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Alan Bernau Jr

Recent Posts

How to Have A Truly Green Christmas

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Dec 12, 2018

christmas-green-tips

Are you looking forward to exchanging gifts with your family and friends this Christmas season? It's always fun to see the reaction on a loved one's face when you give them a gift they will enjoy. As you enjoy this time with your family, why not take a few steps to make this an eco-friendly Christmas? Not surprisingly, a lot of extra waste ends up in landfills this time of year. In fact, Americans produce an extra 25 million tons of garbage during the holiday season. Fortunately, we can reduce the amount of garbage going into our landfills and nurture the health of our environment by trying just a few new things during the holidays.

Eight Tips for a Truly Green Christmas

  1. Make an Edible Gift This Year. Take one Mason jar, add the basic ingredients to make delectable chocolate chip cookies, and you have a beautiful, eco-friendly Christmas gift. Other ideas for this Mason jar gift include ingredients to make pasta soup, hot cocoa, cornbread, or bean soup. Be sure to write the steps of the recipe on a small card to attach to the jar. The recipient can reuse the Mason jar, so there's little to no waste.
  2. Bring Reusable Bags on Your Shopping Trips. Gather up all of your reusable shopping bags for you and your family members before going out to shop. This prevents the circulation of more plastic bags that may end up in the landfill.
  3. Make Your Own Wrapping Paper. Use old newspaper or colorful scrap paper as gift wrap this year. I suggest getting the kids or grandkids involved by letting them decorate your homemade gift wrap with crayons, paint, and markers. This gives new life to paper that may have been tossed into the trash.
  4. Shop for Presents Online. Instead of getting into your car and cruising the mall for a parking space, shop online for your gifts. You can save gas and reduce air pollution created by so many cars on the road this time of year.
  5. Give the Gift of Your Time and Talents. Do you have a talent for fixing small appliances, painting interior walls, or putting up new kitchen cabinets? In lieu of giving a traditional gift, share your talents with your loved ones this year. If your friend needs help painting a room, volunteer for the job. If your niece needs help putting a new tire on her bike, give her a hand! Your loved ones will get great gifts without any wrapping paper or waste involved.
  6. Send E-Cards Instead of Traditional Cards. When you send e-cards out to your family and friends, you save paper as well as the gas used by the mail carrier to deliver your cards to their recipients.
  7. Recycle Your Christmas Tree. After enjoying your tree this year, consider using its branches for mulch. Or you can throw your tree into the woods to serve as a winter home for birds, rodents, or other wildlife.
  8. Use LED Lights for Your Tree. LED lights are energy-efficient, using 80 percent less energy than traditional Christmas lights. Make the switch to LED lights this year and save energy while enhancing the beauty of the season.

Try one or more of these tips and start a green Christmas tradition for your family this year. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: green christmas

The 5 Best Live Christmas Trees

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Dec 3, 2018

best-live-christmas-trees

Do you have your heart set on getting a real Christmas tree this year? If so, there are a lot of trees to choose from, and they're all beautiful in their own way. Take a closer look at the five most popular live Christmas trees to pick the type that's best for you.

Douglas Fir

The Advantages

The sweet fragrance of this tree is one of the many reasons why it's such a popular Christmas tree. Also, the Douglas fir lasts a lengthy four weeks, great if you like to keep your tree up past New Year's Day. If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it will be especially easy to find a Douglas fir for Christmas. Of course, these trees are sent eastward and sold across the country, too.

Disadvantages

The Douglas fir is a very big tree, so it wouldn't be suitable for a small apartment or a small space in a house.

Blue Spruce

Advantages

The silver blue color of a blue spruce makes it a favorite in many households around Christmas time. Also, the branches of this tree have an upward tilt, which makes hanging ornaments especially easy. I think the branches of the blue spruce give it a unique look.

Disadvantages

One downside of a blue spruce is that its needles tend to start to fall off sooner than other types of trees. Also, this tree only lasts about two weeks in its stand, and the needles give off an unpleasant odor when crushed.

Fraser Fir

Advantages

A Fraser fir can hold onto its needles for a long time when it's properly watered and kept away from heating vents. Just make sure the family dog doesn't use your Christmas tree stand as a second water bowl! The needles of this tree have a coating that makes them shine under your Christmas tree lights. A Fraser fir usually lasts for about five weeks and gives off a lovely fragrance. This tree is slender, making it especially suitable for small rooms or a small area within a room.

