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Is Your Home Protected From Wind Damage?

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

If you're like most homeowners in the United States, you have what is known as a standard Homeowners-3 insurance policy. Those policies tend to cover losses from wind storms, tornadoes and certain other disasters – but not all. Typically, earthquakes, floods and mudslides are excluded and require additional types of insurance. 

Two key points to keep in mind regarding wind damage:

1. You should closely examine the dollar amounts of insurance you have for wind and other disasters. You want to ensure you are comfortable with coverage level for each disaster.

2. On the Gulf or Atlantic Coasts, or near there, you may have limitations on your homeowners insurance regarding wind damage. You need to be aware of windstorm/hurricane deductibles by carefully reviewing your policy and discussing it with your insurance agent.

The Insurance Information Institute provides additional information about wind-related damages, noting that insurers may separate hurricane deductibles and deductibles from other kinds of wind. Both deductibles may range from 1 percent to 5 percent of a home's insured value, although in high-risk areas, hurricane deductibles may be higher.

There are two kinds of wind damage deductibles: hurricane deductibles, which apply to damage solely from hurricanes, and windstorm or wind/hail deductibles, which apply to any kind of wind damage. Percentage deductibles typically vary from 1 percent of a home's insured value to 5 percent. In some coastal areas with high wind risk, hurricane deductibles may be higher.

The III lists special deductible rules for 19 states that have special hurricane deductibles: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington DC.

 

7 Ways to Keep Your Lawn Green but Your Water Bill Cheap

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

As we begin to spend more time outside and curb appeal season starts ramping up, let's talk about seven tips for keeping your yard green without doubling the water bill. 
 
1. Determine if the type of grass in your yard is the best variety for your climate

There are dozens of unique classifications of turf grass, and all varieties respond differently to their environment. A few basic examples are cold or heat-tolerant, saltwater-tolerant and grasses that stand up to wear and tear. Start by asking a lawn expert what you have (be prepared to discover there are several kinds) and which is the easiest to keep green.
 
2. Mow it at a higher setting 

Blades of grass act like satellite dishes for the roots. They attract sunlight, convert the energy into food and feed the roots. Raising the height of your lawnmower will prevent damage to the crown (just below the green part) and give the grass a bigger receptor to the sun's energy.
 
3. Pick the best time to water 

On hot summer afternoons, water evaporates quickly, so it will take more water to saturate your lawn compared to other times of the day. On average, 5:00 a.m. is the best time to run the sprinklers or hose.
 
4. Go with a rainwater collection system

Rainwater collectors don't have to be fancy — some are in the shape of barrels — but they do help cut back on the water bill while keeping your yard healthy. But if you want to go fancy, there is a company that makes a system that doubles as a fence.
 
5. Prevent disease by applying the appropriate chemicals

Grass blades are susceptible to disease, like any other living organism. If you notice brown spots in a somewhat regular pattern in your yard or mushrooms in a circle, that could be a symptom of a fungus. The fungus could spread and possibly destroy parts of your lawn. An expert can advise you on what is appropriate for your variety and environment.
 
6. Fertilize it 

Healthy yards stay green longer, are less prone to contamination and recover from foot traffic better than their counterparts. Feeding your grass is one way to keep it healthy. Going back to the first tip on this list, determine what kind of grass you have in your yard and buy the appropriate fuel for it. You'll see the blades grow faster and thicker when properly nourished.
 
7. Overseed it in the fall or winter

This strategy applies mostly to folks who live in mild or warmer climates, but cold-weather lawn-lovers can overseed as well. Overseeding means just that — seeding over an existing yard. You'll have a green yard in the winter, but those seedlings will also help insulate your existing grass.

Soon your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood!

How to Go Eco-Friendly in Your Home This Spring

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

There are simple changes you can make to your lifestyle and home that will help you give back to the planet. Maybe you’ve been thinking about making an effort to be greener. So how about starting now? Spring is a great time to reevaluate your home and routines. Implement some of these tips to leave a smaller carbon footprint.

