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Alan Bernau Jr

Recent Posts

Why Not Raking The Leaves Leads to A Healthier Lawn

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Nov 11, 2020

squirrel-in-yard-with-leaves

A layer of leaves in your yard provides a place for butterfly and moth pupae to survive during the cold months of winter. Butterflies and moths are both significant pollinators. So, you're helping your own garden as well as the environment in general by letting the leaves remain in your yard.

Provide Food for Birds in the Springtime

Some of those butterfly and moth pupae mentioned above will turn into full grown adults. Others will be fed to baby birds in the springtime. When you skip the raking, you're protecting a source of food for adult and baby birds alike. The robins, sparrows, and cardinals will thank you!

Boost the Health of Your Garden

A layer of leaves prevents weed growth on your lawn and in your garden. So, you don't have to worry about getting out the wheelbarrow and the bags of mulch. The job has been done naturally. Furthermore, as leaves break down over the winter months, they fertilize the ground.

Give the Critters a Home

Did you know many animals use leaves to make their winter home? Squirrels use leaves to build their nests high up in the trees. Turtles, salamanders, toads, earthworms, and other creatures make their home beneath layers of leaves. When you skip raking the leaves in your yard, you're providing shelter for a variety of animals over the cold winter.

Give the Landfills a Break

Millions of tons of leaves go into landfills every year. People rake them, bag them, and put them out on the curb with their garbage. These leaves take up valuable space in a landfill. What a waste! They can be used to make your lawn and garden healthier in the springtime. Don't miss the opportunity to put those leaves to good use.

Helpful Tips to Remember

  • If you walk through your yard on the way to your shed, carport or mailbox, rake aside a small section of leaves to create a neat path. This can prevent you and others from slipping on wet leaves while moving from point A to point B in your yard. Use the leaves you collect as layers for your compost pile or place them around a tree.
  • Run your lawn mower over the leaves in your yard to cut them into small pieces. Leaves that are shredded and chopped up into small pieces are even more effective at fertilizing your lawn.
  • If you have drainage pathways on your lawn, be sure to remove leaves from them so rainwater and melted snow can move away from your property. For example, make sure the paths leading away from your home's downspouts are clear of leaves.

I'm pleased to provide you with a different way of looking at your leaf-filled yard this autumn. Enjoy the colorful view! Thanks for reading.-Alan

The Best Ways To Keep Connected When You Can't See Family and Friends

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Nov 7, 2020

stay-connected-with-family-and-friends

Are you having trouble keeping up with friends and family during this strange year? If so, you're not alone. This week, I have some fun ways you can connect with loved ones from a distance.

  1. Virtual Game Nights. A virtual game night can take place via Zoom or another web conferencing site. One idea is to play a trivia game. One person is elected to ask the questions while players type in their answers. The person who is first to type in the correct answer is the winner. A virtual Bingo game is another fun idea. Simply send the players links allowing them to access a bingo card. You or another member of the group can be the number caller. Be sure to get some gift cards or funny items to use as prizes for your games. Pictionary and Scattergories are two other virtual games for you to try with friends and family.
  2. Weekly Zoom Chats. Schedule a weekly or even bi-weekly Zoom chat with a group of friends or your family members. A weekly chat gives you the chance to see the faces of your loved ones and vice-versa. You don't have to play a game or have a funny story ready to tell. Sometimes just chatting about day-to-day things can be comforting.
  3. Group Emails. Starting a group email is another way to stay connected. People can share their daily activities, accomplishments, information about new hobbies, and anything else that occurs to them.
  4. Online Book Club. Joining an online book group is another great way to stay in contact with friends and family. It could be a book club organized by the local library that meets via Zoom, or you could start your own book group. Ask for input from group members on what books to include on the list, and then set a meeting date once per month to discuss it.
  5. Writing Letters. Reconnect with family and friends by writing letters. Choose some attractive stationery or note cards for your correspondence. This is an especially good idea for family members who aren't tech-savvy. Everyone loves to find a personal letter in their mailbox, am I right?
  6. Sharing Photos via Social Media. Sharing photos on Facebook or another social media website is another easy way to stay in touch with loved ones. Sometimes seeing the face of a niece or nephew or even seeing a funny picture of a friend's pet can go a long way in brightening someone's day.
  7. Cooking Group. Start a weekly cooking group where one person demonstrates how to make a particular dessert or snack while the other members follow along in their own kitchens. Be sure to tell your group members what ingredients to buy and what supplies they'll need to work the recipe with you. Making a dish together can give way to a lot of laughter and fun.

