Spring Break Staycation Ideas

It is officially Spring Break in North Texas for many schools! The kids are excited but you may be scrambling for some fun, inexpensive activities to keep them busy for the week. Traveling isn’t an option for many families, as work schedules, finances, and extra curricular activities may be preventing it. But, there are always fun things to do right here at home to make some memories with the kids.

Spring Break Staycation Ideas

Backyard Camping

Setting up a test in the backyard is a perfect way to ease into the idea of “for real” camping. Grab your sleeping bags, make a fire pit, tell stories and eat s’mores. The best part? You can still go back inside to use the bathroom.

Video Game and Board Game Party

It’s Texas, which means the weather can be a tad unpredictable. If the rain comes in, invite some friends over to play video games and board games. Split into teams, break out the Wii Sports, give out prizes, and make a rainy day the best day ever.

Movie Marathon

Break out the red carpet (a table cloth is a good option!) and decorate for a star-studded event. You could even have everyone dress up in their red-carpet best, toast with sparkling cider, and you can be the critics of the best films. But, don’t forget the popcorn!

Play Tourist

It’s really quite interesting the number of people who haven’t been “tourists” in their hometowns. What do people do when they travel to your city? Go catch the hot spots! Look for museums, landmarks, and historical sites that you’ve overlooked. Your staycation could really be someone’s idea of the best vacation.

Book a Room

Booking a hotel room in town seems silly, but it really can be a bunch of fun. You can relax. Housekeeping makes the beds. In most places, you get free breakfast. And the kids can splash around in the pool months before public pools open. It’s a win win win for everyone in the family.

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Do you have any other staycation ideas? Join the conversation and let us know, over on our Facebook page! Happy Spring Break! 

Spring into Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung and it’s time for a little spring cleaning! Open those windows, let some fresh air in, and get ready to organize and declutter. Whether you’re going top to bottom, or hitting just the essentials, keep in mind a few basics for spring cleaning. There’s no time like the present to make and check off that to-do list.

Spring into Spring Cleaning

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Windows

With the sun shining more, you’ll notice dirty windows. And, you don’t want to miss any of that beautiful natural light because of smudged windows! Try a squeegee on big windows for a cleaner, streak-free shine.

Lightbulbs

Change out old light bulbs and brighten up your space. When you do replace bulbs (and even where you don’t), take a few moments to dust fixtures and wash light bulb covers. You should also clean the area around recessed bulbs in your ceiling. Dust and bugs accumulate in these areas and you won’t feel your spring freshest with dirt over your light fixtures.

Blinds and Curtains

Like everything else, the dust has settled on your blinds and curtains. Winter weather means less air circulating around the home. Open the winds to get a breeze but also run your curtains through a quick wash cycle. Wipe down blinds as well so they won’t look discolored.

Check Your Supplies

As you’re spring cleaning, it’s the best time to check stock of all your specialty cleaning supplies. In addition to your basics, make sure you have stain fighters, floor cleaners, vacuum bags, and any other cleaning supplies you may need.

Change the Bedding

While this isn’t at all necessary for spring cleaning, a new bedspread or duvet cover can change the entire look and feel of a room. Brighten and lighten for the spring, so that your bedroom feels like a luxurious spa or ocean getaway.

Speaking of Change…

Don’t forget to change the direction of your ceiling fans! You want your fans to run counter-clockwise during warm months. A cool breeze will hopefully postpone the inevitable need to turn on the A/C.

Deep Clean the Fridge

It’s necessary. It’s not fun. But take time to do it. Baking soda and water make a great combination to scrub the shelves. To keep down odor, keep a fridge box of baking soda in the fridge and freezer and replace as needed.

And DON’T FORGET

Replace batteries in your smoke detectors every six months. A handy reminder is to do that when the time changes. This year, that’s March 12th. So change those batteries and make sure all detectors function properly.

Texas Spring Gardening Tips

Texas Spring Gardening Tips

It’s so tempting to jump right into the spring season. But don’t jump in without reading some Texas spring gardening tips. Our weather has been so mild this winter, so the green thumb may be getting a little itchy. Whether you are just getting started or ready to develop a new hobby, it’s time to start planning and working on your spring garden.

Many people think they are no good at growing anything, leading to the name “brown thumb”. But, anyone can grow some basic crops, you just have to know a few essentials to get started.

So, check out these Texas spring gardening tips to prepare for your new garden. Let’s get growing!

Soil

You have to start with the ground. The soil is THE foundation of gardening and for healthy plants. If you have not been gardening previously, your soil will probably need nutrients. Compost will help add some of those nutrients so you can prepare your land for planting.

Drainage

Rainfall can be “unpredictable” to say the least. When planning your garden, you want to make sure its raised enough to prevent waterlogged plants in the event of a heavy rainy season. But, you also want to make sure it’s close enough to your faucets that you can access it with the water hose.

Sunshine

When you pick the plants you want to grow, look for their sunlight recommendations. Many vegetables require full sunlight at least 6 hours a day, so planting a garden under a huge oak tree wouldn’t be beneficial.

Use Proper Varieties

You want to choose plants that are adapted for the Texas weather (hello, heat in July). You’ll want to go to a nursery or gardening expert to find the best crops for your specific area. Also, you want to pick a variety of plants so that you have a selection.

Planting Time

Planting should occur after the last freeze. However, being in Texas, who knows WHEN that may occur. For some plants, it’s safe to wait a little longer. But, for others, like tomatoes, you may want to get a head start by planting indoors and transplanting later.

