8 Great Tips to Get Your Home Winter-Ready






Mow your leaves!

When leaves decompose, they feed your lawn invaluable nutrients for winter. Not only does mulching your leaves with a mower nourish your lawn, you won’t have to do all that raking! The key is to cut the leaves into dime-sized pieces when they’re dry, so they readily break down into your grass.

Use your mower without a bag, or get a mulching blade, which runs around $20. Rick Wroblewski, owner of iMow, says this blade “creates lift under the mower and cuts the leaves multiple times before they’re discharged.” He recommends one to save time plus get best results. Watch Mow, Don’t Rake, Those Leaves!

Prep your mower

As your mower sits all winter, remaining fuel in its engine decomposes and “varnishes” the carburetor, causing trouble in the spring. Rick says the simplest way to winterize your mower is to add fuel stabilizer. Then run the engine for a few minutes to make sure it circulates through the gas tank and carburetor. “If you don’t at least do that, your mower won’t start in the spring. Gas has a very short shelf life, especially gas with ethanol, which ruins rubber gaskets and such.”

DON’T prune

It’s tempting to get out the pruning shears after the leaves fall, when you see the underlying structure of your trees and shrubs. But horticulturalists say wait until late winter, just before spring growth begins.

It’s best to get advice specific to your plants and Utah. You can consult a horticulturalist or master gardener at local nurseries. One exception: Hire someone to remove deadfall or trim limbs close to your home or power lines that cause trouble in a winter storm.

Prevent water damage!

If your home had lots of icicles last winter or ice dams—which can cause meltwater to back up into your house—an energy auditor or weatherization contractor can fix air leaks and inadequate insulation that cause these issues. You may be eligible for an energy tax credit or rebate for this.

Also, make sure your gutters are clean and in good condition, and add extensions to downspouts so water runs at least 3 – 4 feet away from the foundation. You can get these for under $10, e.g., this one at Home Depot.

Caulk windows & doors

If gaps between siding and window or door frames are bigger than the width of a nickel, you need to reapply exterior caulk. (Check the joints in window and door frames, too.) Silicone caulk is best for exterior use, because it’s impervious to the elements and won’t shrink.

Tune your HVAC system

A technician will inspect your furnace or heat pump to make sure it’s clean and working well so it’s getting manufacturer-rated efficiency. The inspection also measures carbon-monoxide leakage.

Reverse ceiling fans 

If your ceiling fans have a reverse switch, use them year-round! Reverse the blade direction when you turn on your heat. Since hot air rises, the fan will push heated air down into the room. This can save you money in heating bills, especially great if you have high ceilings!

Drain faucets & sprinklers

Disconnect all garden hoses from their faucets. If you don’t have frost-proof faucets (if your home is older than 15 years, you probably don’t), turn off the valve inside your home, then open the faucets to drain them. We recommend getting professional help to winterize your sprinklers. It will probably cost you $50-150 but will prevent bursting pipes and big headaches come spring.


The Executive Chef at Pallet Shares the Perfect Fall Recipe!

For Buzz Willey, the story is classic: he grew up with the warm, embracing aroma of his Italian grandmother’s kitchen and nurtured a lifelong passion for cuisine, which led to culinary school and culminated in opening a restaurant. Now, 8 years later, Buzz’s restaurant Pallet is an award-winning hotspot in a city where the culinary scene is booming. He says, “It’s amazing to be part of it, a city that’s growing and so many great chefs coming up.” He says that in the restaurant business, a cook will stay with you a few years, learn, and move on. “It’s a lot of fun watching them grow and seeing what they do.”

In a fast-growing restaurant scene, how does Buzz create a menu that stands out? As you would expect, it’s based on classic principles: use the freshest, brightest ingredients for the best flavors, and make what you love. In Utah, because there are four seasons, Buzz says always using ingredients that are in season means the menu is always changing, and finding new and better ways to make your favorites means they’re never boring. Buzz says it’s a team effort, where all the chefs consider what’s in season and environmentally sustainable. He says, “Then I ask them, what did you grow up eating? What are you comfortable cooking? And we’ll go from there.”

The menu at Pallet changes 4 to 8 times a year. The flexibility lets them make changes depending on seasonal availability—and lets the culinary team stay creative. “We change it when we want a change. We’re not stuck cooking the same things.”

For home cooks, Buzz says, “Cook what you like and want to eat. You’ll get better at what you’re doing, keep trying—and taste it while you’re cooking—you’ll improve on the things you cook.” He says to use seasonal foods, which will force you into trying new things.

