Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed


Mother’s Day. It’s a holiday honoring motherhood that is observed in many forms throughout the world. You can actually trace it back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. However, the most modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival “Mothering Sunday.”

The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and became an official holiday in the U.S. in 1914. Of course, Ms. Jarvis wasn’t thrilled with the commercialization of the holiday and tried getting it removed from the calendar. Today, dates and celebrations may vary, but Mother’s Day commonly falls on the second Sunday in May.

At Improvements, we believe in celebrating moms. Keep reading to discover Mother’s Day recipes and craft ideas. After all, don’t moms deserve a day of rest and relaxation? We think so!

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Recipe

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Show mom how much you love and care about her by making and serving her breakfast in bed. We have a frittata recipe that everyone will eat up and a non-alcoholic drink that everyone will find refreshing.

Cheese and Vegetable Frittata

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Cheese and Vegetable Frittata Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (may substitute with vegan cheese)

Cheese and Vegetable Frittata Cookware

Cheese and Vegetable Frittata Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Heat oil in a 10-inch cast iron or oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and salt. Sauté about 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add the zucchini and spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk the eggs, parmesan, and pepper together in a bowl until the eggs are broken up. Pour egg mixture into the skillet over the vegetables. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
  3. Bake until eggs are almost set, about 8 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and continue to broil until the top is set and a light golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Sparkling Grapefruit and Rosemary Spritzer (Non-Alcoholic)

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Sparkling Grapefruit and Rosemary Spritzer Ingredients

  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (strip leaves off the stem of one sprig and leave 2 sprigs whole)
  • 1-1/2 cup pink grapefruit juice (fresh or store-bought)
  • 1 cup seltzer

Sparkling Grapefruit and Rosemary Spritzer Drinkware

Sparkling Grapefruit and Rosemary Spritzer Directions

  1. In each glass gently muddle about 1 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves in the bottom of the glass. Add ice and fill each glass with 3/4 cup grapefruit juice and 1/2 cup seltzer; stir. Garnish with a rosemary sprig. Makes 2 servings.

Mother’s Day Craft

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Create some tissue paper flowers for mom! They’re a fun craft activity you and your kids will enjoy making.

Tissue Paper Flowers Supplies

  • 8 pieces of tissue paper cut to 10” square (this will make 1 flower)
  • Green pipe cleaner
  • Scissors

Tissue Paper Flowers Directions

  1. Stack the 8 pieces of tissue paper together and fold the paper accordion-style. Crease with each fold.
  2. Use scissors to cut off the corners of the folded paper to create round edges.
  3. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the center of the folded tissue paper and twist to tighten.
  4. Separate and fluff each layer of tissue paper, pulling to the center.
  5. Continue to separate and fluff each layer until you have a full flower. Repeat this process to make more flowers, and group them together in a vase for an artistic bouquet.

Mother’s Day Printable Card

Instead of buying a Mother’s Day greeting card, create a homemade one instead. Download and print out our Mother’s Day printable card and give it your mom.

Celebrate Mom This and Every Mother’s Day

Mother's Day bouquet of flowers.

Have you ever heard the saying that a mom is like a button, she keeps everything together? Even though you’ll celebrate your mom on Mother’s Day, you could celebrate her every day. You don’t have to show grand gestures, a simple “Thank you” and “I love you” will do. Furthermore, don’t forget to celebrate the “mother figures” in your life, from aunts to grandmas. They’ll appreciate being remembered, too.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Entertaining, Recipes Tagged with: , ,
Posted by: Amandah Blackwell

Royal Wedding Brunch Watch Party

Sniff, sniff. We knew it would happen eventually, but the thought of Prince Harry tying the knot makes some of us in the office a wee bit sad. On the other hand, we’re happy he found his true love, Ms. Meghan Markle. So chin up, dry your eyes, and start thinking about having a royal wedding watch party. At Improvements, we’re giving you brunch ideas, so all you have to do is whip up these recipes, gather your friends, and watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle join together in holy matrimony. Sound good? Of course, it does! Let’s proceed…

Make These Royal Wedding Brunch Recipes

Below are recipes that you’ll really, really want to (an ode to the Spice Girls who’ve been invited to the wedding) make for your royal wedding watch party. You may want to suggest to your friends that they dress up for the regal occasion and choose a hairstyle to match: Meghan’s messy bun or Kate’s beautiful blowout. Most importantly, wear a fascinator on your head. You’ll be the hostess with the mostess!

Royal Wedding Brunch: Dill and Cucumber Sandwiches

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Dill and Cucumber Sandwiches Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons mayo
  • 1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • White sandwich bread, crusts removed, about 16 slices
  • Sprigs of fresh dill for garnish

Dill and Cucumber Sandwiches Cookware

  • Bowl
  • Spoon, spatula, and knife
  • Measuring utensils

Dill and Cucumber Sandwiches Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and mayo until smooth. Add garlic powder, salt, pepper, and chopped dill.
  2. Spread mixture on 8 slices of bread. Top with sliced cucumbers and sprigs of dill, then close sandwiches with remaining bread slices.
  3. Cut crusts from bread, forming a square, then cut into quarters on the diagonal, creating 4 triangle mini-sandwiches.

Royal Wedding Brunch: Strawberry Bellini

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Strawberry Bellini Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of prosecco
  • 2 cups pureed and strained fresh strawberries
  • mocktail alternative – 1/2 sparkling white grape juice, 1/2 sparkling water to the equal amount in 1 bottle of prosecco

Strawberry Bellini Cookware

  • Blender
  • Strainer
  • Champagne flutes

Strawberry Bellini Directions

  1. Open prosecco and let it stand in ice for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour pureed strawberries into a pitcher.
  3. Gently pour in the bottle of prosecco and stir gently.
  4. Serve in champagne flutes.

Royal Wedding Brunch: Blueberry Lemon Scones

Blueberry and Lemon Scones Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • 3/4 cups plain (not greek) yogurt
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg white, beaten

Blueberry and Lemon Scones Cookware

Blueberry and Lemon Scones Directions

  1. Put clean blueberries in the freezer for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into dry ingredients until mixture has the texture of coarse meal.
  4. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest until combined.
  5. Fold in frozen blueberries.
  6. Pat into a circle about 1-inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Cut into 8 wedges.
  8. Place 1-2 inches apart on a lightly greased sheet pan.
  9. Brush the tops with egg white and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  10. Bake 15-17 minutes until golden brown.

