Category: Seasonal

Fall Lawn Care Tips

Spring and summer may be the seasons most often associated with landscaping and lawn care, but tending to lawns and gardens is a year-round job.

If lawn and garden responsibilities dip considerably in winter, then fall is the last significant chance before the new year that homeowners will have to address the landscaping around their homes. Fall lawn care differs from spring and summer lawn care, even if the warm temperatures of summer linger into autumn.

Homeowners who want their lawns to thrive year-round can take advantage of the welcoming weather of fall to address any existing or potential issues.

Keep mowing

BUT adjust how you mow. It’s important that homeowners continue to mow their lawns so long as grass is growing. But as fall transitions into winter, lower the blades so the grass is cut shorter while remaining mindful that no blade of grass should ever be trimmed by more than one-third. Lowering the blades will allow more sunlight to reach the grass in the months ahead.

Remove leaves as they fall

Much like apple-picking and foliage, raking leaves is synonymous with fall. Some homeowners may wait to pick up a rake until all of the trees on their properties are bare.

However, allowing fallen leaves to sit on the ground for extended periods of time can have an adverse effect on grass. Leaves left to sit on the lawn may ultimately suffocate the grass by forming an impenetrable wall that deprives the lawn of sunlight and oxygen.

The result is dead grass and possibly even fungal disease. Leaves may not need to be raked every day, but homeowners should periodically rake and remove leaves from their grass, even if there are plenty left to fall still hanging on the trees.

Repair bald spots

Summer exacts a toll on lawns in various ways, and even homeowners with green thumbs may end up with a lawn filled with bald spots come September. Autumn is a great time to repair these bald spots. Lawn repair mixes like Scotts® PatchMaster contain mulch, seed and fertilizer to repair bald spots, which can begin to recover in as little as seven days.

Before applying such products, remove dead grass and loosen the top few inches of soil. Follow any additional manufacturer instructions as well.

Aerate the turf

Aerating reduces soil compacting, facilitating the delivery of fertilizer and water to a lawn’s roots. While many homeowners, and particularly those who take pride in tending to their own lawns, can successfully aerate their own turf, it’s best to first have soil tested so you know which amendments to add after the ground has been aerated. Gardening centers and home improvement stores sell soil testing kits that measure the pH of soil, but homeowners who want to test for nutrients or heavy metals in their soil may need to send their samples to a lab for further testing.

Fall lawn care provides a great reason to spend some time in the yard before the arrival of winter.

Revive Summer-Ravaged Skin, Hair and Feet

Summer is typically full of fun, vacations and relaxation, but while the sun and surf may be refreshing for the mind, sometimes the body pays a price for all of those days spent soaking up some rays. But summer can be harsh on skin, feet, hair, and more. As the warm days wind down, practice some post-summer beauty tips to revive your skin, hair and feet.

Hair

Weeks spent diving through the waves or plunging into a backyard pool is excellent exercise and a great way to cool off on hot days. However, saltwater and chemical-laden pool water can turn tresses into a mess. One pitfall that plagues people who swim regularly is a green tinge that appears in the hair, which is most noticeable on people who have blond hair. Some people blame the chlorine in the water for the green tint, but the real culprit is copper, a common element found in commercial algicides.

The solution is to find a shampoo that chelates the metal. Speak with a salon professional or a supplier of salon products to find the right shampoo for you. It’s sometimes possible to prevent future green highlights by sealing the hair cuticle with a conditioner before swimming, and then thoroughly rinsing hair after exiting the pool.

Swimmer’s hair is another summertime phenomenon. Constant exposure to water and sunlight can leave the hair’s cuticles exposed and susceptible to damage. Leave-in conditioners may help counteract some of that damage. If that doesn’t work, speak to a stylist about what can be done to get hair looking healthy once again. He or she may suggest a fresh cut, new hair color and deep-conditioning treatments.

