Tag Archives: texas

Texas Wind Turbines & the Future of Wind Energy

As our resources grow more and more precious, technologies such as wind turbines help us maintain reasonable costs to keep the lights on. Driving west along I10 outside of the city, it’s hard to miss the giant wind turbines standing like sentinels along the plateau. If you haven’t given them a second thought before, there’s some interesting things you might not know.

The collection of wind turbines, also called a wind farm, just north of Interstate 10 in Pecos County is called the Desert Sky Wind Farm and all of the power it produces is bought by CPS Energy, a company you’re probably very familiar with if you live in or around San Antonio.

The energy that this one farm alone produces is enough to supply about 40,000 homes. According to the American Wind Energy Association, “Over the last 20 years, the cost of electricity from utility-scale wind systems has dropped by more than 80%.”

Power from the turbines flows through the power transmission network in West Texas to CPS customers in the San Antonio area. The great thing about it is that turbines create renewable energy that has a low environmental impact.

As companies such as these are embracing and understanding the potential and benefits of renewable energy, they’re working to develop the next generation of wind turbine technology, which may be just around the corner.

A Spanish company called Vortex Bladeless has developed a new bladeless design. These 41-foot-tall cylinders are anticipated to cost half as much as traditional turbines and capture up to 40 percent of the wind’s power in ideal conditions.

The company is still raising money, but hopes to close a round of funding in the United States soon, so eventually you might see our beautiful Texas pinwheels replaced by stalks of what resembles white asparagus. In either case, it’s good to know that renewable energy isn’t just a fad but a growing resource!

 

The San Antonio Film Festival is Back!

11745726_10207554532329766_2598032590538507107_n

The San Antonio Film Festival (SAFILM), which is celebrating its 21st year next week, will be screening dozens of amazing local and international independent films throughout the five-day cinema event at locations around town, including the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. MovieMaker Magazine called SAFILM one of the coolest film fests around and we agree!

This year, SAFILM takes place from July 28 to August 2nd and you can buy a badge for the entire festival or tickets for individual films or blocks of films that catch your fancy. Check out the schedule online for more information.

We’re happy to announce that one of our friends, local writer and director, Kimberly Suta, will be screening her documentary short about the exploding culinary scene in San Antonio that showcases some of our city’s most talented chefs, local growers and others trailblazers on the forefront of the evolving food culture. San Antonio: An Edible Renaissance will be playing in a block of films starting at 7 pm on Thursday, July 30th.

This fest is a great way to discover and learn more about the city of San Antonio and the burgeoning culture here as well as discover some hidden, not to mention well-known, talent. Their red carpet events are often graced with some big name stars and film industry people and are fun events to attend, even if movies aren’t in your wheelhouse. Here are a few of the upcoming films that caught our eye:

Blind Date (short) on July 31

By San Antonio Director Mragendra Singh

Description:  A socially awkward, middle-aged man, who lives with his loud mouth, paraplegic mother, goes on a blind date.

The Doo Dah Man on August 1

By Director Claude Green

Description:  1980. Smitty, an escaped convict, is driving aimlessly across America in a stolen car. Jake, a New Jersey college student, is also on the run, from a home life that has suddenly exploded in his face as his estranged father wants to re-join the family. Their lives intersect on the lonely highways of America’s southwest.

Viento Aparte on August 2

By Director Alejandro Gerber Bicecci

Description:  Omar and Karina’s mother fell ill on a holiday trip on a beach on the Mexican pacific coast. Without further notice, brother and sister will start a 2,500 kilometers journey to their grandmother’s house in Casas Grandes (Chihuahua), near the Mexico-USA border. They will face a country wounded by violence, distrust, helplessness and abandon, where the only possible shelter is to stay together.

We hope to see you out on the town next week exploring and celebrating independent film and the growing San Antonio arts and culture scene. SAFILM is just another reason we’re extremely proud to help families build long-lasting homes in the Alamo City.

 

Ideal Colors for Your Home’s Walls

STD 1

One of the best things about working with a custom home builder like Stone Creek Custom Homes is that you get to choose everything yourself (with our help of course!), from design to ceilings, floors, appliances, on down to the colors in each room.

