Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Beauty of Community Gardening in Cities

community with gardensCommunity gardening is an opportunity for people to come together and grow food and botanicals in one place. Over the years, the expansion of cities has sparked countless initiatives to make public spaces greener and inclusive. The mere act of planting flowers, fruit, and vegetables in a communal greenhouse or urban farm is satisfying. But there are many other advantages of starting such a project or joining an established community garden. Here are some of them:

Community Gardens Beautify Cities

Community gardening can be done in a park or shared plot, or you can request for a specific greenhouse design for such special use. It’s usually run by non-profit organizations, local agencies, clubs, churches, neighborhood associations, and private landowners. No matter the scale and size, nothing can liven up a town or city as much as an edible garden.

Rehabilitating old parking lots, abandoned buildings, or barren parks has become a trend among urban gardeners. Crumbling ruins and vandalized public spaces are replaced with lush greenery and patch of trees.

Flowers are added to the mix to provide a multi-sensory experience to visitors and add visual interest year-round. The garden can also be a source of nutritious, home-grown food and vegetables for you and your fellow gardeners. You can even sell the excess to other members of the community and put the money back into your pocket. You’d be surprised how people appreciate buying food straight from the source.

Community gardening is also possible in a greenhouse. These glass structures can keep the plants healthy and resilient through the seasons. So even if the city experiences weather extremes, gardeners can secure their yields and not get restrained by climate conditions. Your city can also turn it into some sort of gardening installation to draw tourists in. You can charge a small fee to help you with the upkeep costs.

Everyone Participating Can Save Money and Stay Healthy

community with garden in front of their home

Imagine people from all walks of life rolling up their sleeves and working together to make sure the garden flourishes.

Most community gardens are committed to organic methods, which produce better, more nutritious produce. Consuming it can improve your diet and overall health. But nutrients aren’t the only thing you’ll get from organic food. You can save money, too, because growing food is much cheaper than buying supermarket products.

On top of that, immersing in the activity will give you plenty of opportunities to relax, reflect, and breathe fresh air. It goes without saying that gardening promotes a healthy lifestyle, but doing it with a group can enhance your social life, as well.

A park with a garden also encourages people to run, jog, or do yoga free from the noise and bustle of the city. It’s one way for you ease your stress. Just go to the community garden, look after the plants, you can water them if you. It could be a therapeutic experience for you.

Join a community garden or initiate your own project to reap all these benefits. It’s a worthy cause that not only improves your health and well-being but also makes great contributions to the community, not to mention the environment.

Making Sure Your Rented Place Feels Like Home

Couple at newly rented home

As fewer people buy a house and more people rent due to the lack of affordable housing units on the market, it’s a respectable choice that you do the same. After all, if there are fewer houses for sale and more people eager to buy, the prices could go beyond your budget.

Does this mean you have to live in a place you’ll hate? Be a wise renter and find ways to make your living situation feel like a dream. Here are some recommendations:

Rent in a Place You Love

Every person has a city or neighborhood they want to live in. It could be a childhood dream or it might be close to the career you want to build. It could even be near where your family lived. Whatever the reason, go ahead and look for a place in that location. If the city already feels like home to you, it will be easier to turn rental properties into something cozier.

In places like Centennial, CO, the ambiance is perfect for those who are trying to build a name in their chosen industry or looking to start a family. If this is the kind of location you’re looking for, you’ll be spoiled for choices. All you need to do is be in contact with a property management company to help you look for a property that suits your needs.

Spruce Up

Man putting wallpaper on walls

One major pain point that renters languish over is the lack of freedom when it comes to designing their place. Sure, there are things your landlord may not allow, but there are ways around them that will not get you in trouble and will help the place look more personal.

For instance, using wallpapers instead of painting the apartment will turn it from a generic rental to something that is uniquely yours. You may also use hooks that attach to doors as storage spacers that do not require drilling holes in the walls. If you want a garden, use pots. There is no limit to the ways you can spruce up the rental as long as you’re willing to be creative and open-minded. Under-bed storage also helps you save space, so you won’t need more built-in cabinets.