Kitchen

  • Start composting:When you compost, you cut down on waste and what you have left over you can use to fertilize your garden. Simply deposit food scraps into a bin and empty it once a week. 
  • Ditch paper towels for cloth: Instead of buying more paper products, switch out paper towels for cloth rags. You can make your own rags out of old t-shirts. 
  • Recycle: This one is a no-brainer, but it’s so important. Recycling is good for the earth because it reuses resources so that we don’t have to produce more.
  • Use homemade cleaning products: It’s easy to make your own cleaning products out of vinegar, lemon and some water. It’s better to use natural products than ones filled with chemicals. 

Hygiene

  • Use sustainable beauty products: There are tons of new eco-friendly beauty brands. Using products that don’t include harsh chemicals isn’t just good for your skin, it’s good for the earth!
  • Use less water: Preserving water is important to our earth’s sustainability. You can do your part by keeping your faucet low when you wash your face or by using a low-pressure showerhead. 

Electronics

  • Purchase rechargeable batteries: Instead of tossing batteries when they’re out of juice, invest in some rechargeable batteries for your devices. 
  • Switch your light bulbs to LED: Incandescent light bulbs are outdated. LEDs use less wattage, making them better for the environment because they last so much longer. 
  • Unplug electronics: You will save tons of energy if you unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Big TVs take up lots of energy and make your utility bill more expensive. Turning off items such as TVs and computers is good for your wallet and the environment. 

Shopping

  • Reusable mug: If going to your local coffee shop each morning is part of your routine, make bringing your reusable mug part of the routine, too. Swapping out countless paper cups for a reusable one is a great way to go green. 
  • Canvas shopping bags: Those plastic bags they give you at the grocery store are very wasteful. They end up in landfills and in the ocean and lakes. Bring your own canvas reusable bags to the grocery store and skip the plastic. 

Misc.

  • Recycle your car: You can donate your car to countless charities or recycle it at your local automotive recycling center. You could even receive a tax deduction for recycling your old vehicle.
  • Buy a houseplant: Certain houseplants, like spider plants, help purify the air of harmful toxins. Put one in your bathroom, hallway — anywhere! 

What are your favorite ways to reduce waste and help the planet? We’d love to hear from you!

4 Great Online Resources for Outdoor Patio Furniture

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

If you’re in the market for some new outdoor patio furniture, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the options. Maybe you don’t have time to stop at every garage sale and hunt for the hidden treasure, or maybe your fingertips are starting to get sore from scrolling through furniture sites.

Don’t worry – we’re here to help. Here are 4 great online resources for outdoor patio furniture.

1. Pinterest

Pinterest is so popular for the DIY scene that we almost needn’t mention it. You probably have several boards dedicated to outdoor decoration. The problem is that you might not know how to make your fantasy Patio Board and your DIY Patio Furniture Board intersect. Get ideas from your various Pinterest boards and then start looking into DIY projects to customize your patio furniture or you can purchase the items you've saved to boards. Pinterest is great about linking you to discount furniture stores or craft stores you might not have thought of before.

2. Buzzfeed

Buzzfeed also has a great DIY section. Instead of “pinning” the things you like, you can peruse the patio furniture that others have posted to get ideas. Many of the people posting furniture on Buzzfeed are artists or in-the-know writers who know great patio furniture when they see it, so the items you're looking at will be trendy and/or unique pieces that will make a statement. 

3. Garage Sale Locators

Are you tired of driving through your neighborhood looking for garage sales? Are you sick of screeching off the road every time you see a yard sale sign? There’s a better way shop for gently used patio furniture items. You can check out online forums that list what is being sold at different garage and yard sales.

Here are some great garage and yard sale locating websites we recommend:

But there are plenty of more out there! Just try a simple Google search and see what comes up.

4. 5mile App

Let’s say you find the perfect garage or yard sale – one that actually has the kind of patio furniture you’re looking for – but it’s 50 miles away. It would cost more in gas to get there than it would to buy the furniture. With the 5mile app, you know you’re shopping for used items that are reasonably close to you. Better yet, each item is photographed before it’s posted, so you get to see the item for yourself before deciding to drive out there and buy it.

What online resources do you use to find great furniture? We'd love to hear from you!

