How To Create A Drought Tolerant Yard
Living in California means we don’t have much water. Either from rain or from snow melt. Here rain helps with our plants but our drinking water comes from up north. So if there isn’t a lot of snow melting in the spring we will have less water for the summer. We are in a drought and have been for over a decade so many people are doing a drought-scape in their yards. It is a great way to reduce water consumption and save on our water bill. Added bonus, I fired my gardener and am saving $65 a month. I applied for the drought rebate program with the water company and was approved a few months later. Prior to starting work on my yard it didn’t look too great. I had a mix of random types of grass growing and lots of weeds. It didn’t look bad if it was mowed short and watered often, but since my water bill seems to always be too high I’ve been trying to reduce my watering and only water my vegetable planters and my fruit trees. Before you start a job like this it is a good idea to figure out your supplies ahead of time. We used 3 pallets of wood chips (mulch). Each pallet held 60 bags. Each bag cost $3.67 plus tax. We thought we’d have extra to return but we actually used it all up and could use about 10 more bags. If you are ordering by a pallet it is easier to order extra and return some. We bought the wood chips from Home Depot. The cost for delivery was $79. This cost was the same, regardless of the number of pallets. So it was better to order three pallets and have extra rather than order two and need more. If we had extra we could always put a few in a truck to return them. If we needed more we would have to pay a new delivery fee.
If you want to be frugal and do this yourself read more. Lots of tips and tricks I learned. I helped a few family members in their yards and they helped me do mine. Great win-win. We had 3-4 adults and two teens working so we got it done pretty fast.
Before doing the any work my yard was sorta green, not great looking grass. Lots of weeds ( you couldn’t tell if the grass was really short but it was really a mix of weeds and lots of different types of grass). I like grass, when it looks good. But comparing the grass-yard to my new drought-yard, I love the new one.
For the areas where I am keeping plants, it is important to have good topsoil, good fertilizer and some insecticide and fungicide products, incase your plants get sick. I found products from The Dirt on Dirt to work great in the garden. They are environmentally friendly, non-toxic and fast acting. My rose bushes and artichoke plants also get aphids. I found the Eco-Mite is a great insecticide Miticide and is safe for flowers and vegetables.
I’ve used the Eco-PM Fungicide on my orange tree. It was getting leaf curl and the leaves were turning brown and dying. After using the Botanical Fungicide three times (once a week or two) I noticed the leaves weren’t getting worse. Looking a few weeks later, the tree had new,healthy leaves, and the leaves are looking a lot better.
The fruit trees in the photo (and some not seen) are dwarf lemon (behind the bench), fruit cocktail (in the center), plum (behind the fruit cocktail) and dwarf orange (on the right). I want to plant a dragon fruit tree on the front-right. Since it needs less water than everything else I might put some bricks around it and make it a little raised.
Garden Vegetable Planters. Empty for winter but will soon have lots of veggies in them. The NutriRoot is a great liquid soil applied fertilizer to help plants develop a good root system. I use this every time I plant a new tree. My dad built the raised garden planters with some wood and paint. Took a few hours to cut and paint the wood then he brought them over and we assembled them, did some touch-up paint and filled each with soil. Living in Southern California means I can plant so much! Last year we had melon, corn, artichoke, tomatoes, watermelon, pumpkins, lettuce and a lot more.I’m not sure what I’m doing with this side yet. I was thinking some stepping stones leading to a bistro set. It is hard to see but there is a few plants on the left side. Right now they are blending in with the wood chips but they’ll get taller and add some dimension to the yard.
The top front yard had about 7 plants, so far. I’m going to plant two trees (left and right side) soon. The right of the driveway has a rosemary and sage (very top) and on the right of them a raised vegetable garden. I usually plant my tomato plants here that I get every year from Tomatomania. Below that is some lantana, aloe and lavender.
When adding wood chips make sure you get a LOT! Make a guess on how many you need and double it. This was our first try. But they didn’t spread out enough and it left the ground with bare patches. This was before we bought the pallets. Frugal Tip: Any bags of soil or wood chips that had rips or tears in them were 50% off at Home Depot.
