The Amazing Art of Decorating with Maps

Posted by on Aug 9, 2018 in Home |

The Amazing Art of Decorating with Maps

A map can be an excellent tool when you’re trying to get from one place to another but have you ever considered using maps to decorate your home? An antique map can add a touch of history, intrigue, and beauty to an otherwise unremarkable room. If you happen to be a map collector, you probably already have all the maps you need for elegant home décor. (although be sure you’re not decorating with valuable ones). If not, maps can be picked up inexpensively at garage and yard sales. Here’s how to transform your home with the beauty and intrigue of maps:

Frame your maps

You can frame your maps in interesting frames as is. If you’re displaying travel maps, you can also include a vacation photo on top of the map. This will personalize it and bring back pleasant memories of vacation travel. It’s easy to find interesting frames to hold your maps at estate and garage sales. Plus, it can be exciting getting up early on Saturday morning to go look for unique frames and maps.

Create map pillows

You can purchase transfer paper at your local computer supply or craft store to transfer images onto fabric. Why not use this special paper to transfer images of old maps onto ordinary pillows? Simply scan the maps into a photo editing program and resize them appropriately. Print out the transfer and iron or press the map image onto the pillow with heat. These pillows look stylish when displayed on casual couches in a den or in a sunroom.

Line a drawer

Use interesting travel maps to line your desk drawers. You’ll be reminded of your vacation every time you reach for a pencil. You can also use maps to cover ordinary tin cans turning them into travel pencil and pen holders.

Make fans out of your maps

It’s easy to create a fan out of a map. Simply a portion of your map to heavier card stock, make your pleats and use adhesive to secure the point of your fan. These can be displayed almost anywhere in your home. They look great as compliments to map pillows.

Make map place mats

Collect your favorite maps and cut them to appropriate size for a place mat. Have them laminated at your local office supply store and use them to decorate your table. These make great table décor for a home travel party.

Old maps can make almost any room of your house more interesting and they’re fun to collect and display. You’ll never run out of ways to use these intriguing bits of travel history.

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How to Choose a Vegetable Garden Layout

Posted by on Jun 15, 2018 in Landscape |

How to Choose a Vegetable Garden Layout

The success of your vegetable garden can be determined in the planning stages, including the clearing out and having your junk removed. Therefore, it is important to choose and follow a vegetable garden layout for your garden. But with so many options available, which vegetable garden layout will work for you?

The space and shape of the land you have available for your garden is perhaps the most limiting factor. You simply cannot fit a sprawling vegetable garden layout with dozens of different kinds of plants into a small space of only a dozen square feet. Also, if your land is in a shaded area you need to put those plants that require the most sun in the precious small space that gets regular, good sunshine.

If your space is small or irregular, square foot gardening might work best for you. Designed and popularized by Mel Bartholomew, square foot gardening involves plotting your garden in square foot plots – meaning it can be done in spaces as small as 4 square feet. A square foot garden plot can even be done in a constructed box if your soil is not ideal, so that a fresh mix of potting soil or better topsoil can be used for your garden. Square foot gardening might be an ideal vegetable garden layout for you if you have an irregular plot of land in which to garden, due to its flexibility in small spaces. Bartholomew claims that square foot gardening can generate as much as five times the harvest of a traditional garden of the same space, due to the precise arrangement and placement of plants in square-foot sections.

Another way to layout your garden is to arrange your plants, be they flowers or vegetables, by how much water they need. Corn, tomatoes, squash and melons, for example, consume a large amount of water and therefore should be placed near each other. Otherwise, you could end up over-watering some plants while not giving the vegetables next to it enough water to survive. Arranging the plants by water requirements (called hydro zoning) resolves this problem. If you are in a dry climate where watering is critical, or have a very large garden, this layout might be the most efficient and cost-effective vegetable garden layout for you. Keep in mind that if you are using a sprinkler system to water your plants to minimize open space. Sprinklers water an entire area, and any space not populated by plants will be rapidly filled in by unwelcome weeds.

Regardless of the layout you choose, there are some general rules of thumb for setting up your vegetable garden layout. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, your garden rows should run north to south, with tall plants in the northern ends of the rows and low-lying plants in the southern ends of the rows. Otherwise, if the rows ran east to west, the eastern most rows would shade the other rows early in the day, and in the afternoon and evening the western rows would shade the more eastern rows. Also, if tall plants are on the eastern or western side of the garden, they might possibly shade the entire plot at certain times of day.

In your own garden’s case, it is important not to neglect the unique characteristics of your locations. Consult with gardening experts at your local hardware or lawn and garden store about your regions environment. The proximity of buildings or other plants, on your own land or that of your neighbors, must also be taken into account when planning your vegetable garden layout.

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The Environmental Benefits of Roof Gardens

Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Landscape |

The Environmental Benefits of Roof Gardens

Imagine peering down from the window of an airplane that’s flying over a major city and seeing a veritable forest of green below. Sound like the Utopian vision of a science fiction novel? This scenario is actually becoming a reality, albeit gradually, as more and more urban buildings are using their only available space – their rooftops – to cultivate gardens that can work wonders on the surrounding environment.

America has been a little slow in comprehending and capitalizing on green roof technologies, and its markets remain immature in comparison to many countries across the Atlantic. Roof gardens, which feature layers of soil deliberately placed over roofs to support vegetation, were first developed in Germany in the 1960’s. From there they spread to other European countries. It’s estimated that 10 percent of German rooftops have become “greened”. In America, the practice is becoming more common in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Portland, where legislation encourages it.

