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Jump Start Your Garden By Starting Seeds Indoors

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Mar 7, 2018


Do you want to get a head start on your garden this year? If so, consider growing some seeds indoors, then transplanting them outside. This will allow you more time to focus on your summer plants, and you can start enjoying your vegetables and flowers sooner! This week, I have some tips for you if you want to become an expert at growing seeds indoors.

The Basics

  • A Container: To successfully grow seeds indoors, you must have the right kind of container. You may want to use individual containers and grow a single seedling in each one. Make sure each container is about two to three inches deep. Planting your seeds in individual containers prevents the roots of one plant from tangling with another and causing problems during the transplant stage.
  • Soil: Purchase soil designed for growing seeds. Before putting the soil in each of your containers, pour small amounts of water on it until it's a crumbly consistency. Next, spoon the soil into each container and pack it down to eliminate air pockets.
  • Seeds: Read the instructions on your seed packets. Some seeds need to be put just beneath the surface of the soil, while others need to be a little deeper to grow. Cover your seeds with soil and moisten the soil in each container.
  • Water: Check the condition of your soil each day. Keep it moist but not soaking wet. I suggest using a spray bottle to mist your seeds so you don't accidentally overdo it. Use liquid fertilizer to give your seeds the nutrients they need to grow.
  • Light: A south-facing window should give your seeds enough light to grow. If you don't have a window that will allow your seeds enough light, consider getting some grow lights. Having grow lights provides you with more control over the amount of light you give your seedlings.

Seeds That Grow Well Indoors

Some types of seeds are especially easy to grow indoors, including tomatoes, zinnias, marigolds, basil, cosmos, and nasturtium. These seeds germinate quickly and need very little attention, and having success growing these seeds can give you the confidence to try growing other types of seeds next year. If you've never grown any seeds indoors before, I would start with no more than ten varieties of seeds so you don't feel overwhelmed with too many kinds to keep track of.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake to avoid is putting soil from your garden into your growing containers. Garden soil may contain diseases and bacteria that can kill your seeds.

Another mistake to avoid is misjudging how much water to give your seeds. One solution to this is to make a self-watering system.

Using paper cups, yogurt cups, or even an egg carton as a container for your seeds is perfectly fine. But don't forget to poke a hole in the bottom of your DIY containers for proper drainage.

Tips for Growing Your Seeds

  • Make labels for your containers so you don't forget what is in each one.
  • When it's time to move your seedlings outside, go through the hardening off process first. For a few hours a day, put your container outside in an area with little wind and partial shade. Do this over the course of ten days to get your seedlings used to the outdoors.
  • Don't expect all of your seeds to grow. There are always a few that don't appear despite your best care. This is why you should go with several types, so you have plenty that do grow!
  • Most seeds should be planted indoors approximately six weeks before the last frost in your part of the country.

If you want to get a jump on the spring season, try growing some seeds indoors! Happy growing, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: start garden indoors

Emergency Equipment Safety Checks For Your Home

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Mar 7, 2018


If you live in a motor home some of these safety tips could apply to you.

You probably have a smoke alarm and maybe a fire extinguisher or two in your home. But just having these things isn't enough: These and other pieces of emergency equipment need regular maintenance to make sure that they work when you need them. This week, let's take a look at how to maintain these important items.

Smoke Alarm

It's important to test your smoke alarm once a month. Normally, there is a test button on a smoke alarm that you can press to test the device. If it's working, it should sound an alarm that lasts a few seconds. Also, make sure to change the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year. If your smoke alarm starts beeping before then, that's a signal it needs new batteries. If your smoke alarm doesn't work even after installing new batteries, you can buy a replacement at a big-box store or often even from your local fire department. If you have a smoke alarm that is hardwired, it runs on the electricity traveling into your home, but you should check to see if it has batteries as a backup power source. These will need to be changed annually so your alarm will work even in a power outage.

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Most carbon monoxide alarms have a test button just like a smoke alarm. Press the button to test the alarm each month, and replace its battery each year. If the battery is running out of juice, your carbon monoxide alarm will beep, alerting you of the issue. Pay close attention to the instructions on the package of your carbon monoxide alarm so you know when to go to your local hardware store or big-box store to replace it. I suggest that you install your carbon monoxide alarms near the bedrooms in your home. That way, if there is a carbon monoxide leak during the night, your family will be alerted right away.