 

Get the Latest Styles in Your Home With Temporary Wallpaper

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Traditional wallpaper has a bad reputation for being difficult to apply and even harder to remove. That’s why many houses look dated; they still have stubborn wallpaper from the ’80s that won’t budge! In response, the temporary wallpaper trend has taken off. It gives renters and homeowners the ability to experiment with different styles but not be tied down to one look. In many cases, temporary wallpaper is also reusable.

If you are a renter, temporary wallpaper allows you to cover those bland, white walls with something more personal and homey. And you won’t get fined for changing the walls when you move, because the wallpaper comes off easily. 

Temporary wallpaper is also a great option if you don’t plan on staying in your home forever. If you plan to sell your home down the road, choose temporary wallpaper so that when it comes time to put your home on the market, you can strip it away to create a more basic look that will appeal to more people. 

Other uses of temporary wallpaper include in vacation homes (you could decorate your walls with a seashell design), nurseries, guest rooms or even a dorm room. 

You have many options when it comes to choosing where to purchase temporary wallpaper. Various companies offer a range of designs to fit your individual style. Check out these six great sources. 

Swag Paper

Swag Paper has a great selection of temporary wallpaper, from vintage maps to classic ikat patterns. Check out their inspiration gallery of photos from real users of Swag Paper to get ideas for your own home.

Wayfair

Wayfair, known for their array of affordable home goods and furniture, has an equally extensive selection of temporary wallpaper at great prices. Check out designs such as birch trees, bricks, arrowheads, peony flowers and more. 

The Wall Sticker Company    

This site allows you to upload your own images to create custom temporary wallpaper. Or browse their many categories, such as teens, nursery, maps and more. 

Spoonflower

Spoonflower offers various tools to help you create custom wallpaper designs. You can upload your own images and make use of their color map and guide or test out their products with a sample pack of creative wallpaper swatches. 

Blik

Not only does Blik offer temporary wallpaper, but they also carry fun wall decals and stickers if you don’t want to commit to redoing the entire wall space. Check out their dry-erase notepad decal here!

Easywallz

Browse Easywallz for temporary wallpaper that fits your home or office. They have an extensive collection of murals, door murals and table wraps, or you can create your own collage. 

Temporary wallpaper is a great way to infuse your home with personal style and creativity. Contact us today for more easy ways to give your home a stylish upgrade.

Creative Lighting Options That Will Brighten Any Room

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Your mood is greatly affected by light, whether you realize it or not. It's why some people get the winter blues. Is your home like the dark side of the moon? If so, try these five creative lighting options to help brighten any room and your mood.

1. Recessed lighting 

Recessed lights are a perfect way to brighten up a dark hallway or den. Usually found in the ceilings of modern-day kitchens, recessed lights, when spaced correctly and evenly, emanate what feels like natural light. They come in a variety of colors, but white lights are best for brightening up a room.

2. Spotlights

Spotlights are small lights fitted into the ceiling and are similar to recessed lights except that they are meant to highlight or "spotlight" a particular part of a room. Say you are happy with your overhead lights in your living room or kitchen but you want to spotlight the area over the sink or above a nice painting in your den. Using spotlights is a great way to highlight a focal point.

3. Table lamps

It sounds simple, but table lamps not only brighten a room but allow you to control how much light you get. Different colored lamp shades will enable you to create an ambiance depending on whether you want soft lights to relax under or a bright room in which to host company. Use three-way bulbs at different wattages so you can adjust the mood. Turn on just a few lamps—or turn them all on to give the room energy and vibrancy.

4. Faux windows

It's not very expensive to cut out a hole in the wall and install a new window in a windowless room. However, if you don't want to go that route, try faux windows. Faux windows use LED backlighting to create the sense of natural light in a home. You have likely seen these windows in a bar or restaurant, and they usually come tinted or colored.

5. Solar tubing

Finally, solar tubing takes natural light from outside and funnels it into your house through your walls. These are perfect for rooms that don't get any light—like basements. You can get the same effect on a top floor by installing a skylight. The best thing about these lighting options is that they are energy-efficient, and many new models can actually store energy from the sun for reuse.

In tandem with your new lighting options, consider painting your walls light colors and adding neutral-colored furniture. This will boost the impact of your new lighting fixtures. Start brightening your room today!

