Friday, October 31, 2014

8 New Ways to Carve a Pumpkin

8 New Ways to Carve a Pumpkin

These aren't your run-of-the-mill jack-o'-lanterns.



If you've been cutting two triangle eyes and a jagged mouth into every pumpkin you've carved since you were a kid, it might be time to upgrade your routine. These clever bloggers treated their gourds like blank canvases  and the result is a spectrum of pumpkin art that ranges from pretty to creepy.
1. Fairytale House

This adorable abode, which even has mini window boxes, looks like the perfect whimsical spot for a fairy or Hobbit.
Get the tutorial at Finding Home »

2. Scar Face

Part Frankenstein, part baseball, this jack-o-lantern's eerie stiching is tempered by his smiling face.
Get the tutorial at Dream a Little Bigger »

3. Chevron Style

Etch your favorite basic pattern (stripes and polka dots work well, too) into the surface of a pumpkin for a sublte take on carving.
Get the tutorial at Wit & Whistle »

4. Peekaboo Planters

These "jack-o-planterns" help you decorate for Halloween and show off fall foliage without cluttering your porch.
Get the tutorial at Garden Therapy »

5. Squash Snail

We admire this blogger's out-of-box thinking: Flipped on its side and paired with stout butternut squash, a pumpkin is this slimey creature's traveling home.
Get the tutorial at Secret Agent Josephine »

6. Autumn Monogram

Show off your holiday spirit and family pride by carving your initial into a gourd.
Get the tutorial at The Wonder Forest »

7. Polka Dot

Power drills aren't just for home renovations. Use one to bore holes in cute patterns into a pair of pumpkins.
Get the tutorial at Cheryl Style »

8. Cheery Tiers 

Colorful beads and toothpicks take this pretty pumpkin to a whole new level.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Extend your garden's life

Extension Master Gardener Randy Cox helps assemble a tunnel at Sacred Heart Catholic School.
Extension Master Gardener Randy Cox helps assemble a tunnel at Sacred Heart Catholic School.

Would you like to keep your gardens growing throughout the year? Of course. Most of us want to, but we either don’t know how to do it or we do not want to pay for additional upkeep.
If cost is the main concern, we can always use some season extension techniques. In this article, I am going to show you how easy and affordable it can be to extend your growing season.

For the past two years, Cooperative Extension has been working with Millbridge Elementary School on their school gardens. Most of the time, our Extension Master Gardeners are helping teach the classes but every now and then, I get to help out. This year, I have been able to work closer with Laura Lindley’s fifth-grade class. Since one part of the fifth-grade curriculum focuses on weather, I thought the class could do a scientific experiment.
The class planted two raised beds with the exact same plants (carrots, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and parsnips) in each. In one of the beds, we decided to build a low tunnel. Low tunnels are just one tool that can be used in season extension.
Other season extension items are high tunnels, cold frames, greenhouses and row covers, to name a few.
If you are a homeowner, building a low tunnel for your raised beds is fairly simple. Here is a list of materials I used: One roll of 4 mil plastic (measure your raised bed to make sure the roll will cover the entire bed), 61/2-inch by 24-inch steel rebar (length depends on the depth of your bed), three 3/4-inch-by-10 feet PVC pipe and zip ties.
I bought everything for $30. The raised beds at Millbridge are about 4 feet wide by 8 feet long and about 12 inches deep.
I put rebar at each of the ends and two in the middle. I also cut the PVC pipe down to about 7 feet.
I put the PVC pipe on one rebar and then bent the pipe to fit the rebar pipe directly across, forming a semi-circle. I did this three times. Once I had the pipe in place, the students helped me cover the bed with plastic. Then, we secured the plastic with the zip ties.
To secure the loose plastic on the ends, you can use heavy lumber, rocks, etc. to reduce wind blowing through the tunnel.
Lindley’s class will have to check and water the low tunnel bed more frequently since rain cannot penetrate the plastic covering.
The tunnel will act as a magnifying glass and increase the temperature within the tunnel. In theory, the bed with the tunnel should outperform the bed without a tunnel and produce vegetables longer than the bed that is exposed to the elements.
This is just one way to extend your season, it is also one of the easiest. If you would like to learn more about season extension or gardening in general, contact your local Cooperative Extension agent.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Frankenstein Goody Bucket

By Maggie Wehri

No need for the plastic bucket or elaborate bag this year — this homemade goody bucket will have your trick-or-treaters screaming with reuse delight!
So many Halloween decorations seem oh so tempting this time of year, but maybe this could be the season in which you take a step back and get creative making decorative items with materials already in your home. Discovering creative ways to make what we see on the shelves is not always an easy task, which is why we have the perfect Halloween craft for the trick-or-treaters at home.

