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Alan Bernau Jr

Recent Posts

The 10 Best Food Options For Birds In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Jan 27, 2021

what-to-feed-birds-in-winter

Have you noticed a lot of wild birds looking in your window or gathering on the roof of your carport or shed? If so, they're trying to send you a message: "We're hungry!" Birds need to consume extra fat and protein during the cold months in order to produce enough energy to stay warm. Today, I have some suggestions for what to feed your feathered visitors this winter.

  1. Suet: Suet contains a lot of fat that helps wild birds to stay warm in freezing temperatures. You can purchase a premade suet block or get creative and make your own! Suet doesn't look all that appetizing to us humans, but most birds love it!
  2. Peanuts: A feeder that includes de-shelled, unsalted nuts provides a large dose of protein and energy to the birds in your area. They are a special favorite with blue jays, woodpeckers, and chickadees.
  3. Black Oil Sunflower Seed: This type of seed contains a large portion of fat and protein. You can either put a supply of black oil sunflower seed in one feeder or include it in a mixture. This seed is easy to break open, so it appeals to robins, cardinals, finches, and many other types of birds.
  4. Cracked Corn: You may have to go to a feed store or a store that specializes in wild bird seed to find cracked corn. It attracts ground feeders of all kinds, including doves, sparrows, and jays. Don't be surprised if you see some squirrels trying to get in on the fun right alongside the birds. Hey, they get hungry, too!
  5. Thistle Seed: Thistle is a tiny type of seed that fits nicely into a sock or mesh feeder. Finches are big fans of thistle seed, and you'll likely see several chowing down at your feeder at one time.
  6. Safflower: Do you like to see those brilliant red cardinals show up at your place? If so, put some safflower in your feeder. This seed is tempting to cardinals along with house finches, blue jays, grosbeaks, and chickadees.
  7. White Proso Millet: Look for this seed in a mixture for your winter bird feeder. It has protein, fat, and fiber that can help wild birds this time of year.
  8. Mealworms: What? Yes, mealworms supply wild birds with fat during the cold weather months. You can buy them at bait shops and put some out in an old glass bowl filled with rolled oats. Chickadees, thrushes, wrens, and bluebirds are all fans of mealworms.
  9. Dried Fruit: Dried cranberries, blueberries, and apricots are all beneficial additions to a seed mixture. They add a little something different (and tasty) to the typical offering.
  10. Striped Sunflower Seeds: These seeds are a familiar sight in many seed mixtures available in stores. They provide energy and are appealing to a variety of birds.

As long as you're offering food to your feathered friends, consider giving them a water source as well. A birdbath heater is easy to set up and maintains a warm temperature. With an appealing bird feeder and swirling birdbath, your yard will be the most popular stop in town this winter! Thanks for reading. - Alan

24 Tips For Decluttering Your Home In The New Year

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jan 26, 2021

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Have you resolved to declutter your home in 2021? If so, you're in luck! I have 24 decluttering tips that cover almost every room in your home. Here we go!

The Kitchen

  1. Clear the Countertops: Kitchen decluttering begins with removing items from the countertop and putting them in the pantry. Do you use your slow cooker, blender, or food processor on a regular basis? If not, put those items in storage and enjoy extra counter space.
  2. Organize the Pots and Pans: If your pots and pans fall out of the cabinet every time you open it, it's time to create a kitchen pegboard. Build it, paint it, and hang up your pans to make them a part of the décor. Julia Child had her own kitchen pegboard for pots and pans, so you'll be in good company.
  3. Organize Cookbooks: Remove stacks of cookbooks from countertops and arrange them on a shelf in the pantry or on top of your cabinets.
  4. Evaluate the Utensil Drawer: Go through the kitchen utensil drawer and donate whatever tools you don't use on a regular basis.
  5. Organize Cleaning Bottles: Install a shower tension rod beneath your kitchen sink. Hang spray bottles of cleaner from it for easy access.
  6. Evaluate Your Plastic Containers: These containers take up a lot of space in a cabinet. Go through your supply and donate any without lids. Be honest about how many of those you need and how many you can say goodbye to.

