From our friends at #HomeAdvisor
As a Nashville native, Meagan Nordmann thought she knew all about friendly locals—until she flew to Albuquerque.
“Before my plane had even landed in The Land of Enchantment, I had probably 20 tweets from locals offering to take me out for coffee,” says the digital marketer, who recently relocated to the New Mexico city. “I dare say, Albuquerque is even friendlier than Nashville. I suppose this is one of the reasons locals here jokingly call it ‘The Land of Entrapment.’ ”
That group-hug mentality is indeed one reason why the Southwestern city—as well as the affable folks in Tennessee—made Travel+Leisure’s top 10 for friendly cities. In the most recent America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 38 metro areas for such inviting features as wine bars, pizza and luxury shopping—along with the conviviality of the locals who might be serving drinks, ringing up your order or just offering directions outside your hotel.
Geographically, the top 15 winners represent a distinct advantage among heartland cities—though one could argue that the size of city, not the location, may be a better indicator of heart. The winning cities also ranked well in the survey for some concrete features that make it easy for locals to show off their sunny demeanors: pedestrian-friendly streets, cool boutiques, coffee houses, and even communal, picnic-table-equipped food truck pods.
The friendliest cities have certain intangible qualities, too. Charleston’s high ranking may come in part from its slower-paced lifestyle, says Isabelle Furth, a p.r. exec who lives in Washington D.C. (a city that, ahem, did not make the top 15 this year). “I remember walking into an upscale boutique in Charleston and being offered sweet tea and a cookie,” says Furth. “The soft Southern accents don’t hurt, either.”
Summer is here. That means it’s time to wrap up the interior projects and turn your attention to the great outdoors. Now’s the perfect time to get going on your landscaping projects.
Spruce Up the Yard Without Breaking the Bank
One of the best things you can do for your lawn is rake and clear away debris. This breaks up thatch that starves the soil of vital nutrients and water. Most of the time, this can be done by hand; however, if the thatch is thick, you’ll want to rent a power rake or hire a pro to take care of the job for you. You’ll spend about $250, but the results will be worth it.
Once you’ve got your yard cleaned, it’s time to apply seed to any bare spots. Doing so now will allow the seed establish before the temps get too hot. When your lawn is established, go ahead and apply fertilizer and herbicide. Just be sure to check the packaging for application instructions. The last thing you want to do is over-apply and burn your lawn.
Finally, if you have a sprinkler system and are looking to trim your water bills, you can replace your old sprinkler heads with new, water-efficient heads for about $5 each. Replacing sprinkler heads is a pretty straightforward job that’s doable for even novice DIYers. You can save even more money by checking to see if your water provider is offering rebates.
Landscaping Projects for Any Budget Mid-Range Projects That Can Have a Major Impact
If you’ve been thinking about laying sod, spring is the time to do it. Spring’s cooler temps and consistent moisture help sod take root much quicker than it would if it were laid in the summer. While it’s a relatively simple job, laying sod correctly requires a good deal of prep work. It is also labor intensive, especially if you have to remove existing turf. Depending on the size of your job, you’ll probably find that it’s a project you’d rather leave to the pros.
So, how much will the job cost you? That depends on whether you’re picking it up and installing it yourself, having it delivered and installing it yourself, or having it delivered and installed. Sod farms charge by the square foot, charging you less when you order more. For small DIY jobs, you can expect to spend about $0.50 a square foot. On average, most homeowners spend about $2,000 to have a full yard professionally sodded.
Another great project to tackle in the spring is the planting of trees and shrubs. Much like sod, cooler temps and an abundance of moisture are critical to a tree’s ability to take root. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the temps get hot. Do so and there’s a good chance your trees won’t make it through summer. What’s more, you’ll find that your options are far more abundant early in the season. Tree prices get more expensive as the size of the tree increases, so be prepared to spend more if you want instant shade.
Find Pros Big-Budget Projects That Will Transform Your Yard
You might have heard that by spending 5-10 percent of your home’s value on major landscaping improvements you can increase your home’s value between 5 and 15 percent. While that might seem like a lot of money to spend on landscaping, the results are worth it. So, what should you do? Here are a couple of projects worth considering.
An underground sprinkler system might not be the world’s greatest invention, but we’d argue that it’s one of the most convenient. While a sprinkler system won’t fundamentally change the look of your yard, it will make it that much easier to maintain. Gone are the days of waking up early to water. What’s more, a sprinkler system takes the guesswork out of watering by adjusting watering times based on weather conditions, saving water and saving you money. The size of your yard will determine installation cost, but on average, you can expect to spend about $2,677 to have a sprinkler system installed.
Last but not least, one of the smartest things you can do if you’re planning major changes to your landscaping is to hire a certified landscape designer. For about $5,244, a professional will carefully design a landscaping plan that complements your home and delivers the look and functionality you’re looking for. Just keep in mind that installation is typically not included in the price. On average, you can expect to spend an additional $4,000 on installation.
Courtesy from our friends at HomeAdvisor
Electrical Fire Safety Tips for Kids at Home
The 2015 Festival of the Arts will take place April 21-26 in Downtown Oklahoma City at the Festival Plaza and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
The festival runs 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Pets are not allowed.
