October: a Midwestern blessing

octoberOctober has arrived with its redefinition of perfection, bathed by a special color of blue that is reserved only for October skies.  Night time encroaches upon these hallowed days more quickly, a sharpened angle of sunlight illuminating our ancient cottonwoods as they gradually disrobe.  October is the consummate Midwestern blessing, a reward for tolerating summer’s steam.  It’s that annual passage that reflects who we are as Nebraskans, our fields bursting with billions of bushels of dreams realized.  We are historically linked to the land, yet with the harvest, we willingly share our good fortune.

I welcome October as I would the phone call from an old fishing buddy.  October is the sound of a crackling fireplace.  It’s a drive to Nebraska City for apples and a taste of freshly baked pie.  October is the feel of the wool blanket, the search for the ice scraper somewhere under the front seat, the sight of geese readying for winter vacation and a mug of steaming hot coffee in the back yard.  It’s the final push for outdoor projects when windows are bathed and polished.

October is Friday night lights and a sea of red filling the city on Saturdays.  It’s memories of burning leaves in the ditch with my dad decades ago.  October is the end of gardening and the celebration of giant pumpkins, those great imperfect spheres that are surgically and artistically redesigned by young and old.

October is your favorite sweatshirt, the older the better, and flannel shirts and jeans.  It’s hayrack rides and bonfires, marshmallows, s’mores and hot dogs.  It’s apple cider and hot cocoa and the rustle of leaves.

October is a blessing not to be missed.  And like most special times, it races past all too quickly.  It is non-contentious.  It is sharing our best and brightest.  It is a celebration of life’s grandest gifts at our finger tips.  Welcome dear friend.  Pass less rapidly before us that we may know your beauty. 

Decorating for Fall

Saying goodbye to summer doesn’t have to be so sad. Especially when fall, and decorating for fall, is as fun as these ideas. From the front porch to inside the home, these creative tips will have you forgetting all about those delightful dog days of summer.

The Mantle

For starters, get your fireplace in the mood for autumn. After all, you’ll be spending an awful lot of time here (hopefully with hot chocolate) when the weather turns colder. If choosing colors isn’t your thing, consider this easy monochrome look. The white pumpkins really stand out, especially with those little pops of color.

fall leaf mantle
Shelterness.com

No worries if you don’t have a fireplace. You can still decorate like you do. A shelf looks just as lovely as a mantel. And a little chalkboard paint can go a long way if you’re really dreaming of that fireplace look.

Chalkboard paint fireplace with shelf
Shelterness.com

The Porch

If you’re just itching to get your front door and porch in the autumn mood, we’ve got you covered. Think beyond the standard jack-o-lantern and door wreath. Instead, swap out the wreath for something a little more…juicy. This apple display will do the trick, and you can even let the apple theme flow indoors as well.

apple door
SavvySouthernStyle.net

Leaves make a great door decoration, plus there’s no raking required. Leaf garland is stunning, especially when contrasted with a more rustic look. And strategically placed mums are an absolute must for fall–we just love how this look comes together:

fall door
ThistlewoodFarms.com

The Pumpkins

Lastly we couldn’t forget pumpkins, but we love the idea of branching out with the pumpkin creativity. These white pumpkins with glitter letters (yes, glitter!) are just too fun to pass up. Use the monogram of your last name, or let each kid pick a glitter color and represent the whole family.

White pumpkin with glitter monogram
UnoriginalMom.com

And because we love being resourceful, that chalkboard paint for your fireplace project doubles as an essential item in this pumpkin project. Coat a pumpkin in the paint and then change up your design whenever the mood strikes. Check out the full set of instructions here.

chalkboard paint pumpkins
Momtastic.com

Easy Ways to Tackle Fall Cleaning

fall cleaningThere are certainly more exciting things to do in the Fall than clean. Pumpkin patches, holidays, sipping warm apple cider and doing absolutely nothing. But your home and your sanity will thank you this winter if you do some simple Fall cleaning now. A little bit of effort will ensure a more relaxing winter season later on.