Know Your Neighbors

An idyllic suburban home sounds like such a dream. You know everyone and whenever you pass by their driveway you get a little chat. When you’re renting an apartment, your neighbors are a little closer; they live next door. This shouldn’t stop you from starting a cordial relationship with them. This also adds to the homey vibe of the apartment complex if you don’t look at it as a collection of strangers living in the same building. A small gesture of kindness goes a long way in building a relaxing atmosphere in the building. You may initiate it or respond to it, but do not ignore it. Otherwise, your experience may turn sour quickly.

As cliche as it is, home is where your heart is. Give your rental all the qualities you want in a home and it will feel like one.

Printing Techniques to Make Your Brochures Stand Out

Thermographic PrintingEvery company has a marketing brochure. It serves as a source of information, a marketing material, or a catalogue of products and services for your clients. Brochures are also easy to distribute, cost-efficient and versatile. It’s no wonder that even in this age of digital communication, many businesses still use brochures and flyers to spread information on a local level.

Since many companies are investing in brochures, it is essential to have the ones from your company stand out from the rest. Thankfully, there are various techniques that commercial brochure printing services offer their clients. Here are some of them.

Thermographic Printing

This technique uses heat for the creation of a raised profile on your brochure paper. Powdered resin is first applied onto damp ink which is then exposed to controlled heat. This causes the powdered resin to fuse with the paper. The result is a beautifully raised and textured profile with a matte or gloss finish. The technique can be used to highlight your company logo, brand and contact information.

Customised Folds

A brochure’s fold is typically the first thing your clients will notice about it. Your printer can use a customised rather than standard fold to make your brochures stand out. The fold can be made to resemble your company’s products or as an everyday item like a fan or key ring to guarantee it attracts attention.

Special Ink

Your text need not be the same drab black and white like everyone else’s. You can make your prints stand out with special inks. Metallic and glitter inks, for instance, will add glimmer to your brochure. You can also choose from thermochromatic, pearlescent, and heat-resistant inks.

Your company need not be lost in a sea of competition. If you create a brochure with a ‘wow’ factor, you’ll always reach your target market. These options will ensure that your brochures will not end up in a dustbin.

Creativity Compliance: 3 Rules for a More Effective Brainstorming Session

Team sharing ideas

The success of a new product or a marketing campaign depends on one key aspect of work culture: brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately, the reality is that ideation meetings rarely have those eureka moments or the winning concepts everybody desperately wants. In fact, in most instances, such meetings only drain the life out of employees. Brainstorming sessions are messy precisely because you’re dealing with idea generation. It is never a linear process, so it’s so frustrating all the time. It will never be called “brainstorming” for no reason.

The key to managing the messiness of a brainstorming session is to play by a set of rules. If you follow these guidelines, you can guarantee a more effective session:

1. Frame the discussion

The ideas your employees will generate largely depend on how you’re framing the subject at hand. For instance, if you’re brainstorming for a marketing campaign, framing the topic as “How do we go viral online?” would produce different insights compared to “How do we maintain brand credibility?” It’s important to be clear at communicating the problem and the objective of the session because that will set the tone of the discussion and give your employees a mental sifter, through which they can filter out their ideas. Give the framing some serious thought before gathering your employees for a huddle. If you’ll be assigning a person to facilitate the discussion, consult with them how they’re planning to structure the discussion. You both should be on the same page. Remember to pick a person who’s skillful not only in framing the discussion but also in keeping the talk within that frame.

2. Be aware of the surroundings

Creativity is largely influenced by your environment. If your employees are exposed to the same things every brainstorming session that you have, then it will be less likely that they have new, fresh ideas. Take your employees to a new space to break the monotony and spur new ways of thinking. Aside from a different environment, make sure that your space is also equipped with tools for creativity: big whiteboards, writable walls, comfortable seats, warm floors, biophilic design, etc. Check out emerging flexible office spaces and see if their design and amenities can support your brainstorming needs. In Fort Lauderdale, conference rooms that commercial buildings offer are well-designed aesthetically and functionally perfect for any business size or type. You might want to consider these spaces.

3. Treat ideas with respect

Business team brainstorming

Ideas are very fragile. That’s why it’s important to handle them with so much care. This means avoiding the habit of dismissing ridiculous concepts. Give ideas the benefit of the doubt, and try to unpack them. Believe it or not, most ridiculous ideas turn out to be the ones that capture markets, sell products, and create new businesses. Of course, this doesn’t mean agreeing to every idea thrown on the table. In fact, you should encourage your employees to challenge and critique ideas to avoid groupthink. When you twist, turn, and stretch concepts, you eventually find a rare gem of an idea.