Her Majesty Invites You to a Royal Wedding Watch Party

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Hold court in your castle (house) and have a royal wedding watch party that you and your friends won’t forget. Sit back, relax and eat some delicious foods that are positively British. You may want to keep tissue boxes close by so that you and your friends can dab your eyes as you watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get married. And if you ever need brunch ideas, bookmark this post! After all, Princess Eugenie (Fergie and Prince Andrew’s daughter) is getting married. Perhaps you can have another royal wedding watch party in October if the wedding is televised. Fingers crossed!

Are you holding a royal wedding watch party? What are you serving? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in Entertaining Tagged with: , , ,
Posted by: Amandah Blackwell

Emergency Preparedness: How to Plan for Disasters

Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, chemical spills, tsunamis, and fires can strike at any time. The images are devastating, and our hearts and thoughts go out to those affected by these natural disasters. If a disaster strikes your area, would you be prepared? Emergency preparedness reminds us that we need to be prepared in the event a natural or human-made disaster occurs. Knowing what to do and having a plan can not only save your life but the life of others as well. Keep reading to learn about emergency preparedness.

What You Need to Know about Emergency Preparedness

September is National Preparedness Month, but you may want to think about emergency preparedness throughout the year. After all, disaster can strike at any time, and being prepared may be the difference between life and death. It’s important to stay informed through radio, TV, or the internet. However, if you don’t have electricity, communication will be nearly impossible.

Here are some tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Have a family communication plan in place. Everyone should review and practice the plan.
  • Write down family members’ and other important phone numbers.
  • Store important documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, etc.) in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box.
  • Know first-aid (have multiple kits available) and CPR for people and pets.
  • Learn how to shut off utilities.
  • Have a pet emergency kit for each one of your pets.

Personal safety matters! If disaster strikes while you’re on the road, at work, or on vacation, here are some tips that could help you.

Emergency Preparedness: On The Road

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If you travel for work or pleasure, it’s important to be prepared in the event of a disaster. After all, you don’t have to travel far to get stuck in your car. For instance, you could hit a muddy road and get stuck. Or maybe you live in a snowy area and crash into a snowbank. Perhaps you take a wrong turn and drive into a pond. Even if you have your cell phone, emergency preparedness can come in handy. For instance, you should have the following in your vehicle:

  • First-aid kit
  • Water
  • Blankets
  • Towels
  • Rain poncho
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire and jack
  • An emergency auto tool that breaks the glass and cuts the seatbelt
  • Tire inflator
  • Maps
  • Flares
  • Portable charging station
  • Toolset
  • Cable ties
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries

It’s also a good idea to have a car emergency kit that may have some of the items (bungee cords, tow rope, etc.) listed above along with supplies for five days. The priority is to remain calm and stay hydrated. You’ll need to drink about a gallon a day, so make sure you have plenty of water in your car. Some brands of boxed water claim to have a shelf life of five years. Another alternative is to carry empty water bottles with you and fill them as you need them.

Additionally, you’ll want to keep sanitation in mind. Hey! If you have to go, you have to go. Of course, this can be tricky in your car. Carry unscented baby wipes and toilet paper. Wipes are a good substitute for toilet and can be used for cleaning. Also pack plastic garbage bags, medium and large zip-lock style bags, and wire ties. You can use these as disposable containers. You may also want to bring a bedpan because if it’s too cold outside, you may have to use it. Also, pack a bottle of hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray.

Emergency Preparedness: At Work

Employers should have emergency plans in place. In fact, you may have had practice drills to ensure you and your co-workers know what to do. For example, training may have included:

  • Reviewing individual roles and responsibilities.
  • Going over the different threats, hazards, and protective actions.
  • Reviewing notification, warning, and communications procedures.
  • Examining accountability, evacuation, and shelter procedures.
  • Inspecting location and use of emergency equipment.
  • Establishing a protocol for locating employees in an emergency.
  • Emergency preparedness and shut down procedures.

However, it pays to have a personal plan in place. For instance, it’s not a bad idea to have an emergency survival kit at work filled with non-perishable foods, a flashlight, dust mask, and more. You should also know where the exits are located because if the electricity goes out, you won’t be able to use the elevator and will have to take the stairs. And, make sure you have more than one person as an emergency.

Keep in mind that in the event of a disaster, you may have to evacuate the premises. In fact, you may want to keep your personal belongings close by, including your purse, messenger bag, and cell phone. This way you can quickly grab them and leave. You’ll also want to stay informed by listening to TV, radio, or internet.

No matter where you work, there’s a slight chance an emergency may happen. The best thing you can do is remain cool, calm, and collective. After all, panicking doesn’t help and could make the situation worse. Also, you may consider taking an emergency or survival class where experts teach you the skills needed to navigate a disaster. In the event a disaster happens, you will be prepared.

Emergency Preparedness: On Vacation

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Disasters don’t care when you go on vacation – they can hit anytime, anywhere. And let’s face it: you may be subject to Murphy’s Law of Travel – what can go wrong, will go wrong. Even though you can’t wait to leave on your cruise vacation or road trip, you’ll want to be prepared for unexpected emergencies that may happen. Here are a few emergency preparedness travel tips:

  1. Give your itinerary to someone.
  2. Pack a first-aid and hygiene kit.
  3. Get traveler’s insurance to cover medical emergencies, especially if you travel out of the country.
  4. Pack your medicines and a water filtration/purification kit.
  5. Store your passport, money, and credit cards in a money pouch/travel crossbody bag.
  6. Keep one change of clothes in a carry-on or daypack.
  7. Read about your destination’s transportation.
  8. Familiarize yourself with safety and evacuation procedures.
  9. Learn about local emergency alerts and radio systems.
  10. Pay attention to the weather for your destination.
  11. Pack a dust mask, emergency whistle, and wireless lighting.
  12. Traveling with a pet? Bring a pet first-aid kit and other essentials: float coat, harness, blanket, and extra food.

Experiencing a disaster on your vacation would make it one that you wouldn’t forget. Anything may happen. You may fall and break your arm, or a fire could break out in your hotel. Having an emergency plan in place will give you peace of mind. After all, it’s better to be prepared and ‘know’ before you go.

Will You Be Prepared When a Disaster Strikes?

