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The forsythia sage, also known as Salvia madrensis, is a member of the mint family. Another name for this particular plant is the big yellow sage due to the flowers that it has. It is a relative to the over 700 species of Salvia, many of which are culinary or medicinal herbs. It is a perennial shrub that is used in many hummingbird gardens.

Description of the Forsythia Sage

This sage is a large plant, growing up to ten feet tall with a four to five foot width. There are big yellow flowers with the distinctive square stems that are typical for a mint plant. There are rough leaves, heart-shaped, that are bright green. Its flowers are in spikes from fall to the frost date.

Forsythia Sage Growing Guide

The Salvia madrensis prefers to grow in partial sun to full shade with a well-drained soil. It also needs regular watering to have the best growth. Propagate by root mass division or by cuttings. It will be hardy in the USDA hardiness zones of 7 through 11. Mulching is required in zone 7.

Native Elements

This particular Salvia plant is native to Mexico, specifically the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. It can be found high up, in the 4,000 to 5,000 elevation range. The name “madrensis” was given because of this high elevation and the mountains in which it is typically found.

Uses for the Forsythia Sage

The showy blooms make it a great choice for a shrub border or for a perennial shade garden. You can use it under pine trees or oaks for a nice retrospect. I like it in pots and planters put around a deck, porch, or patio. It is very attractive to hummingbirds, so if you are looking for a great new plant for that hummingbird garden, this may be one to get. It is available in many online nurseries for purchase.

Hardy CultivarIf you are living in an area that gets a little colder than this Salvia prefers, try the ‘Dunham’ cultivar. It has been recorded to have survived a -9F temperature in North Carolina.

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Remodeling your bathroom can be an exciting yet daunting task. The end result can be so nice, but the getting there so difficult, especially when trying to work everything out financially. Here are ten tips to remember when remodeling your bathroom on a budget.

1. Determine what your goals really are.

When looking to remodel your bathroom, it’s easy to think of everything that you could ever want changed. But, all of that isn’t really necessary. Realistically look at your circumstances and decide what’s most important.

Given your budget, what really needs done? Are there pipes leaking? Is something broken? Is this an issue of needing more space? Or a more modern look? Getting new curtains obviously doesn’t fix the running toilet. And just wanting an overall updated look probably doesn’t require getting a new tub. Spending money on projects that don’t add value to that which you prioritize is a waste.

2. Identify what you can do yourself.

When remodeling a bathroom, there are likely projects you can take on yourself. Think through what needs done and split everything up into two categories: what you can reasonably do yourself and what you can’t do for yourself. Consider attending free home improvement workshops to better enable yourself for the tasks at hand.

There’s no point in paying a contractor extra to do something you could have handled on your own. Similarly, there’s no point in wasting supplies, time and effort in trying to pull off something you know you won’t be satisfied with. Contract for what you should contract, but do it yourself for projects you can handle.

3. Request multiple bids.

For the tasks you decidedly cannot do on your own, invite a few contractors to your house to offer quotes on what the total project will cost. Compare the offers. Ask what, in particular, makes one remodeling contractor able to offer this set of services for lower than another’s bid.

Consider what levels of quality you’re willing to negotiate on and what ones you aren’t. Contrast your preferences with what the various contractors are offering. Research the contractors to see what people are saying about them, and ask to see samples of previous work. Providently choose the best option for your circumstances.

4. Think ahead.

When looking to remodel on a budget, sometimes we get so caught up in saving money that we don’t think of the long-term ramifications of the choices we’re making. In an effort to save, we might choose to only remodel the downstairs bathroom and leave the kids’ alone for now. And that might be a great option.

But, if in three months we’re going to decide the kids’ bathroom really should get some remodeling done too, we’re going to miss out on the symbiotic benefits of renovating multiple bathrooms at the same time. Look at your situation and identify what work would be best done together. Proceed with the tasks that are both financially efficient and in line with your goals.

5. Consider your options.

Look for cheaper alternatives to fix the problems that need addressed. The floor may need replaced, but linoleum will likely cost less than tile. You may still opt for the tile, but you should do so realizing it’s the more expensive option.

If a bathtub’s only problem is that it’s pink, having the tub painted will likely be a less expensive option than having the tub entirely replaced. Similarly, choosing to replace small accessories instead of the major staples of a bathroom (where feasible) can be a cost-effective way to revamp a bathroom. With your goals in mind, carefully consider what less-expensive options are reasonable in your remodeling projects.

6. Buy secondhand.

Paying retail price for a new model is always going to damage the project’s bottom line. Think about buying secondhand, or even just buying last year’s model. Look at what’s being offered on sites like, which directs buyers to sellers in a way that also eliminates shipping costs.

7. Think small.

Even after you’ve eliminated unneeded projects and settled on a few essentials, there’s still room for thinking small and conservatively with the few projects that are on your plate. Only change what’s needed.

Buying all new towels may be more fun, but buying one new accent color to go with some old towels still in good repair would be more cost-efficient. The more expensive shower curtain may be the most amazing curtain you’ve ever seen, but one half the price might take care of the job just as well.

