Feed Backyard Birds this Season

(BPT) – When you fill your bird feeders and put fresh water in the birdbath this season, you’ll definitely be giving your feathered friends a helping hand. But you could also be serving the greater good!

Take note of the birds that visit your yard, and you’ll be ready to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a four-day annual event during which thousands of people around the world record information about the species of birds they see. The information backyard bird-watchers gather assists scientists in better understanding the movement of species around the globe, how well different species are — or aren’t — doing and how factors like climate change are affecting bird populations everywhere.

And when the bird count is over, you’ll still enjoy a yard filled with the pleasing colors and sounds of wild birds.

Birds are important

“We enjoy birdwatching and feeding birds because they brighten our backyards and entertain us with their antics, especially during long winters,” says Richard Cole, co-founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products. “But birds also play an important role in maintaining environmental balance around the world. They pollinate plants, scatter seeds so new plants can grow, help control insect populations and recycle nutrients back into the soil. It’s critical for us to have a greater understanding of how bird species are doing around the world, and to do our part to help take care of them.”

Bird populations are so diverse, large and widespread that it would be virtually impossible for scientists to gather all the data they need without help from backyard bird enthusiasts who participate in the GBBC. The information gathered help scientists identify species whose numbers are decreasing or increasing, changes in range or migratory patterns and more. Fluctuations in bird populations are often the earliest signs of greater environmental changes.

What you can do

Founded in 1998, and co-sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, the next Great Backyard Bird Count will be Feb. 17-20, 2017. You can start preparing to participate by taking steps now to make your own backyard an oasis for birds.

* Start by offering a variety of feeders. Different species prefer different styles of feeders. Tube feeders are versatile and appeal to a wide range of bird species. They can also handle large (think sunflower) or small seeds (like petite mixes) equally well. Some birds prefer to cling to feeders while dining, rather than perch, so use a versatile Mesh feeder; or try a Bowl feeder, perfect for serving suet in kibble form, dried mealworms and fresh fruit. You can find a variety of feeders from Cole’s. Be sure to keep all feeders clean and in good condition to help prevent disease and injury.

* Serve a variety of birdfeed. In winter, seeds with a high fat or oil content are best for birds, so offer black oil sunflower seeds, niger, raw peanuts and suet. To attract the greatest variety of birds, try Cole’s Blue Ribbon Blend, which incorporates black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower meats, white proso millet and cracked corn. Special Feeder is a high-energy blend that also attracts large numbers of birds, with the perfect mixture of black oil sunflower, sunflower meats, black stripe, raw peanuts, safflower and pecans. Birds also need (and love) suet, Cole’s offers no-melt suet cakes, specialty suets and a seed and suet mix, Nutberry Suet, to help ensure birds get the fat stores they need to weather winter.

* Fill every feeder with quality food. Birds won’t be satisfied with birdfeed that contains cheap fillers, and they won’t get the nutrition they need. Think of it as the difference between serving your family fresh veggies instead of fast food. Serve birdfeed that contains quality ingredients and is free of chemicals or other toxins that could be harmful to birds. Cole’s formulates all its feed to attract birds, and uses only natural, top-quality seeds. Their products contain no fillers, preservatives, mineral oils or pesticides.

Be sure to also offer birds plenty of fresh water; it can be very difficult for them to find unfrozen water sources in winter.

By feeding backyard birds and participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, you can be counted on to help protect the wellbeing of wild bird populations. What’s more, the work you do prepping your yard for the count will benefit you — and your feathered friends — throughout the year. For more information about birdfeed and how to attract birds to your yard, visit coleswildbird.com.

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3 Tips for a More Flavorful Holiday Meal

(BPT) – Holiday gatherings and backyard barbecues have a lot in common as they are occasions for gathering and for eating. And for both, successful execution of a shared meal means preparing what everyone likes and preparing it perfectly.

