Summer Pest Prevention


Bee in the garden

 

Recent showers combined with warmer weather will create the perfect habitat for pesky summer bugs. Here are some effective ways to prevent the common bites, stings and nuisances.

 

Mosquitoes

Unfortunately, Texas’ No. 1 culprit is here to stay. Aside from the traditional insect repellants and home remedies, it’s best to treat this problem at its source — water.

Turn over empty pottery to prevent from collecting water, drain plant saucers and fix any leaking outdoor faucets. Mosquitoes often lay their eggs in stagnant water, so the less the better.

 

Gnats

Although relatively harmless, these small creatures create quite the inconvenience with their constant swarming. Plus, you never know what germs they may be carrying as they travel from place to place.

If you garden, you want to make sure your fruits and veggies are staying fresh outside. If you happen to notice rotting or mold, act fast and pluck them out, then turn your soil or mulch to allow any moldy layers to dry out.

As with mosquitoes, be diligent in draining any standing water and drying out any moisture. With Texas humidity, the drying process may take a while. In this case, sprinkle a bit of sand on top of your soil to discourage the gnats.

 

Bees

To prevent bees from establishing a colony in or around your house, it’s important to remember these three things: food, water and shelter — bees’ keys to life.

As with any other summer bug, stagnant water must be kept to a minimum. Drain pots and repair any faulty irrigation systems. And if you have bird baths or pet bowls outside, mixing in 2 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water will discourage any bees from setting up shop near your house.

Plan an exterior inspection and eliminate any potential nesting sites. Cover holes, chimneys and animal burrows. Make sure windows and screens are tightly fitted and sealed. If you have any debris in your yard, such as old tires, cardboard boxes or old appliances, throw them out. Bees seek out such items for nesting sites.

Removing flowers as a source of food is not recommended. In fact, it’s very important for bees to pollinate many plants, including crops. If you have a colorful garden, not to worry. As long as you have their other two resources tamed to a minimum, you’re in tip-top shape for the summer.

 

Slugs

Like humans, slugs seek out shade on sunny days. And like many other bugs, they love moist areas.

To prevent slugs from damaging your plants and leaving their slimy evidence, get rid of any hiding places. Think cool, dark and moist. Try irrigating your lawn in the morning instead of the evening, allowing plenty of time for plants and soil to dry before the sun sets.

To protect plants, spray surrounding areas with soap and water. You can also create barriers around your plants, such as rocks, wire or anything rough and abrasive to slow them down.

Lastly, slugs have no bones. Therefore, they can fit in any crack or crevice they set their eyes on. Seal any cracks and cover any holes you notice throughout your house. By doing so, you not only eliminate the potential for slugs, but for other bugs as well.

 

If you’re experiencing bug problems not addressed here, contact your local nursery for expert advice or find services in your area at zaarly.com.

Brighten Your Outdoor Space


April showers bring May flowers, and everyone can use a bit of joy. Whether you’re looking to give the garden a complete makeover or add a pop of color to your porch, these beautiful flowers will brighten anyone’s day and improve your home’s curb appeal.

 

Marigold flowers in the garden

Marigold

Marigold flowers bloom in rich orange and yellow colors. They’re known for tolerating the Texas heat and repelling insects from garden plants.

 

Beautiful pink cosmos flower

Cosmos

Another flower that sits well in the Texas heat, cosmos grow abundantly. They’re low-maintenance and come in a wide range of colors for a vibrant outdoor oasis.

 

Close-up cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata) flower in the garden

Plumbago

Plumbago, also known as the sky flower, falls in the shrub category. The bright blue flower blooms in clusters and grows well with a lot of sun or light shade.

 

Colorful zinnias in the garden

Zinnias

Zinnias bloom big in the summer. The flower brings a burst of color to any garden and also attracts butterflies.

 

bedflower of beautiful Celosia Plume

Celosia

Celosias are also called cockscomb because the flowers resemble a rooster head. The shape adds a dramatic effect to any garden.

 

For more ideas on how to improve your spring garden, visit our Pinterest board.

6 Tips for Lasting Flowers


Bouquet of pastel hydrangeas in glass vase.

