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10 Ways Families Can Keep Active In The Winter

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


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

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

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

Topics: keep active in winter

How To Best Care For Horses In The Winter

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


'Wintertime Fun with Your Horse'

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

8 Tips to Care for Your Horse This Winter

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

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

Allium Millenium Is The Perennial Plant Of 2018

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


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

The Facts on the Allium Millenium

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

Where Do These Plants Grow?

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

Caring for Your Plant

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

Displaying Your Plants

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

Fun Tidbits About the Allium Millenium

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

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

Topics: Allium Millenium

12 Things You Didn't Know About Hibernation

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


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

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

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

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

5 Home Improvement Projects To Tackle In The Winter

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


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

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

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

9 Ways To Reuse Your Christmas Tree

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


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

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

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

Topics: reuse christmas tree

5 Things Homeowners Forget To Do Before Winter

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


Each fall, many homeowners go through a checklist of things to do to get their home ready for wintertime. Unfortunately, important items are sometimes left off the list. Here are a few things you'll want to make sure you've taken care of before we get too far into winter.

  1. Clean the Gutters. Cleaning the gutters of your home means removing the leaves, twigs, mud, and other debris collected in them. When your gutters are clean, rainwater and melting snow can travel through the downspouts and away from your home. This can prevent ice dams from forming and damaging your roof. You may want to hire a professional to clean your gutters because it can be a hazardous job. But if you're a DIYer, you can put on a pair of work gloves and climb a ladder to remove the debris from your gutters. Remember to have a trash can below you to collect the wet leaves, sticks, etc. Also, be sure to enlist a friend to keep the ladder steady for you as you climb.
  2. Service the Furnace. Before the temperatures drop, you want to know that the furnace is going to work when you need it. Servicing your furnace starts with replacing its filter. When air flows freely through the filter, your furnace is able to work more efficiently. High heating bills can occur if your furnace is working harder than it needs to due to a clogged air filter. I suggest buying a package of air filters and labeling them for each season, so you remember to put a fresh one in at the right time. Performing a test to evaluate the accuracy of the thermostat is another way to make sure your furnace is ready for winter. Consider calling an HVAC company to arrange a basic checkup of your furnace. Getting a basic checkup now can prevent a furnace malfunction in the middle of winter.
  3. Reverse the Ceiling Fans. Did you know that reversing the direction of a ceiling fan can contribute to the warmth in your home? In the wintertime, make sure your ceiling fan is turning clockwise. This moves the heat near the ceiling down into the room. Every ceiling fan has a switch on it somewhere on the motor housing that you can click to change the direction of the paddles. Making this simple adjustment to your ceiling fan can help you reduce the amount of times you engage the furnace. This can result in lower heating bills this winter!
  4. Inspect the Roof. Stand in your yard and look at the sides of your roof. Missing or damaged shingles allow rain and melted ice to get under your roof, causing mold and damage. Also, heat from your home can be lost due to damaged shingles. If you like to take on DIY projects, you can use a ladder to climb up and replace damaged or missing shingles. Sheets of shingles can be purchased at hardware stores. If you're leery about getting up on a ladder and walking on your roof, there are professionals who can replace damaged shingles in a short amount of time.
  5. Inspect the Air Ducts. Air ducts can be found in attics, basements, and elsewhere in a home. Sometimes, an air duct can separate from a wall, allowing warm air to escape or cold air to enter. Using duct mastic for repairs is one solution if you find an air duct that's separated from a wall. Repairing loose or separated air ducts also prevents squirrels, mice, raccoons, and other animals from gaining access to your home and doing damage.

If you've overlooked one of these five tasks, there is still time to check it off the list before winter sets in. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: home winter checklist

What Happens To Plants When They Go Dormant

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Dec 22, 2017


By now, there may be just one or two leaves clinging to the beautiful trees in your neighborhood. I know I have several trees around my home that seemed to be full of colorful leaves just a short time ago. Can you relate? Though they may not look so good, the trees and plants all around you are simply in a state of dormancy. Dormancy is nature's way of protecting plants and trees from the cold temperatures of winter. This week, I thought I'd take a closer look at what happens to plants when they go dormant.

Plants and Dormancy

In the spring and summer, nutrients travel from the roots of a tree or plant up to its leaves. These nutrients support the continual growth of the plant. But as temperatures begin to go down in the fall, many plants and trees go dormant. This means nutrients are stored in the roots instead of being sent up to the leaves. The state of dormancy allows a plant or tree to conserve its nutrients and energy until the temperature goes up again in the spring, providing the right conditions for fresh growth. Dormancy for plants is the equivalent of hibernation for animals.

Are They Dead or Dormant?

Dormant trees are sometimes mistaken for dead ones because there are no obvious signs of life. But a dormant tree or plant is still alive. There are a few things you can check to determine if a plant or tree is dormant or dead. Try checking for buds: Though a dormant tree is not actively growing in the cold weather months, there should still be some tiny buds on it. Alternatively, a tree with shriveling buds or no buds at all is probably dying or dead. A tree with a layer of fresh bark growing is in dormancy. But a tree with shedding bark that's not being replaced with new growth is a dying tree. Here's a simple test: Choose a small twig on a tree and bend it in half. If it doesn't break, then the tree is dormant. The twig on a dead tree will snap very quickly, revealing a dry interior.

Caring for Dormant Plants

Did you know that indoor plants can go dormant, too? Sometimes, they go dormant due to stress, and other times, it's just a natural part of their cycle. If you have indoor plants that go dormant, they require only a low level of sunlight to survive. But you should still water them about once a month.

Are There Any Plants That Don't Go Dormant?

Annuals aren't included on the list of plants that go dormant: They grow for a single season, so they are not designed to stop their growth and conserve energy like perennials do.

