6 Tips for Preparing Your Home for Winter Weather in Texas

Tree in the middle of a snow covered field with mountains in the background, image for robert peters educator blog on how to prepare for winter weather in texas

When many people think of Texas, they do not think of a place that has to worry about winter weather. However, this perception is not at all correct, particularly for Northern Texas. There are plenty of issues that can arise during the winter months, especially if winter storms occur. Snow is certainly a threat, as well as freezing temperatures or inordinate amounts of rain that lead to flooding. If you’re moving to Northern Texas or are wondering how you can better protect your home, here are some tips for getting your house ready to weather the trying winter months here in Texas.

Check out your furnace system

Before the winter months begin, take time to examine your furnace system. Most people do not regularly check their furnace and assume it’ll continue optimally running for a long time. The last scenario you want is your furnace to suddenly stop working in the winter as the temperatures rapidly drop. Make sure your furnace is clean and that all connections are secure. You might have to replace certain parts, but if you maintain regular upkeep on your furnace, you’ll avoid greater costs in the future.

Clean your gutters

This step might not be intuitive, especially right before winter, but if you live in areas of Texas that get significant rainfall or even snow, it’s vitally important. Whether it’s just rain or melting snow, there’s going to be a lot of water around your home. Make sure you give it the easiest possible route off of your home and into the ground.

Make sure everything’s insulated

A startingly majority of homes in the United States are not properly insulated, so make sure yours is. In most cases, you can easily add more insulation on top of whatever you have, you just need to buy the materials and secure it in the proper areas. Once you’re done, you’ll likely see a significant decrease in your energy costs as well. During cold months, you’ll save money, be more comfortable, and avoid overexerting your heating system.

Fix any leaks

You might have a minor leak and figure it can wait a few months to get fixed, but leaks should be taken care of as soon as possible. Whether you’re just patching the leak or fixing entire sections of your roof, take care of it before heavy winter storms. What might seem like a small leak could turn into a huge problem as snow, ice, and rain put weight on your roof and occur in large amounts.

Stock up on supplies

Once rough weather occurs, there’s a high likelihood that you may be stuck in your home, possibly without electricity. Make sure you have enough food, water, and light sources to last a few days. Also, if you have pets, stock up on food for them as well. Investing in a generator is also a good idea and so is keeping extra gas on hand for your vehicles or the generator.

Avoid driving during rough weather

If the weather is particularly bad and there’s significant amounts of snow or extensive flooding, just stay off the roads. Even if you’re confident in your driving abilities, you cannot be sure that the other people on the road are safe drivers. Be smart and wait out the rough weather indoors, which shouldn’t be a problem if you stocked up on supplies.

How to Avoid Getting the Flu

Stethoscope sitting on a printed information table with a pen, image used for Robert Peters educator blog on how to avoid getting the flu in dallas

No one enjoys suffering from flu symptoms. An achy body, chills, fever, and a lack of energy can take a serious toll, and there’s no cure for it. The flu is dangerous, and it requires time and rest to overcome these symptoms. Unfortunately, the flu can sometimes be fatal. Even if it isn’t life-threatening for you specifically, you could spend a week or more out of work or school, which no one wants to have to deal with. The best way to deal with the flu is to prevent getting it in the first place, which is why you should practice the following tips to avoid the flu.

Schedule a flu vaccine

There’s a long-standing rumor that getting the flu shot makes people sick, but this is nothing more than a simple misconception. The flu shot doesn’t cause sickness; the reaction you may experience immediately following a flu shot is simply your body’s natural response to something foreign entering the body. This vaccine helps prime the body to fight flu germs prior to the germs attacking the immune system. It significantly decreases a person’s chance of falling victim to actual flu germs.

