With the first confirmed cases of Zika in Florida, the concerns about the Zika virus are again at the forefront. An outbreak of a mosquito-borne virus is always a concern, especially in the heat of the summer. And since mosquitoes are attracted to bodies of water of any kind, we would like to take this time to provide some information about Zika, and the steps you can take to combat it (and other mosquito borne illnesses) this summer.
As far as your pool is concerned, ensure proper filtration at all times. Pool water should be filtered continuously between 8 - 12 hours a day. Make sure you maintain proper balance of pH, alkalinity, calcium hardness and most importantly, sanitizer (chlorine/bromine/salt, or baquacil). For chlorine, ensure that a level between 1.5 and 2.0 ppm is maintained at all times. After heavy pool usage, treat the pool with a double dose of shock. Preventative maintenance doses of algaecide are recommended as well. Anywhere from one quart to half a gallon of algaecide once per week is sufficient, depending on pool size, location, etc. For more information on pool maintenance and sanitizing tips, feel free to call us or stop by for a personalized recommendation. We have provided additional information about Zika below.
Here are some helpful links: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/needtoknow.html
Now that Springtime is here, our attention turns outside, which mainly involves assessing the condition of our backyard or garden. But before you make the trip to Lowe's or Home Depot to purchase plants or related supplies, we found some plants that will not only beautify your backyard, but repel pesky summertime pests as well.
Marigold. This bright, hardy, annual plant is an effective mosquito repellent. They contain pyrethrum, an ingredient found in many insect repellents, and also have a unique aroma that repulses bugs. The flowers themselves are lovely, and provide a beautiful pop of color to your outdoor space. Extra tip: place them around the borders of your home to form a natural mosquito barrier (for your house).
Citronella. A common ingredient in mosquito repellent, this perennial grass emits a strong aroma that overpowers other cents, keeping mosquitoes at bay. It grows very easily, and can reach heights of up to 6 feet high, and can be either grown in pots, or added to your garden.
Basil. This plant is actually a triple threat. Not only is it a delicious cooking ingredient, but it looks great in your garden, AND repels mosquitoes! Many varieties of basil exist, but experts recommend lemon or cinnamon basil as a mosquito repellent. And since it is an easy plant to maintain, no green thumb is needed to enjoy its benefits.
Lavender. Known for its beautiful purple flowers and calming scent, this plant naturally repels mosquitoes as well. It can be grown indoors near a sunny window, or outside to repel bugs.
Pennyroyal. This cute little flower is another natural mosquito deterrent. Planted around flowerbeds, it also makes a wonderful groundcover, not to mention that they attract butterflies of all kinds! It can even be used to flavor some fish dishes as well.
Check out more plants and flowers that are also natural bug repellents at: http://www.naturallivingideas.com/11-plants-that-repel-mosquitoes/
With snow in the forecast for this weekend, now is is a great time to start thinking about the warmer weather! Entertaining in the summer is great - it gives us a chance to enjoy the warm weather, pool, and sweet summer treats together. But we've all had the same dilemma once the guests have been invited: What should I serve? How can I spruce up the backyard and get it ready to accommodate my guests? How can I "wow" my guests? Not to worry, Coldwell Banker has a list of great ideas for backyard parties that will provide unique answers those questions, to which we have added our own suggestions. It will help you create backyard parties that will be talked about long after the summer season.
1. Low Country Boil. Serve a compilation of summertime must-eats family-style: shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn-on-the-cob smothered in Old Bay. We suggest serving up some ice cold Sam Adams Summer Ale for the adults, and some fresh lemonade for the kids to compliment this delicious meal.
2. Old-Fashioned Family Picnic. When guests aren't swimming, play games such as a 3 legged race and water balloon (which are available at our store) toss. Have the kids manage the scoreboard with chalk on a nearby sidewalk. For cuisine, provide a make-your-own sandwich station. Kids and adults alike will enjoy an afternoon or evening of family fun!
3. Craft Beer Tasting. There's nothing like an ice cold beer after a dip in the pool. Have guests bring some bottles their favorite craft beer. Pour each beer brand into one-ounce tastes into small cups labeled by number. Then have your guests rate their favorites based on pre-set criteria (such as flavor, body and aroma). At the end of the party, announce the winners and call out the guest with the best palate. Serve beer-friendly foods like pretzels, pigs in a blanket and chicken wings. Guests will certainly be saying "Cheers!"
