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Creepy Ways To Decorate Your Yard For Halloween

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Oct 11, 2017

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Do you get a lot of trick-or-treaters at your house on Halloween? If so, give them some extra fun this year. Dust off your creativity and try a few of these DIY crafts that may just make your home the most popular with trick-or-treaters this Halloween!

Decorate With Window Silhouettes

Get some pieces of cardboard and cut out the shapes of pumpkins, witches, bats and cats. Paint the cardboard images black and hang them in your windows. Turn on the lights inside to create some scary silhouettes. For added creepiness, put colored crepe paper on your windows.

Signs of No Good

Find some old pieces of wood that are flat and about ten inches long. Use black paint to label each piece with words like "Beware," "Turn Back," and "Haunted House Ahead." Post these signs on your fence or around your front door.

A Spooky Wreath

Make a collection of miniature witches' brooms with twigs and string. Next, get some black construction paper and cut out a dozen small black cats. Glue the brooms and cats to an old grapevine wreath and hang it on your front door.

Monsters in the Bushes

Make some glowing monsters and place them in the bushes in front of your house to greet trick-or-treaters. Young kids can help with this easy craft that starts with a few empty toilet paper rolls. I like the idea of using glow sticks of different colors to raise the creepiness factor.

A Line of Swaying Ghosts

Make some coffee filter ghosts and hang them near your front door. Use fishing line so trick-or-treaters will think they are floating in the air.

A Gathering of Balloon Ghosts and Pumpkins

Get some orange and white party balloons, a package of white glow sticks, and a black marker. Blow up a balloon, shake a glow stick, and slip it into the balloon. After securing the end of the balloon, use black marker to make a pumpkin face on the orange balloons and ghostly eyes on the white ones.

Ghostly Gourds

Make a group of ghostly gourds using dried gourds, white and black paint, and some cheesecloth. Place them around your front door so they can surprise trick-or-treaters.

Turn Your Front Door Into a Mummy

Find a couple of rolls of white gauze, two pieces of white construction paper, two pieces of black paper, tape, and scissors. Wrap your front door in the white gauze. Next, create two big eyes using the construction paper and tape them to your door. Instant mummification!

Spiders Galore

Put aside several empty toilet paper rolls, paint them black, and let them dry. Then glue eight black pipe cleaners to each to serve as the spider's legs. Glue a pair of googly eyes to each one and hang them from your front door frame or porch lights with fishing line.

Light Up Your Front Walkway

Start putting aside gallon plastic milk jugs for this project. Use a black marker to make a spooky face on each one. Lastly, put an LED tea light in each jug and line them up on the border of your front walkway. This will attract a lot of attention from trick-or-treaters.

A Witch's Shoes

Get a pair of long socks with orange and white stripes on them. Fill the socks with rolled up newspaper or tissue paper. Put a pair of old black shoes with buckles on end of the socks. You may be able to find shoes like this at a second-hand store. Display the sock/shoe combination in a way that looks like your house fell on the witch who was wearing them.

Add Some Glowing Light to Your Front Entrance

Put some strings of white LED lights around your doorway to create an eerie glow for trick-or-treaters. If you want, manipulate the light strings to look like ghosts or witches' hats.

A Twist on Pumpkin-Carving

Use your computer to print a template of a scary skeleton hand, a bristling cat, or a witch's hat. Use these templates when carving your pumpkins this year. Be sure to put a candle or LED tealight in each pumpkin to show off your scary work.

Ghost on the Porch

Get a white balloon, blow it up, and put a glow stick inside of it. Tie the end of the balloon and put a white sheet over it to make a ghost. Secure a piece of fishing line around the neck of the ghost and hang it from the ceiling of your porch.

A Gigantic Spider in the Yard

Get nine black garbage bags, some fishing line, old newspapers, a glue gun, and two white Styrofoam cups. Fill one of the black bags with old newspaper until it's a big ball. Fill the other eight bags halfway up with newspaper and twist them into spider-leg shape. You can use the fishing line to secure them in that shape. Use the glue gun to fasten the eight legs to your gigantic spider's body. As the finishing touch, glue the two Styrofoam cups to its head to serve as eyes. I especially like this one because you can haul it out every year!

