Thursday, November 29 2018
Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas is less than four weeks away. The days are quickly dwindling away, and before you know it, it will be Christmas Eve. You may have already begun your holiday decorating, but oftentimes the back patio is neglected. There are cute and cozy ways to liven up your patio and get it ready for the holidays!
Before you begin decorating the patio, give it a quick cleaning to make sure your décor stays clean and protected. Dust off the patio furniture, sweep up the leaves, clean you Bi-Fold Patio Doors, and wash your outdoor seat cushions. Prepare the space for chilly nights spent on the patio with a warm blanket and a good book!
Now that the patio is squeaky clean, you can begin decorating! Hang stockings by your outdoor fireplace to dress up the mantel. Invest in cute, decorative Christmas throw pillow covers to put on existing pillows and create a cozy, Christmas-themed space. Don’t forget the soft, fluffy Christmas throw blanket to complete your holiday-themed furniture decor!
Set up a Christmas tree outside on the patio and decorate it with all your favorite ornaments! Place the tree near your Multi-Slide Patio Door so you can enjoy the twinkling lights from inside and out.
Go crazy with Christmas lights! Hang lights all around the patio and wrap lights around trees and shrubs. This will help to create a festive and cheerful patio for the whole family to enjoy!
Hang mistletoe above your folding patio doors—and anywhere else you can—and watch as people get caught under the mistletoe! You can also use fresh wreaths to decorate your patio. Hang fresh wreaths on open walls and on the backs of chairs to create a classy holiday look that smells good too!
These stick-on snowflakes from Amazon are perfect for adding some wintry décor to your large sliding glass patio door. The snowflakes cling to the glass and easily peel off when the holidays are over! This will allow you to enjoy the beauty of snowflakes even though you may not live in a snowy climate. Have your kids help you stick on the window clings in unique patterns to create a beautiful design.
If you have some open space on a wall, set up an outdoor holiday photobooth for family and friends to enjoy. Use wrapping paper, streamers, or anything else you can find to create a beautiful holiday backdrop. Be sure to make or buy some photo props to make it a fun and entertaining experience!
When decorating is complete, light the fireplace and gather on the patio. Set up a hot chocolate and s’mores bar, and spend time indulging in some holiday treats and enjoying your newly decorated patio by the fire! Dim the lights so your family can fully enjoy the colorful, twinkling lights that cover the space. With a cozy outdoor space like this one, you’ll want to spend the entirety of this holiday season curled up on your patio reading a good book and enjoying the indoor-outdoor lifestyle with the whole family!
Tuesday, November 27 2018
You have probably seen divided lite doors and windows on many homes and buildings in your area, but you may not have known what they are called. Doors and windows can be custom made with decorative grids to create multi-lite doors and windows. There are two different types of lites: true divided lites and simulated divided lites.
True Divided Lites
True divided lite doors and windows, available only in all-wood doors, have multiple panes of glass that are separated by actual wood bars, called mullions. The AG Multi-Slide Door pictured above has eighteen true divided lites in each door panel. This means that each door panel consists of eighteen small pieces of glass held together by wood mullions. At AG Millworks, solid wood Bi-Fold Patio Doors, Multi-Slide Patio Doors, and French Swing Patio Doors are available with custom true divided lite configurations. AG Millworks can create almost any true divided lite pattern, adding character and uniqueness to any home design!
Simulated Divided Lites
Simulated divided lite doors and windows have one pane of glass with grilles attached to the interior and exterior of the glass to simulate the look of true divided lites. The AG Bi-Fold Door pictured above has ten simulated divided lites on each panel. This means that each window consists of vertical and horizontal grilles the create the appearance of ten divided lites on the door panels. At AG Millworks, all-wood or aluminum clad Bi-Fold Patio Doors, Multi-Slide Patio Doors, and French Swing Patio Doors are available with custom simulated divided lite configurations. With three bar widths (5/8”, 7/8”, and 1-1/8”) offered, and the option of ovolo, bevel, or square shaped lites for the interior wood bar surface, AG Millworks offers the most divided lite options in the industry! AG can build patio doors with lite configurations that match existing windows and doors already installed in the home.