Disadvantages

A Fraser fir doesn't have the fullness of a Douglas fir and is shorter. Some people prefer a tree with a denser collection of branches.

Norway Spruce

Advantages

Looking for a cone-shaped, medium-sized Christmas tree? If so, go with a Norway spruce. This tree gives off a subtle scent and features deep green needles.

Disadvantages

This tree loses its needles fairly easily if someone brushes by it or it's shaken in its stand.

Balsam Fir

Advantages

One of the most notable advantages of getting a balsam fir is its traditional Christmas tree shape. It lasts a long time after being cut and has a beautiful scent that lingers around its deep green needles.

Disadvantages

Though the scent of this tree is beautiful, it is very strong, which may not be a plus in some households.

I hope these facts are helpful as you make a decision on a Christmas tree for this year. By the way, don't forget to recycle your tree when you decide to move it out of the house. Your beautiful Christmas tree can be helpful to the environment after making your Christmas celebration all the more special.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: best live Christmas trees

Cut Your Heating Bill In 9 Easy Ways

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Dec 3, 2018

cut-your-heating-bill

Did you get an unwelcome surprise every time you opened your heating bill last winter? Well, I have good news. If you're on a mission to lower your heating bill this winter, there are some easy things you can do to accomplish that goal.

  1. Put Weather-Stripping on Windows and Doors. Weather-stripping is an inexpensive purchase that can block cold air from leaking in through windows and doors. Simply remove the backing from the weather-stripping, unroll it, and secure it around the edges of your doors and windows. Run your fingers around the edges of your windows and doors to make sure you covered all of the areas where air is leaking out or in. You can save from 10% to 15% on your energy bill by closing leaks around windows and doors.
  2. Exchange Light Curtains for Heavy Drapes. If you have windows that let cold air in and warm air out, take down lightweight curtains and put up heavy drapes for the winter. These will block the cold air from coming in. Plus, you can open them midday to let the sunlight help to warm your rooms. Another idea I like is leaving the lightweight curtains up and adding the heavy curtains on the outer edge of the curtain rod. That way, you can open the heavy curtains on a sunny day to let some warmth into the room but leave the lightweight ones closed.
  3. Install Storm Doors and Windows. Storm doors and windows are investments that are worth making. They are designed to keep warm air in and cold air out. They are an effective extra layer in the fight to keep the warm air inside your home.
  4. Change the Direction of Your Fan. When a ceiling fan is turning clockwise, it pushes warm air down from the ceiling and into the living space. A ceiling fan is relatively inexpensive, and by setting the fan's direction, you can give your furnace a break for a while.
  5. Turn Down the Temperature on Your Water Heater. Check the temperature setting on your water heater. If it's set at the typical 140 degrees, consider turning it down to 120 degrees. It takes less energy to heat the water to 120 degrees, and you'll hardly notice a difference in the temperature of your shower, bath, etc.
  6. Put in a Programmable Thermostat. If you have a traditional thermostat, think about swapping it out for a programmable one. You can purchase one online and install it yourself following the instructions. You'll be able to set the heat for certain times of day and control it remotely, so it doesn't run when no one is at home. You can save 10% per year on your utility bill by setting your thermostat at a lower temperature while you're out of the house for most of the day.
  7. Change Your Furnace Filter. Check the filter in your furnace every two or three months to see if it is clogged with hair, dust, and other debris. If it is, swap it out for a new one so the furnace can work at top efficiency to deliver heat into your home. Changing your filter and keeping your furnace running efficiently can save you 7.5% on your bill each month.
  8. Do the Bubble Wrap Trick. If you don't have storm windows, you may want to try the bubble wrap trick. Trim a piece of bubble wrap so it fits perfectly over your window. Spray your window with a light film of water and stick the bubble wrap against it. This simple fix keeps the heat from escaping while allowing sunlight to warm your room.
  9. Check the Chimney Damper. If you have a fireplace in your home, it may be allowing warm air out and cold air in through its damper. The damper is the flap you open when you want to start a fire in the fireplace. Reach into your fireplace and make sure the damper is securely closed while the fireplace is not in use.