Have some fun with these spooky DIY crafts, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: decorate your for halloween

Winter Is Coming: How To Prep Your Yard

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Oct 11, 2017

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With the arrival of fall, you may think it's time to forget about the yard work until next spring. Perhaps you've already rolled your lawn mower into the garden shed and locked the door. But freezing temperatures, snow, and ice can damage the health of your lawn over the winter months. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare your lawn so it has a better chance against the harsh winter weather.

Cut the Grass

Don't put your lawn mower away for the winter just yet. Mow your grass to a length of about one or one and a half inches. Maintain this length until the ground freezes. Keeping your grass short will decrease the likelihood of fungus growth once the snow starts to fall.

Rake the Leaves

Raking leaves off of your lawn allows sunlight and oxygen easy access to your grass. This keeps it in good condition. Plus, you can use the raked leaves as mulch. I suggest you do a little raking each day so you don't end up with a yard full of heavy, wet leaves after a fall rainstorm.

Aerate

Why is it important to aerate your soil in the fall? Aerating your lawn allows air, sunlight, and water to reach the roots of your grass. Keeping your lawn as healthy as possible in the fall will make your lawn-care duties easier in the springtime.

Apply Fertilizer

Fertilizing your lawn in the fall delivers nutrients straight to the roots. The roots store the nutrients so the grass is ready to start healthy growth in the springtime. Be sure to aerate before fertilizing so the fertilizer can sink directly into the ground.

Get Rid of Weeds

If you still have dandelions or other weeds growing on your lawn, it's the perfect time to remove them. They are funneling nutrients away from your grass. Putting weed-killer on them now means they won't reappear next spring.

Reseed

If you see bare spots on your lawn, reseed them to prompt new growth. Water the new seeds until you have grass that is about an inch or an inch and a half tall. It's better to reseed now instead of in the summertime because new seed doesn't fare well in the heat.

Mulch Your Garden

Both your garden and your yard need attention in the fall. If you have perennials in your garden, cut them back and pull out any lingering weeds. Remove any miniature trellises, stakes, or other items that may become damaged during the winter. Put them in your garden shed or another dry, clean storage area. Use your raked leaves to mulch your garden so it will be ready for springtime growth.

Add to Your Compost Pile

Shredded leaves and grass clippings can be added to your compost pile or used to start one. Maintaining a compost pile helps to nourish plants and soil. Also, it's a simple way to reduce the amount of material in our landfills.

Remember that the effort you give to preparing your yard for winter can really pay off when spring arrives next year. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: winter yard prep

Get Your Green Thumb Glowing With Air Plants

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Oct 5, 2017

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Have you ever heard of air plants? These are plants that can thrive despite receiving very little care and attention. Plus, you can let your imagination run wild when coming up with a way to display your air plants. My post today is all about air plants and how they can be the perfect starter plant for a green thumb in training. Enjoy!

What Are Air Plants?

Air plants, also known as Tillandsia, are unique because they don't need soil to grow. They grow by attaching their roots to a rock, a shrub, trees, or the ground. These plants are available at garden stores, greenhouses, and sometimes even in the flower department of a grocery store.

How to Care for Your Air Plant

Put your air plant somewhere in your home where it can get partial sunlight. Also, it's important to make sure that air is circulating around it at all times. Air plants need to be watered about once a week. Simply put your plant in the kitchen sink or a bathtub to give it a light rinse. Let your plant drain overnight before putting it back in its place. If the air in your home is especially dry in the wintertime, mist the base of your air plant as well as its leaves with water every three or four days.

Varieties of Air Plants

You may be surprised to learn that there are more than 600 varieties of air plants. One example is the Tillandsia lorentziana. It has long, thin leaves covered with white fuzz that feels like velvet. Tillandsia tricolor lives up to its name, with a dark green base, light green leaves, and red tints throughout. Tillandsia myosura is pale green with slender, curling leaves. I think getting two or three different varieties of air plants can add a lot of interest to the interior of a home.

