Apartment Living

Cooking at Home: Plan a Window Herb Garden

17Apr

Looking for new cooking tricks to try this spring? The Beacon team has you covered.

A great way to add a pop of flavor and freshness into any homemade recipe is with a pinch of fresh herbs. We all know the struggle of buying packaged basil that goes bad within a few days–so how do we make the best recipes for apartment kitchens without breaking the bank?

A window herb garden offers the best of fresh herbs whenever you need them, with little up-front costs or effort. All you need to do is provide basic maintenance and water for your plant babies, and you’ll have fresh cooking herbs on hand all year long!

What herbs can survive in an apartment?

Most culinary herbs are the perfect plants for apartment life. Basil, in particular, is a hardy little plant that can survive just about anything. A lot of kitchen herbs grow well in indoor environments because they don’t need much in terms of care: well-drained soil, plenty of water and sunshine, and a few clippings here and there is all you’ll need to do in terms of maintenance.

Here are some of the best herbs to grow in your apartment:

  • Basil is great in pesto or on top of pasta, grilled chicken, or veggies. It’s delicious with tomatoes and mozzarella for a perfect caprese!
  • Chives pack a punch of onion-y flavor in a small package. These little shoots are best chopped up small and served on top of baked potatoes, eggs, or other hearty meals.
  • Cilantro adds zing to salsa, guacamole, and East Asian cuisines. It also smells amazing in fresh form!
  • Dill is a great herb to add to fresh sauces, like homemade ranch or various aiolis. It also goes really well with fish or chicken!
  • Mint* is a crowd favorite because of how good the fresh leaves smell. They’ll brighten up your entire kitchen, even before you add it as a topper for desserts or fruit salads.
  • Oregano spices up Italian dishes like no other. Used fresh, it’s a great addition to pastas and meat dishes. You can also dry it to sprinkle on pizza!
  • Parsley is a go-to herb for just about every dish. It adds a pop of color and brightness to homemade meals, with a fresh and versatile taste that doesn’t mask other flavors.
  • Rosemary is great for hearty meat dishes, like baked chicken or cast-iron steak. Plus, it smells divine while it’s cooking!
  • Thyme is another addition to your hearty meals. It adds an earthy, almost nutty flavor to baked dishes like chicken and fish.

*A quick note about mint: Mint doesn’t like to play nice with other plants! Its root systems can choke other plants if they’re seeded too closely together. If you choose to add mint to your apartment garden, make sure he gets to live in his own container.

Here’s what you need for your window herb garden:

  • Seeds or seedlings for your favorite culinary herbs (we like basil, cilantro, and parsley!)
  • 1 large, rectangular container OR a few individual ceramic pots.
  • About 2 cups of high-quality potting soil per plant
  • Plenty of water
  • A sunny spot, like your kitchen window or balcony

To plant your herb garden, make sure to pay attention to the instructions that come with your seeds or seedlings. Some seeds, like basil, need to be covered with about a quarter inch of soil, while tiny seeds, like oregano, only need to be pressed gently into the surface of the soil.

Give your seedlings plenty of space: make sure to plant them at least 2-3 inches away from other species. If you’re starting from seeds, keep the soil moist (but not drenched) by lightly spraying the surface with water. After a few days, you’ll start to see sprouts poking through!

Most herbs need to be trimmed back to keep from growing too thick and fighting for resources: depending on the herb, this will be when the sprouts are between two and three inches tall.

How do I know my plants are getting enough water?

When you’re practicing apartment gardening, it can be tricky to balance things like sunlight and water.

A good way to tell your plants are drinking enough is to touch the soil lightly with your fingertips. If it feels damp, you’re all set! If it’s dry or cracking, you need to water. (And if your fingers come away muddy, you’re over-watering, or your containers aren’t draining properly. Let your plants breathe!)

Spring is the perfect time to add something fresh to your apartment. Here at The Beacon, we love to celebrate springtime in Jersey City! Whether you’re freshening up your studio apartment with a few potted plants or planning an entire green spread for your two-bedroom apartment’s balcony, you’ll find the perfect place to call home at The Beacon.

Home Workouts to Try in Your Apartment

15Apr

Looking to build the ultimate home gym in your apartment? Before you break the bank on expensive equipment or private training sessions, take a look at some of the workout styles you can try from the comfort of your Beacon apartment.

These three workouts build strength, get your blood pumping, and boost your metabolism with little equipment needed–or none at all! Just suit up in your favorite workout clothes, drink plenty of water, and don’t forget your warm-ups and cool-downs.

(P.S. Don’t forget to consult your doctor before starting a new workout routine!)



For the heart racer: HIIT

Difficulty: Moderate
Equipment Required: None!

The Basics: “HIIT” stands for high-intensity interval training. These popular workouts alternate between intervals of high-paced, sweat-building activity and intervals of rest and careful breathing.