While holiday staples such as turkey, ham and brisket create the centerpiece for many of our holiday dinners, it is important to remember that the way they are prepared need not be limited to the printed instructions on your meat’s plastic wrapping.

“Famous Dave” Anderson is the founder of the popular Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que Restaurants and has won over 700 awards for his expertise on smoking and grilling meats. He was recently crowned “Smoked Champion” on the TV show Smoked, taking home the top honors for being “The Best of the Best” when it comes to smoking meats. Anderson shares his expert tips for adding flavor to your holiday meal.

“To elevate the taste of your ham, turkey, brisket or other meats, consider applying the lessons learned during the warmer seasons,” Anderson says. “I’ve always wondered why smoking seems to be forgotten as soon as the holiday decorations come out. Holidays are a time to bring joy to the table. And if you want to see joy, watch your guests take their first bites of cherrywood smoked turkey, or hickory smoked ham!”

In order to help you bring out the best flavors in your meats for your next family gathering, Anderson offers these three important tips:

Smoke it low and slow.

Holidays are a time to escape the hustle that consumes us the rest of the year. Why not apply the same relaxed approach to your holiday meal? As Anderson explains, rushing the process can rob your meats of both texture and flavor. “Slow smoking under low heat allows the meat to relax, and for the fat to properly render,” Anderson says. “It doesn’t matter what piece of meat you are cooking, it’s all about temperature and time.”

He suggests cooking temperatures of between 225 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit for the tastiest and juiciest final product.

Skip the wood chips.

Wood chips are popular and convenient, but you will never get the same satisfying smoke flavors out of wood chips that you will from using a small log. “Wood chips are a shortcut. And who takes shortcuts when preparing the perfect holiday meal,” Anderson says. Wood chips also have the tendency to catch fire, which can negatively impact your cooking temperature and cooking time.

Though a fan of the flavors derived from oak and applewood, Anderson takes a different approach when the weather turns colder. “I like cherrywood for Turkey. And for ham, nothing beats the smokey aromas that come from hickory,” he says.

Season(ing)s greetings.

In order to treat your guests to the most vibrant, mouthwatering flavors, Anderson insists that you check the dates on your spices. Spices greater than 6-months-old will lose much of their flavor, robbing your meal of the holiday’s signature tastes. “At home, I grind my own spices. There’s no better way to achieve the best possible flavors,” he says. For the rest of us, Anderson suggests we refresh our aging spice racks in order to bring real flavor to the table.

Smoking the meats you typically serve over the holidays takes the best of tradition and introduces a new level of flavor. “This is the time when treating the people who are most special to us really matters. A little extra effort can make a holiday meal more meaningful and memorable than ever before,” Anderson says.

To learn more about Famous Dave’s and how you can make your holiday meal even better, visit FamousDaves.com/Holiday. There, you can also find Anderson’s recipe for his famous bread pudding.

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5 Tips For Cabin Flipping on a Budget

By Lee Flynn

House flipping lost some popularity after the real estate bubble burst in 2008, but it remains a fact that fixing up an older or damaged home can net you a profit. It’s easier to start out in flipping with a lot of money to invest in property and repairs, but it’s still possible with even very tight budgets. Get your money back without going into debt by using these five flipping tips.

Leverage the Property
Wondering how to get the money to buy a property and fix it up when you only have a few thousand dollars in savings? Using a hard money lender allows you to leverage the property itself. These loans come with much higher interest rates than you’re used to for mortgages, but if you can stay on track and quickly resell the home, you can close the loan out before paying too much of that interest out-of-pocket.

Get Professional Training
Hoping to make flipping your new profession, or at least a part of your life for the next few years? Take a few basic construction classes to learn how to do as much of the repair work yourself as possible. Even if you want to leave the rebuilding and installation of new materials to the professionals, learning how to safely and cleanly demolish a room can help you absorb labor costs when you’re just starting out.