 

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and that means flowers are in high demand. According to the Society of American Florists, one-fourth of the flower and plant purchases made for holidays happen around Mother’s Day.

 

From homemade bouquets to delivered arrangements, here are some tips for making your fresh flowers last longer.

 

Clean vases are a must.

If whatever container you’re putting your stems in isn’t clean, bacteria will continue to grow and kill your flowers. Experts suggest scrubbing the vase with a mixture of 1-part bleach to 10-parts water before rinsing.

 

If a whole leaf is submerged underwater, tear it off.

When leaves remain underwater, they decompose and bacteria can grow. Remove excess leaves and stems to keep bacteria at bay so your flowers will last.

 

The colder the water, the better.

When you want to cook vegetables, you steam them with warm water until they wilt and soften. Think about it like this, if you use room temperature or warm water, you’re causing the flowers to soften. The colder the water, the better your results.

 

Cut stems at a 45-degree angle.

When you cut flower stems with scissors, you are constricting the straw-like tube that allows nutrients to reach the top of the flower. Use a Swiss Army knife for soft stems and a pair of bypass cutters for woody stems. Always trim the stems at a 45-degree angle.

 

Measure flower food precisely.

Avoid dumping flower food into the vase with your flowers. Too much flower food will poison your flowers, and too little is somewhat pointless. Use the directions on the packet of flower food to follow the correct food-to-water ratio.

 

Fresh water is key.

Every two days, or when the water gets cloudy, replace the water in the vase. With each water change, it’s recommended to clean the vase. Use the same steps as above.

Simple Healthy Snack Recipes


Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

 

Snacks are known for having a bad reputation but they are equally as important to keeping our energy up, decreasing hunger levels, and preventing us from overeating during mealtime. In fact, healthier options can even aid in weight management.

 

Here are five healthy and easy snack recipes to satisfy your cravings.

 

 

banana bites

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites

  • 3 bananas
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil

 

Slice the bananas into thin pieces. Then put peanut butter on a banana slice and top it off with another banana slice. Place the slices in the freezer for one hour. Add coconut oil into a bowl with chocolate chips and microwave for one minute. Once the chocolate is melted, dip each frozen bite halfway into the chocolate and place the chocolate covered banana bites in the freezer for 15 minutes. Take the banana bites out of the freezer and enjoy!

apple chips

Baked Cinnamon Apples Chips

  • One apple
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 250 F. Slice the apple into thin pieces and place slices on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cinnamon and salt on the sliced apple and then bake for 40 minutes or until slightly brown. Let it cool completely before serving.

 

cranberry

 

Pecan Cranberry Bites

  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 1 pinch salt

 

Start by stirring the cranberries, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a bowl. Then mix in the oats, pecans and salt. Place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Form the mixtures into a ball. Now, you have the perfect pecan cranberry bites.

chickpeas

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 can or 15 ounces chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

 

Preheat oven to 400 F. Spread out the chickpeas on layers of paper towels and pat dry. Place the dried chickpeas, olive oil, minced garlic, Italian herb and Parmesan into a bowl and toss. Lay the chickpeas on a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until it looks golden. Before serving, let the roasted chickpeas cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

fries

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Slice off the ends of the sweet potato and then slice it in half. Then slice the one-half potato horizontally four times and vertically four times – do the same with the other half. Mix the sliced potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Place the fries on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Let the fries cool for 5 to 10 minutes before snacking.

DIY Home Decor For Spring


DIY home decor

There’s no better time than now to revamp your home. Replace old decor with updated and more lively designs. Instead of shopping for a new item, you can make your own.

 

Enhance your home decor with these easy DIYs.

 

Painted Pine Cone Flowers

Painted Pine Cone Flowers

You will need clean and dry pine cones, spray paint, acrylic paint, paintbrushes, scissors and a large bowl. Start by removing the pieces from the top of the pine cones using scissors until you’re halfway down. Spray paint the pine cones with your choice of color and use acrylic paint for extra details. Once the paint is dry, place the painted pine cones in a large bowl and make it your new centerpiece.