Make hand-washing a habit

Anytime someone touches a doorknob, a railing, a bathroom faucet, a countertop in public, or anything anywhere, the germs from that surface are transferred onto the hands of the person doing the touching. Those germs are then spread to anything that person touches, and they can easily make their way into a person’s mouth, nose, or throat with a single touch. It’s why hand-washing should become an important habit. Personal hygiene should be particularly important during a strong flu season.

Improve the immune system

People with a compromised immune system are far more likely to catch germs because their immune system is unable to appropriately fight germs. However, that’s also a problem for people who consider themselves healthy. People who don’t exercise, eat well, manage their stress, or even sleep enough are more likely to be diagnosed with the flu.

The best way to avoid the flu is to make the immune system as strong as possible, and this is done by helping the body stay strong. Exercise and healthy food help the body stay strong, and sleeping well allows the body to rest and grow stronger. You need to take care of yourself as much as possible in order to keep your immune system strong against the flu.

The flu is dangerous, and it can affect everyone in a household before even one person realizes it’s present. It can be incredibly harmful to very young children and the elderly. There’s no flu cure, which is why everyone should practice healthy habits, get a flu shot, and keep their bodies strong and able. A weak body is susceptible to illness not just limited to the flu, and no one likes being sick, especially when it’s preventable.

6 Ways to Get More Involved in Your Local Community

Dozens of people sitting in the grass on a hillside with trees in the distance and the sun setting

No matter where you live, there’s some kind of community life in your neighborhood. Whether you live in an urban or rural setting, getting community members involved in groups and connecting with one another benefits everyone living in the area. If you’re involved in your community, you’ll know what’s going on and be aware of any issues or events. You get to know other people living around you and can make lifelong friendships. Living in a city like Dallas means there are lots of organizations to join and participate in community life, but sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start. Here’s how you can get involved with your local community and start to make a difference.

Check out local websites

One of the simplest ways to find out how to get involved in your local community is by checking local websites. Most towns have their own websites that features a calendar and announces events or meetings. You can also try browsing Facebook for local groups and join those that seem interesting. Do not feel shy about messaging the admin of the group to see how you can help out.

Talk to your neighbors

It’s likely that at least one of the people living near you is involved in the community in some way. Go ahead and ask your friends and acquaintances if they know about any events or organizations in the community that need help or new members. If you find an organization, invite your friends to get involved with you.

Watch poster boards

When you’re paying a visit to your local bank or another business, pay attention to flyers and notices posted. Volunteer opportunities are often advertised throughout the neighborhood along with open positions in groups. Regular community events are also a great way to meet people who are involved in the neighborhood; the more people you get to know, the better you can get involved in the community.

Join a religious organization

Some of the most active community organizations are houses of worship. If you follow any kind of organized religion that’s represented in your area, go ahead and begin attending events. Offer to help out with dinners or philanthropic events. Most religious organizations are happy for the help and focus more on serving the community during these events than knowing what your personal beliefs are.

Find volunteer opportunities

You can simply look up philanthropic organizations in your area and volunteer your time there. Most cities and towns have donations centers, thrift stores, homeless shelters, or animal shelters. No matter where you live, it should be relatively easy to find a way to give back to the community.

Start your own group

If you really can’t find something in your community, or at least something that fits you, go ahead and start your own group. Get some neighbors and friends together and start focusing on finding a solution to a local issue or undertake a service project. You can certainly take the initiative yourself and make a difference.

Dallas, TX During the Holiday Season

Christmas tree outline in lights, image used for Robert Peters educator blog on the holiday season in Dallas, Texas

Like any city, Dallas has a wide array of events occurring during the holiday season. We love celebrating Christmas in Dallas and you’ll see this fact is true. Although it’s extremely unlikely there will be snow, you can still make the most of the holidays in the city. You have the chance to attend great events and see beautiful decorations. Dallas goes all out for the holidays and makes it a memorable time each year. If you’re in Dallas over the holidays, here are some events you should make it a point to try to check out!

