Tag: fall

7 Uses For Fallen Leaves

By the time autumn hits full swing, many trees will have shed their leaves for the season, and the last vestiges of red, yellow and orange magic will have faded to brown. Raking, blowing and collecting leaves becomes the primary chores of lawn and yard maintenance, and presents most homeowners with large piles of gathered leaves to tend to. It is impossible to count just how many leaves fall to the ground each year, or just how many pounds of leaves get collected curbside, but the numbers are substantial. Cleaning up leaves is considerable work, but not all of those leaves need to be carted away. In fact, there are several different uses of leaves that can be beneficial.

1. Spread leaves as a protective mulch to cover tender perennials or root crops/bulbs in the ground. The leaves will form a natural insulating cover that keeps the soil and the plants within a bit warmer over winter.

2. Create a pile of leaves that will break down and form a crumbly, compost-like material called leaf mold. Even though leaf mold may sound like a blight, it’s actually a good amendment to garden soil, improving its structure and ability to hold water. Leaf mold also attracts beneficial organisms that are vital in healthy soil.

3. Brown leaves can be added to green materials in compost piles to improve the health of the compost being formed. According to the healthy living resource Care2, the ideal ratio is 75 percent brown to 25 percent green materials in compost. Turn compost piles regularly to aerate them.

4. Store dried, mulched leaves in a dry spot so they can be used in the spring as a weed barrier for spring plantings. They will keep weeds at bay and help retain soil moisture to ensure small sprouts have the resources to grow.

5. Use shredded leaves as a lawn supplement. Pass a lawn mower over leaves left on the lawn to break them down into pieces too small to rake. This will help keep the lawn healthy throughout the winter without blocking out needed sunlight.

6. Bag dried leaves and pack them tightly together in cold areas of the home, such as basements or garages. They can act as added insulation. Bags of leaves also can be placed around planting containers to protect them from frost.

7. Gather a few of the best-looking leaves and preserve them. Use an iron on a low setting and press leaves between two pieces of waxed paper until the waxed paper seals together. Or use clear contact paper to achieve the same effect. Fallen leaves can be used in many different ways throughout the year.

Home Improvement Projects for Your Fall To-Do List

Homeowners know that maintaining a home can be a year-round job. No home is immune to wear and tear, and homeowners who want to protect their real estate investments should try to stay two steps ahead to ensure their homes do not succumb to the elements or become outdated and unappealing to prospective buyers.

Fall has become a season that’s synonymous with home improvement, but homeowners need not wait until the leaves begin changing colors to start planning their next projects. The following are a few items homeowners can add to their fall home improvement to-do lists.

Roof inspection

Less precipitation tends to fall during the warmer months than during the late fall and winter. As a result, homeowners may not be aware of leaky roofs until autumn has come and gone. But waiting until winter to inspect the roof can prove disastrous, as weather conditions will not be conducive to inspection and increased precipitation may result in potentially costly damage.

Leaky roofs can be easily identified by looking for water stains on interior ceilings. Once you see a stain, you can climb onto the roof to identify the location of the leak and fix it before winter rains and snowfall turn the problem into something much larger. Inspect your ceilings for signs of leaking after a strong rainfall, and then address any leaks immediately.

Gutter cleaning

While some homeowners prefer to delay their gutter cleaning projects until late fall, those whose homes are surrounded by trees may need to schedule two such projects. Gutters clogged with leaves and other debris can cause serious roof damage, and that damage can extend all the way inside a home.

In addition, clogged gutters make great nesting areas for insects or critters. Always stand on a ladder when cleaning gutters, wearing gloves to remove items by hand and dropping leaves and debris into a trash can below. Standing on the roof and leaning over gutters greatly increases your risk of injury. If the gutters are clear when you first examine them in early fall, you can wait until later in the season to give them a complete and thorough cleaning. Once you have finished clearing the gutters, you can use a hose to run water through them and the downspouts to confirm everything is functioning properly.

