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How To Winterize The Trees And Shrubs In Your Yard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Nov 15, 2019


Are the trees and shrubs in your yard ready for the winter winds and cold temperatures? Trees and shrubs that are healthy are going to fare much better through the winter, while those that are struggling now may struggle through the cold weather. Fortunately, I have a few steps you can take to give all of your trees and shrubs a little extra help in dealing with winter weather.

Winter's Effects on Trees and Shrubs

The branches of trees and shrubs are particularly vulnerable in the wintertime. During a heavy snowfall, snow can pile up on branches, breaking the weaker ones. Also, a young tree's trunk can start to bend under the weight of heavy snow or icy branches. In addition, a tree's trunk can suffer sunscald when the direct sunlight bears down on its south or southwest side in the wintertime. Even animals such as mice and deer can cause damage to trees and shrubs by gnawing on them in order to get nourishment during the winter.

Methods of Winterizing Your Trees and Shrubs

Put Down Mulch

Run to your shed and get out those bags of wood chips because it's time to mulch! Mulch helps to insulate the roots of your trees and shrubs. It prevents loss of moisture and helps to regulate the temperature of the soil. Put a 2-to-4-inch layer of mulch around your tree's trunk. Make sure the layer is level with the ground and not touching the trunk. The best time to put down mulch is after the ground begins to freeze but before the first snowfall.

Create Covers

To protect weak branches from winds and heavy snow, cover each of your young trees and shrubs with a large piece of burlap. Secure the burlap carefully around the base of your plant. Burlap is an excellent choice because of its breathable material. If you happen to see some snow piling up on a tree's branches, I suggest you gently shake off as much of the snow as you can to lighten the load. Every little bit of effort helps.

Wrap the Trunk

Maybe you've noticed some tree trunks with wrapping around them in your neighborhood. This is another way to protect a tree's trunk from cracking and other damage. You can find rolls of burlap wrapping strips in most garden stores. This wrapping can also deter insects, deer, and other animals from gnawing at a tree's trunk.

Create a Windbreak

If you have small trees or shrubs that are willowy and may suffer damage from the winter winds, create a windbreak. Put two posts into the ground on the north and west sides of your tree. Next, run a large sheet of burlap between the posts to block the wind from hitting your tree with its full force.

What to Avoid at This Time of Year

  • Don't add fertilizer to your trees and shrubs; it will lead to new growth that will be particularly vulnerable to cold weather.
  • Don't prune your trees; this will prompt growth that won't survive the winter.

As you're getting out the wool socks, coats, hats, and gloves from the back of the closet, don't forget to get your beautiful trees ready for winter as well! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Businesses That Started In A Garage: Hewlett-Packard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Nov 11, 2019


Once a month, I'm spotlighting an entrepreneur who started a thriving, well-known business in a garage. What better place to get down to some really serious work? Today, I'm looking at the two entrepreneurs who came together to make the Hewlett-Packard company.

The Beginning of the Hewlett-Packard Story

William Hewlett and David Packard met while going to school at Stanford. They shared a curiosity about electronics and a desire to carve out their own livelihood by starting a business. Hewlett wanted to name their business HP, while Packard wanted to name it PH. With the toss of a coin, HP was born.

The Birthplace of Silicon Valley

In 1938, Packard and his wife rented a home in Palo Alto partly because it had a one-car garage. This garage became the first workshop of the HP company in 1939. Hewlett moved into a shed in the back of the Packard house so work could take place at all hours. The garage had adequate space for Hewlett and Packard to work on projects, including experiments with electrical currents. Plus, the garage had tables and shelves for their tools and pieces of equipment, including a drill press. This is where the pair came up with their audio oscillator.

The audio oscillator was their ticket to success as a company. The one-car garage in Palo Alto is a historical landmark in California and is now known as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. In 2000, HP purchased this home and took on the work of restoring it to its original condition.