The idea here is that these short bursts of intensity allow you to exert yourself at max effort–without pushing it too hard or for too long, the way many athletes get injured in the gym. The short periods of rest between intervals allow your body time to catch up, recover, and prepare for the next interval. It’s a great way to balance cardio with strength training, and keep yourself from taking on too much too fast.

What You Need To Know: One fun factor of HIIT workouts is that most of the exercises have entertaining names. You’ll hear common exercises like “burpees,” “butt kickers,” “pop squats,” and “skaters.”

For these apartment workouts, you’ll need to know:

  • Butt kickers: Jog in place, kicking your heels up high to touch your rear
  • Reverse lunge: From standing, step back and bend both knees to 90 degrees, then stand up to return to your starting position. Repeat by alternating sides.
  • Pop squat: From standing, jump and land in a deep squat, tapping the floor with one hand. Jump back to start.
  • Downward dog to toe tap: Starting in the yoga pose “downward dog,” lift one arm back to stretch your hand toward your toes and your head toward the front of your exercise space. Repeat by alternating hands.
  • Skaters: From standing, jump to the right, swinging your left leg behind as you land lightly on your right foot. To repeat, try the same “skating” motion in the other direction.
  • Front plank: We all know and love this one! Starting on all fours, raise yourself into “push-up position” and hold, building heat and strength in your arms, legs, and core.

For the suggested workouts below, you can find more detailed explanations (and how-to videos) of the exercises at this link. The full HIIT workout here is recommended for experienced HIIT athletes. If you’re just starting out, stick with just a few exercises, and be prepared to take more breaks.

The Workout:

  • Warm-up:
    • Jog in place for 60 seconds
    • 30 jumping jacks
    • 30 seconds jumping rope (or jumping in place)
  • Workout:
    • Beginner: 30 seconds’ exercise, 30 seconds’ rest
      • Butt kickers
      • Skaters
      • Front plank
    • Novice: 45 seconds’ exercise, 15 seconds’ rest
      • Butt kickers
      • Reverse lunge
      • Pop squat
      • Front plank
    • Expert: 45 seconds’ exercise, 15 seconds’ rest
      • Butt kickers
      • Reverse lunge
      • Pop squat
      • Downward dog to toe tap
      • Skaters
      • Front plank
  • Cooldown:
    • Gentle leg lunges
    • Arm circles
    • Gentle stretching, focusing on the legs and arms

For the strength trainer: Kettlebells

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Equipment Required: One kettlebell (two if you’re fancy)

The Basics:

One of the most versatile (and least expensive) pieces of exercise equipment out there is the kettlebell. This easy-to-use [weight] is made up of a circular metal or hard nylon weight connected to an easy-grip handle. Most kettlebell exercises (like the famous kettlebell swing) can be completed with just one kettlebell, but some people use two to get the full impact from certain exercises.

What You Need To Know:

If you’ve never used kettlebells before, start by finding kettlebells at a comfortable (and safe!) weight. The standard recommendation is 35 lbs (16 kg) for men and 26 lbs (12 kg) for women.

The core of kettlebell exercises is the kettlebell swing. To perform a swing, stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, plant your feet, and swing the kettlebell up to rib level, down between your legs, and back. Breathe in on the way up, and out on the way down.

Be careful to stick to your balance: many kettlebell enthusiasts choose to work out in flat shoes (like Converse) or no shoes at all to get that “flat foot” feeling. Posture is essential too, as good posture keeps your back muscles protected while you work out so many parts of your body at once.

The Workout:

  • Warm-up and cool down:
    • 10 arm circles (forward, then back)
    • 10 long lunges on each leg
    • 10 back twists to each side
    • 5 slow squats
  • Workout:
    • Beginners: 100 two-handed kettlebell swings
    • Novices: 100 two-handed kettlebell swings, 50 one-handed swings with each hand
    • Experts: 200 two-handed kettlebell swings, 50 one-handed swings with each hand

For the center seeker: Yoga

Difficulty: Easy to Expert, depending on the poses
Equipment Required: A yoga mat
Optional Equipment: Pillows, blankets, blocks, and straps to assist in poses

The Basics: Yoga is a great way to give the mind and spirit a break while giving the body a full workout. Although it’s often viewed as a “lighter pace” exercise meant for stretching and meditation, a dedicated yoga practice can work out just about every muscle in your body.

If you’ve never done yoga before, a great way to start is by following a free video tutorial. Many successful vloggers, like the yogi behind Yoga With Adriene, offer introductory video lessons for beginners. It’s a good idea to start here, to get an idea of the poses and the “flow” between them.

What You Need To Know:

For the suggested workouts below, we rely on the most common sequence of yoga poses: the Sun Salutation. The Sun Salutation follows two Sequences (A and B): specifically, the versions of these sequences followed in vinyasa yoga.

Sequence A (or Surya Namaskara A), follows gentle poses starting in a standing position, working your way through a lowered plank, floor stretches, and back to standing in a sequential flow. Common poses include Downward Facing Dog, Warrior 1, and the Standing Forward Fold.