Interesting Facts About Dormant Plants

  • Evergreens such as pines and spruce trees have a dormancy period, but they don't drop their needles.
  • The duration of a tree's dormancy depends on its species and location.
  • A decrease in temperature as well as daylight hours triggers dormancy in plants and trees.
  • Putting mulch around the base of a tree before it goes dormant can help with root growth in the wintertime

The next time you look out the window at the bare branches of your favorite tree, remember that it's just taking a well-deserved break until spring. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: plants go dormant

How To Pick The Perfect Christmas Tree

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Dec 12, 2017


Do you get a real Christmas tree for your home each year? Maybe you love the lingering fragrance and the feel of the needles as you put up your ornaments. Naturally, you want to get the best tree for your household. This week, I have some tips on how to choose the perfect Christmas tree.

Choose a Tree That Fits Your Lifestyle

Though evergreens are known as hardy trees, all varieties need a fresh supply of water each day to maintain their color and look their best. If you want a low-maintenance Christmas tree, look for a small one with short needles such as a balsam fir, Fraser fir, or noble fir. Alternatively, if you have the time to care for a majestic Christmas tree with long needles that needs a lot of water, go with a white pine or a Scotch pine.

Consider the Needles on Your Tree

Some trees have long, soft needles, while others are short and stiff. A tree with soft, pliable needles may be a little safer if you have kids who like to play around the Christmas tree. Some popular trees with soft needles include the balsam fir and white pine.

The Longevity of Your Tree

With the right care, a balsam fir can last a long time in your home, so if you like to decorate early and keep your tree up into January, you may want to consider a balsam fir. Scotch pine, white fir, and Leyland cypress are three other varieties known for their longevity.

The Scent of Your Tree

Looking for a Christmas tree with a strong fragrance? I think the fragrance of a tree is one of the best parts of getting a real one at Christmastime. You have a lot of beautiful choices! Balsam firs have a pine scent that can permeate the house. Fraser firs, Canaan firs, and white pines are three other trees with a strong fragrance.

Measure Your Tree for the Right Fit

The best way to end up with a Christmas tree that fits in your home is to consider your ceiling height as well as the height of your tree stand. Be sure to factor in plenty of open space above the top of your tree.

Signs of a Healthy Tree

When considering a selection of trees, look for one with deep, even coloring. Take hold of a tree's trunk and gently shake it. A tree that's in good condition will lose very few needles. If you're looking at a fir, take a needle and fold it in half: The needle of a fresh fir will break. Do this same experiment with a pine: A fresh pine needle will bend but immediately snap back into shape.

Caring for Your Tree

Choose a place for your Christmas tree that's away from heat vents and sunlight. As far as watering goes, some people think that adding commercial products to the water can make a Christmas tree last longer. However, it's best not to add anything to its water. Just make sure you're monitoring the level and filling it each day.

Once you're ready to take your Christmas tree down, think about recycling it to keep it out of the landfill. Look for Christmas tree recycling signs around your town or neighborhood. Or if you have a fish pond on your property, drop your tree into it to serve as a place for fish to hide from predators.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: Pick Christmas Tree

8 Ways To Protect Your Home From The Winter Chill

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Dec 1, 2017


Is your home ready for the cold temperatures of winter? The winter months are certainly more enjoyable when you have a warm home to go to when the snow starts to fly and temperatures drop. Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do to prep your home for winter. These eight tips can help you stay warm and dry through the cold weather season.

  1. Check Your Shingles. Look at the condition of your roof to see if you have any missing or loose shingles. Loose or missing shingles can give cold air access to your home, so it's a good idea to replace them so you have a sturdy roof over the winter.
  2. Clean the Gutters. Gutters can become filled with leaves, sticks, dirt, and residue from roof shingles. When this happens, rain water or melting snow can't flow through them and away from your home. A clogged gutter can damage your roof and lead to water leaking into your home. If you don't feel secure cleaning the gutters yourself, it's worth the money to get the assistance of a professional.
  3. Install Storm Windows and Doors. If you have storm windows or doors, now is the time to install them. Removing the screen door from your front or back entrance and replacing it with a storm door goes a long way toward keeping the cold breezes out of your home. Storm windows block many of the leaks that result in cold rooms in the wintertime.
  4. Clean the Chimney. If you use your fireplace over the winter, it's necessary to have the chimney cleaned once a year. Creosote and ash build up in a chimney over time, creating a fire hazard whenever you use your fireplace.
  5. Enclose Your Porch. If you're lucky enough to have an inviting porch, think about enclosing it to keep the winter cold out of your home. Your enclosed porch will be another place where you can sit in comfort while enjoying the wintertime scenery.
  6. Plant Hedges. A line of hedges on the north side of your home is a beautiful addition to a yard. Hedges are also excellent at blocking cold winds. Think of your hedge as a natural line of protection for your home in the winter.
  7. Put Up Heavy Curtains. You'd be surprised at how effective a pair of heavy curtains can be at blocking drafts from entering a room through the windows. Wool and velvet are two examples of heavy fabrics perfect for curtains used in the wintertime. Be sure to keep your curtains open during the day so your home can benefit from the warm sunshine.
  8. Get Some Draft-Stoppers. A draft-stopper is specially made to fit under a door to stop drafts from blowing into a home. It consists of foam or other insulating material contained in a fabric bag. Put your hand down near the base of your door to see if you need a draft-stopper this winter. I suggest you put a draft-stopper on your shed door this winter; tt can help you to enjoy warmer temperatures in your shed if you want to do any repair or DIY projects out there this winter.

Try some of these tips to see if they make a difference in how warm your home is. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: protect home from winter chill

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