Vacation at Christmas?
Dec06

Vacation at Christmas?

Christmas is a busy time of year. Yes, that is the understatement of the year, but it is true and because of this, many people decide it’s the perfect time of year to get away from home and leave the craziness for everyone else. If you live in a warm place, let’s say Florida, then maybe you’re dreaming of a white Christmas and would then choose a place, let’s say Colorado for Christmas. On the flip side, if you aren’t a winter fan but live in, say Minnesota, known for the cold and snowy winters, you may be dreaming of heading to somewhere, anywhere where there is a beautiful warm beach and the beaming sun. So while some may just want a change of pace, others actually just want to ‘get away’ for the holidays. If you aren’t at home you won’t need to get the food in for the Christmas dinner, this means you won’t have to stand in lines and jockey for position at the deli counter or the bakery aisle. You don’t need to fight others for the perfect turkey or to worry that you don’t have enough marshmallows for Uncle Bob’s famous salad. If you are on vacation someone will make your Christmas dinner for you. No muss, no fuss. A vacation at Christmas also means that you are prepared for the big day in advance. You will want to take gifts with you for the morning, presumably, so those will have to be purchased before you leave. If the trip itself is the gift it makes a great surprise for those not in the know which is another reason some choose to get away for the holidays. Some find leaving the extended family at home gives them a more relaxing experience at Christmas. There are no arguments, no who is going to make what and no bad feelings that can come from too much togetherness especially during the holidays. So, escape the lines, escape the stress, let someone else do the cooking and the cleaning for you, prepare for the big day before you leave and above all make some memories that will be with you for years to come when you choose to leave home for a Christmas trip. It may even turn into a new tradition for the family, one that can be relived year after year. So all that’s left is where to go? Article Source:...

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7 of the best design ideas for loft conversions
Jul24

7 of the best design ideas for loft conversions

What better way to add value and space to your home than a  loft conversion? Not only is this option the easiest, but also the most cost effective way as well. Of late, the process of loft conversion has also become one of the most sought-after and desired home improvement projects on the whole. Rather than trying to extend outwards by finding space in your garden for example, loft conversion would be a much better bet. That way, you would not have to waste your time and money by starting to build something from scratch. Inside your home, the space already exists. You just need to decide what exactly to do with it. So, before contacting any services that happen to specialise in harrogate loft conversions, you need to sit down and think about what to do with the space. Be it the addition and creating of a new bedroom, or adding a new and refreshing recreational space as well, there are a great many possibilities across the board that one can explore. After all, this is your very own home that we’re talking about. Who would not want to make things better and more interesting in general? On that very note, let’s dive into some of the things you could turn your wasted loft space into :-   Space for the stairs: Now in this case, one must sacrifice as little space as possible. That would be the ideal scenario to work out your specific design plan. However in the event of having a tight space to work with, a spiral staircase is sometimes the best bet. An extra bathroom: This is one of the most ideal options that a lot of people tend to opt for. However, if your budget happens to be too tight, make sure that you atleast sort out the plumbing aspect first. That way, the option of a bathroom might just be more viable in the future. Privacy: There are a lot of window options at your disposal, so pick and choose wisely, depending upon your convenience and preference as well. Some come with sliding blinds, pull-down blinds and plantation shutters as well. Various storage options: This is an important aspect that most of us simply don’t think about. Even if it happens to be leftover space, using it for a well-placed shelf or unit of storage will maximise the use of that particular space. Lighting: Installing bulbs and low energy spotlights in strategic corners of the room can have quite a mesmerising effect. Even bedside wall lights do usually add a charm, often not seen in most rooms. Multifunctionality: In this regard,...

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Throw a sizzling summer cocktail party
Jun26