Designs for Air Plants

One of the best things about an air plant is that you can get creative with how you display it. One idea is to grow an air plant in a dish of decorative rocks or pebbles, which be found at garden stores or even a pet store. Another idea is to find a large, beautiful shell and position your air plant on top of it. There are glass globes and large bottles designed to accommodate the needs of an air plant. Many people like to hang these air plant globes and bottles in front of a window. If you want to try putting your air plant in a globe or bottle, try suspending it from the ceiling with a couple of pieces of sturdy fishing line. This makes it look like the air plant is floating!

An air plant is an excellent option if you like plants that need very little maintenance. You certainly have a lot of appealing colors, textures, and sizes to choose from when searching for the perfect air plant. Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: air plants

What to Know When Buying New Home Appliances

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Sep 28, 2017

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As summer turns to fall, you may be looking at new major appliances for your home. Perhaps you have an older refrigerator that's driving up your monthly electric bill, or maybe your older dishwasher is starting to struggle through its cycles. Selecting and buying a major appliance for your home can be a simple undertaking if you do a little research. For my post this week, I have some helpful information to consider as you search for new appliances.

Oven

When evaluating ovens, think about your cooking habits. Do you regularly cook several dishes at one time for your family? Or do you use your oven to heat up an occasional TV dinner? If you cook several dishes at one time, you may want a double electric wall oven. The price range for these goes from $1,300 to $2,000. The higher priced double electric wall ovens have extras such as a built-in microwave and temperature monitoring system. A single electric wall oven is a more appropriate purchase if you only plan to use it occasionally. These have a price range of $800 to $900. Be sure to measure the space where you plan to install the oven and discuss your needs with the salesperson.

Hot Water Heater

Hot water heaters are available in different sizes. There are some small enough to put on a shelf in a laundry room and others that need a large section of open floor space in a basement, so it's important to choose a new water heater with dimensions suitable for its proposed location. Also, consider the amount of hot water you need for your home. If you have a large family with lots of kids who take frequent showers, then you'll need a conventional storage water heater that has a reserve of hot water inside it. Alternatively, if you live in a household with very few occupants, you may want a tankless water heater that provides hot water on demand. Conventional water heaters run from $500 to $800 depending on the size you purchase. Tankless water heaters cost from $250 to around $700 depending on the brand and the amount of water it supplies; some tankless water heaters are used to supply an entire house, while others are appropriate for a small apartment. Another thing to consider is the fuel: There are electric water heaters as well as models that run on natural gas. You must decide what type of fuel is best for your household.

Dishwasher

Do you have a small kitchen with very little space for appliances? If so, you may want to go with a small portable dishwasher. The price range for these runs from $450 to $600. If you have adequate space in your kitchen and a lot of dishes to wash each day, you could get a large dishwasher that fits beneath your kitchen counter. The price range for these is $350 to $600. Dishwashers vary in the amount of dishes they can wash at one time, the amount of water they use, and their appearance.

Refrigerator

When it comes to refrigerators, you can get a style with two doors (refrigerator on the bottom, freezer on the top), side-by-side doors, or even side-by-side doors with a bottom drawer. Some refrigerators provide filtered drinking water, and some allow you to closely monitor the temperature inside the appliance. If you have a large family, you may want to invest in a large refrigerator with filtered drinking water and an ice dispenser. I like the idea of giving the kids reusable bottles to fill up with filtered water each day before school. However, if you live alone, you may prefer a moderately sized traditional refrigerator without the bells and whistles. If you want a refrigerator with an ice maker or a water dispenser, make sure you have the proper lines for the hookup. Measure your old refrigerator to see if you have the space to accommodate the new model you're interested in. Lastly, don't forget to measure the width of your front door. Sometimes, taking the front door off of its hinges is required to get a new refrigerator into your home.

