Creative Date Night Ideas

8645557468_7898ac7428_bAs summer comes to an end, its important to remember time with your significant other! Instead of just the usual dinner and a movie, below are some ideas for something different to experience together:

  • Lowry Park Zoo Sunset Celebration– The zoo is open until 10pm with food and drinks available .
  • The Box Theater Improv (1925 2nd Ave, Tampa, 33605) – Starts at 7:30 so you can catch a bite to eat or hang out with the performers after! $8 advance, $10 at the door for two shows- Dear Aunt Gertrude and The Escape Artisans lead the laughs tonight!
  • And for even more ideas, The Tampa Bay Times has ideas divided by category- even things to do if the kiddos are coming along too! Memorable Date Ideas in Tampa Bay

Whatever you decide to do, have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

Five Things to do Before Summer Ends

We are already half way through July and the school year will be starting soon! Before you miss the summer time, her are 5 things to do before it all ends:

  1. Visit the pool and/or beach! Soak up more sun and the exhilaration of jumping in a cool pool after being in the hot sun.
  2. Water your plants, but not too much! The plants and grass may be looking a little dry, but they only need 1 to 1.5 inches per week. Water your landscaping once or twice a week to encourage deep root growth. It will help your plants longterm and hopefully save a little money on the water bill. The best time to water is between 4am and 8am when the water won’t evaporate too quickly and not also saturate the ground for too long if watered at night.
  3. Get your car detailed. Once the school year begins, so does all the extracurricular activities that come with. There’s something nice about starting fresh and clean, even if you will need to give your car a good clean again in a few months.
  4. Squeeze in some more family time with a game night, craft time, or exploring something new in your own town (such as a museum, splash pad, event, and /or restaurant).
  5. Plan one or two more barbecues! It’s the best time to invite friends and family over to grill. Try to plan at least one more get together before everyone’s schedules get busier.

4th of July Events

The weekend of festivities, barbecues, beach time, fireworks, and non stop fun celebrating Independence day for our country is this coming Monday!! Events will be happening Saturday through Monday all around Tampa Bay. If you are looking for fireworks, parades, and other celebrations, check out the link below:

“Fourth of July Festivities”

If you are looking for a few other fun events-such as new movies, concerts, and a hot dog eating contest- Tampa Bay Times has an excellent weekend planner to help: Tampa Bay Times Weekend Planner

4thFireworks1

However you decide to celebrate this weekend, we wish you a very restful, fun, safe, and Happy 4th of July!!

Keeping Your Home Safe While Away

It’s vacation time and that means planning not only for your vacation, but also for your home and pets. It is important to take some steps to protect yourself and your home before traveling.

When traveling, avoid posting anything on social media such as Twitter, but do alert a close friend or family member. Have a close friend or relative gather your mail, newspapers, and complete quick checks around the house to make sure everything is fine. You can also go to the post office and have your mail placed on hold and delivered when you return.

Putting your lights on timers is a good investment. There are some that you can schedule to be turned on at certain times and even some that you can turn on yourself from your smartphone. This helps so that potential intruders think someone is home.

Installing high-grade window materials can also help keep your home safe. A1’s Impact windows are made with a super strong laminate that will add to the security of your home.

Remember to have a place for your pets to stay while away. If you hire a trusted pet sitter, that can also be helpful to keeping your home safe (someone is home!) while away. There are also plenty of pet-friendly kennels and boarding centers around town. Check the reviews and information on the site to make sure you find one you are truly comfortable with for your pet.

Happy vacationing!

Preparing For a Hurricane

2560px-Hurricane_Isabel_from_ISSHurricane season has only begun and already Florida has seen some effects from tropical storm Colin. Now is a good time to think and create a plan for you and your family.

Knowing ahead of time can help save you from stress and from waiting until the last minute to be ready. There are a number of things you can do to help protect your home- purchasing hurricane shutters, impact windows such as A1’s line of vinyl double impact windows, and screen shutters if you have a screened-in porch. Anything outside the home, such as lawn chairs and planters, can be brought inside to help protect your home from flying objects.

Having a plan is extremely important. One helpful website is Fl Get a Plan!. It takes you step by step as you place contact information and a meeting place that everyone your family will know about, just in case. It then creates a list of kits, activities, forms you will need, and other suggestions according to your needs (such as if you have pets or any children). The created family plan can then be saved to your computer for you to print and you can also e-mail it to yourself for easy reference.

Preparing a hurricane kit is also important. Start with a cooler with wheels or large plastic tote that is easy to transport. You will need a gallon of water per person (if not potentially more), drinks with electrolytes, and maybe water purification tablets. Water is key to survival and you never know how long it may take for help to arrive. Pack canned or freeze-dried food (plenty for at least 3 days), a manual can opener, reusable water bottles, plastic eating utensils, and a camp stove if you have one. If possible, get a battery powered radio with a NOAA weather radio option. Think as if you are going camping- so flashlights, extra batteries, water-proof matches, first aid kit, solar power charger, wipes, hand sanitizer, towels, and toilet paper. Pack clothes in a sealed-plastic bag and include rain gear.

