10 Steps to Get Your Home Clean and Ready for Spring

Warmer months are ahead, so now is the time to plan for spring cleaning and maintenance. A clean home offers a fresh start for the year, and a checklist of tasks guides your efforts towards efficiency. For many homeowners, spring cleaning can be a personal challenge. It can also be one accomplished with the help of the rest of the family or other residents. In some occasions, however, professional assistance may be advised, or even necessary. Regardless, regular home maintenance not only increases your home’s value, but it can also make your home more comfortable and enjoyable. 

Indoors

Check Your Attic

Once summer arrives, it can be too hot in many regions to comfortably perform an inspection. Use late winter and early spring to ensure the following: there’s ample insulation (10 to 14 inches), there are no signs of mice or rats (droppings, strong odor, nests), there are no bugs (flying, crawling, or otherwise), and there are no signs of roof leaks (water stains, etc.).

Schedule HVAC Maintenance

Annual tune-ups on your heating/cooling equipment will reduce your energy bill and help ensure you can maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

Fix the Window Screens

It won’t be long before you’ll want to throw open the windows for fresh air, or relief on a warm afternoon. Take time now to ensure your window screens are ready for the challenge. Many traditional neighborhood hardware stores still offer re-screening services. Contractors also specialize in this service and are available for house calls.

Clean the Ceiling Fans

During the warm weather and the cold, ceiling fans can help moderate the temperature and better distribute the air. But your fans will be far more efficient if you give them a good cleaning a couple times each year. For fans mounted up to 10 feet in the air, you can use a ladder to access the tops of the fan blades. For those mounted on vaulted ceilings, use a long-handled duster. 

Apply Weather Stripping

Many homeowners think of weather stripping as a cold-weather commodity, but it’s just as important during summer. To keep the cool air in and the hot air out, use any of the many filler materials available to seal gaps around windows, doors, exhaust fans, and any other point where you can see light peeking through. 

Outdoors

Look for Damaged Roof Shingles

Use binoculars (with your feet safely planted on the ground) to scan for roof shingles that are curling, broken, or missing. If anything seems compromised, have a roofing company perform an inspection and provide a bid. If you or any members of your family are enterprising drone users, a camera-affixed drone can also be a useful aid in this reconnaissance effort. 

Wash the Exterior

An easy way to extend the life of your exterior paint – and make your house look better than ever – is to give the siding a good washing. Use mostly water (to avoid harming any plants) and a stiff pole brush.

Search Out Rotten Wood

While you’re washing the exterior, keep an eye out for areas where there may be rot. Use a screwdriver to gently but firmly press on any siding or trim where you see black mold, missing paint, or exposed gray wood. If the area you’re probing feels mushy or bone-dry, contact a contractor to assess and stabilize the situation.

Clean the Gutters

All it takes is a handful of leaves to clog a gutter downspout and cause overflow and flooding. Hire a professional to give the gutters a thorough cleaning and you’ll avoid the very real dangers of working from a ladder. If you live in an area with lots of trees, consider getting quotes for some of the leaf-less gutter systems.

Prepare Your Lawn to Grow

The winter sets impediments for your lawn, and it takes preparation to help it shine. Rake away any dead grass and aerate the whole lawn to allow nutrients to access the roots. Reseed bare spots and apply a spring fertilizer to ensure your lawn has the fuel it needs to grow strong and beautiful.

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5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

In many ways, the kitchen is the heart of a home. All the time spent making delicious food, sharing recipes, and enjoying meals with loved ones gives it a central role in home life. A consequence of the time spent in the kitchen is the creation of waste. But by adopting more sustainable practices in the kitchen, you can reduce waste and make your home more eco-friendly. Here are five ways you can create a sustainable kitchen.

5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

1. Cut Down on Food Waste

It’s no secret that a certain portion of food always seems to go to waste, but how can you avoid throwing away perfectly edible food items? It starts with being intentional about your grocery shopping. This helps to prevent overbuying and will give you a better chance of cutting down your food waste. Food preservation is key, as well. Invest in high-quality, reusable containers to prevent food from rotting, wilting, or expiring before you intend to cook it.

2. Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Kitchen appliances generate a significant amount of power. By using an energy-efficient refrigerator, freezer, and/or dishwasher, you can reduce the overall energy consumption of your household. When deciding on which appliance to purchase, the most sustainable choice you can make is the one you plan on sticking with for a long time. When deciding on a gas versus an electric range, know the pros and cons of each option before making a final decision.

 

A young man and a woman take care of their kitchen herbs and houseplants.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Pekic

 

3. Reusable Materials

Getting more uses out of the items in your kitchen will help make your household more environmentally conscious. Reusable kitchen towels are an eco-friendly replacement for paper towels when you’re cooking, wiping down your counters, or doing dishes. Using reusable grocery bags is an effective way to transport groceries sustainably. It will also help keep your kitchen organized by avoiding a plastic or paper bag pile-up under your sink. This line of reusable thinking in the kitchen can even extend to design. If you’re looking to give your kitchen a makeover while keeping sustainability in mind, consider incorporating reclaimed wood, sustainably-sourced countertops, or natural materials like bamboo. 