Most tract home builders simply splash a shade of white on the walls and call it good, but we think your wall colors should be given much more attention than that. Sure, they exist primarily in the background, but you’d be surprised how much the colors in your kitchen, bedroom, living room and even bathroom influence your mood and behavior.

The Psychology of Color

Color has meaning to each of us – as individuals, cultures and species. Marketing companies use the psychology of color to influence us through advertising, and you can bet if it didn’t work, they wouldn’t bother. Still, many people overlook the significance of color in the space where they spend a majority of their time – in their own homes.

Here’s a breakdown of what different colors mean to us psychologically and where you might consider using them in your house:

White:  Neutrality, cleanliness, purity and safety. White can certainly work nicely in both bathrooms and kitchens, particularly with an accent wall of a brighter color.

Gray:  Solid, practical, timeless. Silver is an off-shoot of gray and represents a strong character. Gray can be used in an office space nicely or a masculine bedroom.

Red:  Energy, excitement, attention-getting. In homes, red is not a good color for an entire wall, but can be used in small doses – a splash of color. Interestingly, pink is the most calming color and therefore is great for children’s rooms.

Blue:  Calm, dependable, wisdom, loyalty. A majority of people claim blue to be their favorite color, which makes sense since much of our world is blue. Blue is actually ideal for a bedroom because it encourages restfulness. Some studies are showing that it’s also a great color for a work-out room as it helps you focus.

Green:  Growth, nature, money, good luck and generosity. A dark forest green is related to wealth and masculinity. Depending on the shade, green can be beautiful in a living room or even an office space.

Yellow:  Cheerful, happiness, optimism. Babies cry more in yellow rooms so it’s not a good idea for them. However, it does have the power to speed up metabolism, so it can be perfect for a kitchen.

Orange:  Warmth, Energy, Fun.  If used tastefully, orange can be a great color for a game or play room, or potentially even used as an accent color in the dining room.

Purple:  Wealth, prosperity, mystery, sophistication. Purple is not a color often used traditionally in the home, however, there are now some beautiful shades of purple that can really be used to enhance any room in your house. Remember, that purple is the color of Kings and Queens!

In a future blog, we’ll explore more tips for picking out specific paint colors, but for now, hopefully this will spark some interest and discussion. When you’re ready to put that paint on the wall, call us at 210-494-5400.

 

 

 

West Texas Summer Excursion

From the Lost Mine Trail at Big Bend

From the Lost Mine Trail at Big Bend

If you haven’t figured out yet where to go for a summer vacation, we’d like to recommend a trip to picturesque West Texas. It’s a region of our state that’s often overlooked for more flashy allures such as the beach, Dallas or Houston.

The Gage Hotel

From San Antonio, if you drive along scenic Interstate 90, it’ll take you a little under six hours to get to Marathon, Texas. For couples especially, a one or two night stay at the Gage Hotel is a must. This charming historic hotel, which was built in 1927, is quite literally a desert oasis.

If you’re a history buff, stay in the main hotel, but for access to the gorgeous courtyard, stay in one of the Portales. There’s nothing quite like sitting outside with a couple glasses of wine and enjoying the beautiful night sky. Dinner at their upscale yet casual 12 Gage Restaurant may just be the best thing you eat on your trip, and as if this place wasn’t great enough, just a few blocks from the property they have a private 27-acre manicured garden that you might mistake for Eden.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend is truly the gem of West Texas. Home to the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United State, the park consists of about a million acres of pristine land that is as untouched as it has been for millions of years.

The park offers over 150 mountain, desert and river hikes and access to a variety of camping sites, canyons and a natural spring. We highly recommend camping, but if that’s just not your thing, the park is home to the Chisos Mountains Lodge, which also has a pretty decent restaurant. Just make sure to book as far in advance as possible. Hotels in this part of the state are hard to come by.

Marfa, Texas

For a day trip, Marfa is a fun little town that’s not far from Big Bend and has earned a reputation as a hub for art and film. Art aficionados or those who appreciate architecture will enjoy the Chinati Foundation, which houses one of the most unique art exhibits as well as pieces from dozens of visiting artists.