Try one or more of these money-saving ideas this winter and see how much of a difference it makes on your heating bill. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: cut your heating bill

8 Tips For Protecting Your Lawn In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Dec 3, 2018

protect-your-lawn-in-winter

'Frost on the Grass'

For many, the cold weather season is fast approaching, and your lawn is preparing to take its winter sleep. You may be tempted to throw a plastic cover over your lawn mower and put the yard tools away for the season. But, wait, there's more to do before your lawn tools can start their well-deserved winter nap. Check out eight things you can do to protect the condition of your lawn over the winter.

8 Tips for Protecting Your Lawn in The Winter

  1. Rake the Last of the Leaves. You've probably been raking leaves on and off for about a month now. It's important to make sure all of them are off your lawn before the first frost. Removing leaves allows your lawn access to the sunlight and oxygen it needs to remain healthy. What should you do with those leaves? See #2 on my list.
  2. Mulch. Turn the raked leaves into mulch by rolling your lawnmower over them to shred them. Next, pile the mulch around trees and shrubs in your yard to protect their roots from cold temps. As a note, leave two inches of space between the piled mulch and the tree trunk or shrub to prevent rotting. I suggest letting your kids or grandkids help with this task. Be sure to let them jump in the leaves first!
  3. Aerate Your Lawn. Aerating your lawn is essentially the process of poking holes in the soil. This breaks up compacted soil allowing sunlight and water to nourish your grass.
  4. Water Your Lawn. Watering your lawn in the fall helps it recover from the summer months and gets it into healthy condition before it goes dormant. Your lawn needs about one inch of water each week. You can factor any rainfall you receive into that inch. The more well-nourished it is in the fall, the more likely it will start off on a good note in the springtime.
  5. Fertilize. Use an organic fertilizer on your lawn before the first frost. This is another way to give your lawn more nourishment and get it into shipshape before the cold weather and snow enter the picture.
  6. Relax Your Grass. Did you know that piles of snow, cold temps and foot traffic can stress out your lawn in the wintertime? Though you can't do much about the snow or cold temps, you can avoid walking on the grass during the cold weather months. Ask your kids to play on a nearby playground or in a park instead of in the backyard. A lawn that has experienced very little stress over the winter is able to recover more quickly when the snow begins to melt.
  7. Mow Your Lawn. Continue to mow your lawn every 10 to 14 days until the first frost. Trimming it to the recommended minimum height can help prevent the growth of fungus on the grass beneath the snow.
  8. Remove Weeds. Pull any weeds you see on your lawn in the fall. Being proactive about pulling weeds now helps you avoid pulling even bigger weeds in the springtime.

These are just a few easy things you can do now to help the appearance and health of your lawn in the spring. While you're weeding, mowing and watering, remember to enjoy all of the beautiful sights and smells autumn has to offer. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: protecting lawn in winter

How To Cook A Turkey In 10 Different Ways

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 13, 2018

cook-a-turkey-10-different-ways

Do you have a Thanksgiving Day meal planned for your family? Maybe you prepare the turkey the same way every year. Traditions like that can be very special as well as comforting. But if you're looking to try a little something new this Thanksgiving, I have some ideas on how to cook your turkey in a non-traditional way. Enjoy!

