Last Minute Halloween Decor We Love

Confession time: We here at HomeBit love Halloween—there’s something about the spookiness and pageantry that really gets our motors revving. But we are terrible at it! Somehow, October just gets away from us and all the sudden it’s two nights before Halloween and we’re struggling to throw together last minute Halloween costumes (nothing like tearing your closet apart for that wig you got at a bachelorette party last year).

And then there’s the matter of your house. Before you know it, it will be Halloween night and all the little ghosties and goblins will be prowling your driveway, looking for candy and trampling your roses. Do you really want to be the boring, unfestive house on the block?

Of course, you can’t exactly turn back time and make it two weeks ago. That conundrum is exactly what spurred us to scour the internet for the best—and fastest—decorations available. These super-speedy crafts will help you get some pumpkins on the porch without sacrificing a whole weekend to the cause. Read on for the full spook, I mean, scoop!

spooky lady in front of fireplace

Mummified Front Door

No one will wonder which house is the party house once you get this mummy decor up on your door. Toilet paper wrapping plus construction paper equals instant fun—if you dare to enter, that is! Get the 411 from East Coast Creative.

DIY Pumpkin Balloons

Nothing spells P-A-R-T-Y like B-A-L-L-O-O-N-S. Store-bought is fine, of course, but it doesn’t exactly have the flair a custom-made DIY. Orange balloons and some elementary-level art skills are all you need to make this Martha Stewart-approved craft come to life!

Drilled Pumpkin Decor

Have some new power tools you’re itching to try? Give them a whirl on these decorative pumpkins instead! Easy to make and super modern, these give plain old jack-o-lanterns a serious run for their money. Mix and match drill bits for unique patterning.

Construction Paper Bats

Black construction paper is a ghoul’s best friend this time of year—especially if you happen to be very bad at planning ahead. Just cut these out using the downloadable template and be about your merry way—or should we say scary way!

Ghastly Window Silhouettes

Speaking of construction paper, get a load of these spooky window decorations! Carefully cut silhouettes are sure to inspire nightmares, making your house one of the spookiest on your block. Find tons of inspiration for your window decorations here.

Crafty Dryer Vent Pumpkins

Good for tablescapes and doorways, these spray painted dryer vent pumpkins get our vote for being resourceful and home repair-centric. No one will even know you got your supplies from the hardware store. You can find the full DIY at Grillo Designs, in case you’re wondering what resourceful little witches dreamed up this project.

And with that, we’ll let you get to your decorating. After all, the witching hour is nigh upon us!

The Ultimate Smart Kitchen Showdown: Which Devices Are Worth It?

Anything that makes kitchens more convenient is a welcome addition—which is what makes smart devices so enticing. These automated gadgets cut back on the time you spend slaving over the stove. They make complicated cookery a piece of cake, automatically producing sous vide entrees and the perfect cup of coffee without much interaction on your part.

That all sounds good on paper. But sometimes smart kitchen devices seem a lot neater in theory than they are in practice—just ask anyone involved in the Juicero debacle. If you don’t have $700 to spend on an overpriced juice box, don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Today, we’ve picked out the ultimate list of WiFi-connected kitchen products—the kinds of devices that will have you marveling at technological progress, not regretting the money you just wasted on a useless new toy. Here’s the full 411.

pot boiling on stove

Best Smart Sous Vide

In case you haven’t heard the news, the latest trend to hit home cooking is sous vide. Smart precision cookers aren’t just for gearheads. These souped-up kitchen machines precisely measure water temperatures for chef quality cooking that really is as simple as “set it and forget it.” The WiFi and Bluetooth enabled Anova lets you adjust settings remotely, meaning you can check on your meal right from the couch. The Anova website even comes with tons of recipes to give you some inspiration—everything from sous vide scrambled eggs to chocolate flourless cake. You literally have hours of convenient cooking ahead of you.

Best Coffee Paraphernalia

Smart brewers are essentially the perfect marriage of elite coffee preparation and technology. Cutting-edge brewing equipment offers seamless control over your morning cup of joe. The Behmor Brewer Connected Coffee Maker gets top marks for taste, design and performance. This WiFi enabled maker is built with a companion app that allows you to brew a fresh cup straight from your bed—a feature that makes it worth any price, in our book. And the price tag matches conventional high end coffee makers, so if you’re looking to up your coffee making routine, there’s no reason not to go digital.