Find a Supply Deal
Aside from saving on the labor costs, it’s well worth it to trim down spending on materials and supplies too. Even if you don’t have a contractor’s license, you may be able to talk your local hardware store or big box home improvement chain into giving you a professional’s account. These accounts tend to come with discounts on merchandise and revolving lines of credit, two benefits any flipper can use when working on a budget. For more savings, look for a reclamation warehouse that sources unused or like new materials from failed construction projects to save up to 75%.

Organize the Work
Imagine that you know your tile installer is coming on Friday to do the kitchen floors, but that you also want tile in the bathroom. When you can arrange your work plans so that skilled laborers get as much done as possible in each visit, you’ll find your costs staying under budget. Loading up the equipment and driving out to your work site will result in at least one hour of billable time even if you have nothing for your team to do, so keep the schedule organized and clump similar projects together even when they’re spread out across the house. Skilled home remodelers know that it’s best to get all the flooring done at once rather than trying to complete a room at a time, so take a page from their book even if you’re still a beginner.

Look for Safe Corners to Cut
When you first find a property with potential, you likely want to polish it up perfectly before putting it on the market to get the maximum resale value. However, you may end up earning less if some of those projects, such as cabinet refacing in kitchen, that help you reach perfection cost more than alternative options. For example, most home flippers want to tear out all the original furnishings and start from scratch. However, if the flooring is in decent shape and just needs an affordable carpet cleaning to look like new, it makes more sense financially and saves time.

Your first house flipping project may not go exactly as planned, but if you use these tips, you should get enough of a profit to make your next purchase easier to plan. Keep building upwards with your flipping goals and soon you’ll be an experienced remodeling expert yourself. Don’t feel rushed when choosing your first property to flip since making it a success is the key to continuing the chain of profitable sales.

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Rustic Bedroom Design Ideas for Your Cabin

by Lana Hawkins

The philosophy of cabin homes is simple – people own them so that they can have a place to rest, relax and dedicate some time to themselves far away from the everyday life. That is why they need to be as comfortable and cozy as possible, which is something not many owners take into consideration when decorating them. Some cabins get packed with an abundance of modern and trendy furniture and are turned into something they should not be. But, for those wanting to preserve the original look of their cabins, there are a couple of things that can be done in the bedroom that will make the entire cabin get that rustic appearance they yearn for.

The Overall Look
While the focal point of your cabin bedroom should, of course, be the bed, keep in mind that this is not the only thing in there. Bedrooms offer you a ton of chances to be creative with the nightstands, bedside tables and lamps, as well as cupboards, drawers and closets where you keep your valuable items.

So, if you wish to create a compact bedroom, you should pay attention to the overall look you are trying to achieve. Not every single piece of furniture has to be rustic, but the most important pieces do. You can even make some of the smaller pieces, such as a nightstand, on your own, and get a rustic home-made look you cannot find in store-bought furniture.

The Headboard
If decorated properly, the bed frame and the headboard will undoubtedly be the first things you and your guests notice upon entering the bedroom. Big and comfortable beds need strong and supportive frames and headboards, and these items give you the perfect chance to get that rustic atmosphere into the bedroom.

There are generally two ways you can accomplish this – by various decorations and by building your own headboard. Should you go with the first option, you can add some thick fabric or even leather to it, spiced it up with a couple of buttons or fillers, attach Christmas or LED lights onto it, or, ultimately, give it a new paint job. But, if you are handy and wish to practice your DIY skills, you can create a rustic wood headboard from scratch– it will take some time and effort, but will certainly be worth the investment.

The Bed
Now, this is the centerpiece of your bedroom and the spot where the magic happens – the magic being all the sleep and relaxation from the outside world you wish to get in your cabin. This bed is supposed to be different from the home bed you use every night and should be, if possible, even more comfortable and soothing. Therefore, most people have a tendency to equip their cabin bed with a quality king single mattress that ensures hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Besides the mattress, you need to think about the bedclothes as well. As you will probably not be using your cabin that often, the sheets do not have to be too expensive, but you still ought to make a smart choice when purchasing them. Make certain they are cotton-based and, if you really want to get that rustic feeling in your bedroom, pick the ones in pastel and earth tones like red, green, yellow or brown.