Until we're able to gather with friends and family for a nice long visit on the porch or in the backyard gazebo, there are ways to stay connected in 2020.

10 Squash Varieties and How To Best Prepare Them

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 24, 2020

butternut-squash

Is squash a favorite food in your family? If so, you already know it's delicious. As a bonus, squash is also full of nutrients such as vitamins A,C, and E as well as potassium, fiber, magnesium, protein, and iron just to name a few. This week, I'm highlighting ten types of squash and the best ways to prepare them.

  1. Acorn. If you're looking for a fiber-filled squash with a nutty flavor, your search is over. Roasted acorn squash is delicious. Simply cut an acorn squash in half lengthwise, cut off the stem and scoop out the seeds. Brush the inside of the squash with softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon, or brown sugar. Put them on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for an hour.
  2. Butternut. Put aside your mashed potato recipe this fall season and make mashed butternut squash instead. Add melted butter and brown sugar to your mashed squash and this may become your new go-to side dish.
  3. Spaghetti. Push aside the boxes of spaghetti at the grocery store and try making spaghetti squash. After roasting the squash, scrape the soft fleshy part out with a fork to make your strings of spaghetti. Cook some ground beef, combine it with your spaghetti squash and diced tomatoes, top with shredded cheese and bake for 20 minutes to make a casserole. Give your usual spaghetti dish a little dash of flair!
  4. Delicata. Roasted delicata squash is simple and tasty. Cut a squash in half lengthwise and remove all the seeds. Next, cut each half into slices measuring about a quarter inch thick. Coat each piece with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put them on a baking sheet and cook them at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. These slices can instantly dress up a plain salad.
  5. Kabocha. The skin of a Kabocha squash can be either green or red. This squash has a rich flavor that is perfect for making squash soup.
  6. Carnival. Roasted carnival squash is great when paired with maple syrup and walnuts. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, cut off the stem and clean out the seeds. Brush them with melted butter, drizzle in some maple syrup and roast in a 400-degree oven for an hour. Sprinkle walnut pieces into each squash half and put them back in the oven for ten minutes to toast the walnuts.
  7. Sweet Dumpling. Enjoy your sweet dumpling squash in an unusual way by making squash bars. Cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves make this an even more flavorful dessert.
  8. Blue Hubbard. Roasted Blue Hubbard squash with parmesan cheese is a unique side dish for any meal. Cut a Blue Hubbard squash in half, clean out its seeds, cut off the stem and cut the squash halves into one-inch thick slices. Coat each piece in olive oil and roast them in a 400-degree oven for one hour. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the roasted squash before serving.
  9. Buttercup. Buttercup squash is wonderful when paired with apples. Cut a buttercup squash in half so you have two bowl shapes. Put them on a baking sheet and brush the insides with melted butter. Put half a cup of chopped apple in each bowl and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Eat the apples with a spoon, and then eat the squash bowl!
  10. Red Kuri. Roast Red Kuri squash and shallots and add them to your salad. Cut the Red Kuri squash in half, remove seeds, then cut the halves into one-inch thick slices. Slice up four shallots and place them onto the baking sheet with the squash slices. Drizzle all of the items with olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast them in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes.

So, instead of putting all of your squash out in front of your home and garage as fall decorations, consider putting some on your dinner plate. Preparing your favorite squash in delicious ways can help everyone in your family benefit from all of the nutrients this fruit has to offer. Thanks for reading.-Alan

12 Things You Never Knew About Pumpkins

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 24, 2020

squirrel-eating-pumkin

Pumpkins. This time of year, you see them in huge piles, lined up on porches, sitting next to trees and even on the kitchen table. But do you know everything there is to know about these familiar fall fruits? This week, I have some pumpkin facts that may surprise you.