Chicago’s City Hall roof garden, one of the most prominent and well-known in the U.S., is significantly cooler during hot summer months than the surrounding area. The “heat island effect” occurs in cities when traditional building materials reflect the sun’s radiation back as heat, making these urban environments at least 7 degrees hotter than other areas where the overall temperature would otherwise be the same. Gardens offset this problem by absorbing the heat into their soil and organic matter.

Rooftop gardens offer a slew of other advantages as well. They can produce food, as well as plants that are useful for other purposes (like botanical medicine). They store water, which can reduce flooding (and wastewater contamination) from stormwater runoff. Buildings with roof gardens benefit from increased thermal as well as noise insulation. There is simply no other way to bring nature’s bounty into tightly-enclosed city environments than by taking advantage of unused roof space.

The gardens grown on these otherwise vacant spaces work to combat pollution, as well. Rooftop plants filter Carbon Dioxide and other pollutants out of the air. Their roots drink up the rainwater, removing pollutants and heavy metals out of it in the process. Rooftop gardens also encourage “green” practices in their tenants, like organic waste recycling through composting. All in all, they are increasingly becoming a focus for reducing the negative environmental impact of cities.

Last but not least, they can serve as feeding stations. A variation known as “brown roofs” – which consist of a thin layer of crushed ribble and gravel – are intended to be colonized by spiders and insects, which then provide food for birds.

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Knock, Knock, Who’s There? It’s the Bug Guy

Posted by on May 1, 2018 in Pest Control |

Knock, Knock, Who’s There? It’s the Bug Guy

September 11, 2001. Everyone who was old enough to understand what was going on that day remembers where they were and what they were doing. Like many other people, the economic effects of that day were far more lasting for me personally than I had imagined they could be.

3 months later I was laid-off from my contract I.T. job in Austin, TX. With short notice, I had to find a job in a tough economy. I scoured Monster.com and other job search; I applied at local grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and other retail stores. No one was hiring.

February rolled around and my best friend recommended I apply with the pest control company he was working for. I had done some contract I.T. work for them before since a common friend of ours owned the business. After some thought, I called the owner and told him my situation. He hired me over the phone.

When the summer season hit, I went out to the company’s Mesa, AZ branch. I attained a full license in Arizona, and worked as the primary technician for new sales. This is when the job got interesting. The majority of customers were NOT sold on the service when I showed up for the first time. I had to use the customer service skills I had learned working on I.T. Help Desks to re-sell the account and assure them of the need for treatment.

Dealing with people was by far the best part of the job. All kinds of people live in this world, and all of them have pest problems at some point; from the modest homes in a subdivision, to the multi-million dollar homes on Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale.

It takes all kinds of people to be exterminators. Many people think of the profession of exterminator as un-respectable. I say to the contrary. They are men and women doing honest work, and supporting their families. It takes quite a bit of intelligence to perform this demanding job. I admire all who undertake it as a profession.

I’ve since moved back into the I.T. field, but still retain my knowledge of pest control, and perform treatment on my own home. Everyone should have a trade they can fall back on in hard times, and clearly this is one that will always be in demand.

This part of my story led me to decide on re-making a blog about home improvement, and I wanna start on sharing what I know about pest control. We all want to give a shelter that is safe and relieved from pests, right? Most especially if we have children in the house, we hate insects and rodents lurking around the house.

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Natural and Organic Ways to Get Rid of Ants

Posted by on Apr 2, 2018 in Pest Control |

Natural and Organic Ways to Get Rid of Ants

First things first: Ants and their tactics. The main thing you need to know about ants is that they leave scent trails, so no method for getting rid of ants is 100% effective. Which is to say – if you’re the kind of person who wants to nuke ’em with toxins, the next ant colony will to show up tomorrow anyway.

But you’re probably not that kind of person, because you’re reading this article. And, fortunately, some of the best ways of getting rid of ants involve getting rid of their scent trails – something that’s easy to do with natural and organic pest control methods.

Second things second: terminology. “Organic” is a misnomer – lots of poisonous chemicals are organic in the sense that they contain carbon, but that’s not what this article is about either. I’m going to list some natural pest control methods that are available in your cabinets or at your grocery store, that are non-toxic to humans, that can be bought with or without “certified organic” status.

Necessary information: The first step to all of these methods is to find where the ants are coming in. It’s often a little crack in the frame of a window, or by the floorboards. Ants are very small!

  1. Vinegar. Use a spray bottle to spray vinegar around the area where the ants are coming in, and anywhere else you’ve seen them walking. Smell that funny smell? So do they, and it confuses them and removes their scent trail.
  2. Black Pepper. Sprinkle around the ant area – again, it blocks their scent. The oil may also be an irritant to them.
  3. Diatomaceous Earth. This is a fancy name for a kind of chalk-like powder which kills insects. The grains are sharp-edged and absorb hydration, causing the ants to dehydrate and die. For a widespread problem with ants in the floor, such that blocking one or two entrances won’t remove them, sprinkle this powder over the entire area and then vacuum later. A dust mask is recommended, as breathing the powder in can be harmful, but it’s otherwise non-toxic.
  4. Cinnamon. This is my favorite way of getting rid of ants, though be careful, as it might stain. Like black pepper, it blocks their scent.
  5. Combined methods. Wipe the area down with vinegar, getting rid of the ants that are present, and follow up by sprinkling black pepper or cinnamon over the place where the ants are getting in.
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