The edible backyard: A source for family meals - and fun(BPT) - Have your kids ever asked you where the food they're eating comes from? It's a question many parents are answering right from their backyard and porches.
To create a hands-on educational experience, many families are transforming their usable spaces into fruit and vegetable gardens that feed the whole family, and sometimes neighbors, too. For the price of a few seeds or seedlings, you can produce fruits and vegetables that are delicious, safe, economical, nutritious, and fresh-and the best part is, your whole family can dig in together.
Truly, a lifetime of gardening for your children can start with a simple seed, and the benefits are not only health-giving but educational as well. According to a study conducted by Tractor Supply Company, the nation's largest rural lifestyle retailer, 89 percent of Americans feel their children need a better understanding of where their food comes from.
"Four years ago, we moved from Los Angeles to a small, rural town outside of Ashville, N.C. with dreams of growing as much of our own food as possible," said Beryl Frohriep of WildRootsHomestead.com, a homesteader and Tractor Supply Company contributor who relies on homegrown food for her family of four's plant-based diet. "By growing what we eat, we know what goes into the soil and what comes out of it; our food is fresh, delicious, safe and nutritionally rich. These days, it is my 5-year-old son doing much of the harvest, and I love that we get to learn and grow as a family by working together outdoors."
If you're interested in starting your own backyard garden, here are a few tips from the experts at Tractor Supply Company:
How do I start?
The first thing to do is decide where your garden will go. Choose an area with the most southern facing sun exposure. Next, get a soil test kit at your local Tractor Supply store. If you're going to invest time, work and money into your garden, you should make sure your soil is fertile. This simple, inexpensive test will determine that.
What should I grow?
Simply put, plant the vegetables that your family likes. If your family eats a lot of salad, think about planting lettuces, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes and, of course, tomatoes.
It's also smart to think about the types of meals you cook. Do you stir-fry? Grow bell peppers, onions, peas, and broccoli. Do you enjoy Mexican food? Consider various hot peppers and cilantro. Do you create main dishes from vegetables? Then potatoes, squash, eggplant and spinach might be the way to go.
When planning your garden's vegetables, consider adding some that your household considers tolerable, but not great. You may find that homegrown freshness increases the taste, and that vegetable just might turn into a family favorite.
Plant an unfamiliar vegetable or two, just for kicks. If it's not to your liking, give the harvest to neighbors or your local food bank.
How large should my garden be?
A great size for a beginner's garden is 10x18 feet, which can easily feed a family of four to six. However, your garden should reflect the size of your family, availability of space, amount of time you can spend tending to it and the amount of work you're willing to do.
It's important to remember that too large a garden can easily overwhelm you and become a discouraging chore instead of an enjoyable pastime. Keep it manageable. You'll be amazed at the amount of delicious food you can grow in any space-even on a patio or balcony. No space is too small!
Supporting the culture
To help families spend more time together and maximize their garden yield, Tractor Supply Company carries all the supplies a family needs to grow a garden, including mulch, live plants, regular and organic seeds, and garden tools. The rural lifestyle store hosts gardening events featuring expert advice, special products and seed stations for children throughout the planting season. Check with your local Tractor Supply store for details on upcoming gardening events.
For more expert advice on lawn and garden care, visit Tractor Supply's Know How Central, and for homegrown inspiration for your garden, visit Tractor Supply's Pinterest page.
(BPT) - History tends to repeat itself.
The saying, "The more things change, the more they stay the same" rings true with architectural styles. We have smarter ways of building and the layouts have evolved with lifestyle changes, but historical and authentic design is only growing in demand.
"Post-war in the mid to late 20th century, many homes began losing that historical European influence due to the need for mass produced, affordable housing," says Deryl Patterson, an award-winning residential architect, and president and founder of Housing Design Matters, Inc. "Fast forward 30 years, and homebuyers began demanding those historical styles again - with the convenience and functionality of a new home."