Walt Disney Enters the Picture

Remember the Disney movie Fantasia? In 1940, another entrepreneur, Walt Disney, was looking for a way to make the most of the sound in this incredible movie. He'd heard of HP's audio oscillator and decided to purchase one for each of the handful of theaters presenting Fantasia . The wonderful symphonic sound that came out of the audio oscillators made this HP product a hit! They had Walt Disney singing the praises of their invention.

The Growth of HP

After a little more than a year in business, Hewlett and Packard started to outgrow their garage workshop. In 1940, they moved to another space and continued to work on new products. The company incorporated in 1947 and went public ten years later, providing each of its employees with a share in the company.

Getting Into the Computer World

In the late 1960s, HP came up with products including a time-sharing computer and handheld calculator. Moving into the 1970s, HP ramped up its production of computers. In the 1980s, HP offered many types of computers, from large models used by big companies to smaller personal computers for individuals. Compaq became a part of HP in 2002.

Whether it's a laptop, printer, calculator, copy paper, or one of dozens of other products, there's an excellent chance you've held an HP product in your hands at one time or another. The company Hewlett and Packard started in that one car garage in Palo Alto back in 1939 is still flourishing today. How inspiring! Thanks for reading. - Alan

The Pros And Cons of Remodeling In The Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Oct 31, 2019


Are you thinking about remodeling your kitchen? Or maybe you'd like to see some new tile and different fixtures in your guest bathroom. Regardless of which room you want to change, you don't have to wait until springtime to get the job done. There happen to be many benefits to getting remodeling work done in the wintertime. But of course, there are some drawbacks as well. Today, I'm looking at the pros and cons of having remodeling work done during the winter.


A Large Pool of Contractors

Not surprisingly, most homeowners plan to have remodeling work done in the springtime. It seems like the most natural choice due to the warmer weather and feelings of renewal that come with the season. So when you opt to have remodeling work done in the winter, you have a larger pool of contractors to choose from than you would in the spring.

Dry Winter Days

Depending on where you live in the country, you may enjoy many dry, mild winter days. These conditions are ideal for contractors to tackle your remodeling project. In the springtime, contractors have to contend with rainy days and avoid bringing mud into your home.

Discounts in the Off-Season

Choosing to do some remodeling in the winter means you benefit from off-season discount prices on materials used by contractors.

The Perfect Time to Take a Road Trip

The best way to enjoy a remodeling project is from far away. So once the contractors take the reins of the project, if the road conditions are good, back the RV out of the carport and take a road trip. When you return, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the new look of your kitchen, bathroom, hallway, or all of the above. It will be kind of like returning to a brand-new home!


A Lack of Time During the Holidays

Preparing for and celebrating the holidays is one of the best things about the winter season. Some people shy away from the thought of getting remodeling work done at such a busy time of year.

Waiting for Materials in the Off-Season

Having remodeling work done in the off-season means you may have to wait a little longer for materials that are not as readily available as they are in the springtime.

Fewer Hours of Daylight to Work

The winter brings shorter days, which means fewer daylight hours for your remodeling work. Of course, one solution to increase the number of work hours your contractors do each day is to hook up some additional lights.

Higher Electric Bills Due to Evening Work

When contractors have to use extra lights to keep working after the sun goes down, it can result in higher electric bills for you. The alternative is for your contractors to stop working when the sun disappears, but this can add days to your project.

As you see, spring isn't the only season to do remodeling work in your home. Getting your kitchen or bedroom redone in the winter allows you to fully enjoy the results in the springtime. Thanks for reading. - Alan

How to Fuel Next Year's Garden With Fall Leaves

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Oct 28, 2019


Do you have any leaves left on your lawn? Maybe you've been diligent about raking leaves and your lawn is as clean as a whistle. Or perhaps you've been putting off the job for a few weeks now. If you still have some leaves floating around on your lawn, I have some good news for you: They can play a part in helping your flower or vegetable garden flourish next spring. Let me tell you about some ways you can make good use of those fall leaves in your spring garden.