  1. A Winning Pumpkin. As of 2018, the record for the biggest pumpkin grown in the United States is 2,528 pounds. It was grown by New Hampshire resident Steve Geddes.
  2. The Pumpkin Capital of the World. The city of Morton in Illinois is known as the Pumpkin Capital of the World. Why? The Nestle Food Company's pumpkin processing plant is located in Morton. This is where more than 85% of the world's pumpkin is canned this time of year. I'd say that certainly earns them the title!
  3. Pumpkins are Worldwide. Pumpkins grow on every continent throughout the world with the exception of Antarctica. I don't blame them, do you?
  4. A Potato Jack-o'-Lantern? In Ireland a few hundred years ago, early jack-o'-lanterns were carved out of potatoes and turnips. But, as the Irish immigrated to America in the 1800s, they discovered pumpkins were much easier to carve into jack-o'-lanterns.
  5. Yummy Pumpkin Flowers. The pretty yellow flowers that grow on a pumpkin vine are edible just like the pumpkins.
  6. Pumpkins Like a Cool, Dark Place. Pumpkins that haven't been carved can be stored for up to three months. They need to be stored in a dark, cool and dry place like a shed or cellar. Just imagine having pumpkin in January!
  7. Hundreds of Pumpkins. There are hundreds of varieties of pumpkins available. The Kakai, Cinderella, Crown Prince, Lakota, and Autumn Gold are just a few examples.
  8. Pumpkins Are Good for Your Hearing. As we get older, our potassium levels can drop. Low potassium levels can be responsible for hearing loss. Pumpkins contain lots of potassium and they're delicious to boot!
  9. Pumpkin Tall Tales. At one time it was believed that a pumpkin could cure a snake bite. Not true. It was also thought that rubbing pumpkin flesh on freckles could get rid of them. No, but that can definitely make your face smell like a pumpkin.
  10. Farm Animals Love Pumpkins. Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the leftover pumpkins at the local pumpkin farm? Well, they are most likely fed to local farm animals. Pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, cows, dogs, and ducks are just some of the farm animals that love to dine on leftover pumpkins.
  11. Pumpkin Trivia. Many people think pumpkins are vegetables. Perhaps this is because they are often pictured alongside vegetables. But pumpkin is a fruit. Remember that for your next trivia game.
  12. Pumpkin Spice Without the Pumpkin. Pumpkin spice flavor is everywhere this time of year. It's in coffee, ice cream, donuts and more. But pumpkin spice doesn't have any pumpkin flavor in it. Pumpkin spice is actually a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

I hope you learned a few new things about this beloved autumn favorite. Thanks for reading. - Alan

7 Ways To Add Major Curb Appeal To Your Home In Just One Weekend

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 24, 2020

painted-mailbox

Do you want to increase the curb appeal of your home? Well, if you think you need to repaint your house or repave your driveway, think again! There are plenty of simple, quick things you can do to boost curb appeal. Check out these ideas to get you started!