Why Divided Lites?
Divided lites are mainly a design feature. They have a historical aesthetic reminiscent of the colonial time period. Many people opt for divided lites to personalize the home design and make it more unique. Different home styles will use different lite patterns to accentuate a theme. Some of the most common lite patterns are listed below.
Cottage Style Lites
Pictured above is a AG Folding Patio Door with cottage style divided lites. This lite pattern is popular on beach, cottage, and craftsman style homes. Designers often match doors and windows with the same lite pattern to keep a consistent look throughout the home.
Pictured above is an AG Bi-Fold Door with an equal lite pattern. Equal lite patterns are commonly used on modern and contemporary style homes. This pattern often features three or four equal divided lites, created by horizontal grilles.
Thursday, November 22 2018
Happy Thanksgiving! Many of you probably procrastinated and are searching for a quick and easy recipe to make for your Thanksgiving potluck this afternoon. We’ve created a list of quick dishes you can whip up that are tasty and will impress guests—all recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less! So pick a recipe, grab the ingredients, open the Bi-Fold Doors in the kitchen for air ventilation, and get to cooking!
1 | Cheese Ball
A cheese ball is a classic dish that take less than 15 minutes to make. This recipe is an easy way to bring something homemade while saving time and money! All you need is cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and chopped pecans to make a cheese ball. If you want to include additional ingredients, we suggest chopped green onions and bacon bits. Pair the cheese ball with crackers or slices of fresh baguette. To spice up the recipe a bit, swap out plain cream cheese for flavored cream cheese like Philadelphia’s “Chive & Onion” or “Garden Vegetable.” Click here for a step-by-step recipe.
2 | Fresh Fruit Platter
Fruit platters are always a favorite dish at potlucks, and Thanksgiving is no different. People will appreciate having fresh fruit to snack on and use as a healthy alternative to other desserts. When gathering fruit for your tray, choose ones that are easy to wash and serve with little peeling or slicing required (think berries and grapes). You can dress up your platter with a fruit dip—mix one pack of vanilla pudding with one container of Kool Whip to create a light and sweet dip everyone will love!
3 | Creamy Mac & Cheese
Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and everyone at Thanksgiving will be happy to indulge. This is another easy and affordable dish to make at the last minute. There are so many different mac and cheese recipes, but we like this one: Rachel Ray's Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese. You can also include bacon bits to add more texture and flavor.
4 | Homemade Cornbread
You can easily make homemade cornbread for your potluck in just 30 minutes! Cornbread goes perfectly with all the other Thanksgiving dishes and this recipe from Delish.com will have everyone begging you for the recipe! Don’t forget to bring the butter for spreading on the cornbread.
5 | Sweet Potato Bites
Another recipe from Delish.com, these sweet potato bites look absolutely delicious! All you need are sweet potatoes, butter, marshmallows, and pecans— in 20-30 minutes you’ll have tons of sweet potato bites baked and ready to eat. It’s a new twist on a classic Thanksgiving recipe that guests will enjoy. For the full recipe and instructions, click here.
6 | Pumpkin Mousse
This pumpkin mousse recipe is an easy, festive dessert to bring to your Thanksgiving potluck! With just a few ingredients required, you can create a tasty, rich dessert in only 10 minutes. How you present the mousse is up to you—you can fill individual jars or bowls or use one large serving bowl and let people serve themselves. Don’t forget the whip cream to top it off! Click here for step-by-step instructions for this recipe.
7 | Fresh Salad
Salad is the perfect pairing to any meal, and throwing one together is super easy and requires little prep time. Purchase some prewashed spring mix and all your favorite salad ingredients—like tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, slivered almonds, and croutons! Toss all your ingredients in a salad bowl, grab the dressings, and head to your potluck!