Don’t Overplant

It is so tempting to plant ALL of the seeds. But unless you’re feeding a large family or are planning on sharing, you don’t need rows and rows of okra and tomatoes. They WILL produce a lot. It can easily become overwhelming when it comes time to harvest.

Check for Pests and Weeds

With these things, prevention is way better than trying to maintain. Keep a look out for pests and weeds and stay on top of their treatments. Check your local gardening store for the best treatments before and during gardening season.

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Mantel Decorating Ideas for a New Look

Mantel Decorating

Whether you’ve lived in your home for years, or have just recently moved to a home with a fireplace, you know how the mantel can be the focal point of the home.

Often, it’s the first place someone looks upon entry to the living area, and is a great reflection of our personality and style. So, whether you decorate once or update seasonally, you want to make sure your mantel reflects your awesome personality.

Balance and Scale

The key to remember is BALANCE. You want a symmetrical, balanced feel to your room. Consequently, it will feel streamlined and well put together. You can go about this in classic or modern ways. But in the end, you want it to feel balanced.

The second main key to remember is SCALE. You want to highlight the space but you don’t want to overwhelm the room with pieces that are too large for the space. Play with different sizes and colors in order to get the feel that you like.

Here are a few ideas to place with as you get started…

Greenery. Often, fire places are tough and heavy, with construction of brick or stone. They can easily make the room feel heavy and dark if they are not adorned properly. Lighten and soften the space with the use of green plants.

Art Pieces. If you have a large piece of art, a great place to hang it may be above the mantel. The eye is already drawn to the area, and it can be a great place to display your fine tastes.

Mirrors. The use of a mirror can make the room feel double it’s size. Because mirrors come in a variety of shapes and borders, they will add great character to a space. Also, the reflective surface will add light to the space.

TVs. It’s pretty common to hang the television above the mantel. For that, we suggest wall mountings and lovely and simple frame around the television. Also, make sure your furniture is arranged in a way that is comfortable to see the TV.

Seasonal. Lastly, f you’re super creative or motivated, you can change out the decor for the holidays or seasons. It’s a fun way to add some personality and character into the space.

Photo Credit and Additional Ideas Can be Found at DIY

 

Preventing Pipes from Freezing

Preventing your pipes from freezing when the temperatures dip below freezing is one of the most useful tips for dealing with winter. Frozen and busted pipes can cause expensive repairs and a mess of a flood to clean up. It can be especially difficult here in Texas, because we often don’t even think about the freezing weather until it’s too late. Sometimes, we just aren’t prepared enough for all that winter brings, because it is usually so short and/or sporadic.

Be prepared. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and use the following tips for indoor and outdoor pipes to prevent freezing.

Preventing Pipes from Freezing

Salt

Pour about .5 cup of salt in your drains before bed.

Drip

Leaving the faucets on and dripping is one of the most common and most effective ways to prevent freezing. As long as the temps are below freezing, if you have a pipe that is likely to freeze, keep the water dripping.

Heat the Space

An electric space heater can be especially helpful if you have cold rooms where the pipes are on an exterior wall. Basements, laundry rooms, and some bathrooms do well with an addition of a space heater. *Bonus, the room is now nice and cozy when you need it.

Insulate

Foam insulation tubes definitely come in handy, as well as the foam faucet covers. Stock up when it’s NOT cold, because the stores are always out when you need them. If you forgot, newspaper, plastic wrap, or trash bags can be taped on as well.

Heat the Pipes

If you have a particularly stubborn pipe, you can keep it heated by applying heat tape or heat cords. You’ll need to be able to plug those in, so pick up an extension cord if needed. This type of precaution is usually not necessary here, as it rarely gets that cold. But if you do have pipes that have frozen multiple times, this may be worth the investment.

Things You Can’t Return on Amazon

Things You Can’t Return on Amazon
The holidays are (mostly) over. The gifts are purchased. Delivered. Opened. (Hopefully) enjoyed. But, if you’re like many people, you’ve included a gift receipt in your box. According to surveys, ease of returns and return policies are almost as important as free shipping when it comes to online shopping.

Here comes Amazon.com

For many people, Amazon is the go-to for online shopping. With Prime memberships, and Sunday delivery, and Pantry in some cities, Amazon has made online shopping easy and convenient. Thankfully, when you need to make a return, it is generally pretty easy there too. Many returns are free as well, but you’ll need to check the specifics of your product to know for sure.
The standard policy for Amazon is similar to many other retailers- generally 30 days (and you don’t even have to keep up with a receipt, because it’s right there online.)

In addition, Amazon is even more generous during the holiday season, with items shipping between November 1st and December 31st, the return deadline is January 31st. So, if you shopped early and you won’t see your family until after Christmas, there is still time for returns if needed! (The caveat here is to remember to check third party retailers; their policies are sometimes different.)

However, there is a limit to the Amazon return policy. The following items cannot be returned:

  • Wine
  • Theme Park Tickets
  • Prepaid Game Cards
  • Prepaid Phone Cards
  • Live Insects (Although, we don’t know who ACCIDENTALLY buys a Madagascar hissing cockroach, but hey, if you did- it can’t be returned.)
  • Plants & Flowers
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Customized or Personalized products (unless the vendor made an error)
  • Amazon Pantry Items (unless damaged)
  • Gift Cards
  • Digital Purchases (such as movies, games, and apps)

In addition, certain collector items will have stricter return policies to guarantee authenticity. So, be extra careful with collectibles. This includes coins, art, and sports memorabilia. The certifications and documentations must always be kept with the items.

Electronics and jewelry will have similar policies (barring damage upon receipt). Make sure your products arrive in proper condition. If not, they must be returned within 30 days, or be subject to restocking fees.