Throw a sizzling summer cocktail party

Raise your glasses high — cocktail parties are the toast of this summer’s entertaining. Don’t know where to start? Think barware, which is nearly as hot as the rising temperatures. That’s why we turned to designer Julie Robbins from Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of vintage and current dinnerware, for fabulously fun ideas sure to make your soiree one of your favorite summer memories. Why are cocktail parties so popular for summer 2017? These gatherings are both fun and easy to put together — you’re not trying to seat everyone at the same table so you can make use of more of your home, whether that’s an apartment, condo or house. Cocktail parties are all about conversation, networking and introducing one group of friends to another, so people are always moving around. This type of entertaining is perfect for both small and large spaces alike; you can use your kitchen, family room or head outside to a patio, deck or even your yard. What’s the best time for the perfect cocktail party? Any time! Cocktail parties are usually the warm-up or wind-down for the evening, and timing often depends on your reasons for celebrating. For instance, if you’re holding your party as a kick-off to some event, say an evening out or concert under the stars, you may want to serve drier drinks and savory, spicier foods. If it’s a post-event gathering, consider a late night with sweets, such as liqueurs and dessert-type finger foods. What about barware? What’s hot this summer? I think three barware types will be extremely popular this season: the coupe, the old fashioned and a tall drink glass, such as a tumbler or highball. Why the coupe? There’s a movement toward more elegant cocktails, and people want to serve those beverages in something equally elegant. That’s why coupes (often referred to as champagne-sherbet glasses) are really stepping into the fore. Coupes offer a more refined shape that looks great in the hand. Vintage coupes from classic American glassmakers such as Tiffin, Fostoria and Heisey are big with our customers, with unique pieces in pretty much every price range. Not only are vintage coupes a great conversation starter, these glasses are highly collectible. You can also use them for desserts. The old fashioned? Old fashioned or even double old fashioned glasses are used for serving spirits straight up or on the rocks. They’re also great for mixed cocktails, such as old fashioneds (the glass is named after this whiskey-based drink, which muddies bitters and sugars with a citrus twist), whiskey sours or even Bloody Marys. What’s neat is that you’ll find them in varying...

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4 easy ways to make your yard an outdoor oasis this summer
Jun19

4 easy ways to make your yard an outdoor oasis this summer

Summer is the season when your backyard takes center stage. As warm weather arrives, it’s time to head outdoors and create a beautiful and lush outdoor space that you can enjoy all season long. “It’s no secret that backyards are the best place to spend time with family and friends in the summer months,” says Chris Lambton, yard and garden expert for Fiskars. “Using the right tools to take care of your grass, trees, plants and shrubs will freshen the look of your outdoor space and create a yard that feels like an oasis for you and your guests.” Lambton offers his tips and tools to help your yard flourish this season: Maintain proper lawn height The optimal grass height for a healthy lawn changes with the time of year. Cut grass shorter in the spring and fall and keep it longer in summer so it won’t dry out. Use a reel mower that allows you to easily adjust the cut height for the season. In addition to making your lawn look its best, pushing a reel mower provides an opportunity for exercise and fresh air. Encourage new plant growth Pruning and deadheading are necessary for plant health as they encourage new growth. Pruning is great for keeping tall plants within bounds, stimulating branch growth and blooms and tightening up plants that get lanky throughout the season, including perennials and shrubs. Hand shears, like the Fiskars PowerGear2 Pruner, cut through stems and light branches and are perfect for quick and easy maintenance projects around the yard. Deadheading can be done year-round when a flowering plant fades using a tool like a pruning snip. Know when to water If you walk across the grass and the blades don’t spring back, then you know it’s time to water. Choose an adjustable sprinkler, like the Gilmour Pattern Master Circular Sprinkler, that allows you to customize the spray pattern and tailor to irregularly shaped lawns to prevent over-watering. When watering potted plants, the goal is to create soil that’s damp but not soggy. Depending on the size of the pot, water your plants one to two times a day using a thumb control watering nozzle, which easily adjusts water flow with one touch. Be sure to pair your nozzle with a hose that stands up to the season’s heat and sun, like the durable Flexogen Super Duty Hose. Incorporate decorative DIY Creating a comfortable and inviting outdoor space makes seasonal entertaining easy and fun. One way to update your furnishings without buying a new patio set is to upcycle materials from your home. Containers are an easy, low-commitment way to add design elements...