Washing Machine and Clothes Dryer

Think about the amount of laundry you do in a week. A simple top-loading washing machine is suitable if you do a small amount of laundry per week. These washers range from $300 to $600. If you have several loads of laundry to work through each day, you may want to go with a front-loading washing machine made to handle large loads. These range in price from $500 to $900. There are also portable washers designed to fit into small laundry or utility rooms. These are priced from $200 up to $800. Most clothing dryers are front-loading and range from $300 to $800. The higher-priced models can accommodate larger loads of laundry and have more cycles.

Make sure to look for refrigerators, clothes washers, clothing dryers, and dishwashers with the Energy Star logo on them. This logo means you're getting an appliance proven to use energy in the most efficient way. Happy shopping, and thanks for reading. - Alan

Sweeten Up Your Yard For National Honey Month

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Sep 11, 2017

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A carport at Alan's Factory Outlet makes a great spot to park and protect your vehicle.  

Do you love to drizzle honey in your tea or bowl of oatmeal? Maybe you eat a dollop of honey on toast for breakfast. Either way, if you love honey, you'll be glad to know that September is National Honey Month. This month celebrates American beekeeping as well as highlights how important bees are to mankind. Not a beekeeper? You can still join in on the fun. Learn about some plants you can add to your landscape that are especially attractive to bees. Enjoy!

Asters

Bees are attracted to the lovely blue, purple, and pink petals of these late-summer blooms. Chances are good that you have a lot of neighbors who grow these low-maintenance flowers in their yards. There are many varieties to choose from, such as the Bluebird, October Skies, and Silver Spring. These flowers should be planted in mid-spring in a patch of ground that gets full sun. They require about one inch of rainfall per week, or else they'll need to be watered.

Black-Eyed Susans

These flowers bloom in mid-summer and again in autumn. In fact, this flower is also known as the Autumn Sun. They flourish in full sunlight but can endure partial shade. Black-eyed Susans have bright yellow petals surrounding a dark brown center. They are perennials and annuals that grow close together in large numbers. Many bees search out big groups of flowers of all the same type: This makes the work of visiting lots of nectar-filled flowers a little bit easier. On an interesting note, birds such as American goldfinches eat the small black seeds on this flower to build up strength for the cold winter months. I like the idea of planting flowers that serve both the bees and the birds.

Blue Giant Hyssop

These hardy plants are covered with brilliant purple petals and are full of nectar that's irresistible to bees. They can grow to be about three feet tall and look very dramatic when planted against a white fence. Blue Giant hyssop grows best in an area that receives full sunlight and has rich, well-draining soil.

Horsemint

Horsemint is also known as spotted bee balm. These pink and white flowers should be planted in an area that gets full sunlight so they will thrive. Horsemint blooms from July to September and has a unique fragrance.

Purple Coneflowers

Bunches of these pale purple flowers are popular gathering areas for bees. They bloom in late summer and can continue to flourish into the fall. This flower looks like a purple daisy, and like the black-eyed Susan, it serves as a food source for American finches. These are full-sun blooms that need about an inch of rainfall each week. If you have very little rain in the summer, be sure to water your purple coneflowers.

In addition to planting some bee-friendly flowers in your yard, you may want to create a bee bath. Bees need a certain amount of water to remain healthy, just as most other animals do. Combine a collection of colorful, nectar-filled flowers with an appealing bee bath and you'll have the most popular meeting place for the bees in your neighborhood.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: plants bees like

Learn How to Sharpen Your Lawn Mower Blade Like A Pro

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Sep 5, 2017

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Metal carport installed on the grass.

Take a close look at your lawn the next time you cut it. Do the blades of grass have evenly cut edges, or are they ragged? If they're ragged, it may be time to sharpen your lawn mower blade. This week's post is all about safely sharpening the blade on your lawn mower. Enjoy!

Why Should I Sharpen My Lawn Mower Blade?