The Bathroom

  1. Organize Your Hair-Styling Accessories: Using hooks, attach a mesh bin to the side of your bathroom vanity. Use it for your hair dryer, curling iron, etc., to create space under the sink.
  2. Install a Small Shelf: All of those soap bottles, lotion bottles, and the like can create a lot of clutter inside a bathroom cabinet. Install a shelf on one wall to hold your soaps and lotions and even a stack of extra hand towels.
  3. Organize Your Toothpaste and Brushes: Get a simple drawer organizer like the one you have for your silverware, and use it to organize your toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss in a vanity drawer.
  4. Install Removable Hooks: Declutter the vanity countertop by hanging towels, body brushes, loofahs, and more on removable hooks installed near the shower.
  5. Organize Cleaning Items: Do you have a collection of spray cleaner bottles taking up space in a bathroom cabinet? Choose a small wire basket and organize them inside so you can simply pull the basket out of the cabinet to find what you need.
  6. Organize Hair Pins: Does someone in your family use hair pins, aka bobby pins? If so, you probably have seen them scattered across shelves in the medicine cabinet, and maybe some have even ended up in the sink's drain. Here's a solution: Attach a magnetic strip to the inside of your metal medicine cabinet and store all of the hair pins right there!

The Bedrooms

  1. Use the Space Under the Bed: Extra books, clothing, candles, and shoes can be stored in a large drawer designed to roll beneath the bed.
  2. Install a Hanging Shoe Rack: A hanging shoe rack with clear pockets can be hung over a closet door. Declutter the floor of your closet by storing a pair of shoes in each pocket of this handy organizer.
  3. Evaluate Your Wardrobe: A full to bulging closet can make an entire bedroom feel cluttered. Anything you haven't worn in a year can go into a donation bag if it's still in good condition. If this seems overwhelming, start by spending just 15 or 20 minutes on the task each day.
  4. Clear the Knick-Knacks: If you have knick-knacks on your dresser or bookshelf that don't really add to the bedroom's décor, get rid of them. Think about including them in a garage sale this spring.
  5. Use Drawer Dividers: After getting rid of clothing items you no longer need, use drawer dividers in your dresser drawers to organize your folded sweaters, shirts, and pants.
  6. Hang Framed Photos: Do you have framed photos of family and friends covering the top of your dresser or bookcase? If so, think about hanging them on the wall in an attractive arrangement. You'll get to enjoy your photos along with extra space on your dresser!

The Living Room

  1. A Multi-Purpose Coffee Table: Invest in a coffee table with storage space inside it. Simply lift its lid and store extra pillows, blankets, magazines, and candles out of sight.
  2. Purge Your Pillows: If you have a lot of throw pillows stacked on your sofa and chairs, reduce the number to three or four. They will still enhance your décor while not taking up too much space in the room.
  3. Organize Magazines: Magazines can really clutter up the coffee table and end tables in a living room. Choose a woven or fabric storage bin for your collection of magazines.
  4. Organize Coats and Jackets: Are your kids in the habit of throwing their coats, jackets, or backpacks on the living room sofa or chairs? This can definitely make the room feel cluttered. One solution to this is to put up a simple yet attractive line of coat hooks at one end of the room.
  5. Buy an Ottoman: Not only can you prop your feet up on an ottoman, but you can also store items inside of it. Put your throw blanket, extra pillows, or remotes inside for safe storage.
  6. Evaluate Your Furniture Arrangement: Take a walk through your living room. If you find yourself side-stepping a chair or a table to make it through, get rid of that furniture item. A clear path will make the space feel more inviting.

Happy decluttering, everyone! Thanks for reading. - Alan

11 Easy Ways To Better Insulate Your Home In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Jan 25, 2021

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You've done the weather-stripping thing, adjusted the thermostat, and gotten a tune-up for the furnace. But the house still feels cold. Good news: I have some simple things you can do to further fortify your home against the cold this winter.

