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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6 reasons you need rubbish removal services
Mar02

6 reasons you need rubbish removal services

We often find it difficult to manage our rubbish, not just the non-literal one but also the actual rubbish. Managing waste can be a daunting task and can pose a challenge. In such cases, you can either make peace with the clutter around you or find a way to get rid of it. Whether it is yard waste, household waste or any other kind of waste, relying on a professional rubbish removal service is the best way to get rid of all the junk and waste. Timely removal of waste is important for every household, office etc to maintain a good hygiene and healthy surroundings. Here we give you 6 major reasons you need professional rubbish removers to deal with your rubbish:   Convenience In today’s fast paced life, we all want convenience. We order food online, get it delivered to our doorstep. The same goes for almost everything else, even when it comes to trash. You can hire a professional rubbish removal service who will do the work for you. All kinds of waste managed Once you hire a rubbish removal service, you don’t have to worry about the kind of waste that needs to be handled. Most of the rubbish removers deal in all kinds of waste: household waste, yard waste etc. Save time and money Some of them even offer you a free price quote according to your needs. By hiring one, you eliminate the need of driving the waste to the dump and hence you avoid related injuries as well. Believe it or not, many people get injured in the process of carrying waste and dumping it. No hassle for the neighbours One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure. Sure. However, it is important to realise that your trash can become a nuisance to the neighbours and cause you trouble. It can be a hindrance in the driveway or cause obstruction to the neighbours’ access. We are sure no one wants to get in a fight with anyone for rubbish reasons. No waiting With a professional service, you do not have to struggle with the pick up times and you can get your work done easily in one visit. Follow the rules There are certain rules and regulations for waste dumping and a professional service knows it best. So let go of your worries and hire them. It will help you a great deal. Conclusion A professional rubbish removal service understands the value of your time and if you do a thorough research and hire a good one, you will save both on time and money. Also, your house will be decluttered, your surroundings...

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Business Building Bliss – 5 Ways to Start Your New Restaurant Off Right
Feb27

Business Building Bliss – 5 Ways to Start Your New Restaurant Off Right

If you have dreamt of starting a restaurant in all your spare time for the last few years, it may be the time to finally do it. If you find yourself eating out more than you eat at home, or cooking for others more than yourself, perhaps your true calling is fine food. If you want to take your food appreciation to the next level, read on to see how you can start off your new restaurant the right way. Ensure you have the right intentions Before you even think about starting a restaurant, ensure that you are opening a venue for the right reasons. It’s a hard fact, but many restaurant owners fail because they don’t love what they do, or they don’t want it enough. Opening a restaurant often requires physically hard work, late nights and constantly being on the clock. If you aren’t willing to give this commitment, it might be a good idea to think of another venture. If you live and breathe food, the next step is to think about the sort of theme you want to incorporate into your restaurant, as well as the furniture, fittings, layout and cuisine that’s going to be on offer.   Build a solid business plan As with any business venture, you need to create a solid business plan before you begin. This will set up your course for success and provide you with a timeline that can help you stay on top of your tasks and goals. Outline your competitors, your marketing strategy, your target audience, any relevant market research, as well as a solid budget projection that includes all fit out costs. If you need to check relevant prices of equipment you may need, Norris is a great wealth of knowledge. Select a luscious locale With any hospitality venue, your location is everything. You need to ensure your restaurant is in an area that sees a healthy amount of foot traffic, or that has the potential for growth. However, you of course need a location that fits within your budget, too. Naturally, the perfect spot can be hard to find, like a needle in a haystack – so take your time. Don’t rush into things. Whether you build from scratch or decide to rent a premises, the space you choose for your restaurant is one of the most important decision that you will make. Test your menu You should treat the menu on offer at your restaurant as a culinary weapon. It needs to be sharp, effective, unmatched and creative. Whatever theme you are employing with your restaurant, never scrimp on produce. Ensure that you are...

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5 Ways to Create the Perfect Commercial Kitchen
Feb21

5 Ways to Create the Perfect Commercial Kitchen

“Cookery is a wholly unselfish art: All good cooks, like all great artists, must have an audience worth cooking for.” – Andre Simon If you are in the business of feeding people, your commercial kitchen can be likened to an artist’s den.  Full of creativity, energy and the tools to inspire masterpieces.  Setting up a functional, professional kitchen is not just about your equipment.  It is also about design – for functionality, safety and performance. So where does one begin such a huge project?  Let’s break down the components which go to making up the perfect commercial kitchen.   Equipment   Having the right equipment for the job is absolutely the premium requirement for anyone setting up a commercial kitchen.  Not only is this necessary for safety, it is also attracts professional staff and in the long run, quality equipment will save you money by it’s longevity.  Consider such mainstays as:   Norris dishwasher – a heavy duty commercial washer, built to last Waldorf commercial ranges Trueheat grill Solid stainless steel racks, benches and shelving – regular and mobile Commercial refrigerators and freezers   Stainless steel benches with splashbacks need to be purchased with your kitchen design in mind (see below). Depending on the style of food you’ll be preparing, you may also need to consider prep stations, sauté stations, barbeque grills, pizza ovens, bain maries, deep fryers and salad stations.   Cooking   Commercial cooking ranges must be designed for high volume usage.  Look for designs which are:   Able to be banked together with other ranges or equipment; Have a gas connection on the front or side to facilitate ‘banking’ Specially designed for heavy, high volume use; these will usually be manufactured using thicker gauges of metal and contain more welded components Boast a higher energy output per burner than a standard range.   Ensure you have implemented a suitable ventilation system including an industrial range hood and H-VAC (Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning) ventilation. Benchtop equipment such as fryers, tunnel toasters and food warmers need to be suitable for industrial use, easy to be cleaned and large enough to cater to high volume turnover. Storage When selecting a commercial refrigerator and freezer, the design of your kitchen needs to be considered.  How much space allowance do you have to accommodate them? Consider placement of doors for easy access. Another consideration depends on whether your requirements will be larger storage of food longer term (freezer) or short term refrigeration.  The impact of such considerations needs to be decided prior to any purchase of big ticket items such as your cold food storage. Design The layout of your kitchen...

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