Sharpening your blade makes your mowing time more effective. A sharp blade cuts your grass in the most thorough way, giving you a healthy lawn that looks beautiful. I love to admire the evenly cut rows in a well-trimmed lawn; don't you? In addition, a sharp blade can shorten the amount of time you spend mowing your lawn. I know this is an appealing thought to those of you who would rather be inside watching baseball on television. Take care of your blade and get the job done right!

When to Sharpen

The number of times you sharpen your lawn mower blade depends on how often you use your mower. If you use your mower every day, then you should sharpen it more often than someone who uses their mower once every two weeks. As a rule, sharpening your blade twice a season is a good idea if you use your mower to trim your grass on a regular basis.

Different Sharpening Techniques

One technique is to sharpen your lawn mower blade by hand. This is a good option if you have a blade that's used gently for periodic trims. The first step is to unhook the spark plug and power source on your mower. This must be done so that the mower can't start while you're working. Loosen the nut that attaches the blade to your mower, then remove the blade. You may want to put the blade into a vice so you have more control as you sharpen it with a metal file.

Another technique is to sharpen your mower blade with the help of a bench grinder. This is especially useful if your blade has small dents in it due to cutting thick weeds. Hold the blade securely as you move it back and forth against the bench grinder. Be sure to follow the angle of the blade's bevel.

If you have a belt sander, you can use this to sharpen your lawn mower blade. Once again, move it back and forth against the belt sander while following the angle of the blade's bevel.

Using a Machine? Keep Your Cool

If you use a machine to sharpen your lawn mower blade, make sure to keep a bucket of cold water nearby. When you feel the blade heating up due to friction, stop the machine and dip the blade in the water to cool the metal. Dry the blade completely before continuing to sharpen it. The cool water keeps the blade from becoming overheated, which can cause the blade to warp.

And of course, there's one more important thing you need to know: Remember to put on safety goggles and work gloves before sharpening your blade.

Make this task part of your regular lawn mower maintenance to keep this important piece of equipment in tip-top condition. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: sharpen lawn mower blade

Check Your Deck Before Summer Ends

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

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Wooden pergola kit with privacy lattice.

If you're lucky enough to have a deck, I hope you've been spending a lot of time on it this summer. Grilling out, listening to music, chatting with friends, and reading are just a few activities that are even more enjoyable when done on a deck. As summer draws to a close, it's a good time to evaluate the condition of your deck before the cold weather hits. This simple checklist can get you started on your late-summer deck maintenance.

Seal the Deck

It's a good time to seal your deck. Sealing your deck prevents rain, snow, and other moisture from soaking into the wood, causing rot and other damage. Sealant can also stop the growth of mildew. If you're not sure whether you need to seal your deck, try a simple test: Sprinkle several drops of water on the surface of your deck. If the water soaks into the wood right away, your deck needs to be sealed.

Cover Your Grill

Do you leave your grill out on the deck year-round? If so, you should take steps to protect its surface from the snow, ice, and rain. Some grills are sold with their own weather-resistant cover, but if you don't have a cover, take measurements of your grill and purchase one in an appropriate size.

Hose Off Your Deck Furniture

Late-summer deck maintenance should also include hosing off your deck furniture. Plastic chairs, glass tables, and patio umbrellas need to be free of dirt before storing them in your shed or garage. Place the furniture in your yard and use a garden hose to rinse them. I suggest setting your hose nozzle on a full or vertical spray to remove dirt and stubborn stains on plastic furniture. If necessary, you can clean it with a mild soap and a soft-bristled brush. Leave the items out in the sun for a couple of hours to dry.

Pressure-Wash the Deck

Pressure-washing can get rid of embedded and loose dirt on the boards of your deck. You can use a push broom to sweep the water off of the deck and loosen even more dirt from the boards. If you don't own a pressure-washer, you can rent one at a local hardware store.

Trim Any Bushes Near the Deck

Chances are good that you have some bushes or other plants growing near your deck. During the summertime, these bushes and plants may have started to grow through the balusters of your deck railing. It's a good time to trim these bushes so your deck will be ready to enjoy next spring.

