Category Archives: Home and Garden

15 Tips to Avoid Storm Damage Repair Scams and Other Rip-Offs

Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the most recent tornadoes and storms. Please pass along this vital information, as sadly there are scam artists attempting to take advantage of an already difficult situation …

storm damage fallen tree

The last few weeks of storms wreaked havoc on much of North Texas, leaving damage and destruction of vehicles, homes, property, and more. To avoid another disaster at the hands of scam artists, be sure to use caution with these useful tips from Fort Worth’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the FTC:

Avoid Home Contractor and Repair Scams

  1. Check with your insurance company first to determine your home and repair coverage and filing requirements; keep their contact information handy.
  2. Be leery of door-to-door workers or telephone solicitors who offer home repairs, inspections, heating/cooling services, or speedy insurance processing.
  3. Shop around for contractors. You may need to make temporary repairs, but permanent repairs made by a contractor should be the result of multiple work bids and contractor research.
    Require written bids that clearly identify the project’s materials, associated costs, labor charges, as well as the timing of work including the beginning and expected completion dates.
    • Be sure that the bids are comparable.
    • Do not pay in advance for any work and do not pay in cash.
    • Get references from the contractor’s past customers.
    • Check out the contractor’s history with the BBB and relevant trade association(s). Always research a business with the BBB before you sign any contracts.
  4. Require copies of all contractor licenses, permits and liability insurance prior to any work commencing.
  5. When work is complete, be sure to get a notarized statement that all sub-contractors have been paid in full to avoid a contractors lien on your property.
  6. If you have an HVAC repair, allow heating/cooling units to be cleaned out and dried before determining what, if any repairs are actually needed.

Steer Clear of Vehicle Damage Scams

  1. Similar to home repairs, shop around for a quality vehicle repair service. 
    • Require written bids that clearly show the repair parts, associated costs, mechanic labor charges, as well as the timing of work including the beginning and expected completion dates.
    • Do not pay in advance for any work and do not pay in cash.
    • Get references from past customers.
    • Check out auto mechanic’s history with the BBB or business review sites like Yelp.
  2. If you are shopping for a used vehicle, look for signs of flood or hail damage like rust, mud, watermarks, discolored upholstery, mismatching carpet or a musty odor.
  3. Request a vehicle report based on the VIN to check for past reported auto damage of any kind.

Protect Yourself From Charity & Financial Solicitation Scams
Take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.

  1. Ask for detailed information about the charity, including name, address, and telephone number.
  2. Get the exact name of the organization and do some research. Searching the name of the organization online — especially with the word “complaint(s)” or “scam”— is one way to learn about its reputation.
  3. Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. The organization’s development staff should be able to help you.
  4. Find out if the charity is trustworthy by contacting the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharity Watch, or GuideStar.
  5. Ask if the caller is a paid fundraising company. If so, ask the name of the charity they represent, the percentage of your donation that will go to the charity, how much will go to the actual cause to which you’re donating, and how much will go to the fundraising company.
  6. Learn the basic signs of a Charity scam and more ways to protect yourself at the FTC’s helpful online guide.

Help stay clear of all scams by using the free resources at the Better Business Bureau.  Be sure to check out all businesses and charities online or by phone (800)-621-8566.

If you find yourself a victim of poor workmanship or a scam artist, immediately contact the BBB to try to recover your investment or alert others about the business or individual(s) involved. Consumers or small business owners victimized by a scam can learn more or file a complaint at fwbbb.org.

 

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Save the Date: 2017 Texas Tax FREE Holiday for Energy Star Appliances & More — May 27-29

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Be sure to save the date!  Please pass this along to anyone you know who might be in the market for new appliances, ceiling fans, air conditioners, or other Energy Star qualifying products (this can save them a bundle!)…even incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs receive tax-free status!

Texas Tax Free Weekend 2017 Washers and Dryers  Texas Tax Free Weekend 2017 Refrigerators and Kitchen Appliances

Saturday, May 27 to Monday, May 29, Texas shoppers receive a break from paying sales tax on purchases of many energy-efficient products like fluorescent light bulbs, ceiling fans, and energy-star home appliances like refrigerators, washers, and more even energy-star rated college-dorm / compact-sized refrigerators qualify! This is an excellent way to get extra savings on qualifying items, plus save on future energy costs too.