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A magical family vacation awaits at Florida’s Space Coast
Jun12

A magical family vacation awaits at Florida’s Space Coast

When planning a Florida vacation for the entire family, two things typically first come to mind: winter getaway and busy theme park. Nothing wrong with that, but if you stop there, you’re limiting your possibilities. Along the state’s Atlantic coast, there’s another side of Florida that’s waiting to be discovered. With extensive waters, diverse wildlife, enthralling history and countless fun things to do, this is a unique area that will have everyone in the family catching the spirit of adventure. For a vacation that delivers hands-on, memorable experiences, why not pack up the family and explore Florida’s Space Coast? Captivating waters For starters, there are miles and miles of Atlantic shoreline to enjoy. Along the Space Coast, it’s always a perfect time of year to pass the day at the beach. Rent a beach umbrella near the historic Cocoa Beach Pier and relax with a frozen drink while the kids play in the sparkling surf. In the same area, you can also climb aboard for a two-hour boat tour operated by Island Boat Lines and piloted by a United States Coast Guard-certified captain. The tour winds through The Thousand Islands, which are a maze of trails and canals through mangrove islands and hidden hammocks. You’ll learn from a professional naturalist who will point out some of the dolphins, manatees and coastal birds that are among the numerous wild creatures making their home in and around these captivating waters. For something else that truly amazes, try a nighttime kayak tour on the Indian River Lagoon within the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. Dip your paddle, trail your fingers in the water or just watch for mullet swimming by — simple water movement activates a glow-in-the-dark trail of neon blue-green along the river surface. What you’re seeing is plankton magic, or, more scientifically, “bioluminescent dinoflagellates” defending themselves against potential predators. Between that astonishing glow and the extraordinary view of the night sky enveloping the undisturbed refuge, your family members will feel like they’ve entered a portal of enchantment. If you’re interested in observing more nature in action, the Space Coast is home to the second-largest loggerhead nesting area in the world, with more than 15,000 sea turtle nests. At Carr National Wildlife Refuge, visitors can take a turtle walk to observe the nesting of these beautiful creatures and learn valuable information about conservation efforts. Enter the cool zone The Space Coast also features plenty of entertaining museums and other indoor attractions and activities that will get you out of the sun, without sacrificing the fun. In Palm Shores, don’t miss the challenges and rollicking good times at Adventure HQ, which has tons...

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Make a striking focal point the foundation of your spa-like bathroom
Jun06

Make a striking focal point the foundation of your spa-like bathroom

American homeowners’ desire for spa-like bathrooms shows no signs of waning, says the latest Design Trends report by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). From freestanding bath tubs and floating vanities to LED lighting and soothing color schemes, some of the most-requested bathroom renovations focus on creating the atmosphere of luxury and calm found in world-class spas. With the average mid- to upscale bathroom remodeling costing in the range of $30,000, homeowners are also looking for the most cost-effective way to create that spa-like feeling. Many are opting to build their bathroom renovations around a focal point, such as a freestanding tub or luxury shower, and round out the effect with more modest accessories and fixtures. Choosing a focal point Homeowners are choosing to install freestanding soaking tubs in their master bathrooms, in particular, to create an exclusive sanctuary of relaxation. In fact, in 2016 half of NKBA members were asked to install freestanding tubs in bathroom remodels, and 60 percent expect to be doing more of them in 2017. Traditionally styled freestanding tubs were often claw-footed fixtures that meshed well with conventional design themes, but struggled to fit into the sleek, contemporary lines associated with a spa-like setting. Strikingly modern freestanding tubs offer expanded design flexibility as a focal point in today’s spa-inspired bathroom settings. Options like the American Standard Coastal-Serin Freestanding Tub in high-gloss cast acrylic enhance the deep soaking space of a luxurious tub with a clean, simple and modern profile that fits well in spa-like bathroom design. Few bathroom fixtures speak of luxury as clearly and loudly as a showpiece bathtub. A deep, sumptuous freestanding tub not only provides a restful spot for a soothing soak after a long day, it also serves as a striking visual focal point for modern baths. Considering Fixture Alternatives Already have a standard alcove tub, but still want to create your spa at home? Try installing a deep soak tub drain, which has a unique overflow feature that allows 2-inch deeper water than a standard bathtub drain. This universal drain works in most standard bathtubs — and that could be yours. Replacing a standard toilet seat with an upscale option like the DXV AT100 SpaLet Electronic Bidet Seat furthers the luxuriousness of the bathroom without the cost commitment and permanency of installing a full bidet. Its heated seat, choice of water temperature and volume for the two cleansing wands, and the oh-so-decadent warm air dryer are the ultimate self-indulgence to bring the spa right into your home. Wood vanities and storage cabinets for bath linens continue to be popular with today’s consumers. Floating vanities and open shelving, which...

