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Dream Blue - Real Estate Tips, Tools & News!!!

A Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Blog!

Tips to Turn Your Backyard into a Party Paradise

Outdoor living is as important as indoor space, especially in the summertime. Everything in your backyard — whether it’s a fire pit, dining area and bar, or theater — should be part of a well-planned, integrated design. Here are a few outdoor accessories that will turn your backyard into another room of your house.

Fire pits
Fire pits add a warm touch to an outdoor area and can serve as a focal point in landscape design, especially if you live in an area that gets cool at night. You can choose from wood-burning, propane, gel fuel and natural gas fire pits. If space is a consideration, go with a tabletop model.

Outdoor kitchen and bar
Offered in a variety of styles, such as gas, charcoal or hibachi, a grill should be part of any fully equipped outdoor kitchen. A mini-fridge, sink, an ice maker, a beer tap, a wine chiller and warming drawer are just some of the other equipment you can add to enhance your outdoor drinking and dining experience. And don’t forget to make sure the area is well-lit for those evenings of entertaining.

Dining areas
What good is it to eat and drink outside without a dining area? Make sure it has comfortable chairs with durable cushions, and a table for dining with an expansive umbrella for shade and shelter. You can design them with a Mediterranean, Japanese or Victorian flavor, or with whatever stylistic flourishes tickle your fancy. Citronella candles or tiki torches will help keep away those pesky mosquitoes.

Backyard theater
The next best thing to a drive-in, a backyard theater can entertain family and friends. For a well-designed movie-viewing experience, make sure you have a video projector, a free-standing portable screen, a DVD player, surround sound, theater seats and, to top it all off, a popcorn machine. Another outdoor viewing option is a self-contained outdoor TV. LED/LCD outdoor TVs come in sizes from 32 inches to 65 inches, or even larger, and incorporate heavy-duty construction, making them resistant to temperature and weather. Some also are resistant to rain.

 

3 Ways to Celebrate Food in July

If you need an excuse to get outside and indulge in tasty summer food and treats, July is the official month to celebrate picnics, grilling and ice cream. With warm, sunny weather across the country, it’s no surprise July garnered the titles of National Picnic Month, National Grilling Month and National Ice Cream Month, to name just a few.

National Picnic Month

It’s an ideal time of year to slow down and enjoy some delicious food, fresh air, nature and beautiful scenery.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Find a scenic spot for a picnic – a park with plenty of shade, a beach, or a spot along a river or in the mountains, depending on where you live.
  • Fill a cooler with some of your favorite foods and bring along a blanket to spread on the ground. Find an assortment of picnic recipes here.
  • Load up on cold drinks, napkins, plates and utensils.
  • Bring along some entertainment – Frisbee, badminton, croquet or bocce ball, cards or board games.

National Grilling Month

Embrace the start of summer and fire up the barbecue! Not only does it give you a chance to cook outside, but you also can reap health benefits from grilling your food.

Grilled foods often are healthier than foods cooked on the stove or in the oven, because fewer vitamins and minerals are lost when food is grilled compared to baking or frying.  While the four foods grilled most often in the U.S. are hamburgers, steak, hot dogs and chicken, here are a few healthy grilling options to also consider:

  • Choose lean meats such as ground beef, skinless chicken, or opt for fish or tofu.
  • Instead of using marinade or oil to flavor the meat, try a dry or low-sodium seasoning.
  • Vegetables, including corn on the cob, zucchini, asparagus or sweet potatoes, are a delicious side-dish option.

National Ice Cream Month

We all scream for ice cream! And there’s no better time to cool off with a bowl, cup or cone filled with your favorite flavor than July, which is dedicated to appreciating ice cream.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July (July 16 this year) National Ice Cream Day to promote the economic well-being of the U.S. dairy industry.

Early presidents, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, had a fondness for ice cream, and Dolly Madison even served it at the second inaugural ball. For a while, ice cream was just an occasional treat, mainly for the rich. But that all changed after hand-crank ice cream maker was patented in 1843, followed by the first ice cream factory in 1851. The invention of mechanical refrigeration kept large amounts of ice cream cool, paving the way for the public to enjoy the frozen treat.

Reagan’s proclamation more than 30 years ago called on Americans to pay tribute to ice cream with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.” Most of us are happy to oblige.

3 Energy-Saving Central Air Alternatives

You can give your air conditioner a well-deserved break and lower your energy bills by considering other ways to keep the heat of summer from sweating your brow. The U.S. Department of Energy says alternatives such as energy-efficient windows and doors, shading and natural ventilation can help cool your home with less energy use.

Window coverings

During summer, keep window coverings closed in the daytime to block the sun’s heat. Consider window awnings or roll-down shades for the outside of the home that can be operated by remote control. Choose manufactured shades or blinds that are labeled blackout, or have reflective backing.

Fans

A good way to help your air conditioner is to run ceiling fans at the same time. They will circulate the cool air, allowing you to turn down the air conditioner. Installed on the ceiling between the attic and living space, a whole house fan can meet your home cooling needs by pulling in air from open windows and exhausting it through the attic and roof.

Central air conditioning alternatives

Consider room air conditioners and ductless mini-split air conditioners. Both provide the flexibility of being able to cool individual rooms. Dehumidifying heat pipes allow an air conditioner to dehumidify better while still cooling the air, making them ideal for hot, humid environments.

So, stop relying on just your air conditioner to keep you cool. Alternatives can help you stay comfortable and reward you with cheaper electric bills.

Ginny Leamy
& The Leamy Team
121 N Addison Ave
Elmhurst, IL 60126
Phone: 708-205-9541
Email: ginnysells@aol.com

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