"One of the features often overlooked when designing a 'new old house' is the window style," says Mark Montgomery, vice president of marketing for Ply Gem Windows. "Instinctively, people realize the curb appeal of a home is not quite right when the windows do not fit the architectural style, but they can't point out what's wrong. Windows are so much more than white rectangles and can really make or break the home's design."
For homebuyers who want an authentic older home look, the exterior must be designed in a specific manner, down to every little detail, especially the window architecture. Montgomery advises buyers to consider the color, grilles (decorative pattern that can simulate the look of separated glass panes), operating style and shape for historically-influenced design that complements the home's style.
To get the look, here are four examples of how history influenced window architecture in home design:
1. French Country: This is a very elegant style, focusing on vertical proportions. Windows are a defining characteristic that should emphasize this. A 3-foot by 6-foot window with a two-over-two window grille pattern is a classic combination. The single vertical mullion (a post that separates two windows) in the window further reinforces its striking proportions.
2. Modern Tuscan: Windows play a vital role in the design. Imagine them as geometric forms, creating interesting patterns across the front of the home. Consider combinations of single hung and fixed glass windows. The windows should be relatively free of grilles - perhaps a simple single vertical or cross pattern - to keep the style fresh. If the budget allows, consider upgrading to a Ply Gem MIRA Series window and using one of the bold, saturated tones, available in nearly 50 different colors.
3. Craftsman Bungalow: This style was developed from the British Arts and Crafts movement and features double-hung or casement windows. In Craftsman-style homes, the exterior trim traditionally contrasts with the window frame color, and the windows include grille patterns that create vertical proportions.
4. Prairie: A bold departure from the typical European-influenced styles, windows in modern Prairie architecture are typically tall casements in warm tones, providing the perfect complement and contrast to the horizontal lines of the style. A Prairie-style grille pattern is essential to complete the look.
To find the window style that best fits your "new old house," Patterson recommends researching the options.
"One of the best ways to find inspiration is to drive through older, historical neighborhoods. If you don't live close to such neighborhoods, old travel magazines and history books are also great resources," she says.
Websites like www.plygem.com also help provide inspiration and take the guesswork out of architectural styling and color selection through historically accurate visual renderings, window design specifications and suggested style and grille patterns.
(BPT) - For millions of Americans, the turn of seasons means it's time to tackle the big move. Whether you've purchased a new home or are changing apartments, moving is a lot of work - both physically and mentally. By planning ahead, packing smart and moving safely, you can avoid some of the most notorious moving day mistakes.
"AAA shares a longstanding commitment to driver safety with Penske, which is especially important during the spring and summer moving season," says Scott Denman, AAA, vice president, Financial Services and Discounts & Rewards.
To streamline your moving day, avoid these top mistakes and feel great about entering your new home sweet home:
Mistake: Renting the wrong size truck
In general, allow 150 cubic feet of truck space for each fully furnished room. For example, a 12-foot truck offers 450 cubic feet while a 26-foot truck offers 1,400 cubic feet for your items.
Mistake: Packing items too early or too late
Begin with out-of-season and non-essential items several weeks prior to move day. Donate or sell anything you won't use at your new home. Pack essentials like personal necessities and basic cookware the day before or morning of moving day.
Mistake: Damaging breakable items
Poor packing can cause items to break during the move. Plan ahead and have plenty of paper and bubble wrap on hand. Towels, socks and other soft materials are great for packing breakables as well.
Mistake: Reserving a rental truck too late
Wait too long and you might not get the truck you need. Reserve a truck at least two weeks prior to the move. Access PenskeTruckRental.com from your smartphone and in a few clicks you'll reserve the perfect moving truck for your moving day, saving you time and headaches.
Mistake: Poorly labeled boxes
Where did you put those tools you now so desperately need? Always remember to label boxes clearly. Note the boxes' contents and what room it belongs in.
