Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community Garden

Community Living: The Quick and Easy Guide to Starting a Community GardenAh, the city. With so many people living in an urban landscape these days, it can be hard to find anything more than a planter on the balcony for your herbs. And good luck finding space for vegetables or large flowering plants! Fortunately, coming up with a community garden can be a great way to get the locals together. If you’re wondering how to get started with this fun project, begin with the following guide.

Find The Right People

Organizing your own community garden can seem overwhelming at first, so it’s important to gather a group of like-minded people that are interested in the idea and have the same passion for it that you do. Whether you decide to use a site like Meetup to get a group together or you have a variety of friends and neighbors who might be interested, ensure your group has both gardening and planning skills to bring to the table.

Research The Local Community

You’ll want to choose a site that’s not too far from your home, so talk to local horticultural organizations and your city or community center for information on available areas of land. Once you know the details, it will be easier to determine what exactly you’ll need to do to fund and develop the area. You might decide to cover the startup costs on your own, or you may want to create a small society which can be sponsored by local businesses. There may even be loan programs in your area that are available for your project, so ask around.

Start The Planting Process

Once you’ve determined who your crew will be and where you’ll be creating your garden, it will be much easier to move forward and determine what exactly your garden will be. Do you want it to be a collective which you all share together? Or do you want separate plots so all your members can do whatever they like? Once you’ve decided, the launch date can be the ideal time to throw a garden party and get everyone in on the fun.

Growing vegetables and planting your own garden has become a more popular pastime in recent years, and it can be easier than you think to get your very own community garden started. If you’re looking to buy a home in a garden-friendly new community, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent Plants

Living Under Water Restrictions? Transform Your Garden With These Succulent PlantsIt can be difficult to deal with water restrictions if you’re a bit of a green thumb and don’t want your beautiful plants to go to waste. Fortunately, there are plenty of succulents out there that can be quite striking and will still be able to store the water they need to survive. If you’re looking for some low-maintenance plants that thrive in the dry season, here are a few succulents that will do the trick.

The Christmas Cactus

Known as the Christmas Cactus, this plant can be a great way to get the beautiful flowers of summer without all of the water consumption that’s usually required. While the flowers will come out in the fall, you’ll want to ensure that you fertilize this plant during the summer months and leave it in a low-light spot where it won’t dry out too quickly.

A South African Succulent

Crassula ovate, commonly known as a jade plant, hails from South Africa and has the vibrant, glossy look of a plant that gets watered all the time. Fortunately, you can allow the soil to dry completely before you water it again since overwatering this type of plant will kill it. It’s easy to tell if your jade plant needs water. Once the leaves start to lose their shine, it’s time to get out the watering can.

The Snake Plant

If you’ve seen this type of succulent before, you’ll likely recognize it from its name, which accurately characterizes the long, thin and pointy leaves that jut out from its roots. While this plant will want to indulge in a little bit of light, you can leave it for a long time without having to water it. Just ensure the soil is dry before you pour!

Plant A Pincushion

When people think of cacti, it’s the pincushion variety of cactus that most often comes to mind with its short, pointed frame and multiple clusters. In addition to being easy to take care of and loving the sun, you should let this pint-sized plant dry out completely before giving it another drink. Much like the Christmas Cactus, it will also need to be fertilized in the summer.

It may seem impossible to maintain a garden under water restrictions, but there are plenty of unique succulents out there that can add a lot of variety to your home. If you’re currently in the market for a new home for all your plants, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage Payments

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage PaymentsIt’s not uncommon for a homeowner to want to pay more than the minimum monthly mortgage payment on their home. However, just because it can seem hard to come up with the funds on a monthly basis doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find the money for extra mortgage payments each year. If you’re wondering how you can pay down your mortgage debt much sooner with extra money, here are some tricks you may want to try.

Relinquish Your Refund

Many people look forward to tax time because it’s an opportunity to spend their refund on shopping, dining or a much-needed vacation. However, using your tax refund to pay down your debt can actually be a satisfying way to put more down on your mortgage and achieve something lasting from that extra bit of cash. While you may want to set some aside for an outing or a special treat, the amount remaining on your mortgage will seriously benefit from the extra payment.

