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3 hot bourbon recipes to warm your winter

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The recent subzero temperatures have kept us all inside. Why not make the best of it? Here are some warm, spiked drinks you may have yet to try. There’s an old tale that a shot of whiskey will warm you up. Indeed, a sip of straight bourbon or whiskey can feel like swallowing embers from your fire pit. Mixing the liquor with some special ingredients can bring the warm feeling without burning your throat.

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.

Try different BBQ styles from around the US

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May is National BBQ Month, and the month when many east coasters break out their grills. The warmer weather also means that folks begin taking culinary trips, like long weekends to nearby cities or shore towns. But with the kids still in school and work ramping up for a busy quarter, a jaunt to a city famous for its BBQ may not be in the cards. Why not try a few classic BBQ styles at home this weekend?

Perfect prom pics on the patio

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Now is the time to break out the camera as our nation’s youth head out to one of their first formal events. Leverage the light around your patio to capture the perfect pictures of this milestone.

Host a beer tasting party on the patio

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It’s time to get outside and do something a little different. A beer tasting party can be a sophisticated or simple home-brewed kind of affair. Beer runs the gamut from simple, mass-produced ale to complex microbrews. A beer tasting party hosted on your own personal outdoor bar or patio is easy to set up and has high “edutainment” (entertaining education) value.

A Fun Fireplace: 3 traditional accessories and their new twists

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The apple spice and pine scented days are upon us. Along with your fuzzy blanket and mug of hot cider, add some unique accessories to your hearth to welcome the winter season. In days gone by, the fireplace, whether indoor or outdoor, was a central feature in any room. Being the primary and sometimes only source of heat meant the fires had to keep burning. Many of the fire tools of yore have faded from most homes. Here are some old accessories and their new counterparts to help you recreate that traditional -or modern- winter scene by the fire.

From muggy to mugs: warm drinks for fall cocktails on the patio

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"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." — L.M. Montgomery, in Anne of Green Gables In the Autumn, the sun sets earlier and earlier, giving us the opportunity to stargaze with friends long before bedtime. Serving some traditional fall drinks is a great way to host a happy hour out on the patio. The crisp fall air is a welcome break from the muggy summer heat and it is simply invigorating. Fresh air is good for us in all seasons. Grab a few blankets, coffee mugs, throw some sticks in the fire pit and head outside to breathe it all in.

Oktoberfest Outdoors: Beer tasting to launch the Fall

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According to the website NationalDayCalendar.com, September 28th, 2016 is National Have A Beer Day. This coincides with the end of the annual Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich, Bavaria, Germany (yes, the end - years ago the festival was moved up a few weeks to take advantage of the warmer September weather). The first weekend of October is the closing of the official Oktoberfest, but it’s still a good time for us to break out the brews and party on the patio.

How to eke out more summer

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Don’t say goodbye to the season just yet. Late summer can be the best time to get outside. American culture seems to treat Labor Day as the official end of summer. It isn’t, really, as the Summer season ends at sunset on Sept. 20. While it’s common to treat the beginning of the school semester as the start of Fall, you can eke out some more summer experiences with the family in these next few weeks. Keeping up with a few summer standards will help everyone transition into the new routines.

Grilling Big for Labor Day

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Labor Day is coming up. Those of us lucky enough to have outdoor living spaces will undoubtedly find people gathering on our patios this weekend (whether we invite them or not!). Labor Day is one of those holidays where we simply plan to grill big.

Party on the Patio: Summer Wines

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Having a great outdoor space gives you more opportunities to spend time with family and friends. A themed party on the patio can vanquish our work-a-day blues and turn an unassuming weeknight into a fun-filled event. Wine-tasting parties are especially popular to have outdoors. There’s nothing like a summer night combined with a beautifully chilled glass of wine to give you an “attitude adjustment.”

No Fly Zone - keep the bugs at bay

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One of the major stumbling blocks to spending more time outdoors is the dreaded mosquito and the itchy bite it leaves behind. Thankfully in our region these little pests don’t usually come with big problems like they do on other continents. Still, when we are plagued by bugs we tend to spend less time outside.

Party on the Patio: Take Advantage of the Weather and Plan an Outdoor Holiday Event

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Why not take the party outdoors? Just because it’s December doesn’t mean your patio and backyard have to go unused as entertaining space. There are plenty of ways to achieve the same festive environment the inside of your home would offer in colder temperatures, and you get the added benefit of more entertaining space and less overall mess in the house.

Fall on the Patio: Family Gatherings

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With the ghouls and goblins having gathered their treats and hopefully a few tricks, we feel it necessary to remind you that Halloween stands at the peak of the downhill slide that launches us through the holiday season clear to New Year’s Day. How many times have you looked back on the end of year craziness that is the holidays to realize that you have barely had time to catch your breath since Halloween? During the next few months, your down-time will be filled with family, friends and visitors looking to share the season and celebrate. In many areas of the Northeast, the weather is still warm enough for an outdoor party on your patio well into November, with or without the warming accent of a fire pit or and outdoor fireplace (although they would definitely extend your party hours into the evening much more comfortably.)

Party on the Patio: Fall Harvest

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There’s nothing like the autumn season. Colors shift from green to a vibrant and warm array of oranges, burgundies, yellows and browns, the air cools off and most of the resident insect population moves on or goes down for their winter’s nap. Along with these changes come culinary delights like pumpkin and spice flavored foods, harvests of apples lend to the menu and hints of caramel and cinnamon enhance many a recipe. Celebrate this fabulous change of season with a party on your patio – with a focus on the fall harvest and all its bounty. Gather in the backyard, or around the fire pit, to enjoy the tastes, scents and colors that fall offers.

Patio Party Series: Outdoor Bar Tips and Ideas

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The warmer weather is in full swing, which means a lot of us are already spending more time outdoors with friends and family. Dining al fresco on the patio is a one of the main reasons so many people decide to add an outdoor living space onto their home in the first place. It’s no wonder, now that fully functional outdoor kitchens (once only thought of for Hollywood royalty) are becoming standard in many suburban backyards.

Patio Party Series- Wines that Pair Well with Grilled Food

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While most folks know that hotdogs and beer go well together, we wanted to learn what types of wines pair best with grilled foods. Since the outdoor living trend has brought full-fledged kitchens out onto the patio these days, it’s taken the typical patio fare from hamburgers to halibut. Gourmet burger recipes include everything from whipped feta to Jalapeño-Cilantro Mayo; so we were excited to learn from an expert what wines to serve or bring to a backyard barbeque this season.