Shred and Store Leaves

Before raking your leaves, run over them with your lawnmower to shred them. Next, rake up the shreds, put them into bags, and store them in your shed over the winter. Some lawnmowers are designed to pick up shredded leaves and direct them into an attached bag. If you have one of these mowers, your job just got a little easier. By the way, you don't have to rake every leaf off of your lawn: The leftover shreds will provide nutrients to the grass. In the springtime, use these bags of shredded leaves to mulch your garden. Your collection of fall leaves will give your spring garden the nutrients it needs to flourish.

Add Leaves to the Compost Pile

If you have a compost pile, add some shredded leaves to it this fall. Leaves contain carbon that mixes well with the nitrogen in the grass clippings you've been adding to your compost pile all summer. In the springtime, take some of this nutrient-rich material from your compost pile and put it into your garden. The compost will add minerals to the soil to help your plants and flowers grow.

Create Leaf Mold

"Leaf mold" sounds like something you want to avoid or clean up, right? Well, in this case, just the opposite is true. Leaf mold can add a whole lot of nutrients to your garden. The first step in making leaf mold is to collect and put leaves into plastic bags. The leaves can be shredded or whole. It's best if the leaves are moist when they are put into the bags. This moisture helps to bring on the mold! These leaves need to sit for at least a year, so find a good place in your shed for them. Take a peek in the bags every few months to make sure they are still moist. If not, add some finished compost to each bag. Leaf mold is crumbly cocoa-brown material with a sweet fragrance. It's full of minerals that will aid the growth of your flowers and vegetables. As a note, sometimes, it takes a couple of years to create leaf mold; shredding the leaves first will make the process faster. Creating leaf mold has been a favorite gardening technique with English gardeners for many years. Why not give it a whirl in your own garden?

As you tackle your leaf-raking duties this fall, imagine how beautiful your spring garden will be next year as a result of your work. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Things To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Oct 28, 2019


Are you in the market for a used car? Perhaps you have an empty spot in your garage that needs a car for your family or one to use for work. Or maybe you're looking for a sleek, sporty number to take out when you're in the mood for a fun road trip! No matter the reason, there are a few things you need to be on the lookout for when evaluating a used car.

  1. Leaks: Check underneath the car to find any oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, or antifreeze leaks. Even if there is just a small, slow leak, it can indicate a worn-out component or damage.
  2. Misaligned Doors and/or Trunk: Make sure the car is parked on level ground so you can see if the doors are aligned along with the trunk. Misalignment can be a sign of a damaged frame.
  3. Shiny New Bolts: If you see brand-new bolts in the trunk or hood of a used car, they may be disguising recent repairs resulting from an accident.
  4. A Detailed History: Every car has a history, just as every person does. Never buy a used car without looking at its official history. CARFAX is an example of a company that can provide you with a detailed history of a used vehicle, including any accidents it's been involved in as well as service and title information.
  5. The Sound of the Engine: Of course, you're going to test drive any used car before buying it. This gives you the opportunity to listen to the engine. Does the car hesitate before starting? Is the engine excessively loud? Does the car shake? All of these things can be signs that you're test-driving a car that needs a lot of work.
  6. The Presence of Rust: You may expect a used car to have a bit of rust just because it's a little older. But the placement and amount of rust can mean the car has been sitting in water. Rust around the edges of doors, the edges of the trunk, or at the bottom edge of the car can be a sign the car has been parked in high water. Also, sniff around the interior of the car. Don't worry about looking silly: You want to avoid a lemon at all costs! A musty odor can indicate mold from floodwaters.
  7. Cracked Hoses: Open the hood and look at the condition of the hoses and connections there. Do you see a lot of cracked rubber or rust around the connections? This is wear and tear that can result in a long list of repairs.
  8. The Hurry-Up Treatment: Whether you're dealing with a salesperson in a dealership or an independent seller, never give in to the hurry-up treatment. This usually involves the salesperson mentioning that someone else is coming in soon to look at the car or making a passing comment that they don't expect this car to be available for much longer. Never feel rushed into buying a used car, no matter how much the salesperson tries to convince you to make a quick decision. I firmly believe that every shopper should take their time so they feel at peace with their final decision.

