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Good-bye, Summer. Hello, Stink Bugs!

On September 21st, we said good-bye to summer.  Summer isn’t my favorite season, but I will miss the longer evenings and the fresh tomatoes.  And the absence of stink bugs.
stink bug

If you aren’t familiar with stink bugs, then send me your address.  We might want to move in with you.

These adult odiferous insects are out in full force here trying to find a place to winter over.  That would be fine except that large numbers of them want to winter over with us, and we aren’t having them!

I’ve learned a lot about brown marmorated stink bugs recently.  For instance, these bugs were accidentally introduced into the United States in the late 1990s.  I’m skeptical about the accidental part of this.  I’m pretty sure this was a calculated attack to sidetrack Americans from issues of national importance by forcing us to spend huge quantities of time trying to expel these nasty creatures from our homes.

The first stink bug ever discovered in the United States was discovered right here in my home state of Pennsylvania in the city of Allentown.  Allentown, once made famous by Billy Joel is now famous also for the stink bug debut in America.

brown marmorated stink bug

The stink bug you see pictured here was just yesterday strolling along on our bedroom carpet.  His strolling days are over now.

Our bedroom is in the back of our house, and during sunny Autumn afternoons the back of our house is pleasantly warm.  Stink bugs love pleasantly warm places.  They congregate on the pleasantly warm siding on the back of our house, and they squeeze their stinky bodies into our bedroom using who knows what openings to let themselves in.  Removal of the bugs before bedtime is imperative because neither of us likes the idea of them dropping on us while we sleep, and our dog Mocha has a bug phobia stemming from “the great yellow jacket incident of 2010”.

Jack and I both have our own method for eliminating the bugs from our home.  Jack squishes them in a tissue (releasing gruesome amounts of their pungent stinkiness) while I prefer to capture them in a tissue and run to the back door where I shake them free on the porch.  His method seems more successful than mine so I’ve been willing to allow him to handle most of the “removals”.

A friend of mine sent me a link to stink bugs with a photo showing a couple shoveling stink bugs from their porch.  After seeing that, I realize that I should not complain.  But I do anyway.
window air conditioner

The best offense in the war against stink bugs is to plug up any holes or cracks that allow access to your home.  Just last week we removed our window air conditioner in our bedroom because we could tell that the stink bugs were using the AC unit as a gateway to the great indoors.  Our great indoors!  Yesterday we added a screen to the window as an extra layer of protection.  The stink bug population is dwindling, and I hope they have given up on using our address as their winter home.

Autumn is my favorite season, and I’m not going to let a bug or even hundreds of bugs keep me from enjoying it!  Before we know it, I will be saying hello to winter and good-bye to stink bugs.

What “bugs” you where you live?  

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Autumn Memories

Today is the last day of October already, and it’s also the anniversary of my father’s death.  I thought it would be fitting to share with you one of the fondest memories I have of my dad.

First, let me show you what my dad looked like. 017_00

The cool thing about this picture is that not only can you see my dad, but you can also see the “fireplace” that we had in my house when I was a kid.

It was made of plywood covered with a brick print contact paper. I can’t think of a tackier focal point for a living room than a fake fireplace made of contact paper bricks, but when I was a kid, I really liked it!

The opening of the fireplace was home to a set of fake logs that had a piece of fire-colored plastic in it with a light bulb behind it.

I remember many times my father coming home and saying, “It’s cold in here.  Let’s have a fire in the fireplace.”  He would bend down behind that chair and plug in the fake logs.  It’s hard to imagine, but those fake logs did have a way of making the room feel warmer.

My dad had a unique way of decorating our home for autumn.  Every year in October when the foliage was at its peak, we would go out for a walk and gather the most beautiful fall leaves that we could find.

When we got home, we would apply little wads of white sticky tack to the back of each leaf so that we could “tack” them to the wall in our living room.  Here’s what it looked like when we were finished:


I hope nobody tells my brother and sister-in-law that I shared this picture of them online.

Anyway, don’t the leaves look beautiful?

It was like bringing autumn right into the house with us.  Just like outside, the leaves would lose their luster after a week or so.  The leaves would curl up and little bits of them would fall off onto the floor.

Now I understand why my mom wasn’t particularly fond of this tradition since it would have fallen to her to clean up the mess.

In October 1982 when my father was in the final stages of lymphoma, I went for a walk in the woods by myself to gather the leaves. My dad, who was like a shadow of the man he once was,  sat on the rocking chair watching while I sticky-tacked leaves to the wall one last time. I can’t remember how long he had at home to enjoy them that year because he died in the hospital on October 31, 1982 at the age of sixty-four.

My father passed on to me a lot of his frugal ways, his enjoyment of a warm, cozy home, and a lot of practical living skills.  I don’t know what happened to that fireplace, but I suppose it’s best that he didn’t pass that on to me, too.


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Happy Jack-o’-Lantern Liquid Soap

Isn’t this happy jack-o’-lantern liquid soap bottle just about the cutest fall craft idea you’ve ever seen?

I’d love to be able to think up cute ideas like this one, but then I wouldn’t need to read so many other blogs.    I happened upon this idea and two other cute Halloween soap ideas at a crafting blog whose link I will share at the end of this post.

To make my jack-0′-lantern soap bottle, I bought a bottle of orange hand soap at Aldi.  At Joann’s I picked up a roll of sheer black ribbon and one sheet of Duck Tape.  I never knew this Duck Tape by the sheet stuff even existed, but fortunately I was shopping with a friend who was able to point it out to me.   Thanks, Cindy!

The hardest part of this project is removing the sticky residue that is left behind on the soap bottle after removing the labels.  I used creamy peanut butter to remove the goo on my bottle.

Once the bottle is clean and dry, it’s time to cut out and adhere Jack’s facial features.  I drew the pieces with pencil on the Duck Tape paper backing, cut them out, and stuck them on the bottle.  I added a piece of sheer black ribbon around the cap, and my project was finished!

Here’s my jack-o’-lantern soap bottle brightening up our bathroom!

Now you’ve got to check out the Spooky Soap post over at Obsessively Crafting.  When you get there, you’ll  find two more really cute options for fall soap bottle crafts.

I may have to buy more soap just to try them all!