Best Gadget You Didn’t Know You Needed

No one wants to be stuck without toilet paper at home. Trouble is, you can never remember when it’s time to stock up. GeniCan can solve that unfortunate dilemma for you. This attractive garbage bin takes digital grocery lists to the next level. It scans and recognizes every item you throw in the trash to create a fully automated shopping list. All you have to do is pull up the app the next time you’re shopping and those memories of pitching the last toilet paper roll will come flooding back. Now there’s a piece of tech we could all use!

Best “Make My Life Easier” Device

Some days, the grocery store just seems like way too much work. Especially when you can avoid it altogether. Amazon’s dash buttons will allow you to do just that. You just select buttons for your favorite products, like toilet paper, dishwasher detergent, or one of the other hundreds of other branded household goods and toiletries available. Once you have the button, you can pair it with the Amazon.com app on your phone to program your product preferences (whether you need 6 rolls of toilet paper, say, or 36). Then all you have to do is press the button and you’re in business. Your product arrives on your doorstep within two days. Meanwhile, you never have to set foot in the grocery store!

Best Healthy Eating Tool

This is one product we’ve been waiting a long time for. Calorie counting is undoubtedly an effective way to monitor your eating. But manually weighing, tracking and logging every single condiment, side and meal component gets annoying after a while. SmartPlate, a smart nutrient tracker featured on Shark Tank, helps take some of the pain out of healthy eating. A special plate analyzes your food and gives you a breakdown of the calories and nutrients, then logs all the information on an app on your phone. It even creates personalized recommendations for better eating, so it’s basically like having a nutritionist sitting on your kitchen counter—but without, you know, having a human captive in your home.

What kitchen conundrums will smart devices take on next? Only time can tell for sure, but if they’re anything like these cool inventions, we have an exciting future to look forward to!

4 Repairs Better Left to the Pros

So you watched a few DIY videos, and now you’re itching to test out your newly-learned skills? By all means, give it a whirl! Just make sure your experiments don’t include one of the four areas below. These kinds of projects are strictly for pros. Hands off, weekend warriors!

hammer on board

Plumbing

Small plumbing repairs are fine, but get in over your head and you could quickly be up to your neck in hot water. Basically, that means anything more advanced than a running toilet or a faucet replacement should be handled by a professional licensed plumber.

Pros will know how to deal with permits and have professional training that allows them to find and fix repairs quickly and efficiently. They also understand how to minimize damage, and are able to solder pipes together if the job calls for it. And they can handle jobs that combine plumbing and electrical work, like installing a brand new dishwasher.

Last of all, plumbing companies often offer warranties for their technician’s workmanship. So if anything else goes wrong, you can just call them up and have them visit again. You’re not going to get that kind of a guarantee with a DIY job!

Electrical

You may have tackled small electrical jobs in the past, like replacing an outlet or installing a new ceiling fan. But that doesn’t mean you have the technical prowess to compete with the pros! The benefits of calling a professional electrician are pretty obvious: You won’t be putting yourself at risk of electrical shock or monkeying around with unfamiliar wires.

In most states, electrical work also needs to be handled by pros to ensure that it’s up-to-code. DIY wiring can result in overloaded circuits that makes them a fire hazard.

Electricians have the proper devices to test wires and outlets to ensure that they’re safe to touch. They also know how to completely shut off the power to outlets, circuit breakers and appliances before they start working on them. All in all, you’re almost always better off calling in a licensed electrician, rather than trying to catch up on wiring through a few videos.

Roofing

Your roof is often the only thing standing between you and the elements—do you really want it compromised by shoddy work? Properly shingling a roof can be difficult for a novice to do properly.

Meanwhile, climbing up on the roof is trickier than it appears. Even if you pride yourself on your excellent balance, you’re taking a major risk when you get up on your house. In fact, even the pros have difficulties sometimes. Roofers are about three times more likely to fatally fall on the jobsite than workers in other construction industries, so it’s safe to say that they have a dangerous job.