Texas Tax Free Weekend on Ceiling Fans and Air Conditioners

The energy-star products qualifying in 2017’s tax-free weekend include:

  • Refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less
  • Ceiling fans
  • Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
  • Clothes washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less
  • Delivery, installation, shipping, and handling for any of these items are also excluded from tax!

The 2017 sales tax holiday begins on Saturday, May 27, and ends on Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day Weekend).

Texas Tax Free Weekend 2017 -- Fluorescent & Energy Star Lightbulbs      ENERGY STAR logo

Qualifying products will need to display the ENERGY STAR logo which will appear on the appliance, the packaging, or the Energy Guide label. The discount also applies to delivery and installation fees and there is not a limit to the number of qualifying items one can purchase during this sales tax holiday.

:: To find out more, go to the Texas comptroller’s site, here.

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2017 FREE Water Smart Landscape, Gardening, and Irrigation Seminars at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden

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FREE Fort Worth Water Smart Irrigation and Landscape Seminars

The Fort Worth Water Department, in partnership with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, is hosting a series of FREE water smart landscape and gardening seminars throughout 2017. These classes are offered monthly at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and will equip you to make educated decisions in your landscape as well as make efficient use of the latest watering and irrigation technologies.

:: Water Efficient Landscape Design ~ March 2, 2017
Are you on a budget but your landscape needs a facelift? Transform your landscape into a water efficient landscape. You’ll learn basic design principles, plant placement, and hardscape so you can do it yourself!  Register here. »

:: Native and Adaptive Plants for North Texas ~ April 6, 2017
Are you a “Native Texan” or a transplant? Plants are native or transplants too!This program covers a large selection of minimal water use plants that are native and adaptive — ideal for a sustainable landscape or garden. You will learn proper soil preparation, planting and native and adaptive plant selection.  Register here. »

:: Water Efficient Landscape Plants and Maintenance ~ May 4, 2017
Learn to install and maintain a water efficient landscape. Topics include proper soil preparation, plant and hardscape installation, and maintenance.  Register here. »

:: On the Wild Side: Gardening for Wildlife ~ June 1, 2017
In this seminar, you’ll learn about native and adaptive plants that are not only water efficient additions to your landscape, but also beautiful landscape accents that attract beneficial wildlife.  Register here. »

:: Drip Irrigation DIY ~ July 6, 2017
Learn how to water more efficiently with every drop by converting your spray heads and sprinkler system to drip. This hands-on class will teach you how to install drip irrigation tubing from your faucet or convert an existing zone to drip. Drip irrigation for foundation watering will also be covered. Register here. »

:: Water Efficient Irrigation ~ August 3, 2017
In this class you’ll learn how to most efficiently operate your sprinkler system and its components to take advantage of water efficiency best practices.  You’ll also learn how to maintain your home’s automatic sprinkler systems and make basic repairs.   Register here. »

:: Lawn Care Maintenance ~ September 7, 2017
Proper lawn care is a key component to a healthy lawn. This program covers basic lawn maintenance best practices as well as selecting the right turf grass to improve the health and longevity of your landscape. This class will teach you how to maintain your landscape using less water, fertilizers and pesticides, too. Register here. »

:: Composting ~ October 5, 2017
This program teaches the benefits of different types and methods of composting.  Register here. »

:: The Edible Landscape ~ November 2, 2017
Why water and mow what you can’t eat? Utilizing areas in your landscape to grow edibles is a way to add food on your table and reduce your grocery bill. This program teaches you how to incorporate edible plants into your home garden and landscape. You will learn how herbs, fruits and vegetables can add to the colors and textures of your permanent landscape combining both aesthetics’ and functionality.  Register here. »


All seminars will take place at:

Fort Worth Botanic Garden
3220 Botanic Garden Blvd. ~ Inside the Iris Room

Do note, that while seminars are FREE, they do require pre-registration as there are limited seats — given on a first come, first serve basis.