Tuesday, November 20 2018
Your kids are on Thanksgiving break and are probably getting a little stir crazy by now. Preparing Thanksgiving Dinner is hard enough without children running rampant! Keeping track of all the cooking while chasing your kids around the house making sure they aren’t getting into trouble is just asking for a scorched turkey. You can keep your kids busy, and out of the kitchen, with some of these super cute activities and crafts for kids! It will keep them entertained, get them into the Thanksgiving spirit and remind them to be thankful on this holiday.
Thankful Pumpkins are a great way to remind kids what this holiday is all about and how much they have to be thankful for. The concept is simple—have kids take turns writing what they are thankful for on the pumpkin. You can also forgo the pumpkin and use a large poster board. Turn it into a craft project where they write, draw, and collage the things they are most thankful for this year. After dinner, enjoy dessert and listen to the kids present their pumpkin or poster to the family! Don’t forget to sneak away from the kitchen for a minute to add some of your own things to the list.
This is an easy craft that your kids can do while waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. Send kids to the back yard to collect leaves, sticks, branches, petals, and more to create their own turkey! Running around outside searching for the perfect items for their craft will tire them out and build up their appetites! Be sure to remind them if any plant or area is off limits so you won’t end up regretting this project when you realize your flower bed is destroyed. Have supplies ready on the patio so they can begin crafting and so you can keep an eye on them through your large glass Bi-Fold Patio Doors!
These turkey gingerbread kits from Trader Joe's are the ultimate Thanksgiving activity for kids (or adults)! Invest in a kit for each of your children, and let the kids go all out decorating their turkey! Turn it into a contest and tell them the whole family will be picking a winner! The kit comes with all the supplies, however if you want to get some extra frosting and candy it could make the decorating more exciting.
We are obsessed with this painted pinecone turkey craft from Live, Craft, Eat. Set kids up with paint and pinecones and let them use their imagination when creating their pinecone turkey! Show them this photo for inspiration so they can get an idea of how to create a cute and colorful bird! You can also swap out the paint for feathers, paper, or fallen leaves! CLICK HERE for a step-by-step tutorial.
It’s likely that people attending your Thanksgiving will bring their children, and this is an activity for all the kids. Send the kids outside to go “Turkey Hunting.” One kid is the turkey and goes to hide while all the other children are inside, counting to 30 or 60 with their eyes closed. The key is for the “turkey” to remain hidden, and for the other children to find him. Once you find the turkey, you go into hiding with him until there is only one kid who is still looking! The person who found the turkey first will be the next turkey who hides. This is a fun version of hide-and-seek that any kid will enjoy and it’s the perfect pastime on Thanksgiving!
Thursday, November 15 2018
Sometimes, life gets busy, and when life gets busy, we tend to ignore our refrigerator. Chances are, your fridge could use a good cleaning and organization session—especially with the holidays coming up, where you will need to store tons of leftover turkey and mashed potatoes! Use these tips to revive your messy fridge into what it once was: a clean, organized, and functional refrigerator.
The first step towards creating a clean and organized fridge and freezer is removing everything—throw away expired food and store the rest of it in your spare fridge or ice chest! While you’re doing this, open your Bi-Fold Patio Doors to air out the kitchen from any funky smells escaping from your open fridge. Once your fridge is completely empty, you can begin the deep cleaning stage!
The best way to deep clean a fridge is to remove all the drawers and shelves. Soak and scrub the removable parts to ensure they are clean and odorless. Scrub down the entire fridge and make sure to get all the nooks and crannies! According to Martha Stewart, creating a solution of two tablespoons baking soda and one quart of hot water is best to clean refrigerators—the baking soda will remove any lasting odors. Use the same solution to scrub your freezer and soak your ice cube bin! Be sure to dry off the inside of the fridge and freezer when cleaning is complete.