Ideation meetings are messy. However, there are many ways to keep them organized and make them more meaningful for everyone. Remember these strategies as you plan and execute your next brainstorming session.

Things to Consider When Buying Kitchen Handles

kitchen interioir with cabinetsYou just had your kitchen renovated. Everything is nearly done. Now, it is time to do the finishing touches of your special home project: find the right kitchen handles.

Buying architectural hardware from Castella  for your kitchen cabinets and drawers may look easy as it gets. But this is one reason why we often end up having a loose knob or broken handle. When you buy handles, such as bow kitchen handles, it is recommendable that you consider function and quality over look.

Function

Maybe you have chosen handles over knobs because handles seemed more ergonomic. Knobs are less expensive, are easier to install, and offer a more vintage look. With a handle, expect a number of materials available. You can find wood, chrome, steel, bronze, and even wrought iron. The use of handles is a lot more fitting for pulling or opening up larger drawers and cabinets. The fact that opening or pulling a cabinet with a handle is more comfortable than the one with a knob makes handles a better choice. Also, considering the make or material used, they last longer than knobs.

Quality

Speaking of handles that last for a long time, the make is definitely an important consideration. Handles are more expensive than knobs because of function and materials used. Beware of cheap ones or those that look nice but would break after a few weeks. Handles come with intricate designs and styles, and such looks may not match use. Most of the time, avoid those with a shiny finish. They easily scratch or leave fingerprints. Hardy handles, like those made of cast-iron, are tougher and easier to clean. Quality should not be outshone by finishes.

Handle manufacturers can use design and aesthetics to capture a buyer’s attention. When buying kitchen handles, it is good to be guided with the use and make. Handles that last long should be the basis of their value.

Categories of Hardwood Plywood Cores

Plywood

There are numerous plywood options on the market. Hardwood plywood is a type which has a back veneer and face made of hardwood, unlike other options. The common types of hardwood plywood include mahogany, teak, oak, beech, ash, poplar, oak, and hickory. The panel of hardwood plywood is made of a core of hardwood or softwood.

Most clients of plywood dealers find the variety of cores available for hardwood plywood confusing. This, in most cases, causes them to make a wrong plywood choice for their projects. Here are some tidbits to guide you in making the right core choice for your hardwood plywood.

MDF Core

Medium density fibre cores are made of wood dust combined with binding agents then thermal pressed. This process results in a functional, resilient and sturdy material. MDF core does not splinter and maintains an even surface which holds screws in place and resists warping. It, however, weights 70-100 pounds.

Particleboard Core

Particleboard core closely resembles MDF core. It is however made of bound wood pieces rather than wood dust which is heat pressed to make a smooth material. It is commonly used in place of MDF core in carpentry and cabinet making and is the cheapest option available. Unlike MDF core, particleboard core is lightweight which makes it a popular choice.

Veneer Core

This comprises three veneer layers which have spread out grain at right angles. The spreading out of the grains makes veneer core stronger than if the grains were running parallel to each other. The veneer layers are adhered together to boost their strength. Veneer core is often used for cabinets, tabletops, and countertops.

A large portion of the above cores is glued using formaldehyde-free glue. This makes them unsuitable for outdoor use since the adhesive is not moisture resistant. If you wish to use your hardwood plywood for speciality applications like in the marine field, opt for exterior grade hardwood plywood.

The Lowdown on Selling a Home

house that was soldIn some ways, being a first-time buyer is easier than being already on the property ladder. Sure, everything is unfamiliar to the newbie, and there’s a lot of complex information and legal paperwork to understand, but, they do have the advantage of being able to move quickly. Not being part of a chain, once first-time buyers see somewhere they like, they can put in an offer and start the ball rolling. This can make them a more attractive prospect to the owner of the house.

It’s not that simple for those who also have their home to sell. They have to deal with two separate property transactions, which may or may not run in sync with each other. In this case, it’s even more vital to have a mortgage solicitor in London who is understanding, flexible, and keeps in constant communication with their clients about what is happening with each part of the process. Experienced firms in the capital, such as Saracens Solicitors, are well-versed at providing this type of support to their residential property clients.