Blankets and Pillows
Speaking of bed decorations, do not forget blankets and pillows! They come in various shapes, sizes, textures and patterns, so they can be personalized and adapted to whichever style you have going on. Moreover, bright pillows will soften the hard tones of a rustic bedroom and add some color to it. Finally, you can buy extra pillowcases and change them every time you arrive to your cabin, thus making it always new and exciting.

Be Proactive!
Cabin bedrooms are full of potential, but not all owners know how to make the most of it. Instead of going with the flow and being satisfied with your bedroom’s basic look, you can take matters into your own hands and create the look you want. Adding a few bonus pieces – a settee, a refurbished chandelier and new curtains, for example – will definitely get you there and allow you to spend some quality time in your rustic bedroom.

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Prepare your Outdoor Living Space for Fall

(BPT) – While everyone eagerly waits for spring each year and wishes summer could last a month or two longer, when it comes down to it, fall just might be America’s favorite season. It’s warm but not hot, the air has that clean crispness that’s hard to describe and perhaps the biggest draw, pumpkin-flavored everything. And let’s not forget about all those bright, beautiful leaf colors that come with the change in weather. So why start shutting down your outdoor living space with the first sign of fall?

Packing it in early is something dynamic design duo, Colin and Justin, would never consider. The home improvement stars of “Cabin Pressure” and “Game of Homes” make the most of their beautiful Western Red Cedar deck all year around.

“Oh my gosh every single day, we’re on the deck – whether it’s summer, spring, fall, winter or whatever,” says Justin. “A deck isn’t just for three months of the year; a deck is what you want it to be. And if you love the great outdoors as much as we do, you can make it work.”

Here, then, are Colin and Justin’s top five design solutions to help extend your outdoor living well into the autumn months:

Start with the right deck

Just because you procrastinated, doesn’t mean you need to wait until next spring to build or start designing a show-stopping deck. Whatever your plans, though, one thing almost everyone agrees upon is that there’s nothing quite like the rich, textural warmth of a Western Red Cedar deck to create a beautiful all-season outdoor living space. Low maintenance, surprisingly affordable and easy to work with, Real Cedar can’t be beat.

“We recommend getting your big ticket items first, around which you can seasonally adjust and tailor your look with different smaller and more affordable purchases,” says Colin. “And with decks, it’s worth investing in a really good product to start with like Western Red Cedar, which will last and last and last. Honestly, it just gets better with age, improving as the years pass, and it really is a showstopper.”

Screen it in

Unless you’ve got a screened-in porch, you may still have to shield your outdoor living space from the occasional nippy breeze. For Colin and Justin, this is easily rectified with movable wicker screens that they store inside during the summer months.

“They’ve got a lovely weighty bottom to them,” says Justin. “The wind passes right through them and that’s a good tip for anyone using freestanding screens on the outside. If they’re too solid, the wind can catch them. But if they’re fretwork or open panels or cutout work, they’re good.”

Heat things up

Paradoxically, as the days grow shorter, you’ll wish they would last longer. There’s no more perfect way to cap off a perfect fall day than by sitting around a fire with friends and family.

“In the autumn, we have two propane operated fire bowls that sit smack dab in the center of our Western Red Cedar deck,” says Colin. Their gas-powered fire is safely contained in a stone bowl and leaves no ashes or embers. “And those fire bowls help us stretch out our summer a little bit. We also have two big patio heaters, which we can direct inward at either end of our terrace and they really makes a big difference.”