Dallas Arboretum

Always a great place to visit, the Dallas Arboretum goes all out for Christmas. The Arboretum features the 12 Days of Christmas, an exhibit of twelve gazebos that are decorated for the holidays with gorgeous decorations that create elaborate scenes. You can also visit the DeGolyer House to see their display of over 800 nutcrackers. Besides these two main events, the Arboretum is decorated with half a million lights, features musical performances, a Christmas market, and reindeer.

Christmas in the Square

Now through the end of December, you can visit Frisco’s Square for endless Christmas activities. There’s an ice rink, food, sleigh rides, and plenty of live entertainment. The square even has man-made snow on Friday and Saturday nights! You’ll also see the incredible Christmas lights choreographed to music.

Grapevine, TX

Though this isn’t exactly in Dallas because Grapevine is a Dallas suburb, it certainly needs to be included on this list. Grapevine is known as “the Christmas Capital of Texas” and for good reason. The entire downtown transforms a month ahead of Christmas, featuring decorations and events all month long. Anything holiday related you could possibly think of, you’ll find in Grapevine.

Dallas by Chocolate tours

If you want to see the Christmas lights in neighborhoods around Dallas, these tours are the way to do it. Each tour takes a few hours, featuring private transportation to see the best lights in the city, all while offering participants chocolate and hot cocoa samples. You even get your own tour guide who takes you from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Lone Star Park

The park is being being transformed into a gorgeous winter wonderland this year. You’ll be able to attend a huge carnival, see Santa, watch acrobatic performances, and try incredible food. This wonderland is part of the lantern festival annually held in Houston, so make sure to visit the over-sized Chinese lantern displays.

Prairie Lights

Another Dallas suburb, Grand Prairie, offers beautiful Christmas lights that are worth visiting. There are over four million lights you can drive through and see. You can even stop in a small Christmas village with Santa, get hot chocolate, and walk through a forest filled with Christmas lights. Finally, as you finish your drive, you’ll pass through the world’s largest animated light tunnel.

Iconic Texas Foods

Some say that everything is bigger in Texas while others go the extra mile and say that everything is simply better in Texas. Everyone might not agree with those first two statements, but something people from all over can agree upon is that Texas has fantastic food. The following are some of the most iconic foods to come out of the state and are certainly worth trying if you ever get a chance to visit.

The Texan BBQ

There is no doubt that BBQ can be done all over the world, but Texas is known for their touch. For some reason, a person can tell the difference between barbecues and some are just plain better than others. Maybe Texas’s secret has to do with the slow-smoking process the meat goes through, or maybe it has to do with the marinade. Whatever it may be, something makes the BBQ in Texas one of a kind.

The Chili

Many know Texas for the chili. The deliciousness and the simplicity of the dish cannot be duplicated anywhere else. One of the key differences between this chili and others is that not one bean will be found, which is quite unusual because many people think of beans as a staple in chili.

Chicken Fried Steak

Everything tastes better fried, and that is something that Texans took to heart since the state is also known for chicken fried steak. The gravy is just the cherry on top, and it definitely makes the meal complete. This dish is one you do not want to miss.

The Queso

There is no doubt that the Latin culture has fused into the Texas culture in a few ways. One of the most beloved ways is how it has transformed food in the state. Queso is just melted cheese and some chili peppers added to the top of some Mexican food along with chips. Though that might sound simple, it takes real skill to make quality queso.

Pop over All

This may not sound great to health enthusiasts, but a good Texan will likely choose a Dr. Pepper before they reach for any other beverage. In fact, most Texans will likely push a bottle of water away if its standing in the way of a Dr. Pepper, which can be found throughout the state.

Pies in Texas

Every state has a sweet that they are known for, and Texas is no different. This state is known for pecan pies. It would be hard to find a good Texan home without pecan pies at least a few times each year. This is especially true during the holidays though pecan pies go well with any season.

These are just some of the foods that Texas is known for though there are others like the infamous Texas fair foods where almost all foods are deep fried, including Twinkies. At the end of the day, these types of foods may be duplicated elsewhere, but they can only be truly made in Texas.

