A crisp October is the perfect time to organize and maintain your home in preparation for the holiday season. Take it one day at a time with our help.
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In fall and winter, plants may get only half as much light as in peak growth times. Give them the brightest locations you can indoors, and rotate at every watering for even growth. Though cooler spots are better than hot and dry, keep them away from drafts.
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Test your smoke alarms. Set a recurring reminder on your calendar to test smoke alarms once a month. Simply push the "test" button to ensure that everything is working properly, including batteries.
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Use cheerful acrylic glassware and plates that compliment your style when you're entertaining outdoors on a crisp fall day. The added bonus: no need to worry about breakage
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Jack-O-Lanterns are an Irish tradition. They didn't use pumpkins, but the Irish were the first to hollow out and carve oversized rutabagas, turnips and potatoes, using candles inside for Halloween celebrations.
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Unless you've had a severe cold snap, this is a good time to plant bulbs for next year. With a little forethought you can plan your garden's color scheme for the next four seasons. Choose those that naturalize so you don't have to replace them every year.
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Beyond giving your home a thorough cleaning, your mission this week is to look for signs of insects. To keep your closets pest-free, remove all items and vacuum shelves and corners, making sure they're free of anything that bugs might want to eat: dust, other insects, crumbs and even food stains.
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One of the easiest ways to get festive is to simply sprinkle your home with hints of orange—a throw on the sofa, a basketful of mini-pumpkins on the table or a grouping of orange scented candles.
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Clean one room at a time. When it comes to housekeeping, bouncing from room to room is slower because you can't see clear progress. Plus, you're likely to get distracted along the way. Better to focus on one room instead.
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With cold and flu season ahead, don't get caught short on regularly used pharmaceuticals. Now is the time to stock up on a new supply of medicine and dispose those with expired dates. While you're at it, update your stock of bandages and ointment, too.
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Rake the leaves on your lawn. Large leaves in particular, especially when wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below. Routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces for mulch later on.
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It's time to clean and refill outside birdseed feeders. Bring feeders inside and use a few drops of dishwashing soap per gallon of hot water and rinse thoroughly before drying and refilling. If your birdfeeder is a permanent fixture outside give it a good spray with the hose.
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Ready to celebrate all things ghoulish and ghastly? If not and you prefer your Halloween on the cuddlier side, you should try your hand at some only mildly spooky puppets.
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Check the condition of your insulation, especially if yours is an older home. Do you need more? To add to existing insulation, try an un-backed or loose-fill variety. For rooms or spaces with none at all, use foil-backed sheets. All costs will be easily repaid in saved utilities over time.
From spooky to cooky, Halloween pumpkin decor knows virtually no limit. Dress yours up with this year's hottest fashion trend: sequins!
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Give your foyer style and personality. Add a mirror and several small baskets to collect keys, mail, or shoes that are often dropped when your family walks in the door.
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To keep your floors in good condition for years to come, be sure to clean all wood floors, tile and linoleum every week. For shinier hardwood floors, fill a bucket with boiling water and two teabags. After 3-5 minutes use a soft cloth, dampened only, to mop.
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Have the chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional before the first frost. Also, have a professional perform a routine check of the heating system now. This should include vacuuming the vents and other heating components. If your furnace has a filter, check to see if it needs replacing.
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Got people coming over to watch a big game? Prepare plenty of seating, using cushions and blankets for overflow seating on the floor. Make it easy on yourself with a one-pot meal like chili, chicken pot pie or hearty soup. Serve with garlic bread, cookies or brownies. Ask guests to supply the drinks.
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Annuals typically die when temperatures drop below freezing but thanks to hardy root balls, perennials usually survive even extreme temperatures. To ensure their health (and return next year) add mulch to perennials after the first hard freeze but don't cover the center of the plant, which could cause rotting.
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Before you install your storm windows for autumn, check to see if they're cracked or dirty. Repair, clean and replace as needed.
If you're short on space in your bathroom, use this this space-saving trick from Genevieve Gorder: Bring a coat rack in to hang towels and bathrobes. It's the perfect size to fit into the narrow confines of your bathroom.
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"The fellow that owns his own home is always just coming out of a hardware store." ~Kin Hubbard
"Ninety percent of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids' Halloween trick-or-treat bags," according to the National Confectioners Association. "Parents' favorites are snack-size chocolate bars. Least favorite? Licorice."
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With cold weather and nasty road conditions on the way, prepare a kit for your car including blankets, jumper cables, flares, a lighter, compass, cat litter (to spread on slippery surfaces), a flashlight, non-perishable foods and water. Also include a first aid kit and tire changing equipment.
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When it's done right, there's nothing more crisp than a black and white room. A fairly fool-proof way to create this look is choosing either white or black as a base, then adding the other as an accent—plus one more color used in very small quantities for pop.
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Minimize drafts, a major source of expensive heat loss, with storm windows and doors throughout the house paying close attention to the basement if you have one. Add or replace old weather stripping on all basement doors and windows, close any gaps with caulk.
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To protect perennials for next year, this week's to-do list includes these tasks: weed, deadhead, divide overgrown plants, dig up non-hardy bulbs for winter storage, remove spent annuals, amend soil and add needed mulch.
Add autumnal elegance to your dining room table with a simple basket or bowl full of gourds. Available at most grocery stores, these mini-squashes come in several shades of orange, yellow, red and green. Mix and match or choose a monochromatic scheme for an even more sophisticated look.
You don't have to settle for the drab grays and browns of fall and winter. Create a cool weather container garden with colorful plants such as heavenly bamboo (red), pansies (blue, yellow and more), autumn fern (green) and coral bells (orange-red).
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Declutter your countertops by removing appliances you don't regularly use. Replace ordinary spice containers with glass jars with metal lids. Install an under-the-cabinet magnet strip and store the jars there, freeing up counter space.
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Fun Fact: Pumpkins have been around for more than 9,000 years, making them one of the oldest known veggies in the US. Most are orange but white and yellow varieties are also possible. All pumpkins are rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and potassium—plus their seeds provide protein and iron.
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