8. Go green.

In the long-run, energy-efficient models will save you money. And what better time is there to go green than when remodeling? Often contractors and/or home improvement stores will offer rebates on new models in exchange for older, less-efficient models. Work with your contractor to see if any energy-saving related deals apply to your bathroom remodeling projects.

9. Visit your thrift stores.

You could pay an arm and a leg for bathroom fixtures and fixings alone. For all the necessities that don’t require the utmost level of quality, look around at your local thrift stores and garage sales. There are certain aspects of remodeling a bathroom that do require a lot of money, so don’t waste it on the parts that don’t have to.

10. Be efficient.

For most bathrooms, organization is the key in not feeling small or being crowded. Being efficient with purchasing items that can multitask will not only help your budget but it will also help the end product of your remodeling efforts look nicer. Concentrate your decorating efforts on pieces that are functional as well as stylish. It would be a shame to negate all of your previous budget-minded remodeling efforts by spending too much on products you don’t need that will only clutter your new and improved bathroom.

My wife and I had an understanding before we decided to live together: I would make room for her warehouse of tools and she would allow me a complete floor to ceiling room for my books. After 11 blissful years, I have a library with over 5 thousand books including 300 volumes of Playboy Magazines, several first editions comic books. She has a basement, a garage, and a storage area for her tools.

I grew up in a construction business. My father was a general contractor. When I graduated from college, I wanted nothing to do with any type of construction work. I refused to even own a hammer. All that changed when I met my wife. Her garage was packed with tools and I knew she enjoyed using them.

Because my wife can handle a hammer better than most men, we saved money with repairs around the house. Coupled with experience from my construction years, we tackled a few household projects. We replaced electrical outlets, painted rooms, replaced door frames and sealed cracks in the basement block.

We decided to invest in real estate rental property and hired a management firm to oversee our investment. Once we realized the cost of having someone else manage our rental units, we quickly grabbed hammers, rulers, squares, electrical testers, paint brushes and pipe wrenches and went to work.

The first year we replaced our property management company we saved 10-15 thousand dollars. Even though our days are filled with sanding walls, repairing drywall, hanging fans, etc., we saved enough from our repair bills alone in this tight economy for a profitable balance sheet.

While some contractors (men mostly) frown when my wife directs their work with considerable competence and knowledge, over the years we noticed a change in the landscape which was once dominated by men. More women are entering the construction fields.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s February issue women are outpacing men in graduating from college and they have better employment prospects.

In 2016 we took a carpentry class at the local trade school. The class was a mixture of men and women. The women did not shy away from any of the hands-on instruction and were as capable as the men students.

We also participated in classes at Home Depot,

How much money did we save? Here are some examples.

1 .Replaced leaky faucet in tub, saved $490 for plumber, faucet and washer.
2. Repaired and painted walls in rental unit saved $3500.
3. Replaced electric plugs in the kitchen electrician $200 each 6 outlets equals $1200.
4. My wife replaced 10 door locks for rental units saving $35 hour from a handyman.
5,We replaced a door for $25. Original cost of the solid wood door: $1,000.

Handyman work is not just a man’s job. It can be a couple’s job and with the benefits of savings.

Remodel Your Bathroom for Under $500

Bathrooms are typically updated every 7 to 10 years. These updates usually focus on the flooring, fixtures and sometimes the porcelain elements (i.e. toilet, tub and sink). During a full scale bathroom remodel you can end up spending $10,000 or more. However, if your bathroom needs to be updated, or at least freshened up, and you don’t have a multi-thousand dollar budget to work with what do you do? The answer is to spend you money wisely and do the work yourself.

Remodeling a Bathroom for Under $500 – Step No. 1: Replace What Needs to Be Replaced

The first step in creating a budget for your bathroom remodel is to identify what needs to be replaced and what can be freshened up. Start by looking at your big ticket items, the toilet, tub and sink. Look for cracks in the porcelain, rusty pipes and other signs of excessive wear. Next look at the flooring. Again look for tears, chips, cracks, mold, stains and other signs of excessive wear. Finally, look at the cosmetics of your bathroom. Do you still like the color scheme, tile designs, etc.? If not, write down what you don’t like. After you have a list of items that need to be changed, repaired or replaced, you can visit local home improvement stores to start pricing items.

Remodeling a Bathroom for Under $500 – Step No. 2: Find Low Cost Products

If you are on a very tight budget, then you need to look for items that give the look you want but that are inexpensive. For example, high end one piece toilets cost around $300 to $500, however, you can buy a basic one piece white toilet from Glacier Bay for $99. Flooring is going to be another high ticket item. If you are looking for low cost tile, then shop around at tile closeout sales and garage sales. You can also look for salvage tiles. Paint can run you any where from $10 a gallon to $40 a gallon depending on the brand and where you buy it. Department stores are going to offer you the best prices on paint, however, your color choices will be limited.

