

There are hundreds of places throughout Long Beach where you could find a little liquid happiness!

Sometimes an 8-hour day seems like an eternity spent buried in paperwork and bombarded by phone calls. And when the clock strikes 5, nothing sounds better than a cold one, and some greasy hot wings, of course!

Here are some places you can go to in Long Beach that will turn any frown upside down with their Happy Hour specials:

District Wine: 144 Linden Ave. – (562) 612-0411 – Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m., Sat. Noon-7 p.m. – $4 Cabernet/Chardonnay, $2 off micro brew beer, and $9 flatbread pizzas

Yard House: 401 Shoreline Village Dr. – (562) 628-0455 – Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m., Sun.-Wed. 10 p.m.-close – Specials on pints, goblets, well drinks, wine by the glass and martinis – half-priced appetizers

Sababa Restaurant & Lounge: 6527 E. Pacific Coast Highway – (562) 252-3572 – Tues. 5-8 p.m., Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Congregation Ale House: 201 E. Broadway Ave. – (562) 432-2337 – All day Monday, Sun.-Thurs. at midnight, Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m. – $3 well drinks, $1 off draft beer and wine

The Pike Restaurant & Bar: 1836 E. 4th St. – (562) 437-4453 – Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m. – $1 off well drinks and draft beers

Alex’s Bar: 2913 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 434-8292 – Special rates on drinks 5-8 p.m.

Up Lounge: 40 S. Locust Ave. – (562) 983-2703 – Fri. 8 p.m.-1 a.m. $5 Jack Daniels, Sat. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. $6 Kettle One shots, $6 Patron Fridays, $6 Grey Goose Saturdays

SIP: 111 E. Ocean Blvd. – (562) 437-5900 – Sun.-Thurs. 4-7 p.m. – beverages and appetizers range from $1-$6

The Auld Dubliner: 71 S. Pine Ave. – (562) 437-8300 – Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m. – Specials on beer, wine and well drinks, and half-priced selected appetizers

K.C. Branaghan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant: 5734 E. 2nd St. – (562) 434-3600 – Mon.-Fri. 4-6 p.m., Half-Price Night Mondays and Pint Size Night Tuesdays

Tracy’s Bar & Grill: 5511 E. Spring St. – (562) 421-1726 – Mon.-Fri. 3-5 p.m. – 5 items at $5 each

Mai Tai Bar: 97 Aquarium Way – (562) 435-1200 – Mon. $4 Mai Tai, Tues. $5 Don Julio shots, Wed. $5 Don Julio shots and $5 Harlem shots, Thurs. all-night happy hour, Fri. $2 bottled beers, and Sat. $5 Harlem shots

Parkers Lighthouse: 435 Shoreline Village Dr. – (562) 432-6500 – Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m.

Observation Bar at the Queen Mary: 1126 Queens Hwy. – (562) 435-3511 – Sun.-Thurs. 4-7 p.m. – $3 domestic bottled beer, $4 imported bottled beer and glasses of wine, and $5 well drinks

The Wine Bar: 250 W. Ocean Blvd. – (562) 590-5300 – Mon. all-night happy hour, Tues. half-priced wine bottles, Wed. flip night, and Sat. reverse happy hour 9 p.m.-close

Beach Club Sports Bar & Grill: 5755 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. – (562) 494-7593 – Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m. – $2.50 domestic draft, $3.50 imported draft pints, $3 well drinks, $2 off all wines by the glass, and half-priced select appetizers

Puka Bar: 710 W. Willow St. – (562) 997-6896 – Mon.-Fri. 4-8 p.m. $1 off all drinks, Sun. $2 Bloody Mary, Mon. $3 well drinks, Tues. $2 Pabst, Wed. $4 Margarita, and Thurs. $3 Kamis

Gallagher’s Pub & Grill: 2751 E. Broadway – (562) 856-8000 – Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m. – $3 well drinks, $8 domestic and $10 premium pitchers, $3 domestic and $4 premium draft pints, and specials on appetizers

Tequila Jack’s: 407 Shoreline Village Dr. – (562) 628-0454 – Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m. – $3.50 domestic and $3.95 imported pints, $3.50 domestic and $3.95 imported bottle beer, $3.95 wine by the glass, $3.95 well drinks, and $3.95 house margarita rocks

Kavikas Grill & Bar: 95 Aquarium Way – (562) 432-8700 – Everyday 3-7 p.m. – $3-$4 draft beers, $3 well drinks, $5 wine by the glass, $7 specialty cocktails and martinis, and $6 appetizers 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Gaslamp Restaurant & Bar: 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway – (562) 596-4718 – Wed.-Fri. 5-7 p.m. – $3 well drinks and domestic beer, half-priced appetizers

Hamburger Mary’s: 740 E. Broadway – (562) 436-7900 – Mon.-Sun. 4-8 p.m. – half-priced appetizers and double-sized drinks

Los Compadres: 3229 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 961-0061 – Mon.-Fri. 4-10 p.m. – drink specials – appetizer specials 4-7 p.m.