“I’m a giant fan of the farmers’ market, and they’re all over Salt Lake and Park City,” says Buzz. He also likes the Tagge’s farmers’ carts and Asian and Hispanic markets. His tip for shopping at the farmers’ markets? Don’t limit your shopping to produce. Look at fresh meat, cheese, eggs, and honey. He mentions Morgan Valley Lamb, Frog Bench, Top Crops, Drake, Clifford, and Bread Riot (“go early, before 9:30”), but recommends you “explore the whole market!”

And now, what you’ve been waiting for, Chef Buzz’s fall recipe that reminds him so much of his grandma and the warmth of her kitchen: “It’s really fun to let something go for 4 hours—the aroma fills up your house”:

Braised Lamb Shank
1 ea large onion
3 ea carrots
10 ea garlic cloves
4 ea celery
1 c dried tart cherries
4 ea sprigs rosemary
4 ea sprigs thyme
2 qts veal stock/beef broth
1 c red wine
¼ c balsamic vinegar
8-10 lamb shanks
TT salt
TT black pepper

Preheat your oven to 275°F, peel and rough chop the first 4 ingredients and set aside. Season the lamb shanks using just the salt and pepper, applying a healthy amount of each. Heat up a large rondo or large skillet, add oil and sear the shanks thoroughly and place in a deep pan. Deglaze the rondo or skillet using the veal stock, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. Once the liquid has come to boil, pour it over the lamb shanks (should almost cover the shanks), and add all the other ingredients. Cover the pan with parchment paper and tin foil and place in the oven for 4 hours.
Pumpkin Puree
2 c dice pumpkin
½ onion julienne
6 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1½ c cream

In a large sauce pot, sweat the pumpkin, onion, and garlic cloves. Add the butter and sherry without browning the vegetables and add cream to cover the mixture. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until veggies are soft, blend thoroughly in Vitamix or similar.

Spring home checklist

Weed, prune, and add weed control and mulch. Your lawn and garden need nourishment to grow. Maximize its chance to flourish by removing pesky weeds and feeding it compost and mulch.

Pressure wash house, driveway, patio, etc. Nothing feels better than a serious power wash. You’ll be amazed at how bright your home looks when the winter film is washed away.

Clean gutters and yard debris. Spring cleaning is a thing for a reason. Snow melts away and leaves behind rubbish. Clear your gutters to prevent spring rains from causing leaks and water damage.

Check sprinklers. Don’t wait till the rain stops and the heat dries up your yard. Check sprinklers now so they’re ready to feed your grass, food, and flowers.

Plant something new! Spring is the season of new beginnings. Add something pretty to your garden, or try a new veggie, like easy-growing greyzini!

April showers bring May flowers!

Whether you’ll plant your first garden this spring or you’re a seasoned green thumb, here are expert tips from client Molly Dockter, who says now is the time to get started!

  1. Prep your soil. Add amendments like compost and mulch. You can get compost from the landfill. Get small pieces, less than 2.5”. Your local nursery will have bulk products. Or compost your own: get a bin or tumbler (which is easier), and add a balance of green (nitrogen, home waste) to brown waste (carbon, dead plants, shredded newspaper, etc.); avoid bread or meat.
  2. Check irrigation (sprinkler) system. Check for breaks, and call a specialist if you find any. Molly suggests converting from hose to drip timer, which is simple and cost-effective for small gardens.
  3. Weed! Start now while they’re small and before dandelions seed. Add compost and mulch, which reduce weed pressure.

“Prep now. You’ll have way less to do later. If it sounds daunting, call a landscaper ASAP. They get so busy,” says Molly. She says to prune now, too.

For the hot, dry climate in Salt Lake, Molly recommends native, low-water plants. Her favorites are sage, Wasatch Penstemon, and ornamental grasses such as Karl Foerster.

Herbs are also excellent low-maintenance, great-smelling plants. Molly says basils come in different, beautiful colors and varieties like cinnamon and Thai. She also recommends sage, thyme, oregano, and rosemary—all pretty and edible! Plus they attract bees and other beneficial insects. In fact, Molly says these herbs are the simplest, most beneficial additions to your garden.

Molly says the Conservation Garden Park is a great resource for Utahns. Molly runs market garden operations for Pomona and Produce. Her specialty is veggies and microgreens. You can follow her on Instagram at @pomona_produce.

A mom to many: client Jodi Morris

Jodi’s daughter’s wedding. In attendance: Jodi’s foster daughter and two foster sons from Myanmar with their families, foreign exchange student from Germany, and two foster daughters and their families. All six of the children call Jodi “grandma.”

Mother’s Day is this month, so we were excited to speak to a remarkable mom, client Jodi Morris. In addition to having two children of her own, Jodi fostered 22 kids from ages 3 to 21 (maximum age for refugees) over the span of 17 years. Before you can praise her laudable generosity and hard work, she’s quick to point out that she’s the lucky one.