Window and doorway inspection

Before temperatures start dropping once again, homeowners will want to inspect their windows and doorways for leaks. Over time, cracks can develop around windows and doorways, and while such cracks are rarely noticeable when the weather outside is warm, they can be quite obvious and very costly if they remain unsealed come the start of winter. Cold air can enter a home through cracks around windows and doorways, and many homeowners who don’t suspect leaks may respond by turning up the thermostats in their homes. That can prove quite expensive over a full winter. Choose a windy autumn day to place a hand by windows and external doorways in your home to see if you can feel drafts.

If you can, seal these cracks as soon as possible. Patio cleanup Patios are popular hangouts during spring and summer, and that can result in a lot of wear and tear. Once you store patio furniture for the winter, inspect your entire patio to determine if it needs any refurbishing. While certain patio projects may be best left for spring, you can still clean any stained areas around the grill and look for cracks in the sidewalk that need to be addressed.

Preparing for fall home improvement projects ahead of time can help homeowners complete projects in a timely manner and ensures they won’t be forced to brave the winter elements when refurbishing their homes.

Autumn is a Prime Time to Tend Lawns and Gardens

Autumn is gardening season. That statement may not seem right to those who think of the spring as the peak time to care for lawns and gardens. However, autumn is an ideal time to get into the garden and ensure that flowers, trees and garden beds will over-winter successfully.

A number of things make autumn a prime gardening season. The cooler days of fall enable gardeners to spend ample time outdoors without the threat of blazing heat. In addition, soil harbors a lot of residual warmth in autumn. Also, the colder temperatures haven’t yet arrived in autumn, nor have the leaves completely fallen, making fall a prime time to assess what’s already in the landscape, what needs pruning back and where to address planting for next year.

Gardening enthusiasts can focus their attention on these areas this fall.

• Pamper perennials. As annuals and perennials start to fall back, mark the spots where perennials are located so they can be easily identified later on. This way, when planning spots for spring bulbs or other spring layouts for next year, perennials won’t be overlooked or covered over.

• Prune shrubs. Look at shrubs and trees and cut out dead or diseased wood.

• Clean up borders. Weed and tidy up borders and lawn edging.

• Install pavers or rock wall. Embrace the cooler temperatures to work on labor-intensive projects, such as putting in a garden bed, retaining wall or walkway.

• Remove spent summer veggies. Take out vegetable garden plants that have already bloomed and borne fruit. Tidy up vegetable gardens and start to sow cooler weather plants, such as onions, garlic, beans, and sweet peas.

• Rake and compost. Rake the leaves and gather grass clippings to add to the compost pile.

• Plant spring bulbs. Get tulips and other spring bulbs ready for planting so they’ll burst with color next year.

• Dig up herbs. Relocate herbs like parsley or basil to indoor gardens. Otherwise, strip all leaves and freeze for storage during winter.

• Consider mums. Chrysanthemum plants are perennials. While they look beautiful in pots, if planted, maintained and winterized, they can bloom every fall.

• Fertilize the lawn. Fertilizing in autumn helps ensure grass will stay healthy throughout the winter.

• Add mulch and compost to the garden. Replenish spent soil with mulch and compost so garden beds will be revitalized for spring planting.

• Prune hedges. Tidy up hedges, as they won’t be growing much more this year.

• Clean and store equipment. Clean, sharpen and oil all equipment, storing lawn and garden tools properly so they are ready for spring and not lying out all winter.

Autumn may not seem like gardening season, but there are plenty of lawn and garden tasks to tend to during this time of year.

Fun Holiday Tech Gift Ideas for Kids

Looking for some kid-friendly tech gear this holiday season? Here are some on-trend gift ideas, featuring engaging content for kids.

Wearable Tech

Wearable tech is a great choice for energetic kids, as it seamlessly integrates innovative technology into their active lifestyles. For even more value, consider devices that combine fun with learning.

For instance, with the Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2, they can take pictures and videos, play games, tell time and more. The durable watch features a sleek design that includes 55 customizable watch faces to help kids learn to tell time, as well as two cameras that allow children to capture everything from action videos to selfies that can be customized in the Silly Yourself app or made into new watch faces. Kids can also use the watch’s motion sensor for active play challenges or to track movements. The watch features an assortment of innovative games, including Monster Catcher, which uses augmented reality to help kids find and capture virtual monsters in the real world.

