Helpful home tips for when you’re away on vacation

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Summer isn’t over yet, and I’m sure many of you are still preparing for your family vacation. Before you take off and enjoy a week of relaxation and sightseeing, follow these tips to keep your home safe and ready for your return.

1. Suspend your mail and newspaper

Photo credit: Pinterest

Unless you’ve made a habit of not bringing in the mail everyday, a stuffed mailbox will tell others that you’re out of town and might not be back for a while. Put your mail and newspaper services on hold until you get back.

2. Invest in timers

Once again, you don’t want to make it obvious that you’re on vacation, and people might notice if your lights are off all week. Consider investing in a timer that you can program to turn the lights on and off during your absence.

3. Keep your plants watered

You’ve worked hard to keep your plants alive and thriving. Don’t let them start wilting now! Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to stop by your house and water your plants throughout the week.

4. Unplug appliances

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

You’re not going to be home all week, so you might as well save some energy. Unplug all of your appliances before you take off. This will also ensure that you don’t leave anything on while you’re away.

5. Clean the house before you go

Vacations are relaxing, but they can also be exhausting. When you get back, you’re not going to want to come home to a messy house. Take some time to ensure everything is in order and cleaned before you go. There’s nothing better than coming home to a clean house after a fun-filled, but tiring week!

By Wendy Weinert

Summer staycation ideas for a relaxing break at home

Sometimes the best vacations are spent at home. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to go out and see new places. But, I always come back home exhausted from all of the sightseeing and activities. Don’t you? When I’m looking to just take a break from work and relax, a staycation sounds much more enjoyable. You don’t have to spend time driving, waiting in line at the airport or trying to read maps. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy your week.

Plan your own staycation this summer and go back to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Here are some ideas to get you inspired.

1. Add a front porch swing 

Porch swing

Photo credit: Midwest Living

You won’t want to spend all of your time indoors, especially in the summer. A front porch swing is a small investment that will allow you to create a relaxing environment outside for your staycation, and for spring, summer and fall as well.

2. Organize your home before the vacation starts

Organized pantry

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

It’s hard to relax when your house is a mess. Believe me, I know. Plus, there’s a reason why hotel rooms often feel so refreshing. They’re not cluttered. As your staycation approaches, take some time to make sure everything is in order. You’ll be able to enjoy your week much more fully if you do.

3. Take your coffee outside

Coffee on the porch

Photo credit: Pinterest

Instead of chugging a cup of coffee like you normally do on mornings before work, take it outside and allow yourself to enjoy it on your porch swing or patio. Mornings are the perfect time to spend outdoors because the weather isn’t unbearably hot yet.

4. Refrain from checking emails

If you absolutely have to check your email throughout the week, set aside a time each day where you can check it…and then forget about it the rest of the day. It’s also a good idea to turn your phone on silent, and call or text only when catching up with old friends or ordering food.

Let yourself take a break this summer and take a staycation. A week at home with no errands or work to do is the perfect way to enjoy the summer and rejuvenate.

By Wendy Weinert

Backyard camping: enjoy the great outdoors without leaving home

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Pinterest

Camping is one of my favorite summer activities, but sometimes it’s hard to set aside a week or even just a weekend to get away. That’s why I love the idea of backyard camping. It gives families the opportunity to spend time outdoors and bond. Plus, staying close to home is often recommended for young children who are not ready for the full camping experience.

Backyard camping seems like a simple concept, but there are some strategies you can use to create an experience that is similar to an actual camping trip. For example, you can:

Set up a tent

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Okay, I know it seems silly to sleep outdoors when you have comfortable beds inside waiting for you. However, your backyard excursion will feel more like a bonfire than an authentic camping trip if you head inside after the fire dies down.

Design a sitting area

Seating area next to camp

Polywood Adirondack Chairs

Most campsites have benches for dining and generally people bring their own chairs. Set up your backyard to mimic an actual campsite by arranging outdoor chairs and tables near the tent area.

Install a fire pit

Fire pit

Firescapes Fire Pit

In my opinion, it’s not camping without a fire and s’mores. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a fire pit to your backyard space; you can use it all summer long! On chillier nights, make sure you have extra blankets for sitting around the fire!

Add a sprinkler

If you live within walking distance of a lake or ocean, head out for a swim in the afternoon. Otherwise, a sprinkler can add a splash of fun for the kids (and the adults).