  1. Rearrange the Furniture: Check to see whether you have any tables, chairs, or other furniture blocking vents that release warm air. Rearranging the furniture away from the vents can increase the warm air flow in a room.
  2. Check the Flue: Check your chimney flue to make sure it's completely closed when the fireplace isn't in use. When the flue is not completely closed, cold air is free to rush into your rooms.
  3. Invest in a Rug: Cold air can leak into your home through hardwood or other types of bare floors. Think about putting down an area rug, at least for the cold weather months.
  4. Put Up the Storm Door: If you've been delaying putting up the storm door, it's time to get it done. A solid storm door can prevent drafts of cold air from rushing into your home via the front door. Furthermore, it can stop the warm air from escaping outdoors!
  5. Try the Foil Trick: This is for those of you with a radiator next to an exterior wall. Cut a large sheet of aluminum foil and tape it to the wall behind the radiator. It will reflect the heat back into your home instead of letting it escape through the wall.
  6. Switch the Fan's Direction: Change the direction of your ceiling fan paddles to travel clockwise. This pushes the warm air down from the ceiling back into your rooms. You'll save a little on the furnace bill at the same time. That's a win-win!
  7. Check Those Doggy Doors: When you think of cold coming into your home, you may not think of the doggy door leading out to the garage or yard. But drafts can sneak in that way, too! Consider putting a blanket up over the door to keep out the cold. Your dog or cat will still have access, but they'll have to push through an extra layer to go out or come inside.
  8. Get a Draft-Stopper: Sliding a cushioned draft-stopper into the space beneath your front or back door can stop a whole lot of cold air from coming in. You can make your own or purchase one designed to fit your door's dimensions.
  9. Leave the Oven Door Open: After cooking that meatloaf, leave the door of your oven open while it cools. The heat will travel out and warm up the room for a bit. Why waste heat you've already created?
  10. Make the Most of the Sunlight: Create a routine of opening and shutting curtains so the sunlight can come into your rooms for a few hours a day. It's amazing how much warmer (and cozier) a room can feel with the sun pouring in during the winter months.
  11. Monitor the Furnace Filter: A furnace filter full or partially full of dust and pet hair can block warm air flow. Make it a point to check the filter once or twice a month to make sure it's helping and not hindering the flow of warm air.

These are just a few more ways to keep your home toasty this winter. Stay warm! Thanks for reading. - Alan

15 Of The Coolest New Car Features

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Jan 12, 2021

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Have you been kicking the tires at your local car lot? Well, if you're thinking about putting a new car in your garage, you may want to know about the newest and coolest features available these days.

  1. Heated Seat Backs: Along with heating your car's seat cushions, some new vehicles have heated seat backs. You can feel warm and comfortable while tending to your aching back!
  2. Glowing Cup-Holders: Imagine that you're driving at night and feeling happy as you sip a delicious cup of cocoa or coffee. You go to put your cup into the center console, but you can't locate those black cup-holders in the dark. The result? A spill ruins your happy mood. But today, some cars have cup-holders with glowing LED rims so you can see where to place your cup, even in the dark!
  3. Lane Departure Warning: Lane departure warning, or LDW, is a new safety feature in many late-model cars. LDW detects when the vehicle is moving out of its lane and alerts the driver with a sound or visual signal.
  4. Cross-Path Cameras: This new feature allows a driver to see a 180-degree view from the back or front of the vehicle.
  5. Night Vision: This cool feature enhances all available light in the area and detects infrared light, giving a driver better visibility on the road at night.
  6. Adaptive Cruise Control: Check out this improvement on traditional cruise control, with which a car is able to sense the speed of the vehicle ahead and adjust its own speed to suit the flow of traffic.
  7. Parking Assistance: This feature incorporates new technology in the form of sensors and cameras to safely park a car in a challenging parking spot. A driver hits a few buttons, and the car figures out the rest.
  8. Drowsy Driver Detection: Say that three times fast! This feature uses cameras and sensors to monitor a driver for sleepiness. When the system detects changes in how you drive that signal that you might be tired, it alerts you with a seat vibration or sound.
  9. Anti-Collision Technology: This feature involves sensors that are constantly monitoring the positions of vehicles all around the driver. When the data indicates that a collision may be imminent, the driver hears an alert sound.
  10. Hydrophobic Windows: Wait, what? Yes, these high-tech car windows are designed with coated glass that deflects rain, dirt, and other debris. Pretty cool, huh?
  11. Built-In Vacuum Cleaner: This isn't the most glamorous feature on our list, but it's certainly a practical one. A vacuum cleaner that cleans wet and dry material is built into one side of the car, making it very easy to sweep up a mess.
  12. Massage Seats: You have heated seats, heated seat backs, and now massaging seats. This new feature gives a driver six massage settings to choose from. What will they think of next?
  13. Push-Button Gears: Forget about moving a gearshift into park, drive, reverse, etc. Some cars have buttons in place of a traditional gearshift.
  14. Multi-Zone Climate Systems: This feature allows the driver to set their own heating or cooling levels while the riders in all of the passenger seats set their own. Just imagine never having to adjust the heat or air conditioning to try to please everyone in the vehicle.
  15. Heads-Up Display: This feature allows you to customize the data you want right in front of you instead of looking at a crowded dashboard full of changing numbers and levels.