Bundle up with textiles

Sometimes all it takes to warm up your outdoor living space is some simple, yet chic, soft furnishings and yes, maybe even a change in wardrobe. (But don’t worry – you don’t have to say good-bye to your beloved flips flops, just “until we meet again next spring.”)

“We take out lots of really lovely textural throw pillows and rich woolen blankets – think Pendleton and Hudson’s Bay striped blankets – and we cozy up,” says Justin, adding, “And don’t forget your winter woollies. When the weather is changing, sometimes it’s less about what you add and more about what you put on in terms of clothing.”

Install a BBQ cover

If you’re like Colin & Justin, you enjoy the thrill of the grill year round. This is where an easy-to-build, Real Cedar BBQ Cover really earns its keep. Made from nature’s most resilient building material, this sturdy and beautiful structure is going to last you a very long time. Just think of all the cookout possibilities!

“We BBQ all the time,” says Colin, “So we got a cover. That way we don’t have to worry about weather.”

For free downloadable project plans, visit RealCedar.com or for more fast facts on building with Real Cedar, download their free DIY app – available on the Apple App Store for iOS and at Google Play for Android.

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Moving into Your New Lake Home: The Ultimate Checklist

by Chloe Taylor

The 21st century is the era of the greatest urbanization this world has ever seen. Never before in our history were there so many people living in the cities. It is also not surprising that some of these megalopolis dwellers look for their way out. Being surrounded 24/7 with glass, steel and concrete, and having to endure that hectic noise everywhere around simply aren’t for everyone. If you recognize yourself in this group, it might be a good idea to find your solace somewhere away.

A nice, desolate place where you can rekindle your connection with nature can be found in a beautiful, yet simple, lake house. In order to make all of this come true, you have to do two things. First, you need to find a perfect place for your refuge and second, you need to move. In order to help you out with the latter, here is a short checklist of few most important things you need to do in order to sever your ties with civilization.

Get Off the Grid

While some people move to a lake house with nothing else in mind but the change of scenery, for most people it isn’t so. What they want is to move completely off the grid and here are a few ideas on how to do so. First, sometimes generating your own electricity, collecting your own rainwater and growing your own food aren’t allowed. In some places, it is illegal to create your own water supply and you can be legally charged for doing so.

Another thing you need to think of is the monthly fees you are obliged to pay. For example, the fact you are not using the city sewage doesn’t mean you are no longer legally bound to pay for its use. Even if you go to the most remote area in the world, payments might keep piling up. In other words, you can’t just raise your anchor and sail off into the unknown. Before you do that, you should deal with these matters first.

Equipping the House

Now, that you have cut your ties with your old life, comes the fun part. Decorating your lake house can be extremely fun thing to do. There are so many ideas and so many styles you can follow here. For example, you can always make a contemporary design on the interior and thus make a strong contrast to the nature that surrounds it. On the other hand, if you want to go with the good old rustic approach and make it into a real cabin in the woods, you can decorate with crates, planks and ropes. This all depends on your own personal taste and preference.

Acquiring Supplies

Another thing you need to think about is the supplies. Sure, near your lake house, you might have a place where you can buy food, toilet paper and gas for your generator, but what about other things you may need. If you plan staying there for a prolonged period of time, you may want to think about getting essential cookware and spices you may be unable to find in a local store. All in all, make sure to think of every household item you cannot live without and which you will be unable to get in the wilderness. Of course, this is also a great opportunity for you to reexamine which of these things you actually need and give up all the unnecessary luxuries.

Store Your Furniture

People permanently moving into a lake house face a peculiar problem. On the one hand, they cannot bear to part with certain items; on the other hand, these things simply may not be fitted for a lake house. Luckily, there is a satisfactory compromise to be made here. An adequate self storage solution can enable you to put all your extra stuff in a safe and secure place in order to reuse them again. Who knows, you may soon want to get back and it’s always better to have your things waiting for you than to lament over their loss.

