As part of my mission to help busy entrepreneurs and professionals create a freedom lifestyle, I wanted to share some articles on how you can use this energizing time of year to give your routine and your home a much-needed refresh after the long winter months. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and spring is in the air! I hope you'll enjoy browsing through this edition of American Lifestyle digital magazine.
April is an exciting month for flower-and-garden enthusiasts, as cities and towns across the country ramp up for their annual flower festivals. Inside you’ll find a breakdown of the best fests across the country to spot the season’s most spectacular blooms.
The season of outdoor entertaining is upon us. To help get ready, check out the pair of recipes in this issue: scrumptious horseradish-braised chicken and a tasty tiramisu dessert dip. Your guests are going to love them.
Although April showers might bring May flowers, they can also bring potential damage to your home if you’re not prepared. The enclosed guide can help you ready your home for any wet weather Mother Nature may bring this season.
Spring showers, in addition to helping flowers bloom, spark your grass to grow. But if you’re tired of keeping up with an ever-growing lawn, be sure to read about the no-mow solutions in this issue. Your wallet and the planet will thank you.
Wishing you an amazing spring season!
Make today what you want tomorrow to be,
After a long winter, spring is a welcome time for most people. Whether you’re an avid gardener or enjoy traveling, a flower or garden festival can inspire your own garden and leave you with gorgeous photos. These places around the United States celebrate the season by displaying beautiful blooms in extravagant and fun ways.
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival—Mount Vernon, Washington
Every April, the Skagit Valley region in northwest Washington has millions of colorful blooming tulips on display spread across the valley’s fields. The vast fields are great for self-guided driving tours with photo stops, but the month-long festival in town includes bike tours, gardening workshops, and discounted tastings at local vineyards and breweries. Check out this interactive map to plan which gardens and farms to visit.
Dates: April 1–30
Price: Tulip gardens are free to enter, but festival activities may have admission prices listed on the festival’s website.
North Carolina Azalea Festival—Wilmington, North Carolina
At the North Carolina Azalea Festival, the pigmented pink and purple azalea shrubs stand out beautifully against the coast. In addition to photo opportunities, you can buy tickets to special events, concerts, and fairs throughout the week-long festival.
Dates: April 6–10
Price: Free to enter, but some events may require prepaid tickets.
Bluebonnet Festival—Burnet, Texas
The quaint town of Burnet, Texas, has a population of just 6,000 people. However, it welcomes 30,000 visitors every April to see a sea of blue—a field of bluebonnet flowers. The old town square transforms into the festival’s hub for live music, local art displays, and food vendors. Check out their schedule of events, including the Bluebonnet Parade featuring floral floats designed by Burnet residents, the pet parade, wiener dog race, and the cornhole tournament.
Dates: April 8–10
Price: Free to enter. Headliner events have prices listed on the festival’s website.
Dogwood-Azalea Festival—Charleston, Missouri
The Dogwood-Azalea Festival in Charleston, Missouri, features a 6-mile-long trail of generations-old dogwoods and azaleas that smell and look beautiful. You can experience the beauty of these blooms during the day but also take a candlelight tour of them at night, ending at the festival celebrating Missouri history, hospitality, and tradition. Additionally, you can tour the streets in a horse-drawn carriage. With so many ways to enjoy Charleston, you might not want to leave!
Dates: April 21–24
Prices: Daytime walking tours and evening candlelight tours are free. Carriage rides are $10 for adults and $5 for children.
California Poppy Festival—Lancaster, California
Just north of Los Angeles, Lancaster comes alive each year with vibrant orange poppy blooms. This colorful event honors the California state flower with floral displays and food and craft vendors. Just be sure not to pick any flowers at the festival fields to take home because there are environmental protection laws in place.
Dates: April 22–24
Price: Admission and entertainment are free. Ride ticket prices are posted at the entrance to the fair.
Historic Garden Week—across Virginia
From the Shenandoah Valley to the beaches of Tidewater, Virginia residents put their gardening gloves together for Historic Garden Week. Over fifty historical properties and public gardens will be showcasing their best flower arrangements created by members of the Garden Club of Virginia. View the official Garden Week guidebook here to find locations of interest to you.
Dates: April 23–30
Price: Admission price varies by location. All proceeds benefit the state’s historic public gardens and landscapes, research programs, and other statewide initiatives.
Rochester Lilac Festival—Rochester, New York
If you love the scent of lilacs, you’ll enjoy walking through the largest lilac collection in the US. Be ready to eat and dance at the Lilac Festival Street Fair, which offers cultural cuisines and spotlights local artists and musicians. And, if you love running, consider partaking in their Lilac Run 5K or 10K races.