Your fridge is now squeaky clean, and to make the cleaning process easier for next time, you can line your fridge shelves with Glad Press'n Seal. Now that your fridge is clean, and your shelves are lined, you can begin placing food back where it belongs. This is your opportunity to create an organization system inside your fridge.
A great way to better organize your fridge is by investing in plastic bins to store different food products in. There are tons of different sizes and specialty products that will help keep things in your fridge organized and in their place! You can find some on Amazon, or go to your local Dollar Tree and check out their bin selection—the latter usually has plenty of size and color options, and who can argue with the low price of $1.00?
Take your organization game up a notch by adding labels to your bins and organizers—a few common labels you can make are “snacks,” “fruit,” “veggies,” “meat,” and “cheese.”
To better organize your built-in produce drawers, purchase some expandable drawer dividers like these ones from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, to separate the space. This will allow you to keep produce sorted and easily accessible—no more digging through produce drawers to find the tomatoes!
Don’t neglect the outside of the appliance! Wipe down the exterior with a damp rag and mild soap to remove any dust, grime, and fingerprints. You should also clean the condenser coils on the back of the fridge to ensure proper functioning of your appliance—you can do this by unplugging your fridge and using the vacuum hose to suck the dust and debris from the coils. Cleaning of coils only needs to be done once or twice a year, and it is an important task for proper fridge maintenance.
Now that your fridge is clean and organized, try to maintain your success by regularly throwing away any expired food and spot cleaning if there is a leak or spill! If you’re feeling super ambitious, why not go tackle your spare fridge in the garage and make it shine?!
Tuesday, November 13 2018
Today, November 13th, is World Kindness Day. The world could use a little more kindness, and this holiday is the perfect excuse to spread some kindness around your community. Below are 8 ways you can spread some kindness today (and every day)!
1 | Treat A Stranger
An easy way to spread a little kindness is by paying for someone’s order behind you in line at the drive thru or coffee shop. When it’s your turn to pay, simply let the cashier know you’d like to cover the cost of the next person’s order as well! This will be a pleasant surprise to the lucky benefactor and will instantly brighten their day!
2 | Friendly Greetings
When you are out and about, spread kindness by greeting people with a friendly smile and “hello.” Kind greetings go a long way and you could make someone’s day better with such little effort! Smiling is contagious, so if everyone smiled at each other in passing, the world would be a slightly better and happier place!
3 | Lend A Helping Hand
If you see someone struggling with a task, be it carrying groceries to their car, or reaching something from a high shelf at the store, be a good Samaritan and lend a helping hand! People will be grateful for the help you provided, and you will feel good about doing small things to help others!
4 | Pick Up Trash
Anytime you see litter on the ground, you can show kindness to your community by picking it up and throwing it in the trash. If everyone picked up trash and threw it away whenever they saw it, think how clean the streets and promenades would be. Doing your part to help keep your community clean and beautiful will help make it a better place for you and your neighbors!
5 | Teach Your Kids
Teach your kids the importance of being kind to others, and kind to the earth. By teaching your kids a lesson about kindness, you are raising a human who will cherish and spread kindness in the world, and pass on the lesson of kindness to future generations!
6 | Be Understanding
Be kind and understanding of others. You probably know the saying which goes something like “kill them with kindness”—this statement couldn’t be truer. When people are less than kind to you, be understanding and remind yourself there may be reasons for their behavior that you don’t know about (these are the people who need kindness the most). Showing kindness to someone can go a long way in changing someone’s mood and attitude.
7 | Tip Well
If you go out to eat, or order something from the local coffee shop, treat your server to a good tip. Service industry workers can be some of the most hardworking people, and a great tip will make their night!
8 | Buy A Hot Meal
Be generous and buy a homeless person a hot meal—this doesn’t have to be anything expensive; you can go into a nearby grocery store and buy food from the deli or order an extra sandwich at In N Out or Jersey Mike's Subs and pass it on to the homeless person sitting outside; or buy some dog food for their canine companion! They will be happy to have a warm meal to enjoy!
