Home Sweet Home Magazine - October 2021

O C T O B E R 2 0 2 1


10 FunWays to Celebrate Halloween Page 16 Say Goodbye to Pet Messes! Tips to Eliminate Fur and Funk in Your Home Page 19

Garden to Table & Beyond

How to Preserve your Garden Harvest... Page 4 10 Tricks to Sneak More Veggies into Your Diet... Page 8 Everything You Need to Know About Composting... Page 12

AgentName@Domain.com 123 456 7890 AgentName.HomeMag.me

courtesy of: Agent Name

Dear Homeowners,

As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, home gardeners may be left with a conundrum: what to do with all their unused fruits and vegetables.

In this issue of Home Sweet Home Magazine, you’ll discover lots of options. Whether you want to find new and creative ways to incorporate produce into your recipes, preserve your harvest for the winter months ahead or learn how to create a compost bin for future growing, you’ll find it in this issue.

Plus, since Halloween is just around the corner, you’ll also find some creative ways to add even more excitement to your holiday experience.

And if you love your furry friends but aren’t as fond of their smells and messes, this is the perfect issue for you. Discover tips for eliminating odors, stains and pet hair in your home (it’s easier than you might think). I wanted to remind you that I’m never too busy for your referrals or to help you with any real estate needs you might have yourself. I’m just an email or text away if you have any questions for me or if your friends want a free estimate on the value of their homes.

Best wishes,

Agent Name ABC Brokerage 123 456 7890 AgentName@Domain.com AgentName.HomeMag.me 51 Pine Street Atlantic Beach, FL 32233


Garden to Table andBeyond PreserveYourGardenHarvest By preserving fruits, vegetables and herbs, you can enjoy your bountiful crops in soups, desserts and casseroles until the planting season comes around again. 10TrickstoSneakMoreVeggies into YourFamily’sDiet We all know vegetables are good for us, but finding ways to eat enough of them— and to get picky family members to eat them— can be challenging. EverythingYouNeedtoKnowAbout Composting Creating nutrient-rich soil from kitchen and yard scraps is cost effective, reduces waste and is much easier than you may think. 10FunWaystoCelebrateHalloween If you’re one of those people who celebrates Halloween for the entire month of October, we’ve got you covered. PetMesses, BeGone! There’s no doubt family pets play an important role in our lives. But no matter how loveable they may be, pets invariably pose a cleaning and odor challenge.

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Garden to Table and Beyond

How to Preserve Your GardenHarvest

Freezing Many foods can go directly into the freezer for long-term storage. Place summer berries on a tray to flash freeze thembefore transferring into containers or bags. You can also use this technique for other fruits such as pineapple, mango, and peaches. Simply peel, core and cut them into chunks before freezing. Frozen fruits are perfect for smoothies or compotes. Avocados can be frozen in peeled halves or mashed and stored in a bag or container to use for guacamole at a later date. You can

also freeze bananas with or without their peels to use in banana bread or smoothies. Vegetables and freezers make great partners, too. Some foods first need to be blanched in order to kill the enzymes that promote decay. This simply means steaming or boiling them for a fewminutes. Blanching also produces a more vibrant-looking vegetable. Think about the vegetables available in the freezer section of the supermarket. Everything from corn to green beans and spinach can be frozen.

If you spent your spring days pulling weeds and preparing raised beds, followed by a summer of planting and nurturing your garden, harvest time is the ultimate reward for your hard work. But that joy can be fleeting when everything seems to abundantly produce faster than you can consume it. When your tomatoes and cucumbers take over, think ahead into the winter months and beyond. By preserving fruits, vegetables and herbs, you can enjoy your bountiful crops in soups, desserts, and casseroles until the planting season comes around again.


per two cups of herbs. Then, pack the mixture into ice trays and freeze. Once frozen, move the cubes to another storage container. These herb cubes are great for pastas and soups during the winter. Still another option is to create cocktail ice cubes, such as lemonade combined withmint leaves or pureed strawberry and basil leaves. These add a nice flavor to drinks during the off season. Canning Canning foods is an excellent preservation technique. Most vegetables need to be canned using a pressure cooker to ensure safe processing. Green beans, carrots, corn, peas, peppers, and potatoes are just a few examples of vegetables that can safely line your pantry shelves for months or even a few years.

