In a flash, the summer of 2015 is “a wrap”.  Hopefully the season concluded with some fun and relaxing activities like Labor Day barbeques, camping, or pool parties.  Now it’s time to prepare the home and garden and focus on the seasons ahead.  Depending on your location, preparations can be easy or very involved for certain weather extremes.  Here is a basic list of “to-do’s” that fit almost every household.

  • Take an inventory of bottled water, candles, flashlights and batteries, canned goods and staples, to ensure you are prepared for Mother Nature’s weather surprises.
  • Check the furnace filter and replace as necessary to ensure good air flow when it’s time to crank up the heater.
  • Clean out the fireplace and make sure the chimney and flue are clear of debris and creosote buildup. Have a local service do a thorough cleaning to remove any blockages.
  • Dust or vacuum air vents and the dryer vent, and clean the range hood. This will keep air flowing properly and can also reduce the risk of fire.
  • Check the insulation, and locate any cracks or crevices around windows and doors that can steal heat from your home (and drive up your energy bill). Replace cracked or torn weather stripping.
  • Expecting guests for Thanksgiving and want clean carpets? Avoid the last minute rush and consider doing it now to take advantage of the last warm weather which will help carpets dry faster.
  • The warmer air is also helpful while doing painting or touch-ups. It’s much nicer to ventilate with the windows open while the weather is still mild.
  • Next up, basic end of summer yard clean up: trim dead foliage, remove fallen leaves, stow yard furniture and summer toys, and harvest the last bounty from your vegetable garden. Plant bulbs in the garden and there will be a bounty of color next spring.

With your tasks checked off, you can lounge and enjoy some well-deserved and guilt-free relaxation, and maybe extend that summer feeling with a refreshing soft drink, or glass of diet-friendly sangria.   Here’s an easy lower-calorie sangria recipe:
1 quart red wine,
¼ cup triple sec,
½ cup orange juice,
Assorted sliced fruits; oranges, strawberries, pears, apples, berries and pineapple,
1 pint sugar free flavored water or soda
Combine the wine, triple sec, orange juice, and fruit in a large pitcher and refrigerate for at least an hour (longer is better).  Just before serving, add 16 ounces of calorie free lemon-lime beverage or club soda to the wine mixture and stir thoroughly.  Poor over ice, relax, and reflect on yet another, great summer.