And have you ever tried to lift shingles yourself? Shingling often weighs in the tons—not the kind of stuff you want to try dragging around without professional help. Unless you’re just making a tiny repair, it’s best to call out the pros for this one.

Anything Involving Gas Lines

Just bought a new gas stove? Leave the hookup to someone who knows how! Gas furnaces, appliances and water heaters should always be handed off to the professionals.

The issue here is that it’s very easy to create a gas leak. Slow leaks could go undetected for a long time—at least, until you start smelling gas. And by that time, static buildup can cause the gas to ignite, which is a huge risk to your family and your home.

Instead, always call in a pro to handle repairs and installations, and use extra caution when hooking up gas grills outdoors. A worry-free home? Now that’s something anyone can appreciate!

6 Trees and Shrubs You Can Plant Now for a Beautiful Spring

Fall is the perfect time for so many things: hayrides, pumpkin pie and…planting shrubs? Yeah, we’re still working on that last one. But it is true that autumn’s crisp temperatures and frequent moisture make it the best incubation period for young tree roots. Growing trees and shrubs can get used to their new location and establish themselves, without the stress from heat. And the cooler weather encourages trees to focus on their roots, instead of leafing out above.

Of course, if you’re a horticulture newbie, planting your first tree or shrub can be intimidating. This guide from The University of Nebraska Extension should get you through the basics of digging and planting.

In general, it includes digging a hole twice as wide but slightly shallower than the root ball. Then fill the hole with soil and add mulch around the base to keep the surrounding soil nice and moist. Next, stake the tree to protect it while it gets a good root structure going. Nothing to it!

That just leaves what to plant. To help you make this crucial decision, we’ve picked out the hardiest, showiest and best plants money can buy—the kind of beauties that will vault your lawn to floral perfection once spring rolls around. Here are our top choices.

beautiful tree flowering

If You’re Looking for Convenience: Redbud

This low-maintenance showstopper is kind of like the Miss Congeniality of trees. It’s beautiful, but also easy-going. Redbuds do well in all but the most southern and northern US residences, letting loose a shower of snowy, pink blossoms in spring. As a smallish tree, they grow no larger than 20 to 30 feet, making them a good choice to plant near the home or in another close-knit spot. They liked to be mulched occasionally, and pruned once a year to trim away dead growth. Other than that, you can pretty much leave them on their own—and enjoy beautiful, delicate blossoms all spring for minimal effort!

For Something a Little Bit Different: American Fringe Tree

Looking for something a little less conventional? The fringe tree is a beautiful North American native with feathery white blooms and bright yellow fall foliage. Essentially, this one is a stunner all year long. Fringe tree likes slightly acidic soil and a moist, sunny location to flourish. Under ideal conditions, it can grow to 20 feet tall. It’s also a somewhat wider tree, so make sure to plant it somewhere with room to spread out. The female trees produce black berries that birds love, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking to get a visit from some local wildlife.

For Drought-prone Areas: Flowering Quince

Choosing trees and shrubs for dry, arid climates is tricky, sure, but certainly not impossible. Flowering quince has creamy pink blossoms and yellow crabapple-like fruit that belies its inherent drought-tolerance. This tough little shrub prefers moderate to light water, making it ideal for homes with watering restrictions or in dry, arid climates where water conservation is a concern. It can handle a variety of soil conditions as well and will tolerate moderate shade, so it’s both showy and tough—one of our favorite combinations!

For Tiny Yards and Apartments: Citrus Trees

A tree in a pot? You bet! Oranges, lemons and limes come in dwarf varieties that make lovely patio or balcony inhabitants—as long as you remember to bring them inside when the weather gets cold! To plant one, use a special citrus potting soil and place in a large, well-draining pot somewhere where it will get plenty of sunlight. Citrus needs at least eight hours of sunlight per day to flourish, so make sure to choose an especially sun-drenched spot in your yard. Water infrequently, keeping the soil moist but not drenched. Fertilize regularly with a commercial citrus mix.

For Shady Yards: Allegheny Serviceberries

Think of serviceberries as lilacs’ cooler, hipper cousin. Congenial and easy-to-grow with dense, snowy flowers, serviceberries also feature attractive fall foliage and decorative bark that makes them easy on the eyes all year long. True to their name, serviceberries produce small, edible fruits—a huge draw for local birds. And, of course, they can tolerate moderate shade, so they do well as a companion to densely-treed yards.