Jodi says fostering children has made her and her husband better parents, provided her children with an invaluable education on different perspectives and cultures, and expanded her family to include all the children they fostered. And their children. Jodi has seven foster grandchildren.

“I love my children’s view of family, and my husband and I got a lot of training. People worry about exposing their children to the issues of foster care, but ours have benefited from them. The big picture has taught them a lot. They’ve learned a lot of lessons without having to experience the consequences themselves,” says Jodi. She says everyone loved having extra people in the house, learning to work with and help each other.

Nine of Jodi’s foster children came to Jodi’s daughter’s wedding. Two were bridesmaids, and Jodi’s foster granddaughter was the flower girl. “To me, it’s never short-term. They’re still a part of our family,” Jodi says. She says social media helps her keep in touch with all of them.

Jodi got to know about foster parenting while working at Utah Youth Village. She says the shortage of foster parents is unfortunate, and thinks most are afraid of the children’s issues they will confront. While Jodi agrees “the kids are dealing with a lot,” she emphasizes that benefits far outweigh the hurdles. She says her children were sad when there weren’t extra kids in the house, and their extended family is family for life.>If you’re thinking about fostering children, Jodi says to adjust your expectations. “You never know the difference you’ll make. You may not know the impact you’re making or what’s working at the time. I’ve thought they weren’t listening and discovered later that they were.” She says “success” may not look like you imagined—things may not go your way—but you could be making a profound difference in these children’s lives. She says, “They’ll be in a better place” and, chances are, so will you.

To find out more, visit Utah Youth Village or contact Mark Baker at (801)680-1049. Jodi also recommends the movie Instant Family, which she says gives a realistic portrayal of foster parenting.


A Mother’s Day to remember!

                                 Photographer Idie Atencio on the other side of the lens.

Do something different this year! Give mom a family photoshoot (what mom isn’t crazy about family photos?), private-chef dinner, interior design consultation, or other unique experience. Here are suggestions.

Professional portrait photography: Idie Atencio Photography, idie@idieatencio.com.
Private chef for intimate culinary experience: Chessa Jones, chessabella.com.
Interior design: Mikelle Mabey, Instagram: @mabea_design, mabeadesign@gmail.com

Love therapy with client Kaati Tarr!


To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we consulted Kaati Tarr, LCSW, for advice on how to nurture true love. Kaati counsels teens and adults.

Turns out the platitudes are true: relationships start with yourself. Kaati says, “Ask yourself, What do I believe about myself? Many people I see struggle to connect with people because they don’t feel good enough.” This can create an internal competition. She calls it a “hustle.” People think they’ll be worthy of love “if I’m nice enough, if I try hard enough.” But love isn’t something you can win or attain.

Relationships are also about the right fit. “People think, It must be me, but it’s an us thing,” says Kaati. “Find your people. There’s nothing wrong with you as an individual. You need to be with people who make you feel good and inspire you.”

“Ask yourself, What helps me feel loved?” Kaati says. She holds hands with her husband, because it’s something he likes, and he indulges her love for long talks. You may never get what you need if you don’t identify and ask for it.


“We’re so worried about people liking us, we never show them who we really are—we spend all our energy fitting in, which makes us feel more isolated and hustle more, which leads to burnout. Be your own lighthouse,” says Kaati. She says it’s important to resist comparing yourself to others. It will suck the energy out of you and conversely lead to judgment. “It’s important to be compassionate.” How do you become more compassionate? You guessed it: start with yourself.

Asking yourself questions isn’t easy. A therapist is a great way to gain insight. When looking for one, Kaati says to gather personal recommendations, make a list, and call a few. Get a feel by talking to them and asking about their accessibility, e.g., if they work on a call-back basis, accept texts, etc. Some, like Kaati, offer a free consultation.

Kaati's Top 5: Something for everyone!

MOVIE: Pixar’s Inside Out. So entertaining and poignant, this movie shows how all our emotions are interdependent and work together to make us whole.

VIDEO: TEDx, “The Power of Vulnerability.” Brené Brown is humorous and succinct. She has such great insight that it all sounds simple. She tells her own story to illustrate that it's not.

QUIZ: The 5 Love Languages. What language do you speak? Take the quiz to find out. You can also find out the language of your partner or child.

SITE: Self-Compassion. Learn about self-compassion, its importance, how to practice it, and more from Dr. Kristin Neff. And take another quiz!

APP: Headspace. This is a free meditation app that has a jam-packed paid version. Some sessions are only a minute, plus it has adorable animations.