6 Things to Do to Winterize Your Home

483590383We’re starting to feel the chill of fall and it’s only going to get colder. It’s just a matter of time before it’s time to turn on the heat and pull out the wool sweaters and layer discount bedding to keep warm at night. But our homes need to transition, too. Here are 6 things you need to do to winterize your home to save energy and money.

Insulation It’s easy to forget how much money we can save in heating costs with insulation. You may already have insulation in your walls and attic, but you may be able to add more to reduce energy consumption.  Energy.gov has a guide on where your house should be insulated to minimize energy use. If you want to take an extra step toward lower heating bills, you can also use a thermal insulation blanket for your water heater to trap heat and prevent it from escaping too quickly during winter months.

Roof Do a spot check of the rooftop. Check for wear and damage and if there are any missing shingles. Around the chimney, make sure the flashing is intact and that it’s not a source for drafts or leaks.

Clean out gutters and downspouts so they’re free of leaves and debris; with clean gutters, rain and melting snow won’t get trapped on your roof and cause water damage. The downspouts should drain at least five feet from your home’s foundation to prevent water from leaking into your house.

winter-curtainsDoors and Windows Caulking and weather stripping your windows can cut down on energy costs significantly. Alternatively, indoor window insulating kits work very well for the winter to keep cold air out of your home. They require a lot less work than caulking and weather stripping, but plastic may not suit your home décor. Consider heavy drapes or curtains to mask the plastic for the winter months. Plastic insulation doesn’t work for exterior doors; weather stripping at the sides and bottoms of doors is your best bet.

Heating System Before it gets cold, turn on your heat to make sure it’s working properly. If it doesn’t kick on, you can try to figure out what the problem is on your own with a little bit of troubleshooting, but if you’re not confident with your home improvement skills, call a service technician to check it out before it gets cold and he gets busy. If it is working properly, make sure to change your air filter once a month and clean the heating vents.

Plumbing In cold weather climates, frozen pipes are a serious problem. When pipes freeze, they sometimes burst, causing costly damage. It’s not as much of a problem in the middle of the house where it’s generally warm in the winter, but in colder parts of your home like the basement and crawlspaces, insulate your pipes with foam insulation. For exterior pipes and faucets, drain the pipes and shut off the water supply. Automatic sprinkler systems require a professional to drain the underground pipes.

When you travel for the holidays and you turn off your heat, remember to also turn off your water. This might save you from coming home to expensive repairs.

fireplaceChimney and Fireplace Chimneys attract critters during the summer months; make sure squirrels and pigeons haven’t made a home there and it’s clear of any other obstructions. Make sure the flue opens and closes properly. When both of those things are done, make sure your chimney draws out smoke. You can do this by burning a few newspapers to create smoke. If your living room fills with smoke, there’s likely creosote buildup and you’ll need to bring in a professional chimney sweep to clean it out.

Winterizing is a big project. You can save time by having an energy audit done on your home. Though it costs a little bit extra, having a certified professional come in and figure all the leaks and areas you missed may save you a lot of money on energy costs in the long run.

LTD Commodities has everything you need to make your home cute and cozy this winter. From baby toys to quilts to keep you warm, shop LTD Commodities for the best products at the lowest prices.

Halloween Party Food for Adults

Halloween parties aren’t just for kids! Here are some ideas to make adult food into spooky snacks for a haunting Halloween party!

As adults we don’t crave sweets as much as kids, so dips are a go-to party favorite. From our Gooseberry patch 101 Slow Cooker Recipes book, we have a couple of dips you might want to try.

One of our favorites is the Hot Buffalo Dip (Yum!). It takes all the mess out of Buffalo wings but keeps the tastiness intact.

buffalo-dipWhat you need:

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
  • 1 cup hot wing sauce
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8oz each), cubed and softened
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup blue cheese salad dressing

For serving:

  • 1 bag Corn chips
  • 1 package celery, cleaned and cut into sticks

In a slow cooker, mix the first five ingredients together. Cover and cook on low for three to four hours.

pumpkin-bowlsFor adult Halloween parties, it’s not so much about what you serve at a Halloween party, it’s how you serve it. To dress this up for Halloween, serve this in a pumpkin bowl or make one out of a gourd.

For something a little more spicy, try Creamy Hot Corn Dip served with bread sticks shaped like bones!

What you need:

  • 2 packages cream cheese (8oz each), softened
  • 2 cans corn (15 1/4oz), drained
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 jalapenos, diced

corn-dipCombine all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes; stir until smooth. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm.

For bone shaped bread:

  • 1 can refrigerated breadsticks

Preheat oven as indicated on the packaging. Unroll the dough. Pull the dough apart at the perforations and stretch each piece to make 12 inch ropes. Tie a loose knot at each end of the dough ropes. Bake as directed.

Mummy-dogs

Image Source: Robot B via flickr

(The dough can also be used to wrap around hot dogs or sausage to look like mummies.)

Of course, it’s not a Halloween party if you don’t have at least a few sweets. But, as adults, we don’t need fun size candy bars – we prefer our chocolate in the shape of spiders! These Peanutty Clusters transform into spiders with just a little garnish.