The technique is similar for each type of vegetable, but there are countless recipes online and in canning books for inspiration. To start, clean vegetables and cut away all ends, damaged pieces and peels. Cut into consistent sizes, and be sure to pack tightly into the canning jars. You’ll then add salt and fill the jars with hot water. Fill jars near the top, but leave some headroom, and be sure to release any air bubbles trapped inside. Then, seal the jars and process for the recommended amount of time. Fruits, jams, and tomatoes are quick and easy to can and only require a hot water bath for processing. You can use a traditional canner or just a large pot with a lid. However, if you don’t have a canning rack to support jars while they process, place a towel in the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching the bottom.

Blanch asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, okra, peas, summer squash, brussel sprouts, artichoke hearts, and cauliflower. Blanching times range from one to six minutes. Some sources will tell you to also blanch corn, sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes, but it’s not really necessary. Do peel and cut onions before freezing. Combine peppers and onions in bags to use for fajitas or pasta sauces. Garlic bulbs can be frozen with or without the skin. Tomatoes can also be frozen. To prepare them, remove the core and cut them into wedges. Flash freeze, place them in a freezer bag, and remove as much air as possible. Herbs are another garden-grown goodness that hold up well in the freezer. You can flash freeze them on a tray and then store in a bag or jar. Alternatively, you canmix the herbs with oil at a ratio of ⅓ cup oil


pieces. Be sure to compost your scraps for next year’s garden. Slice veggies in the shape you prefer. Thenmake a brine with water, acidic vinegar and salt. Combine in the crock and let them sit for a few weeks. Once fermented, pack into jars following the technique outlined above. Unlike the refrigerated option, you will need to process traditionally-made pickled items for shelf storage. Different foods call for different processing times, but typically range from 15-30 minutes. Proper Storage Even if you don’t plan to process your food, you canmake it last longer with proper storage. Hearty onions can be stored for 10 months or more in a cellar or shed that maintains a temperature of around 40 degrees F. Garlic and potatoes will store for several months in a cool, dark spot.

experiment with different flavors. You can add herbs, spices, garlic, or ginger to create unique flavor profiles. For each one-cup water and one-cup vinegar combination, add one tablespoon of kosher salt or two teaspoons of pickling salt, and an optional one tablespoon of table sugar. Then, boil the mixture until the dry ingredients dissolve. Stuff your prepared vegetables into clean canning jars, and top with the boiling liquid, filling within ½ inch of the top. Seal with a lid and refrigerate. Wait a minimum of 48 hours before opening. The longer they sit, the fuller the flavor will be. To ferment the traditional way, use a large crock or other container you can live without for a few weeks. There are many, many recipes for different foods and flavors, but the basic process is again to prep foods by cleaning and disposing of end

When your tomatoes go crazy at the end of summer, you canmake salsa, tomato sauce, tomato paste, marinara sauce, ketchup, barbeque sauce, etc. After cooking your sauce, simply fill hot jars with the hot liquid, wipe the rim of the jar and add a lid and ring. Then, submerge into a water bath for the recommended amount of time. The process is similar for fruits like peaches and pears, as well as jams and applesauce. You can also use apples to make pie filling or a sweet, chunky applesauce that’s amazing served over ice cream. Pickling Pickling is a fermentation process that has been around for thousands of years. It’s simple to do, and there are myriad options for flavor combinations. Some processes are relatively quick, while others require patience for proper fermentation. Prepare zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, red and yellow onion, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and other favorite veggies by first cleaning and cutting them into slices or spears. One technique is called quick pickling. Although this option gives results in a matter of days, the pickled goods won’t be as deeply flavored as those that sit in a crock for weeks. To make, simply combine equal parts water and vinegar. Any type of vinegar will work, so


Drying Many foods from your garden harvest can be dried for stable storage. Herbs last particularly well in dry form and will save you a bundle compared to the store- bought version. For most common herbs such as parsley, mint, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, and rosemary, hang them in loose bundles for a few weeks. Make sure they are completely dry, or they will mold. To store, crumble the leaves and place them in a jar. Dried herbs can be used in soups, breads, favorite recipes and even craft projects. Use your dehydrator or range oven on low temperature to dehydrate fruits like apples, bananas and mangos. You can also turn your prolific fruit harvest into fruit leather by cooking, pureeing and baking it for an extended time at a low temperature (you can find lots of recipes online).

For vinegar, pick the herb that matches your favorite marinade, salad dressing or sauce. Infuse the vinegar using the same process as the oils, and store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to six months. Alcohol can also be infused to create peach brandy, lavender lemon vodka or other favorites.

favorite essential oil, you can add it to the mix, as well.