Of course, there are many other issues to look out for, but the first three things you want to look out for are your bills, your gear and the stuff you can’t carry with you. Just dealing with these three key points will mean that you have taken care of basics and that you can move to thinking about the details. This way, you will always know where to start and if you ever get the idea of moving back, you will be able to do so with no trouble, or accumulated bills waiting at your doorstep.

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Application and Benefits of Sail Shades Installation

By Mark Simon

When you think about making the most of your patio area, terraces, balconies, or even your outdoor garden, you immediately think of sail shades. In fact, a lot of cafes and restaurants opt for sail shades instead of big umbrellas because they provide a lot more protection from harsh sun while being aesthetically pleasing as well.

Application of sail shades installation
Sail shades are available in a whole different variety of colors, designs, and fabrics. For instance, if you are living in an area that gets a lot of harsh sunlight for most part of the year, you can opt for a white sail shade that can reflect all the heat. Similarly, if you want to block out most of the sunlight, opt for a sail shade made out of canvas cloth. It is great for outdoor events such as parties and conferences too. When it comes to use of sail shades installation, there are many.

To protect against UV rays
Good quality sail shades when installed right can block 95% of harmful UV rays. UV rays can damage your skin and can even increase the risk of cancer substantially. However, make sure you measure the area to be covered correctly before you order sail shades installation.

As an aesthetic element
While protecting you from harsh sun, sail shades can also be used as an aesthetic embellishment. Use a combination of sail shades in different materials or designs, and make an architectural design that acts as the focal point. This kind of sail shades installation actually works very well for terraces and balconies.

To increase the utility of your patio and swimming pool area
Many times, you get that fancy swimming pool made but you barely get to use it, because the sun is too harsh most times. With correct sail shades installation, you can actually host envious pool parties during the summers, or just spend a lot of alone time outdoors.

Benefits of sail shades installation
The biggest benefit of this handy piece of design accessory is it blocks out harmful sunlight from a large area in one go. That’s why, many times, you will see restaurants and cafes opting for sail shades for their outdoors rather than installing umbrellas.

Other than their protective feature, quality sail shades are also very durable. When you buy sail shades from a trusted dealer, you can be rest assured they will last a long time. Easy to maintain, cleaning them isn’t too much of a hassle.

While all of that may make you think they can be expensive, the truth is sail shades are really affordable. In fact, most times, you don’t even need a fancy combination of sail shades in pretty colors. Something in neutral colors like brown or white does the job, and buying those kinds of sail shades isn’t too heavy on your pocket.

Things to keep in mind during sail shades installation
While there are numerous advantages to sail shades installation, it is important that you keep certain things in mind to reap those benefits:

  1. Measure the area properly from end to end. Sail shades are often custom-made, which means you cannot ask for a refund in case they are made wrong because you gave the wrong details.
  1. Find the right fabric for your shades. For instance, if you want almost complete blockage of sunlight, for instance, for an outdoor event, you go for canvas cloth than something more trendy. Similarly, go for a translucent fabric if the sunlight in your city isn’t too harsh most times.
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Decorate Your Space with Stylish Window Blinds

by Jack Louis

Every homeowner wants to decorate their outdoor space in an extraordinary manner. This is reflected through their earnest desire for making their garden look beautiful. The other way to create an appealing ambience is by installing well-designed patio and cafe blinds. They are extremely versatile in nature as they are both fashionable and functional. They can transform the whole look and feel of the space. Such outdoor blinds can be found for affordable price at numerous online sites.

Reasons for Using Good Quality Window Blinds:

If you want to enjoy the pleasure of a relaxing or entertaining outdoors, you can go for stylish and trendy patio and cafe blinds. It is a brilliant way to change the drab and dull look, mostly because you have got used to the earlier décor and it doesn’t seem interesting any more. These outdoor blinds carry certain positive features such as:

  • Revolutionize the exterior part of your home
  • Bring change in the way you have used your outdoor space till now
  • Control over outdoor space without blocking the natural fresh air
  • Protect from dust, wind, rain, sun etc.
  • Maximize the energy efficiency capacity of your home


Important Things to Consider while Buying Window Blinds:

If you are planning to buy new outdoor blinds for home improvement, you have to first decide which type of blinds you are looking for and how much money you can invest. You have several local and online stores selling outdoor blinds according to your tastes and preferences.