For a True Showstopper: Southern Magnolia

Long the star of southern lore, there’s ample reason for the magnolia’s long-standing reputation. Large showy flowers crown the magnolia in bloom, atop shiny deep-green foliage that offers a bit of shade on a hot day. The key to growing magnolia is to choose a cultivar that fits your yard’s conditions. There are cold-hardy varieties and compact varieties—essentially there’s one for any growing condition you need to meet. Plant young trees in moist, slightly-acidic, well-drained soil and supplement with at least one inch of water per week until the tree has had time to establish itself.

Whatever you plant, make sure to give it plenty of water the first months after planting. Young roots need lots of moisture since they may not be able to reach down to more remote water reserves. Water yours frequently and you can look forward to showy beautiful springs for years to come. Now you just have to make it through winter!

Your Ultimate Fall Maintenance Guide

Anne of Green Gables once said, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” But I’m guessing she never had to clean out any gutters. While October’s mild temperatures and gentle sunshine does make a person glad to be alive, those winter storms are just around the corner, bringing plenty of ice, snow and wind.

That makes right now an ideal time to prep your home for the harsher temperatures ahead. After all, the weather is still pretty agreeable, and the days are long enough to take advantage of evening sunlight. Checking off these tasks now will set you up for a long, worry-free winter—and give you more time to enjoy the autumn as well. Here’s everything you need to know.

kid playing with leaves

Clean Your Gutters

You probably don’t need to be reminded about this task; it’s usually pretty evident by the pile of leaves on the ground. But just in case you need convincing, you should definitely give your gutters some attention this time of year. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on your roof or cascade over the siding, which means your next stop is Leak Central. Luckily, cleaning the gutters doesn’t have to be a massive headache. In fact, you can even install gutter guards after you finish to make the job a whole lot easier next time.

Give Your Windows and Doors Some TLC

About a third of a home’s heat loss occurs through leaky windows and doors, which means getting yours in peak winter condition is key to maintaining a comfortable home and reasonable energy bills. If your windows are older or inefficient, install storm windows over them to keep out the drafts. Next, move inside, adding foam weather stripping to the edges of doors and windows. Scrape out cracked window caulking with a razor blade and apply fresh silicone sealant to prevent drafts and heat loss. Install a door sweep at the edge of all exterior doors, and get ready for your coziest winter yet!

Get Your Heating Systems Cold-Weather-Ready

If La Niña has anything to say about it, most of us have a pretty wet, nasty winter in store this year. And that means our heating systems are going to be working pretty hard. Give yours a head start by putting in some maintenance now. The first thing you should always do is change the filters on your furnace. Dirty filters can make your unit work less effectively, which means less heat for your home. Another smart move is to have a HVAC technician out to perform a maintenance visit. Have them check the electrical connections and air pressure, recharging your unit if necessary. If you plan to use your chimney to heat your home as well, have it inspected and cleaned. Creosote buildup in chimneys is a fire hazard that’s preventable with professional cleaning. An inspector will help locate cracks in the chimney and flashing, as well. After all, nothing is nicer than a crackling fire to stave off the winter chill!

Trim Trees and Rake Leaves

Fall leaves need raking—that’s a no-brainer. Leaves left on the ground over winter can seriously stunt grass growth in the spring. Plus, raked leaves make great fodder for compost or mulch later. But you’ll also need to take your focus a little higher up, too. Dead tree branches and limbs can snap under the weight of ice and snow, causing all kinds of havoc. Usually it’s best to have a professional arborist or tree trimming service out to take care of this work, since trimming can be dangerous for untrained homeowners. The pros also know how to spot problem areas, like a hollow trunk, that might cause problems down the line.

Check Your Roof and Siding

Fall is pretty much the ideal time to have your roof inspected. Roofing inspectors look for loose shingles and damaged flashing that can lead to leaks in wet weather. They’ll also be able to scope out hail damage and other issues that might have popped up from summer thunderstorms. A professional roofing inspection is recommended every three to five years, so if it’s been a while, you’ll want to take care of that now. Another issue to check for? Look for cracks where the masonry meets the siding, or signs of peeling paint or cracked vinyl siding along your home’s exterior walls. Both of these issues should be dealt with before cold wet weather begins.

