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! 

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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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.

Medication Expiration Dates and What They Mean

Medication Expiration Dates and What They Mean

We’ve talked previously about food expiration dates. In general dates aren’t a hard-fast deadline of when to consume your food. But medication expiration dates aren’t the same and aren’t subjected to the same guidelines. When you take medication, whether an aspirin for a headache or an antibiotic for an infection, you want to know it’s safe and effective.

Here’s the low down on medication expiration dates…

The date on the medication bottle does mean a lot. Food labels aren’t closely regulated. However, medication expiration dates are based on scientific studies on the potency of the medication. External conditions such as temperature and humidity are varied and controlled for, to see when and at what circumstances the drug is compromised.

The short version is….

In general, the expiration date is based on the average time it takes for the medication to be degraded 10%. So, basically, it’s not as useful as it once was, and it’s time to throw it out.

After that,

If the medication expiration dates are based on potency of the product, not on spoilage like food products, taking a medication after its date is unlikely to cause you to get sick. The medicine just won’t work.

And that can be a big deal, depending on what you need medicine for. You may be able to tough out sore muscles or a headache, but if you think you’re going to take last year’s antibiotics, you could be setting yourself up for serious trouble.

First, you should have completed that prescription of antibiotics, as prescribed. But, if you didn’t, and now it’s some time later, you could be at risk for antibiotic resistance. In simple terms, you’re only killing off the weak bacteria leaving the strong ones to reproduce and “outsmart” the medication. Antibiotic resistance is a huge concern, with over 20,000 people in the US dying yearly, per the CDC.

Quick Tips

  • Don’t take medication past the expiration date.
  • Throw away an unused prescription medications so you do not accidentally take them past the expiration dates.
  • Follow the directions on the bottle in regards to storage.
  • If there are no directions, it is generally safe to assume that room temperature, dry, dark places will be optimal for storage.
  • Liquid drugs (like cough syrups) are more easily contaminated, so take precaution with use.
  • If your medication changes color or consistence, it is generally time to dispose of that medication.

February Pre-Spring Cleaning

February Pre-Spring Cleaning.

We’re getting to the coldest time of the year. And granted, we’re in Texas, and that doesn’t mean a whole lot, there are still some days when we’d rather just not go outside.

We’re also at this in between stage. Hopefully, by this point, the holiday decor is put away. (If not, please make a plan to get that done in a timely manner. No one wants Christmas lights still hanging in March.) So, the holidays are over, and we’re not quite to the adrenaline rush that comes with Spring Cleaning.

But, there are a few things that should be done once or twice a year, and this is the perfect time to do it! So, take Texas’ one day of winter that will happen sometime in the next three weeks, and check off some important, but often overlooked chores. We’ll call this the February Pre-Spring Cleaning to do list.

If You’re Nesting, then GO FOR IT!

Embrace the cleaning bug when you catch it. Comforters, pillows, bed skirts… they can all take their turn in the laundry. If you feel like cleaning, put down the Facebook distractions, crank up the music, and GET IT DONE.

Poofy Pillows

Send your pillows for a spin in the dryer for a few minutes to puff them back up. Also, replace the cheap ones if need be, or throw them in the washing machine if dirty. Most pillows can be safely washed and dried.

Tackle that Linen Closet

Some things, like those emergency sheets you only use when the kids get sick, could use a trip to the laundry. After a year in the closet, they’ll collect dust. Also, make sure your towels are rotated, and take the time to refold everything.

Flip the Mattresses

Such an easy task. Such an easy task to forget.

Read a Book (and Clean a Book)

Seriously though, check those bookshelves. Grab a few to read, donate some you’ll never read again, and dust everything off. Books are great. Dusty books are not so great.

Filters!

Replace the air conditioning or heating filters. Check filters in air purifiers as well.

Do the Heavy Things

When’s the last time you moved the washer and dryer and vacuumed behind them? The fridge? Under that drawer under your oven? If you don’t remember, please make sure to add them to your list. Any debris behind the dryer can be a fire hazard. Droppings behind the fridge or other kitchen appliances could attract rodents. Grab a friend (one with strong muscles) and clean behind the heavy things.

Did we miss anything in our February Pre-Spring Cleaning list?

Did we miss anything? What chores are a must for your February pre-spring cleaning list? Let us know and join the conversation on our Facebook page!

 

 

Water Leaks, Prevention, Fixes, and Tips

Water leaks can be a problem at any time of the year. But, it is especially important as the weather gets cooler to make sure you do not have any leaking or damaged pipes. There’s enough to juggle as a homeowner. Water damage definitely does not need to be on that list. So, check out the following tips for prevention and precautions for pipes and leaks

Tips for Water Leaks

  • When you notice something is leaking, shut the water off to that particular faucet or appliance. In the event you are unable to turn off water to the specific area, you can turn off the water for the entire property until you make repairs.
  • If you notice water leaking near any electrical outlets, it is best to shut off the electricity for the home. If needed, call an electrician to confirm safety after the water leak has been fixed.
  • For significant damage, it will be easier to call a professional plumber as well as a professional water removal crew.
  • In the event of smaller leaks, use fans to dry out wet areas or make the investment in a wet-dry vac.
  • For leaky roofs, grab a bucket and save your carpet. If the ceiling starts to bow and bubble, water build up could be significant It is best to call a professional sooner rather than later.
  • When waiting for carpeted areas to dry out, move out furniture or put it on blocks to prevent damage.

Temporary Fix

Sometimes a plumber is not accessible and a few quick fixes need to take place. In those cases, you can keep in mind the following tips to help reduce the amount of damage that may occur because of a water leak.

  • Grab a bucket! This is the most common sense answer for protecting carpet, floors, and cabinets under the sink. For small drips, put down a bucket until you can get the drip repaired.
  • If it’s going to be a little bit longer than temporary, then you can installing a hose to your bucket and drain the water out as it fills.

Either way, you want to get your leaks fixed as soon as possible. In addition to ruined furniture and wasted water, you risk the growth of mold. Mold buildup can be very damaging to your health.