Fire Extinguisher

Do you have a fire extinguisher in your home? If not, it's a good idea to have at least one in or near the kitchen. For the monthly maintenance of your fire extinguisher, examine the locking pin to see if it's in place. Look for any corrosion or rusting on the extinguisher. The next step is to examine the pressure gauge to see if the unit is operable. Lots of fire extinguishers used in the home have a pressure gauge with green and red areas on it. If the arrow is in the green area, then it's operable. If the arrow is pointing to the red area, it won't work. If this is the case, read the instructions to see if you can refill your extinguisher; sometimes, local fire departments will refill fire extinguishers for homeowners. Otherwise, just replace it with a new one.

Sprinkler System

If you have a sprinkler system in your home, you have a valuable extra layer of safety. The monthly maintenance of a sprinkler system involves checking to see if the water shutoff valves are in the open position. Also, if you have a water storage tank, look to see if it's full. Examine the insulation around the pipes connected to your sprinkler system to see if it's intact; this can prevent them from freezing in the cold weather. Next, conduct a flow test. Your sprinkler system should have a flow-test valve you can open, allowing water to run out for a minute or so. If your sprinkler doesn't pass the flow test, contact the company that installed it for guidance. In addition, it's important to make sure the sprinkler heads around your home aren't blocked by stacks of boxes or high shelves.

Having emergency equipment in your home can help to keep your family and property secure. The small amount of time you take to maintain these simple items could save lives. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: Home Safety Checks

Which Method Should You Use To Heat Your Home

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Mar 2, 2018


Are you in the market for a new way to heat your home? Today, you've got a lot of heating options, including electric, gas, water, and wood. This week, I'm looking at the pros and cons of various popular heating methods to help you decide what's best for your home.

Electric: Space Heaters vs. Baseboard Heaters

Space Heater

  • Pros: One of the biggest advantages of a portable space heater is that you can move it around a room to direct the heat wherever you want it. There's no installation involved, and these heaters are relatively inexpensive to purchase and operate.
  • Cons: Space heaters must always be monitored due to a risk of fire if they're tipped over. Some space heaters are hot to the touch, which is a risk if you have young children or pets.

Baseboard Heater

  • Pros: A baseboard heater has very few parts, so it needs very little maintenance. This type of heater runs quietly and takes up very little space.
  • Cons: Baseboard heaters can drive up the electricity bill, especially if they run constantly. You must avoid putting furniture and other items in front of your baseboard heaters to prevent safety issues as well as to allow the free flow of heat.

Gas: Gas Furnaces vs. Electric Furnaces

Gas Furnace

  • Pros: One pro of a gas furnace is there's just one piece in the system and it's kept indoors. A gas furnace is energy-efficient and costs less to operate than an electric furnace.
  • Cons: A leaky gas furnace can be a big safety hazard. In fact, it can lead to an explosion or a fire. A gas furnace may create poor air quality inside your home. The installation cost of a gas furnace is more than for an electric one due to the type of venting it needs to operate safely.

Electric Furnace

  • Pros: An electric furnace can be installed in a short amount of time practically anywhere in a home. This furnace runs on electricity, which is readily available in most homes.
  • Cons: An electric furnace doesn't work as effectively as a gas furnace. In addition, electricity is more expensive than gas, which can result in high utility bills.

Water: Steam Radiators vs. Radiant Heat

Steam Radiator

  • Pros: These radiators are reliable and can last for a long time with little maintenance. They can be purchased with built-in thermostats, allowing you to adjust the heat as needed.
  • Cons: A steam radiator can start to make noises as it grows older. It must have a clear, open area around it, so nothing blocks the flow of warm air.

Radiant Heat

  • Pros: With radiant heat, water runs through pipes beneath a floor. It's a clean, easy heating process with little to no maintenance required.
  • Cons: Installation of a radiant heat system costs more than installing electric heat. Radiant heat pipes are usually installed when a house is being built; renovating a fully constructed home to put in radiant heat would be very disruptive and time-consuming.