Enjoy and Share!  :)


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FREE Water Smart Landscape and Gardening Seminars in Fort Worth

Bookmark and Share

FREE Fort Worth Water Smart Irrigation and Landscape Seminars

The Fort Worth Water Department, in partnership with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, is hosting a series of FREE water smart landscape and gardening seminars. These classes are offered monthly at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and will equip you to make educated decisions in your landscape as well as make efficient use of watering and irrigation technologies.

:: Gardening for Wildlife ~ August 4, 2016
Native and Adaptive plants are not only beautiful water efficient additions to your landscape, but they can be useful tools to attract beneficial wildlife as well. Learn ways to attract and provide urban habitat for butterflies, song birds, hummingbirds, bees, and other animals that bring your landscape to life with activity!  Register here. »

:: Landscape and Tree Maintenance ~ September  7, 2016
Wondering when to prune your trees and ornamental grasses? Should I mulch in the spring, fall or both? Learn the right time to maintain your landscape and trees to ensure the health, production and aesthetics. Register here »

:: Rain Gardens ~ October 12, 2016
Standing water or erosion a problem in your landscape? A rain garden may be your answer! Homeowners and businesses will learn how to design, construct, and maintain a rain garden. Plant list provided.  Register here. »

:: Container Gardening ~ November 3, 2016
Looking to add a little color or texture to your front entry or back patio? Container gardens can be a great way to give a little curb appeal or jazz up a back patio. This program teaches how to prepare and install a container garden. You will learn how to prepare the container, prepare the soil, and install a well-planned mix of annuals, perennials, and more. Register here. »


All seminars will take place at:

Fort Worth Botanic Garden in the Iris Room
3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.

Do note, that while seminars are FREE, they do require pre-registration as there are limited seats (given on a first come, first serve registration basis).


Enjoy and Share!  :)


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2016 TEXAS TAX-FREE HOLIDAY for Energy Star Appliances, Lightbulbs, Ceiling Fans & More — Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-30

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Please share on Facebook or pass this along to anyone you know who might be in the market for new appliances, ceiling fans, air conditioners, clothes washers, or other Energy Star qualifying products (this can save them a bundle!)…even incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs receive tax-free status this weekend!

This Memorial Day weekend (Saturday, May 28 to Monday, May 30), Texas shoppers receive a break from paying sales tax on purchases of many energy-efficient products like fluorescent light bulbs, ceiling fans, and energy-star home appliances like refrigerators, washers, and more even energy-star rated college-dorm / compact-sized refrigerators qualify! This is an excellent way to get extra savings on any of the qualifying items, plus save on future energy costs too.

The energy-star products qualifying in 2016’s tax-free weekend include:

  • Refrigerators priced at $2,000 or less
  • Ceiling fans
  • Incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs
  • Clothes washers
  • Dishwashers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Air conditioners priced at $6,000 or less
  • Delivery, shipping, and handling for any of these items are also excluded from tax!

The 2016 sales tax holiday begins on Saturday, May 28, and ends on Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day Weekend).

ENERGY STAR logo

Qualifying products will need to display the ENERGY STAR logo which will appear on the appliance, the packaging, or the Energy Guide label. The discount also applies to delivery and installation fees and  there is no limit to the number of qualifying items one can purchase during this sales tax holiday.

:: To find out more, go to the Texas comptroller’s site, here.

Enjoy and Share!  :)

 

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Frugal in Fort Worth (bunches of thanks!)

 

 

FREE Water Smart Landscape, Gardening, and Irrigation Seminars in Fort Worth

Bookmark and Share

FREE Fort Worth Water Smart Irrigation and Landscape Seminars

The Fort Worth Water Department, in partnership with Texas AgriLife Extension Service, is hosting a series of FREE water smart landscape and gardening seminars. These classes are offered monthly at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden (inside at the Iris Room, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.) and will equip you to make educated decisions in your landscape as well as make efficient use of watering and irrigation technologies.

