On a recent weekday morning Vernell Taylor was putting the final log on a stack of wood almost too pretty to burn in the fireplace of the living-room-like interior of the Plymouth Bluff Conservation Center.
Taylor, who is the facilities supervisor as well as longtime friend and co-conspirator with the Center’s founder and eminence grise, Harry Sherman, was making ready for the Northwood and Belle Fleur garden clubs, who would soon converge on this gracious setting to hear, see and touch one of the state’s, perhaps the nation’s, most illustrious gardeners.
That would be Felder Rushing, who is not only a celebrity gardener, but the author of 18 gardening books, a widely syndicated newspaper columnist, radio personality and an active online presence.
On his hugely popular call-in public radio show, “The Gestalt Gardener,” Rushing fields questions from gardeners from Horn Lake to Pascagoula and points beyond on such hot-button topics from whether to prune crepe myrtles (“Only Southern Living and Master Gardeners say not to prune crepe myrtles.”) to identifying mystery plants (“Take a picture of it and shoot me an email.”).
Rushing’s gardening knowledge comes from long personal experience and is under-girded with a deep ancestral connection (10 generations of Mississippi gardeners) and formal horticultural study at Mississippi State University. (He often references Ralph Null who taught him floral design).
As for his family gardening influences, he cites two grandmothers, one a garden club doyenne in the Delta who “taught me to be nice” and another who lived between Kilmichael and Stewart whose gardening efforts were simply a concrete chicken and zinnias.
His gardening sermons are a variation on two themes: the physical, mental and spiritual value of simply being in nature, digging in the dirt and seeing things grow and the importance of following your gardening bliss, regardless what the neighbors say.
Rushing’s gardens are garnished with bottle trees, plastic flamingos and a “rubber bush” made from tires.
Louis XIV has a garden full of statues of naked goddesses at Versailles, and I have 18 pink flamingos in my yard, he says.
Rushing is fond of quoting Don Featherstone, the creator of the plastic pink flamingo, who said, “Before plastic, only rich people could afford bad taste.”
Rushing came bearing bad news, that crepe myrtles are undergoing assault by crepe myrtle bark scale, an invasive Asian insect. The scale turns the bark black, weakens and eventually kills the tree.
“(The scale) has completely wiped them out in Madison,” he said.
The beloved Southern landscape tree will undergo a dramatic decline, he says.
He apologized for the bad news and emphasized this is not his opinion but the conclusion of researchers from Texas to the Carolinas. On his blog (felderrushing.blog), he recommends alternatives to the crepe myrtle, among them Japanese maples, hollies, red buckeye and oriental persimmons.
After his presentation, Rushing fielded questions, recommending a Clara Curtis chrysanthemum to a gardener looking for a plant that blooms in the shade and after a freeze. “It grows in cemeteries,” Rushing said. “Dead people can grow these.”
At the end of his weekly radio show, Rushing often urges listeners to “take a kid to a gardening center this weekend and buy him a sack of bulbs.”
After his presentation Rushing lingered, visiting with and posing for photos with garden club members, who had filled the Center’s spacious dining room.
Later, thinking about Rushing — with his unflagging enthusiasm for gardening and the way it brings people together — thinking about his advocacy for immersing oneself in nature and embracing independent expression, he may have an effective antidote for our troubled times, for gardeners and non-gardeners alike.
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I don’t know about you but I feel like I always need new cute holiday tags to accompany my gift giving! And what’s better than festive holiday tags that are also a free printable?!
Do you have a special gift that you like to give every year? Or do you usually find something new to give someone every single year? I would really be the type that gives the same or similar gifts like a homemade calendar every year but I’m not sure exactly what the perfect gift is! I would love your ideas in the comments! Make sure you scroll down to get these adorable free holiday tags!
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You’re curled up on the couch in your living room on a cold day, and suddenly feel a draft that makes the hair on your neck stand up. The window isn’t open, but it’s allowing heat to escape and letting the cool air in.