Keep technology indoors

Phones and laptops are hard to leave behind — believe me, I know. Camping, however, is all about taking a break from technology and connecting with nature. While you might not have a forest in your backyard, you can at least enjoy the sunshine and breeze without having to check your cell every five minutes.

Roasting marshmallows

Photo credit: Pinterest

Are you ready to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories? A simple camping trip in your backyard can be a special memory you and your family will cherish for years.

By Wendy Weinert

 

Need a plan for the holiday? Consider these three 4th of July entertaining ideas

I love the Fourth of July. Unlike other holidays like Christmas or New Year’s, Independence Day can be celebrated outdoors where the temperature is warm and the sun is shining. I know many of you already have plans in place, but if you don’t, there is still time! These three July Fourth entertaining ideas are fun and easy to put together.

4th of July Strawberries

Photo credit: Pinterest

Enjoy a small picnic

You don’t have to throw a large party to enjoy the holiday. Gather your closest friends or have a picnic with just your family. To make the picnic festive, set up blankets, pillows and napkins designed with red, white and blue graphics. For food, consider making something that is both delicious and patriotic, such as strawberry and blueberry cupcakes.

La-Casa-Cafe-1

POLYWOOD® La Casa Cafe Five-Piece Dining Set w/ Cushions

Host a potluck

If you know a lot of people looking for something fun to do over the Fourth, why not have them over for a potluck? With a potluck, guests will help by contributing food and supplies, so you won’t have to spend all week preparing. Ask guests to get creative and host a competition to see who brings the most patriotic dish or wears the most red, white and blue!

South-Beach-22

POLYWOOD® South Beach Adirondack Chair

Invite guests over to watch fireworks

I love watching fireworks with friends and family. If your home offers a good view of the town’s annual fireworks display, invite friends, family and neighbors to watch them with you. Be sure to offer blankets, chairs and pillows to keep guests comfortable throughout the show. You might also want to have insect repellent handy in case the bugs are out and ready to attack.

Celebrating the Fourth doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. With the right people, beautiful weather and a few patriotic touches, you can make this year’s Fourth of July a special occasion.

By Wendy Weinert

5 solutions for common outdoor patio problems

5 solutions for common outdoor patio problems

During the spring and summer months, there’s nothing better than relaxing on your patio or porch. Don’t let your outdoor oasis be spoiled, however, when a swarm of mosquitoes crashes the party or your neighbors decide to argue loudly next door. Enjoy the outdoors this season more fully by setting up your space to fix these five common annoyances.

5 solutions for common outdoor patio problems

1. Noise

It’s hard to enjoy socializing with friends when all you hear are cars driving by or the TV playing in a neighboring house. Eliminate some of that noise with noise of your own. A decorative wind chime is relaxing and will provide sounds you actually want to hear.

Tips for improving your outdoor space

2. Bugs

Nothing is worse than having to swat at bugs the entire time you’re outside. Besides spraying yourself with bug repellent, you can keep the bugs away by not wearing perfume, removing any standing water around the area (for example, rainwater left in an empty bucket) and lighting a citronella candle. If you have a porch, consider installing an outdoor fan, which also keeps biting bugs away.

5 solutions for common outdoor patio problems

3. Harsh sunlight 

During the winter all we wish for is the sun. But then the summer comes and the sun shines a little too bright. Prevent sunburn by incorporating shade into your outdoor space. There are lots of ways to add shade. You can use a simple trick like an umbrella or cloth canopy, or you can build your own shade in the form of an outdoor gazebo or arbor.

5 solutions for common outdoor patio problems

4. No light

After the sun goes down, you won’t have to worry about getting sunburned, but you will have to worry about being able to see. Depending on where your outdoor space is located, you can consider wall lights, lamps, landscape lighting or ambient lighting placed underneath furniture.

5. Heat/cold

During the day you might be too hot, but when it starts to get dark you might feel chilly. Combat both problems by installing an outdoor ceiling fan and setting up an outdoor heater in your patio. An extra supply of blankets will also come in handy at night and shade will help you stay cool, especially if you can’t hang up a fan.

You’ve spent a lot of time setting up your outdoor space, so why not enjoy it? Keep the annoyances away with these five solutions, and spend this season soaking up the fresh air!

By Wendy Weinert