Mistake: Not having enough hands on deck
Now is the time to cash in some favors and elicit friends and family to help on moving day. This allows you to use your truck rental time efficiently while ensuring you're not too sore from doing it all yourself.
Mistake: Not utilizing truck space efficiently
Put the biggest items in the truck first followed by heavy boxes. Then stack with lighter boxes and other items to fill in the remaining space.
Mistake: Lifting incorrectly
When loading and unloading, be sure to bend your knees and lift with your legs, not your back. Work diligently, but be sure to take breaks and stay hydrated.
Mistake: Driving at peak times
Leave early in the morning. You'll run into less traffic and you'll leave yourself extra time to unload at your destination. Take turns driving and take breaks once every two to three hours.
Mistake: Unsafe driving practices
Driving a big truck is new for many people. Penske professionals will get you familiarized with your vehicle, verify the best driving directions to your new home, check the upcoming weather and give you any necessary driving advice.
Spring and summer present endless opportunities to celebrate, from events like graduations and birthday parties to barbecues and gatherings with friends. Impress guests and add an element of fun and whimsy to your party with easy DIY balloon projects, such as Floral Balloon Tails and DIY Glitter-Dipped Balloons.
Celebrate Summer with DIY Party Decor
(Family Features) Spring and summer present endless opportunities to celebrate, from events like graduations and birthday parties to barbecues and gatherings with friends. Impress guests and add an element of fun and whimsy to your party with these easy DIY balloon projects.
Party planning experts Seri Kertzner and Michelle Bachman of Little Miss Party recommend making a bold statement by using fresh flowers to create floral tails on your balloons. It’s an unexpected detail that adds a colorful element to your tablescape. You can tailor the flowers to your party’s color scheme or the guest of honor’s favorites. Put any leftover flowers in vases or use them for a table runner to pull the theme through.
DIY glitter balloons from Kelly Mindell of Studio DIY are another fun project that can lift the look of any occasion. Simply coat clear balloons with spray adhesive and roll them in glitter to add sparkle to your gift table, centerpiece or dessert area.
With Balloon Time’s portable helium tank on hand, you can inflate balloons for creative uses anywhere you want to celebrate.
Floral Balloon Tails
Purchase light, fresh greenery that has a flexible stem. A florist or local farm stand can help identify the greenery best suited for this project.
Buy jumbo confetti balloon. To make the balloon instead, pick up a clear jumbo balloon at a local party store. Cut tissue paper into small pieces and add cut tissue into the balloon before inflating.
Inflate confetti balloon with helium tank and tie with string or ribbon.
Take strand of green leaves and wrap greenery around string, starting at the balloon stem.
Notes: Be aware that popcorn ceilings and hot ceiling lights can pop balloons. If high ceilings are a concern, tie balloons to a jar of decorative rocks or candy in the party’s color scheme.
DIY Glitter-Dipped Balloons
Inflate balloons using helium tank and tie with ribbon.
Pour glitter onto paper plate.
Spray adhesive on bottom third of the balloon and roll sticky part in glitter until it is completely covered.
Tap balloon to remove excess glitter.
A tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer an injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. Insects and disease are also potential threats to valuable trees. Use this five-step checklist to help achieve optimal springtime tree health and ensure that your established trees will thrive for years to come.
Keep Your Trees Green and Your Property Value Greener
(Family Features) Mature trees increase property value by as much as 10 percent, according to the U.S. Forest Service. But a tree can shift from asset to liability when branches, trunks or roots suffer an injury and threaten to cause property or personal damage. Insects and disease are also potential threats to valuable trees.
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your established trees will thrive for years to come. Use this five-step checklist from Lance Walheim, lawn and garden care expert for Bayer Advanced, to help achieve optimal springtime tree health:
1. Renew Mulch. Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your trees – and one of the easier garden chores to tackle. Two-to-three inches of organic mulch conserves water, reduces compaction and helps control weeds. It’s best placed in a ring that extends outward from the trunk at least 3-6 feet.