The Department of Energy reports that approximately 25 to 30% of energy loss for the average American household can be attributed to the inefficiency of single-pane windows. By simply replacing them with double-pane windows, you could prevent 50% of that warm or cool air from escaping through the windows. In turn, you could slash your energy bills by up to 20–30% each year.
But that’s just one potential benefit from switching out a single pane of glass for double-pane windows. Let’s take a look at what a double-pane window is, what makes it a superior option, and how your household could benefit from this change.
What Is a Double-Pane Window?
The main difference between single- and double-pane windows is their structure. A single-pane window only has one layer of glass and is not an efficient insulator during extreme seasons. A double-pane window, on the other hand, has two layers of glass with air between the sheets for maximum insulation. Some double-pane window designs may even have argon between the layers. Argon is an invisible gas that optimizes thermal efficiency and reduces heat transfer.
Benefits of Upgrading to Double Panes
Today, over 118 million American homes have double- or even triple-pane windows. This accounts for nearly 60% of all U.S. homes — but this means that 40% of homes still rely on old window technology. While many people opt for single-pane windows for the low initial price point, these types of windows will cause the homeowner to spend much more on utilities in the long term than if double-pane windows were installed.
The Energy Information Administration stated that, in 2012, homes comprised a fifth of primary energy consumption in the U.S. and were responsible for approximately 20% of nationwide CO2 release. If a greater number of American homeowners made a concerted effort to switch to double-pane windows, this energy consumption could be reduced.
No matter what type of heat source you use to warm your home (i.e. a fireplace, a gas furnace, or an electric central heating system), double-pane windows limit the need for heating sources to be used as often. When you don’t use as much heat, you burn fewer fossil fuels and lessen your CO2 greenhouse gas emissions — and therefore, reduce your carbon footprint. Upgrading to double-pane windows is a way to contribute to helping the planet.
Unlike single-pane windows, double-pane windows feature a more substantial locking mechanism and their tight seal prevents intruders from breaking the structure to get into your house. Double-pane windows are also stronger and do not shatter easily when struck. Your home is more secure with double-pane windows.
Whether you have noisy next-door neighbors or you live on a busy street with lots of traffic, excessive noise can take a toll on your sanity. Ambient noise can only do so much to cover up the sound of the incessant honking, loud music, and heavy-duty vehicles passing by. Switching to double-pane windows can help you enjoy a quieter and more peaceful home. The two layers of glass offer insulation from the outside world so that you and your family can relax without the constant ruckus.
Window condensation during the cold months might not appear to be a big deal, but a buildup of moisture is indicative of a bigger problem. It shows how inefficient the windows are at preventing heat transfer, and it can lead to problems with mold over time. With double-pane windows, you can consider your condensation problem solved.
Added Home Value
In spending a little up front to upgrade your windows, you add value to your property. If you decide to move in the future, double-pane windows are a drawcard for potential buyers, and you’ll see a return on your investment once it has sold.
Newer Style Options
Upgrading to energy-efficient windows has a positive effect on your house’s aesthetics. Window technology has come a long way — and so has window design. Double-paned windows come in a variety of styles, including the sliding window, or double-hung window. Double-pane windows are worth the expense when you consider that the windows are known as the “eyes of your house.” Updating windows to a newer style has a great impact on your curb appeal.
Choosing the Right Double-Pane Windows for Your Home
Before choosing double-pane windows for your home, it’s important to know your options. Double-pane windows come in all sorts of styles, materials, and designs. And because each house is different, your window selection may be different, too.
Most window companies have several materials for you to choose from: vinyl, aluminum, wood, clad wood, and fiberglass. All of these materials are available in various styles, including the following:
- Double-hung: Double-hung windows can move both up and down because both window frame sashes are operable.
- Single-hung: Single-hung windows are similar to double-hung. The only difference is that one of the sashes is operable, while the other is fixed.
- Casement: Casement windows have a traditional charm. Many are operated with a crank and swing outward for a clear view.