Skin

Many people now know of the damage ultraviolet rays can do to unprotected skin. In spite of that widely held knowledge, skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the United States, where the Skin Cancer Foundation says more than 3.5 million skin cancers are detected annually. The best protection against skin cancer and skin damage from the sun is to use sunscreen and remain in the shade as much as possible. However, sometimes sunburns and blotchy suntans prevail.

Moisturize the skin with a penetrating product as a first recovery step. Aloe is an item found in many healing skin balms and lotions.

Although it can be tempting to tear off portions of peeling, sunburned skin, the peeling is actually a natural part of the healing process and should not be disturbed. The dead skin acts as a protective layer while fragile, tender new skin grows underneath. Use a mild soap and lukewarm water when showering. Moisturizer can keep the damaged skin moist and make peeling less noticeable. Some have found that spraying the skin with a solution made of vinegar and water can reduce the itching associated with peeling skin.

If any part of the skin does not heal or looks strange, visit a dermatologist.

Feet

Walking barefoot or in flip flops or sandals is common during summer. But flimsy sandals offer little protection against the sun as well as any dangers on the ground. Once summer is over, many people find their feet have paid the price, with calluses, blisters and dried-out skin.

Find a spa or nail salon that provides paraffin wax treatments. These treatments use warm, oil-based wax to provide pain relief and skin-softening benefits. The heat in the wax increases circulation and relieves pain and stiffness. Paraffin works by increasing blood supply to the skin while also opening pores and trapping moisture from underlying layers of skin.

Pedicure treatments also can provide some relief for your feet. Soaking and massaging the feet and addressing any calluses can help feet recover. Think about also applying a deep moisturizer to the feet and then covering them with cotton socks, which can be left on while you sleep, and you may discover the following morning that you have woken up with softer, smoother soles.

Summer is a fun time of year, but one that takes its toll on the human body.

A few simple tips can recharge the body and have a person looking refreshed and revitalized.

Cut Blooms That Will Last the Longest

Flowers may look beautiful in gardens and even when snipped and brought inside to brighten up a mantel or dining table. Unfortunately, cut flowers have a finite shelf life. While cut blooms can’t live forever, certain varieties will outlast others. Choosing flowers wisely for wedding centerpieces or keepsakes can help couples enjoy selected flowers longer.

• Peonies: Peonies can last for about a week or two when brought indoors. HGTV says to snip the stems when the buds are tight, wrap them in newspaper and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to arrange.

• Zinnias: These bright blooms can last for three to four weeks and are best harvested in summer. Related to the sunflower, zinnias are available in a wide range of colors.

• Chrysanthemums: Widely referred to as “mums,” these midsummer to late-fall flowers can last between three and four weeks after being cut. Mums can be used to fill out floral displays because they tend to be inexpensive but durable flowers.

• Coneflower: The purple coneflower is popular, but coneflowers are available in many colors aside from purple. Coneflowers attract butterflies and are beautiful in cut displays.

• Ranunculus: Ranunculus mimic the look of roses and display layer after layer of silky, crepe-like petals. These blooms can last a week or more in vases if they’re put in water right after being cut.

• Carnations: Another budget-friendly flower, carnations are popular from early spring until late summer. Available in many hues, they can be used in conjunction with other blooms to create well-rounded floral displays that may last between two and three weeks.

• Lilies: Lilies are traditional flowers that are beautiful to behold. Lilies are available in various sizes and colors and can be bought fresh year-round. Lilies often last longer than a week after being cut. Look for lilies with tight buds, as such flowers tend to last the longest.

• Gladioli: The lovely flowers of the vertical-growing gladiolus, which is sometimes referred to as the “sword lily,” are available in yellow, peach, pink, white, and other hues. These bulb-based plants can last up to two weeks after being cut and add variety and texture to floral displays.

Although advice varies on how to keep cut flowers fresh the longest, veteran florist Nic Faitos, senior partner at Starbright Floral Design in New York, who has provided his floral expertise for Reader’s Digest, says the best approach is to keep vase water clean. In addition, ProFlowers suggests keeping cut blooms in a cool room away from direct sunlight and heat.