Take Care of Your Porch and Lawn

Now it’s time to turn an eye on your porch and lawn. First, bring in any potted plants that won’t survive colder temperatures and then store delicate lawn furniture, like anything wicker, in a covered area, like the garage. You should also remove any cushions and fragile decorations that might not make it through the winter intact. Now is also a good time to check the stairs and railings of your porch as well, to ensure that they will be safe to use in slippery winter conditions. Next, move over to the side of your house and turn off the valves to the exterior hoses. These can freeze in the winter and cause pipes to burst. Allow any leftover water to drain out of the hoses, as well. Roll them up and place them somewhere safe where they won’t be bothered by winter winds.

Last of all, grab a blanket and a cup of your favorite hot beverage and scope out this list for your latest Netflix binge. Now you have everything you need to last you through until the end of winter!

5 Furniture Purchases You Won’t Regret Later

Here at HomeBit, we’re not exactly furniture snobs. We’re no strangers to IKEA, after all. We’ve combed our fair share of estate sales, garage sales and flea markets. We’ve even picked up furniture off the curb. Hey, when the right piece calls to you, a homeowner’s gotta do what a homeowner’s gotta do!

But sadly, a lot of furniture is just not made to last. After a few years of wear-and-tear—and a couple of moves, to boot—it starts looking like the kind of stuff you’d find in a frat house or a dorm. Not fit for a grownup sophisticated home like yours!

Particle board, glued joints and other furniture shortcuts significantly reduce its lifespan. In fact, it’s downright hard to buy good quality furniture at reasonable prices. When can you get by with a cheaper option, and when should you spring for something a little ritzier? What are the best furniture brands for the money?

In truth, it’s all a matter of learning about furniture construction—and being able to tell the difference between a quality piece and a slapdash factory ensemble. Here are five things to look for, for pieces you won’t have to toss in the trash a few years from now.

a dog sitting on a chair

Cabinets and Drawers That Don’t Make Your Life Miserable

Drawers should be easy to open. That may sound overly simple, but the alignment of drawers is one of the surest tip offs that a piece of furniture is made well. When buying bureaus, cabinets or dressers, test the drawers and doors first. Drawers should open smoothly and shouldn’t slide off the rails. Doors should stay open, not snap shut after you let go of the handle. After all, you don’t have time for these kinds of little nuisances in your life!

Anything with Wood Joinery

Modern furniture manufacturers love to use staples and glue to join pieces together. Sure, this might drive down costs, but it also means those kitchen chairs aren’t destined to seat your family for years to come. Always look at the corners, especially where two pieces of wood come together. Known as joinery, this classic woodworking technique makes for a much sturdier piece—one that will survive babies, board games and Thanksgiving dinners with aplomb.

Pieces with Timeless Styles and Profiles

Remember what you thought was cool 20 years ago? (Here’s a little refresher from Vogue in case you’ve forgotten.) Amazon was just launching. Windows ’95 was the hottest computer OS around. Needless to say, things have changed—not least of all your furniture. Home decor is subject to trends just like fashion, so if you want to buy something you can keep around for a while, go for timeless, understated colors and shapes. Minimalist mid-century modern living room ensembles, classic shaker pieces—anything that’s stood the test of time for a while. And skip the bold color schemes. You can always add a few trendy pillows and throws later to give it a dash of personality!

Upholstery That Won’t Sag

We’ve all had that sinking feeling: you sit down and suddenly realize your knees are way up around your nose! Cheap upholstered furniture goes flat over time, leaving you with a serious case of sagging sofa. To fight it, look for furniture with at least a 1.8 foam density. And don’t be afraid to take it for a little test drive first. Sit down and test the spring. Feel the arms and back with your hands. You’re looking for something with a good bounce, where you don’t feel the frame when you squeeze the arms. Something that will give you a little padding for the years in front of you!