Gaming Systems

Shopping for a gaming console? Seek out family-friendly options that offer opportunities for age-appropriate or educational gaming. Some consoles even provide parental controls, so monitoring use is easy.

Camera Fun

Little cinematographers and videographers may enjoy the Kidizoom girl, tree, tween, holiday, christmas, giftsAction Cam 180, a 180-degree rotatable camera that takes photos and videos with fun features like slow and fast-motion. It comes with accessories needed to mount it to a bike, skateboard and more while taking action shots. The all-weather, water-resistant case allows for use up to six feet underwater, perfect for swimming and splashing. For even more fun, kids can play one of three included games.

Drones

Kids have always loved flying toys and with the technological advancements in drones, they can be had at all price points with a wide variety of capabilities. For beginners, you’ll want to consider durable drones with easy controls. Just be sure to look into local rules and regulations to be sure you’re flying in appropriate places that aren’t restricted.

Handheld Smart Devices

With quality content and robust features similar to those found in christmas, holiday, kids, tabletparents’ smartphones, KidiBuzz lets children message over Wi-Fi to a parent-approved contact list. They can also push the talk button and send quick voice messages. Through the kid-safe web browser, users can visit popular pre-approved websites, and can also download Android apps. It’s also a multimedia player for listening to music and watching videos. Kids can explore silly stamps, frames and photo effects and use them to capture pictures and selfies or make their own videos with the 180-degree rotating camera. The device includes more than 40 learning games and apps and its bumper and shatter-safe screen means kids can take it virtually anywhere.

Make this holiday season the most exciting one yet for kids, with great new tech gear that engages, informs and entertains. (StatePoint)
 
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Safely Enjoy the Outdoors in Colder Months

It may be chilly, but that’s no reason to stay indoors. Some of the best opportunities for outdoor exploration can only take place during the coldest months of the year; it just requires special preparation.

Head-to-Toe Coverage

For maximum safety and comfort, it’s important to keep your head, fingers and toes dry and toasty. A good pair of waterproof hiking boots will help keep you warm on the trail. Be sure they are designed for the type of weather and terrain you expect to encounter. Wear a wind-proof hat and good pair of gloves that have a grip.

Mind the Sun

The sun may set sooner in winter, but it’s still a force to be reckoned with; wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen to exposed skin, as well as a lip balm containing SPF, to protect yourself from UV rays.

Get Smart

Wearable tech can put your mind at ease on outdoor excursions. Look for low-power GPS and full-color map functionality that can be used offline, as in the case of Casio’s PRO TREK WSD-F20 Smart Outdoor Watch, which features easy-to-read map data from Mapbox. This makes it easy to display your route and provide navigation guidance at a glance. Powered by Android Wear 2.0, it can be used with a range of apps to enhance your outdoor experience, and its design offers enhanced operability and toughness, making it an especially useful piece of outdoor gear.

Don’t Get Fooled

In hot weather, there’s almost never any question about whether you are thirsty during or following physical activity. It can be harder to gauge in cold weather. Remember, when you’re active, it’s always important to stay hydrated. Be sure your wattle bottle is built to withstand cold weather, and if you’re worried about it freezing, don’t fill the bottle to the top.

Communicate

With any excursion, it’s always good practice to share your itinerary with a loved one. Most importantly, let someone know exactly where you are going and when you plan to return.

With a few smart habits, and some high-quality gear designed to withstand the great outdoors, you can better enjoy nature this season, no matter where your adventures take you. (StatePoint)

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Plan Your Fall Foliage Excursion

Autumn means different things to many people. Students may embrace the dawn of a new school year, while others might embrace the crisp weather after a season of heat. One of the more widely enjoyed aspects of autumn is the chance to take in the brilliant foliage.