If you’re growing herbs, you can use the plant for homemade hot or iced tea by drying the leaves of common varieties like mint, chamomile, dandelion, rose petals and hibiscus. Play with combinations for your favorite proprietary blend. Herb-infused oils and vinegars are another useful way to incorporate herbs into the kitchen or elsewhere in the home. Find a pretty jar, and stuff it with herbs. Then, add your favorite oil to make massage oils or flavored cooking oils. Allow the mixture to steep in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks, checking it every few days. Once it has the flavor and/or scent you are looking for, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. Label your oil and store for up to one year.

Homemade Products

Get Baking When you’re done freezing,

While you likely planted a garden with the goal of putting food on the table, you can also use your harvest for gifts and household items like soap, heating pads and candles. Freshen up your drawers and cupboards with simple sachets. To make, cut squares of fabric, stuff with your favorite dried herbs and stitch or tie together. You can place herbs in a draw-stringmesh bag for a nearly-instant finish. If you have a

canning, pickling and infusing, get baking. Make pumpkin chocolate cookies, zucchini bread, and apple, pear, or carrot cake. Whip up some bread loaves loaded with roasted red peppers, garlic, and herbs. You can also pre-make pizza or flatbread topped with garden veggies. All of these options can be tightly wrapped and frozen for use later.

Happy Harvesting!


Garden to Table and Beyond

10Tricks to Sneak more Veggies intoYourFamily’sDiet

works for green, orange, or yellow veggies.

a dish, keep the pieces small. Mince peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, or asparagus for a diffused flavor. When they’re small in size, vegetables lose their overbearing flavor and can easily be “hidden” frompicky eaters. Plus, small pieces are more easily disguised by the other elements in the dish. 2. Match Colors Psychologically, pairing similar colors keeps eaters frompinpointing the difference between roasted red peppers, fresh sweet peppers, tomatoes, radishes and red potatoes. So if you only like a few red veggies, add a new one to the combination. The same concept

We all know vegetables are good for us, but finding ways to eat enough of them— and to get picky family members to eat them— can be challenging. Plus, even if you have a prolific garden, veggies are only fresh and enjoyable for a limited time. If “vegetable burnout” has you feeling like your picky 5-year-old self, check out these tips to incorporate more of them into your diet (or to sneak thempast your family’s pickiest eaters). 1. SizeMatters When it comes to incorporating whole, fresh, plant-based foods into

3. Pairwith Things Your Family Likes There’s a bit of deception involved in this practice, whether you’re trying to trick yourself or the choosy eaters in your household. Start with a reliable favorite. For example, if your family loves lasagna, sneak in some finely minced red pepper. For pasta-loving families, try introducing some wilted spinach or peas. If your family loves a basic green salad, experiment with shredded carrots or beets, cut broccoli or cauliflower, or even different types of lettuce such as red, green, butter, or romaine.


peppers. Bruschetta melds well with yellow squash and zucchini.

for adding vegetables to soups, casseroles, and even smoothies. The process works particularly well when you color match. Toss red peppers in with tomatoes whenmaking marinara sauce. Add spinach, onion, celery, garlic, and yellow potatoes to split pea soup. For creamy soups and sauces, blend in cauliflower, turnips, onions, parsnips, white corn, kohlrabi or mushrooms. While your family may turn their noses up at chunks of veggies in their favorite dish, the pureed version will likely fly under the radar. For example, steam and puree cauliflower to mix into mashed potatoes, or puree some squash to mix into mac ’n cheese.

Create restaurant-style hash browns by adding green and red peppers. Then, take them up a notch with minced onions, garlic, and a bit of jalapeno if you’re feeling spicy. The same goes for fried rice. Since you’re already using a combination of ingredients, a fewmore might just go unnoticed. Honestly, there are few vegetables that don’t make the cut when it comes to fried rice, so take the opportunity to clean out the fridge. Consider cabbage, green onions, broccoli, snow peas, and carrots. Remember the ginger and garlic count, too. Omelets make great partners for veggies as well. Start with things you know you like, such as onions or yellow peppers. Then experiment with zucchini, mushrooms and spinach. Before you know it, you might be stuffing broccoli or asparagus in with your bacon and cheddar. Soups are the perfect place to hide veggies. Toss corn into clam chowder or chicken tortilla soup. Put red peppers in chili. Mix carrots, peppers and a combination of root vegetables into your stew. Add kale to your favorite spicy sausage and pasta soup. The options are literally endless. Any dish that already has a variety of ingredients is a good place to add one more vegetable. For example, salsa can be enhanced with corn and a variety of sweet and spicy