Potential Hazards In and Out of the Water

In warm weather, many people seek cooling relief in ponds, rivers, oceans, pools, and other sources of water. Swimming is a popular warm-weather activity, but it can quickly turn deadly if swimmers are not careful in the water.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that, between the years of 2005 and 2014, an average of 10 deaths per day in the United States were attributed to unintentional drownings unrelated to boating. About one in five people who die from drowning are children age 14 and younger.

The World Health Organizations says drowning is the third-leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Drowning is a concern when in the water, but it’s not the only potential hazard.

Harmful Algae Blooms

Algae are plant-like species that are found all over the planet. Algae inhabit different bodies of water and can be important food sources for marine life. The CDC notes that, in certain circumstances, an overgrowth of algae may overpower water sources. Not all algae are harmful, but some blooms will produce toxins that can be dangerous to people and animals. Such algae may lower levels of oxygen in the water, killing plants and animals. Individuals are urged to avoid areas with harmful algae blooms and restrict fishing for food consumption during times of blooms.

Shorebreak

The National Ocean Services says a shorebreak is an ocean condition in which waves break directly on the shore. The power of these waves can cause injuries to the body, potentially hurting the spines of people who dive headfirst into the break. Others may be knocked over by waves and suffer injuries as a result. Swimmers should observe waves and ask a lifeguard about conditions before going into the water.

Jellyfish

Sharks elicit fear among many ocean swimmers, but smaller animals can be dangerous as well. Most jellyfish can sting, but not all have venom that hurts humans, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Around 70 species of jellies can harm or occasionally kill people. Ocean swimmers should take note of jellyfish postings at the beach and examine the sand as well. Wet tentacles can still sting, even on washed-up jellyfish.

Unsupervised Activity

It’s essential that swimmers exercise caution around any body of water. Because water can be unpredictable, it’s always best to swim with a friend and stick to areas protected by lifeguards. The Red Cross suggests preventing unsupervised access to water structures and maintain constant supervision whenever kids are around the water — even if lifeguards are present. Adults should avoid distractions and alcohol when supervising kids. Summer is a season to enjoy the water. Awareness, preparation and supervision can keep water-lovers safe.

Cool Summer Entertaining Tips to Keep Guests Happy

(StatePoint) Hosting friends and family for backyard barbecues, picnics and garden parties during summer carries its own challenges. Here are a few tips guaranteed to keep your guests cool, comfortable and happy when you entertain.

Create Shade

Entertaining outdoors? Remember, not all guests are going to want direct sunlight for too long. Take into consideration the sun’s position in the sky during the hours you will be hosting, ensuring your seating offers guests the option to sit in the shade. Create DIY shades by hanging curtains or fabric around or above your party location.

Protect Guests

Protect your guests from getting bitten and burned in your garden or yard. Be sure the space is clear of standing water in advance of the party. Also, create a small station with bug spray and sunscreen (kids’ varieties, too, if you’re hosting families). Keep it away from the areas where the food and drinks are being served. Consider adding citronella candles or tiki posts as an additional strategy for warding off mosquitoes and other insects.

Be Creative with Cold Drinks

Nothing is more evocative of summer than a cold glass of iced tea. Indeed, Iced Tea Month, celebrated in June, is a great time to create an iced tea bar that includes several varieties to suit your guests’ different tastes. Serve varieties like sweet tea, no calorie tea, tea mixed with lemonade, and peach tea. Label each clearly with small chalk boards or calligraphy name cards. Offer guests ready to drink teas made with high-quality, fresh, natural ingredients, such as Milo’s. They fresh brew all of their teas and do not add any extra “stuff” like colors, acids or preservatives.

A handy trick to keep beverages undiluted and impress your guests as things heat up? Create ice cubes out of Milo’s Tea in advance, then use those to cool down drinks. For recipe ideas, visit drinkmilos.com.

