Now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s probably time to address those fallen leaves in our yards. To some, this is a dreaded chore and gets delegated to a landscaper or a young neighborhood (future) entrepreneur. The problem with hiring a landscaper to do your fall leaf cleanup isn’t necessarily the $250-$500 plus price tag, it’s that this is not a once-a-season job. In many regions of the country, autumn lasts weeks and weeks, so it takes a handful of cleanups to keep your property neat and tidy. (This is especially true if you have a neighbor who waits until absolutely every branch is bare before he’ll lift a rake, ensuring that his leaves continue to blow onto your lawn until the first frost glues them to the ground.)
The good news is that DIY leaf removal doesn’t have to be a blister-raising, hamstring-stressing effort. With the right tools, the leaves can be gone before the weekend. Here’s what you need to make that happen:
THE LAWNMOWER TRICK:
Throughout the spring and summer, setting the mower to maximum height is one of the best things you can do for your lawn’s health. But come fall, drop it down as low as it’ll go without scalping the turf. Short grass gives leaves less to get caught on as they drift around the neighborhood. It also means the mower will vaporize any leaves that have already fallen (assuming a light coating). You should use a mulching mower, meaning the kind without a bag that pulverizes clippings and drops them back into the turf to feed it.
Raking is hard work, but so is using a wimpy hand-held leaf blower. The typical plug-in version isn’t powerful enough to extinguish a birthday candle, never mind move a pile of damp leaves (or a single well-nestled acorn). If you’re strong enough to rake, you’re probably strong enough to handle a gas-powered backpack blower. These machines have flexible hoses and variable speed triggers, so you have plenty of power to remove those leaves stuck in your azaleas and also a gentle enough touch for cleaning up around a screen porch without sending dirt inside. Plus, they kind of resemble a proton pack from Ghostbusters, so you can re-live your youth. (Caution: Please wear ear protection and goggles.)
THE TARP TRICK:
Don’t try to transport a big pile of leaves all the way to the woods for disposal, Hercules. Conversely, if your municipality picks them up with a vacuum truck, don’t be “that guy or gal” that uses blower to relocate the leaves to a different destination. Instead, rake or blow them onto a tarp and drag them to their destination.
If you need to pack your leaves into brown paper bags for municipal curb pickup, check out the Leaf Chute ($9 at Lowe’s or Home Depot). It’s a low-tech, three-sided plastic tube that props open the empty bag and has a wide mouth for easy loading. Once the bag is full enough to stand on its own, remove the chute and pack in as many more leaves as you can stamp down.
MAKE IT A FAMILY EVENT:
Leaf pickup is an ideal chore for the young people who are eating you out of house and home. Start them with rakes and quality, well-fitted work gloves, and let them learn the old fashioned way. Then, once they’re capable rakers, understand the basics of the job, and are ready for power tools, let them grab a hold of that sweet new blower. After all, transference of chores in the household is the circle of life, isn’t it? 😉
Here is a list of five candy alternatives for Halloween that are practical in terms of expense, trick-or-treaters’ health, and the fun the treat delivers…without getting your residence egged for being “that house”:
GLOW STICKS AND LED LIGHTS
Glow sticks cost about $1 for a pack of 15, on par with the price of small pieces of candy, or about 7 cents each. Online, you can buy them in bulk for as low as a pack of 100 for $5. LED finger lights are much cooler, but will set you back $6 for a pack of 40, or 15 cents per kid. The only downside, which isn’t entirely insignificant, is that you’re creating a lot of trash for landfills.
MINI PACKS OF PRETZELS, DRIED FRUIT, ETC
These are somewhat acceptable by the kids, and you reduce the impact on landfills that glow sticks bring. But with these, you’re getting up into the 20-cents-per-kid range, and you likely aren’t saving any teeth. These foods may be lower in calories than a candy bar, but their carbohydrate base and ability to stick to the teeth ultimately promote tooth decay.
BATCH OF WARM COOKIES
Hear me out on this one. The kids will either eat them immediately and happily, or their parents will toss them out later because they don’t trust their origin. Either way, your house and wallet are safe.