Getting a used car checked out by a mechanic (someone not connected with the seller or dealership) can also provide you with valuable advice on whether to purchase a used car or move on down the road.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Pumpkin Is Back on the Menu: The Many Health Benefits of This Fall Fruit

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Oct 16, 2019


As we head further into October, you're probably starting to see piles of pumpkins at your local farmers' market or stacked outside your favorite grocery store. Maybe you plan to pick up a few pumpkins to place on your porch or create an arrangement around your garden shed. Yes, they are certainly great for fall decorating. But did you know they're also an incredibly nutritious fruit? This week, I have the skinny on these cheerful fruits and all the benefits you can enjoy by adding some pumpkin to your plate.

The Health Benefits of Pumpkins

Boost Your Immune System

Vitamins A, C, and E are just a few of the nutrients in pumpkin. These vitamins along with iron and folate (also in pumpkin) help to build up your immune system, making you less vulnerable to illness. Having a strong immune system also helps wounds to heal more quickly.

Antioxidant Assistance

Pumpkins contain antioxidants including beta-carotene and alpha-carotene that can kill free radicals that harm your cells. Having too many free radicals can put you at risk of cancer, heart disease, or chronic illness.

Strengthen Your Eyesight

Eating pumpkin provides you with vitamin A, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These are all nutrients that strengthen your eyesight and lessen your risk of macular degeneration that can occur as a person ages.

Help Your Heart

Pumpkin contains nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and potassium that help to keep a heart in healthy condition. Consuming potassium can lower blood pressure, and the fiber in pumpkin can decrease the level of bad cholesterol.

Look Good, Feel Good

As long as you're eating pumpkin for your health, consider putting some aside to help keep your skin and hair in good condition as well.

Dry Skin

Dry skin kind of goes hand in hand with the fall season, don't you think? Luckily, there's a pumpkin cure for dry skin. First, combine two tablespoons of cooked pumpkin with a half-teaspoon of honey, a quarter-teaspoon of milk, and a quarter-teaspoon of heavy whipping cream. Apply this pumpkin mixture to your face and leave it on for about ten minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. The nutrients in the pumpkin add moisture to your skin. But remember to avoid answering the doorbell with your pumpkin mask in place!

Dry Hair

Does your hair feel like straw these days? If so, pumpkin can help. Combine two cups of cooked pumpkin in a bowl with one tablespoon of coconut oil, one tablespoon of honey, and one tablespoon of plain yogurt. Spread this mixture on your washed hair while it's still damp. Put on a shower cap so the mixture can set for about 15 minutes. Rinse off the pumpkin conditioner and enjoy the shine! Even if your hair is still a bit dry, it will definitely have a beautiful fragrance to it.

Healthy Pumpkin Recipes to Try

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin muffins are an excellent treat to make because they can be a side dish with any meal or a snack in between. The recipe has oats, vanilla, ginger, honey, and other ingredients in it to make these muffins all the more delicious.

Rosemary Parmesan Pumpkin Seeds

Try a fragrant twist on an old favorite by preparing a cookie sheet full of rosemary Parmesan pumpkin seeds. You can sprinkle them over your soup or salad or even put them into your favorite sandwich.

Pumpkin Soup

If you're going to have soup when the weather gets cold, why not make it pumpkin soup to celebrate the season? This recipe has a short list of simple ingredients so you can fully enjoy the taste of the pumpkin.

I hope you have some fun trying pumpkin recipes this fall. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Businesses That Started in a Garage: Apple

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Oct 12, 2019


Each month, I'm devoting a blog post to a famous company that got its start in a garage. Last month, we learned about how Jeff Bezos and his wife, Mackenzie, started Amazon in a humble garage in Bellevue, Washington. Today, I have the backstory on how a company called Apple got its start within the walls of a simple garage.