Riley’s Pub & Grill: 4133 E. Anaheim St. – (562) 494-4300 – Everyday 4-7 p.m.

V Room: 918 E. 4th St. – (562) 437-4396 – Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m. – $1 off everything

E J Malloy’s: 4306 Atlantic Ave. – (562) 424-5000 – 3411 E. Broadway – (562) 433-3769 – Mon.-Fri. 3-6 p.m.

Roxanne’s Lounge: 1115 Wardlow Rd. – (562) 426-4777 – Mon.-Fri. 2-6 p.m.

El Torito: 7591 Carson Blvd. – (562) 377-5750 – Mon.-Fri. 2-8 p.m. – $3 domestic drafts, well drinks, wine, and gold margaritas

El Dorado: 3014 N. Studebaker Rd. – (562) 421-2122 – Wed. and Thurs. 4-8 p.m., Mondays after 3 p.m., $2 domestic beers and $2 tacos

Reno Room: 3400 E. Broadway – (562) 438-4590 – Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m.

The Red Room: 1227 E. 4th St. – (562) 432-4241 – Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m.

Panama Joe’s Grill and Cantina: 5100 E. 2nd St. – (562) 434-7417 – Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m.

Legends: 5236 E. 2nd St. – (562) 433-5743 – Mon.-Fri. 3-7 p.m.

We hope this list provides a little happiness at the end of a stressful day, and remember to drink responsibly. Cheers!

Spruce It Up!

Sometimes re-upholstering your favorite piece of furniture can make it the center of attention.

Much like our clothing, the music we listen to, or the food we eat, our homes can say a lot about ourselves. Sometimes, where we live and how we live can speak volumes about our personalities and give others a glimpse into our own minds. For example, a minimalist will most likely live minimally – white walls, simple decorations (if any), and hardly any clutter in sight. An artist, on the other hand, may dwell in a multi-colored home with every inch of wall and counter top space covered in something.

But what happens when our living space becomes dull, boring, and outdated? How do you spruce up without spending your entire savings?

Courtesy of www.savingadvice.com, here are 20 inexpensive ways you can change up your home without putting yourself in debt:

1. Lighting: Changing just a few key light fixtures in the rooms you use most often can give those rooms a lift. Whether you change a ceiling fixture, add a ceiling fan, or buy some table lamps, the fixtures and light they cast can change the atmosphere of a room.

2. Paint: Paint is just about the cheapest way to change a room. You can add stripes, textures or other patterns if you’re wanting a bigger change. You can also paint cabinets or furniture to give those items a new look. And if you don’t like it, it’s relatively easy to change. Get some sample cards and idea books and experiment.

3. Area Rugs: If you hate your carpet or it’s in need of replacement but you can’t afford it, you can lay area rugs over the worst spots and hide the stains or damage. If you have light carpet and want a darker change, lay down some darker colors to take away the brightness. And vice versa if you want to create a lighter feeling.

4. Moulding or Trim: Moulding is inexpensive and easy to install. You can add chair rail, crown moulding, change your existing trim, or create patterns of your own design for very little money.

5. Upholstery/Slipcover: Maybe you can’t get new furniture, but you can probably recover what you have, either by getting some slipcovers, doing it yourself with some fabric of your choosing, or by hiring an upholster.

6. Clean Up: Simply giving the house a good cleaning and de-cluttering can go a long way toward making it more attractive and livable. Get rid of the junk and discover how much room you have. Clean the grout in your tile and see how new the bathroom looks. Steam clean the carpets and maybe they’re not so bad.

7. Rearrange the Furniture: Take time to rethink how the furniture is arranged – you may be surprised at how much more space can be created by properly arranging  the furniture. Don’t ever assume that it will only fit one way – there are always other, better options.

8. Window Treatments: Blinds, valances, shades, and curtains are inexpensive ways to add color to a room or change the appearance of the windows. There are so many styles and shapes to choose from these days, you’re no longer locked into the standard mini blind.

9. Convert a Room to a New Purpose: Rather than let a formal dining room go unused, for example, try converting it into a more useful space, such as an office. By changing the paint, adding a couple of electric outlets, and putting some french doors on the archway leading into the neighboring room, you can have your very own office space. That way, the space becomes better utilized and provides a “new” area in the home. If you have a room that’s not being used to it’s fullest potential, think about how you can re-purpose it.

10. Flooring: New flooring doesn’t have to mean expensive, exotic hardwoods and natural stone tiles. There are many varieties of laminate and vinyl available today that can replicate the look of expensive products for a fraction of the cost. They’re also pretty easy to install yourself. And there’s no one saying that you have to redo all the floors at once. Pick your two most used or ugliest rooms and start there.

11. “New” Furniture: Maybe you want different furniture but can’t afford to hit the name brand stores. Try looking at your local Goodwill, yard sales, or thrift stores. Often you can find pieces in excellent condition or pieces that just require a little TLC. It’s not “new,” but it’s new to you and that can be enough to make you feel better.