Serve Cool Snacks

You may have the grill going, but you can keep things otherwise cool and light with snacks and sides like crudité, dips, pasta salad, fresh fruit skewers and cold finger foods, like tea sandwiches.

Play Games

Take full advantage of your yard this outdoor entertaining season with a few simple, fun lawn games like cornhole, horseshoes and ladder toss. Want to make things more interesting? Create an elimination bracket and tournament for each game.

From refreshing drinks to fun and games, you can make the most of the summer with a few cool strategies.

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PHOTO SOURCE: (c) Jennifer Hagler

The Benefits of Hiring Local Wedding Vendors

Local vendors are often a go-to choice when couples are planning their wedding ceremonies and receptions. As the “shop local” movement grows in popularity, weddings present a prime opportunity to embrace this movement. Couples may have different ideas regarding where to tie the knot, but local vendors can be hired regardless of geography. Brides magazine says the biggest factor influencing wedding location is the size of the guest list and the number of people who wouldn’t be able to attend if the wedding was in a particular locale. Hometowns might be the traditional choice regarding wedding location, but the XO Group says one in four couples now host destination weddings. Once couples choose a town or city to host their weddings, they can begin exploring the benefits of working with locally-based vendors.

Familiarity

Local vendors will be familiar with the area and possibly even the location where the wedding will be held. That can help couples avoid having to give directions, discuss venue protocols, and handle other tasks that must be worked out with non-local vendors. For example, local photographers familiar with a particular venue will know all of the best places to get shots, and some vendors may have preexisting relationships with venue representatives that could ensure wedding day operations go smoothly.

Proximity

Local vendors can meet with brides and grooms more readily throughout the planning process, making things less stressful on the happy couple. This also makes it easier to drop off deposits, attend meetings, make fitting appointments, or attend styling sessions.

Savings

Couples who travel for their weddings and employ local vendors will not have to pack as much. Using local vendors eliminates the need to bring along bulky dresses, decorative items, flowers, and much more. Plus, couples needn’t pay to transport and house vendors brought along from back home.

Environment

Individuals who take great strides to conserve resources by reducing their energy consumption and protecting the environment often find that shopping local is beneficial. Local vendors are more likely to source their materials from other local businesses, reducing their carbon footprints along the way. For example, local caterers may rely on local farmers for their foods, affording couples the chance to host eco-friendly or even farm-to-table weddings.

Flu-Fighting Tips to Keep You Healthy

Sniffles, sore throat, fever, and aches and pains may accompany a number of illnesses, but during the wintertime such symptoms are typically indicative of influenza. Throughout much of North America, flu season peaks between December and February. But flu season can occur anywhere from October to March, advises the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu is contagious and can sideline people for extended periods of time. The CDC says that each year one in five Americans gets the flu. Taking steps to fend off the flu can help men and women and the people they routinely come in contact with.

Foods

Food can be used to fend of the flu. Common foods that many people already have in their pantries can be powerful flu-fighters. Garlic, for example, contains compounds that have direct antiviral effects and may help destroy the flu before it affects the body. Raw garlic is best. In addition to garlic, citrus fruits, ginger, yogurt, and dark leafy greens can boost immunity and fight the flu, according to Mother Nature’s Network. The British Journal of Nutrition notes that dark chocolate supports T-helper cells, which increase the immune system’s ability to defend against infection. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics showed that carnosine, a compound found in chicken soup, can help strengthen the body’s immune system and help fight off the flu in its early stages.

Flu shot and medications

Annual flu shots administered in advance of flu season can help protect people and their families from getting the flu. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that, in select situations, antiviral medications — which are usually prescribed to treat the flu and lessen symptoms — can reduce the chance of illness in people exposed to influenza. Many over-the-counter medicines can alleviate symptoms of the flu, but cannot fend it off.