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No one wants to think about disaster striking. However, you may not want to brainstorm for the worst-case scenarios, including a chemical spill, fire, earthquake, etc. Once you’ve thought about these and other emergencies, think about how it may affect you and how you would respond. You may consider taking first-aid and CPR classes so that you can help out in the event of an emergency.

Fall Home Cleaning: How To Clean Walls

Back in the 1950s, family sitcoms showed the perfect American Family: mom, dad, kids, and sometimes a dog. But there was a supporting character that sat quietly in the background but looked oh so sparkly clean: the family home. Yep! The house was well kept without a mess in sight. And the walls! Nary a cobweb or dust bunny on them. Let’s face it: that was TV. In the real world, you may be working 40 or more hours a week and don’t have time to deep clean your home every month, which includes washing your walls. However, you could clean them in the early spring and early fall. Hey! Twice a year is pretty good. Keep reading to learn how to clean walls. It’s a great way to keep your home looking and smelling fresh and may extend the life of your wall paint.

How To Clean Walls

Walls get dirty for many reasons, from home pollution to pet hair and dander. And yes, washing them is time-consuming. But it’s necessary if you want the inside of your house to smell and look great. And when you wash your walls in the early spring and early fall, you can open the windows and let the cool breeze dry them. If you have older kids, recruit them to help because you’ll get done faster. In fact, spring break is the perfect time to clean walls.

Let’s explore how to clean walls, from prep work to how you actually wash walls. Ready, let’s go!

Vacuuming and Dusting

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Spiders enjoy building webs in corners, which means the corners of your walls may have a few hanging around. Wipe away cobwebs and debris with an indoor high reaching cleaning kit with a telescoping handle with the corner duster attachment; soft dry mop, dust cloth, or the brush and wand attachment on your vacuum. If you can’t reach, use a small step ladder or step stool. Ideally, this should be completed on a monthly basis. But if you only do vacuum and dust the walls in the fall or even in the spring, so be it.

Wall Cleaning Supplies

Now that you’ve vacuumed and dusted, you’ll want to gather your wall cleaning supplies. For instance, you’ll need a bucket with warm soapy water, bucket with clean water, and drop cloth. Keep in mind that the soap/detergent you use should be mild so that it doesn’t ruin your wall paint. More on that later. Once you’ve gathered your wall cleaning supplies, you can move onto cleaning your walls.

Wall Cleaning by Paint Type

Knowing the type of wall paint you or your contractor used matters. Why? Because you need to use the proper cleaning solution. For instance, walls painted with a semi-gloss enamel or glossy paint can be washed with your favorite cleaning product or hot, sudsy water soaked sponge. Rinse with cool water to remove grease in your kitchen and moisture residue in your bathroom and laundry room. To clean flat-painted walls, use a clean, damp cloth or soft sponge moistened with water. If necessary, touch up paint.

Washing Walls

Here’s a step-by-step guide to washing your walls:

  1. Gather your cleaning supplies.
  2. To create a large enough workspace, remove all wall decor from your walls and move your furniture into the center of the room or into other rooms.
  3. Protect your floor by laying down a drop cloth.
  4. Vacuum and dust your walls and baseboards. You may use an indoor high reach cleaning kit, your vacuum, or broom with a towel.
  5. With a natural sponge or lint-free washcloth, wipe and scrub down your walls from top to bottom with your favorite cleaner, warm soapy water, or damp cloth or sponge (for walls that have flat paint).
  6. Follow-up step 5 with a clean water rinse. Change out the dirty water in your bucket. You may have to do this several times.
  7. Open a few windows to allow the air to flow through the room to help dry the walls faster.

Now that you know how to clean walls, you can schedule the task in the early spring and early fall. See that. Your walls will be cleaned at least twice per year.

Are You Ready to Make Your Walls Sparkle?

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To keep your house looking sparkly clean, wash your walls regularly. After all, indoor and outdoor weather conditions impact your cleaning schedule. For instance, if you open your windows on a breezy fall day, your home may be subject to pollens and require at least a weekly cleaning. Why? Because allergy sufferers may sneeze up a storm if the house isn’t clean! Keep in mind that children and pets also contribute to dirt that builds up on walls. How? A handprint there and a pawprint there adds up after time, which means your walls may need to be cleaned monthly.


For additional house cleaning tips, check out our post, House Cleaning Tips to Get Your Home Sparkling. And, refer back to this post as often as you need so that you know how to clean walls.

Fall Lawn Care Tips to Improve Your Yard

It may seem counterproductive, but autumn is the perfect time of year to do yard work. With the cooler temperatures and frequent moisture, fall is the ideal season to prepare your lawn for the spring. To help improve your yard and get it ready for the next outdoor season, follow these fall lawn care tips.

Don’t Neglect Lawn Care in the Fall

To ensure a luscious, healthy green lawn in the spring, you must take proper care of your lawn in the fall before it goes dormant. It is also a great time to repair any damage that your lawn suffered over the hot summer months. Think of this lawn care preparation like a bear going into hibernation. Bears fatten up before they take their long winter nap. You want to do the same to your lawn to ensure it awakens in the spring full of nutrients and ready to grow.

Here are some other fall lawn care tips.

Keep on Mowing

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Grass will continue to grow until the first hard frost. It is important to continue to mow it up until then. In the fall, the ideal height to keep your lawn at is about 2.5 to 3 inches. This will allow it to withstand the winter cold but not leaving it vulnerable to matting or fungi growth like longer blades will. Plus, regular mowing during the fall helps clear leaves. Chop them up as you mow to leave behind a soil-enhancing mulch. If you have too many leaves to mulch and need to bag them, consider starting a compost pile. You can also add branches and lawn clippings to it as well. Learn all you need to know about composting in our Composting 101 and How to Compost blogs.

Let Your Lawn Breathe

Create air channels in a compacted lawn by aerating the soil. Do it yourself by pushing a border fork or hollow tiner into the soil every 4 inches or you can hire a landscaping company to quickly aerate your whole lawn for you. It works by pulling out compacted plugs of soil and reduces thatch, improves drainage and loosens the soil. Aerating the lawn allows air, fertilizer, sunlight and more get to the root of the grass to improve its health. Water and mow the lawn before you aerate. Fertilize after you aerate. Aeration should be done every two years for the most effective lawn care.

