Downtown Alive! Fall 2015

dta!Attention Acadiana: Downtown Alive! Fall 2015 begins
next Friday and will last until November 25!

DTA! is Acadiana’s premiere concert series, combining community and culture to create a weekly tradition and celebration of Downtown Lafayette every fall and spring.

The season-long event offers a fun, family-friendly environment, and admission is FREE all season!  All concerts are smoke-free and outdoors, so you can fully enjoy both the music and the wonderful South Louisiana fall weather.

DTA! Fall 2015 has an extra special twist–each night will have a dress-up theme (such as 80s, western, and patriotic!) and the Downtown Restaurant and Bar Association have teamed up with DTA! to offer these themes in bars and restaurants after DTA!.  So make the most of it by showing up in full costume; you just might get some special offers!

Visit www.downtownlafayette.org for the full Downtown Alive! Fall 2015 lineup and the correlating themes.  We hope to see you there!

i heart dta!

7 Smart Strategies for Kitchen Remodeling

kitchen remodelHomeowners spend more money on kitchen remodeling than on any other home improvement project. And with good reason: Kitchens are the hub of home life and a source of pride.

A significant portion of kitchen remodeling costs may be recovered by the value the project brings to your home. Kitchen remodels in the $50,000 to $60,000 range recoup about 68% of the initial project cost at the home’s resale, according to recent data from “Remodeling” magazine’s “Cost vs. Value Report.”

A minor kitchen remodel of about $19,000 does even better, returning more than 79% of your investment.

To maximize your return on investment, follow these seven strategies to keep you on budget and help you make smart choices.

 

1. Plan, Plan, Plan

Planning your kitchen remodel should take more time than the actual construction. If you plan well, the amount of time you’re inconvenienced by construction mayhem will be minimized. Plus, you’re more likely to stay on budget.

How much time should you spend planning? The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends at least six months. That way, you won’t be tempted to change your mind during construction and create change orders, which will inflate construction costs and hurt your return on investment.

Some tips on planning:

Study your existing kitchen: How wide is the doorway into your kitchen? It’s a common mistake many homeowners make: Buying the extra-large fridge only to find they can’t get it in the doorway. To avoid mistakes like this, create a drawing of your kitchen with measurements for doorways, walkways, counters, etc. And don’t forget height, too.

Think about traffic patterns: Work aisles should be a minimum of 42 inches wide and at least 48 inches wide for households with multiple cooks.

Design with ergonomics in mind: Drawers or pull-out shelves in base cabinets; counter heights that can adjust up or down; a wall oven instead of a range: These are all features that make a kitchen accessible to everyone — and a pleasure to work in.

Plan for the unforeseeable: Even if you’ve planned down to the number of nails you’ll need in your remodel, expect the unexpected. Build in a little leeway for completing the remodel. Want it done by Thanksgiving? Then plan to be done before Halloween.

Choose all your fixtures and materials before starting: Contractors will be able to make more accurate bids, and you’ll lessen the risk of delays because of back orders.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: A professional designer can simplify your kitchen remodel. Pros help make style decisions, foresee potential problems, and schedule contractors. Expect fees around $50 to $150 per hour, or 5% to 15% of the total cost of the project.

 

 

2. Keep the Same Footprint

Nothing will drive up the cost of a remodel faster than changing the location of plumbing pipes and electrical outlets, and knocking down walls. This is usually where unforeseen problems occur.

So if possible, keep appliances, water fixtures, and walls in the same location. 

Not only will you save on demolition and reconstruction costs, you’ll cut the amount of dust and debris your project generates.

 

 

3. Get Real About Appliances

It’s easy to get carried away when planning your new kitchen. A six-burner commercial-grade range and luxury-brand refrigerator may make eye-catching centerpieces, but they may not fit your cooking needs or lifestyle.

Appliances are essentially tools used to cook and store food. Your kitchen remodel shouldn’t be about the tools, but the design and functionality of the entire kitchen.

So unless you’re an exceptional cook who cooks a lot, concentrate your dollars on long-term features that add value, such as cabinets and flooring.

Then choose appliances made by trusted brands that have high marks in online reviews and Consumer Reports.

 

 

4. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Lighting

Lighting can make a world of difference in a kitchen. It can make it look larger and brighter. And it will help you work safely and efficiently. You should have two different types of lighting in your kitchen:

Task Lighting: Under-cabinet lighting should be on your must-do list, since cabinets create such dark work areas. And since you’re remodeling, there won’t be a better time to hard-wire your lights. (Here’s more about under-cabinet lights.) Plan for at least two fixtures per task area to eliminate shadows. Pendant lights are good for islands and other counters without low cabinets. Recessed lights and track lights work well over sinks and general prep areas with no cabinets overhead.

Ambient lighting: Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures, wall sconces, and track lights create overall lighting in your kitchen. Include dimmer switches to control intensity and mood.

 

 

5. Be Quality-Conscious

Functionality and durability should be top priorities during kitchen remodeling. Resist low-quality bargains, and choose products that combine low maintenance with long warranty periods. Solid-surface counter tops, for instance, may cost a little more, but with the proper care, they’ll look great for a long time.