:: Hungry in the City, the Urban Harvest ~ April 7, 2016
The city is full of food ripe for the picking. Learn how to identify (and legally acquire) more traditional foods like edible fruits, nuts and naturalized vegetables, as well as wild edibles, edible flowers and even edible weeds that are well adapted to North Texas neighborhoods. Register here. »

:: Lawn Care Maintenance ~ May 5, 2016
Is the green in your lawn weeds or grass causing you headaches? Do you have brown circles in your yard? Proper lawn care maintenance is a key component to a healthy lawn. This program covers basic lawn maintenance practices and selecting the right turf grass to improve the health and longevity of your landscape. You will learn how to maintain your landscape using less water, fertilizers and pesticides.   Register here. »

:: Shade Gardening ~ June 2, 2016
Shaded out? Do you have areas in your landscape where nothing grows because there is not enough sunlight? Come learn a new way to landscape for the shade.  Register here. »

:: Drip Irrigation ~ July 7, 2016
Water slower, deeper and more efficient with every drop. Convert your spray heads and watch your sprinkler system save you money from our drip conversion class. You will learn how to install drip irrigation tubing from your faucet or how to convert an existing zone to drip. Drip irrigation is the most efficient irrigation method and essential to sustainable landscapes. Drip irrigation for foundation watering will also be covered.  Register here. »

:: Gardening for Wildlife ~ August 4, 2016
Native and Adaptive plants are not only beautiful water efficient additions to your landscape, but they can be useful tools to attract beneficial wildlife as well. Learn ways to attract and provide urban habitat for butterflies, song birds, hummingbirds, bees, and other animals that bring your landscape to life with activity!  Register here. »

:: Landscape and Tree Maintenance ~ September  7, 2016
Wondering when to prune your trees and ornamental grasses? Should I mulch in the spring, fall or both? Learn the right time to maintain your landscape and trees to ensure the health, production and aesthetics. Register here »

:: Rain Gardens ~ October 12, 2016
Standing water or erosion a problem in your landscape? A rain garden may be your answer! Homeowners and businesses will learn how to design, construct, and maintain a rain garden. Plant list provided.  Register here. »

:: Container Gardening ~ November 3, 2016
Looking to add a little color or texture to your front entry or back patio? Container gardens can be a great way to give a little curb appeal or jazz up a back patio. This program teaches how to prepare and install a container garden. You will learn how to prepare the container, prepare the soil, and install a well-planned mix of annuals, perennials, and more. Register here. »


All seminars will take place at:

Fort Worth Botanic Garden in the Iris Room
3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.

Do note, that while seminars are FREE, they do require pre-registration as there are limited seats (given on a first come, first serve registration basis).


Enjoy and Share!  :)


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$10 For Custom Made Gold Foil Graphic Prints

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Handmade-at-amazon logo

We recently discovered the freshly launched Handmade at Amazon store —  if you are an Etsy fan, you’ll enjoy this wonderful store, packed full of unique items crafted and sold directly from artisans. Handmade products range from jewelry and furniture to artwork and bedding and are easily browsed by category (Handmade Lighting, Home Decor, Stationery and Party Supplies, Kitchen and Dining, etc.) or search by artisans’ location (like Texas!).

Our perusal uncovered a new favorite find — gorgeous, yet inexpensive gold or silver foil art prints, made by hand in a small print shop just outside of Philadelphia. Choose a standard 5 x 7 framable size for $10 or 8 x 10 for $18 — both sizes are designed to be popped into a standard frame and you can pick gold or silver foil. They will even customize a print just for you for $7 more!

Here are some of our favorite designs:

  
  

:: Pop over here to see all the wonderful designs in this shop!


handmade-at-amazon-logo-banner

New to the Handmade at Amazon store? This wonderful store is packed full of items crafted and sold directly from artisans with categories ranging from jewelry and furniture to artwork and bedding — easily browsed by category or by artisans’ location.

The product page for each handmade item contains a location icon (like Texas) to show where the artisan is based, along with a link to their profile so that you can learn more about the creator’s work and the unique story behind the artisan and item. You’ll find products from craftsmen in all 50 U.S. states, and over 60 countries. We appreciate Amazon’s promise to check out every artisan, to ensure their products are truly handcrafted goods and not mass-produced.

:: Find shop details & a list of today’s top-selling handmade items here.


 

Enjoy and Share! :)

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Amazon Scrapbooking Supplies
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