4. Backyard Movie Night. Who says cooking out is the only thing you can do in the summer? Why not take advantage of the balmy nights by setting up the silver screen in your own backyard! Just set up a screen (a white sheet and projector do the trick), and pick your favorite movie - instant outdoor theater! To enhance the movie going experience, serve cinema snack staples like popcorn and Junior mints. Ask friends to bring lawn chairs or picnic blankets to make themselves comfortable, and your party will be sure to get a five star review!
For more cool ideas, check out http://blog.coldwellbanker.com/10-unique-backyard-party-ideas/ and stop by our store to get your pool up and running!
Last week, Seaworld announced that it will end its Orca breeding and entertainment program. This key decision renewed a controversial and intriguing discussion about pools: are they good for animals as well as humans? We are well familiar with the benefits of pools for humans; they provide us with a wealth of healthy opportunities both physically and socially. Not only does the pool provide us with exercise and social opportunities, but the chlorinated water (in a properly balanced pool) helps any skin abrasions (cuts, poison ivy, etc.) heal as well. But for animals such as the Orca, pools represent the antithesis of health and well-being, as evidenced by the CNN documentary "Blackfish". These highly intelligent, majestic apex predators are meant to roam the ocean with their natural families, or pods, instead of being confined to a pool that in no way mimics their natural habitat. Even with the prevalence of salt generators, it must be noted that those generators transform salt into chlorine (which then sanitizes the water), and chlorine is a chemical that in no way provides benefits to the whales. This is indeed a hot-button issue, but although pools provide an abundance of benefits for humans, the same is not true for the incredible creatures of the sea, especially the Orca.
Even though snow is in the forecast for this weekend, it is never too early to start thinking about your pool. The start of the pool season can be overwhelming, whether you do it yourself, or have us open it. Here are a few helpful hints that will not only make opening the pool easier, but will make your summer pool maintenance a breeze as well.
Open the pool early. Most people open their pool when they are ready to use it, around late May. However, it is much more beneficial to open the pool well before that, for many reasons. First, the air temperature is cooler (we suggest opening when it hits 65 degrees), meaning algae growth is minimal to none. It also means that chlorine burnoff will be minimal, making the necessary levels easier to maintain. Balancing water chemistry in general is easier, since the water is not subjected to extreme heat and usage. Starting the season with a balanced pool will make it much easier to maintain throughout the summer. Opening the pool early also gives you plenty of time to address leaky hoses, missing plugs, etc. By the time the warm weather comes around, all you'll have to do is jump in!
Decide what sanitizer you're going to use at the beginning of the season. Been thinking about switching to a salt generator system? Or maybe you'd like to ditch chlorine altogether for a Baquacil (non-chlorine) sanitizing program. If it's the former, you'll have to allow for installation, which will need to be booked in advance. By late May, the schedule will be quite full, whereas if it's scheduled early, an appointment will be much easier to obtain. If it's the latter, keep in mind that the chlorine levels need to read 0.00 before starting it, or else a reaction will occur with the chlorine and Baquacil (the water will turn green) and additional treatments will be required. It's definitely not the type of thing you'd want to switch to in the middle of the summer.
Schedule service work, openings, pool/liner installations early. Again, if you call us in late May to schedule a liner replacement, etc., keep in mind that by then we may be booking up to a month in advance. If you stop in and get the ball rolling in March/April, scheduling, coordinating details, etc. is much easier; you'll beat the rush. When spring temperatures become stable, we can get started on roadwork (your pool), and by the time summer weather arrives, your pool will be swim-ready!
With summer approaching, it's time to start thinking about opening (or purchasing) a pool, and planning time to enjoy it with friends and family. And while chilling poolside presents a great opportunity to unplug and spend quality time with loved ones, most of us would still keep our cell phone, tablet, etc. nearby. We've all been there - enjoying a carefree day by the pool, soaking in the sun with family and friends, when it happens: someone cannonballs into the pool, creating a tidal wave splash. We turn in horror to check our phone sitting in the shade nearby. Did it get wet? Is it working? Damage to a device is awful and inconvenient, and it can be frustrating when it occurs because of a tiny amount of water. Not only do we rely on them for calls, emails and social media, but they are also expensive and sometimes difficult (and inconvenient) to replace. But fear not, because we have compiled a list of waterproof tech gadgets that will keep your tech high and dry, leaving you free to enjoy a summer full of fun in the sun!