How to Choose the Right Type of Barbecue Grill

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Lots of people enjoy the flavors of grilling over other types of cooking. It's a tried and true method of getting juicy and deliciously cooked food. If you're thinking of purchasing a grill but unsure about the best option for you, you've come to the right place. Keep reading to learn about the different types of grills on the market right now and which one will deliver you the performance you're after. Although many think of grilling as a summertime activity, you can grill 12 months a year, and many stores have winter clearance sales.

Gas Grills

One of the best outdoor barbecue grill setups you can use to improve your home is a quality backyard gas grill. Widely popular and designed to run on propane, this type of grill can also be converted quite easily to work on natural gas. If you want to fire up your grill on short notice and not worry too much about food preparation or clean up, this is the perfect solution for your home.

Electric Grills

An electric grill is especially convenient since a lot of units can be run both outside and indoors. Safe to use in areas with strict fire regulation codes, electric grills can be a great idea when you don't want city laws to prevent you from having a great time in the summer.

Charcoal Grills

If you long for that genuine, smoky and delightfully flavored barbecue, consider getting a charcoal grill.

These barbecue grills run on charcoal briquettes and are considered to be healthier than regular gas grills. You do need a bit more skill to use it, and the price and maintenance costs may be higher than gas or electric outdoor grills, but it's well worth it, especially if you add a firebox to cook delicious meat at lower temperatures.

All these options are great depending on your budget and lifestyle. If space is an issue, a portable grill running on propane or charcoal will help you minimize the space needed for a fun outdoor barbecue.

Should You Go for Built-in Grills?

A built-in model can be very costly, but totally worth it for those planning to grill all year round. What's more, it can increase your home's value considerably. Portable units are a lot more affordable, but they don't provide the same level of convenience and elegance. An in-between option for those who don't have the budget for a built-in is to go for a freestanding island, which is cost effective and still comes with a lot of features.

All in all, there's really no one best grill—it all depends on your specific situation and needs, so do a little research and find the grill that is perfect for you.

Contest 4 improv4humans - Regional Competition

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Contest 4 improv4humans - Regional Competition

 

Station Theater is incredibly excited to host the contest 4 improv4humans this February! NINE local improv teams will compete for a chance to join UCB’s Matt Besser for a live recording at the Del Close Marathon in New York City! Competing troupes will be announced January 15. Submission are currently being accepted at StationTheater.com. 

PRELIMINARY ROUNDS
- February 3 at 8:30pm
- February 10 at 8:30pm
- February 17 at 8:30pm

FINALS
- February 24 at 8:30pm
_____________________________________

improv4humans is a fully improvised weekly podcast on the Earwolf network, featuring UCB’s Matt Besser performing with the best improvisers in the universe.

Each week, Matt and his guests create scenes based on one word Twitter suggestions, YouTube videos, news stories, Earwolf forum arguments, Besser family memorabilia, and live musical performances from artists like Dan Deacon, Waxahatchee and Lydia Loveless.

improv4humans features regular appearances by Matt Walsh, Ian Roberts, Lauren Lapkus, Jon Gabrus, Andy Daly, Horatio Sanz, Seth Morris, Paul Rust, Danielle Schneider, Eugene Cordero, Mary Holland, Jessica St. Clair, Lennon Parham, Gil Ozeri, John Gemberling, and Brian Huskey among many others! Also featuring music by Bobby Matthews and Dragoon.

Listen to improv4humans on Earwolf and iTunes.


Tickets: $8 advance purchase; $10 at the door
Show time: 8:30pm; Doors open at 8:10pm | All shows BYOB

Station Theater
1230 Houston Avenue, Houston, TX 77007
832.786.0413
StationTheater.com | info@stationtheater.com

Street parking is available on Dart Street or in the lot in front of Revolution Dojo. Please be mindful when parking in front of area homes as some driveways are difficult to see. General Admission seating.

Please arrive 10-15 minutes before showtime. All shows are BYOB. Shows are recommended for 18+ due to possible adult humor. 17 & under are welcome at the discretion of the accompanying adult. Please see our ticket policies at stationtheater.com/shows/ticket-policies-information.