Dates: May 6–8, 12–15, 19–22
Price: Admission and parking are free, but bring money for food and souvenirs.
Tulip Time Festival—Holland, Michigan
Though it may look like the Netherlands, Holland, Michigan, celebrates Dutch culture with a staggering 4.5 million tulips presented in scenic fairytale fields of cottages and windmills. Additionally, entertainment such as Dutch clog dancing and a quilt-making show puts the authentic cherry on top of this colorful event. If you don’t have time for a two-week European adventure, this domestic trip will give you a piece of Amsterdam without the long flight.
Dates: May 7–15
Price: Tickets for walking tours are $35, with additional activities available at an extra cost. Free parking is available around town.
Philadelphia Flower Show—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
See exhibitors from across the country compete for top prizes at the Philadelphia flower show. This outdoor experience has thousands of impressively designed displays that go above and beyond to celebrate the power of plants. From dazzling lights to fountains to art installations, there’s something awe-inspiring for everyone.
Dates: June 11–19
Price: Adult tickets are $45, young friend tickets (ages 18–29) are $30, and children’s tickets (under 18) are $20. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance before they sell out.
If you can’t attend a flower festival, you can still take advantage of spring flowers in your area. Here are a few ways you can make the most of the season:
Spring is a lovely time for dining outdoors with friends and family. These recipes for dinner and dessert from The Ultimate 5-Ingredient Cookbook simplify outdoor entertaining and are made with just a few fresh ingredients.
This recipe, which is cooked in a Dutch oven, combines the ease of one-pot cooking with the complex and savory taste of a slow-cooked meal.
Enjoy the rich flavor of classic tiramisu with this simple dip that can be followed up with a shot of espresso.
Reprinted with permission from the Ultimate 5-Ingredient Cookbook by Rebecca White, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Rebecca White
recipe by rebecca white
photos by rebecca white
This is a unique dish that utilizes a few ingredients and cooking techniques to create a comforting meal. The horseradish and tomatoes, when cooked together, create a sauce perfect for braising chicken thighs. The lemon juice and zest complement the braising sauce and help to tie the dish together.
Yields 4–6 servings
recipe by rebecca white
photos by rebecca white
Tiramisu Dip is a simple variation of the classic—albeit labor intensive—tiramisu. This recipe is a “stir-to-combine-and-done” dessert. Provide shots of espresso for each diner and let them dip their mascarpone-coated ladyfingers. Not only will this add an element of classic tiramisu, but it will also give the diner a sugary and creamy espresso shot to sip after dessert.
Yields 6–8 servings
Spring is here, and you may be eagerly anticipating some April showers to help your May flowers grow. However, if you don’t prepare your home, rainy weather can cause a plethora of problems, such as structural damage and mold. Add the tasks in this guide to your regular maintenance schedule to help keep your home dry and your yard safe whenever rain is in the forecast.
Your gutters are essential for channeling water away from your home, but when they’re clogged with debris, they can cause damage to your roof and foundation. You should clean your gutters at least twice a year. However, if you have a yard filled with trees, you should complete the task every three months. You can also install gutter guards to help prevent your gutters from filling with debris. If you notice that they appear loose, saggy, or leaky, you should have them fixed or replaced immediately.
Additionally, make sure your downspouts carry drainage at least six feet away from your house. If they don’t, consider adding an extender attachment. Just be aware of where your downspouts are pointing; the best option is to aim them toward an incline away from your home. Avoid pointing downspouts toward your home, driveway, patio, or a neighbor’s home.
Water can infiltrate your home from several entry points. Inspect the following areas before wet weather arrives.
Your roof is the first line of defense against rain, but it is also a common entry point for moisture. Examine it for issues such as loose shingles or sagging. You should also check to make sure all skylights are adequately sealed. If you feel uneasy checking your roof yourself, contact a professional. Don’t forget about your chimney; damage to the chimney, lining, or crown can allow water to seep in, so have a professional inspect yours every spring.
Check your siding for damage, warping, or holes, which can indicate that water is leaking into your home. If you find a spot with minor damage, caulk can usually do the trick. Also, consider adding a fresh coat of paint to your home. Upgrading your home’s paint job can improve its aesthetic but also protect it from the elements. Before you begin, confirm that painting the siding won’t void its warranty if it is still in effect.
Inspect your foundation, basement walls, and basement windows for cracks or leaks. While epoxy can help fix minor damage, you should contact a professional for any extensive damage. Be sure to seal your basement windows and install covers over window wells. Finally, consider installing a backwater valve, which can prevent sewage backup from entering your home.