Phantom Aquatics Waterproof Backpack Dry Bag
This accessory is great poolside, or to bring on a trip to the beach, hiking, and camping trips, too. 100% waterproof, it floats safely when dropped in water, and protects contents from dust and dirt as well. It boasts a unique seamless construction a two-way roll top sealing system, padded shoulder straps and lumbar support.
LifeProof Fre iPhone 6 Case
This case is waterproof and has a built-in screen protector. It can be submerged 6.6 feet underwater for an hour, and can also withstand being dropped from that same distance. The full enclosure design also means your device is sealed from dirt and dust as well.
BOOM Swimmer Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
This bluetooth enabled wireless speaker has a sleek design with a tail that can be looped, twisted or snaked, providing endless mounting possibilities. The tail can also be removed altogether, and use the suction cup (included) to attach it to a nearby smooth surface. The bluetooth technology means that you can pair the speaker with your smartphone and play music from there. The best part? The Swimmer is rated to be immersed in water for 30 minutes, and has a built-in rechargeable battery that offers up to 18 hours of audio playback.
JOTO Universal Waterproof Bag
This universal waterproof sleeve can also help keep your devices and other valuables from getting waterlogged. Its universal nature means you are able to store things like your phone, cash, wallets, ID, and jewelry safely and securely.
With the pool season right around the corner, here are some easy and inexpensive DIY projects that will give your backyard an instant upgrade. Check out the photos in the slideshow below!
Give pots a makeover with glow-in-the-dark paint
Re-purpose an old planter or purchase a new one at a store like Ikea for as little as $1, and spray paint it with glow-in-the-dark-paint. Not only will it add a unique ambiance to nighttime swimming, but it will also pull double-duty as a night light!
Keeping with the glow-in-the-dark theme, Bring game-time to nighttime with glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets
The heat of competition can prevail long after the sun sets. All you need is to affix a wooden stake or metal pole in the ground, and glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces transform from concert jewelry to cool ring-toss pieces.
Paint stones for your garden. Do it yourself and give your yard a Pinterest-worthy look, or have your kids paint some rocks and create outdoor mementos. Either way they'll be a cool conversation piece!
Create a colorful bird nesting area. Get some extra tenants for your birdhouse by adding an adjacent nesting area. All you need is some yarn and to hang a metal or wooden basket (or add the yarn to your birdhouse itself), and the birds will be flocking to it in no time. When they come to the birdhouse to eat, they'll stop at the nesting area to digest. Not only will it be "aww-inspiring", but the yarn will also add a colorful pop of color to your backyard!
Bring ordinary pavers to life with exterior latex outdoor paint. Brighten up your outdoor patio with a can of exterior latex outdoor paint. Not only will it create a colorful aesthetic, but it will also provide extra protection from the elements. When choosing paint, keep in mind to purchase paint that is non-glare and is low-sheen, and be sure to apply two coats.
Spray paint outdoor chairs. There's nothing worse than having to seat your summer guests on old or worn metal chairs. We all have them. A colorful can of Rustoleum or Krylon, available at your nearby Lowe's, will give them a fresh, cheery appearance. Not only will they look brand-new, but they will add a pop of color to your outdoor festivities. Whether hosting a barbecue or watching the kids swim in the pool, these chairs will add extra zest to any summertime occasion.