Wood: Fireplaces vs. Wood Stoves


  • Pros: A wood-burning fireplace quickly warms up a room. You can select long-burning or short-burning wood. Maintaining your chimney and purchasing wood are the only costs of this heating method. Besides all of that, I love the look, sound, and smell of a crackling fire in a fireplace. Don't you?
  • Cons: A wood-burning fireplace must be monitored to prevent stray sparks or ashes from starting a fire in the home. You must have enough space to store logs and keep them dry. It's necessary to pay to have your chimney properly inspected and cleaned to prevent chimney fires due to a buildup of creosote.

Wood Stove

  • Pros: A wood stove has a damper that allows you to control the intensity of the fire as well as how quickly the logs burn. Wood stoves use fewer logs than a fireplace, which is a money-saving feature.
  • Cons: A wood stove isn't very efficient in heating your home because most of the heat gets absorbed by the stove itself. Many wood stoves are bulky and take up a lot of space. Some wood stoves are hot to the touch presenting a safety hazard to young children and others.

I hope this information helps you find the most efficient heating method for your home. Thanks for reading. - Alan

7 Safety Tips For Winter Hiking

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Feb 21, 2018


Frozen streams and snow-covered tree limbs are just a couple of the beautiful sights in the woods in winter. Hiking in the wintertime gives you a chance to see those sights along with the deer, cardinals, owls, and other wildlife braving the elements at this time of year. But as you plan your winter hike, keep these safety tips in mind so you can thoroughly enjoy the experience.

  1. Hike With a Friend. Cold temperatures and icy trails increase the odds of accidents or injuries. If you or your hiking partner suffer an injury, the other person can administer first aid or go for help. As an additional safeguard, give a family member or friend information on your hiking location and tell them how long you'll be gone. That person will be able to contact the authorities if you don't return home when expected.
  2. Learn How to Build an Emergency Shelter. If you or your hiking partner find it necessary to stay in the woods overnight, you must build an emergency shelter. This shelter can protect you from the rain, snow, and wind until daylight arrives and you're able to begin hiking again. Even the simplest shelter design can keep you from being exposed to the elements.
  3. Learn How to Start a Fire. Spending the night in the woods in wintertime means you must find a way to stay warm. One option is to build a fire. When packing for your hike, remember to bring matches and keep them dry in your backpack. Though you can search the area for tinder in the form of dry weeds, moss, and leaves, it's a good idea to pack some newspaper or dryer lint to help you start a fire faster.
  4. Dress in Layers. This is essential for hiking in the wintertime. Long underwear, a cotton T-shirt, a sweater, and a light fleece jacket or vest are a few ideas for layers you can wear. Be sure to wear a waterproof jacket and pants to protect against snowfall, light rain, and even the drips coming from tree branches above you. Dressing in layers gives you the option of removing garments if they become wet or too hot.
  5. Stay Hydrated. You can get dehydrated on a hike even in the cold. Hiking over uneven, frozen ground can be very strenuous, so keep a bottle of water handy and drink from it on a regular basis, even if you don't feel thirsty. Drink water before beginning your hike, too, so you start out on the right foot. It's also not a bad idea to get a waterproof jacket with pockets specially designed to hold water bottles.
  6. Invest in Quality Boots. Waterproof boots are a must-have for a winter hike. You never know when you'll encounter a thin covering of ice along the trail that's hiding a hole filled with slush! Waterproof boots can keep your socks dry, which means you can walk in comfort. Nobody wants to hike in soggy socks, right?
  7. Pack Easy-to-Eat Snacks. If you want to reach a landmark or sight by a particular time, you don't want to have to stop to eat. There are many snacks that are easy to eat as you walk, like granola, nuts, peanut butter and crackers, trail mix, and beef jerky. These items are easy to hold with gloves on and have protein and fat to keep your energy up for the hike.

Enjoy the peacefulness of the woods in the wintertime, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: safety hiking tips

10 Ways Families Can Keep Active In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Feb 9, 2018


Are you and your family members getting out to play in the snow this winter? Or are you watching a lot of television and spending hours on the computer? If you want to get moving this winter, there are a lot of fun ways to do it. This week, I have some suggestions for families who want to stay active together during the cold months.

