25 Feb

3 great ideas to decorate your home

There can be a world of difference between as little as two homes: one can consist of simple rooms painted in white with a couple of modest sofas and bedding, while the other can feature lively colors, extravagant lighting, sound and cinema systems, expensive carpets, fountains… It’s not just about the means of the individual – matter of fact, those with lesser means often have homes with nicer interiors than rich folks who are too busy working to decorate in accordance with their heart’s desire.

If you’re looking to decorate your home and add some nice touches to it, you don’t need a big bank account or a sizeable loan to get started – all you need is some creativity and the knowledge of where to look. Here are 3 great and affordable home decor ideas.

  1. Improved lighting: As easy as it seems, moving away from standard lighting into something that’s equally as pleasing (and won’t trigger epileptic attacks) is tough. There’s a reason why standard home lights are rarely changed – they work well for the majority of people, especially since many believe that the whole point of home lighting is to simulate daytime. Still, don’t be afraid to deviate on your way to the perfect home – many find that lighting with motion is exactly what their home needs to shine. Try replacing some of your dull lightbulbs and lamps with a water lamp or even one that sits below a fish tank – it’s not the cheapest alteration, but it’s one that can significantly alter your home for the better. Play with ambient lighting as well – instead of lighting up a whole room from the middle, try to install dimmed lamps strategically so that it’s almost difficult to guess where the lighting is coming from.
  2. Leather furniture: Alright, we’ll go ahead and admit it: we have a thing for leather furniture. There aren’t many better ways to make a living room appear classier and more expensive (even when the furniture itself doesn’t cost a lot). You can play with multiple combinations here: from a single sofa and an armchair to two sofas, an armchair and a massage chair, all leather – it all depends on the size of your living room and the amount of money you can spend. Speaking of money, you’ll have to make a choice between actual or faux leather, with the former being much more expensive. Here’s a trade secret: most people can’t tell the difference between real and ‘fake’ leather, and there’s a good chance you might be one of them. Moreover, should you find yourself sharing the same roof with a vegan individual, he or she will thank you for not making them sit on the remains of some poor cow.
  3. Wall art: Sure enough, white color on walls is as bland as it gets. Painting them blue, red or bright orange is a start, but how about adding some wall art to it? You’ll definitely want to be careful here – the point of any home is to let its owner relax, and you can hardly do that with distracting imagery wherever you look. Yet, when done right, artwork on walls can transform a room and give it an otherworldly appearance that few other homes boast. Sure, you might need to do some searching to find the right artist and it might take you a while to figure out what he or she ought to draw for best effect, but the ratio of money spent to results enjoyed is tremendous.
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23 Feb

Best farmer’s markets in San Antonio

Farmer’s markets – and the organic foods they sell – are making a big comeback. For a while, it looked like agricultural giants were going to drive farmers out of business – the latter could hardly compete with the mass-production prices of the former.

Somewhere along the line, however, people realized that mass-produced fruit and vegetables aren’t good for you and can bring about a host of health issues (the same goes for factory-farmed meat). You probably haven’t heard many good things about Monsanto, and with good reason – unlike farmers, these people will sacrifice customers’ health for profits.

But enough about economics – let’s get down to an overview of the best farmer’s markets in San Antonio and the healthy goodies you can find there.

Farmer’s Markets in San Antonio

Pearl Farmer’s Market: Pearl’s is less your typical market and more of an event. A single visit will show you that there’s a lot more going on than just the sale of whole foods – from dogs running around to classy live music being played, this market will make you feel as if you came to the right place even before you’ve tasted the goods. And good they are – the food is top-notch quality and grown with love, as it should be. But there’s more to eat at Pearl’s than just fruits, veggies and the occasional steak – this farmer’s market is known for its quaint bakeries and food stalls selling all kinds of amazing dishes cooked and baked with only the best ingredients. If you’re wanting to try some great cuisine without worrying about health, make sure to empty up your Saturday schedule and stop by this amazing place. Consider taking a ride down to the farmer’s market at Pearl…

Sprouts Farmer’s Market: One thing people tend to notice about this place is that prices run a little high, especially for meat (which there isn’t a lot of). Yet it would be hard not to call them justified – your own health isn’t something you want to be saving money on. As opposed to most open space farmer’s markets, this one more closely resembles a Whole Foods store without the negative associations that a big brand carries. Sprouts seems to specialize in health foods more than anything else, featuring a variety of supplements that are meant to boost your health and get you ino the next gear. There’s also no shortage of health-conscious pre-made dishes like sandwiches and various lunches. All in all, you won’t regret a visit to Sprouts if you’re a conscious eater.

Greenling: Greenling is a revolution among San Antonio’s farmer’s markets in that it offers timely door-to-door delivery on virtually all of their products. That’s right – you don’t even have to leave home to get some of the best whole foods in the state. What separates Greenling from similar deliveries is their absolute dedication to quality – all of the food they sell might as well have been grown on a family farm (and there’s a good chance that it was). The inventory is also impressive: aside from all manners of fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains, you also have access to free-range meat and dairy products from farms that love their cows. If you can’t bother to make a lengthy trip to shop healthy, Greenling will be a godsend.