Fall is the Time to Fertilize

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There’s no better season to fertilize your lawn than fall, especially if you only do so once a year. Grass leaves grow slower in the cooler fall temperatures, but roots and rhizomes (the horizontal plant stems that sit just below the surface of the soil) continue to grow quickly. Fertilizing in the fall allows the grass to grow deep roots and keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy growth start in the spring. A fall fertilizer application also helps the grass repair any traffic, sun or heat damage it may have occurred over the summer months. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully on the fertilizer you choose and remember that it is better to under-fertilize rather than overdo it. Always fill your broadcast spreader or walk-behind drop spreader on the driveway to avoid spillover in the lawn that could damage or kill the exposed grass.

Reseed and Repair

Fill in any bald spots in your yard with grass seed or an all-in-one lawn repair mixture during the fall. The mixture usually contains grass seed, fertilizer, and organic mulch so it will stimulate regrowth while also providing nutrients and protectant.

While you never want to over-fertilize, you actually can overseed your existing turf in the fall for optimum lawn care. It will expose your lawn to the latest in resilient, drought-tolerant grasses, help fill in bare patches and create a dense lawn that can protect against weed growth.  After you lay down the seed, make sure it is in full contact with the soil by pressing seeds into the lawn. Keep the new seed thoroughly watered until it begins to germinate and then mist until the seedlings are mowing height. Make sure you seed well in advance of the first snowfall.

Seeding in the fall produces fewer weeds and allows the grass to become established before the hot weather takes over. Plus, it allows the roots to grow strong and resilient.

If you want to do more than just reseed your lawn and are interested in learning what vegetables to plant in the fall, view our Vegetable Planting Guide.

Are You Ready to Try These Fall Lawn Care Tips?

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Be prepared before fall arrives to give your lawn the best chance of not only surviving but thriving during the cold winter months. With these lawn care tips, your yard will look great come spring and you can focus on landscaping for design rather than maintenance or reparative lawn care work. The fall lawn preparation will be key so don’t overlook these steps. If we left anything out on how to improve your lawn, please let us know and share with us your favorite must-do fall lawn care step. And head over to our blog for more eco-friendly lawn care tips.

What to Plant in the Fall in Your Garden

Just like spring, fall is ideal for planting. Why? Because the cooler temperatures, rainfall, and short, bright days will help plants make a fast and easy transition to your landscape. In fact, the entire first half of autumn gives them the opportunity to grow roots and settle into their dirt-y home. But before you get into your car and drive to the nearest garden or home improvement center, you should know what to plant in the fall to ensure you’ll have a bountiful spring harvest. Keep reading to learn more.

A Lesson on Fall Planting

Yikes! You only have a six-week window before your ground freezes. Once it does, root growth goes dormant until spring. Why six weeks? Because it allows plants time to get acclimated to withstand the cold and snow. However, when your ground actually freezes will vary from year-to-year. In fact, you may find that you don’t have frozen ground at all. Just let it go and wait to plant until mid-November because it’s a safe planting deadline for most areas. As long as your plants are in the ground before it freezes, you’re good.

Speaking of freezing ground. Any plants you have in nursery pots should be in the ground before winter. Don’t worry because it’s good for them to be planted and protected in the ground rather than in plastic pots that can crack and split. You can always move your plants in the spring to a better location. Also, make sure you water them after planting and continue to do so until your ground freezes. Even though fall can be rainy, your plants may require additional water. They may also need a lot of mulch to keep them insulated. Not only will it protect your plants, but will provide them with a great environment to develop roots.

When it comes to fall planting, it’s important to give your plants a chance to experience root growth, which goes on until temperatures average 48-degrees Fahrenheit. Come spring, you’ll see and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

What to Plant in the Fall!

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If you’re a seasoned gardener, you may be worn out from gardening by the time fall rolls around. If you’re a beginner, fall may be the best time for you start because of the cool weather. Whatever the case, it’s easy to plant bulbs in the ground or pots or planters on your patio. And quite frankly, nothing soothes the soul like seeing snowdrops peeking through the snow. With all of this in mind, let’s dig into what to plant in the fall!

Cool-Weather Vegetables

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Lett-uce (get it) talk about planting this tasty and leafy main attraction of a green salad. Keep in mind that butterhead and romaine tolerate the cold. Sow lettuce seeds in pots or garden beds eight weeks before your area’s first fall frost. Stagger your sowings at least two weeks apart. When you reach the four-week mark before your area’s first frost, sow your lettuce.

Like garlic? The best harvest is during fall planting. Plant your bulbs quickly, so the roots have time to grow. However, you don’t want to plant them too early because they may sprout through the soil. Plant garlic about four to six weeks before your ground freezes. Once planted, add a heavy layer of straw because it will protect and insulate the soil, support worm activity, and further root growth.

Are you a fan of The Office? If you are, then you know that Dwight Schrute, the highest-ranking salesman, and assistant to the regional manager at the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company may have been onto something with his beet plantation. Beets are great to plant in the fall. The trick is to soak the seeds overnight for quicker germination.

There’s a reason why Brussels sprouts are on menus and dining room tables during the holidays: they hold up in an early frost. This makes them a perfect addition to your fall garden. Brussels sprouts are also low in cholesterol and saturated fat and a good source of calcium, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamins A and B6. See that. Your mom was on to something when she told you to eat your Brussels sprouts!

Plant collard greens in the early fall so you can harvest them for winter. Plant them in moist and fertile soil in rows at least three feet apart. Collards actually taste better after frost exposure, have many vitamins, and taste great in stir-fries.

Radishes are easy to grow and add color to your salad! Plant them four to six weeks before the average date of the last frost in your area. Sow seeds 1/2-inch deep and one inch apart in rows 12-inches apart. After they sprout, thin to about 2-inch spacings, so they have room to grow. Keep in mind that radishes need sun, so do not plant them in too much shade. Plant them consecutively every two weeks (or so) while temperatures are still cool for a continuous harvest.

One thing to remember is that you’ll have to water your planted vegetables. Check out our blog post, Tips for Watering Your Garden, because some may require more water than others. And here’s a vegetable planning guide that gives you more ideas on what to plant in the fall.

Fall Bulbs

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Perennials can live for more than two years, and they’re less work than annuals that only grow for one season. For instance, hostas can be divided and replanted. Peonies don’t require much work and can be planted or transplanted in the fall. They thrive in a variety of climates and soil and need partial to full sun. To grow peonies, avoid planting them too deep. Water them carefully (at least one time each week) until your ground freezes, but avoid overwatering.

Snowdrops are delicate bell-shaped flowers that face downward on thin green stems. Plant (mix a garden fertilizer rich in nutrients into the soil) them in groups under deciduous trees such as oak, maple, hickory, and white ash, so they get sunlight in the spring and shade in the summer when they go dormant. You may also plant snowdrops around evergreens or in open spaces in a rock garden or perennial flower bed. Deep freezes and snowfall don’t affect them, they multiply easily, are deer-resistant (instant pest control) and can handle the shade or full sun.

If you want a colorful spring, plant hardy fall bulbs such as anemone, crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, iris, and tulip because they can tolerate the cold. To create a unique look, plant several varieties with different bloom times and enjoy their beauty throughout spring.

Lawns, Trees, and Shrubs

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Would you like to reduce your water bill? Then here’s what to plant in the fall: low-water grass. If you live in the North, fertilize bluegrass, ryegrass, or a fescue blend like Eco-Lawn in early September and in late October. If you live in the South, don’t feed dormant warm-season grasses such as Bahiagrass and St. Augustinegrass. Till your soil eight inches deep, top it with a three to four-inch layer of compost (you may use organic), till again, water thoroughly, let the soil settle for a few days, and then sow your grass seed.

As for trees, you may plant buckeye, crabapple, hawthorn, elm, maple, pines, sycamore, spruces, and ash in the fall. The types of shrubs you can plant in the fall are oakleaf hydrangea, rhododendron, smoke bush, spirea, and Camellia sasanqua. If you plant a slope or hillside, create a berm (mounded hills of dirt) on the declining side of tree or shrub because it will catch rainwater and any runoff as it moves downhill.

Fall is an ideal time to plant trees and shrubs because the weather is cool and the soil is still warm for roots to develop. But before you start digging and planting, contact your local utility companies so that you don’t dig up an underground line. Dig a hole two to three feet wider than the plant or shrub root ball, so the roots have plenty of room to grow. Water them until the ground freezes in your area to ensure they have a good start before going dormant during the winter. Also, add a two to three-inch layer of mulch around the base of shrubs to ward off any weeds and ensure that the soil retains moisture.

Fall Planting: What Will Be in Your Garden?

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Now that you know what to plant in the fall, the only decision you have to make is what actually to plant. You may want to determine your “hardiness zone” because it can help you decide what to plant in the fall. To discover your zone, use the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. Enter your zip code, and the results will show your hardiness zone along with what you may plant and when. However, the hardiness zone map should be used as a guideline because the weather is fickle. There may be years when the planting season is extended so that you may plant more veggies, trees, shrubs, and flowers than you thought possible. Use your best judgment. Happy planting!

Fall Gardening Tips: What You Need to Know

You’ve tilled and toiled your garden, mowed your lawns, cut flowers, and trimmed trees and shrubs, so the last thing you probably want to think about is tending to your garden in the fall. Alas, you know that you must because if you don’t, the weather will turn cold and the only thing you’ll want to do is binge watch your favorite TV shows. At Improvements, we’re sharing our easy fall gardening tips with you. And just think: once you’ve finished with your gardening duties, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy a hot cup of apple cider. Sound good? You bet it does! So without further ado, let’s fall into fall gardening tips.

Everything You Need to Know about Fall Gardening Tips

Spring gardening usually gets all of the glory and admiration, but fall gardening deserves just as much TLC. Why? Because wilting, overgrown gardens are not a pretty sight. Nor are burned out lawns, overgrown shrubs, hanging tree branches, and more. After all, the outside of your home should look as good as the inside. Furthermore, if you pay an HOA, you may also pay a hefty fine for having an unkempt yard and garden.

Even though spring and summer gardening may have burned you out, you can’t ignore fall clean up. If you have kids at home, you could recruit them to help you. Furthermore, getting your garden and yard ready for next can minimize problems for next year.

Complete Fall Tasks

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Plant spring bulbs such as daffodils, lilies, hyacinths, and tulips for next year. Some garden centers and home improvement stores may put these on sale to avoid keeping them through winter. Of course, you could ask your neighbor if you may cut some of there peonies, roots and all, and plant them in your yard. Get your bulbs in the ground before your area’s first frost.

Bring potted plants indoors. Why? Because ants and other small critters love warm, moist soil. Prevent them from coming into your garden shed by flushing the soil with water a few times. Remove dead or faded leaves, spray the underside with water to remove unwanted pests, and apply new mulch to plants soil surface to prevent gnats from gathering in your outdoor shed.

Speaking of outdoors sheds…If yours has tools and supplies all over the place, you may want to get organized. Use different garage organization items such as stacking recycling bins, heavy-duty storage racks, extension cord winder, and more. Insecticides and fungicides lose their strength after being opened. Safely discard the ones you won’t use next year. Don’t know how to get rid of these items? Contact your local government because they may hold a Safety Fair so that you may bring your leftover insecticides to be disposed of properly.

Remove finished vegetables and clean up debris and weeds from your garden. You can also rake leaves onto your lawn and mow them with your lawnmower so that you may cover your garden with the chopped up leaves. The mixture will enhance fertility in the spring and deter unwanted weeds. You may even want to plant shrubs and plants or pull out the ones that you no longer like.

Depending on where you live, you may want to bring your outdoor fountain indoors to prevent cracking and freezing. If it’s too great of an undertaking, drain your garden fountain completely, dry it with a non-abrasive cloth and place a water fountain cover over it as a protective shield from the weather. For even more water fountain maintenance ideas, read our blog post, Tips for Year-Round Outdoor Fountain Maintenance.

Finally, feed your garden with store-bought or organic garden fertilizer because it will save you time and money next year. Even though temperatures drop, the ground remains warm so that plants can experience root growth. Remember, healthy roots lead to hearty plants and flowers in the spring.

Attend to Lawns

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Head off next spring’s weeds by taking care of and thickening up your lawns before they go dormant in the fall. You can do this by applying a high-potassium winter-grade fertilizer. If you live in a warm area of the country, apply a preventive herbicide that will kill weed seeds that thrive in cooler weather. Next, if you seed your lawn with ryegrass and other cool-season grasses, do it early enough in the fall for the seeds to sprout, grow roots and get established before it gets cold.

As was mentioned before, it’s better to mow leaves rather than rake them because it’s a good way to feed the worms. They’ll nourish your lawn by taking leaf matter deep into your lawn and tree roots. If your leaves become too much to mow, rake blow, or bag them for your compost or leaf pile. For additional fall lawn tips, read our blog post, Fall Lawn Care Tips.

Care For Composts and Rain Barrels

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If you compost, be wary of accepting your neighbor’s grass clippings because they may use weed killers and fungicides, which may wreak havoc on your home compost pile or compost bin. To keep tree roots from growing up into your compost piles, lay plastic sheeting or an old shower curtain underneath them. You may throw old compost on top of new material because it has beneficial bacteria that will jump-start the composting process.

To prevent rain barrels from stinking and becoming stagnant, use old water and thoroughly clean the barrels before fall rain replenishes them. And while you’re at it, check your gutters to make sure they’re not clogged with leaves, twigs, and other debris. Otherwise, they won’t flow smoothly when it starts to rain. Check out our blog post, The Best Gutter Cleaning Tips, so you can keep your gutters in great shape during the fall and winter.

Take Care of Veggies and Herbs

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Fall gardening tips wouldn’t be complete without talking about veggies and herbs! Clean up your vegetable garden by pulling leftover plants and composting them. Also, pull, hoe, or dig weeds into your soil. If you grew rhubarb, cut it down along with asparagus ferns, which can be composted. To prevent weeds during the winter, add a new layer of leaf mulch.

Work your soil by adding compost, chopped tree leaves, or mulch, so you can plant as soon as possible in the late winter (depending on where you live) and spring. You may consider sowing seeds of ryegrass, vetch, or clover over your freshly tilled soil. Not only will it grow all winter, but it will grow leaves and roots. When you work your soil in the spring, the “green” manure will boost your summer garden.

Due to the temperatures in your area, you may discover that it’s too late to plant broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, carrots, and other plants that need a hefty maturation period. However, you may get one more planting of lettuce, turnip, collards, and mustard greens. And, don’t forget to push your garlic a few inches into your soil in double rows. For fun and added color, toss in a couple of daffodil bulbs.

Don’t forget to collect a few seeds from your tomatoes, peppers, beans, and other ‘open-pollinated’ plants. You can plant them next year and share the fruits, or in this case, veggies of your labor, with your family and friends. You may even consider selling your crop at a local farmer’s market. Check with your city for guidelines.

Clean Tools and Equipment

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Of all the gardening tips, this one could make you groan. However, you’ll want to clean your garden tools to keep them looking great and in working order before you put them away for the winter. Wash, rinse, and scrub off dirt, coat metal parts to prevent rusting, and rub down wooden handles with linseed oil to prevent them from cracking and drying out. Examine your garden tools to see if any need replacing.

To keep power equipment engines from gumming up or having other problems, drain the gas. Also, loosen the spark plug, add oil to the firing end, and replace. Check air filters to make sure they’re clean, change if necessary.

Lastly, consider testing your soil to find out if it’s acidic or alkaline, or if it needs nutrients. Then again, you may be overdoing it and will need to cut back. If you want to get your soil tested, your city can help you with this. For a DIY soil testing solution, head over to our blog, What You Need to Know about Garden Fertilizer, to get a step-by-step solution.

Fall in Love with Fall Gardening Tips

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One of the best fall gardening tips (and wish) we have is for you to turn over a new leaf and get your garden ready before autumn turns into winter. Why? Because if you clean up your garden, lawns, etc. in the fall you’ll reap the benefits in the spring.

Of course, if you don’t have the time or energy, you could hire a landscaper. Their schedules are less chaotic, plus designers will have more time to spend with you and may even start work on smaller projects. Keep in mind that you need to call early so you don’t miss the fall planting season. A landscaper needs time to visit your home, create plans, give you an estimate, and more.

For more fall gardening tips, check out our blog post, What to Plant in the Fall. Share your ideas and tips in the comments below!

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist: 8 Things to Do to Prepare Your Home

One of the joys of home ownership is that there is always something to do, to fix or to take care of. Home maintenance is just that. And fall is a great time of year to fix any problem areas and to take inventory of your home’s overall health. To make sure your home is prepared for the cold season, check off items from this fall home maintenance checklist.

Fall Home Maintenance Tips

By making home maintenance a priority in the fall, you can identify any potential problems before they arise or that will be exacerbated by the impending cold or harsh weather. It is a good idea to make this fall maintenance checklist a part of your yearly routine and the more you upkeep your home, the less likely you will experience larger problems or big financial expenditures due to routine maintenance issues.

1. Store Summer and Prepare Winter Tools

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Clean and put away all of your summer tools. Clean your edger, weed whacker, gardening tools and the like before storing for the season. You want to get all dirt and debris off and put the tools inside, whether in a garage or shed. Be sure they are kept in a safe place that will be clear of snow and water to avoid rusting.

Clean the blades of your lawnmower and drain the gas or use a fuel stabilizer before storing for the winter. Without a fuel stabilizer, gas will deteriorate over time and can cause damage to the engine. If you use a fuel stabilizer instead of draining the gas, make sure to run the mower for 5 minutes with the stabilized gas to ensure it reaches the carburetor. This same tip applies to any gas-operated equipment, such as leaf blowers or chainsaws.

Also, take all hoses and removable water spigots off the exterior of your home, drain any remaining water and put away for safekeeping. Shut off the outside water valves as well.

At this time, you’ll want to get out all of your winter tools and prepare them for the upcoming season. Gas up the snow blower and ensure it is in working order. Move the snow shovels to the front of the garage or shed and sand any rust spots. Check your salt supply and stock up if need be.

2. Inspect Home’s Exterior

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Check your roof for loose or missing shingles. Replace or nail down before the first snowfall. Also look for any holes or cracks around the chimney and gutters. Once the weather starts to get cooler, critters will use these openings as an invitation to your attic/walls. You’ll want to shut them out before the need to evict arises.

While you’re up there, clean out the chimney. Actually, you may need to hire a professional chimney sweep, especially if you have a wood-burning fireplace. Check the flue and inspect for damage and cracks.

Remove debris from the gutters and downspouts. Use a plumber’s snake to flush out all of the built-up debris in the downspout. You may also consider adding a downspout extender for fall and winter months.

Check the foundation for cracks. Fix any problems prior to winter because the cold can increase cracking. Make sure to slope the soil away from the home to prevent water buildup.

3. Make Sure Safety Devices Are Working

Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Ensure that they work. Replace the batteries now in all devices. This way you don’t have to remember which device got a new battery at what time. Do them all at the same time for easiest home maintenance. It may be a good idea to do this every six months so you can add it to your spring home maintenance checklist as well.