These new features are sure to be coming soon to a car near you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

30 Winter Hacks That Everyone Should Know

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Dec 22, 2020

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The winter season is quickly approaching. This makes it the perfect time to give you some hacks to help you navigate the cold weather a little better this year. So, here we go!

1.Use Your Oven. Using your conventional oven to cook means you get to enjoy the heat it gives off during and after the cooking time. Plus, you get to relish a hot meal.

2. Windshield Wiper Socks. If you park outside this winter, pull your windshield wipers into an upright position, and put a sock over each blade. This prevents them from freezing to your windshield.

3. Dual-Purpose Kitty Litter. Leave one bag of kitty litter in your garage to serve its usual purpose. Take another and put it into your car's trunk to serve as extra weight to keep your rear tires on the icy roads.

4. De-Pill Sweaters. If you have sweaters with pilling, aka fuzzballs, try using a disposable razor to remove them.

5. The Old Hot Water Bottle. Give yourself a warm bed to jump into every night by putting a hot water bottle between the sheets before bedtime.

6. Utilize Your Ceiling Fan. Change the direction of the paddles on your ceiling fan to travel clockwise. This allows it to send warm air back down into the living area.

7. Grab Your Car's Floor Mats. If your car gets stuck in the snow and you don't have any salt or kitty litter, put your car's floor mats beneath the tires for traction.

8. Keep Your Pants Tucked in Your Boots. Make sure your pants stay tucked into your boots by running a mitten clip beneath your socked foot. Then, attach each end to the hem of your pants. Ta-da! Homemade stirrup pants!

9. Cure Cracked Feet. Tend to dry skin on your feet by putting Vaseline on them and wearing socks overnight.

10. Face the East. Take a few seconds to park your car with its windshield facing east. As the sun rises, it can help melt ice that forms overnight.

11. Dry Your Boots. After slipping off your wet boots, stuff newspaper into them to dry them out.

12. Insulate Outlets. Buy some inexpensive foam inserts to put behind your outlet covers to reduce drafts.

13. Put Up Heavy Curtains. Curtains made of heavy material can keep cold drafts from traveling through your home's windows.

14. Drink Water. Staying hydrated is a good idea at any time of the year, but the air is particularly dry in the wintertime. Squeeze some lime juice into your water to give it some pizzazz.

15. Heat Your Pajamas. Treat yourself to warm pajamas every night by putting them in the clothes dryer for about ten minutes before bed.

16. Wool Shoe Inserts. Make some wool inserts for your boots or shoes out of an old wool sweater. Another layer to keep your toes toasty is always welcome, am I right?

17.Gloves in the Glove Compartment. Put an extra pair of gloves and socks in the glove compartment of your car. You never know when a change of wet gloves or socks will be needed.

18. De-Ice with Hand Sanitizer. If your car's door lock is frozen, smear a bit of hand sanitizer on the key and put it into the lock. The alcohol in the sanitizer can help defrost the issue.

19. Make Crock Pot Meals. Find some great chili or soup recipes to make in your crock pot. You'll enjoy the hearty meal and the spicy fragrances.

20. Invest in a Quality Quilt. Putting a heavy quilt on the bed in the wintertime can keep you warm and cut down on the furnace bill at the same time.

21. Get a Humidifier. Running a humidifier in your home for a few hours a day puts moisture in the air and makes the atmosphere more comfortable.

22. Secure the Door. If you feel a draft near the bottom of your front door, put a rolled towel against it to keep the breezes out.

23. Zip Tie Your Tires. If you like to ride your bike in the winter, attach several zip ties around each tire to give you traction on slippery roads.

24. Open the Curtains. Be sure to open the curtains in your rooms during the day so the sunlight does its part to heat your home.

25. Close Unused Rooms. If you have a room that no one goes into, be sure to shut the door. That way, you aren't heating an unoccupied room.

26. Spray Your Shovel. Apply some non-stick cooking spray to your snow shovel so the snow will slide right off.

27. Put Down a Rug. If you have a bare hardwood floor, put down an area rug. This helps to keep some of the heat from escaping through the floor. It helps prevent slipping too!