Inspect the Ledger of Your Deck

The ledger is what connects a deck to a house, so it's important that it is securely in place. Give the ledger a visual inspection, and if you think there is an issue, call a deck professional to evaluate it.

Tighten Loose Screws

Tightening loose screws on your deck is another maintenance task to take care of in late summer. Sometimes, the screws in railings and floorboards can become loose over time. Tightening them increases the safety of your deck and can keep the parts of your deck firmly in place over the cold weather months.

Completing your deck maintenance checklist helps you lay the groundwork for more good times on your deck next spring and summer! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: deck maintenance

Essential Maintenance Tips For Your RV

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Aug 19, 2017

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Protect your rv with a metal carport from Alan's Factory Outlet.

Do you like to go camping in the summertime? If you're lucky enough to have an RV, you know how much fun it can be to travel in style while enjoying the beauty of nature. I like the idea of being able to talk with family, play cards, or even take a nap while another family member takes the wheel for a time. If you tow a trailer, your car, or a boat, it's important to ensure that your RV's hitch is in good condition for every road trip. This week, I've put together a list of maintenance tasks to perform before leaving on an exciting camping trip in your RV.

  • Inspect the Hitch Ball. It's important to prevent the hitch ball and trailer coupler from grinding and causing wear and tear. Applying high-temperature grease to the hitch ball can stop it from grinding. Check your RV manual to see if it recommends a particular brand of high-temperature grease. This product can usually be purchased at a camping supply store. If you want, you can take a container of high-temperature grease along on your trip so if the hitch ball needs another application of grease, you can do that right away.
  • Install or Inspect Sway Controls. Sway control bars help to keep your trailer or other towed item even with your RV. When a trailer sways from side to side, it can create a dangerous situation on the road, and the swaying motion puts stress on parts of the RV's hitch. If you don't have sway control bars, make it a point to install them. If you already have them, make sure they are clean and securely attached to your vehicle: Sway control bars can loosen over time when going over bumps and dips.
  • Inspect Your Safety Chains. Your safety chains act as backup protection if the item you're towing breaks loose from the hitch. Inspect your safety chains for rust, breakage, cracking, corrosion, or any other damage. Hopefully, your safety chains will never have to serve their purpose, but you want to make sure they are in tip-top shape before every trip.
  • Check Your Ball Mount and Receiver. Check all sides of your ball mount and receiver for rust or bent areas. The ball mount and receiver connect your trailer or towed item to your RV, so you want to keep them in excellent condition.
  • Check the Tires on Your RV's Trailer. Consult the manufacturer's instructions regarding the pressure in the trailer's tires. Make sure they are all properly inflated.
  • Inspect the Trailer Wiring Harness. Make sure the trailer wiring is in good condition and the turn signals and tail lights are all in working order. A trailer wiring harness has a diagram complete with colors that can guide you in the proper connection of the wires.

Spending time checking out the hitch and trailer on your RV can help you avoid problems while you're on the road. Make sure to take a little time to check everything over to keep your family and your fellow drivers safe.

Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: rv maintenance tips

Small Backyard, Big Entertainment

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Aug 12, 2017

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Installing a carport in a small backyard could be just what you need to help provide some more space.

When you think of a typical backyard barbecue, what pops into your mind? One of those humongous gas grills with four burners, cabinets for storage, and a special rack for grilling tools? Perhaps you picture a huge lawn with a swing set, a blooming garden, and maybe even a tire swing. That is a lovely picture. But you don't have to have a huge backyard to throw a fun barbecue for your friends. Look at some ideas to help you host a memorable barbecue in a small yard or on a patio or deck with limited space.

Choose Stools Instead of Chairs

Chairs take up a lot of space on a small patio or deck. Instead, put out plastic stools for your guests. Neatly stack them in one corner of your patio or deck and let your guests know that they are available to use.