Below are some other websites that can help you prepare:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

American Red Cross Hurricane Preparedness

School is Out For Summer!!

GINS_FL_Santa_Rosa_Area_beach_west01
Summer break has finally arrived and now to figure out what to do with the little ones? Below are a few ideas that will cost little to no money:

  • The beach! You may have to purchase a few sand toys and pack a lunch, but for little to no money, it will fill up the days!
  • The local community pool. You can purchase summer passes or try a different one every week and decide which one you like best.
  • Water balloon fight
  • Water play with a water table, kiddie pools, and a slip and slide
  • Build forts and tents inside the house (you may want to save this one for rainy days)
  • Library! The library offers countless programs all summer, usually from preschool age to teens. Just search for your local library and look for any summer programs being offered.
  • Create smoothies, homemade ice cream, popsicles, and lemonade!
  • Visit your local craft store and find craft kits or random supplies to invent your own special thing (also might be great to save for rainy days or a super humid/no wind kind of day).
  • Check your local theater to see if they are offering summer movies. Most theaters will show movies on certain days in the morning; sometimes free or for just a few dollars.
  • Visit a museum, botanical garden, or a local historical site and learn more about your town!

There is so much more out there to fill the days and often the local newspaper will list activities and events to help stay busy. Happy summer!

 

Memorial Day Weekend Events

american-flag-1208660_960_720It’s Memorial Day weekend as well as the time to kick off the summer. It’s a weekend to commemorate those for their service and also a weekend when many will explore the beaches, go swimming, grill in the backyard, invite friends over, and check one of the many events happening around the Tampa Bay Area. From parades to the Backyard BBQ at Vinoy Park in St. Pete and “An Evening in Space” at Mosi in Tampa. There’s plenty to plan for and choose according to your liking! Check out the link below to see all the events:

Tampa Bay Times Memorial Day Weekend Events

 

Saving On The Energy Bill As The Heat Rises

The summer heat is here and so is turning down the thermostat. As much as we want it to be a cool 72 degrees in our home daily, that can quickly add up. Here are some ways to save this summer so you can enjoy the air conditioner without much worry!

1. Invest in shades or curtains that help to block heat from entering the room.

2. Make sure to set the thermostat so that when you are away during the day the air conditioner is not running. There are some great programmable thermostat options that can be set to start cooling your home an hour before you return. These thermostats also allow you to control the temperature from your Smart phone. So if you are taking a trip and notice your air is running, you can turn it off!

3. Raising your thermostat temperature and using a fan uses less energy and therefore less cost. There are even energy efficient ceiling fans that help reduce costs even more.

4. Replacing your lightbulbs with energy efficient lightbulbs will often produce less heat which helps to keep the room cool.

5. Turn your water heater to 120 degrees. This helps to save money and also prevent burns.

6. Vacuum the vents regularly and make sure there isn’t any furniture blocking the registers. Keep appliances and lamps away from the thermostat as the thermostat will sense heat and run longer than necessary.

7. Caulk around any windows, use weather stripping, and seal any other cracks in your home to keep hot air out and the cool air inside.

Which Countertop to Choose?

There are so many differences in countertops-from the look, feel, and maintenance. Below is a quick guide on the pros and cons of varying countertops:

Butcher Block

Butcher block can be an inexpensive way to update the look of your kitchen and with the right kind of maintenance, can look more and more beautiful through the years. The varying wood grains give a classy, warm, and cozy feel to any kitchen. The downsides are the need to oil to keep away bacteria and sanding every so often as it will get nicks and cuts easily.

Concrete Countertops

This is one of the newest trends and often any great DIYer can do on his or her own. If you want an expert to handle it, there are a variety of stains and shapes concrete can take. The cons are that it can get costly, may crack overtime, and it needs a strong support underneath.

Granite

Classic, formal, traditional, and unique. Granite has been a popular choice for many years now and there are so many options to choose what you really want for your kitchen. The only negative is that it needs to be resealed every so often (but that goes for most countertops) and it also needs a strong support underneath.

Laminate

The most affordable option that can now come in a variety of styles and almost look like granite. The negatives are that it can chip and scratch easily (without really being able to be repaired) and it is too light to hold an undermount sink.

Quartz

This comes in a variety of styles and has long lasting durability. Just don’t directly place a hot pot or cut on the countertop.

Marble

Elegant, beautiful, and timeless. However, it is very expensive, can chip easily, and stain even if sealed properly. If you want marble, it’s recommended to only install in one small part of the kitchen (such as where you will do your baking).

There are so many choices out there and every countertop comes with pros and cons. But no matter the choice, it’s important to choose the style and quality that best suits you.

 

Mother’s Day is This Sunday!

Looking for some ideas on how to celebrate the mother(s) in your life? Below are a few ideas, including events happening in the Tampa Bay Area:

  • Make an appointment for her to get a pedicure, manicure, and/or a massage
  • Give her the whole day to do whatever she wants! Be it coffee, hang out with friends, or go see a movie.
  • Take her to the store to pick out her own piece of jewelry (unless she told you specifically what she would like)
  • Bring her flowers and gift that you know she would really like!
  • Or go to any of these exciting events this weekend

Happy Mother’s Day!