Re-Tool Your Budget

If you’ve been successful at making your mortgage payments, it’s likely that you have a working budget that you stick to each month. But like any plan, a budget can change. If you haven’t done so in a while, it’s worth sitting down to re-calculate your monthly income and expenses. There’s a good chance that some expenses exist that you can pare down or get rid of entirely. While it may not make a significant difference in one month, small amounts will add up over time.

Plan A Yard Sale

It’s easy to acquire a lot of things that you don’t necessarily use, whether it’s technology or kitchenware or home decorations. Fortunately, planning a yard sale for your infrequently used items can be a great way to come up with a small fortune to pay off your mortgage sooner. Of course, you’ll need to be ready to haggle to get the prices you’re looking for. And don’t forget to get the locals involved and make it a neighborhood event for even more selling success.

It may seem nearly impossible to come up with the money to put more down on your mortgage, but using your tax refund and re-tooling your budget can easily add up to savings that make a difference! If you’re considering buying a new home in the future, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

$100 Well Spent: 5 Useful Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100Whether you’re trying to improve the look of your home or are getting ready to put it on the market, the idea of renovations might seem like a significant financial burden to take on. Fortunately, there are a variety of easy solutions for improving the look of your home without spending a lot of money. If you’re wondering how you can spend $100 wisely, look no further than the following upgrading tips.

A Funky Light Fixture

It might seem like a cool light will cost an arm and a leg, but there are plenty of options available on the market that will instantly add a unique touch to your place. Whether you decide to go mod or classic, a fixture can draw the eye and instantly add interest to a room.

A Makeshift Curio Cabinet

In these days of smaller living, many people have to pile their stuff into closets and cabinets in order to make it all fit. Fortunately, a bookcase-cum-cabinet can be an inexpensive purchase and can house a variety of items like books, dishes and appliances for an easy, eclectic look.

Covering The Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are often one of the first things to show age in a home, but getting out the can of paint can be a great way to instantly modernize their look. While you’ll want to go with a neutral tone that will compliment the space, the right color can add instant oomph.

Re-Upholstering A Chair

There are pieces of furniture in your home that you may be tired of looking at, but there’s an easy way to improve them without buying new: re-upholster! By trying out a new fabric on one of your favorite chairs, you might be surprised by how much it improves the room.

Paint Does The Trick

Painting may be one of the least popular renovation tasks, but few things are as successful at improving the look of your home as a fresh coat of paint. Instead of going all out with a bright color, choose a neutral shade that complements the furniture for an instant brightening effect.

Home renovations may seem like an expensive endeavor, but you can easily improve the look of your home with a new light fixture or by giving your furniture some love. If you are interested in making valuable renovations to your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional today.

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can Recycle

Going Green(er): 3 Common Waste Items You Had No Idea You Can RecycleIt has never been more popular to live a “green” lifestyle and develop sustainable living practices that will help out the planet. While you may be used to recycling cardboard boxes and giving away your old hand-me-down clothes, there are probably a few household items you didn’t even know you could recycle! If you’re wondering what to do with some of your old, used items, here are a few things that may be ready for re-use.

Re-constituting Your Lenses

It’s common to think your eyeglass prescription only works for you, but an easy way to re-use old eyeglasses is to take them to your local optician or optometrist’s office so that they can make use of them. Not only will someone in need be able to use the frames that you’ve provided, your lenses may be donated to another person with a similar prescription who will truly appreciate the gesture.

Old Phones & Electronics

It can be tempting to throw out an old phone with a shattered screen or an aging laptop that no longer turns on properly. However, with technology being obsolete almost as soon as it hits the market, it’s more important than ever to recycle these items. Old technology like iPods, iPhones, cell phones, chargers and digital cameras can be taken to your local electronics or “big box” store and recycled as part of their e-waste program. Before discarding any electronics that still work, you may want to look into other local places that refurbish these goods to donate them to less-fortunate families.

Improving Your Oil Change

While there are many renewable solutions on the market, oil is still one of the most common resources used in cars, trucks, motorcycles and other forms of transportation. Fortunately, while an oil change may be necessary maintenance on your car now and then, you can be more environmentally friendly by going to an auto repair shop that recycles and re-refines your oil. Before you make a trip to your old auto body, take a look at motor oil recycling locations on Earth911 for some options in your area.