Stop germ proliferation

Germs can be spread easily between persons through direct contact and indirect contact with surfaces sick individuals have touched. Doctors recommend staying home for at least 24 hours after a flu-induced fever has dissipated. Well individuals should avoid contact with sick people. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water can stop germs from spreading. When soap and water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help. People also should avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths after being in public places or around someone who is ill.

Rest and restore

Those who feel symptoms coming on should begin drinking more liquids to keep the respiratory system hydrated and make mucus less viscous. Remember to get adequate sleep, as a tired body cannot effectively fight the flu virus.

People of all ages should take steps to protect themselves from the flu.
 
Healthcare Receivable Chambersburg Hospital

Prepare Your Vehicles For Harsh Weather

As the seasons change, motorists must take steps to safeguard their vehicles, especially when the season changes from fall to winter. Each winter, many vehicles are subjected to sub-zero temperatures, snowfall and icy roads, and such conditions can take their toll on vehicles over time. Taking steps to prepare vehicles for winter weather is a vital step that can make cars and trucks safer for drivers and their passengers.

Battery

Old batteries should be replaced before winter begins. Without a strong, properly functioning battery, engines cannot turn over. Most batteries last between three and five years. However, extreme cold can compromise batteries, especially those that have been around awhile. Batteries are made up of acid and water, and cold temperatures can freeze the water, thereby affecting battery performance. According to AAA’s Automotive Research Center, at 32 F, the average battery loses 35 percent of its strength. Newer batteries can be protected by starting the vehicle each day to warm up and recharge the battery. Let the car run for at least 10 minutes if you cannot take an extended drive.

Exterior Maintenance

Keeping a car waxed and sealed can help maintain a durable exterior finish. This includes not only the paint, but the rubber and vinyl parts of the car’s exterior. Winter is a good time to switch to a heavy-duty synthetic wax that can shield against water and road salts. High-quality sealants can be used on bumpers, trim and rubber door seals as added protection. Speak with an automotive retailer or even the car dealership if you are unsure which products will make your car’s parts most durable for winter weather. Do not stop washing your car just because the weather is cold. Slushy, wet roads and snow-melting salts can speed up the formation of rust or other decay on the undercarriage of the vehicle. These materials will need to be periodically cleaned off. Flush the underside of the vehicle whenever possible, taking advantage of any dry, slightly warmer days.

Tire Pressure

According to the automotive retailer Pep Boys, vehicle tires lose a pound of air pressure for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Many modern cars will alert to changes in air pressure, and drivers should be diligent in maintaining the proper tire pressure. Fuel economy as well as handling ability can decline when tires are not inflated properly. Tires can be refilled at many gas stations for little cost.

Wipers

Visibility is key in hazardous weather conditions, and keeping the windshield clean is a priority. This means ensuring there is enough windshield wiper fluid in the car and that it is a product that will not freeze. Wiper blades can freeze and crack in the winter. Older blades may be more susceptible to damage. It’s a worthy investment to replace existing wiper blades at the start of each winter. When vehicles are parked, pull the wipers off of the windshield to safeguard them from sticking and cracking.

Cold weather requires drivers to amp up their vehicle maintenance routines. Consult with a mechanic or automotive retailer for more ideas and products that can help your vehicles operate safely and efficiently this winter.

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Be Prepared for Unexpected Company

The latter part of the year is full of social engagements with family and friends. Pew Research Center says 92 percent of all Americans plan to celebrate Christmas as a holiday, with 69 percent using it as an opportunity to spend time with family and friends.

While many social occasions surrounding Christmas are anticipated for months in advance, unexpected pop-ins are also the norm this time of year. Rather than being caught off guard, individuals can take steps to prepare for unexpected guests.