If your basement or crawl space floods frequently, a sump pump can prevent mold, water damage, and further flooding. A sump pump drains water from the inside of your home to the outside. Keep in mind, you’ll need to keep it maintained for it to be effective. Always make sure your sump pump is working correctly in the days before a big storm hits so that you’re not left underwater. To get the most out of this machine, make sure it has a backup power source in case of power failure, and consider installing an alarm to alert you if it loses power.
Make sure you regularly check the sealing around any openings, such as doors, windows, and exhaust fans, to the exterior of your house. If the seals of these areas appear cracked or brittle, reseal them with caulk. Also, paint any wood window and door trim with premium exterior gloss paint to help prevent moisture from penetrating the wood.
If rainwater tends to pool in your yard, you can have a French drain installed to prevent this. These drains collect surface water and channel it away from depressions in your yard or foundation. Also, make sure any planters, raised gardens, tree roots, vegetation, or play areas are not blocking your yard’s runoff. Ensure the ground area and any mulch, gravel, or soil around your home slopes away from its foundation. If the ground tilts toward your house, water could flood into your basement or foundation slab.
If your yard has trees that appear weak or dead, you may want to hire a professional to trim them back or remove them. Heavy rain can cause trees to snap or be uprooted, resulting in damage to your home or a neighbor’s property.
Finally, if there are any municipal storm drains near your property, confirm there is no debris blocking them. If they’re clogged, call your public works department.
With some regular home maintenance, you can feel confident that wet weather won’t rain on your parade this spring.
The roar of lawn mowers is a harbinger of spring in many neighborhoods, and if you have a yard, you probably spend part of your weekends mowing your lawn. Maintaining a lawn can be expensive too. You can mow your lawn yourself to save money, but there is still the cost of supplies, such as a mower, water, and fertilizer. Taking care of your lawn can also negatively impact the environment. Water runoff can contaminate waterways, and exhaust from gas-powered lawn tools can pollute the air.
If you’d like to spend less time caring for your yard, read the suggestions below for ways to reduce the surface area of your lawn or potentially get rid of it all together.
If you cover your yard with no-mow ground covers, you can help protect the environment and reduce the amount of time you spend taking care of your lawn. Consider these options:
• Corsican mint: This grass substitute is well-suited for shady areas, but it can adapt to sunny spots in your yard too. A lawn carpeted with Corsican mint will release a pleasant minty fragrance.
• Creeping thyme: You can plant this flowering ground cover with a fresh aroma almost anywhere in your yard.
• Moss: This evergreen lawn substitute can provide a hardy but soft carpet in shady parts of your yard.
• White clover: A clover lawn can stay green all summer in sun or shade; clover will also fertilize the soil and hinder weed growth.
These ground covers can spread easily, so be aware that they could trespass into neighboring lawns.
You might already use mulch, gravel, or stones to suppress weeds or add a decorative element to your garden, but you can use these natural materials as a grass substitute as well. Rocks and gravel are less comfortable underfoot, so place them in your front yard or other low-traffic areas. You can also prevent weeds by putting a layer of landscape fabric beneath your mulch, gravel, or rocks.
If you have a green thumb, why not replace your lawn with a vegetable or flower garden? You could spend your weekends picking lush tomatoes or clipping fragrant roses instead of pushing a lawn mower. A yard bursting with flowering annuals won’t demand much from you except a little watering, occasional weeding, and perhaps some fertilizing. Flowering perennials make gardening even simpler since they return year after year. Perennials don’t bloom all season long, however, while annuals do. You could skip the process of digging a new gardening bed by planting your veggies or flowers in a raised bed filled with a mixture of topsoil and compost. If you live in an arid climate, a rock garden with drought-friendly cacti and succulents is an attractive, low-maintenance choice.
If you would like more space to relax in, try building a deck or a patio. Both options will require upkeep as they age, but not much initially—you’ll need to stain a deck every two to three years and occasionally sweep or hose down a patio or deck.
A soothing water feature, such as a fountain, pond, or pool, can reduce the size of your lawn and add an extra decorative element to your yard. You could splurge on an above or in-ground pool that will replace most of your backyard or choose a smaller, budget-friendly feature like a small pond or stock-tank pool. A pond would give you the opportunity to bring in natural elements, such as fish and waterlilies. Keep in mind that a water feature will require additional maintenance.
Traditional turf lawns are popular because they can look neat and tidy and provide a place for rest and play. But you can swap out multipurpose turf by creating zones in your yard for different uses. For instance, you could keep a grassy area for outdoor sports and build a graveled section for a firepit. You could also fill a zone with white clover and native flowering perennials to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. Try dividing your zones with paver pathways and stone borders so you can replace more of the grass you would otherwise mow.