Sequence B (or Surya Namaskara B), typically follows Sequence A and adds in more advanced poses, like Chair Pose and Warrior 2. These poses build natural heat in the body, and can be done quickly to build cardio, or slowly to build endurance.

Almost all yoga practices end with Savasana, or Dead Man’s Pose, which involves lying flat on the floor with your body fully at rest, allowing your breath and heart rate to slow. At the end of a rigorous yoga practice, it’s a fantastic reward!

For a good idea of how the Sun Salutation works in sequence, check out this video.

The Workout:

  • Warm-up: Ocean breathing and gentle stretching, focusing on the legs, back, neck, and arms.
  • Workout:
    • Beginners: 5 slow Sun Salutations (Sequence A)
    • Novices: 5 slow Sun Salutations (Sequence A), 3 slow Sun Salutations (Sequence B), 3 slow Sun Salutations (Sequence A)
    • Experts:
      • 5 slow Sun Salutations (Sequence A),
      • 5 fast Sun Salutations (Sequence A),
      • 1 extended Sun Salutation (Sequence B),
      • (optional) 1-3 inversions of your choice
      • 3 slow Sun Salutations (Sequence B)
  • Cooldown: Savasana.

With simple workouts like these, you can turn a corner of your apartment living room into a home gym perfect for your morning workout. 

Here at The Beacon, Jersey City’s best apartment community, we believe in the power of endorphins and hard work. Whether you’re starting a gentle warm-up in your studio apartment, or enjoying gorgeous Statue of Liberty views after you finish your cool-down, you’ll find a home workout like no other at The Beacon apartments!

The Beacon Apartment Complex in Jersey City Completed and 95% Leased

01Nov

Building and Land Technology (BLT) announced that The Hague, the sixth and final apartment building within The Beacon luxury apartment complex in Jersey City, has fully leased up within six months of its introduction. With this milestone achieved, The Beacon apartment complex is now stabilized in its entirety following a massive historic preservation and renovation effort, and is now home to nearly 2,000 residents in its 1,155 rental units.

The Beacon, listed on both the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places, represents one of the largest historic renovations ever completed in the country and stands as New Jersey’s largest example of Art Deco-style architecture. The property was originally built in early 20th century as the Jersey City Medical Center and has been completely re-purposed and restored into an unparalleled modern living experience. With over 95 percent of the apartments now leased and all construction completed, The Beacon is now a vibrant, urban residential destination with an outstanding package of amenities.

“It has been gratifying to play a role in bringing this incredible property back to life,” said Paul MacKnight, Jr., Residential Portfolio Director for Building and Land Technology. “The extraordinary response from residents says it all. The rapid leasing velocity for such a substantial number of apartments exceeded our expectations and underscores the appeal of the product we created. At an attractive price point, our residents are enjoying a complete lifestyle package with beautifully designed apartments and unrivalled amenities, as well as an incredible location with easy access to New York City.”

Builder touts lease-up of Jersey City redevelopment project

27Oct

The high-end residential complex in Jersey City known as The Beacon has leased up its sixth and final apartment building, marking the completion of a distinctive, ambitious project that saw developers readapt a sprawling early 20th-century hospital.

The developer of the property, Building and Land Technology, announced the milestone Wednesday, six months after delivering the 241-unit building known as The Hague. The site is now 95 percent leased across its 1,155 rental units, meaning the property is stabilized after a massive historic preservation and renovation effort.

That process goes back more than a decade, when a developer George Filopoulos acquired the former Jersey City Medical Center and began to repurpose it as condominiums. But the 1.5 million-square-foot project was stalled by the economic downturn after just two buildings were converted, causing the firm to sell the remaining six buildings to Building and Land Technology.

On Wednesday, an executive with the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm said it “has been gratifying to play a role in bringing this incredible property back to life” over the last four years.

Jersey City first responders cook off for the title of top chef

19Sep

About a dozen police officers, firefighters, and EMTs cooked up their best dishes Sunday afternoon with their sights set on being named the top chef among the city’s first responders.

The inaugural First Responders Charity Cookoff was held at the Beacon to benefit the Jersey City Firefighters Distress Fund, the Police Unity Tour and the Code Green Campaign.

Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and New Jersey Devils legend Ken Daneyko were among the celebrity judges who helped taste and judge the first responders’ dishes.

Jersey City Police Officer Mariela Nieves took home two of the top five prizes — the People’s Choice Award and the Cake Boss Award — for her Spanish pork and rice dish. The 11-year veteran and South District officer said she’s looking forward to competing again next year.

“I love things like this,” Nieves said of the event. “You get to talk to the people of the community.”

Jersey City Medical Center EMTs Ernie Rios and Ray Krajovics placed second in the People’s Choice category for their butternut squash pasta with brown butter sauce and grape tomatoes.