At the end of the day, you will feel good about doing your part to spread kindness in the world. There are so many nice things you can do to make the world a kinder place—open your folding doors or sliding doors and relax on the patio while you brainstorm more ways to be kind to others on World Kindness Day, and every other day as well!
Thursday, November 08 2018
Holiday season is officially here and that means millions of people around the country will be hopping in cars, trains, and planes to travel home for the holidays! Everyone loves the holidays, but no one enjoys the difficulty that comes with traveling during such a crazy time of the year. If you’re one of the many who will be traveling during the holidays this year, there are steps you can take to ensure stress-free travel.
The most important thing to do when traveling during the holidays is to plan ahead. Book tickets in advance, plan out your transportation, and create a schedule to follow on days of travel. Having things planned out will keep you organized amidst the chaos of airports and train stations. If possible, you should avoid traveling on peak travel days—the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve tend to be the busiest each year. Consider booking your travel for early or late in the day to avoid the mid-day crowds. It is essential to leave early and give yourself plenty of time when traveling—you never know what unexpected delays you might face.
When traveling home for the holidays, it is best to pack light and take only the essentials. If you are flying to your destination, reducing your luggage to a small carryon will save you time at the airport—you won’t need to check your bag, risk lost luggage, or wait at the luggage carousel to collect your bags. If you fly home for Christmas, be sure to ship any Christmas gifts to your destination so you won’t have to carry extra luggage around the airport. The sooner you ship the packages the better to guarantee gifts arrive on time and ready to be opened on Christmas day.
If you will be leaving your home unattended during the holidays, it’s a good idea to create a check list of everything you need to take care of before you leave. Make sure your front door, windows, and Bi-Fold Patio Doors and Multi-Slide Doors are locked and secure. Arrange for someone to collect the mail and newspaper, water the plants, and feed the pets! Triple-check that the thermostat, lights, and tv are off before leaving. If you are worried about burglaries, set up automatic timer lights as a safety precaution. Let your neighbors know you will be traveling for the holidays and ask them to keep an eye on the place.
Traveling with children can be an additional challenge, but with proper planning, it can be a breeze. Use one suitcase to pack all the children’s things—this will make carrying and keeping track of bags a lot easier. For ease and comfort, dress kids in layers and lace-free shoes. The key to stress-free travel with children is keeping them entertained and engaged. Bring your children’s favorite toy and a tablet loaded up with all their favorite games and movies so they can stay busy throughout the trip. Kids get cranky when they’re tired and hungry, so don’t forget to let them rest and pack plenty of snacks. Keeping your children happy and sane will ensure your travel day is stress-free. For tips on traveling with babies and toddlers, check out this blog.
Planning ahead, packing light, making household arrangements, and keeping kids happy will contribute to a stress-free holiday travel season. Remember that things sometimes don’t go as planned, and if this happens, stay calm and create a plan B. If you start to get lost in the chaos, remind yourself the holidays are a time for family, celebration, and thankfulness.
Tuesday, November 06 2018
Fall is halfway over, and the weather is beginning to cool down. With the change in seasons comes change in weather. It is a smart idea to prepare your home for weather changes and the storm season that is approaching! With these tips, your home will be ready for storm season in no time!
To prepare for storm season, the rain gutters on your home need to be swept free of leaves and debris. This is one of the most important steps in getting ready for rain—upkept rain gutters direct water flow from the roof away from the home to protect the foundation. Clogged gutters combined with an unexpected rainstorm can lead to flooding and settling of the home’s foundation. Prevent major water damage by keeping gutters clean and clear for excess water to flow freely! This handy tool will help make the gutter cleaning process easier and more efficient. Make sure to inspect gutters while you’re cleaning to ensure any damage gets repaired as soon as possible.
Hire a tree trimming service to have any trees surrounding your home inspected and trimmed. Eliminate any weak or diseased branches that hang over you home—excessive rain fall can cause branches and trees to come down during a storm, so it is important to have your trees properly inspected. Not only is tree trimming a preventative safety measure, it keeps the tree healthy and flourishing and should be done regularly, according to tree species.