 

Rustic Wooden Flower Box

Rustic Wooden Flower Box

Materials needed are silk flowers, paint, paintbrush, box cutter, scissors, pliers, OASIS foam block and a wooden box. First, paint any word you like on the wooden box. Then place the foam block inside the box – you may need to cut the foam into pieces to fit perfectly inside the box. Grab your silk flowers and place them into the foam.

Painted Mason Jars Containers

Painted Mason Jar Containers

You’ll need mason jars, chalk paint, paintbrush, fine sandpaper and jute twine. Be sure the mason jars are clean before you start. Paint the mason jars with one coat of the chalk paint. Once the jars dry completely, use the sandpaper to lightly sand over the paint. Now you have a rustic-style mason jar. Complete the look by wrapping the jute twine around the mason jars and placing whatever you choose inside.

 

Wooden Wall Sign

Wooden Wall Sign

Grab a wood canvas panel, pencil and a paint pen to create the perfect wall sign. Before using a paint pen, start with a pencil to create an outline of the word you’re going to use. Then, work the paint pen over the outlined word. Once you are done, hang the sign on your wall.

Transform Your Home Workspace


Modern Home Office

 

Having an office in your home is becoming a need as more companies are sending their employees to work from their homestead. Setting up your workspace can be challenging if you don’t know where to begin.

 

Here are some tips for transforming your home space into a workspace.

 

Make A List

The first step is to identify what essential supplies and tech you’ll need. Depending on your work environment, this can range from needing a desk and laptop to a printer or more advanced equipment. Making a list will help to assure that you have everything you need to work from home.

 

Internet Connection

Your job will most likely require you to use the internet. Test out your internet connection, and if needed, give your service provider a call for more assistance.

 

Setup Your Workspace

Now that you have your essentials, it’s time to build your office! Setup your workspace where you have a good internet connection and proper lighting. It’s important to organize your tech and supplies where it works for you.

 

Organize Your Time

Managing your time properly is key to working effectively from your home. Remember, it’s alright to take breaks, grab a snack, and do some stretches if you can. Create a routine and use a planner to organize what you need to do.

 

Connect With Others

Being at home and away from your office doesn’t necessarily mean removing all human interaction. It’s especially important to still work with others â€“ even if it’s virtually. Find software and apps that can help boost your communication with coworkers.

 

Best Etiquette Tips for Home Sellers


dog waiting for walk

 

If you’re trying to sell your home, you’ve probably scrutinized it, staged it, and scrubbed it down as if the folks from Architectural Digest were stopping by for a cover shoot. OK, so it’s in immaculate shape — but your home isn’t the only thing under scrutiny here. You are, too. That’s right: No matter how nice your home is, your behavior can also affect how buyers feel about making an offer.

 

Below are seven etiquette rules sellers should follow to show their home — and themselves — in the best possible light.

 

Leave â€” Sure, you’re dying to know if prospective buyers will love what you’ve done with the kitchen, but Realtors agree sellers should not be there lurking in the shadows during an open house or showing.

 

Take your pets with you â€” You may think your dog is the cutest ever, but not everyone is bound to share that opinion. In addition to having allergies, some home shoppers may not be in the market for a run-in with an animal they don’t know.

 

Move your car â€” Make it easy for visitors to park and view your home. No one likes parking issues. Having them is a sure way to get a viewing off to a bad start.

 

Offer some refreshments â€” House hunters can get parched and peckish. You can help. Putting out a few small bottled waters in a bowl of ice is always appreciated, along with some light, easy grab-and-go refreshments such as mints or cookies.

 

Be patient waiting for feedback­ â€” Of course, you’re dying to know what buyers thought of your home, but that information may not flow back to you instantaneously. It’s reasonable to ask for feedback from your Realtor after the showing, but understand it may take a day or two for the buyer’s agent to respond.

 

Don’t be greedy â€” Who doesn’t want top dollar for their home? But an unwillingness to negotiate can kill a possible deal and keep your home on the market long after you were hoping to be unpacking at your new place.