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22 Feb

When to trim or prune your trees

Instead of thinking of trees as an object meant to look good, it’s best to think of them as pets: pets that need love and care in order to stay healthy and feel good. Yes, trees can feel (in their own special way), so you’d do well to exercise care when handling them using sharp objects.

Trimming and pruning trees can be a major concern for property owners. It’s a procedure that can either help tremendously or outright kill a tree, depending on how informed you are and how careful you are with the cutting. Don’t worry – read on to find out when and how to prune your trees.

Get them while they’re sleeping – prune your trees

Sneaky as it sounds, that’s exactly when you should prune your trees – when they’re asleep (or ‘dormant’, as might be the more technical term). Trees go to sleep when outside conditions get unbearably cold for them – usually around October – and wake from their slumber around May.

The first important thing to note is that not all trees sleep equally as long – some will go dormant sooner and some later, while others will wake much sooner than their cousins. It’s important to know the exact type of tree you’ll be cutting before grabbing hold of the shears: your city’s website will usually have information on tree sleep cycles, but you might have to find out the trees’ type on your own, either through research or by consulting a professional.

When trees are trimmed during dormancy, they suffer considerably less stress than when awake and growing. That being said, you can still damage or maim a tree with irresponsible pruning, so be sure to gauge the appropriate amount to cut. Remember: it’s not about making them look better, but rather helping them flourish and avoid disease as well as preventing damage to nearby objects and structures (and even people).

Speaking of disease, a tree getting sick can be another cause for pruning ahead of schedule. If you fear that a sickness might kill your tree and it’s one that started from the branches rather than the trunk, timely pruning might yield results and even save the tree from death – again, you should still consult an arborist before making any impromptu cuts.

Another argument for cutting trees during the winter season (and sometimes late autumn) is that dormant trees won’t leak sap when dismembered. In case you haven’t noticed, pests feast on sap and will jump at the opportunity to infest your tree if they think it might be nutritious. Just because you can’t see any pests in the area doesn’t mean that it’s okay to cause sap leakage – pests can travel an astounding distance on their way to sustenance. Needless to say, once infested, a tree is very difficult to bring back to health and will most likely have to be cut down out of mercy and for the safety of people and animals around it.

If all this sounds like too much to handle, know that there’s no shame in putting down the shears and calling a professional to do the job for you – if anything, it shows you’re a responsible and level-headed individual.

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22 Feb

How to build a raised bed garden

Why a raised bed garden, anyway? Why not just stay content being a garden-variety gardener? Well, one thing raised beds have going for them is tidiness – you’ll enjoy a greater degree of control over your garden and will quickly be able to deal with any issues that might plague it.

For many home owners, another perk of raised bed gardens is their appearance. Home owners who want to avoid making their whole yard resemble a farm or a greenhouse will definitely appreciate the borders raised by the bed – think of it as a really big flower pot with more uses.

You don’t need contractors to build your raised bed garden – all you’ll need is a bit of material and a lot of motivation.

The raised bed building basics

Obviously, the first thing to get out of the way is where you want your raised bed garden to be. Front yard? Backyard? Somewhere in the middle? If you have both a sizeable front and back yard, the choice can seem difficult. If you’re growing edibles and similar vegetation that can appear unsightly, you might want to opt for the backyard. If flowers or exotic fruit is what you’ll be raising, there’s no reason not to show it off by growing it up front. Also, whichever place you choose, make sure that it’s sunny enough.

Once you have the location down, you’ll need the materials. Lumber is by far the most important, and you’ll want to be careful when picking each plank. There are two things to look out for when picking lumber:

  1. If you’re growing anything edible, the lumber you pick must not have been treated with toxic materials at any point from the moment it was cut down to when it finally reached the store. Even if what you grow isn’t edible, toxic substances certainly aren’t going to aid the growth – besides, you could always change your mind and decide to grow some cabbage later on. Either way, insist on knowing every substance applied to the lumber you’re thinking of buying before making a purchase.
  2. The wood will have to be rot-resistant. This one is a no-brainer as well: since you’ll be doing a whole lot of watering, you can’t afford the body of your raised bed garden rotting away – the resistance to rot can either be natural or come from pressure treatments, but be sure that there are none of the aforementioned harmful chemicals in the latter case.

You’ll also have to make a choice on whether to use a bottomless raised bed or not. Bottomless raised bed gardens can only work on yards with good soil quality – if yours isn’t one of them, you’ll have to add a bottom ‘shelf’ to the garden and bring the soil in from elsewhere.

Once you have the planks down, it’s a simple (hopefully) matter of connecting them with bolts, nails and screws – of course, you’ll also have to drill drainage holes in the side planks for the water to come out, even if you have a bottomless raised bed.

As you grow, you’ll no doubt feel compelled to make more additions to the bed or change its shape or size. While alterations are welcome, keep one thing in mind: simple, long and thin does the job best!

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