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Are You Carving a Pumpkin This Year?

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Image courtesy of Jiap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net If your kids are grown, chances are your pumpkin carving days are over.  You've passed the ceremonial carving kit to the next generation. Maybe your kids are old enough to start carving their own pumpkins so you can at least be done with scooping goop. If your kids are small, you're still stuck with the job. Choosing the Perfect Pumpkin Where do you go to choose your perfect pumpkin? Some take seasonal hay rides that stop by a pumpkin patch brimming with pumpkins of all sizes, colors, shapes, and textures.  Smoother surfaces are ideal for pumpkin painting, but bumpy pumpkins are loaded with character.     Other families visit a local farmer's market to peruse the pumpkin harvest options. Avid gardeners might grow their own pumpkins. Of course, grocery stores and home improvement places like Home Depot carry an ample stock, and it's very convenient to swing in and snag one to save time. Sel

Family Fall Scavenger Hunt

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Enjoy the Great Outdoors There's no better time than fall to gather the family and head outside for a fun adventure.  It's not too hot, the bugs aren't as bothersome, and the scenery is gorgeous.  God has painted a colorful fall masterpiece once again. Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Fall Scavenger Hunt Kids love discovery, and nature provides a captivating classroom. For a family scavenger hunt, pack up your family and head to a nature park or local pond, or you can simply explore your own back yard or neighborhood to find all the items on your list. You can make your own scavenger hunt list, including items like acorns, scarecrows, pumpkins, moss, squirrels, and pine cones, or find one online. Equip your nature hunters with pencils to scratch off items from their list.  For a fun fall craft after the hunt, they will also need a paper or plastic grocery bag to collect materials such as leaves, walnuts, acorns, small sticks, s

3 Fall Lawn Care Tips You Should Do Before It's Too Late

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For those of us living in cooler climates, lawn mowing season is nearly over. There are a few tricks you can do in the Fall, however, that will improve the appearance of your lawn come Spring. 1.  Lawn Aeration August and September can be very dry, leaving your lawn brown and your soil tightly compacted.  Aerating the soil pokes holes into your lawn, helping air, water, and nutrients to reach grass roots.  This makes the roots stronger and causes them to plunge deeper, not only enabling them to withstand longer periods without rain, but making your lawn thicker and more robust. If you are enrolled in a lawn care service program, a fall aeration may be included in your plan.  If it's not, call to check on pricing. In addition to fall aeration, many companies also offer slice seeding where grass seed is dropped into the furrows created by the slicer, placing it in direct contact with soil instead of laying on top of the ground. Aerating might leave plugs on your la

Squirrels: Pests or Pals?

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Image courtesy of MadeleinWolf at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Are you inundated with squirrels where you live? Here in the suburbs, it's a squirrel invasion.  Squirrels stage takeovers of our neighborhoods, knowing full well we can't risk firing at them and inadvertently picking off the people next door who emerge at the wrong time. Plant grass seed, flowers, or spread  mulch, and these furry jihadists dig when you're not looking and displace your perfectly manicured sections of nature.  They are like kids who rumple a neatly made bed, or the spouse who leaves footprints on your freshly swept carpet.  It's irksome! Fall is the time to plant flower bulbs that will be your first harbingers of Spring.  Squirrels consider this a game of hide and seek.  Hide a bulb underground, and they will bring it to the surface to let you know they found it.  They never tire of this game, no matter how many times you replant the bulb.  Placing rocks on top of your bulbs discourages t

Who Has the Best Pumpkin Spice Lattes?

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Lattes--A Celebration in a Cup Image courtesy of amenic181 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Lattes are my kryptonite--a secret pleasure I indulge in when no one's watching. Who's with me? Judging from the endless drive-thru line at Starbucks, I'm not the only one failing to resist temptation. A pumpkin spice latte in the Fall is a tiny piece of heaven captured in a cup--a cup that costs dearly.  Ranging from $3-$5 for a small, lattes can break the bank if you aren't careful.  When you consider a 42.5-ounce can of Maxwell House is less than $8 and produces up to 325 six-ounce cups, it's hard to justify more than the occasional latte. Everyone needs a little pampering from time to time, we reason.  Here's a helpful tip--put gift cards on your wish list to eliminate the guilt when you absolutely  need a latte. Where Do You Go for a Pumpkin Spice Latte? For those times when you're having a bad day and need a pick-me-up or you're just enjoying some r

How Do You Plan to Celebrate the Beginning of Fall?

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Every year, our family welcomes fall with autumn-themed games, food, and activities. Admittedly, when the weather refuses to cool down and keeps smothering us with temps in the upper 80's, it puts a damper on our celebration. Someone tell Mother Nature summer is over in four days! Fall Family Games Seasonal games don't have to be elaborate.  We repeat four basic ones each year: Pin-the-Nose-on-the-Pumpkin (from Oriental Trading Company) Pumpkin Bucket Toss (Buckets from Dollar Tree, balls from Target) Jack-O'-Lantern Can Bean Bag Toss (Oriental Trading Company) Fall Action Cards Fall Foods In anticipation of the changing season, we stocked up on fall foods that taste best this time of year, including candy corn and peanuts and Pumpkin Spice everything:  Life cereal, toast, bagels, and coffee creamer. Fresh cider is now available at the grocery store, so serve it up warm or cold. One of our favorite munchies for the first day of fall is an apple