 

Listen to the professionals Â­Â­â€” If your Realtor has some suggestions for improvements that may help sell your home faster, take them to heart but don’t take them personally. Keep emotions out and listen to what a licensed, trained, professional has to say about your house.

 

To find the right agent for your residential real estate needs, visit the award-winning, mobile-friendly ebby.com.

Find Your North Texas Realtor


This place feels like home

 

The North Texas region’s attractive quality of life, strong economy and low cost of living ensure D-FW will continue its steady rise to prominence among the world’s leading metropolitan areas in 2020. If you want to join in on the fun as a North Texas home buyer or seller, now is the time to start looking for a Realtor.

 

This process is different for everyone, but below are a few things to keep in mind:

 

Experience â€“ Look to agents who have put time into their career and the neighborhoods in which they work. This can mean different things, like trusting someone who has spent years in the business or someone who grew up in the area.

 

Personality and interests â€“ Try to do some background work on a potential agent. Many have bio pages, LinkedIn accounts, social media pages, and online reviews. All of these can be helpful, but remember that not having one or the other doesn’t have a direct correlation to how “good” a Realtor is.

 

Career type â€“ Is being a Realtor the person’s full-time career? If you’re on a time schedule, you’ll want to pick someone who’s in the industry full-time.

 

The numbers â€“ If you’re a buyer, don’t choose an agent just because their commission is lower. If you’re a seller, don’t choose them just because they agree with you on how much your home should be listed for. We’ll say two things to justify these points – you get what you pay for, and, in real estate, there’s no telling how much your home will really and truly sell for at the end of the day.

 

Age â€“ Don’t dismiss an agent based on their age, young or old. What makes an agent the right fit for you is not often their age, but their love of their profession, dedication to you, and the points listed above.

 

Need a good place to start looking? Check out our office locations and search all of our wonderful Realtors at Ebby Halliday Realtors, the No. 1 residential real estate company in Texas by sales volume.

20-Plus Super Bowl Party Ideas


Super Bowl Party

 

Who’s ready for some football? Although the Dallas Cowboys won’t be making an appearance this year, there is plenty of fun to be had watching Sunday’s Super Bowl game.

 

A short list of things to look forward to aside from the matchup itself: great commentary, hilarious commercials and annual gatherings with family, friends and delicious food. Whether you’re hosting the party this year or looking for something to contribute to the festivities, here are some delightful dishes perfect for the occasion.

 

Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken Dip

buffalo chicken dip_44Photo: Skyler Burt via Southern Living

 

Pull-Apart Garlic Bread Pizza Dip

Photo: Parker Feierbach via DelishPhoto: Parker Feierbach via Delish

 

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Photo: Con Poulos via Real Simple
Photo: Con Poulos via Real Simple

 

Football Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream

Photo: Brian Woodcock via Country Living
Photo: Brian Woodcock via Country Living

 

Visit our Super Bowl Party Pinterest board to browse more than 20 ideas for themed recipes, decorations and more.

 

Thinking of hosting next year’s Super Bowl party? View all of the available homes perfect for entertaining at ebby.com.

Stay Warmer This Winter


Beautiful living room interior with tall vaulted ceiling, loft area, hardwood floors and fireplace in new luxury home. Has large bank of windows

 

Cold weather can test your home’s efficiency and sometimes significantly impact your wallet. Instead of giving in to higher energy bills, try these five tips to stay warmer this winter.

 

Your thermostat â€“ Programming your thermostat to let the temperature drop a bit while you’re away and heat up when you return is an easy way to save big on heating bills.

 

Let the light shine â€“ Draw back curtains and blinds during the day to allow the sun to come in. A sunny day, even a cold one, will heat up rooms a few degrees.

 

Fan flip â€“ Ceiling fans don’t necessarily need to be off during colder months. If you flip the directional switch on your fan and choose a low speed it will push the naturally rising hot air in your home back down.

 

Mind the gaps â€“ Check windows and doors for cracks, gaps and openings. Replace broken glass, framing and caulk where necessary.

 

Close it up â€“ If you spend more time in some rooms than others, simply close doors to trap the heat. Additionally, if there are rooms you don’t use, shut doors and vents to re-direct heat.