Category Archives: How To/DIY

How To Avoid a Tepid Tailgate

Summer may be un officially over, but it doesn’t mean that life as we know it is over. Fall is here and that can only mean one thing: the start of the football season! With football comes flooding emotions, face painting, screaming, cheering and of course, tailgating! Since we’ve only seen one full weekend of football so far, doubtless, there have been a few tailgating mishaps and miscues in the parking lot. Here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them:

MISHAP: Running out of beer. Nothing ends the party sooner than running out of this tailgate essential. When planning a tailgate party, it is best to over buy things like beer and snacks. If you don’t eat them at the game, guaranteed you will consume them eventually. Things like drinks and chips will not go bad any time soon, so where you need to practice prudence is in buying meat and other things that spoil or will go bad when you leave them in the car.

MISHAP: Bringing too much stuff. Parties that host numerous people will naturally require more things. However, if there are only four of you, there is no need to bring your entire living room to the tailgate. Only take things you can pack up quickly; the worst is getting to the game late because your tailgate took too long to consolidate. Oftentimes in a parking lot full of fans, people are willing to share. So park next to those people with the giant TV, share some of you delicious nachos as a thank you and forgo the generator, tent and kitchen sink.

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Restore Your Bamboo to Its Original Color

Summertime is just around the corner and it’s time to start getting our outdoor space ready for entertaining. In the previous years, you may have purchased, built or installed a bamboo fence to add a tropical flare to your backyard. However, over the past season perhaps this once tan or cedar colored fence has weathered to a silvery gray and perhaps this new “worn in” color does not match your island themed perceptions. Not to worry, bamboo can be easily restored to close to its original color with a few quick steps.

First of all, it is not recommended to stain bamboo until at least after its first season of weathering. The waxy cellulose fibers that cover the cane do not absorb stains or seals very well; the stain requires a grittier texture to adhere to. If desired, you can sand new bamboo with sandpaper and then apply stain; use lower grit sandpaper for a more thorough application. After sanding, be sure to wipe the bamboo clean with a tack cloth or rag.
To stain, dip a rag or a sponge into the stain, seal or varnish and apply directly to the bamboo. Before the liquid dries on the bamboo, wipe it off with a clean rag. Allow the stain to dry and gently sand the surface to ready it for another staining. Repeat until the color is to your liking.

To avoid weathering you will need to repeat the sealing/waterproofing process up to annually. This will also protect against rotting, water damage and bug infestation. However, if you don’t mind the silvery gray weathered color, no maintenance is required for a bamboo fence to last multiple seasons – given correct installation and appropriate climate.

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Outdoor Lighting for Summer

As summer keeps giving us little tastes of what is to come, we can’t seem to stem the anticipation of outdoor barbecues, hot summer nights outside and all the glory that is the warmest season of the year. So as we sit in eagerness, we might as well get a jump on the outdoor decorating that is sure to make our backyards, porches and outdoor rooms perfect summer venues. Outdoor lighting is going to be a key component to extend the beautiful summer days into the warm summer nights, even if the sun says out past 8 pm. Here are some tips to get your outdoor space up to par for nighttime entertaining.

Illumination. Make sure to light treacherous areas of your yard. Your guests will appreciate it. Hazards include changes in terrain, abrupt directional shifts, steps, curbs or inclines/declines. Also light pools or any water feature for safety purposes.  Trails or walkways can be lit with small “pathway” lights, placed close enough together so that the small pools of light overlap. Interesting focal points such as fountains, statues or particularly beautiful foliage should also be illuminated .

Mood Lighting. An outdoor space or yard used primarily for throwing big parties will require more and brighter lighting while a space for small scale gatherings may only require the dim light of a fire pit or a few well-placed solar lamp posts. For a brighter scene, consider using Christmas lights in shrubs, to line a fence or intertwined with an umbrella or patio posts; white twinkle lights will add elegance while colored ones will add life and vibrance.

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Tips for Choosing an Outdoor Heater

As the sun begins to peek through the rain clouds, we automatically start dreaming of summer. However, at least as this weekend in San Diego proved, it is still too cold to start leaving the jacket at home and stripping down to our bikinis. This does not mean it’s too early to start entertaining outdoors, especially with the help of a brand new outdoor heater or fireplace. But which one? There are so many to choose from! Here are some tips for how to heat your outdoor space.
First of all, consider the how much space you have. A bulky standing heater would take up too much room on a small patio or porch, so a wall mounted electric heater should be considered. If you’re trying to heat a large yard or terrace, where many people will be moving around, a standing LPG heater is probably the best option. Another way to go for a large space is an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. These are great main focal points and can serve as a gathering area when entertaining. A table top heater or a hanging heat lamp would nicely compliment a space used primarily for eating or other seated entertainment.