It’s easy enough to compost food and throw your cardboard boxes in the bin, but there are many common waste items that can actually be re-used in your local community. If you’re looking for ways to go greener as you plan a move to a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Exploring Tesla’s New Solar Roof Tiles – Are They the Ultimate Home Upgrade?

Exploring Tesla's New Solar Roof Tiles - Are They the Ultimate Home Upgrade?Tesla may have become the famous brand it is for the creation of the electric car in 2008, but it has since burgeoned into a company that has diverse ambitions for how we utilize energy. Recently, Tesla has moved into the business of solar roof panels, which have become a hot commodity on the market with their green ethos and energy savings. If you’re curious about solar power and want to know the details on this product, here are some things to consider before buying in.

The Details On Tesla’s Solar Panels

With the recent release of Tesla’s solar roof panels, many homeowners interested in green energy have flocked to this new product for its innovation and famous brand. According to Tesla, these panels will last for approximately 30 years or as long as the house stands at 1/3 the weight of regular tiles. Utilizing a tempered glass to make stronger roof panels and solar cells created in conjunction with Panasonic, the connectors for these panels have been created to last through every kind of weather condition.

The Install Involved

The installation of Tesla solar panels is estimated to take approximately 5-7 days and is expected to be easier than a regular solar panel install. According to Peter Rive, CTO and Co-founder of Solar City, “We have learned a lot about installing solar from over 300,000 installations so we took all that and included that into the development.” Fortunately, because of the lightweight quality of these panels, they can be installed without any changes to the structure of the roof they’re placed on.

Should You Invest?

Tesla may be all the rage when it comes to utilizing electrical energy, but it’s important to determine if this panel system will meet your needs. Most solar panel systems last longer than the 25-year warranty, which is in line with Tesla’s own warranty. The aesthetics of this panel system may be improved, but it will likely be a while before this product can service the needs of all homeowners. Before investing, it’s important to get quotes from multiple suppliers to determine a timeline and probable budget.

Solar panels may be the wave of the housing future, but it’s important to ensure that the projected cost and timeline will work for your needs as a homeowner before investing.

Did You Know: With a Little DIY Work, That Garage Can Be Used for More Than Just Your Car

Did You Know: With a Little DIY Work, That Garage Can Be Used for More Than Just Your CarAlong with the family vehicles, the garage may be the place where all of the things you don’t want in your house go to disappear. However, you might not be aware that there are a number of DIY hacks you can use for your garage that will instantly make it a more useable space. If you’re wondering how you can fit more in while improving the aesthetic appeal of your garage, here are some tricks to test out.

Give Your Garden Tools Space

The pile of garden tools that often sit in the corner of the garage is generally unpleasant to look at and potentially dangerous, so instead of leaving them around to trip on, try out a wall rack to secure them properly. All that’s required to make this rack is two boards and a saw in order to make the proper cuts. Once all is said and done, you can screw the boards into the garage wall and place your tools in the cut grooves for a more organized look that will clear away the extra clutter.

Consider Ceiling Storage

If you already struggle with a small garage, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the extra space for storage. Instead of the floor, try putting your storage on the roof! By using plastic carriages installed into the roof of your garage, you can easily slide totes full of storage items into place. While you won’t want to store heavy items in the bins, they can be a great place for infrequently used items like Christmas decorations or old mementos.

Make Your Own Rec Room

If you have a two-car garage and only one car, there’s always the fun possibility that you may be able to use your garage for a less traditional purpose. Whether you decide to go with a makeshift office or a den the whole family can enjoy, adding a desk or couch, a few tables and even some wall art can be a great means of getting extra space. It can also be a great place to throw a party for your neighbors and your friends!

Summer’s Here! Freshen up Your Home Decor With This Summer Color Palette

Summer's Coming! Freshen up Your Home Decor With This Summer Color PaletteNow that the summer season has arrived, it’s time to enjoy the warm weather and cooler clothes. You might also be thinking about making some design changes to your home to welcome the season and indulge in its brilliance. If you’re looking for some new color schemes and how you can use them to amp up your home, here a few brightly-colored suggestions to try out for yourself.

Sky Blue

With the reminder of the sea and the sky, few things are akin to summer like bright blue. Instead of going overboard with this shade, try adding an accent like a side armchair, a throw or even some pillows to be adjusted with the seasons. If you’re really feeling the color, you might even want to try a large floor rug or an accent wall to add more flair.