A variety of children’s activities are featured in the Youth Plaza and around Festival grounds. Arts for children and families include hands-on activities in the Children’s Art Field for just $2. The Young-at-Art Mart is the children-only shopping venue with all artwork affordably priced for $5 or less. Families can also visit Face Painting, Pottery Place and Creation Station for more fun! For more information call (405) 270-4848.
More than 500 artists applied and submitted work for the Festival jury process. The 144 chosen artists are some of the nation’s finest. Media includes oils, water, drawing and printmaking, photography, ceramics, glass, sculpture, fiber, jewelry, wood, and two and three-dimensional works.
From appetizers to desserts, the Festival is a celebration of the culinary arts! Thirty-one vendors bring their specialties to the International Food Row and throughout the grounds. Each food vendor is partnered with a local arts organization, so each bite you take supports the arts in central Oklahoma!
Nearly 300 entertainers of all ages donate their performances on four stages at the Festival. Stages are: The Cafe Stage (located on the Festival Plaza), the Art Moves Stage (located in the Myriad Gardens), the Water Stage (located in the Myriad Gardens) and the Great Lawn Stage (north of the Crystal Bridge in the Myriad Gardens).
Courtesy ARTS COUNCIL OKLAHOMA CITY
From our friends over at #HomeAdvisor
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Oklahoma City Real Estate Investment
When an auto plant closes, it’s usually bad news for the local economy.
When that factory is a mammoth, 4-million-square-foot operation with thousands of highly paid union workers, the shutdown usually means disaster.
Not in Oklahoma City, where the unemployment rate is low and personal income is soaring.
The General Motors plant closed in 2006, but was quickly reinvented as an aerospace repair operation for neighboring Tinker Air Force Base, one of the military’s largest repair facilities.
The current recession has put much of the U.S. on an economic losing streak. But a few places, including Oklahoma City, have missed most of the pain.
This city is perhaps the most surprising. Construction cranes are busy here. New medical buildings are underway. Buildings are being renovated in the historical Bricktown neighborhood. Oklahoma City’s June unemployment rate of 6% was the second-lowest in the nation for metropolitan areas with 1 million or people, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Its per-capita income grew 6.9% in 2008 to $40,942, compared with a year earlier, the Commerce Department reported last week. That growth made the city No. 1 in the USA for large metro areas.
What’s Oklahoma City’s secret? “Luck, as much as anything,” says Roy Williams, Chamber of Commerce president and a former economic developer in Phoenix and Ohio. “We’re doing the right things, in the right place, at the right time.”
Government as a strong jobs base
Of the five big metro areas with the lowest unemployment rates — Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City, Washington, San Antonio and Austin — four are state or U.S. capitals and all have a large government workforce.
Oklahoma City’s economy is not only diversified but, by coincidence, is strong in areas that are thriving — or at least not collapsing — in this recession:
•Government jobs: As a state capital, it has a jobs base that enjoys the stability of government — federal, state and local. Despite budget shortfalls across the USA, state and local government are among the few parts of the economy that have added jobs during the recession.
•Medical and education jobs: Oklahoma City has large medical facilities and universities, types of employers that have held up well in the recession.
•Energy jobs: Oklahoma City is home to the state’s two largest oil and gas companies, Devon Energy and Chesapeake Energy.
The city also escaped the real estate bubble.
The area’s median housing price is $129,900, up 4% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Nationally, housing prices were down 14% during that time.
“Our highs are not high, and our lows are not low,” says Michael Bernard, president of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association of Oklahoma.
Retooling a factory
The city’s economic good fortune has been remarkable — even in failure.
Oklahoma City tried to become a hub for manufacturing airplanes, expanding on the aerospace industry that surrounds the Air Force base, says Mayor Mick Cornett, a Republican. “Then comes the recession. People don’t buy new planes. They repair what they’ve got. Oklahoma City does repair and overhaul. Voilà! Better be lucky than smart,” he says.
February 20, 2015 – MAPS 3 Program Manager David Todd provides a construction update on the Oklahoma River Improvements project. Jeffrey Gustin, senior project manager with whitewater consultant S2O Design discusses upcoming project milestones and describes the major engineering components of the facility.
North of Capitol Hill and due south of downtown Oklahoma City, the Boathouse District promises to be yet another major urban area for Oklahoma City made developable by the renovation of the Oklahoma River. The area north of the Oklahoma River is part of Oklahoma City’s Core to Shore redevelopment area has a master plan that shows public park and recreation space, residential neighborhoods, office parks, several “urban waterfronts” and river taxi docks along the waterfront. The recently completed Chesapeake Boathouse is a new Oklahoma City landmark on the Oklahoma River and a promising symbol for the Riverside District. The Oklahoma Boat House Foundation is the sponsoring organization for the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Site for both rowing and canoe/kayak.
The area south of the Oklahoma River contains several parks. This area of Oklahoma City is also home to the Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park of Oklahoma City located at 1700 S. Robinson. The Skate Park is a 26,000-square-foot (2,400 m2) mecca for skateboarders and other extreme sports enthusiasts. The park was designed by local extreme biking guru and national icon Mat Hoffman.