How to Help Those Affected by Hurricane Harvey

Aerial shot of the eye of a storm, a large, swirling, white cloud, image used for Robert Peters blog about how to help those affected by hurricane harvey

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, it led to widespread destruction and quite a few deaths. It was a disaster on a scale that Texas hasn’t ever seen before. Flooding occurred in the city and in many miles of the surrounding area, leading to numerous people evacuating and having to be rescued by emergency professionals. Though Dallas wasn’t buffeted like Houston, the entire state feels the repercussions of the hurricane and wants to find some way to help out, much like the rest of the country. Here are some ways to help those affected by Harvey and continue the process of healing for Texans.

Volunteer your time

Immediately after a hurricane, there’s often a need for trained professionals who have skills that can benefit local groups trying to help the community. Any help is good help, but make sure you find somewhere that actually needs volunteers and you fit the necessary qualifications before heading to Houston to help. Volunteers are vitally important, but immediately following a disaster, the people that are needed the most are those with experience to handle emergency and disaster situations.

Like many of us saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding efforts take years. If you aren’t qualified or do not have the opportunity to provide assistance shortly after Harvey, there will be plenty more opportunities to volunteer your time and help out the community. Groups will be working on rebuilding the city for a long amount of time, so plan ahead and find a time to offer help to make sure those devastated by the hurricane are not forgotten.

Donate to a great charity

If you decide to donate money, you want to make sure it’s to a reputable charity. Utilize Charity Navigator to research the legitimacy of a charity before sending them money; you want your donation to actually be used to help Harvey victims. If you choose to donate to an individual, make sure you do your research first to determine whether or not it’s a legitimate person in need. After a natural disaster, monetary donations usually do the most good because unskilled volunteers can make the situation more difficult to manage and too many unnecessary items leads to waste.

Donate goods

I know I just mentioned that donating goods after a natural disaster can lead to waste, but there are some items that are actually needed. Before simply sending items you think are needed, do your research and find a charity that’s specifically asking for different items. Then, buy those items. The goods most commonly needed are food, clean water, pet supplies, and medical supplies.

Raise awareness

If you’re unable to donate your time or money, simply raising awareness can be hugely beneficial to those in need. Share articles with up-to-date information and suggestions for where to donate. The more people that are aware of the channels to make donations through and how to help out, the better.

Brief History of Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas

Dallas, Texas is a place filled with rich history and has cultivated many great people and moments throughout its existence and continues to be a solid breeding ground for excellence. However, many people outside of its residents do not know much about its humble beginnings so let’s take a look at a brief history of the city nicknamed “The Big D.”

Currently located on the Trinity River right in the center of Dallas County in North Central Texas, it was founded by John Neely Bryan in 1839 in what was originally known as the Three Forks area. Bryan, at the time, was actually on a mission to establish a trading post for Indians and settlers. He quickly recognized the advantages of locating this area as it was the easiest river crossing location and also was placed on what would soon be established as the Preston Trail. Dallas County formed in 1846 and Dallas was assigned as a temporary county seat. It became a permanent county seat through a vote in 1850 over Hord’s Ridge and Cedar Springs. Then in 1856, it was granted its official town charter by the Texas legislature and Dr. Samuel Pryor became its first mayor.