You can choose patio and cafe blinds to create an amazing atmosphere in your living space. They are best to enhance your home decor as they come in different shapes and shades. But before you choose them, you need to consider certain vital points such as:

  1. Aesthetic Value: Blinds are available in beautiful designs. They are bound to produce the effect that you are looking for. But the outdoor blinds should be selected in sync to your interior design or else they would look odd on your general decor. You can choose from the simple and plain outdoor blinds to designer ones with high aesthetic value.
  2. Functional Use:  blinds are bought not just for decorative purpose but also for their practical use. You must select the ones that can accentuate the decoration of your home, create a more inviting and comfortable atmosphere for your family and friends. Another point to consider is their thickness to determine their ability to protect your home from harmful UV rays.
  3. Budget: With so many options for blinds, there is a chance of getting perplexed and making wrong decision while buying. So, it is advisable to you to set a budget beforehand and try to stick to that. Online stores are flooded with different styles of blinds used for outdoor space to achieve an attractive look and feel. You can look online for cheap options without making any compromise with the quality of your product.
  4. Research: The smart shoppers always do a little homework before making their purchase to avoid scams. So, you can search internet and gather information about the quality and features of the  blinds. You can even ask for a free quote from various online portals to compare the price. Your research will bring you good results for sure.


Questions to be Asked While Buying New Blinds:

When buying  blinds for the first time, you need ask a few questions to the sellers or the dealers.

  • Are the outdoor blinds track guided?
  • How will you install the blinds?
  • Are the blinds easy to operate?
  • If the products come with any sort of warranty?


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Choosing the Perfect Awning

by Mary Mathis

Some people gravitate more towards the idea of exploring the outdoor space outside their house and getting the most out of it. Whether it is barbecue or sitting by the fireplace outside the house or creating a shade under which to indulge in the pleasurable moments. For those who are fond of having great time having lunch or breakfast outdoors, such personalized atmosphere means living life with delight and joy. Because of this special requirements, modern families choose to own the kind of properties that provide good chunk of space outdoors where they can build outdoor awnings to make the inside-the-house environment comfortable and cool.

Awning is the best way to add decorative elements to the external beauty of your house as well as to give rise to functional space. Knowing the exact use and installation of awning, you can learn to enhance the existing style and look of your deck and patio as well as enliven the space outside so that you can enjoy your domestic life having fun.

But how would you choose the suitable awning that is perfect for your property? Here are some of the factors that will impact your decision making for buying outdoor awnings:

Flexible or fixed awnings
Fixed awnings can prove to be more suitable for windows and doors but they don’t come with the option of changing its projection. On the other hand, retractable awnings can be extended as per your requirement and work well for decks and patios. It allows you to get great control on sun and shade. Now a day motorized awnings are also available that offers amazing flexibility you need to maintain the spread of outdoor awnings. This kind of mechanism makes it easy for you to manage shade since all you need to do is to touch a button from inside or outside your home to extend or retract the awning structure.

Fabric material and colors
Most commonly used materials preferred for awning outdoors are polyester, cotton, laminated vinyl, acrylic, and more seen polyester fabric. They go really well with the support structure made from iron, steel, aluminum, or even well-processed solid wood. Upon getting installed on the wall, it can be stretched over this tough structure to achieve a perfect shade. Some outdoor awnings are made using canvas, or in combination of aluminum.