12. New Shower Curtains and Bath Mats: Jazz up a bathroom with a new shower curtain or some new bath mats/area rugs. If your bathroom is boring white, give it a color lift. Similarly, if you have a pink, gold, or green bathroom from the 60’s or 70’s that you can’t stand, choose some colors that complement the decor while also minimizing the parts you don’t like.

13. Bed Linens: Pick out a new comforter and pillow shams to instantly jazz up the bedroom. Maybe you’ve had grandma’s quilt on the bed long enough and now it’s time to bring out the Caribbean feel you’ve always wanted.

14. Repair: Fix whatever is broken in the house. Replace burned out bulbs and add more light. Patch and paint any holes or cracks in the walls. Fix the broken end table you keep meaning to get to. Simply repairing all those things you’ve been meaning to can improve your home for little cost.

15. New Toilet Seats: Seriously, you’d be surprised at how much a new toilet seat can jazz up a tired bathroom. You don’t have to stick with standard white. There are lots of colors, patterns, and textures available today that can complement your decor or become the focal point for the bathroom.

16. New Faucets: Updating your kitchen and bathroom fixtures can give those rooms a much needed update and most are easy to install yourself, no plumbing experience necessary.

17. New Knobs on Cabinets and Doors: They seem like small things, but the knobs on your cabinets and doors can change the feel of your home. Maybe you have brass and you want a brushed steel look. Or you’ve got those crystal knobs from the 50’s and you want something newer. They don’t cost a lot but the little change can spice up your house.

18. New Towel Rods: Try changing out the towel rods in your bathrooms and kitchen for a quick lift.

19. New Artwork: Maybe it’s time for some new family photos on the walls, or to better arrange what you already have. Maybe it’s time to look for some new paintings or posters or to re-frame something you have and love. You don’t have to get the works of the old masters; something you like presented well can change a room.

20. Plants: A well-placed, large plant can hide an ugly fireplace or unused radiator. Smaller plants with bright blooms or leaves add color to a room. Plants can match the mood you’re trying to create, as well. Tropical plants make a room seem more Caribbean, while evergreens make it seem woodsier. Plants also improve the air in your home.

We hope you find these tips helpful (and affordable) and that your home can be as unique as you!

Celebrating His Dream

The City of Long Beach will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. at this Saturday's 23rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace and Unity Parade Celebration.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. left behind a legacy that will forever be imitated and remembered. The words he spoke – as well as the things he did – have inspired thousands of people from an array of cultures throughout decades of time to be a people of peace and justice.

In honor of his life, the City of Long Beach is hosting the 23rd Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace and Unity Parade Celebration this Saturday, January 15. The parade will kick off at 10:30 a.m. at Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue and Anaheim Street, showcasing a variety of schools, organizations, and community groups.

The parade will proceed to King Park, located at 1950 Lemon Avenue, where a multicultural celebration will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“The Long Beach Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration has always been a grassroots event and I invite everyone to be a part of it,” said Long Beach Sixth District Councilman Dee Andrews.

Registration is required and parade parking will be available at Long Beach City College, located at Orange Avenue and PCH.

For more information, or to register, call (562) 570-6816.

How To Keep Your Resolutions

Keeping resolutions can be hard! See below for some helpful resolution-keeping tips.

It’s a week into 2011 and some of us are already having a hard time keeping our New Year’s resolutions. Don’t worry, you’re in good company – thousands of people are struggling with the same thing, especially if their resolutions involve dropping pounds or cutting addictions.

But here’s the flip-side: more than 46 percent of people who made resolutions hold to it for more than six months. And according to www.proactivechange.com, those that make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people that don’t. Numbers don’t lie – and those are some promising numbers!

In the meantime, here are some tips provided by www.about.com to help you be a part of the population that makes it past six months:

1. Be Realistic – The sure-fire way to fall short of your goal is to make it unattainable. Strive for a goal that is attainable – something you can realistically accomplish.

2. Plan Ahead – Don’t make your resolution on New Year’s Eve. If you wait until the last minute, it will be based on your mindset that particular day. Instead, it should be planned well before December 31 arrives.

3. Outline Your Plan – Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or have one more cigarette. This could include calling on a friend to help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your bad habits affect you.

4. Make A ‘Pro’ and ‘Con’ List – It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.

5. Talk About It – Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or improve your health. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares the same resolution and motivate each other.

6. Reward Yourself – This doesn’t mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to diet. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution.

7. Track Your Progress – Keep track of each small success you make toward reaching your larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated. Keeping some sort of tracking diary or journal may help you stay on the right path.

8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up – Obsessing over the occasional slip won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time.

9. Stick To It – Experts say it takes 21 days for a new activity to become a habit, and six months for it to become a part of your personality. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.

10. Keep Trying – If your resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! There’s no reason you can’t make a New Year’s resolution any time of the year.

We hope these tips are helpful and that you find success in accomplishing your resolutions! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2011!