With an amazing variety of choices, dinosaurs, butterflies, pirates, zoo animals, etc, you can probably please trick-or-treaters of any age. You can buy sheets of 100 or more tattoos for just pennies per tattoo.
NOISEMAKERS AND WHISTLES
Fair warning…their parents will hate them, but the kids themselves probably won’t. Unfortunately, you will probably have to demonstrate how to use them. Fortunately, you won’t be around for the heavy usage. As parents, we’ve been tortured by these handouts. Now it’s your turn to play the Halloween troll. 😉
As the saying goes, you can’t please everyone (except with a big bar of chocolate). So it may be wise to have a few chocolate bars on hand for those kids who look like they are old enough to shave. You know, just in case.
On October 23rd, 1976, Pittsburgh Panthers running back Tony Dorsett rushed for 180 yards in a 45-0 pummeling of Navy. In the process, Dorsett passed Howard Stevens to become the greatest rusher in NCAA history, setting the new record for the most rushing yards in a career at 5,206. Dorsett would end his career with 6,526 rushing yards.
This was the 15th straight game Dorsett eclipsed the 100 yard mark. The Aliquippa native also set a major‐college record of 931 career rushing attempts, eclipsing the mark of 918 set by Ed Marinaro in only three varsity seasons at Cornell, the last 1971. (You may also know Marinaro from Hill Street Blues and Blue Mountain State fame!)
In addition, Dorsett became the first player to rush for 1,000 yards in each of four varsity seasons. He totaled 1,586 yards as a freshman in 1973, 1,004 yards as a sophomore in 1974, 1,544 in his 1975 junior year, and the Hopewell alum finished his 1976 senior campaign with an astounding 2,105 yards.
Dorsett’s record held strong until the 1998 season, when Texas Longhorn Ricky Williams passed Dorsett in a game against Texas A&M.
Below is a highlight package from Dorsett’s magical day!
Pittsburgh haunted houses are some of the scariest haunt attractions in Pennsylvania and the United States. Enjoy a great scary night out with your spouse, date, or friends. Expect the ghosts, zombies, and clowns at these haunted attractions to scare you. For the price of a movie ticket you can be part of the action as you come face to face with terror. State of the art animatronics, great props, Hollywood sets, and actors with makeup beyond belief create a thrilling Halloween experience. You will be frightened. The souls of steel workers who manned the mills and lived among the soot still haunt the historic houses of Pittsburgh. They’re a bit more mellow now that they are located in one of America’s most livable cities, but they’re still pretty bitter about the past.
Castle Blood – Monessen, PA
Operating for over 20 years, Castle Blood is “Pennsylvania’s most unusual haunted attraction”. Expect to find lots of vampires, scenes of the dead, and supernatural creatures. Tickets are $20-25. Castle Blood is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in October. Castle opens at 7 pm. Ticket booth closes at 11 pm on Friday and Saturday or 9 pm on Sunday.
Cheeseman Fright Farm – Portersville, PA
For over a decade during Halloween season the Cheeseman Fright Farm has been operating this wonderful haunted attraction. Tickets are $15-20. The attraction runs every Friday, Saturday, and Sundays in October. Arrive early and do not keep the tractors waiting. The Haunted Hayride starts at dark.
Demon House – Monongahela, PA
“We will scare the living soul out of you.” Demon House will unleash the evil demons upon you. They run a special one night lights out glow stick specials .They are open 7 pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday or 10 pm on other nights. They are open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in September and October.
Fright Farm – Smithfield, PA
Begin with the Festival Midway with music, celebrity appearances, concessions, face painting, bonfires, classic horror movies, and haunting entertainment. Then expect to be terrorfied in the Terror Maze, Paranoia, Frightmare Mansion, Hallow Grounds, and Dead End Hayride attractions. Now celebrating 27 years of frightening folks. The General Admission tickets gets you into five attractions. Open most nights except Monday and Tuesday. Lots of special and discounts available.