Awning mounting positions
The usual spots where awnings are installed to your house are exterior wall, visible rafters or directly to the roof. To achieve the solid structure and avoid any scope of structural vulnerability, if it is for the larger size of awnings, you need to mount it on stronger frameworks so that it will perfectly support fabric weight. Regardless of position of fixing, make sure mounts are properly positioned and clung to the wall surface or roof and can endure overall weight of canopy.

You want it to be Mechanical or Manual?
After considering all other choices, there comes the functional part of outdoor awnings. The mechanism of awnings device management depends on two types: Manual and mechanical. The manual one will comfort your pocket since it comes with lesser cost than motor-based arrangement. The manual structure is easy to install on the deck or patio and can be controlled by human efforts, which is something not every house owner desires. The motorized functioning costs you a little more and it does not require vertical support. It is based on lateral arms which can be operated through electric motor situated under the roller bar. Motorized devices have controlling electric switch, or better, a remote control system.

Energy saving? Yes, of course
To your surprise, outdoor awnings built right outside your property can save the considerable energy and cut you a good slice from your monthly bills. As you install the device, you will begin to feel the pleasant rush of fresh air flowing into your house as it allows you open the windows and doors even in harshest summer. Awnings protect your house from harmful sun rays and saves you the need to use air conditioning devices for long hours. Choose those with light or maximum whiteness as it has more ability to reflect sunlight and maintain optimal temperature inside the house.

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How To Successfully Rent Your Cabin

by Savannah Wardle

Given that renting out your vacation home could potentially pay for itself when it comes to mortgages and insurance, it’s no wonder that vacation rentals are more popular than ever. But preparing your home to be rented out is no simple undertaking. If you want to maximize your gains, you’ll need to invest loads of time and energy into running it as if it were a business.

Up your security measures
While you may opt out of extra security at your round-the-year home, vacation rentals should be approached differently. You’ll need security that benefits all parties. For you, consider outdoor surveillance and an alarm system (just be sure to reset the code for each guest turnover). For your guests, consider investing in a safe for them to fit their laptops and other valuables in. On a broader level, you may also want to look into extra insurance (and of course, have the basic homeowner insurance already in place).

Create a welcome book
Drawing inspiration from hotels, create a book or binder full of resources to help your guests get the most out of their stay. Include local transportation options for all budgets, restaurants/delivery services, and attractions to visit. If your city has its own weekly entertainment guide as many do, leave the recent issue for your guests to peruse.



Add some special touches
If you want to generate some great reviews or convince visitors to rent your home again, there are some little things that can go a long way. Consider the amenities that a hotel would offer; you can set out small toiletry items like soaps and shampoos for your guests to use/keep or you can offer an entertainment library full of DVDs and video games. Some renters even go so far as to equip their homes with complementary bread, butter, jam, tea, and coffee. If you have a larger budget, you can take the hotel vibe up a nothing with these value-adding ideas.

Keep a tight ship
By this, we mean keep your rental clean. Cleanliness is a major component of any review you will get, and your guests expect it to be as clean or cleaner than an upscale hotel room. You may even want to consider hiring a household cleaner to take care of this step, especially if your rental is open year-round and you don’t have the time to clean it yourself.

Promote it
To really get the word out, it’s best to market your vacation home on the web. Print ads may work, but you’ll be shelling out a lot of cash to cover the same territory that the web can. A popular website like LakePlace.com is a great choice, as you can easily list your home and rest assured that it’s getting plenty of visibility (Hint: Quality photos are a must!).

Be sure to collect feedback after each guest’s stay. Public feedback acts as a reference to other potential renters, as they like to see that others have had a positive experience with you. Feedback is also the best way to know where you can make improvements to the process and helps you to know what elements to highlight in your marketing. And if you happen to get any negative feedback, be sure to respond politely anyway—it’ll show that you are attentive and polite!

Savannah Wardle is a passionate traveler who loves to discover new destinations and explore her own country. When she’s not on the road, she spends time with her family in Sydney. Find her on Twitter.

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