In the front I want to do a dry river pathway and add a few large rocks too. Something to break up everything and add some style. I did not buy any huge plants since they are not safe close to the house (don’t want a place for potential burglars to hide) and on the parkway I was told I could not plant large plants that would block people from getting in/out of their car if they parked on the street in front of my house. All in all, my estimated budget for the whole project was about $2500 and I spent $2000, so I was under budget. Part of this was from using some potted plants I already had (to put in the space on the right of the driveway), shopping sales for plants, soil and wood chips and having family help with the labor. In the spring, when wood chips are about 50% off on all bags, I will buy some more to make the overall height of them a little higher to deter weeds and grass from growing.
On top of reducing my water bill on grass, I have a prettier yard. New raised veggie planters. Fired my gardener and am saving about $800 a year. Saving about $100 a month by using less water. It is a great win-win for the environment and my pocketbook.
4 Tips To Control Children’s Technology Overuse
CONTROL YOUR CHILD’S USE OF TECHNOLOGY THIS NEW YEAR WITH THE HELP OF THESE EFFECTIVE TIPS!
The New Year is right around the corner which means we are all off to a new start. It has rightly been said that change is always gradual. You cannot expect to see a growing plant with flowers blossoming, right after you have bowed the seed. To nurture a plant successfully, you need to take care of it by watering it regularly or by providing the necessary sunlight to the plant. The same principle applies to parenting. No one can be an expert, as a parent. Parenting practice progresses gradually and it transforms to its better version day by day.
Since the beginning of the New Year indicates a fresh start, a new ray of hope and a lot of renewed chances for fueling up your parenting, therefore, make the most of this uplifting time of the year and reconsider your parenting priorities.
Here are a few tips to help parents in managing their biggest concern about their child, i.e. the influence of technology on kids. You can take control of your child’s use of technology and digital media with these tips. Implement them this New Year and get rid of your agonies.
1. Treat Technology as a Tool
When kids use the tech gadgets only for playing games or for useless activities, then they consider technology only as a source of entertainment. Teach your kids about the valuable advantages of such devices. Let them know how they can use a smartphone or a tablet for learning purposes. Don’t treat technology as a luxury, make them realize that the internet is a privilege and should be used only as a necessity.
2. Create a Balance in Their Activities
Instead of taking away technological freedoms from your kids, create a balance in their routine. Let them spend time in front of a TV screen or any other screen within a limit. Engage them in other activities such as swimming, soccer, reading novels, etc. By incorporating this tip in your child’s routine, you can boost your child rearing game and can take control of your kid’s attraction towards technology.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Kid’s Use of Internet
Most of the ingenious parents take advantage of parental control options to make their life easy and relaxed. If you are still not one of those smart parents then perhaps this is the time to consider becoming one. Take advantage of parental control apps for managing your kids’ use of the Internet. Parental control apps are specifically developed for the ease and comfort of parents.
Parental control apps such as FamilyTime offers a set of extremely thoughtful features in controlling children’s use of technology. With the app in hand, parents can:
1. Mirror contact book of kids to view contacts saved on the child’s device exactly the way they
appear on their device. With the contacts, you can see all details saved there such as email
ID, home address, birthday, etc.
2. Monitor SMS history to see the threads of sent and received SMS on your kids’ device with
the help of FamilyTime app and stay updated about what they talk about.
3. View call logs to see whom do they contact and at what time
4. Watchlist suspicious contacts to receive instant alerts every time a contact is made by either
party, i.e. your kid and the watchlisted contact.
5. Track location in real time to time and see where they are at any given time.
6. Trace location history for the past months to see the list of places they have visited in the
past. Through the location history tracking, you will see the list of places with their complete
address and the date, and time of their visit.
7. Monitor web history to see the URLs they visit with the date and time stamps.
8. See bookmarks and favorites to keep tabs on their web preferences.
9. View the complete list of apps installed on their device
10. Check App usage frequency to analyze the time they spend on each application.
11. Block apps to restrict their access to the apps you find inappropriate.
12. Put auto screen locks on their devices for a specific time interval.
13. Remotely lock their phone to limit access to their device whenever you want.
Give this app a try for free. You can get the trial version with premium features from the Google Play store and iTunes.
4. Model Good Digital Habits in Your Own Personality
This New Year make it your goal that you will mirror those digital habits in your own behavior which you want your kids to adopt because kids follow their parents most of the time. Keep your phone away during meal times to let your children realize that they should do the same. If you use your phone while driving, your teen is likely to do so once he/she start driving which is why you need to anticipate your own traits in order to control your kid’s use of technology.