· Have food available. Even if guests pop in for a little while, it’s nice to be able to offer them something to eat. Keep cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, pretzels, and other snacks on hand. Make-ahead, crowd-friendly foods can be prepared and frozen. Casseroles, pasta dishes and stews are hearty and can serve in a pinch when unexpected visitors arrive. Simply take out to defrost and heat up. Keep cookies in air-tight tins and purchase a premade frozen pie to serve, if necessary. In a pinch, you can always order out, but over time the cost of having food delivered can add up.

· Keep the bar stocked. Toasting to a happy holiday season is the norm during this time of year. Toasting requires hosts have some spirits on hand. Stock the bar with a few staples, such as red and white wine, vodka, rum, whiskey, and mixers. Also, you may just want to create a signature or seasonal cocktail that can be served when guests arrive, such as a spiced punch or a holiday eggnog.

· Cue the playlist. Put together a playlist of favorite holiday music that will provide the ideal ambiance should guests ring your doorbell. Thanks to services like Spotify, Amazon Music and Pandora, holiday music that fills a home with the sweet sounds of the season is now always accessible.

· Keep things neat. Set aside a closet or space that can serve as a catch-all where errant items can quickly be stored should guests arrive. Gather loose toys, books or stray papers in a basket and then stash the basket in the closet until guests depart. Routinely empty the dishwasher so dirty dishes left in the sink can be quickly loaded before guests arrive.

· Create an aromatic atmosphere. Scented candles that evoke the aromas of the season can refresh stale indoor air. Butter cookie-, apple pie- and cinnamon-scented candles can make it seem like you just finished some holiday baking.

Guests tend to drop by on a moment’s notice come the holidays. Preparing for the unexpected can make such visits more enjoyable.

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Holiday Gift-Wrapping Tips and Tricks

After all the holiday presents have been purchased, the task of wrapping can begin. Although some people find wrapping is relaxing and provides a chance to embrace one’s artistic flair, many others find wrapping gift after gift becomes tedious quite fast.

While there are no statistics on just how many gifts the average person purchases over the course of the holiday season, the National Retail Federation says the average consumer will spend around $800 on all things holiday. That means there will be a lot of gifts to wrap before the big exchange. Those who want to make gift-wrapping less tedious this holiday season can consider these ideas to streamline the process.

Gather all supplies

When the time comes to wrap gifts, there’s nothing more frustrating than hunting for wrapping supplies. Have paper, bows, bags, tissue, pens, tape (double-sided tape streamlines the process), scissors, ribbon, and any other wrapping accoutrements at the ready. Set up a folding snack table near your wrapping area to hold the supplies so they don’t get in the way.

Choose the right location

Always wrap on a large, flat and sturdy surface. Avoid wrapping on a carpet, which will give gift wrap a wrinkled look and increase the amount of time needed to wrap.

Square it up

If you are a master at wrapping rectangular or square gifts but fail when presents are oddly shaped, place misshapen gifts into boxes and then wrap the boxes. Gift bags also can be used for such gifts, but wrapped boxes may look more appealing under the tree.

Fabric over paper

If you think gift wrap is wasteful, think about repurposing fabric into beautiful wrapping for presents. A square of leftover fabric, a piece of a t-shirt or even a portion of a sweater that has seen better days can be transformed into an innovative package for gift-giving. Tie the gathered ends into a bow and skip the tape as well. Dress up with ribbon and a tag for extra flair. Fabric bends and moves, making it more forgiving for oddly shaped gifts as well.

Stock up on paper shopping bags

On your next trip to Trader Joes or Whole Foods, bring home more than organic produce. Walk away with paper bags and free gift wrap. Craft a DIY stamp roller or handmade stamps to dress up plain brown bags. Or wrap the gift in twine and add a sprig of evergreen for a rustic look. Children can even use markers or crayons to create their own designs on gifts, personalizing even further.

Diversify gifts

Identify each recipient’s gifts by wrapping in a different color or style. Just jot down the key to decoding the wrapping, and you’ll save time on individual gift tags.

Wrapping presents doesn’t have to be a chore. With some time-saving tips and tricks, the work can be a breeze.