Dallas, during its early stages, was a major service center for the rural areas around with its many amenities such a dry goods store, groceries, a drug store, insurance agency, boot and shoe shop, brickyards and saddle shops. It also had its weekly newspaper known as the Dallas Herald. Businessmen in Dallas were aware that the key to economic expansion came through transportation in and out of the region. So when attempts to navigate the Trinity River, they then focused on securing rail service and was able to attract the Houston and Texas Central in 1872 and the Texas and Pacific in 1873. These acquisitions made Dallas one of the first rail crossroads in Texas. With cotton being the region’s premier cash crop, Dallas found itself in an ideal locational position as Elm Street became the market for cotton.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Dallas had a population of 42,638 saw itself as the leading book, drug, jewelry, and wholesale liquor market in the Southwest. It was also the world’s leading inland cotton market while remaining number one in the world in the manufacture of saddlery and cotton-gin machinery. By 1950 the population grew to 434,462, and during that period, it became the nation’s third-largest technology center due to the growth of companies like Ling-Tempco-Vaught (LTV) and Texas Instruments. During the 1960s’ however, Dallas experienced its most tragic event in the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, as he was riding through Dealey Plaza. This was only a mere yards from where John Neely Bryan first settled in the city in 1841. Debates swirled as to how they should commemorate the event for about twenty-five years until the Sixth Floor museum opened in the former Texas School Book Depository. Then in 1993, Dealey Plaza was recognized as a National Historic Landmark District and became Dallas’ second after Fair Park.

Currently, Dallas serves a population of over one million and is a hub of transportation for the western US with its two commercial airports, Dallas Love Field and the Dallas Ft-Worth International airport which is the second largest airport in the country.

Best Historic Sites in Texas

The Alamo at night, lit up, image used for Robert Peters blog about historic sites in Texas

Texas is a huge state that’s home to many incredible historic landmarks. This state has a rich history that’s gone on for centuries, even before it was known as “Texas.” Some people think of Texas as merely desert, but that’s far from the truth. The state has endless amounts of natural beauty, often right next to historic sites that helped decide the future of the Texan people and influenced the country as a whole. While there are many more historic sites to see than these few, these places are definitely some you should check out when you visit Texas.

The Alamo

First on this list because it’s likely the best known, the Alamo is a common name when discussing American history, even though not everyone may know exactly what happened here. “Remember the Alamo!” is an oft repeated phrase, referencing the historic, and horrific, battle that took place at this site. The Alamo was a fight between less than 200 American soldiers fighting for autonomy for Texas from Mexico. Though the soldiers were greatly outnumbered, they displayed extreme bravery and included notable historic figures, such as Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. A 13 day siege occurred during the Texas Revolution of 1836 and remains etched in the minds of Texans.

Point Isabel Lighthouse

Not many people would think of Texas as a place to see lighthouses, but the Point Isabel Lighthouse is stunning. Port Isabel is one of the oldest towns in Texas and was used to direct sailors into the 1900s. Now, the lighthouse and area around it are part of the extensive Texas State Park system.

Texas State Capitol

Located in Austin and built in 1888, the Texas State Capitol is now recognized as a national landmark. People can visit the Capitol on a daily basis and see beautiful architecture while also getting an inside look at the Texan government.

San Antonio Missions

In San Antonio, you can visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. In this park are Missions San Jose, San Juan, Espada, and Concepcion which were built during the 17th-19th centuries. The Alamo is actually the oldest of the San Antonio missions, but has achieved fame for the battle fought there. Visiting these missions will let you learn a lot about Spanish and Indian history, in addition to that of Texas.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

The Texas School Book Depository is the site that Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Oswald shot JFK from the sixth floor on November 22, 1963. Now, visitors can tour the building, which has been converted into a museum dedicated to JFK’s life and presidency.

San Jacinto Battlefield

For Texans, this site is one of the most popular in the entire state. The San Jacinto Battlefield is the location where Texas officially gained its independence. There is now the San Jacinto Monument and Museum on the site of the battlefield that visitors can see and learn more about the battle and Texan history.

8 Famous People from Dallas, Texas

dallas skyline at night

Besides being home to incredible sites and food, Dallas is also home to many famous people. Various well-known actors, singers, athletes, and philanthropists have come from Dallas, which makes us proud to call it our home. It’s also likely that you may see some of these people while walking around the city. While you may want to ask them for an autograph or picture, just don’t bother them too much!