  1. Roasting: Rinse the parts of the raw turkey. Rub its skin with your favorite spices and put it in the oven on a roasting rack for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for another 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  2. Braising: To braise a turkey, combine one cup of sugar and one cup of salt in two gallons of cold water. Immerse the turkey in this mixture, cover, and put it in the refrigerator for four hours. Remove the turkey from the mixture, pat it dry with paper towels, and put it in the pan with onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in a 500-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Take the turkey out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Pour broth over your turkey and into the pan so it reaches about three quarters of the way up its thighs. Cover it with foil and cook for another hour and 45 minutes. The turkey is done when the temperature of the thickest part of its thigh is 170 degrees.
  3. Deep-Frying: First, wash your thawed turkey and set up your turkey fryer outside. Put your turkey in the fryer and pour water on top of it until it's covered, then take the turkey out and make note of the level of water. This is how much peanut oil you will need to deep-fry the turkey. Remove the water, pour in the peanut oil, and heat it to 350 degrees. A turkey requires 3 minutes of frying per pound. After the turkey is finished, put it on paper towels to soak up excess oil. And remember, NEVER fry a frozen turkey that hasn't been thawed; putting a frozen turkey into hot oil can cause it to explode.
  4. Grilled: Preheat your grill to 350 degrees. Wash the turkey and rub it with your favorite spices. Next, put the turkey on the grill and close the lid. Your cooking time will be about 11 minutes per pound of bird. Put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey breast. It is done when it reaches 165 degrees.
  5. Smoked: Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey in a smoker is an easy process. Of course, you have to have a smoker that can do the job. Put a little pepper and salt on your raw turkey before putting it in the smoker. The cooking time here is 30 to 40 minutes per pound of bird.
  6. Beer Can Turkey: This is a fun way to cook a delicious turkey using your grill. Start with a half-full can of beer and pour your favorite spices right into the can. Wash the parts of your raw turkey, set the beer can on a pan, and place the bird on top of it: The opening of the beer can should be up inside the bird. Rub the outside of the turkey with more of your favorite spices. Next, place the turkey inside a grill heated to about 375 degrees. Cook for about an hour, then turn the bird around in the grill and cook for an additional hour. The beer and spices in the can add flavor and keep the inside of the turkey moist. Take care when removing the beer can at the end of the process: The can and the beer inside will be hot.
  7. Spatchcocking: This method involves removing the backbone of the turkey, rubbing its skin with spices, and putting it into the refrigerator overnight. Cook it in a 450-degree oven for an hour and 30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 170 degrees when stuck into the thickest part of the turkey's thigh. This method helps your turkey to cook evenly and more quickly than other methods.
  8. Turducken: Making turducken involves stuffing a turkey with a chicken and a duck. This method for Turkey Day is one of the more time-consuming options, but it's a delicious change of pace.
  9. Stewed: A stewed turkey is an option if you want to keep the meat as moist as possible. This cooking method takes about two hours and 20 minutes. I like the idea of enjoying carrots, peas, onions, and other vegetables with the turkey in one dish.
  10. Sous Vide: Do you want to sous vide a turkey this year? If so, you must commit 16 hours to the process. Vacuum-sealing the turkey in a pouch and cooking it in a hot water bath can help the bird to cook more evenly than it might in a conventional oven. If you're feeling adventurous this year, sous vide may be for you!

The best way to defrost your frozen turkey is to put it into the refrigerator. Be sure it's on the bottom shelf so it won't drip onto other foods in your fridge. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey.

The amount of time you cook your turkey depends on the weight of the bird. It breaks down to about 15 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey.

I hope you try something new for your turkey dinner this year. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: cook a turkey

10 Ways To Reuse Leftover Pumpkins

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 13, 2018

pumpkin-soup

Halloween night has passed, and the last piece of candy has been eaten. Do you still have a few lonely jack-o'-lanterns sitting on your porch? Maybe you have a couple of uncarved pumpkins in your home. Well, before you throw them out with the trash, I have ten suggestions for how those sensational squash can help you continue to celebrate the fall season.

10 Ways to Reuse Leftover Pumpkins

  1. Make Pumpkin Puree. Make a batch of pumpkin puree to use in pumpkin soup, chili, or dip. You can even throw it into the blender with some milk and whip up a nutritious smoothie for a snack.
  2. Roast Pumpkin Seeds. Roasting pumpkin seeds is a favorite activity of many families. Take the seeds out of a whole pumpkin, or put them aside after carving your jack-o'-lantern. Mix the seeds in a bowl with a couple teaspoons of melted butter and a pinch of salt. Next, spread them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Feed the Local Wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, deer, porcupines, and tons of insects are just as fond of pumpkins as you are. Slice your old jack-o'-lantern into big pieces or simply throw it into a wooded area so local wildlife can enjoy an unexpected, tasty feast.
  4. Make an Air Freshener. Cut your old jack-o-lantern in half widthwise. Rub some of your favorite spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or allspice, on the fleshy inside of your pumpkin. Next, put a tea candle in the pumpkin and light it. This will send the spicy fragrance wafting into the air.
  5. Create a Flowerpot. Cut off the top third of your jack-o'-lantern and line the bottom with newspaper. Put soil on the newspaper and plant some beautiful chrysanthemums in your pumpkin pot. If you want, you can plant your pumpkin pot in the ground. The pumpkin will decompose over time, leaving behind your planted chrysanthemum.
  6. Donate Them to a Local Farmer. Sheep, goats, pigs, and other farm animals go crazy for pumpkin flesh. Load up your old jack-o'-lanterns and whole pumpkins to take to a local farmer who likes to give their livestock a special fall snack.
  7. Decorate Uncarved Pumpkins. If you have a bunch of smaller, uncarved pumpkins sitting on tables around your home, dust off your decorating skills and put some designs on them with acrylic paint. Templates are great for painting animals or words or making scrollwork. These decorated pumpkins can be added to the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table.
  8. Donate Them to a Chuck-the-Pumpkin Contest. Check the local newspaper for any pumpkin-chucking contests happening nearby. This type of contest usually involves a tall catapult, pumpkins, and a long roll of measuring tape.
  9. Add Them to Your Compost Pile. Pumpkins are full of vitamins that can be absorbed back into the earth. Be sure to cover your pumpkins with a layer of leaves after adding them to your compost pile.
  10. Make a Bird Feeder. To make a pumpkin bird feeder, all you need is half a pumpkin and a bag of wild birdseed. I suggest making a pair of matching bird feeders with a whole pumpkin. Your local feathered friends will be thrilled with their delicious find!