Items from Brands with Great Guarantees

Let’s face it: when it comes to furniture, some brands are just a better buy. If you really want to eschew regret, make sure to research product reviews before buying—and even catch up with the company’s reputation on Consumer Reports. And don’t feel pressured by sales or clearance events. Experts reveal that the prices in big box furniture stores aren’t fixed, meaning that you can usually negotiate a deal if you’re willing to hash it out with the sales team. Additionally, if longevity is truly your endgame, the website Buy Me Once lists brands that are known for their long lifespan or lifetime guarantees. Not having to buy all new furniture for your home every five years? Now that’s worth every minute spent researching!

Celebrate Friday the 13th With These Spooky Home Decor Ideas

No one really agrees where the superstition around Friday the 13th came from, but almost everyone acknowledges that it’s the spookiest night of the year—especially when it occurs just two short weeks before Halloween!

To get you in correct, eerie frame of mind, we’re picking out some of the creepiest Halloween decorations we can find. Be warned, though! These decorations are not for the faint of heart. What follows are not your regular old cutesy pumpkins and cornstalks. These are the kinds of adornments that will strike fear into the hearts of even your most lion-hearted neighbors! So abandon all hope, all ye who read this!

Halloween decorations

Get That Haunted House Atmosphere with This DIY Fog Machine

Half science experiment, half Halloween decor, this easy-to-build cold fusion fog chiller creates realistic, low-lying fog that looks like something you would definitely see hanging over a haunted crypt or cursed burial ground. This is probably the coolest thing you’ll do with a bucket in a long time!

Create a Spooky Technoverse with Glow-in-the-Dark Laundry Detergent

Here’s your DIY fact of the day: laundry detergent glows in the dark. It contains brightening agents that are supposed to make your “whites whiter” when exposed to UV light. In concentrated quantities, though, it’s the perfect fodder for completely washable ghoulish graffiti. All you need is a black light and you’ll be scaring people all night!

Strike a Pose In Front of This Eerie Skull Mirror

We’ve pretty much been phobic of mirrors ever since hearing about the Bloody Mary legend as little kids. This genius glowing skull mirror tutorial creates a ghastly ambiance just perfect for conjuring up some spirits—or just scaring the bejeezus out of that one friend who always freaks out about haunted houses. Perfect for a few unexpected thrills!

Make These Spine-Tingling Chicken Wire Lawn Ghosts

Steel yourself, because after you see one of these chilling wire ghosts floating in your lawn, you may not sleep for a few nights! This project takes a little perseverance, since you’ll have to keep bending and forming the wire until you have the right shape. But it will definitely be worth it when you seal your reputation as the scariest house on the block!

Hang Some of These Super Simple Spooky Eyes

Nothing could be easier than slapping together some of these DIY glowing eyes. Literally all it takes is a paper towel roll, some LED light sticks and some fishing wire. These make a great decoration for a particular dark spot on the porch. Just don’t be surprised if the trick-or-treaters start avoiding your address!

Trick Out Your Windows With These Cardboard Monsters

Here’s another resourceful DIY made out of things you can find in your home right now. Leftover cardboard, some tissue paper and your imagination are all you need to fashion this creepy homemade window adornment. As a bonus, it looks even eerier at night than it does during the day!

With decorations like these, you’re sure to be forever cemented in neighborhood lore. Best of luck to anyone who tries to top that next year!

Basic Home Repairs You Can Master in Minutes

When you think about it, we live in a golden age of DIY. Almost any questions you have can be answered in a matter of seconds, with a little help of Professor Google. Want to know how to screw in a light bulb? Yep, there’s a video for that. Never learned to use a hammer? Hit up YouTube, and you’ll be pounding nails like a pro in no time.

Even so, there’s something to be said for having a little general knowledge. Get a handle on your basic repairs, and you’ll gain the confidence you need to take on new projects. Plus it will help you tell when some good old fashioned ingenuity will suffice or when it’s time to call in the pros. Read on to learn about several easy-to-manage repairs that can be completed with little-to-no home improvement know-how.

making home repairs

Fixing a Leaking Faucet

Nothing is more annoying than that constant drip…drip…drip of a leaky faucet. It’s enough to make you twitchy—and for good reason! The EPA estimates that leaking faucets waste about 1 trillion gallons of water annually. And guess who pays the price? Yep, you guessed it: you, in the form of skyrocketing water bills.

