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“The Pumpkin Patch Parable” Party

IMG_2977For several years I was the Early Childhood Director at our church overseeing infants through 5 year olds.  One of my absolute favorite Sundays of each year was in October for our annual “Pumpkin Patch Parable” party.  It was so much fun!! I designed the event based on the book “The Pumpkin Patch Parable” by Liz Curtis Higgs.

The book is a wonderful way to teach children the message of God’s love and plan of salvation for us through a fun story based on a farmer and his pumpkin patch.  The farmer plants the pumpkin seeds, the seeds then grow into a garden full of different kinds of pumpkins, some tall, some round and some with lumps.

As someone read the book, another person would be cleaning out and carving a IMG_2976pumpkin to mimic what the farmer was doing in the story.  After reading the book, we would have the children create a craft that went along with the storyline.  Some years the kids could decorate their own pumpkin sugar cookies or we would provide a special pumpkin snack.  It was a great opportunity to talk about the life cycle of a pumpkin seed and the harvest, all of which are God’s creation.

The best part of the whole morning would always be letting the kids pick out their very own pumpkin to take home from the special pumpkin patch we would create on the grounds of the church.  I loved seeing their little faces light up as they picked out their very own pumpkin and took it home, feeling so proud of themselves.  We also provided little mini pumpkins for our sweet babies to take home to their moms and dads.   The volunteers did an incredible job and seemed to have just as much fun, we would provide them with coffee, hot cider and fall treats as well.   It was truly a wonderful time, I miss it but I have so many precious memories from the years we had our very own Wee Kids Pumpkin Patch!!!

 

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Easy Fall Decorating Ideas

     

The autumn weather makes me feel rejuvenated and it makes me want to make my home as cozy and inviting as possible. Burlap is one of my favorite fall fabrics, it blends with any decor and is so versatile in what you can do with it. I found a couple tutorials on line on how to do a cute burlap wreath. I’m not very crafty and I have to say it took me a while to put it together, I’m sure much longer than it should have. There are some great tutorials out there and I know it would most likely be easy for most of you crafty folks! The fun part was finding a cute little flower and some fall foliage to hot glue for interest and to match my color scheme. I loved how it turned out and it looked great on my front door.

One of the first places I like to start in my home is to do a quick and simple fall update in the foyer. The foyer is the easiest place for me to start, I really only have a simple foyer table that takes just a few minutes to fix up. I like to bring down my fall decor from storage and just go through it all each year. There are usually items I’m tired of and can put aside to donate. I then put items together by color, trying to just use about three fall tones so that it’s not too cluttered and all the items will compliment one another. I actually do this throughout my home because I like the consistency and easy flow from room to room. In the case of my foyer table, I used decor that worked with the picture and lamps already in place — see easy!! Just some simple fall candle centerpieces worked in with the iron candle holders and metal accessories were all the table needed. I used a green table runner that I can leave in place when I do the Christmas decor, so now I’m already ahead of schedule! Matching fall pieces in with non holiday decor that is already in my home is important so that it doesn’t look as if Fall showed up and threw up everywhere…seriously! I think using subtle tones with strategic placement goes a really long way in decorating.

My dining room was next… I have some super cute plates I picked up years ago at Pottery Barn on clearance that have the perfect fall color palette. A coordinating autumn garland simply placed on the shelf in front of the dishes, pumpkins and a couple chunky weave baskets to bring in additional texture and that’s it! Of course, I love candles and I also found a couple small dried flower arrangements on clearance at Michaels a few years ago so I added them in as well.  Sometimes it takes a while to get it just right but if you stick to just a few coordinating colors and assimilate your seasonal decor in with your homes existing accessories, you can’t go wrong. For me it’s all about the flow.

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Outdoor Party on Halloween Night!

For the last several years we have hosted a Halloween Party for friends and neighbors right on Halloween night. It’s become a wonderful tradition and relatively easy to pull off. I usually send out a FB invite to my friends living outside of the neighborhood a couple weeks in advance and ask them all to bring a dish to share pot luck style. The guests RSVP in advance and let me know what they are bringing. There are a few people who bring different kinds of soups in their crock pots, we have ham sandwiches, a lot of yummy appetizers and of course candy! The other item all the invited guests are asked to bring is a big bag of candy for the neighborhood trick or treaters. A couple of days prior to the event, my husband and I do a quick cleaning up of our garage…usually just pushing junk to the side! I use cheap black plastic table cloths and tape to hang like a sheet in front of anything I don’t want seen just to make the garage look a little more inviting. We have a couple of outdoor tables that I set up with power strips and coordinating black plastic table cloths for the guests to plug in their crock pots and room for the rest of the food. I make up a big batch of chili, some dessert and provide drinks (water, soda, coffee and hot cider) and all the paper products. Once everyone has arrived and the food is set up, it’s very casual and everyone just serves themselves throughout the evening. We have quite a few outdoor chairs, but sometimes I’ll ask some people to bring some additional lawn chairs.