Haunted Hills Estate – Uniontown, PA
Back again with new characters, new scenes, new themes, and new horrors. Enjoy the Spooky Street which contains the bonfire, Black Cauldron Concessions, and Crow’s Nest Novelty Shop. In business for 4 years, Haunted Hills Estate puts on three great haunt attractions named The Curse Challenge Trail, Legends Hotel, and The Twisted Nightmare. The doors open at 7 pm. Tickets prices are based on the day of the week and the haunt you want to go through. Visit any Friday and Saturday for $15 for one adventure, $20 for two, or $25 for three. Open Friday and Saturday nights in September and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in October. Check website for details and added dates.
Hundred Acres Manor – Bethel Park, PA
Six attractions all for the one low price of $20 per victim. Hundred Acres Manor operates a 7500 square foot haunted house. The attractions are Dead Lift, Damnation, The Family, The Maze, Brine Slaughterhouse. It takes about 45 minutes to go through this haunted house. Doors open at 7 pm and close at 11:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and at 10 pm on other nights. Runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in September and most nights in October. See web page for details. Also available is a Live Zombie Paintball attraction for additional price.
Huston’s Haunted Hollow – Rockwood, PA
A great value for only $20. They have a bonfire, refreshments, and concession stand along with 4 haunted attractions. Haunted Boarding House (evil in the hollow), Twisted Barn 4D ( a high startle graphic experience), Haunted Hayride and Toxic Swamp Walk, and Dead End Cornfield. Huston’s Haunted Hollow is open from dusk until 10 pm. Open every Friday and Saturday night in October.
Lonesome Valley Farms Valley of Terror – Greenbury, PA
They operate two haunted attractions and two non-haunts on this Pennsylvania farm. The haunts are advertised as “Where you are the Harvest.” They are open every Friday and Saturday nights. Open Sundays starting October 9th. Opens at 7 pm. The non-haunts open at 6 pm. Tickets are $23 for the Valley of Terror Haunted Hayride and Maze Trail combo ticket with the Slotter Farm House & Barn. The non-haunt ticket is $10 for the Corn Maze and $7 for the Country Hayride. During the day the farm has a hayride, barrel train rides, barnyard animals, and a kids pumpkin patch playland for just $10. Open weekends
Phantom Fright Nights Kennywood – Pittsburgh, PA
Now celebrating over 15 terrifying years, Kennywood will once again operate Phantom Fright Nights. The weekend attraction is open every Friday and Saturday night in October plus two Sundays. This attraction is open from 7 pm until 1 am. Save $4 with online tickets. They advertise intense spectacles of sheer terror with Biofear, Voodoo Bayou, Mortem Manor, Villa of the Vampires, and many more attractions.
Scarehouse – Etna, PA
“Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Haunted House”, also knows as The Scarehouse, is three haunts for one price. All parking is at the Pittsburgh Zoo or PPG Aquarium then ride the shuttle. The parking address is 7340 Butler Street. The attractions are Infernal, Nocturnia 3D, and the all new Sunset Lodge. Tickets are $15.99-24.99 online depending on the night. Reserve your tickets for half hour entry times. Consider Scarehouse as a living tribute to the Zombie capital of the world. Also for 2017 is The Basement. Here you will be touched, restrained, hooded and scared out of your mind. The Basement is something different for adults with high voltage effects, sexual content, water, live animals, and violent situations. Tickets are separate. Scarehouse is open Friday and Saturday nights in September and most Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights in October. This is considered by most as one of the top haunt attractions in the entire country.
On October 19th, 1997, Penguins 2x Stanley Cup Champion goaltender Tom Barrasso became the first American-born goaltender to win 300 games, as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Florida Panthers, 4-1.
On his way to 300 victories, Barrasso had to wait for the last five wins for over 17 months as the goaltender battled injuries for nearly two full seasons. His career record improved to 300-220-64, giving him .513 lifetime winning percentage on that night.
Speaking on being one of only 14 goaltenders (at the time) to reach the 300 win mark, and the first American to do so, Barrasso said, “It’s great company to be in. There are a lot of people responsible for it. I have to thank my mom and dad, and my wife and kids have been very supportive and given me motivation. Any goaltender wants to get 100 and then 200, and not many guys have won 300. Obviously, I’d like to keep adding to it and climb even higher on that list.”