How does it work?

As far as the selling end of the transaction goes, the role of the mortgage solicitor in London begins once the sellers have a firm offer on their home. At this point, they instruct a mortgage solicitor in London, who will send them the necessary paperwork to get the process underway.

The mortgage solicitor in London uses this information as part of a sale pack, which they send to the buyer’s solicitors. This includes:

  • a contract
  • a copy of the title deeds to the seller’s home
  • the property information forms filled out by the seller
  • a list of fixture and fittings that will be left in the property once it is vacated.

Once the sale is complete, the mortgage solicitor in London will take care of the finances, including settling mortgages, sending any required funds to estate agents and sending funds from the sale to the seller.

Hopefully, by this point, the seller will have gone through the other side of the process and bought their new house, ready to move to their next home.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Rental Properties

Man holding a calculator with house models

You can turn your property into a cash cow if you could rent it out to other people successfully. However, becoming a landlord is also a business. And just like any business, there could be pitfalls. To make sure you’re getting the most profit out of your property, here are some things to keep in mind.

Screen Tenants Rigorously

You’ll soon entrust the key to your property to a total stranger. And you’re going to trust that stranger to pay rent on time, take care of your house, and keep their end of the lease agreement. That’s why screening potential tenants can spell the difference between making or losing money in this kind of business. Start everything right by having a rigorous background check before handing out that key.

Reduce Vacancy Rate

Each day your property remains unoccupied is a day when you’re losing money. Thus, you need to lower your vacancy rate by proactively listing your house the moment you learn that your tenant is moving. Additionally, Leasing Agent 415 and other industry experts recommend hiring the services of a leasing agent in San Francisco. They can help you rent out the property faster and on top of that, you do away with the paperwork that usually accompanies the process.

Take Care of Tenants

Think of tenants as your customer. You’ll want to keep your customers satisfied and happy if you want a steady stream of income in the form of timely paid rent.

Customer service also helps lower your turnover rate, keeping your best tenants for the long haul. Thus, you need to treat them with professionalism and their concerns should be addressed promptly. If you have a property manager, make sure that they’re doing their job excellently by keeping in touch with the tenants themselves and asking for their feedback from time to time.

Be Diligent in Rent Collection

Rental agreement form with signing hand and pen

If collecting rent is one of the joys of being a rental property owner, delayed rent also happens to be one of the common headaches in this type of business. While you have to show kindness and respect to your tenants, be clear to them how you take rent collection seriously. Be proactive in following up with late rent and penalty for late payment.

Increase Rent Strategically

When the contract is up for renewal, increasing the rental price is one of the things you have to consider seriously. You want to offer your tenant a very fair deal while getting the most out of your property. You could check out market conditions if there’s a lot of demand in your area and how much rent are they charging for a property similar to yours. Moving will cost your tenants too, so strike a balance between offering a deal they can’t refuse and something where you don’t shortchange yourself.

Keep Your Property in Tip-top Condition

Regular upgrades and upkeep of your property is the best way to maximize its income potential. A good strategy would be to time renovation and upgrades when a contract is about to be renewed. This way, you do what a good landlord is expected to do and your tenant will feel they’re getting value for their money when you do decide to increase rent.

Making a money machine out of your property is a very viable business. If you play your cards right, this is the kind of business that will be very profitable for years to come.

What Do You Need for a Smooth Loan Application?

Couple property visit

It’s exciting to go property shopping knowing you’ll finally have a home to call your own. But mortgage company PRMI Raleigh adds that this time can also be overwhelming, both for first-time and experienced buyers. For starters, you have to make it past the hurdle of getting approved for a loan first. In this case, it’s best to come up with a checklist.

Here’s what you will need to speed up the process.

Research and Verify What You Have

Learn what the requirements are and study the process carefully. You will have to come prepared if you want your loan application to go smoothly.

Preparation is a must for everything, even when applying for a home loan. First, do the math and figure out if the financial aspects make sense.

Estimate your figures before you apply. This year has been a rocky one for the housing industry, as it tipped back from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market in August.

Save time and energy by learning what’s involved and preparing properly.