See? Your carved and uncarved pumpkins can still serve a purpose. Get creative, and let me know how you reused your pumpkins this fall. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: leftover pumpkin

The Best Methods For Protecting Trees And Shrubs In Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 6, 2018

protecting-trees-in-winter

'Trees Need Protection in the Wintertime'

In the wintertime, trees and shrubs can be damaged by the extreme cold, dry winds, snow, sleet, frost and even the harsh, low sunlight. Young trees are especially vulnerable to damage from environmental changes over the wintertime. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your costly trees and shrubs through the cold weather months.

Wrap Your Trees

Wrapping your trees can protect them from cold temperatures, dry winds, excessive moisture and ice. Many people use burlap to wrap their trees because it is a flexible, inexpensive material that is environmentally-friendly. Another option is to wrap the trunk of a tree using a roll of brown paper specially designed to protect trees. In addition, there are flexible wraps made of plastic that are durable and can be reused over several winter seasons. I think this is an especially good method of protection because a wrap can deter deer, rodents and other animals from chewing on a tree's trunk causing damage.

Road Salt and Trees Don't Mix

The salt that your city or county sprinkles on the icy roads can help your car or truck get more traction as you drive along. Unfortunately, it can wreak havoc on your trees and shrubs. Evergreens and other trees that grow near a road can suffer damage from exposure to the chemicals in road salt. The salt can be thrown onto the trees by cars passing by. Wrapping trees and shrubs in burlap can keep them safe from damage caused by road salt.

Paint Your Tree Trunks

Maybe you have some young trees with narrow trunks that still have a lot of growing to do. One way to protect them from sunscald is to paint them! Dilute some white interior latex paint and put a layer on the tree's south side. The white paint helps to reflect the harsh winter sunlight.

Using Mulch to Protect a Tree's Roots

Putting mulch or shredded leaves around the base of your trees and shrubs can help to keep their roots warm and moist during the cold weather. The mulch pile should be about four to six inches deep and not touch the base of the tree or shrub. Keep in mind that rodents are more apt to make homes in your mulch if it sits up against a tree's trunk or touches the base of a shrub.

Create a Wind Barrier

If you have a tree that stands alone in your yard without the natural protection of other trees, consider making a wind barrier. Put four stakes in the ground around your tree and wrap a large sheet of canvas or a tarp around the stakes using twine to secure it. The height of the wooden stakes depends on how tall the tree is that you're trying to protect. Think of this canvas as a tent that goes around your tree as opposed to over its top. This barrier will prevent your tree from taking direct hits from the harsh winter winds that can crack or break weaker branches.

Taking one or more of these precautions with your trees and shrubs before winter can keep them in good condition and looking beautiful next spring. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: protecting trees in winter

12 Household Items To Repurpose Into Halloween Decor

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Oct 22, 2018

halloween-decor

Do you like to decorate your home and yard for Halloween? Filling up your cart with Halloween decorations at the craft store can get expensive. Today, I'm thinking about ways to save money by turning simple household items into fabulous Halloween décor. Try out these projects to make your home spookier!

