To-Dos: Your October Home Checklist


Clean up fallen leaves and branches and get your home ready for more time spent indoors.

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Houzz Contributor, Laura Gaskill

The leaves are falling, the farmer’s markets are bustling and the cozy comforts of home beckon — it must be October. Make the most of this month’s bountiful harvest, get some exercise raking leaves in the brisk air and button down your house in preparation for winter. Then sit back, relax and warm your hands around a mug of hot apple cider. Fall is here.

Connor Homes - The Dorothea Harwell House

1. Rake leaves. To make quicker work of collecting leaves from a large lawn, rake the fallen foliage onto a large plastic tarp. Then bag it or add it to your compost pile.

2. Trim dead tree limbs. Dead limbs are more likely to fall during winter storms, making them a potential safety hazard. Have an arborist inspect and trim large trees.

3. If you haven’t already, clean gutters and downspouts. Wait until most of the leaves have fallen to schedule a rain gutter cleaning. Inspect gutters and downspouts for cracks and loose parts and make repairs as needed.

It’s Time to Clean Your Gutters — Here’s How

Leschi Remodel

4. Neaten up the mudroom. The back-to-school (and work) flurry can leave the mudroom looking as if a hurricane hit it. Take some time to regain sanity — sort through papers and put away stray summer items and extra coats. Clean the floors and invest in a new doormat if needed. Keep a recycling basket near the entrance to make sorting mail and school papers easier, and dedicate a tote or bin for items that need to be returned (like library books).

Mudrooms That Really Clean Up


5. Keep seasonal decorating low-key with natural finds. Pumpkins and gourds, fresh heirloom apples, quinces, pomegranates, figs and fall foliage all make wonderfully simple decor.

Bring in cut branches from your yard, stop by a pick-your-own farm or scoop up fall’s bounty at a farm stand.

Browse the Houzz fall decorating page

Stackyard House

6. Maintain your wood stove or fireplace. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, it’s essential for safety that you have it serviced before lighting the first fire of the season. If you haven’t done so already, schedule an appointment to have your chimney inspected and, if necessary, cleaned.

Farmhouse Yellow

7. Check safety devices. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the house and replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on the kitchen fire extinguisher and replace it if needed.

2015 Kosair Children

8. Start a gift list. It may seem like the holidays are a long way off — but that’s why it pays to start getting organized now. Start a list of everyone you plan to give gifts to this year. Then, as ideas strike, jot them down on your list. You can also use your list to keep track of a holiday gifting budget. And if you want to make any gifts by hand, October is a great time to get started — handmade gifts always seem to take longer to make than expected.

Alderwood Landscape

9. Cover or store outdoor furniture and grills. If you plan to leave your patio furniture or grill outside through the fall and winter, cover them well and stow them beneath an overhang that will protect them from rain and snow. Even if you live in a mild climate, covering your grill between uses is a good idea to protect the finish.

Cherry Street Residence

10. Shut off exterior faucets and store hoses for winter. Disconnect, drain and roll hoses before storing them for the winter. Shut off the water supply to exterior faucets to prevent frozen pipes.

Halloween Party Ideas: Haunting Sweets and More




Having a Halloween party? The perfect way to set the mood is in the food presentation. Here are some fun, quick, and easy tricks that will inspire your zombie guests and get the party started.  These are perfect to add to your party or use as great props for a full on haunted house party!

  • Finger Food: Sugar cookie dough becomes “fingers” when rolled into finger-sized pieces, place a sliver of almond at the end to make a fingernail. Lay the fingers on a greased cooking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown. Eat as-is or dunk them into the vampire-approved dipping sauce described below.
  • Bloody Fun: To make a bloody treat fit for a hungry vampire, heat white chocolate in a chocolate fountain and add red food coloring. The illusion will be frightful.
  • Monster Mush: Tint instant vanilla pudding with a hint of green food coloring. Pour into small clear plastic cups. Draw scary faces on the front with black marker to resemble Frankenstein. Top with crushed Oreo cookies for his hair.
  • Ghostly Goodies: Cut 24 six-inch rounds of white fondant. Drape the fondant over baked, cooled, and frosted cupcakes. Create cupcake ghosts by drawing eyes, nose, and mouth on the white fondant with an edible marker.
  • Ghoulish Brew: Set the mood of your Halloween party by making a cauldron filled with dry ice the centerpiece of your refreshment table. Just before guests arrive, pour water over the ice for a spooky illusion.
  • Helping Hand: Tint a gallon of water with green food coloring. Pour water into rubber gloves; tie off each glove with a rubber band and freeze. Right before the party starts, peel off the rubber from the hands and place in a punch bowl.

In addition to the snack table, don’t forget to add some spooktacular flair to the rest of your party decor. No matter what age group, your guests will delight in vases wrapped in gauze with flickering LED votive candles. Add orange and black accents and a frightful tablecloth, and you have the makings of a “bootiful” Halloween party that will keep your guests howling for months to come!

Image Source: Flickr

Reposted from Debbie Webb.

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