Collect the Paperwork You Need

Once you’ve done your research, paperwork comes next. You have to gather all the documents required by the mortgage company.

Every company needs to see the paper as proof of all the information you submitted. Loan companies have to verify all the details you will place on the application form.

Here are some of the documents you will have to prepare:

  • Birth certificate
  • Certificate of marriage (if applicable)
  • Birth certificates of your children (if you have kids)
  • Certificate of employment or W2 form for all jobs you worked in for the past two years
  • Most recent payroll stubs
  • Pages of personal federal tax returns for the past two years
  • Letters of explanation for credit inquiries
  • Written authorization for your lender to run your credit report
  • Documents presenting your credit history
  • Lease agreement if you’re currently renting out an existing home

These are most of the documents required by mortgage companies. The paperwork, however, varies per type of loan. For example, here’s a more specific list of requirements for an FHA loan.

The process is faster and easier once you’ve prepared all these documents. So if the loan company asks for a specific paper, you just have to rummage through your pile and hand it over right away.

Submit the Required Information

Woman signing papers

You will have to fill out a federally required mortgage application. The application can be in a paper format or you can fill it out online.

The document will require you to provide the necessary information, such as:

  • Full name, birth date, social security number, and phone number
  • Marital status, number of kids and their ages
  • History of residence for the past two years
  • Company name, address, phone number, and your job title
  • Income history for at least two years
  • Debt payments and balances for credit cards, mortgages, etc.
  • Asset account balances, like savings, checking, investment, and retirement accounts
  • Confirmation if you’ve had foreclosures or bankruptcies in the past seven years
  • Confirmation if a portion of your down payment is lent from another party

A refinancing mortgage comes with closing costs and fees that can most likely equate to three to six percent of your outstanding balance. With this in mind, you have to narrow down your goals.

A checklist will always help you tick off which document or information you may have missed. With a checklist, you’ll be well prepared to meet any requirement that allows you to get your dream home.

Why Your Art Studio Should Be Set Up Outside Your New Home’s Bedroom

Artist on his deskArtists need all the space they can get for them to be able to practice their craft at a high level. For this reason, you may be thinking of setting up your studio inside your bedroom for convenience when you buy a new home. However, in truth, this does more harm than good. Here are just some of the reasons why you should never, under any circumstance, put up your art studio inside the room where you sleep:

Health Concerns

First and foremost, some of the mediums that artists use have toxic ingredients that can affect your health if you’re exposed to them for a long time. While it’s still perfectly fine to work with the said materials for your art piece, intentionally prolonging your exposure to these chemicals and solutions by resting in the same room can cause illnesses. Do yourself a favour and place them somewhere else, lest you want to risk your well-being and hard-earned savings when you have to cover for expensive medical bills.

Harder Cleanups

You will make a mess of both yourself and your work area trying to bring out the best piece that you can possibly create. Taking a nap amid the clutter can get quite uncomfortable. You may also get your sheets splattered by paint or other colouring materials, leaving you no choice but to replace them or have them washed. This can only add to your workload as you try to find a way to sneak laundry days into your already busy schedule.

Less Time for Rest

Artist taking a napArtists, like any other professionals, have to be on their A game every single day to produce ideal results. For that reason, you need to be well-rested if you expect to manage quality work. The truth is that sleep won’t come easy with all your art materials lying around. You can surely get to work on your piece once your muse kicks in. However, in turn, you’re sacrificing the hours that you should already be sleeping. Still, your brain won’t rest because your work is just within your reach. This will negatively impact the quality of your artworks in the long run.

Disrespect for Your Roommate

If you’re not the only one using the room, it is all the more reason you should refrain from using it as your studio. Whether your roommate is a family member or a partner, putting them in a situation where their rest will be compromised is a big no-no. Hence, you need to respect that. What you can do instead is to look for land to buy around Melbourne’s West where you can build a house with an extra room. You can convert this room to a studio instead of cramming your studio alongside your partner’s sleeping area.

Working at home should not mean that you’ll have to complete your art projects in the same place where you should be resting. Not only will it hurt your schedule and health, but you’ll also be putting your relationships and output in jeopardy. Keep this in mind when you do your search for a new home so that you can maximise your artistry and the pleasure of acquiring a personal property.