As for accommodations, the historic Hotel Paisano is a lovely option and your best bet for any luxury in these parts. They also have a great bar and dining area. It’s nice place to stop for an afternoon cocktail. However, f you’re up for something a little more exotic, check out El Cosmico, where you can slumber in a teepee or a yurt. Yes, a yurt!

If you’re only there for the day, make sure to check out the pop-up restaurant known as Capri Kitchen. This unassuming eatery isn’t easy to come by but it’s well worth it. They make THE most amazing fried chicken you’ll ever eat!

Kids and adults alike will want to check out the Marfa lights, although there’s still no proof they even exist or why!

The McDonald Observatory

You cannot or at least should not visit West Texas without checking out The McDonald Observatory, an astronomical observatory run by UT Austin. Up in the hills in the middle of nowhere in the town of Fort Davis, is an opportunity to have your mind blown. The weekly star parties and twilight programs the observatory hosts are a chance to see the universe from a whole new perspective, quite literally. Last time we were there we got to see Venus and Saturn up close.

You can be sure returning to San Antonio after a trip through this serene and utterly magnificent part of Texas will be a little jolting to your senses, but no doubt, you’ll be happy to be home! Please share pics on our Facebook if you do go.

 

 

Shed No More Tears for Your Abandoned Toolshed

Do you have an eyesore, otherwise known as an abandoned shed,  sitting in the back of your yard, full of old tools, a lifeless lawnmower from the 80’s, and an assorted collection of items you discarded years ago – all collecting dust? You probably hate opening it for fear of what creatures might be nesting there. If this sounds familiar, we’ve got good news for you! With a little TLC, you can turn that ugly shed into a haven of relaxation and enjoyment, what they’re now calling He-Sheds and She-Sheds.

She-Sheds

She-sheds having been growing in popularity in Europe, and are just starting to catch on in the U.S. Women who do everything for their families and their jobs, who can never seem to find a moment’s peace, will vastly appreciate this creative little retreat. There’s actually many different ways you can transform your shed into the ultimate she-shed. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Basic Retreat:  With a few coats of paint, a couple of windows, reclaimed furniture, rug, potted flowers, cozy throw and an electric teapot (just like the Brits), you can create a beautiful little space that’s ideal for unwinding with a good book or taking an afternoon nap.

Yoga Studio: Sure, it’s not a lot of space, but just for you or you and your BFF, it’s all you need. Consider removing the front door(s) and creating a trellis you can cover with ivy. Cover the inside with long flowing wall hangings in colorful prints, then put down laminate wood flooring, and roll out your yoga mat. Don’t forget to hang some sweet sounding wind chimes to help complete your OM space.

The Greenhouse:  If you’re feeling extremely motivated, you can turn an old wood shed into an exceptional spot to grow ornamental or edible plants. This is no easy feat and so we encourage you do your research before launching into this home project. Still with the right plan that includes details like temperature controls and a transparent roof, you will be the envy of your neighborhood.

He-Sheds

He-Sheds are more traditional then their female counterpart. The toolshed’s always been a place where the man of the house can escape for a few beers and to catch the game, but the question is, is your shed living up to its fullest potential?

Ultimate Man Cave: Instead of watching the game on the old throwaway TV, invest in a nice flat-screen that you can mount on the wall. With a few comfy lounge chairs, framed retro posters and a chic fridge stocked with your favorite refreshment, you can relax in style.

Pub-Sheds:  Like the She-Sheds, Pub-Sheds are becoming all the rage overseas. Your shed will be the hot new hang-out spot for all of your friends once they realize they can chill at the bar without paying the exorbitant prices. For the interior, build shelves to store liquor bottles and necessary accouterments and decorate to your liking – English pub-style, speakeasy-esque, whatever you like. You can even up your game by putting in a few taps. Next, build double-doors and a small counter into the front-facing wall that can easily open up to reveal your “pub.” Pull up a few stools outside and, voila, drinks are served!