Home Help: Treating kids to Halloween tricks

Staff reports

This year, instead of buying your decorations, why not brew a little imagination? Just stir in a few items you already have around the house and a couple of cans of spray paint to create bewitching, inexpensive pieces for your home and yard. Here are two project ideas to inspire and help you easily put some extra spookiness in your Halloween trick-or-treating.

Ghostly globes: Add a spooky twist to your outside walkway on All Hallow's Eve - without having to carve several messy pumpkins - by creating glowing ghostly globes.

What you'll need: Round glass votives, newspaper, one can per person of white frosted glass, white and glow-in-the-dark spray paint and a black craft pen.

How to do it: Cover your workspace with newspaper. Spray several light coats of white frosted glass paint on the lip of each votive and let dry. Next, add several light coats of white paint to the outside bottom of votives, blending the white seamlessly with the frosted glass. Let dry completely.

Spray the entire exterior with glow-in-the dark paint, which will allow your votives to shine even when not lit. Finally, draw facial features with a black paint pen.

Spooky party servers: Embellish your Halloween party buffet by transforming ordinary terra cotta pots into spooky party servers.

What you'll need: White primer, pumpkin orange, gloss white and gold glitter spray paint, black webbing spray, black paint, adhesive, assorted terra cotta pots and saucers, metal or enamel bowl, glue, paper, pencil, scissors and a small paint brush.

How to do it: Wash the pots and saucers. Allow to dry. Spray all the terra cotta with white primer. Let dry and spray with gloss white. Once dry, turn pots upside down and glue the bottom of a saucer to the bottom of each pot. Draw ghosts, tombstones and other scary characters on paper. Cut the shapes out and spray one side with repositionable adhesive.

Position the paper shapes randomly on the pots. Spray the outside of the bowl and terra cotta pieces with pumpkin orange paint. Once dry, spray all the pieces with black webbing spray, then go over again lightly with gold glitter spray. When all the paint is dry, remove paper templates and add details with black paint, such as features on the ghosts and words on the tombstones. Be sure not to place unwrapped food on any painted surface.


Home-Selling Tip: Modernize with paint

A fresh coat of paint is an easy way to brighten rooms, get rid of odors and modernize style for an open house. Remove wallpaper with a solution of warm water and fabric softener.

Gloss paint is typically used for the bathrooms and kitchen because they are easier to clean than a flat finish. Spend some extra money on quality brushes that won’t easily lose their bristles. Also, if you have to apply pressure to your roller while painting, you need more paint.

-- A&E Sell This House

How To: Hang a towel bar

What you’ll need:

  • Cordless Drill
  • Screwdriver

When hanging a towel bar, use the template included with the package to help you align the mounting plates.

  • Start by selecting your location. Most new towel bars come with a cutout template to help you position the mounting brackets correctly on the wall.
  • If you don't have a template, hold the assembled bar against the wall and mark on the wall the location of the brackets. Use a carpenter's level or laser level to ensure the two ends are even.
  • Attach the mounting brackets to the wall using the appropriate fasteners (usually screws and drywall anchors).
  • Hang the towel bar on the brackets, and then tighten a screw at the bottom of each mounting plate.


Did You Know … Existing home sales are up

Existing home sales increased 7.6 percent from July to August. However, they are still down 19 percent from August 2009.

Existing homes include single-family homes, town homes, condominiums and co-ops.

-- National Association of Realtors

Home Improvements: Get organized, remove clutter

An easy home improvement tip to follow is to stay organized. Removing clutter around the house is a fast, simple and affordable way to improve the look and feel of your home.

  • Store shoes in the entryway with inexpensive stackable shoe shelves. This helps air out shoes and allows you to clean the floor underneath.
  • Keep papers, invitations and events organized with a family communication board. Hang this in an accessible place for everyone.
  • Keep items in drawers and out of sight. Assign each drawer one purpose and organize it with partition inserts.


Garden Guide: Removing broken tree limbs

As we head further into fall, trees may suffer wind and rainstorm damage. Such damage is usually covered under a homeowners’ insurance policy, and you should call your agent before you grab your chainsaw.

However, if you do decide to saw off some reachable limbs, remember to always wear protection for your eyes, ears, hands and body. Never stand on a ladder or reach above your shoulders. If you are not a professional, you should avoid using the tip of the chain and bar.


Backyard Buddies: Squirrels eat bird seed, too

Squirrels are ambitious creatures and they are known for stealing food right out of bird feeders. To be sure the bird seed is going to its intended recipients, keep feeders at least 10 feet away from any jumping-off point, like a tree, a fence or the roof.

If this doesn’t work, simply give squirrels their space with their own feeder, and fill it with hard foods like peanuts, large seeds or field corn to chew on. They will be less interested in the bird food.


GateHouse News Service