Autumn 101: Composting leaves

Hello, October! I’ve been waiting for you!

While fall officially begins in September, it never feels like it’s really here until October bears its head. Welcome spiced drinks, warm sweaters and crunchy leaves.

That last one though. What do you do with all those leaves? You can rake them up, bag them and leave ‘em by the curb for garbage day. But what good does that do. Come spring, you’ll be purchasing bags of unnatural fertilizers to spruce up your gardens. I say, skip the chemicals and use the natural nutrients from composted leaves to improve the natural water table as well as improve soil quality and root growth.

Now, you can go the easy way. Rake leaves into a pile in your backyard, cover them with a tarp and let them sit. Maybe make a small enclosed area with chicken wire. But if you’re in an area that gets lots of snow like I am, you want to create the perfect environment for proper composting.

Finding the right composter

Bins are great for those looking for a low maintenance project.Compost Container Image

Made from 100 percent recycled plastic, this Compost Container is an easy route for beginners. This compost bin holds up to 58 gallons, perfect for yard waste. Simply add your leaves and then pile in any kitchen waste you may have. Think banana and vegetable peels, coffee grounds and the like. This manageable bin sits anywhere you like in the backyard, just try to keep it in a sunny spot during the winter. And maybe put some hay bales around it to keep it cookin’.

Looking for a little more? Tumbling compost bins are a step up.Tumbling Composter - by Suncast - TCB6800 Image

Made in the U.S.A., this Tumbling Composter is much faster than the normal stationary style. This 6.5 cubic feet bin composts material in just three to four weeks. This resin barrel sits on a strong steel frame. The unit is designed to spin easily so compost can be mixed without opening the barrel.

Of course, you can always go the DIY route. One of our sister blogs recently tackled how to make a compost bin out of a plastic storage tote. It’s a great, easy project for those not sure if they’re ready for the commitment.

  • Tip: New projects are always easier to tackle when you prepare properly. Organizing yard tools and other tools needed to compost will make it so much easier to remain attentive to this new undertaking. A simple organizer is a great addition to garages and tool sheds alike.

Fall is here: boot care and storage

Fall is finally here. I am impatiently awaiting the first few consecutive chilly mornings so I can break out my winter wardrobe. In the mean time, I have discovered some easy ways to remove the scuffs and dirt of last season from my favorite boots. 

Knee high, ankle, biker or combat — I love them all. And they all pose the same problems. The easiest way to take care of your boots is to think preemptively — and I’ve got some excellent solutions.

Boot shapers

Boot shapers are one of the best, least expensive things you can do to make sure you boots last. Available in either white or black plastic, these simple boot shapers are all you need. These inserts work to prevent creases, cracks and sagging in leather and other materials. Metal tensions bars create a snug fit in any style or size boot. Keeping boots upright and open also helps keep footwear dry and odor free.

You can also find nice cedar boot shapers if you’re looking for something a little more heavy duty. Plus, who can resist the fresh scent of cedar in the fall?

Boot racks

It’s also important to allow your booties to dry properly on cold, wet days. Book racks allow you to securely hang boots upside down so they dry quickly and properly without compromising the shape or quality of your favorite kicks. Some even feature a bottom tray so dirt and water do not get on the floor.


While it’s best to think ahead, some times scuffs happen. Here are some quick tricks to get rid of ‘em:

  • Vaseline: On patent leather boots, you can use a dab of vaseline to buff out scraps and scuffs.
  • Nail polish remover: You can also use this trick on patent leather. If the shine dulls, use some of that vaseline to bring back the luster.
  • Eraser: Got a scuff on vinyl boots? A pencil eraser will get it out quick and easy.




Pumpkin spice and everything nice

The first day of fall hasn’t even hit yet, but I’m seeing pumpkin spice latte-everything. Everywhere. 

And while I’m tempted to wrap my hands around the warm, white cup you can pick up for a couple (or more) dollars at the “star” coffee chain, I resist. It’s super easy to make your own version of this beloved fall treat at home. Whether you prefer some creamer in your coffee or syrup so you can make the real thing, it’s a quick process. Plus, the ingredients are most likely already in your cabinet at home — or you can grab them for the same amount you’d spend on one latte at the cafe.

Pumpkin spice coffee creamer

2 cups milk (soy, almond, rice, dairy — whichever you prefer)
2 tbs pumpkin puree
4 dates, skinned
1 tbs maple syrup (the real stuff)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each nutmeg, clove and ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
2 tbs coconut oil

Simply mix all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine!

Tip: Store it in a glass bottle and it will keep for weeks.

Pumpkin spice syrup

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed!)
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 dashes clove

mug-2Combine sugar and water over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, add the remaining ingredients. Allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes, then strain through a mesh strainer. Store this in a glass bottle as well and it will last weeks. Always shake before using because it will separate in the fridge.

mug-1Tip: And, of course, it’s the not the true experience unless you have the white travel mug. I opt for a reusable one. The double wall insulation keeps your drink — spiced or not — hotter for longer. The silicone lid seals tightly and the whole thing can be thrown in the dishwasher.

Spice pumpkin pie filling

Because that’s where it all started, right?

3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1.2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp clove
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

Beat eggs lightly and add in milk, both sugars, salt and spices. Once combined, add pumpkin and stir in until all ingredients are combined. Pour into your favorite pie crust (homemade or store bought) and bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife removes cleanly.

Tip: Want that golden crust? Glass pie pans retain heat better than ceramic or metal and therefore allow better browning.

Find these tips and more at OrganizeIt.com.