Work on the outside:

  • Re-painting your house numbers will give your home new life, and all in under 15 minutes. Take a cup of coffee with you and enjoy the beautiful fall weather.
  • Your garage will need a little upkeep after Summer festivities. Sweep out dust and debris, and stash away all of those summer toys. Get a head start on Winter by creating your own impromptu mud room right in the garage with a new door mat. Also check your Winter essentials (like the snow blower and shovels) so you aren’t scrambling when the first snow falls.
  • Start of your seasonal porch decorating by first giving it a good sweep. A hose or pressure washer will make cobwebs and leftover dirt practically disappear. Then grab some pumpkins, and put that clean porch to good use.
  • If you’re experienced and have the right tools, make sure your yard is ready for snow by trimming tree branches and bushes. It’s a great way to make your yard look sharp, but it’s also preparing your landscaping for a heavy dose of snow. You can also outsource this task to a professional to save some time.

Cleaning indoors:

  • Once you’re ready to move the cleaning inside, start with a clean vacuum. Replace old filters, and make sure the canister is clean. Trust us, you’ll be using it a lot.
  • Make dust bunnies your enemy. Dust all of those places you’ve been ignoring while you were having fun this Summer. Check light fixtures, ceiling fans, and window treatments for any dust hiding out. Use a dust cloth or your trusty vacuum to make dust disappear.
  • It’s been a few months since the coat closest was put to use. Take a peek at what’s been hiding in there and sort through your winter outerwear while you’re at it. Take note of any items you’re missing (hates, gloves, etc.) and make a trip to a thrift store with any items you no longer need.
  • Find all of the stray crumbs under cushions and furniture and get rid of it! Pests will start looking for a warm meal once the temperatures start to drop, and you don’t want your house to entice them inside.
  • Don’t worry, you’re almost done. Finish up your Fall cleaning by going through the pantry and cupboards. Toss anything that expired, and if you find you have way too much of some items, consider donating them and brightening someone else’s autumn with the gift of a full stomach.

 

It’s pumpkin season—fun, food, frills

pumpkin patchIt’s officially fall, and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy all that pumpkins have to offer. From visiting a pumpkin patch, to delicious treats, and even some decorating—there’s really no limit to what you can with a great pumpkin. We have a few ideas to get you started ringing in autumn.

Pumpkin Patches

Vala’s Pumpkin Patch

Even if you don’t have small children, a pumpkin patch visit is practically a fall necessity. Luckily, there are plenty to choose from around Nebraska, and for every budget.  Vala’s Pumpkin Patch is large and filled with live shows, a corn maze, shopping, and of course, plenty of pumpkins. Visit on a Monday thru Thursday for discounted ticket prices, otherwise pricing ranges from $13.99 to $17.99.

Roca Berry Farm

Roca Berry farm is a short and beautiful drive only 15 minutes from Lincoln. They even offer season passes for $23.99. If you love Halloween, you might want to splurge for the Sinister Circus Psychopath Haunted Manor tickets. They run $19.99, and it is sure to be memorable experience.

Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch

If you love pumpkins and you also love the honor system, then Nielsen Kids U-Pick Pumpkin Patch is definitely for you. You’ll enjoy the complete lack of sticker shock, and the acres of pumpkins and gourds in every variety and color. You’ll have to drive to Minden to get there, but a short road trip through Nebraska in the fall? It doesn’t get much better than that.

Food

pumpkin tiramisu
MyRecipes.com Photographer: Alison Miksch

So you’ve stocked up on pumpkins, now what? If you’re the ambitious type, use a pie pumpkin for your recipes. But we love the ease of opening up a can of pumpkin, too. Whichever way you choose to enjoy the savory flavor, this Pumpkin-Espresso Tiramisu is probably a must!

Decorate

pumpkin vase
ReadersDigest.com

Lining your front porch with jack-o-lanterns is a time-honored tradition. But don’t just stop there. There are plenty of creative—and simple—ways to decorate with pumpkins this season. Try starting out with this elegant and festive flower arrangement. You can browse Reader’s Digest for the rest of their crafty ideas.

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