The Beginnings of Apple

Apple was founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The two met while Jobs was doing an internship at Hewlett-Packard; Wozniak worked as an engineer there. Their friendship was based on an avid interest in electronics and computer design. In 1975, the two friends decided to see if they could create their own computer. Their first office was the garage belonging to Jobs's parents. That's where the prototype for the Apple I was born. Not surprisingly, this garage is now a historic site.

The Apple I Gives Way to the Apple II

Jobs and Wozniak did sell many Apple I computers, even though the design didn't have a keyboard or a monitor. Most of the people who bought the Apple I were individuals with a special and advanced interest in electronics and computers; in other words, the people who purchased the Apple I were a lot like the two people who designed it. Like all ambitious entrepreneurs, Jobs and Wozniak had ideas to improve on the design of their first Apple computer. They wanted to make a user-friendly computer that would appeal to the general public as opposed to just computer enthusiasts, and this thinking led to the development of the Apple II computer, released in 1977. It had a keyboard and was compatible with a monitor. Furthermore, this computer could display color graphics; the Apple logo was designed to reflect this appealing feature. The first year it was available, the Apple II recorded $3 million in sales. By 1980, this computer took off, with sales reaching $200 million. Hey, not bad for a 5-year-old company, right?

The Impact of Apple Computers

Apple was the first company to introduce the computer as a device anyone could have access to and find useful. Though some of the Apple computers developed in the 1980s were not as popular with the public for various reasons, there's no doubt that Jobs and Wozniak took the first steps in developing the personal computers we use today.

The Garage as the Perfect Birthplace of Apple

I've been thinking about why Jobs and Wozniak chose to start their computer company in a garage. Of course, the first reason that comes to mind is that it was rent-free! After all, it did belong to Jobs's parents. Maybe they believed in their son's dreams just as much as he did. Also, designing a computer involves putting large and small components together, creating diagrams, and making notes, so these inventive men needed plenty of space to spread out, and a garage definitely provides that. Plus, if you're inventing what you think is the next big thing, wouldn't you want to keep your business operations private? A garage provided them with privacy as well as security for their invention. As you can see, a garage can be the perfect place for individuals inspired to bring their ideas and visions to life!

Do you have any innovative ideas swirling around in your mind? If so, take them to the garage! Thanks for reading. - Alan

11 Must-See Botanical Gardens In The US

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Oct 2, 2019


Are you looking for more color than your backyard garden can provide at this time of year? If so, visiting a botanical garden can give you a healthy dose of color. I've found a few botanical gardens that are definitely worth a visit. Enjoy!