28. Use a Broom. If you get just a light layer of snowfall, use your push broom to remove it instead of a shovel.

29. Close the Gaps. If you have a gap beside your front door that allows cold air inside, push some molding clay around the frame to fill that gap.

30. Waterproof Your Sneakers. Take a small candle and rub a thick layer of cold wax over the fabric of your sneakers. Then, use a hair dryer on high to melt it. The wax makes your sneakers waterproof.

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Good luck and thanks for reading.-Alan

The Effects Snow Has On Your Lawn

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Dec 22, 2020

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Well, friends, here we are again: It's snow season. Are you ready?

I enjoy seeing the powdery snow collecting on the branches of evergreen trees throughout my neighborhood. Snow can be beautiful, but did you know it can also benefit your lawn? Consider the benefits as well as the harmful effects that snow can have on your grass.

Benefits

Retaining Moisture

It's important for grass to retain some moisture over the winter months. Cold, dry winds can remove some of that moisture, leaving a lawn in a weakened state. Snow cover prevents this loss of moisture. As a bonus, melting snow also adds moisture to the soil and grass.

A Dose of Nitrogen

Grass goes dormant in the cold weather months. This helps it to retain nutrients such as nitrogen until regrowth begins in the springtime. The falling snow absorbs nitrogen from the air. When the snow melts, it releases the nitrogen, which moves down into the soil. In short, the melting snow is giving your lawn a dose of nitrogen. Who knew?

Controlling Soil Temperature

The freeze/thaw cycle that happens in the wintertime can kill tender roots and bulbs. Snow serves to insulate the soil from drastic changes in temperature. Think of it as nature's blanket for your lawn.

Harmful Effects

Mold

A layer of snow on your lawn can lead to mold on your grass. Brown patches of grass are a telltale sign of snow mold. Of course, you have to wait until the snow melts to determine if you have mold. One way to prevent snow mold is to remove heavy areas of snow from your lawn. For instance, if your kids or grandkids build a snowman, enjoy it for just a few days; allowing it to sit on your lawn for an extended period of time increases the chances that mold will develop on the grass beneath it.

Icy Blades of Grass

Ice affects your lawn just as much as snow. Over the winter, your grass can freeze, then thaw. This process makes grass brittle and weakens it. It's a good idea to steer heavy walking traffic away from your grass during the winter season: Pressure on frozen grass can kill it.

Damage From Pavement Salt

There's a good chance that you'll drag a bag of pavement salt out of your garage this winter to sprinkle on your frozen driveway or walkways. But keep in mind that the chemicals in pavement salt can burn grass and kill it. By using a little care as you distribute the salt, you can avoid killing sections of grass near your driveway and walkways. Try putting a small amount of salt in an empty coffee can so you have more control over where it goes.

As you see, falling snow isn't all bad for your grass. In fact, it serves a lot of valuable purposes. If you want to find out how much snow you may be getting, check out my previous post. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Tips To Paint A Room Faster

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Dec 22, 2020

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Painting a room is an easy way to refresh the décor. For example, painting dark walls with a lighter color can instantly make a room appear larger. If you're planning to paint in the near future, I have some tips to help you get the work done a little faster.