Although New England may be renowned for its bright, orange, red and yellow panoramas, dazzling displays of foliage can be witnessed anywhere temperatures descend enough for deciduous trees to shed their leaves.

The first step to a successful fall foliage excursion is to find the right spot. The Catskill and Adirondack Mountains of New York, Amish Country in Pennsylvania, the Great Lakes from Michigan to Ohio, and many other areas can be great places to witness nature at its most colorful. To make the most of fall foliage road trips, drivers can keep the following suggestions in mind.

· Get off the highway. To see great fall vistas, take a detour from major thoroughfares and visit small towns and mountain passes. Invest in some maps, as cellular networks may be inaccessible in remote locales.

· Avoid tourist-heavy areas. Drivers may prefer less crowded roadways to accompany the great scenery. Such drivers should visit areas that are not tourist meccas. Any area that plays home to forests and sprawling landscapes will do.

· Go on foot. To get the best photos, head out at sunrise or sunset. Soft, golden light dappled by leaves will bring out the golden tones in photos. Going on foot will help you discover the nuances of the season and slow down for a change.

· Don’t overlook overcast days. Traveling in the rain may not be fun, but overcast days might be ideal. On such days, the sun won’t be too warm and drown out the colors.

· Bring along binoculars. Wildlife is often mobile and abundant in the fall, as animals scurry to feed and gather supplies before the winter. As a result, autumn is a great time to spot wildlife that’s normally hiding in thickets and woodland areas.

· Plan for stops along the way. Don’t forget to bring some spending money in the form of cash so that you can enjoy the small farm stands and shops that often dot rural landscapes. Pick up farm-fresh produce or choose a plump pumpkin. Yard sales also are abundant this time of year. Small shops may not take credit cards, so if you plan to buy, cash is king.

Trees begin shedding their leaves as early as the beginning of September in Canada and the northern United States. As the days press on, the fall finery will gradually shift southward. For those who can afford to take a weekday off, do so, as weekends might be overcome with fellow nature enthusiasts.

Plan A Day To Shop Local Fairs, Shops And Stands 

Autumn is tailor-made for getting out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors. With crisp temperatures perfect for strolls or sightseeing and breathtaking scenery awash in bright autumnal hues, autumn landscapes make for the ideal backdrop for weekend plans, including shopping excursions. Fall is a great season to enjoy festivals, farmer’s markets and craft fairs, as merchants look to liquidate inventory before they prepare for the rush of the upcoming holiday season. Cities, towns, hamlets, and everything in between will host their share of open markets and more with great deals to be had, and fall is an ideal time to visit local shops and stands.

Fall Farm Produce

Fresh produce Farms big and small are bursting with produce come the fall. You can find the last vestiges of summer crops mingling with the first fruits of autumn. Grab the last of tomatoes and start thinking ahead to apples, squashes, lettuces, and grapes. You can even get an early start on pumpkin season — both for cooking and carving.

Seasonal Foods

Stock the car with reusable tote bags and scour the farmer’s markets for seasonal finds. Chances are you also might pick up some extra treats, such as fresh honey or canned jams. Food finds As plants are harvested, many items are turned into delicious treats. No autumn shopping excursion is complete until you smell a fresh-baked apple pie or some apple cider doughnuts. Corn breads and fritters, cranberry snacks and wines from nearby wineries also are easy to find in autumn. These items make welcome additions to your own pantry, or bring a freshly made treat to a friend or family member’s home when paying a visit. Also, don’t miss the food-related festivals that pop up on community calendars in the fall.

Fall Goods

From garlic to potatoes to pumpkins to cheeses, many seasonal items are on display. You also can sample these foods in interesting applications and make a day of gathering recipes and supplies to enjoy later. Crafts, jewelry and décor Include a trip to a craft fair, where local vendors come together to display and sell their wares, on your weekend schedule.

Autumn Crafts

Handcrafted items make thoughtful and unique gifts, which can be tucked away for giving later in the year. Booths at these types of events tend to be diverse. Spend the day strolling town squares or closed-off city centers, and you may find some hand-fashioned jewelry or home-crafted artisanal soaps. Those eager to enhance their homes’ décor may find unique items like painted signs, knit afghans and much more.