Jensen Ackles

Jensen Ackles is best known for his role in the television series, Supernatural. This series has been running for around twelve years and shows no signs of slowing down. Ackles has been on the show since its beginnings. He loves Texas and still lives in the state.


Usher is a musician from Dallas, Texas who has led an illustrious career from a young age. He’s received various rewards for his music and often appears on the Billboard Top 100 charts. Besides being a musician, Usher has also acted and participates in various other ventures.

George W. Bush

The 43rd president of the United States, George W. Bush also served as the governor of Texas for five years before being elected president. Bush comes from a family that has lived in Texas for many years and remains here today. You can even visit his presidential library in Dallas.

Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez is a singer and actress from Dallas. She became famous after her role in Wizards of Waverly Place on Disney Channel. Since then, she’s acted in various television shows and movies and even has her own production company. She also has a singing career and has released multiple albums.

Ernie Banks

Ernie Banks was a famous baseball player for the Chicago Cubs. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Many consider Banks one of the best baseball players ever. He also played baseball during the time when teams were still segregated. He was voted baseball’s MVP two years and was a National League All-Star for 11 seasons. Unfortunately, Banks passed away in 2015 after his incredible career.

Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is the wife of Bill Gates and has made her mark as an incredible philanthropist. Gates was valedictorian when she graduated high school and went on to earn degrees from Duke University in economics and computer science. She began working at Microsoft and witnessed the company’s success. Now, Gates works as a prominent philanthropist with her organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works toward providing healthcare and education around the world.

Robin Wright

Robin Wright is currently best known for her role as Claire Underwood in House of Cards. However, she’s also starred in: The Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, and Wonder Woman, along with many other movies. Wright is involved with various philanthropic pursuits focusing mainly on human rights.

LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge is a professional basketball player who initially played basketball at the University of Texas and now plays for the San Antonio Spurs. He has been selected as an NBA-All Star five times.

How to Get Involved with a New Community

sunset view of a city, image used for robert peters educator blog on how to get involved with a new community

Moving to a new community is a major step in anyone’s life, especially if you don’t know anyone there outside of your immediate family (or anyone else at all). No matter why you’re moving, whether for a job, for pleasure, or some other reason, it’ll be a huge adjustment. While it may seem difficult to branch out and get to know people in the community, it’s important to do so if you want to be happy in your new home. The best way to get to know other people and learn more about your community is by getting involved with events that take place there.

Volunteer somewhere

Every community is bound to have a group of philanthropies you can get involved with. Find a cause you care about and join the local group. You do not have to donate hours and hours each week; attending a couple of events and helping out or volunteering once a month gives you the opportunity to meet people and make a genuine difference in the community.

Start a new hobby

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try, such as cooking, writing, or a certain kind of craft, start pursuing that interest now. You’ll be able to find other people in your community who are also interested in that hobby and you can start a club that meets regularly to work on their skills. Maybe there’s already an existing club in your area that you can join. Check the local library or community centers to find advertisements for these meetings. It’s a great opportunity to do something you’re interested in while also getting to know your neighbors.

Attend local events

By attending local events, you’re showing your support for the community and you’ll also get a better feel about the culture of your new community. Local events provide you with something to do and they’re often free or low-cost. You can meet people at these events and easily start a conversation! Whether it’s a fundraiser for a local charity, an event at the school, or a community-wide block party, attending local events is a fantastic way to get involved with your neighborhood.

Explore the neighborhood

If no events are currently happening, just take time to explore your new community. Take a walk one day and head to a local park or street where a lot of businesses are located. Take time to read flyers and check up on local news. The more familiar you are with where buildings and landmarks are situated in your town, the more at home you’ll feel.

Patronize local businesses

If you’re looking for somewhere to get food or need to buy groceries, consider patronizing local businesses. It provides a great opportunity to get to know the local business owners and also gives you a feel for what the neighborhood is like. You’ll see people who live around you and can also help the local businesses continue operating, which always makes for a healthier and happier community.