  1. An Old-Fashioned Homemade Scarecrow: An old shirt and pants, boots, and twine are among the supplies you need to make a scarecrow for your front yard.
  2. Ghosts on a Haunted Walkway: Wash six or seven empty gallon milk jugs and cut a small access hole in the back of each one. Next, draw a ghost face on each of them with a black marker. Put an LED light or a colorful glow stick in each jug. Place them along the border of your walkway to create a scary glow at night.
  3. Mummy Mason Jars: Make a mummy Mason jar using a few extra Mason jars, black paint, first aid tape, googly eyes, and glue. Use the jars to hold straws, candy, flowers, or utensils on the buffet table at your Halloween party.
  4. Scary Signs: Perhaps you have a small chalkboard in your kitchen or in your kids' playroom, If so, put it outside on your porch and write a message on it in chalk. "Happy Halloween," "Welcome to Our Haunted House," or "Enter at Your Own Risk" are all fun ideas.
  5. Toilet Paper Roll Pumpkins: Take a new roll of toilet paper and put it on top of a sheet of orange tissue paper. Bring the sides of the tissue paper up around the toilet paper and secure the top with a pipe cleaner. Glue small triangles cut from black construction paper on the front of your pumpkin to make its face. Don't forget to unwrap your pumpkins and put the toilet paper back into the closet after the party's over!
  6. A Vase With Halloween Flair: If you have a clear glass vase in any shape, give it some flair by filling it with alternating layers of candy corn and marshmallow pumpkins. I especially like edible décor; don't you?
  7. A Mummy Door: Get a roll of toilet paper and tape long strips of it width-wise across your front door all the way down. Take two paper plates, color them black, and tape them to the door to be the mummy's eyes.
  8. A Witch's Broom: If you have a dusty old broom in a closet or your garage, make it a part of your Halloween décor. Set the broom on your porch and put a stuffed black cat and an old pair of black shoes with buckles next to it. Bring your chalkboard (see #4) into the picture by writing "Witch Parking Only" on it.
  9. Miniature Can Pumpkins: If you have empty soup or vegetable cans, cover them with newspaper and paint them orange. When the orange is dry, paint pumpkin faces on them with black acrylic paint.
  10. Ghosts on Your Porch: Take a few white trash bags, fill them with leaves from your yard, and fasten the tops with black pipe cleaners. Use a black marker to make a ghost face on each one. This is a great way to decorate AND get your kids to help with the raking!
  11. Monster at the Door: Two paper plates, a roll of masking tape, black construction paper, and scissors are the supplies you need to make this easy Halloween craft. Cut two big circles from the black construction paper and glue one to each paper plate. Tape the two paper plates to your front door for the monster's eyes. Use a long strip of the masking tape to make the monster's mouth and maybe some little pieces to make some pointy teeth. Don't forget to make some eyebrows out of masking tape for your monster!
  12. Tomato Cage Ghosts: Dig those tomato cages out of your garden shed and make them into ghosts. LED lights, an old pillowcase, and a black marker can help you transform your tomato cages into ghosts.

I hope these ideas put your creativity into high gear for this year's Halloween décor! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Why Do Leaves Change Color In Autumn

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Oct 12, 2018

leaves-change-color-autumn

Leaves start turning all sorts of beautiful colors this time of year. It seems like they are green one day and yellow, red, orange, or gold the next. Have you ever wondered why leaves change color in the autumn? I did some digging, and this is what I found. Enjoy!

A Look at the Changes Inside a Tree's Leaves

There are many cells inside a single leaf. These cells contain chlorophyll and food (glucose) for the tree. It's the chlorophyll that gives a leaf its green color. In the spring and summer seasons, a lot of food is being made inside the leaves of trees. But as the days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop in the autumn, food production inside a leaf slows down. This is how a tree prepares for dormancy in the cold weather months. As a result, the chlorophyll starts to disappear, leaving behind the yellows, oranges, purples, reds, and golds we see in our fall foliage.

The Effect of Temperature and Light on Leaf Color

Temperature and sunlight have an influence on the colors of leaves. For instance, red maple trees are known for their brilliant red leaves. A combination of lots of sunlight and temperatures that don't fall below freezing in the fall boosts the development of anthocyanin in maple leaves. It's the anthocyanin that turns this tree's leaves bright red. However, if there's an early frost, the colder temperatures will lessen the production of anthocyanin, reducing the brightness of the red maple's leaves.

Why Do Some Leaves Change Color Sooner Than Others?