Secondly, consider what the space will be used for. A large space used primarily for entertaining groups of people will require LPG or propane heaters because the gas used in these outdoor heaters warms the air around it and ultimately increases outdoor temperature. These heaters are typically equipped with wheels to make transport easier; your party area will not be confined to a specific space in the yard.  A smaller area where people will not be moving around as much is a better place for an infrared or halogen heater, as the infrared rays transfer energy directly from the heater to the bodies around it, not to the surrounding air.

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Tips for Making and Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution

Happy New Year! As you know, this is that glorious time of year, when our slates are wiped clean and we all set out to be a better person. However, the top ten New Year’s Resolutions nationwide seem to be remarkably similar year after year. Here is a list of the most popular, along with some ideas to make them more specific, so you are not setting yourself up for failure.

Many people have decided that spending more time with family and friends is an important task to accomplish in the New Year. To make this goal more realistic, first make a list of all the people you wish to spend more time with and contact them immediately. This way, there the burden of coordination is no longer just on you. As long as you handle the initiative, hopefully you won’t be the only one attempting to make time.
Losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions nationwide. However, striving to lose a large chunk of weight makes the process seem daunting and impossible. Remember that it takes time to lose pounds in a healthy and sustainable way. Set small goals that you will accomplish often. Experts say that you can lose 2-3 pounds a week. Try to lose 5 pounds every two weeks and before you know it, those 20 pounds you’ve been meaning to get rid of will be a goal accomplished.

“Enjoy life more” is probably the vaguest of all New Year’s Resolutions. Make a list of all the things that make you happy, or that you would like more time to do; then, when you have a spare moment or a spare day, take the time to enjoy these activities. Invest in a day planner and set aside specific times of your day or week to participate in these things, or plan to do them with friends. As with anything else, this goal requires modification in your behavior that needs to be trained at first.

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Hide Anything in Your Backyard

Do you ever look out into your backyard and wish that that unsightly eyesore ruining your perfect landscape would magically disappear? Artificial rocks are a perfect to solution to any visual conundrum. With both natural looking and aesthetically appealing they are also durable, sturdy and ready for anything. As they come in a variety of shapes and colors, the ideal fit is not difficult to find. Here are some ideas for how to take your backyard or walkway from an eyesore to eye candy.

Hide Outdoor Plumbing
Use a rock to hide ugly centrifugal pumps, irrigation valves or septic lids or cleanouts. These outdoor necessities definitely have their purpose in our lives and we probably would miss them if they were gone; however, we don’t necessarily have them in sight for them to do their job. Not only do they take away from the visual purity of our landscapes, but they can also be dangerous if located in a busy walking area or if small children play near them. A low to the ground rock is an easy solution. Not only does it eliminate the eye sore, but it can also completely change the focal point of your landscape. Now, instead of wishing the traces of indoor plumbing would disappear, you can easily forget about them.

Address Plaques
Do people visiting your home ever complain that they can’t read the faded address number spray painted on the curb or can’t find the numbers hung next to the garage? Make things easier for everyone by installing an address plaque rock. The unique flat surface lends itself nicely to the addition of numbers or characters while the size, shape and color of the rock still look and feel like the real thing. Add a solar powered lighting source next to the rock and never hear a guest complain about driving aimlessly up and down the street looking for your house again.

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How to Clean Your Bamboo Fence

Bamboo Fence Zen Garden

What makes Bamboo Fencing so popular is it’s versatility and low maintenance.  Despite how easy it is to utilize and care for bamboo fencing, since it is a natural material, there are still things you should periodically do to ensure the life and look of your bamboo.

To prevent molding on your bamboo we always suggest keeping it from being submerged in wet ground.  If you live in an area with frequent rain or if your grounds are constantly wet from a sprinkler system, we suggest placing a spacer of some sort between the actual bamboo fence and the ground.

To remove dirt and some stains, you can use a mild detergent and water to clean your fence.  Once a year, or depending on need, you can use a pressurized spray to remove any caked on debris.  Once your bamboo fence is dry, it is recommended that you use a waterproofing sealant.  Depending on your climate, you can re-apply this sealant once or twice a year, this will also help maintain the color of your bamboo.  Remember that certain colors such as Mahogany, are more prone to fading than the natural color.