  1. Ice Skating. Ice skating gets your muscles working and your heart going, and most importantly, it can lead to a lot of laughter. Do you have access to a pond that has frozen solid this winter? If so, great! You can buy used ice skates at a store that sells secondhand sports equipment. If you don't have a nearby pond, check to see if your city sets up an ice rink each winter for the public to use. I suggest enjoying a few mugs of hot chocolate and marshmallows with your family after skating.
  2. Make Snowmen. This is a traditional activity that was as fun for families 50 years ago as it is today. Get the kids and adults involved by having a competition for the best snowman. Use old hats, gloves and scarves for the competition. Be sure to put them in the front yard for all the neighbors to enjoy.
  3. A Winter Hike. Get everyone to put on a pair of thick socks and some boots for a walk through the woods. Take some time to notice the bird and squirrel nests up in the leafless trees. Try to figure out what type of bird built each nest you see. Take the family dog along with you, if you have one, so it can enjoy the winter scenery, too.
  4. Build a Snow Fort. If you aren't into building snowmen, you can opt for a snow fort. The best thing about building a snow fort with family is that everyone can have a job. Little kids can roll snow balls and pile them to start a wall. Bigger kids can push the snow down to make sure the wall is secure. Adults can lift the heavier blocks of snow to put them in place.
  5. Play a Game of Frisbee. When you think of playing Frisbee, you probably imagine a park on a sunny afternoon. Why not play it in the snow? Get a bright red Frisbee and play a game in the front yard. The slipping and sliding involved in this game is sure to cause lots of giggles.
  6. Build an Indoor Fort. Blankets, pillows, comforters, and sheets are all materials you can use to build a fort with your kids. Drape some blankets over a couple of chairs and decorate the inside of your fort with throw pillows.
  7. Make a Home Theater. Set up some chairs in rows in your living room in front of the television. Put out a buffet of popcorn, soda, chips, candy, and other movie theater fare. Let one of your kids direct everyone to their seats with a flashlight, then dim the lights and enjoy a favorite family film together.
  8. Mini-Golf. Find some old golf balls and use brooms as golf clubs. Ramps can be made with old pieces of wood, and empty vegetable cans can serve as the holes in your course. Get creative and set up a challenging mini-golf course for your family members.
  9. Freeze Dance. This easy game is played by gathering all your family together. One person gets to turn on the radio or CD player, and everyone else must dance until the music goes off. They must immediately freeze in place when the music stops, or they are out! The last person left out on the dance floor is the winner.
  10. Indoor Rock Climbing. If you have a YMCA or a fitness center near your home, take the opportunity to try the rock climbing wall with your family. This is a great exercise for muscles, helps with balance, and is challenging fun for all ages.

Whether you stay indoors or venture outside, try some of these activities with your family. Make your winter days memorable for everyone! Thanks for reading. - Alan with Alan's Factory Outlet

Topics: keep active in winter

How To Best Care For Horses In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Feb 2, 2018


'Wintertime Fun with Your Horse'

Do you own a horse? If so, you know that horses need special care during the cold weather months. Though they're strong animals that can endure low temperatures, it's a good idea to take some precautions so they stay healthy and happy throughout the cold weather season. This week, I have eight tips for giving your horse the care it needs over winter.