After being acquired from Buffalo during the 1988-89 season, Tom Barrasso instantly became one of the most important and influential men on the ice and in the locker room for the Pens. Not only was he steady in net, Barrasso holds the record for assists and points by an NHL goaltender. When it came to playoff hockey, few were better. In fact, he won 14 straight playoff games over two seasons, including 10 straight in the 1992 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Seniors can be emotionally vested in the home they’re leaving, and it’s expected that there will be sadness and apprehension about the move. It can be a tough conversation to have with your aging parent, but give them time to grieve the change and talk about where they will be living and why they are moving, in order to help make the transition smoother. When seniors are asked to leave their longtime homes, a frequent cause of distress is their perceived loss of control, so give your loved one as much choice as possible as they plan and implement the move.
2. PLAN EFFECTIVELY
Before families begin the sorting and organizing process, it will help to have a visual of what they are getting into. What rooms need to be furnished? How many square feet is the new residence? Writing for AARP, Ann Goyer recommends plotting the floor plan of your loved one’s new home on graph paper, and suggests cutting out pieces to represent furniture.
3. ENLIST RELATIVES
This will undoubtedly be a big job, so enlist help from your family. Encourage siblings or other close family members to take a few days off of work. Even children and younger members in the family can participate. Surrounding your senior parents with loved ones who are supportive and encouraging could help ease the emotional stress of moving as well.
4. SORT AND ORGANIZE
Moving your elderly parents will involve downsizing. Go through the house item by item with your support team. You can categorize objects to make the process easier: items to be moved, keepsakes to be left with family, items to be sold or donated, and items to be thrown out. Don’t allow yourself to become a packing robot lacking feelings. Honor the emotional attachment to personal belongings and allow your senior parent to reminisce as you help sort out their possessions. Remember, these are not just things you’re moving; they’re memories. Also, be open to your own emotions, especially if this was your childhood home.
5. CLEAN AND REAPAIR
After the organizing and packing is complete, there is work that still needs to be done. Whether the house is going to be sold, rented or passed on to another relative — the general requirements are the same. The house should be cleaned, and they should consider making any required repairs now before any get worse. It’s better to take care of maintenance issues all at once rather than dealing with them later while the house is for sale (or after renters move in).
6. PLAN THE MOVING DAY
There are a few different strategies for moving your senior loved one into their new home. A full service mover is the easiest way to go, but also the most expensive. They will load everything, deliver to its destination and put things in place. We looked at quotes from movers and found the cost of moving the contents of a two bedroom home across the country exceeds $6,000. Families can save some money on the move by using a self-service mover, which means their family will load the moving truck, but the cargo will be hauled by a professional mover. Then there’s the do-it-yourself (DIY) option where you can rent a moving truck or trailer. But, even the DIY option of renting a U-Haul or Ryder is not cheap: a move from Atlanta to Los Angeles in a 26 foot truck could exceed $3,000 when you factor in gasoline.
Of course, each family’s circumstances are unique, so we’re hesitant to give blanket advice. However, I hope these tips help you better plan and execute your elder loved one’s next move!
Runny nose. Itchy eyes. A massive headache. These are just a few ailments suffered by homeowners with poor indoor air quality; potentially as a result of smoke, dust, or other contaminants. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people spend close to 90% of their time indoors, where air quality can be two to five times more polluted than the air outside.
Although anyone can suffer from poor indoor air quality, asthma/allergy sufferers, children, and the elderly are particularly sensitive. Fortunately, a few simple and affordable home improvements can go a long way to benefit your home’s air.
Avoid Scented Sprays Despite their fresh scents, air fresheners and laundry products can emit dozens of chemicals. For truly fresh air, look for fragrance-free or natural products and skip aerosol sprays. Keep rooms ventilated by opening windows, and add a plant to help purify your air.
Control Dust Household dust can trap chemicals and allergens. Some objects are prone to dust, such as rugs, upholstered furniture, and infrequently moved accessories. Opt for easy-to-clean or washable items to avoid dust getting trapped in your space. Try to avoid clutter at all costs! Large piles of “I’ll get to it later” is a vacation resort for dust.