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Cool deck time fun in the summer sun: 3 tips to beat the heat
May25

Cool deck time fun in the summer sun: 3 tips to beat the heat

During the winter months, many people eagerly anticipate the sunny days of summer. But, when summer rolls around, these same people are often busy looking for ways to cool off. Getting outside on the deck or porch is an ideal way to relax and escape stifling indoor heat for many Americans. To make sure your outdoor living retreat is a cool oasis, consider these three tips to beat the heat: 1. Create stylish shade While an umbrella or a roll-up sunshade provides a fast and easy way to block direct sun, they can quickly fade or become a dingy eyesore. A stylish alternative is to cast refreshing shade with a gazebo or arbor. With either option, you also can create a lush and fragrant grotto using climbing vines such as roses, clematis, wisteria or honeysuckle. For a weekend do-it-yourself project, look for gazebo and arbor plans on popular social media sites like Pinterest or Houzz. If you prefer to have someone else do the work, many deck builders will complete the project for you without breaking the bank. 2. Spritz yourself with a mister Sunbelt residents and visitors are familiar with outdoor cooling misters installed at popular outdoor cafes, theme parks and other places people gather on hot days. Now, homeowners throughout the U.S. are installing these systems on their decks or porches. The ultrafine droplets of water created by these systems can cool the air as much as 35 degrees. In addition to providing cool and refreshing moisture on hot summer days, some manufacturers report the systems help repel flying insects and clear the air of smoke and pollen. Easy-to-install misters are available online or from your local home improvement store, starting at under $100. 3. Don’t forget the deck surface Many deck surfaces become uncomfortably hot in direct sun. The problem is especially acute for dark-colored deck boards, which absorb heat throughout the day, as well as some dense composite boards that hold heat. As a result, rather than a comfortable stroll to your favorite chair, you might end up hot-footing it across a scorching deck. An overly hot deck is especially problematic for young children and pets, whose feet are more heat sensitive. “Many people tell us they love the beauty and durability of their composite deck, but not the heat,” says Brent Gwatney, vice president of MoistureShield decking. His company has developed a solution they call CoolDeck(R) technology. The boards are engineered to absorb up to 35 percent less heat than other composites in similar colors, for a noticeably lower surface temperature in direct sun. Whether you’re building a new deck or upgrading an existing...

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How to find a hotel that can cater to your technology demands
May20

How to find a hotel that can cater to your technology demands

8 questions that ensure technology needs are met while at a hotel You arrive at your hotel and pull out your smartphone. After an incredibly long sign-in process, you connect to the Internet. It works fine in the hallway but not in your room, so you go to the business center to check email and print tickets to tonight’s show. The center is packed, so you head back to your room to wait. Meanwhile, your kids are trying to stream a movie and the Internet connection is slow. Both business and leisure travelers rely on technology to stay connected and streamline to-do’s. However, poor Wi-Fi and minimal tech-focused amenities leave many travelers disappointed. That’s why before booking a hotel, you should always ask questions to ensure you get as much out of your technology while travelling as you do while at home. Ask these eight questions to make sure your technology needs are met while staying at any hotel, no matter how many devices you plan to use. Is the room suited for technology? Whether new or remodeled, modern hotels should feature room designs that support technology. For example, ask about easy access to outlets and charging stations while you’re in the room to ensure you can plug in your phone, charge your tablet and use your computer all at the same time. How reliable is the Internet? Fast, reliable Internet is critical for anyone traveling for business or pleasure. When you stay at IHG hotels, you can feel confident you get superior Internet service. IHG Connect provides advanced Wi-Fi technology with increased bandwidth to meet the demand and volume needs of guests. What is the login process? Lengthy login processes are a hassle, especially if you’re connecting multiple devices. Some hotels offer streamlined methods which is a big time-saver. Want to log in just once? IHG Rewards Club members log in and then they’ll be recognized and automatically connected at every IHG Connect-enabled hotel. How secure is the Wi-Fi network? Most hotels today offer Wi-Fi to guests, but it might not be a secure network. To ensure private information stays private, only stay at hotels with a private and secure Internet connection for guests. Is there an extra cost for Wi-Fi? Some hotels charge extra for fast Internet access. Ask about costs and look into membership perks that wave these fees. For example, IHG Rewards Club members receive free Wi-Fi at all IHG properties. What is available at the business center? A good hotel will have a business center available to all guests. Inquire as to what is included at the center to ensure your needs are met....