  1. Light Up Your Front Walk. One of the easiest ways to boost curb appeal is to put in some pathway border lights. This project can be done in less than a day. Most home improvement stores have an inventory of solar-powered LED pathway lights in a variety of designs. Purchase an even number of them and push them into the ground about one or two feet apart on both sides of your front walk. These pathway lights soak up sunlight during the day and pop on when the sun goes down, creating an appealing glow people can see from the street.
  2. Paint Your Front Door. Painting your front door takes about half a day and makes a big difference in your home's appearance. You could select a paint color that creates a dramatic contrast to your home's exterior or go with a color that complements your window shutters. Or simply choose a color that makes you happy!
  3. Invest in Seasonal Doormats. A doormat for your front porch is a practical item, but that doesn't mean it can't add to the curb appeal of your home. Take a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon to check out the inventory of seasonal doormats in your local home décor store. One of the best things about this idea is that you can put a different and unique doormat on your porch every few months. Be sure to purchase a mat or two to put in front of the door to your garden shed as well.
  4. Paint Your Mailbox. If you have a plain, silver mailbox at the end of your driveway, think about refreshing its look. Painting your mailbox involves removing its flag, sanding and priming, and painting. This is a creative project that's sure to set your mailbox apart from all others on your street. Be sure to paint your mailbox flag a different color than the body of the box so your mail carrier will see it. This project takes only a few hours to complete.
  5. Create a Double-Duty Planter. Take some time on a Saturday or Sunday to look for an unpainted wooden planter at your local garden store. Before putting your favorite flowers in it, paint the planter and use fancy stencils to put your house numbers on its side. As the flowers change throughout the seasons, your colorful planter will help folks find your house when cruising down the street. This project takes about half a day to finish.
  6. Jazz Up Your Garage Door. Add interest to a plain-looking garage door within minutes. Check online for magnetic decorative hardware designed for a garage door. A variety of styles and designs are available. Once your order of decorative hardware arrives, you can arrange it on your door in minutes. These embellishments don't scratch your garage door and endure all types of weather. A few little additions can give your garage door fresh new style.
  7. Disguise Your Garden Hose. If you have a garden hose hooked to an outdoor spigot in front of your home, it can be an eyesore. So why not find a stylish pot designed to store your neatly coiled garden hose? A brass or copper pot on the porch could add a small dash of flair to your property while keeping your garden hose in excellent condition.

Try some of these easy ideas and delight in the renewed look of your home. Thanks for reading. - Alan

15 Fun Fall Ideas For The Whole Family

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 24, 2020

pumpkin

Falling leaves, pumpkins, and caramel apples are just a few of the things to love about autumn. It's the perfect time to enjoy fun activities with your loved ones. Today, I have some ideas for ways that you can get out there and have some fall fun with the family.

  1. Camp in the Backyard: Who says you have to drive to a campground to go camping? Set up a tent or pull out the sleeping bags to spend an evening or night in the backyard.
  2. Carve Pumpkins: Make time this fall to grab some pumpkins at your local farmers' market and do some creative carving together.
  3. Go Leaf-Peeping: Leaf-peeping can be done on foot or from a seat in your family's car. Drive to a local park or walk some trails to take in all of the changing colors of the leaves.
  4. Make S'mores: Set up a line of s'mores ingredients on a kitchen counter so each family member can build their own. For some extra fun, try making a few delicious s'mores with a twist.
  5. Bake a Treat With an Autumn Theme: Gather with family members in the kitchen and make an autumn-themed treat together. Caramel apples, pumpkin cookies, and candy corn magic bars are a few tasty suggestions.
  6. Decorate Your Yard for Fall: When you go to decorate your yard and carport for the fall this year, get everyone in on the fun. For example, little kids can arrange pumpkins around the carport, teens can stuff the sections of a scarecrow with hay, and adults can hook up eerie lighting.
  7. Make a Bird Feeder: Make a bird feeder out of items you have around the house. This is a craft you and your family (and the birds) can enjoy throughout the year.
  8. Go for a Hayride: Keep your eyes open for farms in your area that are hosting hayrides this fall. They're usually inexpensive, and it's an exciting activity for kids and adults.
  9. Roast Pumpkin Seeds: This is a simple activity that helps you make good use of those seeds after carving pumpkins. Each family member can sprinkle in the ingredients they want, whether it's salt, cinnamon, chili powder, or another spice.
  10. Go See a Drive-In Movie: Going to a local drive-in theater is a socially distanced way to see a movie with the family. Be sure to bring some snacks if the theater isn't serving them.
  11. Rake Leaves Into Piles and Go Jumping! This activity never gets old. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn with family and share some laughs at the same time.
  12. Go Bicycling: Round up your family members and hop on your bicycles for a ride around the neighborhood. Enjoy a breath of fresh air and exercise all in the same outing.
  13. Walk Through a Corn Maze: Navigating a corn maze can be a really entertaining activity for kids of all ages.
  14. Visit an Apple Orchard: Do you have a farmer with an apple orchard in your area? If so, it may be open to visitors who want to pick apples or just enjoy a walk around a unique place.
  15. Enjoy a Fall Picnic: Put together a picnic basket full of sandwiches, potato salad, and other favorites and go for a picnic in a local park. The cool air and leaves falling all around will make it a memorable afternoon for you and your family.