  1. Use a Putty Knife During Prep. Putting blue painter's tape at the edges of each wall is one of the most important steps in the preparation process. Save some time by using a putty knife to smooth the tape into place. This gives you a straight line and prevents color from bleeding onto trim, moldings, etc.
  2. Remove Switch Plates and Outlet Covers. This task may seem unnecessary, but it's a simple step that adds neatness to the finished project. Plus, putting blue painter's tape around all the switch plates and outlet covers is a time-waster.
  3. Buy the Right Amount of Paint. Calculate the right amount of paint before heading to the store to purchase it. That way, you can avoid the annoyance of pulling the car out of the carport and driving back to the store because you ran out of paint mid-project!
  4. Buy a Paint/Primer Combination. In the past, painters would have to cover dark walls with primer and allow them to dry before painting in a lighter color. Fortunately, there are many paints available today that contain primer mixed in. Having two steps rolled into one definitely adds speed to a painting project.
  5. Use Paint Rollers and an Extender. Painting a wall with a roller is a lot faster than painting a wall with a traditional paintbrush. To add even more speed to the process, purchase a wooden extension pole. Simply attach the roller to the extension pole and you can avoid climbing up and down a ladder to paint the upper part of a wall. Some extender poles are a fixed length, while others can be adjusted to meet your needs. Be sure the rollers you use are compatible with the extender pole you buy.
  6. Invest in a Lined Painting Cup With a Handle. This simple product can save you time, especially when you're painting trim. You fill the lined cup with white paint (or whatever color you choose), then slip your hand through the handle on the side of the cup. The design of the handle allows you to firmly grip the cup while you dip your paintbrush. Now, you can carry your paint along with you instead of having to stop and walk over to the paint pan to dip your brush. When you're done with a color, simply remove the lining from the cup to avoid cleanup.
  7. Purchase Quality Brushes. Don't be tempted to purchase cheap paintbrushes for your painting project. Cheap brushes can drop bristles, smear, and otherwise mess up your painting work. This means you have to go back and correct mistakes. Quality brushes last and contribute to neat painting work.
  8. Cover the Floor With a Canvas Drop Cloth. Use a canvas drop cloth to cover your floor instead of newspaper. Newspaper can tear and move out of place, causing you to have to stop to put more down or readjust it. A canvas drop cloth stays in place and does the job of protecting your floor.

Happy painting! Thanks for reading. - Alan

The Winter Weather Prediction for 2020-2021

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Nov 23, 2020

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As we head toward the official start of winter in a month or so, you may be wondering about the weather. Are you going to have snow, ice, sleet, rain, or all of the above? I'm curious, too, so I did a little research and found some winter weather predictions for 2020-21.

A Warm Winter

The phrase "warm winter" may sound like an oxymoron, but that's what most states are going to see. So if you were just about to head out to the garage to put snow tires on your vehicle, not so fast! You may not need them this year.

Rising Temps

Weather scientists believe that our warmer winters are the result of gradually rising temperatures. Take one look at the data for the winter of 2019-20 and you'll find that it looks very similar to what we're expecting this winter.

Now, moving from west to east, let's look at the predictions for the winter of 2020-21.

The Western States

In Alaska, the winter weather is expected to be mild with some moisture and some snow. In the western part of Washington and Oregon, the weather is predicted to be mild and wet. Moisture will come in the form of rain or a below-average amount of snowfall. California's winter is predicted to be cool and dry. In Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, there's going to be snow, but it will melt quickly due to warm temperatures. The states of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado are going to see a mild winter with some periods of snow.

The Southwest

Arizona and New Mexico are predicted to see a cold, dry winter for the most part. The winter weather for Oklahoma and Texas is predicted to be warm with a low amount of moisture.

The Midwest

The western part of North Dakota is due to see snow this winter, while the eastern part is leaning toward wet conditions. This prediction is the same for South Dakota and Nebraska. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are all predicted to have more rainy days than snowy ones. Iowa and Missouri are due for warmer temperatures and a low amount of moisture.

The Southeast

The winter weather prediction for our southeastern states is about the same as for the Midwest. Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida are predicted to have a warm, relatively dry winter. The only exceptions in the southeast look to be Virginia and West Virginia, where we'll see sleet in the winter weather forecasts.

The Northeast

Pennsylvania is due for a lot of sleet this winter along with Massachusetts, Delaware, New Jersey, and Connecticut. The upper northeastern states, including New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine, are due to have heavy snowfall and very cold temperatures.

The long-range weather report in the Farmer's Almanac is helpful if you want to see more specific conditions in your area of the country. All you have to do is check out the map to see the details.

I hope you found some good news about the winter weather in your area. Thanks for reading. - Alan

How to Best Prepare Your Lawn for the Winter Season

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Nov 23, 2020

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The arrival of fall doesn't mean the end of caring for your lawn. In fact, the truth is just the opposite: Preparing your lawn now is important if you want to keep your grass healthy through the winter season. Today, I have a few tasks to put on your fall to-do list.

Mow the Lawn

Don't put the lawnmower into the garage for the winter just yet. It's a good idea to mow your lawn regularly until the grass stops growing. This can prevent mold and fungus from forming on your grass over the winter months. Plus, you get to enjoy looking out your windows at a well-manicured lawn for a little while longer.

Get Rid of Weeds

This task always seems to make its way onto a list of lawn preparation tips. Did you ever notice that? Nevertheless, pulling weeds in the fall reduces the amount you'll have to deal with in the springtime. Be sure to get the weeds out of your garden as well.