And if you’re planning on moving soon, products with substantial warranties are a selling advantage.

 

6. Add Storage, Not Space

Storage will never go out of style, but if you’re sticking with the same footprint, here are a couple of ideas to add more:

Install cabinets that reach the ceiling: They may cost more — and you might need a stepladder — but you’ll gain valuable storage space for Christmas platters and other once-a-year items. In addition, you won’t have to dust cabinet tops.

Hang it up: Mount small shelving units on unused wall areas and inside cabinet doors; hang stock pots and large skillets on a ceiling-mounted rack; and add hooks to the backs of closet doors for aprons, brooms, and mops.

 

 

7. Communicate Clearly With Your Remodelers

Establishing a good rapport with your project manager or construction team is essential for staying on budget. To keep the sweetness in your project:

Drop by the project during work hours: Your presence broadcasts your commitment to quality.

Establish a communication routine: Hang a message board on site where you and the project manager can leave daily communiques. Give your email address and cell phone number to subs and team leaders.

Set house rules: Be clear about smoking, boom box noise levels, available bathrooms, and appropriate parking.

Be kind: Offer refreshments (a little hospitality can go a long way), give praise when warranted, and resist pestering them with conversation, jokes, and questions when they are working. They’ll work better when refreshed and allowed to concentrate on work.home remodel


Originally posted at: REALTOR® Content Resource

 

Wine Down Wednesday – Creamy Tortellini and Sausage

wine down wednesday

I love to cook for my family.  What I don’t like is all the clean up that is required afterwards!  That’s why this type of recipe is my absolute favorite: Creamy, cheesy pasta that takes minutes to cook and only requires one pot!  But if you don’t mind having a few extra dishes, this entree would be great with a side of fresh green salad and hot, buttery bread sticks. Pair it with a Pinot Noir.

Tortellini and sausage

Creamy Tortellini and Sausage

Ingredients

  • 1 lb package of Turkey Kielbasa
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 20 oz. package of refrigerated Tortellini
  • 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth or water
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded jack and cheddar cheeses

Instructions

  1. Cook the onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add sliced turkey sausage and cook until browned. Add chicken broth, tortellini, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until pasta is cooked to al dente. Remove from heat and add cheeses, reserving a handful for topping. Cover and let stand for five to ten minutes. Garnish with green onions, if desired. Serve hot.

Tech Tuesday – This Week in Tech

Tech Tuesday Logo

Here’s some of the most interesting news in technology over the past week:

1. Instagram has finally given into the demands of its users.  The app now supports both portrait and landscape photos in addition to the traditional square proportions.  The app also features a layout tool, which automatically turns multiple selected photos into a single collage, eliminating the need for third-party collage making apps.

Instagram Update

2. Facebook officially announced that its Messenger app will now offer a personal assistant for users, simply called “M”.  What sets M apart from other electronic assistants, such as Siri and Cortana?  Well, M is actually run by a team of people who are constantly working to help the program learn how to answer questions and retrieve information.  Unlike most mobile assistants, M learns more and more as it is used more and more.  M can actually complete tasks for you, such as buying things online, make reservations, deliver gifts, and just about anything else!

Facebook M

3. Apple announced that it will hold an event on September 9 in San Francisco.  We can only assume that this event’s sole purpose will be the unveiling of the new iPhone!  So, what should we expect from the 9th generation of the device?  If trends continue has they have been, here’s what we can sum up:

  • It will most probably be called the iPhone 6S and will come in a “plus” version.
  • Since the device is already quite large, the new iPhone will have the same screen size as the current version, but it may be slightly thicker.
  • Apple’s blog says that the new phone will be available to purchase in a new color, rose gold, in addition to white, black, and slate gray.
  • Typically, new iPhones go on sale about a week or so after they’re unveiled.  Last year, the iPhone 6 went on sale 10 days after its announcement. So, the predicted date for the new iPhone is September 18th.
  • In addition to a faster processor and better camera, a new feature that will be included in the new iPhone, called Force Touch, will be able to sense the pressure being applied to the screen; it can differentiate between a light tap and a deep press.  This allows for new types of commands on the device.  We’ll see what this new feature will bring us.

iphone generations

4. OMG!  NASA has just launched a mission dedicated to studying the loss of ice around Greenland, the world’s largest island.  The mission, titled Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG), was so named because a) it’s literally an acronym for the mission title, and b) its principle investigator, Josh Willis, wanted a name that would both stand out and refer to the importance of Greenland’s problem.  Did you know that there are actually very complex rules regarding the naming of NASA missions?  In fact, acronyms are actually supposed to be avoided unless they’re descriptive and easy to pronounce.  In addition, NASA has gotten names from contests and essay entries from grade school students.  Examples of these are the names of The Space Shuttle Endeavor and the Mars Curiosity rover.

NASA OMG

 

Thanks for reading This Week in Tech!  Have a great week (: