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The calendar has rolled around to November. I think it is safe to say that we can wish goodbye to warmer weather. If you haven’t pulled winter hats and gloves out from storage, now is the time. The mornings come early and they are chilly! Drag your window-shaker air conditioners out, or cover up the central air conditioner outside. Drain the gas out of your mower and put it to bed for the season. Clean and stack your patio furniture away into storage for a long winter’s nap. Empty those gutters and make sure the downspouts are pointed away from your house.

Do you have anything else on your to-do list before you too can curl up in front of a toasty fire this winter? If you are anything like me, I bet you do. If you still have plenty of items on your checklist to winterize your house, how about brushing off the crock pot and pushing it back into service for the season to ensure you’ll have something tasty to eat once you tick a few items off that list. This slow cooker recipe from Savvymom.ca is sure to be a delicious hit with any family. It should certainly be a winner for any chef that is also wearing the hat of busy home owner preparing their home for winter.

SHREDDED TEX-MEX CHICKEN

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 cups salsa
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder

Directions:

  1. Place chicken thighs in a single layer at the bottom of a slow cooker and season well with salt and pepper, before pouring the lime juice over the chicken pieces.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the salsa, cumin, paprika, oregano and chili powder. Pour the salsa mixture over the chicken, spreading it evenly to cover the meat.
  3. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours (or high for 3 hours).
  4. To serve, remove the chicken from the cooker and place it in a bowl. Using two forks, pull the meat apart to shred it. Place it back in the cooker and toss with the sauce before serving.

Good to Know: If there is a lot of watery sauce in the crock-pot, pour a few scoops over the chicken when it’s in the bowl instead of returning the meat to the pot.

Have you started raking yet?

Have you started raking yet?

With the crock pot cooking, you will have plenty of time to get outside to rake leaves, wrap trees and shrubs, put away your garden ornaments, drain your hoses and store them, turn off your outdoor water taps, plus see if you need to replace any burnt out bulbs in your outdoor lighting. Night falls much earlier this time of year, so exterior lighting because that much more important for home owners. You might want to make sure that you have a store of salt for your driveway, while safety is on your mind too. A shovel or snow blower is an essential tool for anyone in this part of Canada that has to leave their house come the first snowfall of the season. That goes for the second, third and beyond’s dumps too.

Better waterproof your winter boots while you are at it. You never know when Old Man Winter will hit us with one of these nasty surprises…

Shovelling safety tips

This reality isn’t as far off as you’d like to believe. Just saying…

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I hate to tell you, but it is going to be November by the end of the week. Halloween is expected to be a wet and sloppy day, followed by several more rainy days. The only bright spot is that on Sunday Daylight Savings Time ends, so we’ll get an extra hour for sleep in the morning. Either that or you can put it towards something more productive like preparing your home for the upcoming winter season. Doesn’t that sound like fun? Maybe not, but it certainly beats taking care of essential home maintenance projects in the icy cold.

Winter Prep For Your Home

Firewood storage

You won’t have to look far to find ways to keep warm in this house

    • Get in a load of firewood; If you have a wood burning fireplace, order a cord or two of wood now, so that you can have it stacked and ready when winter decides to hit us with its chilly blasts. Not only is it nice to be all cozy in front of a blazing fire, but it helps reduce your heating bills as well.
    • Caulk around your windows and doors; I can’t say it enough. Taking the time to caulk around leaky windows and doors really does save you money on your heating costs. It keeps the cold air out and the warm air in. It makes your home more comfortable, as well as reduces the amount of work that your furnace has to do to maintain an acceptable temperature in your house. A tube of caulking costs approximately $2 a tube. Isn’t that worth the investment?
    • Add weatherstripping where necessary; Like caulking, weatherstripping helps to keep the cold air outside and warm air in, where it belongs. Check to see what shape your weatherstripping is in and replace as needed.
    • A broken window pane is the equivalent of that window being left wide open for dollars to fly through the hole

      Inspect windows for cracks and broken panes; Now is the time to replace any damaged or broken windows as necessary. Caulking and weatherstripping only go so far. A broken window pane is the equivalent of leaving that window open, so replace any windows that are damaged. If the cost for new windows isn’t in the budget, put up storm windows and add window insulation film to minimize heat loss to your home.

    • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected; The worst day for your furnace to break down is on the coldest day of the year. Take the time to have someone inspect your furnace and ensure that it is in good working order for the winter season ahead. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure my friends.
    • Replace the batteries on your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; When the clocks fall back on Sunday, take the time to replace the batteries on your detectors. A working smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector saves lives. While you are at it, check on your fire extinguisher and get it charged as necessary.

Clean your chimney. Santa will certainly appreciate it.

  • Have your chimney cleaned and inspected; If you are planning on having a fire or two in your wood stove this winter, have a professional come to inspect it before you light your first fire of the season. They can clean your flue of creosote buildup, to prevent any chimney fires from becoming a possibility. One less thing to worry about when it comes to the safety of your family.
  • Replace your old thermostat with a programmable one; With all the great incentive programs out there, if you haven’t replaced your old thermostat, why not?! You can set it so that the temperature of your home goes down when you are not at home or after you have gone to bed, and it automatically rises to a comfortable temperature when you return or arise in the morning. You can easily override most new thermostats, or set them to vacation mode if you will be away for an extended time period. The best part is that you don’t have to think about them and they save you money.

Don’t we all want to be more comfortable and SAVE more money? I think so. So why not tackle some of these basic home maintenance projects today!

While the temperatures remain relatively warm during the day, it is obvious that Fall is in the air. Nights are cool. The leaves are beginning to change. Annuals that you may have planted in the spring are now looking relatively straggly. The grass is slowing down in its growth. As Mother Nature changes her decor, so too should you. Who’s got time to tackle some home maintenance projects?

OUTDOORS

  • Fresh Fall planters renew your home’s decor

    Pull out annuals that are leggy and spent. While you are at it, dig out summer bulbs and store them for the season. You can replace those bulbs with spring flowers, like crocuses, daffodils and tulips for that burst of colour first thing in the spring.

  • The garden isn’t the only thing that needs some TLC. Your planters are probably looking rather spent as well. Renew them with a hint of fall flair in choices like colourful mums, cool-weather-loving kale, jazzy grasses, and a selection of pumpkins and gourds.
  • Keep cutting your grass right up until it stops growing. Think about over-seeding in the early part of the fall. While the weather stays warm, continue watering your grass. A fall fertilizer applied in October will also give your lawn that boost it needs to shine next spring. Once you have cut the grass for the last time, make sure to winterize your lawn care equipment before putting it to bed for the winter.
  • When the leaves transform into a beautiful rainbow overhead, a camera might be the first thing that you think to reach for. The next thing you reach for though will be a rake. That stunning canopy only lasts so long before it gently drifts to the ground and you have some work to do. Whether you prefer a rake, leaf blower, or mulcher, now is the time to amass yard waste bags in preparation for leaf raking season.

INDOORS

  • Storm windows will keep the heat Inside your home this winter

    Prepping your indoor world for winter is a good idea too. Slowly reintroduce any plants that you took outside for the summer, back indoors. They need to gradually readjust, but most certainly can’t handle any frost or other frigid temperatures.

  • There aren’t too many hot breezes blowing through your home anymore. Time to switch your ceiling fans to clockwise for the winter. That will pull cool air up off the floor and push the warmer air off the ceiling and down the walls towards the floor. It is a simple step that will save you a couple of degrees in your house and dollars in your pocket.
  • While insects might still be buzzing in your yard, they will be gone soon, and with them the need for window screens. Now is the time to remove, wash and store your screens and haul out your storm windows if you’ve got them. While you are at it, check for any drafts and caulk around windows as necessary. If those drafts are bad enough, why not think about replacing those leaky windows altogether? It might be more expensive than tacking up plastic window barriers, but replacement windows add more value to the resale value of your home in the long run.
  • Don’t put the caulking gun away too fast. Since it is out already, now is a great time to recaulk the tub, fill any cracks in your foundation or around outdoor faucets, seal around doors, and winterize your home as needed.

There’s  plenty more to be done around the house this Autumn, but as the days get shorter, energy levels tend to lag. One step at a time my friends! It will all get done eventually…

While this balmy weather is willing to stick around though, I think it would be wise to get outside and work on whatever outdoor projects you might have tacked onto your list. It is always more pleasant to work outdoors when the weather is pleasant, than to tackle outdoor work in freezing rain, snow and other inclement weather. Is it too early to put up your Christmas lights, do you think?

Outdoor Home Projects for the Fall

Dog on the roof

Dog on the roof (Photo credit: TedsBlog)

  • Roof: The average lifespan of a shingled roof is approximately 18-30 years. Wood shakes are 14-20 years, and slate, clay, tile, or steel roofs last about 50 years. When was your roof last replaced? What kind of shape is it in? Do you have loose or missing shingles? Have you noticed any leaks? You might want to consider repairing or replacing your roof now, if you have any concerns, long before Mother Nature tests it this coming Fall/Winter.
  • Eavestroughs: While you are up on your roof looking at the shape of it, get close enough to the edge to take a peek at your eavestroughs. Did you get up there last Fall and clean out your gutters? Have they filled back up again yet? Really, you should clean out your eavestroughs two or three times a year. And in case you didn’t guess, it is far easier to scoop the sludge of out congested gutters when the weather is dry and warm, than when you have to perch on a ladder in inclement weather. Grab some rubber gloves, a trowel and the hose. If this job is done regularly, it is fairly quick and painless. Make sure to tap in any loose nails while you are up there. Clean gutters ensure better drainage during rainstorms, which makes for less overall maintenance in the long run.
  • Rain -- no downspouts

    Rain — no downspouts (Photo credit: s58y)

    Downspouts: Clean eavestroughs are one thing, but your downspouts are a big part of the equation too. The downspout directs the water that comes off your roof, away from your house. If your downspout is clogged, loose, broken, or missing altogether, then you will see issues with your eavestroughs and potentially the foundation of your home. Take the time before issues arise to make sure that your downspouts point away from your foundation (no need to deal with flooding in your basement), and that they flow freely.

  • Bricks: If you have a house made of brick, maintenance is usually fairly minimal. They are generally fairly energy efficient, and always architecturally in style. Bricks do need some basic maintenance though. Start by looking at the brickwork on your chimney, but make a point of inspecting the whole house to see what shape the bricks are in. Do you have any loose or missing mortar between the joints? Are your bricks flaking or falling out altogether? Is there dirt, mold or moss growing on them? Grab the hose and give your bricks a good soaking. If you have mold, mildew or moss, a simple bleach and water solution will help to eliminate the issue with the help of a natural bristle brush. If you need to point your bricks, now is the perfect time to hire a contractor to rectify any imperfections that might lead to bigger problems down the road.
  • Crack in a Foundation Wall

    Foundation: Have you noticed we are moving from the top down? As any good plumber will tell you, gravity is what it’s all about. If you have any issues with the upper parts of your home, they will often trickle down. The foundation of your home is where the strength of your home lies, so do not forget it when you do your Fall inspections. Look for cracks and crevices that may let in water and caulk any holes that you find. Significant gaps may require the help of a professional, and now is the time to get them in, before the wet weather arrives.

  • Pool: While you might be diving into your pool this week, it is just about time to say goodbye to outdoor pools for the season. If you hire a professional company to close your pool, make your phone call quick before they get booked up too soon. If you close your pool yourself, make sure that your pool cover is in good shape with no holes, rips or tears in it. You will want your pool to be as clean as possible when the warm weather returns again next spring.
  • Time to turn off irrigation systems

    Irrigation Systems: We might not have had much rain in the last few weeks, but it’s coming. The season is almost over for active growth in your yard. It is time to think about draining hoses, and turning off inground irrigation systems. Again, if you use a professional company for this service, now is the time to book your appointment for them to come out before you have to deal with frost in the ground.

 

There is still plenty of time for some of the other outdoor projects you will need to tackle this fall, like raking leaves, putting away your garden tools and machines, and storing your patio furniture for the year, but this is a start on your list. Heck, it’s too HOT to do much more than this right now! Enjoy our blast of summer weather while it lasts!

The snow is slowly melting in London, Ontario. Here and there, early spring bulbs are beginning to poke through the cold ground. Temperatures are still sticking pretty close to 0°C, but with April in sight, I suspect that Spring just might be on the way.

Is there anything that you should be doing right now around your home in anticipation of the approaching warm weather? Let’s take a look;

 

Early Spring Home Maintenance

Indoors:

  • Time to tackle your Spring cleaning!
    • spring cleaningremove storm windows or protective film from around windows
    • wash windows and window screens
    • clean vinyl blinds and other window coverings
    • recaulk tub and shower enclosures
    • reseal grout lines
    • change furnace filter
    • clean dryer vent
    • dust ceilings, walls and other hard to reach places that sometimes get forgotten
    • thoroughly dust home
    • wax floors
    • thoroughly clean stove, fridge and other appliances
    • defrost freezer
    • replace batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
    • clean ceiling fans and switch to counter-clockwise direction
    • shampoo carpets

Outdoors:

  • It’s a little early to do too much outside, but now is the time to assess what projects might need attending to this season.
    • Home

      Home (Photo credit: hyperboreal)

      inspect roof, eavestroughs and chimney for any winter damage (start calling for estimates if needed)

    • check patio area and driveway for any winter heaving
    • clean up winter debris, like fallen twigs and limbs
    • clean patio furniture
    • inspect barbecue and give it a spring tune-up
    • decide how much mulch to order for the season
    • prune deciduous trees and shrubs that do not flower in the spring
    • sharpen your lawn mower blades & do a tune-up as necessary
    • inspect brick work and foundation for any cracks or loose pieces
    • once ground is firm enough to walk on, have it aerated

With temperatures on the rise, the most important thing you can do is to get outside and soak up some of that vitamin D. Thank goodness, Spring has arrived!

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Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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