On the big day, we all need a nice goody bag to put our treats in. It’s so easy to buy a plastic pumpkin or bag from the store. Instead of buying a few extra items you may not necessarily need, utilize the ice cream bucket the family polished off at the dinner table last night (go ahead and rinse it out real well before you get started). Get out your felt (or other choice of fabric), scissors and glue. Now, get those creative juices flowing. Your goody bucket can resemble a mummy, a pumpkin, a witch, a ghost or any other Halloween character, but for this example we’re going to pick Frankenstein.


First, consider that the bucket is easiest to use later with a handle attached to it, however, other reusable containers could also work for this craft. Perhaps cut the top off your milk jug or take the opportunity to patch up a leaky container. Either way, all of these are great options for your goody bucket.

Second, lie out the green felt (in this case) and roll out the container in the felt to measure out exactly how much you need. Trim around leaving a half-inch to 1-inch overlap that will fold over the bottom and top. Glue the felt all around the container and secure the overlap inside of the bucket.

To create Frankenstein’s hair, lay the black felt on the work surface and carefully align with the top of the container. Measure as you did with the green felt, leaving a little extra, and trim excess. Before attaching the black felt, trim one end in a grass-like cut to fashion the hair and then glue in place. Finally, cut out patterns for eyebrows, eyes (or glue on your favorite googly eyes), nose and mouth in appropriate colors and glue those in the appropriate areas.

Now, before taking your goody bucket out for a spin around your neighborhood haunts, don’t forget to let it dry well. It’s the perfect time to show off your cool new craft, and you can have piece of mind knowing you didn’t purchase another plastic item that will only be used a time or two. This Halloween, join the crafty crowd and figure out new ways to make your spooky holiday a little greener.
- See more at:

How to Recycle Jars

By Sophia Bennett

Glass can be recycled over and over again, and virtually every city and town has access to recycling options.
The humble glass jar holds all kinds of delicious products in your kitchen: sandwich spreads, jams and jellies, spaghetti sauce, pickles and much more. You can feel good about buying foods packaged in glass jars, as they don't leach chemicals into food, and they are one of the most recyclable products out there.

Most communities accept glass jars at the curb or at local recycling centers. Even if they do not, reuse ideas abound, so you should have no trouble keeping your glass jars out of landfills and incinerators.

How jars get recycled

Glass, which is made of naturally occurring materials such as sand and limestone, can be recycled endlessly. Once glass is collected at your curb or at your local recycling center, it heads to a recycling plant to be crushed into small pieces called cullet. The cullet is then put in a furnace and combined with small amounts of the materials needed to create new glass. The furnace heats up to between 2,600º and 2,800ºF depending on the makeup of glass. Once the glass is hot enough to liquefy, it can be formed into new vessels.
In addition to making new jars, manufacturers can use recycled glass for products such as tile, beads, fiberglass, television screens and roadbed underlay (in place of gravel).

Manmade glass has been around for thousands of years. Humans first became intrigued by seeing glass in obsidian and other natural forms. The Egyptians and Mesopotamians learned to heat elements and form glass into basic shapes around 3,500 B.C., and vessels around 1,500 B.C. Recycling glass is a much more recent discovery, of course, but it is a good thing people figured out how to do it.

Why should I recycle jars?

Turning old glass jars into new ones represents a big win for the environment. New glass can be made with up to 70% cullet, so using recycled glass means less mining for new materials. It also means less energy (cullet melts at a lower temperature than brand-new materials); a longer life for glass furnaces; and reduced carbon emissions. Every 6 tons of glass that gets recycled saves 1 ton of carbon from being released into the atmosphere.
Not everyone has gotten the word about the benefits of glass recycling, however. Only 28% of the glass Americans buy gets recycled, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports, which means manufacturers are always on the lookout for clean, high-quality cullet. Returning your glass jars to a recycling center helps them find it.

Recycling glass is good for the economy, too. The Container Recycling Institute, a nonprofit that encourages consumers to recycle various types of packaging, reports that recycling just 1,000 tons of glass creates eight jobs.

How to reuse jars

Glass jars, especially canning jars and jars with unusual shapes, are very trendy right now and have plenty of reuse options. If you do not want to use jars for drinking glasses or vases, donate them to a thrift store so crafters or home canners can claim them.
The blog By Stephanie Lynn has 50 cute ideas for repurposing glass jars, including using them to hold photographs and make terrariums for plants.

Another popular way to reuse jars is to serve food in them. Desserts like these delicious no-bake cheesecakes from Women’s Day look pretty in small jars. It is possible to bake brownies, cakes and pies in jars; check out this cherry-pie-in-a-jar recipe from The Cooking Channel. Martha Stewart devoted a show to ideas about serving whole meals various in canning jars. Her recipes for salads, dips, main dishes and sangria may inspire a picnic.
- See more at:

Home Electronics Disposal

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