“Trick or Treat!”

For families with young children, they have a great time trick or treating while those not walking around the neighborhood enjoy eating, playing corn hole, roasting marshmallows, meeting new people and passing out candy right in the driveway.
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Some years we set up a fire pit, sometimes we may pull out different yard games but every year one of my favorite things to do is have an outdoor movie playing while the neighborhood children are coming around for candy. It wouldn’t be Halloween night if we didn’t show “The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” as the little ghosts and goblins come and go collecting their yummy treats. My husband hangs a sheet up on one half of the garage door opening and we project the movie from behind the make-shift screen…it’s great!!! We usually end the night by playing “Just Dance” in the driveway with our friends and neighbors. It’s so much fun to see the clever costumes each year, visit with our friends and neighbors and just get outside on a brisk fall evening. Clean up is a snap! Everyone pitches in at the end of the night and before we know it, everything is back to the way it once was…except our waistlines!
  • Make it a potluck outside or in the garage for easy clean up
  • Provide a Coffee Bar and Hot Cider
  • Set up outdoor games like corn hole or bobbing for apples
  • All the guests bring a bag of candy for trick or treaters
  • Outdoor movie
  • Create atmosphere: fire pit, photo area, seating, etc.
  • Costume contest!
  • Be creative…Let me know if you have a fun idea!!!!

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Fun with Fall Decor

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Fall has become easily one of my favorite seasons to decorate my home.  Using cues from the natural elements of this time of year is my number one priority when decorating my home.  The warm colors of autumn are so inviting, it’s a great time to take advantage of the beautiful shades of oranges, golds and browns.  I can hardly pass by a pumpkin patch without stopping to take a leisurely stroll, inspecting the alluring bounty of it’s perfectly plump gourds. “Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by paying attention to what we already have.” – unknown In the spirit of being content and using what nature has blessed us with and what I already have, I put together some simple fall arrangements as well as using the colors of autumn to dictate my accessories in each room.  Here are a couple of examples of what I did…

Look around your yard

Last year my hydrangea was absolutely going crazy into the early part of fall.  I was able to pick some of it’s last beautiful bounty and incorporate it with some other fall finds.  The pumpkins were purchased from a local farmer’s market but I never find myself in need of pine cones.  We have a gigantic loblolly pine that is not my preferred species of tree but it provides us with free pine straw and endless pinecones, I am thankful for that!
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Ater collecting my backyard treasures, I dusted off an old wooden bowl I had stored away and placed it all together for a welcoming display in the front room of our home.  I found an old burlap table runner I wasn’t using and cut it down to fit on my coffee table. Last fall I painted an old pine coffee table that we bought when we were first married, many, many, many years ago… I used good ole’ chalk paint and did some quick distressing.  I was very impressed at how much I liked the finished product.  

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For my fireplace mantle, I just cut some overgrowth from my Heavenly Bamboo Nandina bush that had started to turn gorgeous dark greens, browns and reds at some of the tips. I flanked the distressed picture frame with the clippings.  I then placed pinecones and a few berries throughout the foliage.  There is no right or wrong way to do it, I just placed the leaves, pinecones and berries to make a festive mantle that took me all the way through Thanksgiving.  And it was FREE!  It’s so fun and easy, just take a little nature walk and collect some of the following things your may find in your yard.
  • Pinecones
  • Berries
  • Pines straw
  • Dried flowers
  • Limbs and twigs
  • Any kind of greenery
  • Produce from your late summer or early fall garden
  • Leaves
  • Nuts
Don’t be afraid to just plop these natural elements in a repurposed jar, with a candle or as a simple centerpiece.  Part of the fun is going through old containers, vases and jars I have stored away to repurpose.  It’s a great way to be creative and an activity to do with little ones that will get you outside on a nature adventure!!!
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Create, Home Decor, living, real estate

Staging your home using your Five Senses

If you are ready to put your home on the market, here’s a simple checklist you can run through to optimize your homes beautiful features. There are the obvious things like making sure your home is clean and tidy!!! You may want to hire a professional stager or simply ask a friend who has a good eye for furniture placement to help you arrange each room to showcase its size, function and livability. So, now that your home is spotlessly clean and your furnishings are staged to impress there are actually some additional and easy things you can do to really make your home stand out.