If you take it slow, you can even combine vegetables with your favorite groundmeat. Try jazzing up hamburgers, meatballs, or meatloaf with some subtle (and very small) additions like spinach, onions or peppers. 4. Puree Perhaps the best way to cloak the addition of veggies is to change their form completely. Although the taste and nutrients remain, putting veggies into a blender will make themharder to identify. Pureed vegetables are the perfect solution


5. Try a Different Technique Lots of people only like vegetables when they’re prepared a specific way. You may hate fresh spinach but love when it’s wilted (or vice versa), or you might prefer cooked broccoli over raw. Maybe you’ve had boiled green beans and they weren’t your thing, but you like green bean casserole or the sauteed green bean dish at your favorite Asian restaurant. Different cooking techniques bring out different flavors, even in vegetables. Roasting or grilling oftenmakes the food taste slightly sweeter, while steaming keeps a more neutral flavor. The point is, even if you are convinced you don’t like a specific vegetable, try a different way of cooking it, and you may be surprised. Remember those boiled brussels sprouts your parents forced you to eat as a child? Try cutting off the stem and slicing them into halves (or even smaller shredded pieces), then drizzling with olive oil and seasonings (garlic powder and onion powder work well). Sautée them in a cast iron skillet or roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Eat them as is or mix in a bowl with a combination of honey and sriracha or some balsamic vinegar.

6. Make it Cute or Appealing You’ve likely heard of “ants on a log,” which is simply celery stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins, or some other combination of ingredients that create the same effect. The result is an enticing food that kids think is fun. Even when we’re grown up, we can still have fun with our food, and it might be just the thing to motivate healthy munching. For the holidays, hit up Pinterest to find platters loaded with fresh veggies shaped like turkeys, scarecrows, or wreaths. At celebratory events, the tray can

look like a baby carriage, graduation cap, or even a childlike toy train.

7. Take the New Food Challenge Are you familiar with rutabaga, kohlrabi, sunchokes, nopales, and romanesco? Withmodern innovations, foods from around the world are readily available inmost areas, so instead of pushing past foods in the vegetable aisle you don’t recognize, pick a few up and head to the internet for preparation ideas. Select one or two new veggies eachmonth and use the tips above to blend them into your diet.


Quick breads andmuffins are the perfect vessel for carrots, zucchini, pumpkin and squash. Cookies become healthier without affecting the texture or sweetness with the addition of pumpkin, sweet potatoes and even beets. Cakes are another yummy way to work in a bit of spinach or a straight-forward dose of carrot (covered in cream-cheese frosting, of course). 9. A Cool Treat Smoothies are a drinkable way to add in lots of vegetables. There are endless combinations of smoothie

Remember if you need to start by disguising them, make them small or blended and add to pasta salad, dips, and side dishes. 8. Bake it Up Sometimes, eating veggies is a bit like takingmedicine — you just have to find a way to get it done. So although baked goods aren’t a mainstream component in the typical healthy eating plan, if you’re making baked goods anyway, you might as well add some much- needed vitamins andminerals to the batter.

ingredients, so put together your favorite blend of yogurt, almond milk, coconut milk, berries, protein powder, flax seed, and/or bananas. Then sneak in a bit of spinach, kale, celery, carrot, or cucumber. Similarly, popsicles offer a refreshing treat on hot days, and they can be an easy way to sneak in vegetables. If you have a juicer, you canmake your own juice. Otherwise look for store-bought products made up of a vegetable blend. Then, simply use a popsicle mold to make a cool treat they won’t know is good for them!

10. Take it Slow Adding vegetables into your

family’s diet is a move that makes everyone healthier. While veggies can improve energy, sleep, focus and overall wellness, incorporating them doesn’t have to be painstaking. Keep the effort to a minimumby focusing on one new vegetable or technique every week or two. Once you successfully incorporate one new veggie, move on to another vegetable or technique. Within a few months, your everyday menu will be exponentially more colorful and healthy.


Garden to Table and Beyond

Everything You Need to Know About Composting

the process for removing processed compost from the bin. Some composters have a hatch at the top, which allows you to fit a shovel into the unit. Others have a hatch at the bottom or front for easy dumping. If you’re DIY inclined, you can easily build an effective compost bin. Use scrap lumber, recycle fencing or decking boards, or build it with new wood. Create any style of box you want, but be sure to leave spaces for airflow. Also, give yourself an opening to remove and add compost easily.

