Monday, September 20, 2010

Let’s Winterize!

This list of fall projects is designed to help you to winterize your home. With the cold season approaching, check out these valuable time- and money-saving tips to protect your home from damage caused by harsh winter weather. Your home is a significant investment and it is important to protect your assets wisely.

Winterizing varies by region. Some people need to be more concerned about snow and ice than others. Regardless of whether weather will be an issue for you this winter, this guide contains tips for regular home maintenance that every homeowner needs to perform. This is by no means a complete list. Only you know what needs to be done. Fall is the perfect time to take a walk around you home, note problem areas and set in motion a plan to correct potential problems before they begin, small problems before they grow, and large problems before they become uncontrollable!

In areas with freezing temperatures, drain and turn off outside spigots. Drain, dry and store garden hoses that you would like to use next season. Clean and store your patio furniture, gas grills and lawn equipment. Check to make sure that no critters are living in your foundation or attic. These are all simple things that you can do to make springtime more enjoyable, regardless of where you live.

Trim Limbs. Fall is the best time of year for trimming back unruly trees. During the winter, ice can form on trees and make the limbs significantly heavier. Therefore, cut back any limbs that touch your home, or they might pose a danger to siding or windows if they become loaded with snow or ice later in the season.

Look Through Your Windows. If your windows are foggy and cleaning them makes no difference, it is probably because a seal has been broken on multi-paned glass. The purpose of that seal is to insulate your home. With winter approaching and heating prices at an all time high, replace or repair window panes that have broken seals.

Patch Cracks. Walk around your home’s exterior and look for cracks in the foundation and missing caulk around windows and other openings. Leaky windows and doors cause homes to lose heat, and they can grow as a result of ice formation in the coldest months. Fill cracks now before the weather gets colder.

Clean Gutter Clutter. This is perhaps one of homeowners’ least favorite chores, but unless you want to install new gutters in the spring, you need to pull out the leaves and other debris in the fall. Many manufacturers offer solutions to cover your gutters and reduce the buildup of debris. They are not foolproof, but if you hate to clean out your gutters they may be worth the investment. Don’t forget the downspouts, where ice can combine with debris to cause bursting and leaking. Gutters and downspouts were developed to keep water away from your home. If you skip this chore, you probably will spend a lot more time mopping the basement floors later in the winter, because all of that water and ice needs has to go somewhere.

Real estate agents know how to spot the difference between well-maintained and neglected homes. Some of the most common areas of neglect are those listed above. Homes that are well-maintained and properly winterized are a hot commodity! Don’t risk your investment by being lax in your upkeep. In just one or two weekends, you can complete all of the items described above. Your home deserves it.
Fall is the time for entertaining, whether indoors or outdoors. The next time you host a dinner party, knock your guests off their feet with this delicious pecan pie with a chocolate twist.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
10 Servings

• 1 Pillsbury® Refrigerated PieCrust (from 15-oz. pkg.), softened as directed on package

• 1 cup light corn syrup
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 3 eggs
• 1 (6-oz.) pkg. (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
• 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

• 2 tablespoons reserved semisweet chocolate chips
• 10 pecan halves
• Whipped cream

Heat oven to 325˚F. Place the pie crust in a 9-inch pie pan as directed on the package for a one-crust filled pie.

In a large bowl, combine the corn syrup, sugar, margarine, vanilla and eggs; beat well. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chocolate chips for the topping. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and 1 1/2 cups pecans. Spread evenly in the pie-crust-lined pan.

Bake at 325˚ F for 55 to 65 minutes or until it is deep golden brown and the filling is set. Cover the edge of the crust with strips of foil after 15 to 20 minutes of baking to prevent excessive browning. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Melt the 2 tablespoons of reserved chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Dip each of 10 pecan halves in chocolate. Place them on waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or until chocolate is set. Garnish the pie with whipped cream and chocolate-dipped pecans. Store in the refrigerator.

Apple and Spice Cake
When you need a quick dessert for a fall evening, this delicious apple and spice cake is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. Nobody can resist the wonder of apples, especially when they are mixed with this delicious spice blend.

Vegetable oil spray
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar, white
3 cups (360g) unbleached flour, white
2 tsp (8g) baking powder
1 tsp (4g) baking soda
1 tsp (2g) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (1g) nutmeg
1/2 tsp (1g) allspice
1/2 tsp (3g) salt
1/2 cup (120ml) orange juice, frozen concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
3 cups (390g) chopped apples (Granny Smith, Jonagold, or Yellow Delicious), peeled

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Prepare a 10-inch (25cm) Bundt or tube-type pan with vegetable oil spray.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the sugar and beat well. In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt). Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture; blend well. Add in the orange juice concentrate, oil and vanilla; mix together. The batter will be thick. Fold the apples into the batter until blended. Pour into the prepared Bundt pan.
Bake for one hour or until a wooden toothpick inserted into the cake’s center comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan. Allow the cake to cool before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 267
Total Fat: 8g
% Calories from fat: 27%
Protein: 4g
Carbohydrate: 46g
Cholesterol: 37mg
Sodium: 232mg

Fun Facts
Sticking gum under your table will deter ants!If you have ever endured a battle against ants, then you already know that these tiny creatures are not deterred by much. Vinegar, black pepper, red pepper, ant traps, and sprays often prove useless.
Then one day, a real estate agent noticed that all of the sudden there were no ants crawling on his backyard patio tables. This continued for about two weeks before he realized that his five-year-old had found a package of mint-flavored chewing gum. Not knowing what to do with it after a few minutes, the child had stuck it to the underside of the table. And, viola! No more ants. Simply place mint-flavored gum in strategic locations to with the battle against ants!

Magic Sponges Clean Anything!
Without mentioning any specific products, you probably know about the magic sponges and generic versions that are available in grocery stores. They work wonders!
The next time you need to remove red wine, grass stains, or fruit punch from clothing, try placing a white cloth under the dampened stain and then rubbing the stain with a dampened magic sponge. You’ll be amazed at the results. For the toughest stains, try dampening the spot with OxyClean or detergent before using the magic sponge.

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