8 Tips to Care for Your Horse This Winter

  1. Say No to Snowy Hooves. When the snow starts to pile up, it can stick to your horse's hooves. This puts your horse at risk for slipping and injuring itself, and other health issues. One temporary fix for this is to apply petroleum jelly to the bottom of your horse's shoes/hooves to create a seal against the snow. For a more effective remedy, ask your farrier to put special pads on your horse's hooves to prevent the snow from sticking.
  2. Hydrate Your Horse. A horse doesn't take in as much water during the cold weather months as it does in the spring and summer. In addition, your horse is missing out on the moisture it takes in from eating grass. When a horse is dehydrated, it's at higher risk for getting colic. So, it's important to make sure your horse has a supply of clean water at all times. Giving it warm water may encourage it to drink more during the winter. If you want to prevent freezing, I suggest you get a heater designed to prevent a horse's water from freezing in the bucket.
  3. Create a Suitable Feeding Program. During the warm weather months, your horse eats grass, grain, and hay to maintain its weight. But, with no grass to eat in the wintertime, you need to increase the amount of hay and/or grain you give your horse to make sure it gets the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.
  4. Put a Blanket on Your Horse. When a horse's coat is dry, it acts as insulation trapping the heat. Unfortunately, the moisture in the air this time of year can quickly cause your horse's coat to become wet and matted. One solution is to put a blanket on your horse to keep its coat dry. To make it extra special, get a blanket with your horse's name on it. The other horses in the barn are sure to be jealous!
  5. Provide Cover from the Wind. Whether you keep your horse outside all winter or let it out for a few hours a day, it needs shelter from the wind. A run-in shed is great for keeping your horse out of the freezing winds and bitter cold air as it enjoys time outdoors.
  6. Exercise Your Horse. Make it a point to keep riding your horse during the cold weather months. It still needs regular exercise to maintain its weight and keep its muscles in shape. If you don't want to ride every day, try lunging your horse to give it some exercise.
  7. Avoid Trimming Your Horse's Ears. You may be tempted to trim the thick hair growing in your horse's ears this time of year. But, don't do it. This hair helps to keep your horse's ears warm.
  8. Don't Put Your Sweaty Horse Outside. If you love to ride year-round, keep in mind your horse will sweat even in the middle of January. After removing the saddle from your sweaty horse, use a cloth to dry it or walk it around inside the barn until the sweat dries. Putting a sweaty horse outside could cause portions of its coat to freeze.

I hope you and your horse share some fun times on these cold, snowy days. Thanks for reading.-Alan

Allium Millenium Is The Perennial Plant Of 2018

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Jan 26, 2018


Have you ever heard of a plant called the Allium Millenium? Well, it's been chosen by the Perennial Plant Association (PPA) as the Plant of the Year for 2018. Some people call this plant an ornamental onion, while others say it reminds them of a lollipop. Intrigued? This week, I'm looking at the unique features of this award-winning plant, which could make a nice addition to your yard.

The Facts on the Allium Millenium

The Allium Millenium has dark green foliage and a ball-shaped cluster of florets that can be bright purple or mauve. Other species of allium can be lilac, yellow, blue, red, pink, or white. The Allium Millenium grows to be about 16 to 20 inches tall. These plants have a nectar attractive to both honeybees and butterflies. I suggest planting them near a large window looking out of your family room or kitchen. This gives your family the chance to observe the monarchs, swallowtails, and other butterflies as they pay frequent visits to your home.

Where Do These Plants Grow?

The Allium Millenium is a drought-resistant plant. They live in dry soil that's normal or sandy. If you live in a zone that falls between 4 and 9 on the USDA Plant Hardiness Map, then you're in the perfect place for planting Allium Milleniums.

Caring for Your Plant

When fall arrives, plant your Allium Millenium bulbs in an area that receives full sunlight. Since these plants can grow to be 20 inches tall, you may consider planting them next to a fence, so their long stems have some support and/or protection on windy days. These plants need very little water to grow, so if you're searching for a low-maintenance plant, the Allium Millenium may be the right choice for you.

Displaying Your Plants

One of the nicest things about the Allium Millenium is it can be combined with many other types of flowers in your garden. They look nice beside salvia, daylilies, or Shasta daisies. These plants are equally at home in a container as they are in a garden. In addition, planting Allium Milleniums is an easy way to give more appeal to a gravel or pebble walkway on your property. Of course, they'll also look nice planted outside your garden shed.

Fun Tidbits About the Allium Millenium

  • The Allium Millenium is known as an ornamental onion because its leaves emit an onion fragrance when crushed.
  • This plant repels deer, rabbits, and chipmunks with both its fragrance and its taste.
  • They are sometimes called the lollipops of the garden due to their shape.
  • Allium Milleniums are known to last a long time when cut and put into a vase.
  • There are 500-plus species of allium around the world, including onions, leeks, and chives.
  • These lovely plants are resistant to many insects and diseases.
  • "Allium" is the Latin word for garlic.
  • The Allium Millenium was created by Mark McDonough, who is an allium breeder.