Creating nutrient-rich soil from kitchen and yard scraps is cost effective, reduces waste and is much easier than you may think. There are endless ways to compost, and in the end, all of themwork. But there are provenmethods that will produce the best results in the shortest amount of time. So create a plan, get started, andmake this the year you conquer composting. The Compost Bin There are as many options for compost bins as there are ingredients to add. Store-bought

options are available in a variety of materials, fromwood to resin. They vary widely in price and style. If you plan to buy a composter, consider size and weight if you plan to move it from one location to another. Composters don’t need to take up much space, but if your options are restricted, you’ll want to make sure the composter fits and is convenient to access when adding or removing ingredients. Also, evaluate whether you canmix, stir or spin the contents. It’s not entirely necessary, but your compost will break down faster when it’s stirred occasionally. Finally, consider


started, you’ll realize how many things can be included.

brown material. Think about items in your home that most closely resemble the tree they came from. Avoid bleached and chemically- treated materials, but toss in toilet paper and paper towel rolls, brown paper bags, paper plates that are not waxy, cardboard, newspaper, coffee filters, paper towels, popsicle

Compost decomposition requires little assistance, and although compost bins make the process more efficient and aesthetically pleasing, a simple loose compost pile will do the job just fine. In other words, there’s no real need to contain it, so if building or buying a bin isn’t for you, start an easy and free compost pile instead. Location The compost bin will work most effectively in a place where it receives a lot of direct sunlight. Having said that, it will naturally break down even on the shady side of your home — eventually. But if you want to keep the cycle going that allows you to create compost every few months, you’ll want to choose a sunny location. It’s also important to choose a location with easy access for bringing food scraps from the house, adding water from the hose, or rolling a wheelbarrow for loading.

There is no ideal combination, but you’ll want to strike a mostly-even balance between brown, green, and organic materials. Brown Materials Brown materials include items like small twigs and paper products. These are items that come from trees and should make up about one-third of your compost pile. Chip or chop bark and branches into small pieces, or they will take a long time to break down.

sticks, toothpicks, pine cones, acorns, napkins and leaves.

Other natural materials that come from plants like cotton, hemp, jute, and burlap can also go into the pile. Just make sure they don’t contain chemicals or dyes. Examples include strips of bed sheets, organic cotton undyed fabrics and cotton balls.

Most tree-based items that are minimally processed count as

The Contents The most important thing to remember when adding

ingredients to your compost bin is that each material should be plant based. These materials break down, turning into precious fuel for your vegetable garden and other plants. That means what you put into the compost pile should be valuable as a component to your future plant food. Once you get


Green Materials

and the growth potential for seeds, any gardener will tell you it’s not impossible to have a surprise pumpkin plant appear out of next year’s compost. Organic Material Lastly, take advantage of your food waste. The compost pile loves egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit rinds, veggie stalks, banana peels, onion skins, nut shells, grains, tea and basically any non-animal, natural product. Some items do take longer to break down, so consider cutting banana and onion peels, slicing citrus rinds and crushing egg shells. If you decide not to take this extra step, however, those larger chunks can still move into the garden with your mostly- processed compost.

also add fire ashes as long as the wood you burned was chemical free. In other words, avoid the ashes from garbage burns, but toss in the ones from your wood fireplace. Loofahs and natural sponges are another little-known ingredient. When you’re cleaning the house, feel free to dump the swept-up dirt, dust and even pet hair into the pile. You can actually put your full vacuum bag in, as long as the contents are mostly dust and dirt, rather than bits of plastic and metal. Ingredients to Avoid As you get into the habit of composting, you’ll begin to question everything you throw into the trash. Is it good for the compost? Just remember to keep out the trash and non-organic (not plant-based) ingredients. That means no oils or grease, animal products (except egg shells), dairy, plastic, foil, or treated wood. Remember, everything that breaks down in your compost will act as food for another plant, so unless it came directly from the earth, it shouldn’t go back into it. One caveat about a material that seems to follow the rules is black walnut. While most organic plants are welcome in the compost pile, black walnut trees, leaves, and twigs release substances that might be harmful to other plants.