  1. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia. This botanical garden features flowers blooming throughout the year. It has several themed gardens, including the Rose Garden, Asian Valley, and a children's garden. Its 63-foot-tall domed conservatory filled with exotic plants is definitely worth a look. In addition to a collection of beautiful flowers, this sprawling garden has art exhibitions, a library, classes, and more!
  2. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden in Brooklyn, New York. Guided tours are available when you visit this lovely garden. It boasts a water garden, herb garden, rock garden, and more. One of the highlights of your visit is sure to be the Shakespeare Garden. It features more than 80 plants and flowers mentioned in the works of Shakespeare. Don't miss the asters growing in the Shakespeare Garden at this time of year!
  3. Denver Botanic Gardens in Denver, Colorado. This garden has a unique combination of things to see. You'll see art sculptures, bonsai trees, and an area where cacti grow. Don't miss the chance to make your way through the ultimate corn maze at DBG this time of year. But the highlight of your trip will surely be the indoor jungle greenhouse.
  4. Chicago Botanic Garden in Chicago, Illinois. If you're looking for a botanical garden to get lost in for a day or two, then the Chicago Botanic Gardens is right up your alley! This garden covers almost 400 acres. Take a tour on foot or see it from a comfortable seat on a tram. The Chicago Botanic Garden features the Japanese Garden, English Walled Garden, Circle Garden, and Dwarf Conifer Garden, to name a few. Consider checking out the Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns for a festive fall experience!
  5. Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Are you a fan of botanical gardens and beautiful fountains? If so, Longwood Gardens is for you. Stop by to see the Rose Garden, a display of water lilies, and the unique Green Wall. The popular fountain performances at Longwood Gardens combine music and choreographed fountain features. It's a unique event you'll remember for years to come!
  6. Atlanta Botanical Gardens in Atlanta, Georgia. Do you have a special place in your heart for orchids? If so, you'll want to know that this garden has the largest collection of orchids in the country. The orchids on display are from all over the world. Besides the orchid collection, you're sure to love the Canopy Walk. I love the idea of seeing a group of majestic trees from the top down.
  7. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. Are you partial to desert flowers and plants? If so, walk the trails of this garden to admire flowers that make their home in the Sonoran Desert. Some examples include the brittlebush, the Mexican gold poppy, and plenty of cacti. Take a tour and learn how people have made medicines from desert flowers and survived in this harsh environment.
  8. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Cincinnati, Ohio. Enjoy two places in one! Visit the Botanical Garden at the Cincinnati Zoo and admire the butterfly garden full of blooms attractive to butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. Check out the endangered species garden, where research is being done on how to preserve these at-risk plants. Don't forget to tour the edible garden and the rain garden. Be sure to save some time to visit all of the animals at the zoo, too!
  9. Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. This garden founded by Henry Shaw covers 79 acres. Some of its highlights include a Victorian-style garden, a circular garden of roses, and a garden of dogwoods, bluebells and azaleas growing beneath a large tree canopy. A must-see feature of the Missouri Botanical Garden is the Climatron. This geodesic dome is where 1,400-plus tropical species of plants grow and flourish.
  10. Bellevue Botanical Garden in Bellevue, Washington. This urban garden covers 53 acres with a beautiful collection of dahlias, rhododendrons, viburnums, and evergreens. The Rock Garden, Waterwise Garden, and Native Discovery Garden are all worth a tour. The serene Yao Garden is one of the biggest highlights of the Bellevue Botanical Garden.
  11. Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in Gainesville, Florida. A bamboo garden and herb garden are two of the highlights of the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. Enjoy the majestic gathering of palms in Palm Hammock. Be sure to spend some time wandering down pathways and over bridges in the Water Garden. Continue on to the Hummingbird Garden to relax in a gazebo and see if you can spot a ruby-throated visitor or two. This beautiful garden may inspire you to get a gazebo of your own and create a peaceful spot to enjoy in your own backyard!

So be sure to spend some time admiring the fall colors everywhere this season. And as always, thanks for reading. - Alan

How To Extend The Life of Your Patio Into Fall

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Sep 27, 2019


Summer is drawing to a close, but that doesn't mean you have to give up spending time on your patio just yet. Even as the cooler temperatures set in, you can still enjoy time out on your beautiful patio. Today, I have some ideas for how to make your patio more inviting during the cooler months.

Get a Hot Tub

Do you like the thought of sitting in a bubbling hot tub on a cool autumn evening? If you have space on your patio, think about investing in a hot tub. Hot tubs do require regular maintenance, but using one may be the perfect way to enjoy watching the leaves change color in the fall.

Install an Outdoor Kitchen

Having an outdoor kitchen makes it easy to host barbecues for friends and family right through the autumn months. Slip on a sweatshirt and knit hat to cook up some hamburgers: Soon, the oven and stove in your outdoor kitchen will exude heat, warming the patio area for everyone.

Upgrade Your Lighting

As the sun begins to set sooner, upgrading your patio lighting can make the area a more inviting place to spend time. You can install hanging lanterns, wall lights, or even pathway lights, depending on your space and the tone you're trying to set. String some white LED lights along the fence or elsewhere around the patio to give the area a celebratory atmosphere.