Home Is Where The Heart Is: Securing Your First Home
Everyone wants a home. That much is likely true. A home offers a haven from the stresses of life and it’s a great place to start, or grow, your family. After all, home is where the heart is.
But, how do you even get one?
It’s not easy, and it’s a long path – but it’s not impossible.
Firstly, you can choose the option of renting. Renting can give you instant access to a number of amazing properties. This is an incredible and sometimes cheap option for you, and you shouldn’t turn your nose at it, but buying is better. Why? Well, buying a home ensures the payments secure your future. Each monthly payment towards a home is leading you towards the goal of ownership. It’s almost like a savings account you can live in. Renting is seen as dead money by most.
Now, to buy a home, you need to secure a mortgage from the bank. A mortgage is a gigantic loan offered to you to secure your desired house. It’s likely going to number in the tens of thousands, if not the hundreds. You’re looking at big money here, and you’re going to owe it, so ensure it can be paid off. Each bank will offer a different mortgage rate to you, so do your research and use sites like Lending Tree to accurately calculate what you can borrow and what your eventual monthly repayments will be. Remember your credit rating here, if you’re thinking of eventually buying a house, check it right now and if it’s bad, try and fix that. Don’t miss monthly repayments from this point forward. That’s not the only cost, though, as you’ll need to get the property appraised and inspected to ensure you’re not buying a deathtrap, not only that, but your estate agents and solicitors will also have fees. Most costs can be rolled into the mortgage, but not all.
The mortgage is usually offset with a down payment, or deposit. The bigger your down payment, the less you’re going to have to pay back to the bank. This is key. The best way to get a large deposit is to save, so it’s time to enjoy a frugal lifestyle. It’s going to be hard, but you’ll have a home at the end of it.
Find areas of your lifestyle you can cut back in. Don’t always eat out and go for expensive clothing options. It’s time to live on the cheap so you can secure your home. Plan and cook meals with cheap ingredients and save leftovers for later in the week. It’s really easy to get started here.
There are steps to owning a home: save, buy, live. It doesn’t seem that simple, but it is. Start saving now if you’ve got plans of becoming a future homeowner and you’ll make life a lot easier for yourself.
Top 10 Cooking Techniques for Everyday Cooking
When it comes to making a delicious meal, having the right technique is key. In order to become a better cook, there are some everyday cooking skills that you will need to master. To help you get started, here are the top 10 techniques for everyday cooking.
1. Basic Knife Skills
All knives are not created equally. Learning the various types of knives and how to use them is a huge step towards becoming more proficient in the kitchen. Skills like shearing, scoring and fine slicing may take a while to learn, but they will have a big impact on your success in the kitchen. If you find it hard to learn knife skills by yourself, don’t worry! You are not alone and there are even classes for that. In many cities, you will find some knife skills classes on Cozymeal’s website, a national provider of cooking classes.
2. Chopping an Onion
Onions are a key ingredient in many dishes. Mastering the technique of chopping an onion can dramatically reduce your meal prep time.
3. How to Cook Pasta
Believe it or not, there is a right way to cook pasta. In Italy, pasta is served â€˜al denteâ€™. This means that it has been boiled until softened, but still retains its firmness. This style is considered the standard in kitchens around the world. While mastering this technique, keep in mind that different types of pasta will have different cooking times. For best results, be sure to read the instructions on the packaging label.
4. Boiling an Egg
Boiling an egg is one of those skills that seems simple in theory, but can prove difficult to execute. The difference between a messy runny yolk and a firm one can be a matter of minutes. Determining the right amount of time to boil an egg will depend on the starting temperature of the egg and the level of firmness you hope to achieve. For a soft-boiled egg, a room-temperature egg will need to cook approximately three to five minutes. On the other hand, a hard-boiled egg will need to cook for seven to 10 minutes. Remember that the longer the egg cooks, the firmer it will be.
5. Making an Omelette
An omelette is one of those versatile meals that is perfect for an early breakfast or a tasty lunch. Start by whisking the eggs in a small bowl until they are thoroughly blended. Then pour the eggs into a buttered frying pan and top it with your fillings. For a fluffier result, add a small amount of milk or sour cream to the egg batter before adding it to the pan.