Remember that can also paint or stain your bamboo.  You can do this by first sanding the natural coating, then applying your stain/color of choice.  After you reach the desired color, and your bamboo is dry, you can apply the sealant.

Some solutions to getting rid of mold on your bamboo are using either vinegar or a fungicide spray on  your fence.  It is important to ensure that the mold is gone and that your fence is dry before applying sealant.

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Recycle and Re-Use Your Holiday Decor Throughout the Year

Happy New Year everyone!  It’s that time again for resolutions, starting fresh and of course putting away the holiday decor, which for some reason always seems a lot more arduous then putting it up.  This year before you pack everything up, or trash your tree and broken ornaments, support the green movement by re-using or recycling the holiday decor.

After each holiday season, one of the biggest items to unfortunately end up in the landfill is Christmas trees.  The ideal solution is to promote the use of artificial trees that could be re-used or keep a tree planted that can not only be re-used but also grow with the family.  If you have a cut tree that is in need of disposing of, look up local recycling centers that you can drop your tree, wrapping paper, paint and more to be recycled.   If you can trim your tree down to smaller pieces, many areas now offer recycling pick up.

Over the years of holiday decorating, many of us end up with mis-matched ornaments or even broken ones from storing and moving.  Rather than throwing them out, or purchasing new matching sets each year, take broken ornament pieces and fill a vase with other mixed ornaments to reflect color and create a surface centerpiece for any table.

(image from freshome)

Instead of buying new art, why not create it?  Pick up a canvas at your local art store, spray with adhesive and sprinkle varying sizes of the broken ornaments to create an abstract and colorful art piece. Re-use your candles for dinner parties, as bathroom or even kitchen accents.

Holiday colors such as greens, reds, silvers and blues work wonderfully in contemporary color schemes.

(image from oregonlive)

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Create a Holiday Table Centerpiece

Although eating and drinking are considered to cater to our sense of taste, it is undeniable that we eat first with our sense of smell and sense of sight.  How a dish smells and how the food is presented, greatly affects the eating experience.

For centuries now, people have used the experience of eating to bring people together, celebrate important events and join in happy festivities.  With the holiday season now here, we wanted to give you some no fuss, quick and easy tips on spicing up your table setting.

We always talk about how lighting is key to any home or garden design.  Candles have been used for centuries as a source of light and to accent tables.  By grouping candles together of different heights or colors, you can create a visual landscape across your table.

During the holidays, between wrapping presents, decorating the tree and your home, there is always excess material around.  Ribbons make wonderful accents to table settings by inducing a bit of decorative flare.  You can also tie ornaments to the ribbons and lay them along your table or around the candles.  These cute little ornaments with ribbons can also be used as party favors for your guests to take home as a sentimental holiday treat.

No matter how hard we try to efficiently utilize wrapping paper, it seems that there is always so many strips wasted, that are either too narrow or too short.  Grab a pretty vase, and with your excess wrapping paper, crumple them into small balls and fill the vase with them, to create a popcorn color effect.  Complete the vase with a ribbon around the neck, or mix in holiday ornaments for added dimension.

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Keeping Warm With Tropical Decor

Shown in picture (30in x 57in  Palm Thatch Runner Rolls Layed)

Tropical decor generally paints imagery of summer days and warmer temperatures, but what many don’t know is that items such as thatch and bamboo structures can actually help to keep your home or an area warmer during the cooler months.

Thatch in its many varying forms and though light weight, can actually withstand heavy winds, which help in deflecting those winds from hitting your home directly.  In addition to this, the layers of panels have natural insulation properties which can assist in keeping cold out and heat in.  Just like in the summer, thatch can also help to keep you cool by providing shade from the sun’s rays.

In addition to thatch, another strong, versatile and eco friendly building material you can use is Bamboo.  You can provide additional insulation by lining outside walls with Bamboo Fencing, while still providing your landscape with a tropical look.

Bamboo Rugs, can help keep your feet warm during the winter months and cool during the summer ones.  Place them on indoor tile or marble or even the outside concrete.  What makes them so functional is how low maintenance they are and how much value they provide for what you’re paying.

Winter doesn’t mean that you can’t keep the island flair alive.  The great thing about our products is that they are functional and aesthetically fitting all year round.

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