Remodeling a Bathroom for Under $500 – Step No. 3: DIY

To keep your bathroom remodel under $500 you will also need to do the work yourself. Fortunately, installing a toilet, laying linoleum and painting are all very easy to do. If you have never installed a toilet before look for online video tutorials or written instructions to make your project easier on you. I am 5’1″ and have limited plumbing experience, and I was able to remove my old toilet and install in less than two hours, so it can be done with minimal effort.

Check out RG Counter tops a leading fabricator of kitchen and bathroom counter tops specializing in fabrication and installation of granite, marble, limestone, and quartz material. 

Get Clean with Spring: Give House and Body an Eco-cleanse

What exactly is an eco-cleanse? Take a section of life, such as eating habits, and how it is done every day. Now, how can it be made better in relation to the environment and health? Using different methods and incorporating them gradually to make them become the new daily activities.

There are seven areas that can be made over to be more organic, healthy and eco-friendly: plastic and paper; electricity; food habits; drinking habits; schedules; automobiles; and consumerism.

Knowledge is Power

Before any of these changes are implemented, research and another daily habit should be in place. For research, venture through a few green Web sites such as Treehugger. Also scour the Internet for green books, but don’t buy them — at first! Right down the titles and search at the local library for copies, which will save on resources. If they are not available at the library, use a book swapping site to get a used copy. Research does not require a new book, and then these books can be re-swapped once done, saving money and the environment. Click here to get more info about the best cleaning service in your area.

Another way to stick with the eco-cleanse is establishing a green journal. Begin with observations, and they do not have to be long. Sit in a local park and observe the landscape. Are there ducks or birds? Is the grass green or brown, or maybe some other weird color? Once becoming aware of the surroundings, reporting about changes in habits or noticing changes in the environment will be easier as concentration and observation has been building. Continue to use the journal to talk about the struggles of the eco-changes and to brainstorm on how to make it work better.

Cleansing Body and Mind

After the groundwork has been put into place, it is time for the eco-cleanse. Try each one of the tips for a few days before starting the next, in order to incorporate all at some point in the future. Some tips also may take some planning ahead of time.

  • Fast from electricity. Before going to bed, shut off the television, the computer and any electronic device not needed to wake up in the morning. Wake up early to start the coffee machine instead of leaving it plugged in all night. If a television is needed to sleep, turn a timer on for an hour or bit more so it will turn off automatically. Also, choose one day to go completely off the scale and be electricity-free, using this time to read, spend time with family and friends, exercise or any other non-electronic activity.
  • Try being vegetarian, or vegan. This is one of the most green ways to help the environment, and a great way to help the body. If vegetarianism is a new idea, try adopting the method to one meal a day. Once that seems comfortable, try two meals or see if a whole day can be planned minus meat. If the vegetarian diet has already been adopted, try going vegan with the same method. This type of change requires planning and preparation but once implemented for awhile, it becomes almost second nature and it does such a huge help to the body and environment.
  • Change drinking habits. As this ties in a later tip, ban the plastic bottles. Buy a water filter instead, or just drink from the tap, which is actually pretty well filtered water (unless you live somewhere where it’s not.) There are other ways to get juice, once of which is buy items in glass bottles. It can be pricey, so why not make juice? A juicer, electric or otherwise, can create a quality product and possibly a better product. Try to look for products that use recycled material.
  • Make one day of a week a slow week. By slowing down, it can help your health. Life can be a stressful mess and that stress has a negative effect on the body. In the long run, it can have a negative effect on the environment when the easiest way to get things done is through disposable products. But these products really harms the Earth. Slowing down means embracing family meals (maybe try a vegetarian dish), an organization of papers (recycle them!) or some meditation.
  • Try breaking the plastic and paper habit. Start with recording how much plastic and paper is used every day. After a day or two, start reducing that consumption. Stop buying plastic bottled drinks and water, be conscientious of the packaging items have around them and buy fruits and vegetables not in plastic. Carry reusable bags everywhere. Print two-sided or don’t print at all! If items need to be bought, recycle what is left. Really think about the item being bought before buying, and if it can be bought without the plastic or paper surrounding it.
  • Give the automobile a break. The United States have become a nation of car drivers and many other nations are following suit. Instead of driving around the block to drop off mail, walk to the nearest mailbox. Get out and walk or ride a bike to the grocery store, bringing a backpack or large bag easy for carrying. If driving is necessary (obviously for food or medicine,) plan out trips in order to cut driving all over town for a variety of items. If another mode of transportation to work is unreasonable, try a carpool.
  • Become an un-consumer. If something is needed (other than food and medicine,) buy it second-hand. Resolve to buy nothing new. This may sound like a crazy idea, but it helps to cultivate if certain items are really needed and if they can’t be bought for cheaper and just as good condition as a new item. By reusing an item, it doesn’t sit in a landfill and gets a second life. It’s not only about being frugal but reducing consumption of natural resources and stepping away from the culture of never-ending consumption.

Being a Green Person

These tips can cleanse the body, mind and environment. By taking steps to be conscientious to the surroundings, a person can make their body and environment as one.

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