I hope one or more of these ideas appeal to you. Have some fun this fall, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Can You Use This Year's Seeds in Next Year's Garden?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 17, 2020

bell-pepper

We are dealing with a good question in this week's blog. Can you save vegetable seeds from this year to use next year? The answer is, yes! Aren't you glad you asked? I have some great information on which seeds to save and how to store them.

Seeds to Save and Use Next Year

The seeds from tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, and beans can all be saved to use in your garden next year. Focus on saving only open-pollinated seeds as opposed to seeds from hybrid vegetables. Open-pollinated seeds will produce the exact same type of vegetable they came from.

Preparing Seeds for Storage

Some seeds are a little easier to prepare for storage than others. For instance, to prepare the seeds from a red or green pepper, you simply brush them out of the inside of the vegetable and put them onto a ceramic plate to dry. Sometimes it can take two to three days for the seeds to dry completely. Alternatively, taking seeds from tomatoes requires a few more steps. You are probably familiar with the watery substance that comes out of a tomato when you chop it in half. Tomato seeds need to be free of this watery substance, or gel, before they can be stored away.

Seed Storage

Once the seeds are prepared, they should be put into an airtight container such as a piece of Tupperware or a sealable plastic bag. Find a cool, dry place for them out of the sunlight. The optimal temperature for stored seeds ranges from 32 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a small refrigerator in your garage, that would be an excellent place for storing your seeds. You could even put them in one of the vegetable drawers to make them feel right at home!

A Word About Expired Seed Packets

Along with storing seeds from this year's vegetables to use next year, you may want to take a look at your seed packets. Perhaps you have some packets with expiration dates that will come and go before planting time in the spring. The good news is you can safely plant seeds from expired packets. However, the expiration date means there's a question as to whether they'll be viable.

A simple test can tell you if they're likely to grow. Take ten of the seeds out of the expired packet and put them onto a moist paper towel. Next, put the paper towel into a sealed plastic bag and leave the bag to sit at room temperature. After ten days, take a look at the seeds. If at least half of them are starting to germinate, then it's likely you'll get some good results from the rest of the seeds in the expired packet.

Reusing Grass Seed

If you have some grass seed leftover, you may be tempted to use it again. The truth is that grass seed must be stored in cool, dry conditions away from the sunlight in order to remain viable. Grass seed stored in the appropriate way can be reused for up to a year. However, you're going to have to use a larger amount of the older seed to get the results you want.

Harvesting seeds from this year's vegetables to use next growing season means you can look forward to enjoying your favorites again in the spring and summer. Plus, the more seed you can reuse, the less money you have to spend at the garden store next year. A win-win! Thanks for reading. 

-Alan

Businesses That Started in a Garage: Dell

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Oct 8, 2020

dell-computer

Every month, I give you the lowdown on a famous business that got its start in a garage. If you own a laptop or desktop computer, there's an excellent chance it bears the name of the entrepreneur we're looking at today: Dell. Sound familiar? Well, it should! For the tenth edition in this series, I'm going to focus the spotlight on entrepreneur Michael Dell.

The Beginning of Dell

The history of Dell Computer Corporation began in a dormitory room at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1984, 19-year old college freshman Michael Dell had a strong interest in both math and technology. He enjoyed working with old computers, giving them an extra supply of memory and additional disk drives. In fact, he made some extra cash by selling these computers to fellow students. This sparked an idea.

