Whether it’s Halloween, Christmas, or another celebration, the
holidays are the greatest time of year, but also the most expensive. From
costumes and candy, to Thanksgiving feasts, to gifts for the whole family; the
Holidays are also the most stressful on the family wallet. So today, we’re
going to give you some tips to keep those winter bills from going up, so you
have more money to spend on getting down. With just a few small tricks and
tips, you can save tons of cash on holiday decorating to reallocate wherever
you see fit.
The first small trick you can do to save money when you
choose to start decorating for the seasons is to throw out those old string
lights. Now, everyone loves to use string lights, but they’re notorious energy
eaters and an extremely festive family can find themselves left with a hefty
electricity bill at the end of the season. To help ease the burden, but to also
prevent cutting back on the decorating, use LED lights to light up your house.
The LED’s require much less energy than traditional holiday light strands, and
you’ll definitely tell a difference by the time the bills roll in.
Additionally, if you choose to use ENERGYSTAR® products, there are often
many local rebates and coupons available for use at local hardware stores.
Invest in a timer. You can attach it to your lights to limit the amount of time
your lights remain on, and also will prevent prolonged light use from
forgetting to shut them off. Also, the use of reflective surfaces and
reflective decorations can help magnify light and reduce the overall amount of
light needed. Play with some creative ways to maybe even reflect some of your
neighbor’s grandiose display onto yours. Now sit back and enjoy that beautiful,
Every year Halloween brings out some of the most creative
and unique decorations out in the world. Often made up of everyday household
items, we always find it interesting to see how people apply things we use
everyday into another purpose completely outside the box. This principle has
had a interesting effect on the most recognized symbol of Halloween -- the
family jack o’lantern. This iconic decoration has become the staple of the
Halloween season; and the pastime of carving them has transcended everyday arts
and crafts into an all out art piece capable of the same shock and awe garnered
from other more well known art mediums.
But the goal today is to educate you and your family on some
secret tips that will make your family’s jack o’lantern the talk of the
The first major step comes in selection of your family’s
pumpkin. An ideal pumpkin for carving has thick walls, the thicker – the easier
it is to carve. To ensure your pumpkin has thick walls, check the stem. An
ideal pumpkin will have a distinct, thick stem. The general thickness of the
stem indicates the thickness of the walls, while you can use it’s color to
determine how hard the walls of the pumpkin will be. A green stem means the
pumpkin is fresh and will likely give you the most use before rotting. Try to
go for these first, as they will give you the easiest time carving as well as
significant longevity. In addition to stem size, check for blemishes and soft
spots just as you would any vegetable you would buy. It is also important to
note that a misshapen pumpkin is not a death sentence. Often some of the most
creative pumpkins come from ones not the perfect shape, so embrace what you
find. Just make sure that stem is in order!
Timing is very important in carving jack o’lanterns. You can
expect it to last anywhere from a few days to a little over a week, so plan
accordingly for when you want it to be displayed. Also, once you begin carving,
it is recommended you continue the carving until it’s finished. As soon as you
make the first cut, the pumpkin begins to decompose, leaving the project and
coming back will cause you to deal with trying to carve a softer, weaker
pumpkin wall; which could lead to accidental damages. To be safe, complete the carving
when the walls are as strong as they possibly can be to minimize accidental
damages. To further prevent accidents, plan out your pumpkin design completely,
even draw it one the pumpkin with a pen or marker, this will keep you carving
in line, and will prevent you from losing your place or making wrong cuts.
Using a spray bottle of water and spraying the pumpkin wall while you’re
carving will also ease in the carving process.