A leaky faucet is nothing to get all worked up about, though, especially once you know your way around the pipes. Most faucet leaks are caused by worn out or dirty seals—something you can fix pretty easily using one of these detailed guides from This Old House. Essentially, you unscrew the handle and replace the old washer or O-ring. Of course, for certain types, you’re better off just replacing the whole faucet. Luckily, that’s not too hard either.

Voilà—you’re now 10 times smarter than you were two minutes ago!

Patching a Hole in the Drywall

You know the drill: all you want is to play a few video games with the kids, when suddenly you’ve got a controller-sized hole in your wall. Relax. Patching a drywall hole is actually a lot easier than it seems.

Lowe’s has a helpful step-by-step for all kinds of drywall defects which you can use when you begin your project. At a high level, though, patching a hole involves a mesh screen that you position over the hole, then cover with joint compound. Once that’s dry, you sand down the rough edges and paint. It’s so easy, you can even get your kids to help. And that should encourage them never to throw another controller again!

Unclogging the Toilet

Ugh, toilet clogs. This is one plumbing project that even the handiest homeowners don’t cherish. Unfortunately, until they invent something better than the flush toilet, clogs are an unavoidable part of life.

For most stopped up toilets, a good plunger and a little elbow grease are all you need. But for a really stuck commode, you may need to go commando. For these you can use an auger, a plumbing tool that looks like a long wire with a handle at one end. You snake the auger down the toilet, turning the handle until it stops. Then you work it around until you either hook the clog or loosen the gunk—whichever comes first!

Caulking Around Windows, Floors and Tubs

You don’t know it yet, but this fix is going to quickly become your best friend. Silicone caulk is kind of like the duct tape of home improvement, in that it can be used in a number of projects around your house. More specifically, it helps seal joints and stop leaks, like between your tub and the floor or your window glass and the frame. And that last fix can even help lower your energy costs! Woo hoo!

All you need to know is how to load the caulk gun. From there, it’s just a matter of laying a straight bead of sealant and smoothing it down! Easy peasy!

Now the only thing left to do is decide what to do with all the money you’re saving on household repairs!

Pain-free Gutter Cleaning with These Fall Maintenance Shortcuts

There are probably a million other things you’d rather be doing than cleaning the gutters. Picking lint off a sweater, downloading a movie over slow internet, watching paint dry—all of these are more palatable alternatives to the back-breaking tedium that is gutter cleaning.

Getting the gunk out of the gutters means climbing up on a ladder and digging your hands into a pile of leaves, dirt and who-knows-what-else. Then you have to climb down, move the ladder a foot or so down the line and start the whole thing over again. Not exactly the makings of a great Sunday afternoon.

But cleaning your gutters is one task you don’t want to overlook, either. Clogged gutters can cause water to spill down over the side of your home, eventually damaging your siding. Or they can result in backups and pooling water that creates roof leaks, slowly breaking down your roof shingles—meaning expensive, highly-preventable repairs.

Okay, so cleaning the gutters is important. You get it. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a big pain in the you-know-what. Clever gutter-hating homeowners like you have discovered several techniques to make the whole process a lot less painful. Want to find out more? Well, come on then! The sooner you read this, the sooner you can have those gutters done and over with for the next few months!

fall leaves

Tip #1: Use a Hose

Sometimes the best approach is the tried-and-true method. If the debris in your gutters isn’t too bad, a hose may be all you need to flush them clean. Just hold the hose on one end and watch as the junk washes away down the chute. If your gutters are pretty full, though, you’ll need a trowel and a trash bag to scoop out the bigger bits of debris by hand and into the bag—a.k.a. the traditional method.

Tip #2: Use a Leaf Blower

Got a leaf blower at home? There’s no reason you can’t use it on the gutters as well as you can in the yard! Many leaf blower manufacturers sell attachment kits made specifically for gutter cleaning. In these kits, there will be several long and angled tubes that you can use to comfortably reach every nook and cranny of your gutters. It’s a million times faster than the hand-scooped method. In fact, it’s even kind of fun!