- Awning windows: Awning windows operate on a hinge, allowing them to open at an angle, which provides both ventilation and rain protection.
- Picture windows: These windows are fixed and cannot open. They are ideal for large spaces, and let in lots of natural light.
Make an Informed Decision. Explore Your Options Today.
Double-pane windows are a cost-effective visual enhancement to your house and a primary way to reduce household energy costs. Explore your options today by speaking to a qualified window professional in your area.
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So, you’ve decided you’re ready to welcome a pet into your home for the first time. Congratulations! Roughly 85 million American families own at least one pet, so it is a rite of passage for most households. Many pet adoption centers require a home visit before the adoption can take place, so you should ask yourself these questions and view this checklist to ensure you and your home are ready.
Depending on whether you’re adopting a playful pup or a purr-fect cat, there are different ways to prepare your home. Check out Freshome.com’s 11-point checklist to find out what you can do to prep for any pet. We also have specifics for cats and dogs.
1. Pet-Proof Your Home
Animals are naturally inquisitive and like to get into different things. You should invest in tightly-closing trash cans and pet food containers to help keep the pets out. Blind cords should be tied up higher to prevent entanglement and electrical cords should be hidden or moved, since puppies and kittens like to chew on them while they are going through the teething phase.
2. Reconsider House Plants
Indoor plants attract pets because they mimic the outdoors, but they can be an extreme health risk. More than 700 plants are toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. Take the time to research if your current plants could be harmful to a new pet and swap them out for plants that are safe. Consider relocating your plants to be out of reach of your pets.
If you want your home to be pet-friendly but don’t want to sacrifice the beauty houseplants bring, you could also try to find pet-friendly plants. While many common houseplants are toxic to cats and dogs, here are some they can chew on all day without incident:
- Air plant
- Christmas cactus
- Some ferns, including the Boston fern and maidenhair fern
- Friendship plant
- Polka dot plant
- Spider plant
- Some succulents, including echeveria, haworthia, and hens and chicks
- Money tree
- Parlor palm
- Some herbs including basil, thyme, and sage
3. Set Up the Pet’s Space
To help your dog or cat feel comfortable in their new home, create a space that is entirely their own. Get a pet bed and consider investing in a crate if you are adopting a dog. Dogs can learn, from proper training, that the crate is a safe space for them. Crate training also helps you by having a secure place for your dog when you’re not home. For a cat or dog, make sure the area is completely set up before bringing the animal into your home.
4. Purchase a Few Toys
Cats and dogs alike usually enjoy playing with a variety of pet toys. You could purchase balls or chew toys for a puppy, or string toys and a scratching post for a cat. Pets explore with their mouths, especially puppies and kittens, so make sure that anything you buy can be bitten, licked, or chewed on. Get a couple of basic toys to see what your pet likes before purchasing more.
5. Stock Up on Supplies
You’re going to need basic pet supplies to get started, including food, dishes, collars, and treats. Cats also need a litter box and litter, and you should get a leash and waste bags for a dog. Once the pet is home and has been named, don’t forget to get an i.d. tag in case your pet gets lost. Approximately 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters every year, so ensure that your i.d. tag includes the pet’s name, your address, and a contact number so that people can reach you to bring your furry friend home. Consider purchasing training pads or pet spray and cleaning supplies, like spot remover, if you are going to be house or box training.
While preparing to become a pet owner, you should find a vet to take care of your new furry friend and get information about microchipping to help keep your pet safe.
6. Secure Your Home and Yard
Ensure that doors and windows latch properly to minimize the chance of your pets straying from your home. Cats also like to climb curtains and on open window screens, so do some research about cat-proof items you can add to your home. If your dog will have access to the yard during the day, make sure that the fence is in good repair and completely secure. You could also invest in a pet door, either directly installed into a door or wall or a panel that can be added to a sliding door, to make it easier for dogs to go outside while you’re away.
7. Plan for Play Areas
Animals love to play, so it is important to create areas for this. You could get a dog run installed in your yard to allow your pup to run around without having access to the whole yard. Cats are climbers, so purchase a cat condo or climbing shelf to give your cat room to roam.