2. Be Cautious with Water. Make sure you don’t overwater. Unless there have been prolonged dry spells or exceptionally warm weather, most established trees may not need water until mid-to-late spring. Overwatering in spring can weaken trees and promote disease.
3. Protect Trunks. Make sure lawn mowers and weed eaters do not damage tree trunks by wrapping them with trunk protectors (sold in nurseries and garden centers) or surrounding the tree with a grass-free, mulched area.
4. Prune. Because pruning permanently changes a tree’s structure and appearance, you want to prune intentionally. Light pruning of small trees can improve structure and appearance, but be mindful of branch diameters to help guide your cuts. For more information on how to prune trees without damaging them, visit BayerAdvanced.com.
5. Protect and Feed. Now is a good time to treat trees and shrubs susceptible to damage from insects such as borers, aphids, scale insects, whiteflies and others, and taking this opportunity to provide a nourishing slow-release fertilizer is also a good idea. Using an all-in-solution that doesn’t require spraying, such as Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed liquid or granules, is an easy and convenient way to care for your trees.
As your yard awakens this spring, applying these tree care best practices can help keep your trees healthy and happy for many years to come.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
(BPT) - Take a deep breath of fresh air. Feel the warm sunshine on your skin. Kick back and listen to the peaceful sounds of nature. There's a reason people are investing in spaces that allow them to spend more time relaxing, dining and entertaining outside.
In addition to expanding livable space, outdoor enhancements also offer a strong return on investment at the time of sale. Convinced this is the year you're going to jump on the outdoor living bandwagon? To refresh your space and start enjoying the outdoors from the comforts of home, consider the top outdoor living trends of 2016.
Homeowners are embracing the same eclectic trends that they love indoors and bringing this same design approach to their outdoor spaces. Mixing materials is at the heart of this trend. From all-weather wicker and teak to concrete and aluminum, using different materials means creating durable spaces with one-of-a-kind looks. Beyond the hardscape, using a variety of patterns, textures and shapes adds visual appeal.
Upholstered soft seating
This year, homeowners are revamping patios and decks by bringing the comforts of indoors outside. The perfect example of this movement is the use of upholstered furniture for the outdoors. Arhaus Furniture offers a variety of upholstered sofas, sectionals and chairs that look just like the classics used indoors, but are specifically designed to withstand the elements outside.
Summer entertaining is enhanced when meals are cooked outdoors. Home chefs are thinking beyond the grill to incorporate other useful mediums for al fresco cooking. For example, hearths and stone ovens offer undeniable outdoor ambiance while providing a unique way to cook pizzas, bread and other baked goods. The finishing touch: add an herb garden for quick access to the fresh flavors of the season.
Customizing helps create outdoor spaces that are a reflection of the homeowners' personalities. More than just personalized decor, the customization trend is evident in outdoor furniture. Expert stylists at www.Arhaus.com offer complementary design services including space design, product selection and customization with a wide variety of outdoor fabrics so they can get the exact look they desire.
Outdoor entertainment shouldn't be restricted by daylight, so homeowners are making thoughtful additions to ensure when dusk arrives the party can go on. Strategic deck lighting on posts and stairways illuminates gathering spaces. Torches, pathway lighting and string lights are great for landscaped areas. Finally, propane and citronella gel fueled fire pits are the ideal gathering place and bugs will stay far away.
Reconstructed stone is in demand for tabletops on dining, coffee and accent tables. When researching options, it's important to remember not all reconstructed stone is created equal. For example, Arhaus makes reconstructed stone out of composite concrete so it's lighter, less brittle and withstands weather well. Even when left outside year-round at the company headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, there was no cracking, color fading or changes to material.
Updating your laundry room with a distinctive design and increased functionality can be one of the most exciting ways to refresh your home. Use these five tips to breathe new life into a room that is often forgotten.