He began to research the computer industry and saw the need for more efficiency in the process of making and selling computers. He decided that custom-building computers and selling them directly to the people who wanted them would streamline the process. And so, with a startup fund of $1,000, Dell decided to start his own computer business.

Dell Leaves College Behind

You know the old saying, "Do what you love, and the money will follow"? Well, that was certainly true for Dell. He began constructing and selling computers using stock parts from IBM. As his list of orders expanded, he realized that his business, known at that time as PC's Limited, was getting too big for his dorm room. So he left his dormitory behind, along with his days as a college student. He moved his business operations to a garage. Setting up his business in a garage gave him the space he needed to perform his work with efficiency. Plus, he had storage space for parts as well as privacy and a quiet atmosphere.

Success Comes Quickly

In 1985, Dell designed and constructed his first computer, called the Turbo PC. The Turbo PC was a big hit with business owners. It was a fast, powerful computer perfect for use at businesses of all types. In its first year of operation, Dell's company sold more than $1 million in products, providing the company's young founder with a profit of $134,000.

Dell Continues to Grow and Flourish

In 1987, Dell changed the name of his company from PC's Limited to Dell Computer Corporation. By 1988, the company was growing at a rate of 80 percent each year. In 1996, the company launched the website Dell.com, making $1 million worth of sales each day during its first six months.

Dell Goes International

In 2000, Dell Computer Corporation had more than 35,000 employees and offices in 34 different countries. Sales made on the Dell website topped out at $40 million per day. Michael Dell was officially a billionaire. In 2001, Dell earned recognition for being the number one provider of computer systems throughout the world. In 2015, the rate of customer satisfaction with Dell products reached its highest level to date.

Michael Dell's Company Today

Today, the company, now known as Dell Inc., sells laptops, desktop computers, televisions, printers, scanners, and other technology through its website as well as in large stores such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy. This company is still well-known for its strong customer support. And Michael Dell is now a billionaire many times over.

Whether it's making computers, building motorcycles, making candles, or creating cartoon characters, all of the entrepreneurs I've written about in this series possess an inexhaustible curiosity. They're driven to push the boundaries in their industry and continually learn more. Does this sound like you? With a creative idea (and a spacious garage), who knows what business ventures are in your future? Thanks for reading! - Alan

Which Type of Fencing Material Should You Choose?

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Sep 3, 2020

types-of-fencing-material

Do you want to build a fence around your property? Perhaps you want more privacy or you'd like to have an extra layer of security for your home and garage. Well, before you can build a fence, you have to decide what type of fence material you want. Each type of fencing has its own advantages and disadvantages. Check out some helpful information I found on materials for fences.

Wood

Cedar, redwood, cypress, pressure-treated pine, and white oak are all types of wood used for fences. You have a lot of great choices!

Cedar is one of the best types of wood for a fence due to its natural oils. These oils are a deterrent to burrowing insects. It's also resistant to rot, which means a cedar fence is built to last!

Redwood is another solid choice for a fence. It's rot-resistant as well and not at all appealing to insects.

Along with having a lot of options regarding wood type, you can paint or stain a wooden fence to suit your color preferences.

One of the disadvantages of wood for a fence is it can take on damage from harsh weather conditions. Also, you have to dedicate time and money to keeping a wooden fence looking its best.

Aluminum

An advantage of aluminum for your fence is that it requires very little maintenance. This material won't rust or corrode.

One of the disadvantages of aluminum is that it's lightweight and can bend. Also, it doesn't provide a high level of security.

Steel

A fence made of steel provides you with a high level of security, and if it's galvanized and has a powder coating, it won't rust. Most steel fences are galvanized.

A big disadvantage of using steel as fencing material is that it's expensive. It also requires professionals to install it.

Wrought Iron

You may agree with me when I say that a beautifully designed wrought-iron fence can be a work of art. The attractiveness of this type of fence is one of its biggest advantages. Also, the material is durable and strong.

On the downside, wrought iron is at the top of the list of the most expensive materials for fences. Another disadvantage is that you have to sand and repaint your wrought-iron fence about every two years to keep it looking its best.