Grass clippings offer essential nutrients to the mix, but make sure your layers are thin and consistent for the best compost recipe. Other green materials come from other types of grasses, such as straw and bedding from herbivore animals like guinea pigs, along with their waste. Do not include animal manure from dogs and cats. Plants from your garden also balance out the green content, so toss in the tomato and pepper plants at the end of the season. Corn husks and stalks, spent flowers, herbs and other living plants are other examples. When adding plant materials to the compost, avoid any that are diseased and any invasive plants or weeds. Although the temperature of a compost pile can kill bacteria

Some Surprises

There are some other household items you may not have considered for the compost heap. Dryer lint is one example. You can


Care Imagine the rotting tree in the woods. It manages to decompose over time regardless of how much sun, heat or water it’s exposed to. So, there’s no wrong way to go about caring for your compost pile. However, to obtain a rich, nutrient- dense soil, you’ll want a good combination of airflow, moisture and heat. If your compost bin doesn’t have an opening for airflow, you’ll want to spin the container or grab a pitchfork and stir the pile every few weeks. You’ll quickly see the items that don’t break down as efficiently, so try to make everything a consistent size and keep your layers of brown, green, and organic materials not more than a few inches thick. Also, water your pile occasionally. You don’t want to keep it from getting hot but want to add some moisture to the mix.

Products Labeled as Compostable

size of your garden, making your own compost could easily save you hundreds of dollars each year off the purchase of these items. In addition, composting significantly reduces the amount of garbage you roll to the curb, offering substantial savings on waste disposal. In addition to its budget- friendly benefits, making your own compost is rewarding. It’s fun to watch waste metamorph into organic matter that completes the cycle of life in your own backyard.

The trend toward sustainability and environmentally responsible behavior has motivated companies to develop a host of packaging options that are biodegradable. However, some of these bags and containers are deceptively labeled. The truth is that while many plastic-like products can be composted, they have to reach very high temperatures to actually break down. The polymers in these products, if plant-based, won’t hurt your compost pile or your garden, but they likely require temperatures only achievable at commercial facilities, so it’s better to toss them into the yard debris bin than the composter. The Benefits In case you’re not convinced that composting might be for you, consider the cost of soil and amendments. Depending on the

As far as DIY projects go, composting is easy to start,

requires little to no supplies, can be done with very limited space and ensures you know what you’re feeding your next generation of plants.


10 FunWays to Celebrate

at Home

If you’re one of those people who celebrates Halloween for the entire month of October, we’ve got you covered. Sure, you can take the kids trick-or-treating, visit a haunted house or carve a pumpkin, but this year, try adding some new traditions to your spooky schedule.


2. Have a pumpkin carving contest. This is a similar idea to the virtual costume contest, but instead, you and your family members each carve your own pumpkin and post it to be judged by your social media followers. Get creative, and watch some YouTube tutorials or print out some traceable templates to help you out. (And don’t forget to bake up the seeds with a little sea salt or cinnamon sugar!) 3. Try out some spooky recipes. There are lots of fun and easy Halloween recipes to try on Pinterest, frommummy hot dogs 1. Have a virtual costume contest. Even if you won’t be attending a costume party this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t get dressed up! Organize a group of friends or family members to post pictures in your costumes on social media, and ask people to vote for their favorite look. The person/ family with the most likes or comments by a specific deadline wins! As an extra incentive, have everyone participating contribute a few dollars toward a grand prize.

invite all of the neighborhood kids to participate before trick-or-treat. Likewise, you can put together a plastic Halloween pumpkin “basket” and hide clues around the house to locate it.

to ghoulish yogurt-covered pretzels. Pick a few different recipes, and put together a whole themed dinner and dessert. Even if your treats look nothing like their original pictures, making them is half the fun (and you can post a side-by-side picture for a funny comparison). 4. Have a trick-or- treat scavenger hunt. Borrowing from the traditional Easter egg hunt, you can hide candy and treats for the kids all over the house. Dress them up in their costumes and send them on a hunt! You can also make this a neighborhood-wide affair and

5. Do some homework.

No, we don’t mean the boring kind. Take a deep dive and discover where some of your favorite Halloween traditions originated. Did you know that the first Jack O’Lanterns were actually made from turnips? Fun facts like these are just a Google search away, and you could even turn them into a fun Jeopardy-style game.


6. Perform some Halloween karaoke. There are plenty of Halloween songs to choose from. Dress up in costume, and sing your hearts out. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself (and some awesome family memories at the same time).

7. Have aHalloween moviemarathon.

Whether you live for horror films or prefer something a little more family friendly (“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” anyone?), Halloween is the perfect excuse to snuggle on the couch with your family and a big bowl of popcorn (try adding some candy corn into the mix if you dare).