Create a Unique Arrangement for Your Party

You probably have a lot of plans for the food and drinks you want to serve at your backyard barbecue. But instead of laying out all of your refreshments on a big table, find several small tables and place them around the perimeter of your yard. That way, your guests can go around and get the items they want without tripping over a long table that's blocking their path. Plus, they will have lots of open space in the center to wander around in. I suggest putting ice, cups, lemonade, soda, and iced tea on one small table. Dedicate another small table to desserts and a third table to side dishes such as potato chips, baked beans, coleslaw, and vegetable sticks. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it!

Remove Large Potted Plants

If you have any large potted plants on your patio, take some time before the party to move them into one corner or off to the side somewhere. This will give your guests more room to move around and chat with one another and prevents anyone from accidentally tripping over a plant and knocking it over.

Set Up Your Radio or CD Player in a Nearby Open Window

Setting up a small table for a radio or CD player can take up space you need for your guests. As an alternative, hook up your radio or CD player and place it in a window near your deck or above your patio. This gives you some background music for your party without using up any valuable yard space.

Keep Some of Your Party Refreshments Indoors

If you have too many refreshments for your little tables, try putting some on your kitchen counters. Invite your guests to go inside your home to grab what they want to eat. This way, you can serve all of the food and drinks you want without taking up too much outdoor space. Be sure to close the screened door between your home and patio or deck to keep the flies outdoors!

Use a Small Barbecue Grill

A small barbecue grill can cook your burgers, chicken, pineapple, and hot dogs just as thoroughly as a big grill. Borrow a small grill from a friend or invest in one so you'll be ready for your next backyard barbecue.

Let the partying begin! Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful time with your loved ones this summer. - Alan

Topics: Small Backyard

Turn the Solar Eclipse Into A Family Night

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Aug 2, 2017

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A total solar eclipse will take place on Aug. 21 of this year. The last total solar eclipse visible from coast to coast in America took place back in June of 1918, so it's been a while! This August, everyone in our country will have the opportunity to witness either a full or partial eclipse depending upon where they live. We're going to get a partial eclipse here, but it should still be pretty impressive, and I know lots of people will be planning viewing parties for this special solar event. Here's everything you need to know to get ready for the big day.

The Path of the Eclipse

People who live within what is known as the path of totality will be in perfect position to observe a total solar eclipse. This path runs across the country starting in Oregon and ending in South Carolina. People living outside the path of totality will see a partial eclipse. Make sure to keep track of the weather forecast as the 21st approaches, since it can affect your eclipse experience. This solar eclipse is sure to be a spectacular sight, and the best part is that you can enjoy it from your own backyard.

Methods for Watching the Eclipse

Most people know you're not supposed to look directly at the sun because it can damage your eyes. For viewing the eclipse, you can use solar viewing glasses or create a pinhole camera of your own. Making pinhole cameras would be a great project to do with kids and grandkids so everyone at your gathering has one to use. Afterward, your friends and family can put them away as keepsakes of this memorable night.

Make it a Party!

No total solar eclipse party would be complete without refreshments! Set up a table and load it with some delicious treats featuring a theme to match the occasion. I suggest setting out lawn chairs for the adults and putting beach towels on the grass for the kids to sit on. Some ideas for your snack table could include a bowl of sun-kissed citrus punch, "over the moon" banana pudding, and sun-dried tomato and cheddar cheese mini-biscuits. Also, make some sandwiches and cut each of them with a sun-shaped cookie cutter. Don't forget to make a plate of moon pies for your guests to chomp on throughout the evening.

An Educational Opportunity for Kids

If you have a lot of children or grandchildren at your solar eclipse party, give them a chance to become amateur scientists. Get some inexpensive notepads and pencils from the local dollar store, then hand out the materials and ask the school-aged kids to make notes on what they see during the eclipse. What insects do they hear? Are the birds flying around and active during the eclipse, or are they quiet? Give the younger kids at the party some white construction paper or butcher paper and crayons and ask them to draw what they see during the eclipse. Kids and adults alike will have fun looking around and observing the subtle and not-so-subtle changes in the atmosphere.

Be sure to take plenty of photos of family and friends at your eclipse party. You may even want to make a photo album to remember this special occasion! Thanks for reading. - Alan

 

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