Sometimes, a tree's leaves change color early due to stress. The tree may be experiencing the stress of an infestation of pests eating its leaves. It changes its leaf color as a defense mechanism against the pests. Also, a nitrogen deficiency can cause a tree's leaves to change color early.

Why Do Some Leaves Change Color Later Than Others?

A mild autumn can cause a slowdown in leaf color changes. The mild weather prompts the continued production of chlorophyll, causing the leaves to stay green. A rainy autumn can also cause a slowdown in leaf color changes. Moisture makes leaves hardier, so they keep their green color longer. I guess that's the upside of having a rainy autumn!

Interesting Autumn Facts

  • Leaves aren't actually turning gold, orange, red, purple, and yellow. These colors appear when the chlorophyll fades from a leaf; they were there all along, but the chlorophyll hides these bright colors during the warmer months.
  • A dry summer that is not too hot usually produces vibrant leaf colors in the fall.
  • A windy autumn can blow lots of leaves off of the trees without allowing them the opportunity to change color.
  • Fallen leaves serve the purpose of protecting tree seeds as they germinate over the colder months.

Now that you know why leaves change in the autumn, why not take a drive and look at some of the beautiful leaves throughout our country? Whether you take a drive or look out your window, don't miss the opportunity to admire the beauty of the season. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: leaves change color

The 9 Best Places To Road Trip Through Fall Foliage

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Sep 22, 2018

fall-foliage-view

Are you in the mood for a road trip? If so, this is the perfect time of year to travel somewhere new to see the leaves turning brilliant yellows, reds, purples, and oranges. Today, I have some fun ideas for if you'd like to get behind the wheel with your family and set out to admire some beautiful foliage.

The Nine Best Places to Road-Trip Through Fall Foliage

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. If you want to take a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you have an opportunity to see brilliantly colored leaves from mid-October to early November. Mountain maples, American beech, sugar maples, and hickories are just a few of the trees in this tremendous park.
  2. Northwest Ohio, Route 65. This drive takes you on a 50-mile tour of the lovely changing leaves in northwest Ohio, starting on Route 65 and going on to routes 110 and 424. This winding road runs beside the Maumee River from Perrysburg to Defiance, Ohio. Be sure to look for Mary Jane Thurston State Park along the way! The leaves are at their peak color here in late October.
  3. Hocking Hills State Park in Southeast Ohio. Travel to Logan, Ohio, and drive through Hocking Hills State Park to admire the changing foliage all around you. This short 15-mile jaunt runs on routes 664 and 374. There is a walking trail at Ash Cave if you want to get out and walk a bit. Late October is the peak time for leaves around Hocking Hills State Park.
  4. Michigan's Gold Coast. Starting at Traverse City, you can see the changing colors of maple and oak trees as you cruise along for 100 miles near Grand Traverse Bay. I like the idea of traveling to a place to see leaves along with a lot of other interesting sights like windmills, lighthouses, and fishing towns. Mid- to late October is the best time to see leaves in peak color.
  5. Wolf Pen Gap Road in North Georgia. The 11.8 miles of this curvy road are bordered by trees with leaves at their peak color in early November. Be sure to take a look at Lake Trahlyta along your route.
  6. Trap Pond State Park in Delaware. The reds, golds, and yellows of the leaves in this Laurel, Delaware, park will astound you! They are at their peak from mid-October to early November. Enjoy the endless sights throughout this 3,600-plus-acre park.
  7. Scenic Fairfield County in Connecticut. No leaf-peeping season is complete without a visit to Connecticut. Did you know the state has the longest season for fall foliage? Take the Scenic Fairfield County tour and get your fill of beautiful leaves for 115 miles. The best time to take this specific road trip is from mid-October through the end of the month.
  8. Vermont Green Mountain Byway. This 220-mile road trip travels through Waterbury and Stowe. You'll see an abundance of colorful leaves along with a collection of villages, quaint shops, pastures, and other picturesque scenery. The leaves are at their best from the last week of September into early October.
  9. Marinette County Waterfall Tour in Wisconsin. A 125-mile loop takes you on a drive where you can observe changing leaves on elms, birches, maples, and more. Plus, there are 14 majestic waterfalls, including Caldron and High Falls, to see along the way. The peak time for leaf color in this area runs from late September to early October.

No matter where you roam, make sure you consult the fall foliage map to determine the peak time for changing leaves. Thanks for reading. - Alan

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