Take down any temporary gazebos and awnings, or make sure they are secured to the ground. A large gust of wind during a storm can blow around unsecure gazebos and cause damage to the canopy, as well as nearby furniture, fences, windows, etc. Canopies should be properly weighted or bolted to ensure they stay in place! Don’t forget to put away other outdoor furniture and accessories like seat cushions, small tables, lanterns, and other décor.
If you enjoy burning a fire on those chilly, rainy nights, it is smart to have some firewood accessible and protected from the rain. Stack wood on the back porch, or any place that is dry and close by, so you can easily start a fire in the fireplace. Make sure you check storm conditions and aren’t burning a fire when it’s extremely windy outside—the wind can force smoke back down the chimney and into your home. For more fireplace safety tips, click here.
An emergency preparedness kit is essential for every home. You will hopefully never need to use it, but it is better to be well-prepared for unexpected disasters! Creating your emergency kit is easy and inexpensive. You need water, nonperishable food, a first aid kit, flashlights, and more! For a full list of what to include in your emergency preparedness kit, visit the American Red Cross Website.
Last but certainly not least, check that your windows, folding doors or sliding doors are properly sealed and weather stripping is fully functional! Once your home is ready for storm season, it’s time to cozy up on the couch, enjoy the warmth from the fire, and watch the rain fall through your Bi-Fold Doors or Multi-Slide Doors!
Thursday, November 01 2018
Today is November 1st, which means it is officially holiday season! The countdown to Thanksgiving and Christmas has begun—21 days and 54 days, respectively. You may not have realized how close the holidays are, and you’re probably freaking out right now, but there’s no need—with these tips you can have your home clean, organized, and ready for all your holiday parties!
The holidays can be a stressful time with so many things to check off your list—cleaning, food preparation, entertainment, out-of-town guests, children, seating, and more. The best way to make this holiday season stress-free is by making an action plan and tackling your list early! To prepare for the holiday season, your home could use a deep cleaning. Hire a cleaning service to help make your home spotless!
Extra attention should be paid to the living spaces where guests will be spending time hanging out, mingling, and dining. In the living room, the couches and lounge chairs should be deep cleaned, and don’t forget underneath the couch cushions! Make sure your fireplaces and chimneys are clean and soot free, and ready for the first fire of the season!
Don’t neglect your Folding Patio Doors during your deep home cleaning! Have the glass panes cleaned with window cleaner (but don’t get any on the wood!) and the interior wood surface cleaned with a damp cloth to remove dust. Don’t wait until the holidays to clean your patio doors—the interior wood surface should be cleaned about once a month! To learn more about maintaining the interior and exterior of your patio doors, click here.
The kitchen is the heart of every home—even if you don’t plan on having guests in the kitchen, you better believe the whole party will end up here at some point. Extra cleaning time should be spent in the kitchen to ensure appliances and cabinets are sparkling. Countertops should be shiny and clutter free, and dining tables and bar seating should be ready to serve their purpose.
When all the living spaces have been cleaned, you can tackle the guest bedrooms next. When was the last time the curtains in the guest bedroom were washed? If you can’t answer that question, it’s time to throw those dusty curtains in the washing machine. Have all the dust bunnies vacuumed up and don’t miss deep down under the beds and dressers! Dress the beds with fresh linens and stock the guest bathroom with plenty of clean towels and toilet paper.
If you haven’t already, it is time to add some tasteful fall decor to your home to embrace the season! You don’t have to get too crazy, small touches will go a long way. Now that your home has been deep cleaned and decorated for the holidays, it will be easier to plan for upcoming parties and events. When the parties get closer, your living spaces will only need a quick surface cleaning to prepare it for dozens of visitors—the rest of your home will still be in good shape from the deep cleaning it underwent a few weeks prior.