8. Get creativewith your decorating. If you’ve never been big on Halloween decorating before, this year is the perfect opportunity to start. Create a Halloween wreath out of orange and black ribbon, or make some tissue paper ghosts. Have a family craft night to get everything ready. Whether you go spooky or fun, you can’t go wrong.

9. Play some old-fashioned Halloween games. Bob for apples, have a mummy relay race (try subbing toilet paper for real ribbon or panty hose), play pumpkin ring toss, and just get silly with your family. Offer candy or other treats as prizes for the little ones.

10. Tell some ghost stories! If your kids are old enough to handle some lighthearted ghouly fun, research and share some ghost stories. Look up some ghost tales from your local area, and if you’re brave enough, make plans to visit those places.


Pamper YourPet and Protect YourDigs

In this article, we’ll discuss tips and tricks for keeping your home clean andminimizing the damage your four-legged family members can cause.

Save time and effort with this clever cleaning hack: Put on a pair of latex gloves (or an allergy-free alternative), then rub your hands across the surface to remove pet hair quickly and easily! You’ll find your pet’s fur easily adheres to the gloves, allowing you to remove the unwanted hair with minimal effort. Simply rinse your gloved hands well to wash the attached hair away. You’ll find this trick works equally well for cleaning your car interior after trips to the vet or dog park!

People love their pets! Statistics show that 67% of households have at least one pet. Dogs lead the pack, with 63.4 million homeowners having at least one canine in their family unit. Cats come in second, with 35.7% or 42.7 million households owning at least one feline. There’s no doubt family pets play an important role in our lives. But no matter how loveable they may be, pets invariably pose a cleaning and odor challenge.

Get Pet Hair Off Upholstery Tired of spending your time

removing layers of pet hair from furniture upholstery, using a sticky lint brush until your hand aches, only to achieve mediocre results?


Invest in a Quality Pet VacuumCleaner Take the leap and invest in a vacuum cleaner built with pet owners inmind. These types of vacuum cleaners are constructed with extra features like stronger suction power to lift pet hair from your carpets, leaving them smelling fresh. Many pet vacuums include extra attachments that enable you to clean upholstery and beneath cushions, where excess hair is often trapped. If your pet sheds often, get in the habit of vacuuming daily to avoid hair build-up, or invest in a robot vacuum to regularly clean your space. Also, make sure you clean the vacuum filter often to avoid clogs and to avoid spreadingmusty pet hair odors throughout your home. Stain andOdor Removal It’s a fact of life. Sometimes, pets have bathroom accidents or get sick, leaving carpets stained and smelly. When this happens, head to your bathroom cabinet and reach for shaving cream. (It must be cream; shaving gel does not work!) Spray the stained area, and let the shaving cream sit for one minute. Then, use a clean sponge or rag to wipe away the shaving creamwith warmwater. This works well to remove even the toughest stains and odors, including cat urine and dog vomit.

All-purpose Cleaner for Flooring, Walls and Everything In Between For a safe and effective all-purpose cleaner you can use throughout your home, fill a squirt or spray bottle with one-part water and one- part white vinegar. Add a generous drop of liquid dish soap (preferably Dawn). You can safely use this cleaning solution on a wide range of surfaces to clean and refresh every area of your home. Protect and Repair Leather Furniture from Scratches If your pet reclines on your leather couch or chairs, its claws can easily leave light scratches or scuff marks. As long as these abrasions are light, the leather can be reconditioned, and surface imperfections can be masked. Follow these simple steps to repair this type of damage: 1. Use a clean cloth to apply a thin film of leather-recoloring balm over the damaged area. Apply sparingly, but use enough to adequately cover the light scratches. 2. Take a chamois cloth, and use it to remove any surplus leather-

3. Next, apply a light layer of olive or orange oil to the area using a spray bottle. Doing this achieves two things; first, the contrast between the damaged area and the rest of the leather is minimized. Secondly, the oil replenishes the moisture in the leather, which aids in keeping it supple. 4. Finally, use a clean chamois cloth to remove surplus oil by wiping the area in a straight, sweepingmotion.

recoloring balmby wiping the area in a smooth, circular motion.


Things to Consider When Choosing a NewSofa Thinking of redecorating or upgrading your current couch? If your family pet loves to snuggle, bear this inmind when picking out your next sofa. If your pet sheds and you find yourself constantly battling to hide the hair build-up, carefully consider these three things: 1. Is the couch you’re considering covered with a fabric that acts as a lint magnet? If so, you can bet your pet’s hair will quickly and easily amass all over it.