Bright Orange

Orange can be a little bit of a risk, but if you have a love for this color there are ways to use it that will really enhance a room. As a splash against neutrals, it can add a lot of character to an otherwise unassuming space. However, if you want to go all out, consider a smaller space like a bathroom or den where it won’t look too showy.

Kelly Green

Much like blue, the color green is reminiscent of the return of the leaves and the grass, which makes it an ideal tone for the months of summer. While this color can be a lot less assuming than many bright colors, it can still provide a very alluring accent around the home. If you’re looking for ideas for this color, consider pairing it with white for a look that is both striking and homey.

Hot Pink

The color pink may seem like a risk for any room, but if you’re going for a patio setting or a makeup room, it can be the perfect tone to liven things up. Whether you want to try an accent wall or re-upholster some chairs, hot pink can easily make one think of summer cocktails and warm destinations throughout the season. With the summer months around the corner, there are plenty of great ways and fabulous colors to dress up your home with.

3 Home Renovation Lessons That You Won’t Want to Learn the Hard (or Expensive!) Way

3 Home Renovation Lessons That You Won't Want to Learn the Hard (or Expensive!) WayMost people make a number of home upgrades when the time comes to put their home on the market, whether they’re minor fix-ups or significant improvements that come with a high cost. However, it’s important to determine what will improve the value of your home and what renovations you can forget before you move forward with any updates. If you’re wondering how to plan for your renovations, here are three things to ponder before getting started.

Make (And Stick!) To A Budget

If there’s a certain offer price you’re looking for in your home, it’s important to go into home renovations with a clear head and decide beforehand how much you’re willing to spend. You certainly won’t be able to do everything, but by doing the little fix ups, adding a coat of paint and removing some outdated design features, you can likely spend less for a lot more value. The only thing to keep in mind is that once you’ve decided on a budget, you should try to stay within it!

Choose Complimentary Improvements

From year to year, what’s popular in the design market changes and it can be tempting to try and test out the trends in the hopes of garnering a higher price. However, simply because something is trendy does not mean that it’s going flatter the aesthetic of your home. Instead of choosing things that are trendy but out of place, opt for changes that will complement the home you have and add value at the same time.

Re-Consider An Extra Room

Many homeowners in recent years have been strong believers in quantity over quality, and this means many people have invested in renovations to add a second bedroom or a den. It might seem like an extra room is ideal no matter what, but if you’re cutting into your kitchen, living room or extra space, it can completely change the aesthetic of your home. With open floor plans becoming more popular, you may want to stick with fewer rooms that will garner more interest.

There are so many renovations that can instantly improve the value of your home, but it’s important to determine what will compliment your home and how much you want to spend before committing to anything.

Dusty Attic, No More: How to Convert an Attic Into a Usable Living Space

Dusty Attic, No More: How to Convert an Attic Into a Usable Living SpaceThe attic may be one of the spaces in the house that everyone prefers to avoid, but many people forget that an attic can be a great place for a bedroom or an additional living room. If you’re wondering how you can go about upgrading your attic for everyday use, here are some things to think about before you move forward.

Consider The Access Routes

In order for an attic to function as a truly livable space, you will need to have access to it and there will also need to be a fire escape route. This means that, in addition to a staircase that has a minimum clearance height, you will also require a window that will function as another means of exit. If you’re not interested in doing a lot of construction, fixing up your attic may not be worth the effort, but if you already have some of these features in place, you’re on the path to a space you can really use.

Supporting The Floor

Most of us have seen the visuals in movies or on television of someone crawling up to the attic only to fall through the floor, and it’s a familiar image for a reason. Because the attic floor will likely be relatively thin, it will need to be reinforced so that it can function as a space for consistent use. When it comes to making these changes, it’s important to keep in mind that how much floor you’ll add will also impact the available height in your attic.

Adding In Insulation

Whether you want to use your attic as a living room or an exercise area, one thing for certain is that you’ll need to install some insulation to keep the temperature consistent with the rest of the house. It will also be necessary to have heating and cooling units for cold winter weather and hot summer air, as these will ensure that you don’t have to deal with any moisture issues in the space. However upscale or down home you want your attic to be, you’ll need to consider how to control temperature.