6. Baking a Potato
A baked potato can quickly transform from an ordinary vegetable into a hearty meal. For best results, thoroughly clean the skin of your potato and sprinkle it with a little olive oil and salt before baking it. The result will be a potato that is crispy on the outside while soft and fluffy on the inside.
7. Making Gravy
The robust flavor of homemade gravy is so much better than any store-bought alternative. After roasting the meat that you intend to serve the gravy with, use some of the drippings from the roasting plan to create a rich, flavorful gravy.
8. The Art of Cooking Rice
For many new cooks, rice can be one of the most frustrating dishes to make. While using a rice cooker is a great way to get perfect rice every time, this dish can easily be prepared without one. All it takes is water, rice and a little bit of salt to make soft, fluffy rice each time.
9. Kneading Dough
Bread is a staple of most diets. While store-bought bread is convenient, it pales in comparison to fresh-baked, hot-out-the-oven bread that you can easily make yourself. In a large mixing bowl, start by gently mixing flour and water. The mixing motion activates the gluten which is what gives your dough its elasticity. Once the dough has risen, clear a flat, clean surface and dust it with powder. Use your fisted hands to mash the dough until it develops into a smaller ball. With the heel of your hand, stretch and squish the dough for three to five minutes. Fold the dough and repeat this kneading and turning motion as indicated in the recipe.
10. Browning Meat
The key to keeping slow-cooked meats tender and juicy once cooked, is learning how to properly seal them first. Browning meat is a simple technique that involves frying it in a pan until the outside becomes brown. Especially useful for pot-roasts or stews, this technique gives the meat a rich flavor while keeping it tender for additional cooking.
Learning how to become a better cook takes lots of practice and patience. Mastering each of these simple techniques will put you well on your way to becoming a more seasoned cook.
Smart Ways to Plan for Sudden Family Financial Emergencies
It can happen without warning. One day, life is calm and everyone’s happy. The next, chaos ensues, all because of something you never expected. It could be an unexpected bill, a natural disaster, or some bad news at the doctor. Regardless of the specifics, there are a few things you can do to proactively prepare for life’s curveballs.
Put Money Into Savings When Possible
Maybe you regularly live from paycheck to paycheck. That’s a common scenario that makes it very hard to save money. However, if you can, work out a feasible way to gradually put money aside.
Consider researching the best high interest savings accounts, because then your balance grows even without making deposits. You may also want to see if your employer can give you a direct deposit form that allows you to designate that a certain amount of money should go straight to your savings account for each pay period. If you never see the money hit your main bank account, it’s harder to miss it.
Get Rid of Things You Don’t Need
If regularly putting money into savings isn’t possible because you don’t earn very much, do an inventory of all the things in your home that might be worth money and appeal to someone else. There’s a good chance some things you no longer want or need could be sold for top dollar. Organizing everything and getting it ready for sale is often a little overwhelming, but your hard work could pay off in the form of cold, hard cash.
Plus, shedding some of your possessions could be beneficial if your house always seems cluttered. Without unnecessary items taking up space, you may be amazed how much more open your home’s floor plan, closets, and garage look. Once you earn income from the sold items, immediately put it into savings so it’s available if you have an emergency that requires extra financial resources.
Meet With an Insurance Agent
Insurance for your residence, car, or home-based business could provide welcome peace of mind when it feels like life has turned everything upside down. Ideally, plan an in-person meeting with an insurance expert and get their advice about the best kinds of insurance for your family’s needs. Whether you need an insurance agency in Sacramento or one based in Manhattan, options are available all over the United States.
If cost is a concern, mention that to your insurance agent quickly and with frankness. You may be able to pay less by adjusting your deductible amount, or get set up on a periodic payment plan that splits your premium cost into manageable monthly or weekly segments so it’s easier to fit into your budget.
Although you may never need to make an insurance claim, the fact that the option’s available in case of an emergency should help you feel more at ease. Being insured relieves you from the burden of having to be solely responsible for eligible costs incurred during unplanned circumstances.
Hopefully, these three tips make it easier for your family to figure out how to work towards greater financial security. The unexpected inevitably happens, but you can prepare for it in practical ways.