Shopping local shops, farms and fairs is a great way to enjoy the fresh autumn air while supporting local businesses.

Home Improvement Projects for Your Fall To-Do List

Homeowners know that maintaining a home can be a year-round job. No home is immune to wear and tear, and homeowners who want to protect their real estate investments should try to stay two steps ahead to ensure their homes do not succumb to the elements or become outdated and unappealing to prospective buyers.

Fall has become a season that’s synonymous with home improvement, but homeowners need not wait until the leaves begin changing colors to start planning their next projects. The following are a few items homeowners can add to their fall home improvement to-do lists.

Roof inspection

Less precipitation tends to fall during the warmer months than during the late fall and winter. As a result, homeowners may not be aware of leaky roofs until autumn has come and gone. But waiting until winter to inspect the roof can prove disastrous, as weather conditions will not be conducive to inspection and increased precipitation may result in potentially costly damage. Leaky roofs can be easily identified by looking for water stains on interior ceilings. Once you see a stain, you can climb onto the roof to identify the location of the leak and fix it before winter rains and snowfall turn the problem into something much larger. Inspect your ceilings for signs of leaking after a strong rainfall, and then address any leaks immediately.

Gutter cleaning

While some homeowners prefer to delay their gutter cleaning projects until late fall, those whose homes are surrounded by trees may need to schedule two such projects. Gutters clogged with leaves and other debris can cause serious roof damage, and that damage can extend all the way inside a home. In addition, clogged gutters make great nesting areas for insects or critters. Always stand on a ladder when cleaning gutters, wearing gloves to remove items by hand and dropping leaves and debris into a trash can below. Standing on the roof and leaning over gutters greatly increases your risk of injury. If the gutters are clear when you first examine them in early fall, you can wait until later in the season to give them a complete and thorough cleaning. Once you have finished clearing the gutters, you can use a hose to run water through them and the downspouts to confirm everything is functioning properly.

Window and doorway inspection

Before temperatures start dropping once again, homeowners will want to inspect their windows and doorways for leaks. Over time, cracks can develop around windows and doorways, and while such cracks are rarely noticeable when the weather outside is warm, they can be quite obvious and very costly if they remain unsealed come the start of winter. Cold air can enter a home through cracks around windows and doorways, and many homeowners who don’t suspect leaks may respond by turning up the thermostats in their homes. That can prove quite expensive over a full winter. Choose a windy autumn day to place a hand by windows and external doorways in your home to see if you can feel drafts. If you can, seal these cracks as soon as possible.

Patio cleanup

Patios are popular hangouts during spring and summer, and that can result in a lot of wear and tear. Once you store patio furniture for the winter, inspect your entire patio to determine if it needs any refurbishing. While certain patio projects may be best left for spring, you can still clean any stained areas around the grill and look for cracks in the sidewalk that need to be addressed.

Preparing for fall home improvement projects ahead of time can help homeowners complete projects in a timely manner and ensures they won’t be forced to brave the winter elements when refurbishing their homes.


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Natural Ways to Reduce Lyme Disease Risk

The great outdoors can be a wonder to behold. Parks, nature preserves or even some time spent in the backyard can help men, women and children reconnect with nature.

While there is plenty to enjoy about the great outdoors, certain hazards are lurking. Ticks can be both a nuisance and a danger, potentially contributing to illnesses like Lyme disease. Recognizing the dangers of ticks and how to avoid tick bites can help people reduce their risk for contracting Lyme disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that, after hatching from eggs, ticks must eat blood at every stage to survive. It can take up to three years for a tick to complete its full life cycle, meaning it needs quite a few hosts to feed on.

Ticks are part of the arachnid family, but unlike spiders, ticks attach to the skin of an animal and suck its blood. Ticks can be found just about anywhere, but they tend to gravitate toward wooded areas or tall grasses, which offer them protection and good vantage points to find an animal host. Dog owners have no doubt encountered ticks in their lifetimes, as ticks are routine problems for dogs that are not properly protected. But ticks also prey on humans.