4. Use Natural or Organic Cleaning Products

Creating a sustainable kitchen isn’t just about reducing food waste and choosing reusable materials. By using organic and/or natural cleaning products, you can ensure that your cleaning practices are sustainable as well. Using natural cleaners, like baking soda and vinegar, can also create less waste when you repurpose jars and bottles to create your preferred solution. Buy ingredients in bulk, then re-purpose old spray bottles and use towels instead of paper products to clean. Certain conventional cleaning products with synthetic chemicals can negatively impact the air quality in your home, which can have harmful effects on your health, especially if you have respiratory sensitivities.

5. Be Mindful About Water Usage

Neglecting to monitor your water usage is a slippery slope. Not only will using too much water increase the overall waste output of your home, but it will also increase your water bill. Be mindful about using only the required amount of water for cooking, do your best to avoid leaving the faucet running, and if there is a drip, fix it as quickly as you can. Using too much water can also strain your home’s water systems, putting your pipes at risk of bursting. Tempering your water usage can help to prevent water damage and the high costs that come with it.

Going zero waste doesn’t have to be expensive. Try first to extend the life of the things you already have like plastic bottles and textiles. For more information on how you can adopt sustainable practices at home, read our guide to going low-to-zero waste:

A Guide to Going Low-to-Zero Waste

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How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

A fire breaking out in your home is a serious potential hazard. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to identify the early signs of a fire and to prepare for an emergency. The following list will help you and your household put together your fire safety plan.

How to Prepare for a Fire at Home

Fire safety

Having properly functioning smoke and CO2 detectors is crucial to your safety. Test your smoke and CO2 detectors frequently and swap out the batteries when necessary. It is recommended to have a smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on each level of your home.

Always keep a fire extinguisher near the kitchen to combat flame outbursts from the stove or oven. It is best to have at least one fire extinguisher per floor for easy access. Keep in mind that fire extinguishers are used to control and extinguish small, contained fires. If a fire has spread throughout an entire room, or is beginning to engulf your home, know that fire extinguishers are no match for the blaze, and you should escape immediately.

Evacuation plan

A home fire can be very disorienting. During an emergency, it is critical that all members of your household know how to properly evacuate the home. Identify two ways to escape from each room in case one route is unsafe. Choose a meeting spot somewhere outside for everyone to meet a safe distance away from the fire. This can be across the street, down the block, at a neighbor’s house, or wherever makes most sense for you and your family. The most important thing is that you all have an agreed-upon rendezvous. Select an emergency contact whom you can reach out to if something goes wrong in the evacuation process or if a family member is missing.

Best practices

When escaping your home, crawl as low as possible to stay beneath the smoke. Test closed doors before using them to escape. If they are hot, that’s a sign that there are flames on the other side of the door and you should use an alternative escape strategy. Be careful that you don’t burn your hand when testing closed doors. Make sure everyone in your household knows the procedure for calling 9-1-1 and properly alerting the fire department. If you have pets at home, include them in your evacuation plans. If you are forced to decide between evacuating safely and trying to rescue a pet, know that firefighters are trained experts at saving animals from house fires. 

For more tips on how to plan for fire-related emergencies at home, read our blog for Wildfire Preparation and Evacuation Tips.

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The Evolution of the Home Office

As the popularity of remote work has reached new heights in recent years, the needs of homeowners are changing. Home offices and workspaces have never been higher on buyers’ priority lists and sellers are finding ways to make their homes appeal to a remote working audience. So, what does this mean for the home office moving forward? How will it continue to evolve? Only time will tell. In the meantime, it’s more important than ever to curate a home office that fits your needs.

The Evolution of the Home Office

Whether you have a proper home office or work at a chair in your kitchen nook, what’s important is that you create a dedicated space for your work. This allows you to focus by limiting distractions that may arise from other areas of the house. It also brings a sense of work-life balance to your home by physically separating the spaces. Even if your space is limited, design your workspace to feel like its own designated spot by facing it away from an open room or pointing your workstation toward a window.

Continued Remote Work

For those who have worked remotely and will continue to do so, you’ve likely gotten a grasp of how your home workspace can best fit your unique needs. Perhaps you decided to ditch the desk chair for a yoga ball or switched out that old desk lamp for a therapy light. But now that remote work has become your long-term reality, it’s time to think about how the space will fit your long-term needs.

Gone are the days of your home workspace being an afterthought. Working from home long-term means that your home office is now one of the most-used spaces in the house, so it’s important to keep it organized. Declutter the space with efficiency and productivity in mind, prioritizing the items that are essential for your job. We work well when we feel well, and an organized space can help reduce anxiety and work-related stress.