Aerate the Ground

Aerate your lawn in the fall to keep the grass roots healthy. Aerating provides a way for sunlight, moisture, and oxygen to reach the roots of your grass. Leave the aeration plugs on your lawn so they can break down naturally and nourish your grass.

Put Down Seed

If you have bare spots on your lawn, put some seed on them. The fall weather has a lot of moisture, which helps the grass seed to grow. Spread some straw on top of the seed to discourage birds from stealing it for a quick snack.

Fertilize

Putting down fertilizer in the fall helps to strengthen the grass for the spring. The fertilizer moves to the roots of the grass and is stored over the winter months.

Put Down Mulch

If you raked this year, use those leaves to mulch the trees in your yard. Surround the base of each tree with mulch that's 3 to 6 inches deep. Leaves are natural mulch that can supply trees with nutrients and serve to control the temperature of the soil. If you have any shrubs in your yard, put leaves around those, too. Don't forget to put a thin layer of leaves in your garden to nourish and protect the soil.

Wrap Young Tree Trunks

If you have young trees in your yard, wrapping their trunks is another item to have on your to-do list for winter lawn prep. The wrapping protects a young tree from sunscald that can damage its bark.

Prepare the Lawnmower for Storage

After cutting the lawn for the final time this year, it's a smart idea to prepare the mower for winter storage. This involves emptying the gas tank, removing the blade, and cleaning the underside of the mower, among other things. Taking a bit of time to prepare the mower for winter storage can help streamline the process of getting it running next spring.

Remember that preparing your lawn for the winter months plays a part in how beautiful the grass will look next spring. Your grass will thank you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

How To Remove Mold and Mildew From Around The Home

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Nov 19, 2020

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Mold can grow quickly in a home. It can show up in a washing machine, behind a wall, in a shower, bathtub or even in a cabinet under a leaky sink. Moisture, warmth, and a dark environment are all elements mold needs to grow. This week, I have tips on how to get rid of mold as well as ways to prevent it from growing. But first, check out some of the risks of having mold in your household.

The Dangers of Mold

Mold has the potential to cause a lot of health issues if it's not removed. For instance, black mold can aggravate a family member's allergies, asthma, or other respiratory condition. It can cause sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes, as well as skin irritation. Mold is an even bigger threat to a family member with a weakened immune system.

Tips for Getting Rid of Mold

White Vinegar

Pour undiluted white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the area of black mold. Give the vinegar an hour to soak into the spot while you enjoy the scenery from your backyard gazebo. Next, wet a cloth with water to wipe the vinegar away. The acid in white vinegar has the power to kill black mold. I like this idea because there seems to be a bottle of white vinegar somewhere in the house at all times!

Baking Soda

Did you know baking soda kills mold? It does! Mix tablespoon of baking soda with 8 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Spray an area of black mold and use the rough side of a sponge to remove it. Then, take a wet cloth and thoroughly wipe the moldy area. Next, give the area another spray and let it dry. This last step prevents black mold from growing back.

Lemons

Squeeze four lemons into a cup and pour or spray the juice onto an area of black mold. Allow the lemon to stay on the mold for five minutes, then wipe it away with a moist towel. Once again, it's the acid in lemons that kills mold.

Preventing Mold and Mildew

The Bathtub

Mold/mildew in a bathtub takes the form of pink film or slime. Any of the above remedies can help you get rid of this mold. To prevent it, rinse your bathtub after finishing your bath. Then, dry the inside of the tub. This takes away the standing moisture that mold needs to grow.

Another way to prevent mold in your bathroom is to have a fan installed there. It circulates air and dries moisture on the walls and floor before mold takes hold.

The Washing Machine

If you leave wet clothes in the washing machine for more than a day, they can start to develop mildew. So, the best way to prevent this is to remove your wet clothes right away and put them in the dryer. Plus, leave the door of your washing machine open so it has a chance to dry after the clothes are removed. Bear in mind that white vinegar is handy for keeping a washer clean between loads of clothes.

Other ways to prevent mold growth in a home:

  • Get a dehumidifier to lessen the amount of moisture in the air
  • Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate throughout your home
  • Clean up spills on the carpet before the liquid has a chance to soak into the padding and develop mold

I hope these tips are helpful in keeping your home safe from mold and mildew! Thanks for reading.-Alan

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