Dehumidify Damp Areas Moisture can attract dust mites, mildew, and mold. Your rooms should be kept at a safe 30% to 50% humidity level. An inexpensive indoor humidity monitor will check your home’s levels, and a basic dehumidifier can solve many moisture challenges.
Clean Floors Regularly If you can, use a vacuum cleaner that is equipped with a HEPA filter and rotating brushes to remove dust and dirt from floors. Vacuum at least once a week, especially in high-traffic areas. A good vacuum will not blow dust or dirt out in the exhaust. Twice a month, use a microfiber mop on hard floors, skipping any chemical cleaning solutions in favor of warm water or a natural product.
In today’s fast paced world, we’re always looking for new ideas that won’t take up too much time. After all, time is money. However, that doesn’t mean you need to put off certain projects! Often times, it’s the little things that can really add the extra flair you feel your home is craving. A good place to start is by making the address on your home look bold or multi-functional. As bizarre as it sounds, you notice a home with a stand-out address bar/post/window. Here’s some quick and easy tips:
1. NUMBER YOUR DOOR WITH VINYL
DIY doesn’t get any easier than a vinyl numbered door project. You can make the numbers yourself, buy them at your local craft store, or order custom made vinyl numbers online. This is an incredibly easy way to adapt a project to your home’s style and your taste. For example, you can use modern numbers in a bold color, or classic numbers in a traditional hue. The choice is yours!
2. MAKE AN ADDRESS POST PLANTER
An address post planter project makes your house easy to find, and lets you show off your green thumb. If you’re not into plants, no problem; don’t add a hook and you’ll end up with the most distinctive address post in the neighborhood. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Consider placing a solar-charged light near the base of the post for a dramatic effect at night, and your house will be even easier to locate.
3. GO BIG WHEN YOU GO HOME
Bold and beautiful describes many home monogram number projects. The fact that it’s also low budget makes it a DIY’ers dream. If you want the house numbers to stand out more, paint the initial a solid color. Hang your creation under your home’s porch light so the numbers are easy to spot at night.
4. TRANSFORM A WINDOW PANE
If you have an old window pane you don’t know what to do with, you can transform it into a unique address display. Hang the sign on your front porch, above your garage, or anywhere it’s easy to see from the street. Consider painting the numbers with a glow in the dark finish to make them discernible at night.
Find out if your homeowners association has restrictions that might affect your project.
Use numbers that are at least three inches tall.
Choose colors that contrast with the exterior of your home.
Approach your home from different angles to be your address is visible and not obstructed by plants, trees, or other decorations.
Flood season is almost over here in the Pittsburgh area. While we had a rougher year than normal in the Steel City and surrounding areas, our summer floods paled in comparison to the tragic events in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico. We send our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by these extreme weather events.
Seeing the damage and hearing the heartbreaking stories made me realize…I wouldn’t know what to do if I was faced with the horrendous storm. Or any storm, for that matter. I’m sure I’m not alone, either. Until we’re faced with such adversity, it’s hard to truly prepare for the unknown.
Flooding is a temporary overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. There are many possible causes of floods including heavy rain or snowmelt, coastal storms and storm surge, waterway overflow from being blocked with debris or ice, or overflow of levees, dams, or waste water systems, Flooding can occur slowly over many days or happen very quickly with little or no warning, called flash floods.
Flooding can happen in any U.S. state or territory. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, such as near a river, stream, or culvert; along a coast; or downstream from a dam or levee.
Flooding can occur during every season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater risk for flooding during hurricane season (i.e., June to November), while the Midwest is more at risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains. Ice jams occur in the spring in the Northeast and Northwest. Even the deserts of the Southwest are at risk during the late summer monsoon season.
BASIC SAFETY TIPS
Turn Around, Don’t Drown! ®
Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters. Floodwaters can scour foundation material from around the footings and make the bridge unstable.
Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
Flood Watch = “Be Aware.” (Conditions are right for flooding to occur in your area.)
Steps to Take
Turn on your TV/radio/phone. Sounds comical, but you will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.Prepare Your Home
Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.
Flood Warning = “Take Action!” (Flooding is either happening or will happen shortly.)
Steps to Take
Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground.
Evacuate if directed.
Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.
Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.