SIGHT: So, we have addressed the cleanliness of your home… I can’t stress how important this is! No dirty dishes in the sink, laundry laying around…neat and tidy!! Aside from a clean home, that first impression is tremendous. Make sure your front entrance is welcoming to prospective buyers but don’t overdo it! I love pinterest as much as the next person, but don’t let seasonal decor take over and be distracting to the buyer.
Front door: you may want to see if your front door needs some freshening up. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint and possibly a brass kick plate or new knocker. Sweeping and removing cob webs will go a long way and show your buyers that your home is well cared for, it’s surprising how many people don’t do this easy step. Adding a wreath is always a great way to welcome guests but stay away from a monogramed lettering. It’s important to help buyers feel like they could see themselves living in the home and monogramed anything will not help with that! Symmetry is your friend at the front entrance. Use a couple nice planters on either side of the door with nicely shaped shrubs and maybe add a few flowers in the mix for some color…but DON’T OVER DO IT!

Foyer: Open up your foyer as much as possible by removing too many furnishings or knickknacks. Make it bright, open and airy. This is the first impression of the inside of the home. A simple foyer table with a couple of lamps and a potted plant or candle is sufficient.

Family Photos: So, I know many professionals recommend removing family photos from your home when trying to show it…I agree…sort of. For me, I actually like seeing a few family photos here or there. To me it makes the home feel…well…homey. Again, DON’T over do it, but a sweet family picture here or there never hurt anyone.

LIGHT: For crying out loud…let the sun in! It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when I see pictures of a listing on zillow or walk into a home and it is dark and dreary. Pull back your curtains, open up your blinds and let some vitamin D in your home people!!! Of course, you want to make sure your windows are clean and free of spider webs but please don’t be afraid of the light. It will make your home show so much better and feel so much nicer.

SOUND: Ok, so I hope I haven’t scared too many people off at this point. If you are still reading this, thank you! The rest of the senses will be much easier if you have already done the above recommendations. One of the things I enjoy when I go through a model home or attend our area’s homearama, showcasing several new homes, is when they play (very softly) some smooth jazz or some kind of music that makes me want to relax and hang out there for a bit. So why not do it in your home? The key is softly! This will also help if you live in a noisy area or you hear a lot of traffic or possibly if there is construction nearby. Plus, who doesn’t love smooth jazz?

TOUCH: This one is a little tricky because you may not be thrilled about people going through your home touching all your stuff, I get it. BUT, try to include throw pillows on your furnishings with a variety of soft textures and a cozy blanket thrown over a chair or at the end of a bed. Again, it’s all about making people feel like your home is warm and welcoming and they would want to live in it. Additionally, you will want to make sure your surfaces are not dusty, that’s not pleasant to see or touch.

TASTE: The sense of taste is actually a fun one. If you want prospective buyers to linger a bit and really get a feel for the loveliness of your home, provide some tasty treats. A pot of fresh coffee, bottled waters, fresh fruit or cookies will be hard for anyone to pass up.

SMELL: I left smell for the end because I think it is the most important of all of the senses when showing a home. You could have the most beautifully decorated and clean home in town, but if it stinks then…well… you’re just in trouble. Now, if your home is clean and you’ve worked hard to shine it up and make your rooms sparkle, then you are probably ok. But, there are some things that can make even the cleanest of homes smell bad. One of the worst offenders are our little furry friends. We love them, but they stink bad sometimes.

A note on candles: A candle or two placed strategically in your home can be nice if you are having an open house but they can be problematic if using one too strong or if there are children that could burn themselves. Some people may even have an allergy to a specific candle scent. But I say don’t be afraid to use them, just be extremely cautious and use a subtle clean scent, you don’t want it to seem as if you’re using the candle to cover up something bad.

Baked goods: If you are providing a snack at your showing or open house, try baking it right in your kitchen so that the wonderful smells permeate the home. If you don’t like to bake, just buy something at the grocery store that you can simply throw in the oven and viola… you’re house smells like an inviting coffee shop and you have something nice to offer your buyers.

Open up the home: if the weather permits open up some windows and let some fresh air in, nobody wants to hang out in a stuffy room. If you have celling fans, use them to keep air flowing as well.

Upholstery: if it smells like fido, you may need to get it professionally cleaned or invest in some furniture coverings and try to keep pets off the furniture. It may be time to throw away a few of your smaller rugs in bathrooms or laundry room that are not smelling great and are showing too much wear and tear.

A bit obvious but important enough to mention: make sure all toilets are flushed, trash is taken out, dirty laundry picked up and washed or placed in a covered hamper and if you smoke…STOP it’s bad for you…or just do it outside. Pets should be crated and left in a low traffic area while the home is being shown.

Wow! I know this all seems like a lot and honestly it’s not even a comprehensive list BUT it’s some of the most important aspects of showing real estate. Our homes are our biggest asset and it’s important to make them shine! Make your home a memorable and comfortable place where hopefully the buyer will have a great first impression and very positive experience. Happy Selling!