5 Ways to Add Luxury to Your Laundry Room
(Family Features) Updating your laundry room with a distinctive design and increased functionality can be one of the most exciting ways to refresh your home. Chic decor and elements of personal style can transform a dull, tired space into a luxurious retreat you may find yourself sneaking off to. Use these five tips to breathe new life into a room that is often forgotten.
Set the tone with color and texture. Start with sleek quartz or concrete countertops and add a trendy, colorful backsplash to break the mold of monotonous counter spaces and blank white walls. Tile backsplashes are always a safe bet, however, consider venturing outside your comfort zone with reflective surfaces or sleek stone materials. Continue the look with elegant slip-resistant stone or tile flooring and a plush area rug for added comfort and depth.
Let there be light. Since laundry rooms of the past often occupied dark, windowless spaces, adding glamorous ceiling lighting is a must. Add a chandelier as the centerpiece and flank it with recessed lighting to brighten the room.
Focus on fabric care. Center your design around appliances that not only deliver on style and technology, but deeply clean and care for your clothes like the Electrolux Washer with SmartBoost and Dryer with Instant Refresh. To ensure your favorite pieces look impeccable wash after wash, SmartBoost technology premixes water and detergent before it even hits your clothes, maximizing the cleaning power of the detergent. Not to mention, the pair has a 15-minute fast wash and a 15-minute fast dry so you can freshen up your outfit for a night out in just half an hour.
Play with patterns. Incorporating on-trend patterns, like chevron or an ombre color fade, into decor and accessories can get the creativity and fashion inspiration flowing. Consider the juxtaposition of multiple patterns along with a few pops of color to bring life and style to the room’s design.
Reconsider the location. Looking to achieve the laundry space of your dreams? Consider moving the washer and dryer into a walk-in closet. Aside from the stylishness of combining your laundry room and master closet, having the laundry near where you get dressed is also convenient. Just make sure your machines fit in your unconventional space. With reversible doors and the ability to stack the units, Electrolux laundry pairs are designed to fit seamlessly into more spaces in the home.
For more laundry room inspiration and solutions from Electrolux, visit electroluxappliances.com.
(BPT) - Warmer months bring days spent outdoors, sweet treats and backyard barbecues. Spending time with loved ones outside can also mean many messes, big and small. With kids out of school, outdoor entertaining and keeping the house clean become serious challenges - even for the most organized families. Here are five easy hacks to keep your house (and kids) clean while embracing the mess.
DIY ice pop drip catcher
Kids love an ice pop after playing outside, but the melty drips can be a nightmare. To help catch drips and save clothes, simply insert the ice pop stick into the bottom of a paper cup or cupcake wrapper. Pull the ice pop all the way down and the catcher instantly serves as protection, saving clothes and hands from getting sticky!
Kiss stains goodbye, naturally
Summer fun usually brings stubborn grass stains to clothes. Easily remove pesky stains with pure white vinegar. Simply soak the stained area of clothing with vinegar, wash as usual, and voila - clean clothes without the use of harsh chemicals.
Keep sand in the sandbox
It's easy to forget to kick off your shoes after a long day playing outside. And even if you do, it seems as though sand, dirt, and other messes somehow manage to find their way into the home. To help keep dirt and sand outside where they belong, create a decorated shoe basket to leave at the front door. Your floor will thank you.
Combating faucet stains is a piece of cake
As you transition inside after a long day, first things first - wash your hands! Installing a faucet that resists fingerprints and other stains is a no-brainer. A faucet with SpotShield Technology such as the Delta Merge lavatory faucet helps resist unsightly water spots and stains while staying clean for longer periods of time. Available online and in stores such as The Home Depot, this faucet translates to less clean-up and more time spent at the summer barbecue.
Easy craft clean up
Not all fun is had outdoors. When kids are inside creating crafty masterpieces, keep the glue and glitter in one place by laying out an old sheet or piece of canvas on the floor or table. When the crafting is complete, simply toss it into the wash or garbage for quick and easy clean up.
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