Option 1: Combine equal parts olive oil and white vinegar. Use a soft, clean rag to apply the mixture. When furniture polish fails, this simple concoction of common household ingredients can cover damage and rejuvenate wood surfaces. Option 2: Mix ½ cup fresh- squeezed lemon juice and ½ cup of cooking oil — any variety. *Be sure to squeeze the lemon juice yourself. Prepackaged lemon juice sold in stores as “fresh” will not work! Use a microfiber cloth to apply the solution, wiping away any excess residue. Option 3: Shell a walnut, and rub the walnut into the scratch. (Nuts are naturally oily, and the residue from the walnut can effectively fill minor scratches and cover light scuff marks. Option 4: Place one black tea bag in four tablespoons of heated water, and allow the tea to steep for a fewminutes or until the tea is the color of the wood you are repairing. Squeeze excess water from the teabag. Dip a clean cotton swab into the brewed tea. Use the swab to apply the tea all along the scratch. This works best if you watch the tea as it brews to make sure the color of the liquidmatches the wood you are repairing as closely as possible.

2. Less dense fabrics tend to hold unpleasant odors. 3. Lighter colors are apt to stain easily and are oftenmore difficult to keep clean. When shopping for a new couch, consider how often your pet will be on top of the furniture. If you allow your four-legged friend on the sofa, opt for one made of leather or covered with a tightly woven fabric that is easy to clean. You can also combat shedding by deliberately choosing furniture in a shade similar to your dog or cat’s fur. For an added layer of protection, use a slipcover or a decorative, inviting throw. Doing so can revitalize an older piece of furniture or shield new furnishings fromdamage. Most slipcovers and blankets are easy to wash and deodorize. Safe andNatural Remedies for Light Scratches onWood Surfaces Dealing with a piece of wood furniture, a door or flooring that’s scratched or showing signs of wear? Odds are you have all the ingredients needed to quickly mix up one of the following DIY solutions to cover the damage and revitalize your wood surfaces — from furniture to doors and floors.


Tips for Tackling DeepWood Scratches Pets’ claws often damage wood surfaces. Repairing deep scratches or gouges will require a visit to your favorite hardware or home repair store to purchase the following materials: wood filler, a putty knife, fine-grain sandpaper, and a wood stain that matches the wood furniture, door or flooring’s finish.

properly filled in but no excess putty remains. (The surface should be flush with the original, undamaged finish.) 5. Allow the filler to dry thoroughly, then take the fine sandpaper and use it to smooth the wood filler until the surface is seamless. 6. If the repair area is small, simply apply a wood finish pen with a matching stain. (For larger areas, use a clean, dry rag to apply stain to the filled area.) 7. Allow the stain to set (dry) thoroughly. 8. If the original stain finish is glossy, apply one or two coats of shellac as needed to match.

dirt and particles, allowing you to successfully apply the repair materials directly to the damaged wood. A clean surface ensures the repair materials adhere to the wood surface you are attempting to restore.) 2. Carefully read the wood filler instructions. (Most of these compounds take approximately one hour to set, but others take more time. Make sure you know how long the filler needs to properly dry before you begin.) 3. Gently apply the wood filler to the scratched area with the putty knife. 4. Use the putty knife to carefully scrape away any excess filler to ensure the damaged area is

To repair deep wood scratches, do the following in order:

1. Clean the area inside and

around the scratch thoroughly. (This is necessary to remove

Maintain a Clean Feeding Area Keep your pet’s feeding area organized and clean by placing food and water bowls on an indoor/outdoor mat: these are easy to vacuum or sweep and control feeding time messes. Bothered by unsightly stains in feeding dishes? Try this easy cleaning hack: lightly coat your pet’s food and water dishes with a quick blast of cooking spray to avoid set-in stains. But don’t go overboard, or you could upset your pet’s stomach.


To Request a Copy of My Free Home Value Report to Determine What Your Home is Truly Worth, Call 123 456 7890 or Email AgentName@Domain.com. TRULY WORTH? What is Your Home This is all 100% free with no obligation. After you submit the online questionnaire, you will receive my free report with information that will help you determine your home’s value. I recommend printing it out and taking a drive to see the homes I’ve identified as comparable to yours. See how your home measures up. This will help you get an even more accurate idea of what your home is worth.

An appraiser would charge hundreds for this service, but I will provide one at no cost.

If you would like my free, professional opinion on the value of your home, I’d be glad to help. We can talk on the phone, or we can meet in person.

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