Some things to keep in mind while carving include keeping an
open mind about what tools you use to carve. You can purchase pumpkin carving
kits, but often you can find versions of these tools at home, in addition to
finding other items that could offer you more detailed line work (paring
knives, lemon zesters.) The real tricks to professional pumpkin carving come in
the treatments of the pumpkin whilst carving. The first major rule is to never
cut the top of your pumpkin. Cutting a hole in the top of your pumpkin cuts the
pumpkin off from its lifeline – the stem. The stem provides the whole pumpkin
with nutrients that will keep it thriving a few days longer. The same goes for
the bottom; cutting the bottom will allow all the moisture in the pumpkin to
run out where you cut it. Not only will this drain the pumpkin of moisture, but
it will also make quite the mess!! The best place to put a hole is in the back
of the pumpkin. The water loss will be minimal, it retains its lifeline to the
stem, and the hole is still not visible to everyone. Another common
misconception is the use of fire to light a pumpkin. The fire actually cooks
the inside of the pumpkin, drying it out faster and ultimately cutting its
lifespan. The best alternative is an LED or CFL bulb, which will produce a
large amount of light, but hardly any heat. In general, you will want to keep
your pumpkin cool. It slows the decomposition process and will give you a few
extra days out of your jack o’lantern. In fact, if you can refrigerate your
jack o’lantern at night, it would be ideal.
Now you’ve got all the tips to produce the best jack
o’lantern out there! We’re looking forward to seeing what spooky creations you
can come up with!
One of the exciting parts about buying a new home is enjoying the changes of seasons and making new holiday memories.
Even if this is not your first Halloween in your new home, below are some great safety tips to keep in mind before little candy hunters arrive at your door on the 31st.
Have a clear path - Make sure there are no objects in the way of your front door - look out for toys, trash, yard waste or even decorations. Tape down any cords you may have plugged in so they don't cause anyone to trip.
Keep your yard lit - Turn on your porch light if you are welcoming trick-or-treaters. If you have Jack-o-Lanterns out, try to use LED candles to light them instead of live flames.
If you have pets keep them inside the house or locked up. They may be frightened by all of the visitors and it's best to plan ahead for their peace of mind and the protection of others.
If you're out of candy or not participating, turn all your lights out to let trick-or-treaters know. You can even put out a "No Candy" sign if you don't want there to be any confusion.
Remember if you are handing out candy not to include homemade goods - some parents are wary of having their children eat homemade food from strangers especially with allergy concerns.
So pick out a bag of your favorite candy and enjoy handing it out this Halloween - just make sure to save some for yourself!
Fall is here; and winter is fast approaching! While it might
not quite feel like fall here in South Carolina, now’s the perfect chance to
take advantage of the last bit of heat to get out and make sure your home is
ready for the upcoming weather changes. If last year’s pattern continues or
forecasters’ predictions for this winter come true, the Palmetto State is in
for a topsy-turvy few months. So save yourself the trouble later by prepping
your house for every last curveball Mother Nature has up her sleeve. Here are a
few tips that can save you money, time, and trouble this coming winter season.
One of the biggest things you can do that will have major
impact this winter is sealing any cracks and gaps in your house. This will not
only keep more heat in/cold out but also lower energy bills since there are
less ways for heat to escape your house. Additionally, using weather stripping
will act as a sealing for windows and doors. On average, if one added all the
cracks and gaps in a typical home, the total area would equal that of your
standard window!! Don’t take the chance and double check! You never know where
those nooks and crannies are that will leak air. Some key areas to check are:
windows, doors, outlets, external hookups to utilities (A/C, water heater),
around sidings of your house, and any pipes that show (under your sink in
bathrooms and kitchen.)
Check your roof for worn away/broken shingles. Any water
(AKA SNOW OR RAIN!) that gets underneath the shingles runs the risk of causing
a leak. In addition to creating a hole for heat to get out, a hole in your roof
opens your house up to other issues difficult to address rather winter or not.
Some other tips involve trimming dead or low hanging
branches. They will come down during a winter storm, so prevent the chance of
them falling on something and get them out of the way now.This can apply from everything to
taming shrubbery all the way to removing a leaning/dead tree to prevent it
falling and causing immense damage. Another less thought of measure you can
take involves properly storing your lawnmower for the winter. Make sure to seal
caps and openings tightly and remove the gas from the machine. This will help
it start later on in the spring later. And did you know that fertilizing your
lawn before the top layer goes dormant will allow it to store those nutrients
for the whole winter, giving you a kick start on that green spring lawn?
Following these steps will give you a real advantage over
the winter. Don’t go through these problems while your freeze; handle these
things while you can still go outside without freezing solid! Your home is an
investment you can’t afford to lose! So take the extra steps now to ensure your
home can weather the storm!