Ticks are and their bites are relatively painless, which can make it difficult for people to detect when they have been bitten. Many tick bites are harmless and do not require treatment. However, if bitten by a tick that is carrying Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever, people may need to take an antibiotic to prevent any lasting health effects. As a result, people should always visit a doctor when bitten by a tick.

Pesticide repellants are some of the more effective and well-known methods to prevent tick bites and subsequent side effects. Many repellants can be used without negative side effects, but those who prefer to go a more natural route can take the following precautionary measures.

· Watch habitats. Steer clear of grassy, wooded and brushy areas. Ticks also prefer humid conditions.

· Stick to trails. Stay on trails when hiking or walking to avoid brushing up against areas where ticks may be hiding out.

· Wear proper clothing. Light-colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks that may have made their way onto a person. Tuck pants into socks, as ticks tend to climb onto hosts from the ground up. Bare ankles provide easy access.

· Protect hair and heads. Wear a hat and/or keep long hair contained so that it isn’t an attractive hiding spot for ticks.

· Shower immediately. After coming in from areas known for ticks, shower and launder clothing immediately. While showering, do a spot inspection looking for ticks on your body. Remember to look in hidden areas like under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, on the back of the knees, in and around the hair, between the legs, and around the waist.

· Clean up the yard. Make your yard less habitable to ticks by mowing the grass regularly and removing leaf litter and trim shrubs. Also, use wood chips or gravel to serve as a barrier between lawns and wooded areas of the property.

· Use natural oils. Ticks may not like the smell of garlic, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender, and rosemary, among others. Dotting your body with these infused oils may make you less attractive to ticks.


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Help Kids Get Ready for Fall Sports Season

Summer is a season of relaxation, especially for school-aged children who are not yet old enough to work. Such youngsters no doubt enjoy the chance to spend summer days lounging poolside or at the beach, all without a care in the world or any homework to complete.

Though summer is synonymous with R&R, parents of young athletes who hope to compete in scholastic athletics when the school year begins in autumn may need to take steps to ensure their kids aren’t at risk of injury once the curtain comes up on fall sports season.

· Examine and replace equipment if necessary. The right equipment can protect kids from injury and help them realize their full athletic potential. But damaged or outdated equipment can increase kids’ risk of injury. Examine kids’ equipment long before fall sports season begins so you have time to bargain hunt should anything need to be replaced.

· Schedule a physical for your child. Many school districts mandate that athletes receive and pass physicals before they can compete. Speak with the athletic director at your child’s school to learn the guidelines that govern athletic physicals. The physical will need to be conducted by a predetermined date, but you may also need the physical to be conducted after a certain date for it to be considered valid. Speak with your child’s physician if any problems are found during the physical.

· Let kids heal. Kids’ schedules are busier than ever before, and many youngsters play several sports during the school year. Summer vacation may be the only extended period all year that youngsters’ bodies get to heal. While it’s important that kids stay physically active throughout the summer, make sure they don’t overdo it, as you should emphasize the importance of rest.

· Gradually get back in the swing of things. While rest gives kids’ bodies a chance to heal and develop, it’s important that young athletes stay in shape over the summer. As the fall sports season draws near, help kids gradually get back in the swing of things. Tryouts tend to be physically demanding, so kids who have not lifted a finger all summer may be at risk of injury or missing the cut. Let kids ease back into regular exercise to make sure they are not starting from scratch come their first tryout.

· Speak with coaches. Coaches can be great assets to parents who want to make sure their youngsters enjoy the summer without sacrificing their chances of making the team in the fall. Speak with kids’ coaches to determine if there is any area your son or daughter can work on over the summer to improve his or her chances of making the team. Make sure kids are the ones leading the charge to improve their games; otherwise, they may feel pressured into doing so and that can take away the fun of playing sports.

Scholastic athletes should take advantage of the opportunity to relax and recover that summer presents. But athletes who hope to compete in the fall can still work with their parents to ensure they’re ready once the school year and sports season begins.


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