One last note: If you have a lot of rabbits, deer, chipmunks, or squirrels stopping by your garden for a quick snack, plant a border of Allium Milleniums. These plants will add beauty to your garden while discouraging the activity of those pesky critters. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: Allium Millenium

12 Things You Didn't Know About Hibernation

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Jan 18, 2018


A metal building from Alan's Factory Outlet can help protect your valuable items from the winter weather.

Do you ever wish you could go into hibernation when temperatures drop below zero outside? Unfortunately, hibernation is not an option for people, but there are many animals that hibernate to survive the cold weather months. This week, I have some facts about animals and hibernation that may surprise you.

  1. During hibernation, the body temperature of an arctic ground squirrel goes from 99 degrees Fahrenheit to 27 degrees Fahrenheit. These squirrels hibernate for about eight months out of the year to deal with the freezing cold weather in Alaska.
  2. Hedgehogs estivate as well as hibernate. Estivation is very similar to hibernation except that it occurs when the weather is extremely hot. Do you think hedgehogs ever get confused about which season they're in?
  3. Some animals hibernate, while others go into torpor. Torpor is also known as light hibernation, typically only lasting for a period of hours. A decrease in food availability and ambient temperatures are two conditions that send an animal into torpor. Alternatively, hibernation is brought on by reduced hours of daylight and an animal's hormonal changes, and it lasts for days at a time. Some examples of animals that hibernate include frogs, woodchucks, and some types of bats. Bears, raccoons, and hummingbirds are creatures that go into torpor during the winter.
  4. Both an animal's heart rate and its body temperature decrease during hibernation. For instance, a woodchuck's heart rate drops from 80 to 4 beats per minute! Furthermore, its body temperature goes from 98 degrees Fahrenheit to 38 degrees. A black bear's heart rate goes from 50 beats per minute down to about 10 beats per minute during light hibernation. However, its body temperature changes very little. A black bear's normal body temperature is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while its temperature during light hibernation is about 88 degrees. When a bat goes into hibernation, its heart rate drops form 400 beats per minute to 25!
  5. There are some types of fish that hibernate. One example is the Antarctic cod. This fish buries itself in the seabed for days to survive the tough conditions of an Antarctic winter.
  6. An American black bear can give birth to cubs while she is in light hibernation. But do not try to sneak up on a mama bear, even if she is hibernating. Bears have a way of knowing if a predator is approaching even during winter sleep.
  7. Animals that hibernate have an internal monitor that lets them know if their body temperature is dropping too low. If it does, the animal awakens and shivers to raise its body temperature.
  8. Snakes are known to hibernate together to create more warmth. Hundreds or thousands of garter snakes may crowd together throughout the winter.
  9. The North American wood frog makes its home in Alaska. When the temperatures fall below freezing, a wood frog buries itself deep in the ground. It stops breathing and has no heartbeat. About 65% of the water in this frog's body turns to ice! When the temperatures warm up, the ice inside the frog melts, it starts breathing, and its heart rate returns to normal. The North American wood frog gets my vote for the most amazing amphibian!
  10. Some animals hibernate in a den, while others stay in a nest or cave or even burrow underground. A place where an animal hibernates is called a hibernaculum.
  11. Pet hamsters may go into torpor for a few days a week during cold weather.
  12. The common poorwill is one of the few birds that go into hibernation during the winter months. It can sleep for 100 days in a hole in a tree or another protected area.

I hope this list makes you admire the animals all around us even more. Thanks for reading. - Alan

5 Home Improvement Projects To Tackle In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jan 16, 2018


Are you a fan of the cold, snowy weather? It's nice to take short walks outside, but it's even nicer to head back into a warm home. Most people are inside a lot during the winter, making it the perfect time to take on a few home improvement projects. For this week's post, I have some projects to help brighten up your home this time of year.