Tip #3: Use a Shop Vac

Shop vacs are handy little inventions to clean up a number of household messes—everything from a pile of sand to fireplace ashes. Little did you realize, however, that that same ingenuity can be used when you’re cleaning your gutters as well. A shop vac cleaning kit is a specialized attachment that lets you easily reach up and over the gutters and into the gunk. For best results, you’ll need a wet dry vacuum equipped with a blower port and a 2.5-inch diameter hose. From there, it’s simply a matter of turning it on and watching it go!

Tip #4: Use a Robotic Gutter Cleaner

Technology has the potential to solve all kinds of little household headaches—and now, it’s finally fixed the issue of cleaning your gutters, too. A robotic cleaner, like this iRobot Looj, is like a Roomba for your gutters. It comes with a remote control that you can use from the ground to maneuver the cleaner around corners. With multiple adjustable cleaning settings, it can handle just about any grit you can throw at it. (You can watch a demo of the cleaner at work here). Now, this is what we had in mind when we dreamed of the future!

Tip #5: Hire a Professional

Sometimes your best bet is to throw in the towel and call in the pros. Professional gutter cleaners will run you somewhere between $50 to $250, but it may be worth it if you’re afraid of heights—or just not keen on handling gunk and debris yourself. A three-story home, unruly bushes, or gutter covers may drive up the costs slightly, so make sure you get a detailed quote before you decide on a company. After that, all you have to do is kick back and watch the professionals work their magic—in other words, get busy enjoying your weekend!

7 DIY Halloween Home Projects to Do This Weekend

What’s your Halloween style? Spooky and creepy? Cute and festive? Do you gravitate toward elaborate gothy Victorian decor? Or are you more into country harvest couture? Well, no matter how you prefer to deck your home, with the Halloween festivities at hand, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to showcase your taste through a few DIY decorations.

We’ve scoured the Internet for the easiest, most stylish projects—the kinds of things you can whip up in a weekend or less. After all, on this, the most hallowed evening of ghoulery, there’s no such thing as going overboard. So pull out your crafting equipment and get ready for a maker bonanza that will soothe your Halloween-starved spirit!

creepy pumpkins and candles

This Glitzy, Glam Leaf Garland

Autumn leaves are basically nature’s way of freshening up the decor. And while that totally works for the outdoors, for your home, you may need something just a little bit sparklier! That’s why we recommend this shimmery, shiny homemade leaf garland. It’s everything you love about the fall with just a little hint of urban glamour.

These Ornate Candlesticks

If your personal style is best personified by Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, you’ll love this next project. These gothy, baroque candlesticks have all the haunted qualities of an Edgar Allen Poe story—in the best way. They offer the perfect mood lighting for a little impromptu seance or a ghostly dinner party with a couple of your best ghoul pals.

A Set of Picture-Perfect Pumpkins

Carving a pumpkin is a time-honored October tradition. Unfortunately, it’s also messy, slimy and time-consuming. If you’re looking for an easier, chic-er alternative to the conventional jack-o-lantern, consider these high-class painted pumpkins instead. There’s literally no end to the amount of patterns you can try!

An Eerie, Floating Witches Hat Luminary

Luminaries are usually reserved for other holidays, but these light-up witches hats are eerie and awesome. All you need is some fishing line, a few costume hats, and some LED glow sticks, and you’re set. It’s enough to bring out the inner witch in all of us!

Or This Creepy, Crawly Eyeball Wreath

A wreath on the door is a wonderful way to add a touch of the season to your front entryway. But this ghoulish eyeball specimen will definitely clarify your stance on Halloween decor: that is, go spooky or go home!

Set the Scene with These DIY Decals

Maybe it’s just a trick of the light—or maybe it’s the garageful of hair-raising decals you just just slapped together! Armed with a sheet of adhesive vinyl and your imagination, you can make all your most dreadful nightmares come alive, in the form of these chillingly classy silhouettes!

Go Vintage Goth with This Printable Fabric Art

If you salivated over the pictures in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children or couldn’t get enough of the outfits in Spooky Hollow, then this next tutorial is for you. With these creepy, antique printables, hung in crafty embroidery hoops, you can get some truly frightening wall decor for a very tight budget. Miss Peregrine would be proud of your ingenuity!

If you liked those, follow us for more Halloween tips throughout the month! Until then, keep it spooky!