For more ideas, see the full list at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/money/30-budget-backyard-diy-ideas-that-will-make-your-neighbors-jealous.html
In honor of Style Week, and the fact that spring is right around the corner, this post describes a unique line of high-fashion attire inspired by swimming pools. Moschino is an Italian luxury fashion design company, specializing in everything from clothing and accessories to luggage and perfume. Founded in 1983 by Franco Moschino, it continues to reside among the companies producing cutting edge, high-fashion creations. In addition to their ready-to-wear collections, the fashion house has also designed the outfits for the Opening Ceremonies at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, and for celebrities such as Lady Gaga, among others. Known for innovative, colorful, and sometimes eccentric vibe, it's not surprising that Moschino would channel vintage poolside glam in it's latest summer collection. Although the pieces are high-fashion in price as well, it provides good food for thought while examining your closet in anticipation for the upcoming summer season. The colors are bright (without being too loud), and feminine, with a cool retro glam, '80's-inspired vibe, and features conversation-piece accessories. They should definitely provide inspiration for your poolside wardrobe this summer! The line is called Moschino Pool Party, and is available on http://www.polyvore.com/
A new craze is sweeping the NHL. It's not hockey fights, memorabilia, or a new kind of endorsement. It's puppies! The "Puppy Challenge" certainly has tongues - and tails - wagging. In January, Cole Jansen went watch his Ottawa Senators play the New York Rangers. The game had special meaning for him; if Bobby Ryan scored a goal, his parents agreed to get a dog for him and his brother. He decided to take a proactive approach, holding up a sign that read, "Bobby, Dad said if you score we get a puppy!" With 20 seconds left in the second period, Bobby Ryan granted his wish. His parents kept up their end of the deal, and the family brought home a pomsky, appropriately named Bobby. Ryan, pleased to be able to score the puppy for Cole and his brother, arranged to meet them, and his namesake, for some one-on-one time at the rink! Check out the adorable video here: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/gotta-see-it-bobby-ryan-meets-puppy-he-won-for-kids/
Also in January, Maddie Wright made a similar deal with her parents, and took the same approach. On her birthday, she attended a Blue Jackets game, holding a sign that said "Dad says if 13 scores on my Birthday we get a dog.” Number 13 is Cam Atkinson, who was happy to oblige. He didn't just score one goal, he got a hat trick! Soon after, the family welcomed their newest addition into their home, a female black lab mix, a rescue dog from the Delaware County Humane Society, fittingly named Cam. Since the NHL star is a dog lover himself, he invited the family, dog included, to the rink so he could meet them. Both the family and the hockey player enjoyed a day of spending time together, and getting a behind-the-scenes tour of an NHL hockey arena.
This displays the sport of professional hockey at its finest. It may not be as glamorous as football or baseball, but it is just as thrilling, and its players continuously display a willingness to interact with the fans on a personal level. It is so refreshing, in this day and age, where everyone seems to be rushing around, that NHL hockey players would go to such lengths to bring happiness to even the youngest of their fans. Taking the extra time to meet the families is truly special, and sets a great example. We all know professional athletes don't always act as such. Through their actions, these hockey players teach what it means to have heart. It's not just about money or wins to them (and the NHL); it's about the fans, too. That's a huge score in our book. Meanwhile, the Puppy Challenge is far from over. It appears as though NHL players will continue to score goals and melt hearts, and we look forward to many more heartwarming "tails"!
In honor of Valentine's Day and the President's Day holiday weekend, we would like to stoke everyone's warm and fuzzy thoughts with a post about images capturing the exuberance of dogs from a different perspective: underwater! Who said that pools were just for swimming? In this case, a pool served as a ground-breaking backdrop to showcase the inherent playfulness in man's best friend, in a new and exciting way. According to sethcasteel.com, the first underwater photo happened as a pure afterthought. In 2010, photographer Seth Casteel was taking pictures of Buster, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, in his California backyard. Although the photo shoot was intended to be on dry land, Buster, proving to be a difficult muse, insisted on playing in the pool instead. As he watched the dog carry on, happily chasing his tennis ball in and out of the water, Casteel began to wonder, "What does he look like under there?" So he quickly left the shoot, bought a point-and-shoot underwater camera, and joined the dog's pool party. Those photos sparked the beginning of his now world-famous Underwater Dog portfolio. While his friends told him to take the easy road and become a wedding photographer, Casteel followed his two passions: dogs and photography, and spent the last remaining credit on his credit card on underwater housing for his camera, so that he could continue the work he stumbled upon in his backyard photo shoot with Buster. Within a few months, his photos became a worldwide sensation, and he had a book deal, and photography opportunities with organizations such as National Geographic and the New York Times. He uses his platform to inform people about dogs and water safety, as well as dog rescue and adoptions. Even before is meteoric rise, he photographed pictures of homeless dogs and helped countless pups find forever homes. He even adopted one himself! Check out some of his famous images below, and learn more about his amazing work at his website: http://www.sethcasteel.com/#!/home