8. Create Family Ground Rules
Before bringing a pet home, make sure that every member of your family is on the same page. Create rules about where the pets can and can’t go, if they are allowed on the furniture, and where they should be sleeping. It is also important to develop a chore list so that everyone is responsible for caring for and taking care of the new cat or dog.
9. Change Your Air Filters
Animals typically shed pet hair and dander around your home, even despite proper grooming. Before bringing your new pet home, change the air filters for your HVAC system to ensure that they are clear and ready to operate smoothly. While homes without pets should change their filters every six months or so, you should plan to change your filter every 1–3 months once you bring pets home.
10. Protect Outdoor HVAC Units
This is particularly important if you are bringing a dog home for the first time. Dogs mark their territory and urine can corrode the unit or get into the system, making your home smell unpleasant when the air runs. Your dog could also be a digger and potentially damage the system if they scratch or break something. Consider adding a barrier that prevents the dog from getting to the unit but still allows easy access for technician work.
11. Invest in an Air Purifier
If you are still concerned about pet hair and dander in your home, invest in an air purifier specifically designed for homes that have pets. Air purifiers also help if someone in your home suffers from pet allergies.
Follow these simple steps to prepare your home for your first pet.
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There are almost 4.4 billion active internet users — about 57% of the global population. That means millions of people are surfing cyberspace, accessing the internet at the same time as you. But that traffic can slow down your internet connection and stop you from accessing the information, or cat videos, that you want to discover.
In addition to multiple users slowing your internet connection down, there are other factors that could also affect its speed, including:
- The type of internet you have, such as dial-up, Wi-Fi, or DSL
- Infections from spyware or viruses
- Space issues due to low memory or hard disk space
To help speed up your internet connection, Freshome has gathered seven easy tips that you can try at home.
1. Restart Your Router
If your internet was running well and suddenly slows down, take a minute to reset. Unplug the power source for the router and wait at least 30 seconds before plugging it back in. Wait for all of the lights to turn back on and then try to use the internet again to see if the issue has been resolved.
2. Perform a Speed Test
Internet speed tests can give you different information about your internet connection, including download and upload speeds, and how many Mbps (megabits per second) you are receiving. Some of the most popular speed test apps/websites are speedtest.net, fast.com, and speedcheck.org.
3. Turn Off Other Internet-Connected Devices
Just as too many users can slow down your internet, so can multiple devices. If you are streaming a show on your TV, but have your phone, tablet, and computer all running and connected to the internet as well, this could hamper your connection speed. Turn off anything you aren’t using to free up some of that internet speed.
4. Check that Your Wi-Fi is Secure
All home Wi-Fi routers should have a strong password requirement when people try to log on. Without the password, anyone can utilize your internet and slow it down, while also potentially accessing your personal information. You can download an app or check your administrative settings to make sure that there aren’t any unwanted guests slowing down your internet speed.
5. Consider a Wi-Fi Signal Booster
If your internet signal is routinely slow or there are certain rooms in your home where the signal struggles, consider getting a signal booster before going through the hassle of switching internet providers. Boosters increase your Wi-Fi range and the amount of Mbps you receive, to help the internet connect and download faster.
6. Check Your Computer and Equipment
Viruses and malware can slow your computer down and put your personal information at risk. You can run a scan and check for any virus threats so that you can address them. Additionally, you should check that all wires and cords are fully connected and in good condition to ensure that they are not disrupting the internet connection.
7. Relocate the Router
The location of your router in your home can affect the internet speed you are getting. Try to place the router in the center of your home in an open space without any obstacles to allow the signal to flow directly to your devices.
When to Call Your Internet Service Provider
Troubleshooting slow internet speeds can be challenging. Sometimes it requires a combination of the methods above. Don’t be afraid to test out various strategies to get your network up and running again. But if you’ve tried a few different tips and you’re still puzzled, it might be time to call up your internet service provider.
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