 

Price: $8 - $10 
$8.00 advanced online $10.00 at the door

Is Going Green at Home Saving You Green in Your Wallet?

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

A hot topic these days is transforming your home so that it saves you money while improving the state of our environment. Companies have started to create a plethora of green technologies that supposedly aid consumers in becoming more eco-friendly and economical. 

However, some of these inventions may not be saving you as much as you thought. Read on to see which strategies and gadgets will actually save you money and help you reach your goal of helping the environment.

Hybrid Vehicles

If you're looking to get more fuel efficiency while cutting down on your emissions, hybrids may help but be wary. In some models fuel efficiency may be exaggerated, especially for city driving. Check third-party reviews before making a decision.

By getting your car serviced regularly, ensuring your tires are at the proper pressure and making your trips as efficient as possible, you will maximize your money and get better fuel economy while leaving a smaller footprint on the environment.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

If you're thinking that you need to discard your old appliances and invest in new energy-efficient ones, think again. It is not very good for the environment to trash perfectly good appliances just to go and buy new ones. Even the Environmental Protection Agency believes this to be the case. With proper maintenance and tune-ups, your current machines can be just as effective in saving the planet. Then, once yours have reached the end of their lives, you can invest in energy-efficient models.

The Latest Technology is Great but Not Essential

Even though gizmos and gadgets are important, not all green living is centered around them. Green living is about more efficient construction methods that heighten energy efficiency and promote a healthy environment. But you don't have to be state-of-the-art to go green: If you can learn to better regulate your thermostat and unplug devices that are not being used, you can save the environment and your money.

Existing Homes Can Be Transformed

Conventional wisdom holds that only new builds can be made completely green. However, this is far from the truth. New constructions can actually be detrimental to the environment. New builds take time to overcome any negative effects that they have on the environment, so salvaging your current home is a great idea. Fitting your home with environmental systems can be the key to a better environment and putting money in your pocket.

What steps have you taken to make your home green? Are these steps working for you? Connect with me today to talk more about going green in your home.

 

Budget-Friendly Curb Appeal Upgrades

by Jutta "Utah" Burden

Curb appeal is the first impression that any potential buyer receives, so you should ensure that the front of your home, from the curb to the front door, is in the best shape possible—even if you don't have the budget to splurge on huge upgrades and services. 

With these easy and cost-effective suggestions, you can improve the curb appeal of your home, while giving yourself a lovelier residence to enjoy right now.

Paint your front door
Giving your front door a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for the overall appeal of your house. Make sure that it's a shade that contrasts with the color of the house so that it really pops. This makes a home feel more welcoming, not to mention more stylish and appealing.

Spice up your front porch
After painting your door, don't neglect your front porch. Add small, inexpensive luxuries like metal house numbers or other decorations. Make sure everything is spotless as well. Sparkling windows and a freshly swept porch make for a more welcoming home, and a more welcoming home often sells quickly.

Get your lawn in order
Tidying up your lawn is a given. Making sure it's spick-and-span, regardless of the season, is a great way to improve your curb appeal without spending too much money—or any money at all! An unkempt lawn can make the house seem less appealing overall, so before showings, make sure your lawn has been mowed and edged for a more professional appearance. Also, try to ensure that weeds are pulled. The healthier the lawn looks, the healthier the house looks.

Plant flowers
Having a garden with flowers can really make a home stick out in a buyer's mind. The pops of color can improve even the most immaculately manicured lawn, and a healthy garden can make any house feel more welcoming. It's an inexpensive way to improve your home's overall aesthetic.

Hose off the front of your home and sidewalks

No need to buy a pressure washer—your standard garden hose is usually sufficient to get most of the gunk and grime off your house. You want your house to be as clean as possible for potential buyers and guests.

Touch up your driveway
Repairing the cracks in your driveway can go a long way toward making your house more accessible in the mind of a buyer. Even superficial flaws such as driveway cracks can really sour someone's opinion of an otherwise beautiful house. And a smoother driveway is easier on your car's tires and suspension.

Implement these simple and cost-efficient ideas to help spruce up your home's exterior and attract potential buyers.  

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 520

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