What you need:

  • 2lbs White melting chocolate, chopped
  • 4oz bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • 12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 24oz dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 package black licorice lace, trimmed to 2” pieces or pretzel sticks (for the spider legs)

Peanutty-ClustersCombine all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for one hour. Reduce the heat to low and let cook for another hour or until the chocolate is melted, stirring every 15 minutes. When it’s ready, drop chocolate one teaspoon at a time on wax paper. While it’s still warm, stick the licorice pieces or pretzels into the chocolate to look like spider legs. Let stand until set.

Halloween isn’t just about the food — the Halloween decorations have a lot to do with how spooky your snacks are perceived. We have many more ideas for holiday decorating and gifts at LTDCommodities.com where everything is #PricedForFun!

5 Ideas to Celebrate Frugal Fun Day

animal-coin-purseInternational Frugal Fun Day is October 4th! It is a day to remind us that the most entertaining things in life do not come with big price tags. The idea is simple: seek out activities that cost $5 or less. The first Saturday in October is a perfect day for a free stroll to see the fall leaves, a bike ride on a wooded trail, or a walk with your favorite furry friend. It also is a good time to shop for inexpensive gifts. Something small and cute is a wonderful way to let a person know you are thinking of them. Here are some of the best items from LTD Commodities to celebrate Frugal Fun Day.

Animal Coin Purses Coin purses are charming reminders of days before big, bulky wallets. These adorable versions feature animal faces. Each Animal Coin Purse has a kiss-lock closure that even young hands can manage.

Wine Cork Lamp Kit The best frugal gifts are the ones you make yourself. You can transform less than $5 worth of materials into something they will love for years to come. Take a favorite wine bottle and The London best-driving-school.com of Economics and Political Science is committed to widening participation in Higher Education. turn it into a lamp. Beads and string can be turned into a bracelet in less than an hour. Giving a little of your time and creativity is what International Frugal Fun Day is all about!

massage-ballPlantar Fasciitis Massage Balls A foot massage is an inexpensive delight that is easy to give. Our massage balls help soothe aching feet anytime and anywhere. Just roll a foot over the knobby ball, and the textured surface stretches and kneads its muscles and tendons. It is an easy way to get relief from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and everyday foot pain.

Occupational Double-Walled Tumbler Sometimes, just saying “Thank you” is not enough. You want to give a professional in your life a small token of your gratitude. A double-walled tumbler is a fun gift that they can use every day. The bright graphics and thoughtful message make them even better.

star-candleholdersHanging Star Candleholders The best frugal finds are the ones that look expensive. These beautiful, 3-D star candleholders have the appearance of something from an upscale boutique. Since you can display it on the patio or indoors, it is a versatile piece of home décor. Add a tea light candle, or just let the colored glass glow in the natural light.

Whether it is International Frugal Fun Day or just time to start your holiday shopping, LTD Commodities has a wide variety of gifts that will not bust your budget. From bedding to pet toys, LTD has what you want at the price you need.

National Cookie Month: 5 Indulgent Cookie Recipes

October is National Cookie Month and we could not be celebrating something more fun and delicious. We’re all familiar with chocolate chip, oatmeal and peanut butter cookies — but there are so many cookies that go above and beyond the standard. Here are 5 of our favorite, deliciously indulgent cookie recipes.

smores-cookiesS’Mores Stuffed Cookies S’Mores + Cookies = True Love. It’s the campfire treat without the campfire! But with gooey, chocolate yumminess, draped in marshmallow, wrapped in graham cracker goodness you can make at home, why would you ever go camping? This recipe comes from cookienameddesire.com and it couldn’t be more indulgent.

rolo-cookiesRolo Cookies Lollyjane.com brings us delight and deliciousness in the form of a Rolo wrapped in a cookie. This Rolo Cookies recipe is so easy, it might make you a little resentful you were introduced to it because you’ll make it again and again for any and every occasion – and still show up empty-handed.

cookies-n-creamCookies & Cream Cookies Cookie made from a cookie? Sounds impossible, but butterwithasideofbread.com takes the idea of indulgent and runs with it (just as the blog title suggests) with the Cookies & Cream Cookies. We put Oreos in everything else, why not return it to its original purpose and make a glorious cookie from an already spectacular cookie? We say “Why not?”

turtle-cookiesInsanely Delicious Turtle Cookies These cookies are appropriately titled Insanely Delicious Turtle Cookies by thekitchenismyplayground.com. She gives you the play-by-play on how to make cookies that will bring you to your knees. With chocolate, caramel and pecans, you will never want to get back up again after you make these!

tagalongsTagalongs The list just wouldn’t be complete without a Girl Scout copycat recipe! Girl Scout cookies only come around once a year, so we have to make them ourselves in the off months! Betsy from betsylife.com makes almost all of them, but our favorite is the copycat Tagalong – cookie topped with peanut butter and dipped in chocolate? Yes, please! And more, please!

Now that you have your recipes, it’s time to get baking and perfect your cookies before the holidays roll around! Enjoy National Cookie Month!