Use a Pergola as a Sitting Area

Getting a pergola for your backyard patio is another idea to consider for the fall. Make the area beneath your pergola into a comfortable sitting area by laying down an area rug, getting an arrangement of cozy outdoor furniture, and putting up curtains. A portable heater can add a lot of warmth to your unique sitting area while you enjoy a great book, a nap, or conversation with family and friends.

Make Your Own Outdoor Movie Theater

Consider getting a portable movie screen to set up in your backyard. Set up your projector and settle in on your patio furniture to enjoy a movie or TV show in the great outdoors! A portable heater, warm blankets, and a big bowl of delicious popcorn will make your patio theater better than your local drive-in!

Install a Fire Pit or Outdoor Chiminea

A fire pit in your backyard can make your patio area all the more appealing. You can get a fire pit grill and cook dinner over the flames, or you can use your fire pit to roast marshmallows while telling some scary ghost stories!

An outdoor chiminea can also add warmth to your patio area. They are available in a variety of styles and materials. You may want a traditional clay chiminea, or perhaps you'd rather have one made of cast iron. Regardless of what your chiminea is made of, the wood fire within can give off enough heat to make your patio toasty!

I hope one or more of these ideas transforms your patio into the place to be this fall. Thanks for reading. - Alan

12 Ways To Put Your Apple Harvest To Good Use

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Sep 24, 2019


Do you like to go out with your family to pick apples at this time of year? Maybe you're planning a trip to the orchard, or maybe you have apple trees on your property. No matter where you get your apples, there are plenty of ways to make good use of them this autumn. Check out some ideas to get you started.

  1. Make a Dish With an Apple Theme: Apple cinnamon muffins are a great treat to make for breakfast or to use as snacks. Take your apple pie a step further by making an apple pie milkshake! Or, if you're looking for a tasty, colorful salad, try your hand at making a Waldorf salad.
  2. Make Apple Juice: Making traditional apple juice is a fun way to savor your apples for several days.
  3. Dry Your Apples: It's pretty easy to dry apples at home, and they can be a nutritious substitute for potato chips. Sprinkle them with cinnamon or nutmeg for a bit of spice.
  4. Make Fruit Leather: Do your kids or grandkids like to eat fruit leather? Use your apples and throw in some pears to create your own batch of fruit leather.
  5. Make Candy Apples: If you like caramel apples, there's a good chance you'll like candy apples.
  6. Whip Up Some Applesauce: Did you know you can make applesauce in a slow-cooker? Yes, you can! It takes about four hours and three pounds of large, sweet apples to make a stash of delicious applesauce for your family.
  7. Make Apple Butter: Put aside nine medium-sized apples and you're on your way to enjoying a delicious supply of apple butter. Spread it on muffins, toast, or anything else that needs an extra splash of flavor.
  8. Make Apple Pie Moonshine: If you're looking for a refreshment with a little zip, try apple pie moonshine.
  9. Create Party Décor: If you're having a fall party, put a bowl of bright red or green apples out on your refreshment table. Guests can enjoy looking at them, grab one to eat, or both.
  10. Add a Sweet Twist to Your Grilled Cheese Sandwiches: The next time you make grilled cheese sandwiches for your family, cut a couple of apples into thin slices and put them on your sandwiches before melting the cheese.
  11. Build a Bird Feeder: First, take an apple and cut it in half vertically. Next, clean the center part out of both halves. Put a small screw into the top of each half, and tie a piece of twine around the top of the screw. Smear about a tablespoon of peanut butter into the center of the apple, then fill it with seeds. When you hang up the apple with the twine, the peanut butter will keep the seeds from falling out. I like the idea of using some of my apples to feed the birds.
  12. Store Them for the Winter: You don't have to eat all of your apples right away. Store them in baskets or wooden crates in a garage, cellar, or shed. Wrap each apple in a sheet of newspaper so if one goes bad, it won't spoil the bunch. Ideally, you want the storage temperature to be around 30 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to check on your apples over the winter to remove any that are deteriorating.

Try one or more of these ideas and let me know how they work out! As always, thanks for reading. - Alan

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