Vinyl

A vinyl fence can mimic the appearance of a wooden fence but needs less maintenance. Another advantage is that you can order it in the color you want so you don't have to paint or stain it.

One of the disadvantages of a vinyl fence is its vulnerability to extreme changes in temperature. These changes can cause vinyl to shift. In addition, the initial cost of a vinyl fence is higher than many other types of fences.

PVC

PVC is recycled material, so you have the advantage of owning an environmentally friendly fence. Other advantages are that it's inexpensive material and you can install the fence yourself.

A disadvantage is that it doesn't have a particularly attractive appearance. And like vinyl, this material can shift and loosen in response to extreme changes in temperature.

Masonry

Are you considering concrete, brick, or stone for your fence? If so, you're choosing an attractive, traditional option. These are durable materials as well.

But one problem with using masonry materials for your fence is they are expensive. Also, this type of fence requires professional installation. It must be built with a particular type of foundation that will help it remain sturdy despite extreme temperature changes.

Chain-Link

When it comes to fence material, chain-link is very reasonably priced. Another advantage is that you can install this type of fence yourself.

One disadvantage of a chain-link fence is that it doesn't have a lot of visual appeal: Imagine the fencing around a school playground. Also, if you're looking for a high level of security or any level of privacy, chain-link doesn't offer either one.

Try writing down the top three reasons you have for installing your new fence. This will help you decide on the most suitable material. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Tricks To Keep Cut Flowers Looking Fresher For Longer

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Sep 2, 2020

keep-daisy-flowers-fresh-longer

Do you like to walk into the kitchen to see a vase of daisies or chrysanthemums on your table? Maybe you have a favorite flower you like to cut from your garden to bring into your home. Regardless of the types of flowers you love, you'll want to keep them looking as fresh as possible in their vase. Good news! I have some simple things you can do to keep your cut flowers looking fresh for as long as possible.

  1. Use an Apple Cider Vinegar Mixture. Create a mixture using two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of sugar. Pour it into your vase with the water. The apple cider vinegar kills bacteria that can make your flowers fade more quickly, while the sugar serves as food for the flowers.
  2. Trim the Stems. Before putting your flowers in a vase, trim an inch off the bottom of the stems. Be sure to cut the stems at an angle. You may want to go out to your garden shed and get the pruning shears to help you make a precise angled cut. Trimming your stems makes it easier for them to absorb the water they need to stay fresh-looking. Trimming a bit more off of the bottom of the stems each time you change the water can renew your flowers as well.
  3. Put Your Flowers in the Fridge. At the end of the day, put your vase of flowers into the refrigerator. Spending eight hours in the cool temperature of your refrigerator helps to keep your flowers looking fresh.
  4. Remove Some Leaves. Remove the leaves on your flowers that sit below the waterline in your vase. If left on, these leaves can encourage the growth of bacteria in the water that take away from the fresh look of your flowers.
  5. Leave a Penny. Put a penny in the bottom of your vase of flowers. Copper is antibacterial. This is just another way to keep bacteria from shortening the time you get to enjoy your cut flowers.
  6. Add Soda to the Vase. Add cup of clear soda to the water in your flower vase. The sugar in the soda nourishes the flowers and can actually make them smell sweeter! Using a dark soda is another option if you plan to put your flowers in a vase that isn't clear. Using just a quarter-cup in your vase leaves some soda for you to enjoy over ice!
  7. Crush an Aspirin. Take an aspirin and crush it with a spoon. Dump the crushed aspirin into the vase of water. Aspirin reduces the acidity in the water, which helps it to travel through the stems more quickly. Wilting doesn't happen as quickly when the flower stems receive adequate water.
  8. Keep the Flowers Out of Direct Sunlight. Taking care with the location of your vase can contribute to the freshness of your cut flowers. Find a place that's out of the direct sun and away from any vents releasing hot air. Heat or intense sunlight can wilt your flowers more quickly.

The best part about this list of tips is that you likely have many of these items around your house right now. Thanks for reading. - Alan

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