4. Wash Windows and Check Sealants

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Wash the exterior and interior of your windows and put in your storm windows for the winter. Remove screens and screen doors. Check and repair any caulking around doors and windows to combat drafts and mold buildup. The better the sealant, the better your heating bill!

5. HVAC Service

Have a professional HVAC service in to inspect your furnace. Some offer fall home maintenance service plans. If you can find any possible problems now, it is better to do so in the offseason rather than in the high-price and high-demand winter months. Plus, you don’t want to spend any cold winter nights with a broken furnace for a problem that could have been avoided with regular maintenance.

Remove any window AC units, store safely and cover the exterior unit with an insulating wrap.

6. Insulate Exposed Water Pipes

Make sure all water is flushed from any outdoor pipes. Then insulate the exposed pipes. To insulate pipes, use foil or fiberglass insulation wrap or tubular pipe sleeves. If you choose fiberglass, make sure you wear protective clothing. Always clean the pipes before applying the insulating wrap. Cover the entire surface of the pipe.

Some pipes along the exterior of the home are at risk of freezing too. Check on these as winter sets in even if it is inconvenient to do so. It will be better than dealing with a burst pipe.

7. Change Air Filters and Clean Ducts

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Replace the filters in your furnace and clean all of your air ducts. Vacuum, dust and wipe all heating grates, radiators, and baseboard heaters. Also, clean out the dryer vent. With the dryer fall air, static electricity increases and dryer lint buildup becomes a serious fire hazard. Always unplug your dryer and shut off the gas before cleaning the vent. Use a vacuum cleaner attachment or lint brush to clean out the vent and hose. If needed, replace the hose at this time.

8. Prepare Your Lawn

Rake leaves, mow the lawn, fertilize and prepare your lawn for the winter months. The more you prepare your lawn is for the cold weather, the better it will battle back come springtime. For more information, check out our fall lawn care blog.

Are You Ready to Do These Fall Home Maintenance Preparations?

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Once you follow these fall home maintenance tips, you have your home prepared for the cold. Now, have you prepared for the cold yourself? Is it already time to put away the summer clothes and get out the sweaters?

Outdoor Wedding Ideas for Fall

If you’re getting married in the fall, you may want to have an outdoor wedding. After all, the blue skies, natural décor, and cool breezes make for a romantic setting. However, the reality may not match your plans because anything can happen. At Improvements, we’re sharing our outdoor wedding ideas for fall so you can plan and pull off your autumn wedding—from the pros and cons of a destination wedding to serving seasonal foods. Make sure your big day goes off without a hitch!

Top Outdoor Wedding Ideas for Fall

Congratulations on your outdoor fall wedding! You may want to incorporate everything the fall season has to offer. However, creating and sticking to a budget can save you money. You may even factor in a “cushion” in case anything goes wrong. After all, having extra funds to cover an unforeseen cost can save you time and stress.

Below are some outdoor wedding ideas for fall, from choosing a location to keeping your guests comfortable. And most importantly, keeping your stress level under control. Let us help you plan and pull off your outdoor fall wedding!

Outdoor Wedding Ideas for Fall: Choose a Location

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You may want to have a beach wedding. Or perhaps you’d like to get married at your favorite winery. Whatever your choice, consider if a location will work for everyone. Why? Because even though your wedding day is about you and your groom, you’ll want to make sure a location works for family and friends, too.

Consider the Pros and Cons of a Destination Wedding

Feeling the warmth of the sun and hearing the sounds of waves hitting a beach may put you in a feel-good mood. After all, who wouldn’t want a beach wedding in the fall? However, it may cost you more than you think. For example, you may receive an invoice for chairs, tables, and more. And if you choose a wedding date that’s during hurricane season, your wedding may get canceled. Even if you get married lakeside, you may have to put up with bugs and high winds. Also, a steady lake or ocean breeze means taking extra precautions to secure your wedding décor. And then there’s your hair. It may become disheveled. Yikes!

Get Married at a Local Winery 

Getting married at a winery sounds like an ideal location. After all, you have wine, beautiful scenery (rolling hills and vineyards), and inviting private space, from a lovely courtyard to a sun-kissed patio. However, vineyards may be hot and dry in the summer and guests will need plenty of refreshments. If you have your heart set on getting married in Napa Valley, know that some wineries don’t allow weddings. Also, if a winery is near a residential area, the noise ordinance may require your celebration to end at 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. And, you may only be able to serve wine instead of alcoholic beverages, including your signature drink.

Consider an Apple Orchard 

The groves of an apple orchard make an excellent backdrop for wedding photos, and you and your guests can stroll through them. However, consider that venues vary. For instance, one apple orchard may have many “bells and whistles,” from a barn to acres of land, pavilion, and more. Then again, another may only have a barn and pavilion. Some apple orchards sit beside mountains and lakes, while others may share properties with beer gardens and wineries. Is your celebration a destination wedding? If so, is the cost manageable for you and your guests? The possibilities are endless but consider each one carefully.

Say Your Wedding Vows in the Backyard

An all-inclusive wedding reception may account for 50 percent of your budget. But having a large or small backyard wedding may be more cost-effective; the sentimental value is priceless. However, you may have to pay for rentals, including portable restrooms, dance floor, tent, and more. Consider if catering is an option. If not, you may have to hire a company. Also, bugs may swarm around you and your guests during the day and night. And, parking may be a nightmare. Consider the cost of permits and liability insurance.

Outdoor Wedding Ideas for Fall: What Else Should You Consider?

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In addition to choosing your wedding location, there are other factors to consider. Below are other outdoor wedding ideas for fall.

Stay Mindful of Extra Costs

A beach, campground, or park may be open to the public, but that doesn’t mean they’re free wedding venues. You’ll want to find out if there’s a site fee or suggested donation. If the location is remote, is there an extra delivery fee? Will you have to pay for sanitation services? What about valet parking? Do you need security? These costs add up!

Consider How Much Electricity You’ll Need (lights, etc.)

You need electricity for lighting, sound and temperature control. If your wedding venue doesn’t have electricity, you’ll need generators for kitchen appliances, amps, microphones, speakers, portable heaters (it gets cold at night) and anything else that requires power. It may pay to hire an electrician to review your wedding location and give you an estimate on the amount of power that’s needed.

