Holiday traditions: Roasted Chestnuts

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We’ve all heard the lyrics but few of us have tried actually roasting chestnuts on an open fire. It’s easier than you may think. Each family has their own traditions with strong roots, some perhaps going back generations. Introducing new rituals into the holidays can seem a bit odd at first, but when friends and family ask for them again and again, you know it’s a tradition that will stick. Roasting chestnuts is one of those traditions that has faded but is experiencing a comeback. Whether in the oven or over an open fire outside or by a cozy fireplace, roasting chestnuts is an easy addition to your holiday fun.

Rumble under the patio: outside earthquake damage to look for

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On November 30, 2017, an earthquake shook the area of Dover, Delaware. Rumblings of the quake, which measured 4.1 on the Richter scale, were felt in a very large radius from the epicenter. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), even a “light” earthquake warrants a check of your home, landscape and patio for damages (check out FEMA’s website for vital information about post-earthquake actions). Here are some places around the patio to look for damage.

Bonfire leaf-burning things to know

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One of the best aromas of the fall season is an outdoor fire. The smell of burning leaves is so distinct and memorable, some people report sensing it in the crisp fall air even when no leaves or fires are burning nearby. As November comes to a close, now is the time for bonfires. Here are some common and not-so-common things to know about leaf burning.

Throw a Friendsgiving feast

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Friendsgiving is a usually casual Thanksgiving feast with those who you consider family. But it’s casual designation doesn’t mean no rules exist. Here’s a guide for the host and guest that will help your Friendsgiving be fabulous. Host A Friendsgiving is meant to be a fun gathering of your closest mates, but the term can apply to any Thanksgiving meal shared between friends, colleagues or even acquaintances. Friendsgiving can be held any time in November. Hosting your dinner on a night other than the 4th Thursday may allow more friends to attend. Thanksgiving Day can work for Friendsgiving too; be sure to coordinate everyone’s schedules well ahead of time.

Fall mantle decor - celebrate the harvest

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The winter holidays may be fast approaching, but we can give thanks for the harvest season with these fall decor ideas. Between the frightening fun of Halloween and the cozy, candied Christmas seasons, it’s easy to lose the best season of the year: Autumn. Thanksgiving is the culmination of the fall season where we celebrate all those small strokes of luck and big blessings that we’ve been fortunate to receive. All too often this decor gets lost between October holidays and the New Year’s Eve parties. Let’s bring back a bit of fall to the fireplace area and tabletops.

Thanksgiving desserts and decor

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Don’t let Christmas recipes or decorations take over your Thanksgiving. Keep the focus on fall with these treats and tricks. We’ve all noticed it - the Christmas Creep. September 21 rolls around and the stores start selling winter holiday decor. It’s as if we jump out of the pool and into our parkas! Don’t let the commercial trends take away your Autumn. Thanksgiving is the culmination of this wonderful time of year. Celebrate with the tastes and colors of fallen leaves and crisp blue skies.

Fall fondue fun on the patio

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From cheesy dips to mini s’mores, a ton of delicious fondue fun awaits. Fondue legend says the tradition started in the 1600s Switzerland. The practice grew in popularity in Switzerland in the 1800s, when the Swiss government promoted it as a nutrition strategy and a use for aged cheeses. A pot with its own heat source, usually a small flame under a rack, keeps the dipping sauce molten. Diners use skewers to dip small pieces of crusty bread into the sauce.

Punctuate your patio with texture: Add visual and tactile interest to your Hardscape

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There are many elements to interior design. Color, light, lines, shapes (forms) and texture are all applied principles of design that are immediately noticeable in a room. These principles also apply when building and decorating exterior rooms. One design element that is often overlooked on the patio is texture.

Modern Halloween Tricks and Tips

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Bobbing for apples is a scary prospect. Here are some updated party tips and outdoor decor tricks to bring your All Hallow’s Eve into the 21st century. Welcoming Guests Outdoor Halloween decor ranges from the scary to the sweet. Whatever your preference, good decor puts everyone in the party mood. Here are some of the latest trends in outdoor Halloween decor.

Walled gardens: curb appeal elements with curves

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A walled front garden helps your curb appeal strike the right balance between architectural and natural elements. We are all familiar with the natural elements recommended for basic curb appeal: manicured lawns, trimmed and healthy trees and plants, and seasonal and colorful additions to the landscape. A lot of visual interest is left on the curb, so to speak, when the only architectural element is the front of the home.

Spa Retreat: Integrate a hot tub into your Hardscape

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The benefits of hot tubs are widely known. Incorporating a hot tub addition to an established Hardscape may be easier than you think. You’ve seen the glossy pictures of luxurious retreats, of steaming-hot baths enjoyed outside, and you’ve decided it’s time to build the dream in your own backyard. A nice long soak in a hot tub is one of life’s simplest and purest pleasures. We’ve covered the basics about spas. Check out this article to begin your research.

Build another kind of fire in the backyard: a blazing swath of fall leaves.

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October is well underway and parts of the country are seeing the colorful goodness of the season. Indeed, fall leaves are a tourist draw for many of the northeastern states. You can have your own bright show every year if you choose the right species of tree. Here are 4 for the northeastern corridor as suggested by the Arbor Day Association.

Apple season’s as easy as pie

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Now is the time to harvest your own bushel of apples for a whole cart of fall fun. Right around now is the best time to get outdoors and go apple picking. Whether you’re lucky enough to have your apple trees in your own backyard or you have an age-old (or new!) family tradition of heading out to the local orchard, apple picking is always fun on a crisp autumn day. It’s a great October outdoor group activity for all ages. The best part is the piles of apples you have at the end. But sometimes we go a little wild and we pick a peck or two too many. Here are a few apple ideas to help you reap and use well the fruits from your labors.

Grass tech fills in the gaps: Synthetic turf and patio pavers

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Artificial grass has come a long way. It’s not the fake grass made of sharp bright green plastic found in the cheesy store displays of yore. If you are looking for a great-looking, low-to-no maintenance solution for your landscape, you may want to give synthetic grass another look.

Building Blocks for Grownups: A DIY guide to building your own fire pit

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If you spent time as a kid creating structures with Legos, you may have the skills to build a permanent fire pit in your backyard. We’ve laid it all out for the home hardscaper. Getting something done on your own brings a unique and cherished sense of accomplishment. Don’t shy away from a fire pit project because it seems daunting. We have kits with detailed instructions that any do-it-yourself enthusiast can follow.

Rock the garden: whimsical stone displays to add fun to your outdoor decor

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Add some impromptu sculptures and spots of color to your garden and patio with these simple projects. Decorating the patio with small details brings a sense of wonder and serenity to your outdoor space. Fortunately, there are some very easy and inexpensive ways to do it. Here are a few ideas to try.

Renew, refresh or replace? Paver answers for a perfect patio

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Time heals all wounds, but time and Mother Nature can leave their marks on your pavers. There are handy tricks to freshen up the look of your sturdy, steady patio pavers. Many of the questions we get about pavers have to do with cleaning them. Usually a gentle rinse down with a hose will be enough, but after a decade or two of harsh seasons, a homeowner may want to get more down and dirty with leaf stains and dark streaks. We have a few tips for you.

Team Day: Show your spirit on the patio

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Football season is here. Is your patio ready? Across the country and perhaps the world, folks have gathered online and in person to painstakingly draft together their fantasy teams. College football fans have kicked off their semester, full of hope and anticipation for a winning record. Football season is back!