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5 ways to take your summer grilling to a whole new level
May14

5 ways to take your summer grilling to a whole new level

The bright, sunny days of summer are your favorite time of year and when the season arrives, you spend much of your time outdoors. Your yard becomes your living room and you move your cooking to the grill. Summer is grilling season and there is nowhere you’d rather be than standing in front of your favorite grill for every game day, holiday and weekend cookout. These events are when some of your best memories are made, and now is the perfect time to make this grilling season your best yet. To do just that, here are five ways you can up your grilling game in 2017.   * Switch to lump charcoal. The number one reason people grill with lump charcoal is due to the enhanced wood-fire flavor it imparts. When most think of charcoal, they inherently think of it as briquettes, and miss out on the natural advantages of its alternative — lump charcoal. Lump charcoal accounts for only 7 percent of the market, but the figure is growing steadily as more grill masters recognize the improved flavor. When you grill with lump charcoal, you’ll enjoy a quick, hot burn with less ash production. Lump charcoal is also natural and widely available in an array of varieties, allowing you to find the perfect charcoal to match your menu. * Use a Smarter Starter fluid. Lighter fluid is a mainstay around the grill when you want to get cooking quickly; however, the chemical taste it leaves behind poses a serious drawback. The reason you get that petrochemical taste is because the chemical vapor from the fluid gets into the food. You can gain the benefits of a quick burn without the chemical taste by using Smarter Starter Fluid. Made from recycled restaurant cooking oil, Smarter Starter Fluid doesn’t smell like traditional petroleum-based alternatives and you’ll never have to worry about it corrupting the taste of your food. Smarter Starter Fluid, being made from recycled cooking oil, makes it safe for use around kids and pets. The result is 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, so you can feel as good about your environmental impact as you do your grilling. And, it’s perfectly suited for use on lump charcoal. * Customize the smoke flavor. Lump charcoal already lends itself a natural smoke flavor when compared to briquettes, but to really customize that flavor in your food, you can complement your lump charcoal with wood chips or chunks. Chips are smaller and more readily available in most stores, but they burn faster. Chunks burn slower and give you a better chance to lock in that unique smoke flavor. And once you...

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6 steps to grow a garden anywhere
May09

6 steps to grow a garden anywhere

The benefits from gardening are endless — relaxation, fitness, family fun, delicious food and beautifying your lawn. Across the country, millions of people live in townhomes, apartments or single-family homes that seem to lack the outdoor space needed for a conventional garden. But the good news is that no matter where you live you can still create a garden that reflects your goals and is uniquely personal to you. Raised bed gardens may be the perfect solution. This type of gardening is gaining popularity not only because it can be adjusted to fit any size requirements, but because it is prone to fewer weeds, reduced soil erosion and fewer soil challenges that can arise in areas where the ground is inherently sandy or clay-based. Raised bed gardens also offer you the opportunity to customize your garden bed with beautiful accents and decorations that will make it look as amazing as the food it produces. Steps for growing veggies and herbs in a raised garden bed Step 1: Prep your space. Raised garden beds can be bought or built to fill whatever space you have available. Select a bed that works well with your space and prepare accordingly. Step 2: Choose your soil. Once you have your empty bed ready, choose your soil. Nature’s Care Raised Bed Soil is ideal as this soil is specifically formulated with rich organic matter and high-quality nutrients that help give your plants the benefits they need with no mixing required. Once you add the soil, be sure to rake it so it is smooth and level. Step 3: Preparing your bed. Next, you can finalize what you want to plant. Spacing is essential here and you want to remember to place your plants close together for maximum yield. Bonnie Plants provides a number of delicious and colorful options, including basil, tomato, kale, hot peppers and more. Check out your local plant nurseries for a variety of Bonnie Plants to choose from. Step 4: Planting. Since plant spacing varies by plant type, read the back of the plant tag for proper plant spacing. Step 5: Feed your plants. Once your veggies and herbs are planted, apply a fertilizer such as Nature’s Care Organic & Natural Raised Bed Plant Food to add essential nutrients to the soil and help your plants grow big and strong. Simply sprinkle and work into the soil, then treat your plants to water. Just like us, plants get hungry, so make sure you follow the directions on the label to determine when to reapply. Step 6: Harvest. When your vegetables are ripe, it’s time to harvest. All you need to do...

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