Have a Plan B and C

Are you a fan of The Office? If so, you’ll recall that Jim and Pam had a Plan B and Plan C. Hey! With the gang from Dunder Mifflin-Scranton, what could go wrong will probably happen times 10! So, it pays to have multiple backups in place. For instance, if Mother Nature unleashes a thunderstorm, make sure your venue has a building so that you can get married inside. Does your wedding venue suddenly need repairs? Make sure you have a backup. After all, life happens. And you need to be prepared, no matter what!

Keep Guests Warm and Dry and Cool (umbrellas and outdoor heaters)

Getting married outdoors means having to contend with the weather. If its warm, provide guests with portable fans. Pass out umbrellas, so guests stay protected from the rain. Have plenty of blankets and outdoor heaters to keep guests warm at night. Nothing spoils a wedding like grumpy guests. Keep everyone comfortable the best that you can.

Provide Ample Seating

No woman wants to ruin her high-heeled shoes by standing on the lawn, stretching her neck to see you and your groom say your vows. Make sure you have ample seating, from chairs to benches. Even if your ceremony is 5-10 minutes, don’t make your pregnant cousin or Grandma stand. Have chairs available for people who need them. Oh, and here’s another tip: consider distributing plastic heel protectors so that your bridal party and female guests so they don’t sink into the soil.

Keep the Bugs and Wind Away

Did you know that baby’s breath, peonies, and scabiosa attract bugs? To keep the pests away, incorporate sprigs of rosemary, lavender, mint, and thyme. Keep mosquitoes away with citronella torches or candles. Don’t use lightweight centerpieces or vases because they may blow away. Instead, opt for potted plants or gourds that will weigh down an arrangement. If you have lit candles, cover them.

Serve a Seasonal Menu and Keep Dessert Simple

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Consider serving dishes that are specific to fall. Appetizers may include mini grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, artichoke toast, sweet potato cakes with maple syrup, and more. Dinner may consist of 1-3 meal options, buffet or different food stations. For instance, one station may have Thanksgiving turkey with all of the fixings. Another may have Virginia ham, buttermilk biscuits, sausage gravy, and other sides. For vegetarians, serve lasagna, different kind of pasta, and other delicious foods. Vegetables may include broccoli, peas, beans, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, and more. Desserts may include pumpkin pie, s’mores, cheesecake, apple pie, gingerbread cookies, apple crisp, fudgy peanut butter cake, caramel apple strudel, and more. Your wedding cake may even have a seasonal flavor!

Forget the Rice and Throw Leaves

Throwing rice at a bride and groom as they make their way down the aisle after they’re married is boring. Give guests a bag filled with leaves and have them toss them at you and your hubby. Not only can you save money, but it makes a great photo opportunity.

Light a Bonfire

Nothing says fall like a bonfire. Have one at your wedding, will be a hit with your guests. They can take their s’mores (see the Seasonal Menu and Desserts point) and let them toast their marshmallows and create an ooey-gooey dessert that will warm their hearts just like your wedding.

Are You Ready to Plan Your Fall Wedding?

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We hope you enjoyed our outdoor wedding ideas for fall! No matter what you decide, make sure you focus on getting married and celebrating your big day. Remember, you can only control your attitude and emotions. If something goes wrong, don’t let it spoil your day. Have fun!

Got any outdoor wedding ideas for fall? Share them in the comments.

Sun Protection Beyond Sunscreen | Improvements Blog

Sunscreen is probably the best method for protecting oneself against sun damage. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association website, they recommend using a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunblock with SPF 30 or higher. But the website points out that sunscreen alone will not fully protect you (read more Sunscreen FAQs from the AADA here). So you should know of other ways to escape the heat of the sun and its UVA/UVB rays. Here are a few tips on how to shade yourself from the sun.

Sun Protection is Vital

Whether you’re fair-skinned or have a darker complexion, you need to protect your skin from being exposed to the sun for too long. And not just on hot, sunny days either. Of course, the sun also has health benefits too. It can boost people’s moods and helps us produce Vitamin D, which supports bone health and optimal immune function. Find the balance between the right amount of sun exposure and too much. The best way to do that is to ensure you utilize some type of sun protection.

Get Shady to Block the Sun

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Seek shade whenever possible to help escape the heat and rays of the sun. Try to minimize your time in the sun during peak hours, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and keep exposure to 30 minutes or less. Take an umbrella with you if you’re on the go. A study published in JAMA Dermatology states that a handheld umbrella can block a majority of the UV light on a sunny day. Utilize a patio umbrella or outdoor curtains for your outdoor living area for extra sun protection. Putting up an outdoor shade, awning or temporary tent is great for backyard parties. Utilize tents and pavilion setups on camping trips or if you are going to an outdoor festival or tournament (if such things are permitted at the venue. If not, wear a wide-brimmed hat and bring your sunscreen).

When possible, opt for a seat in the shade during all outdoor activities. When at the beach or a pool, bring a sun shade with you or beach umbrella so you can have sun protection. Sit under a tree at the park to read your book or find a pavilion at the zoo in which to enjoy your lunch. It is important to take a break from the sun when you are doing all-day outdoor activities like a water park, zoo or amusement park. Find an awning under which you can enjoy an ice cream cone!

Clothing Can Shield You From the Sun

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Long-sleeved shirts, lightweight pants, wide-brimmed hats and UV-protective sunglasses are your best friends when it comes to combatting the harmful rays of the sun. They offer complementary sun protection in addition to sunscreen. Lighter weight fabrics like linen are ideal in the hot summer months for comfort, but tightly woven fabrics are better for sun protection as the rays cannot penetrate the material as well as they can the looser fabrics. Darker colors absorb more UV rays than lighter-colored clothing.

Hats offer protection against the sun as well and the wider the brim the better as it provides more coverage. Straw hats or lightly woven hats don’t offer as much protection as thicker material hats. Couple the hat with UV-protective sunglasses and you are set to enjoy some time in the sun. Just remember to take cover under a shade when needed.

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Get out the outdoor umbrella, slather on some sunscreen, put on your hat and sunglasses and enjoy your day! As long as you are cognizant of your time in the sun and remember to take cover, you are well on your way to sun protection. Just make sure to remember that you do have the ability to be exposed to sun damage even on cloudy days. Please note that this article is for information purposes only; if you have questions about sunscreen and staying safe in the sun, consult your doctor or dermatologist.