  1. Painting the Walls of Your Rooms. Look around your home. Do you have a room or two in need of a fresh look? Painting the walls of a room can instantly change the tone of the space. The colors in your home can even influence your mood. If you have a room with brown or gray walls, change the look by painting the walls a pastel blue, green, or lavender. Highlight the color you choose by painting the baseboards and trim in bright white.
  2. Refresh the Look of Your Bathroom. A bathroom serves a practical purpose in a home, but that doesn't mean it can't be beautiful as well. Look at the bathroom your family uses the most. You can refresh its look by making little changes such as replacing the old faucets with a new design, or you could replace the floor with tile in a fresh color or pattern. Sometimes, refreshing the look of a powder room can be done by putting up a piece of artwork or hanging a mirror with an ornate design above the sink. I think something as simple as recaulking a bathtub or shower makes a big difference in the appearance of a bathroom. You may be inspired to order a new set of towels and washcloths for springtime!
  3. Declutter Your Rooms. What better time is there to declutter than when it's too cold to venture outside? Keep a big garbage can handy so you can dispose of anything that is worn out and taking up valuable space in your closets or cabinets. Also, have a bag ready for items to donate to your local Goodwill or similar organization. Charity organizations are always looking for toys, clothing, games, kitchen items, and furniture in good condition. I like the idea of giving older items new life; don't you? By the time spring rolls around, you'll have a head start on your spring cleaning!
  4. Redo the Lighting in Your Home. Do you have a room that needs extra light during the wintertime? If so, make a few unique table lamps to add to the space. Make them in colors that complement your newly painted walls! You could also replace the curtains on the room's windows with a design that allows more natural light to flow through.
  5. Refurbish Interior Doors. Refurbishing your interior doors can be accomplished in many ways. You can do something as simple as installing a new doorknob in a different style or color. You can paint a door a different color or refresh its current color, if you like it. Putting up decorative window film featuring a stained glass or opaque glass design is an idea for doors with windows in them. Window film is great for French or patio doors. Decorative window film is visually appealing while providing you with more privacy.

I hope you tackle one or more of these projects to make your home look its best this winter. Thanks for reading. - Alan

9 Ways To Reuse Your Christmas Tree

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jan 3, 2018


I hope you and your family had a beautiful Christmas tree this year. Now, you may be looking for the nearest recycling center to dispose of your tree. That's a great idea. But did you know that there are other environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your Christmas tree? Check out these creative ideas.

  1. Protect the Fish. If you have a pond on your property, do the fish a favor and throw your tree into the water. The minnows, bluegills, and other occupants of your pond will use the branches to hide from predators. I like the idea of a Christmas tree providing long-lasting shelter for fish, tadpoles, crawfish, and other tiny creatures.
  2. Make Some Mulch. Use the needles on your Christmas tree as mulch for your garden. Once the needles dry out, scatter them wherever you need a light layer of mulch. Put the remainder of the tree in a rented wood chipper to make more mulch for other areas of your yard.
  3. Create Unique Coasters. Using your hacksaw, cut the trunk into round pieces about an inch thick. Sand off the rough edges and put a coat of sealant on each one so they don't start leaking sap.
  4. Make a Set of Stakes. Using a hacksaw, cut a few long branches off of your tree and strip the smaller branches from each one. Use the long branches as stakes for tall, flourishing indoor plants that need a little support.
  5. Create a Feeding Place for Birds. After taking all of the decorations off of your Christmas tree, put it in a durable tree stand and place it out in your backyard. Find several small bird feeders and hang them from the boughs of your tree. Be sure to add in some peanut butter pine cone bird feeders. Birds need fat and protein to keep their energy up for surviving the winter weather.
  6. Potpourri, Anyone? Make a supply of potpourri with branches, needles, and cones from your Christmas tree. The scent of pine in your home will remind you of the beauty of your Christmas tree whenever you smell it.
  7. Cull Supplies for an Art Project. Before taking your tree to the nearest recycling center, cut off some of its branches. Look for branches with different amounts of needles on them. Let your kids or grandkids dip the needles in paint to make some artwork. White construction paper or butcher paper works great for this type of project. I suggest getting a unique frame for each project and hanging them up in a place where everyone can admire your child's work.
  8. Create a Garden Border. If you have a small section of garden that needs a neat border, then look to your Christmas tree. First, measure the sides of the section in your garden. Next, cut all of the branches off of your tree and saw its trunk into sections that match the measurements of your garden. Place the sections of trunk around your garden to serve as a natural border.
  9. Start a Compost Pile. Use the branches of your Christmas tree as the base of a new compost pile on your property. Thin branches allow for air circulation and will break down as the days go by. Your Christmas tree can be a big help with this New Year's resolution.

Get creative with the disposal of your Christmas tree this year! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: reuse christmas tree


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