As your remote work continues, it may be time to make investments that you were previously on the fence about making. Whether it’s a second monitor, a supportive floor mat under your chair, a new design on your wall for your Zoom background, or a standing desk, now that you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, it’s important that your home office provides you with all the tools you’ll need while inspiring you to do your best work. 

Returning to In-Person Work

For those whose days of a fully remote work schedule are coming to an end, your home office needs will evolve, so it’s important that the space reflects those changes.

  • Full-Time: Returning to in-person work full-time means your home office will be vacant for extended periods of the day. Because you won’t be using it nearly as much, you have the freedom to either keep it as is or convert the room into something else. If you’ve dreamt of having a game room, a home gym, a playroom for the kids, or creating your version of a home theater, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.
  • Part-Time / Hybrid / Flex: A hybrid or flex work schedule allows for flexibility with your home office. Paring down your workspace and transferring some equipment to your desk at work will help you declutter. Outfit both workspaces to fit your needs to avoid lugging equipment back and forth. For example, if one location is primarily meant for attending meetings and the other is for working on projects, you can curate each space accordingly.

 

For more information on how remote work can change your needs as a homeowner, read our blog on The Remote Worker’s Home Buying Process.

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Your Guide to Trick-Or-Treating in Northern Colorado

It’s the sweetest, spookiest time of the year! If you’re in the Northern Colorado area, we’ve put together a list of family-friendly trick-or-treat locations that are sure to hit the spot! 

 

 

1. Anderson Farms is opening its doors for all the “Little Ghouls” out there. This daytime trick-or-treat event will be hosted on both Saturday and Sunday from 11a to 2p, giving the kiddos the perfect chance to show off their costumes, collect candy and explore the farm’s “Fall Festival”. Tickets are $5 per participant and registration includes a trick-or-treating sack!

 

 

2. Trick or Treat Street 2021 is back and better than ever! Enjoy this completely outdoor trick-or-treat event taking place on Friday October 29th from 4p-6p in Downtown Greeley. Over 40 businesses will be in attendance and they’re bringing more than just candy… booths, prizes, treats, and trunk-or-treat cars are all a part of this short and sweet celebration!

 

 

3. Not quite ready to take on the crowds yet? We’ve got you! The Thompson School District is hosting its second annual “Drive-Thru Trick or Treat”. This socially distanced event gives the kiddos a chance to dress up and collect candy from the comfort of the car, all while checking out Halloween scenes decorated by local businesses, schools and nonprofits. The best part? This event is doubles as a fundraiser for the Thompson Education Foundation! Get into the spirit of Halloween while supporting a great organization! Tickets are $5 per vehicle and the event will take place on Saturday, October 30th from 10a-2:30p.

 

 

4. Head to Downtown Fort Collins the kick off your Halloween weekend! Nearly 70 businesses in the downtown area will be participating in this trick-or-treat event. Join in the fun on Friday October 29th from 10a-1p! Not in the area? Downtown Windsor will also be hosting it’s annual Trick-or-Treat event on Saturday from 1p-4p. Stop by and say hi to the 20 participating businesses including our Windsor office located at 207 4th Street!

 

 

5. Stick with tradition and trick-or-treat in your neighborhood over the weekend. Wherever you choose to celebrate this year, we’re wishing you a Happy Halloween!

The post Your Guide to Trick-Or-Treating in Northern Colorado appeared first on Windermere Colorado REALTORS.

Your Guide to Trick-Or-Treating in Northern Colorado

It’s the sweetest, spookiest time of the year! If you’re in the Northern Colorado area, we’ve put together a list of family-friendly trick-or-treat locations that are sure to hit the spot! 

 

 

1. Anderson Farms is opening its doors for all the “Little Ghouls” out there. This daytime trick-or-treat event will be hosted on both Saturday and Sunday from 11a to 2p, giving the kiddos the perfect chance to show off their costumes, collect candy and explore the farm’s “Fall Festival”. Tickets are $5 per participant and registration includes a trick-or-treating sack!

 

 

2. Trick or Treat Street 2021 is back and better than ever! Enjoy this completely outdoor trick-or-treat event taking place on Friday October 29th from 4p-6p in Downtown Greeley. Over 40 businesses will be in attendance and they’re bringing more than just candy… booths, prizes, treats, and trunk-or-treat cars are all a part of this short and sweet celebration!

 

 

3. Not quite ready to take on the crowds yet? We’ve got you! The Thompson School District is hosting its second annual “Drive-Thru Trick or Treat”. This socially distanced event gives the kiddos a chance to dress up and collect candy from the comfort of the car, all while checking out Halloween scenes decorated by local businesses, schools and nonprofits. The best part? This event is doubles as a fundraiser for the Thompson Education Foundation! Get into the spirit of Halloween while supporting a great organization! Tickets are $5 per vehicle and the event will take place on Saturday, October 30th from 10a-2:30p.

 

 

4. Head to Downtown Fort Collins the kick off your Halloween weekend! Nearly 70 businesses in the downtown area will be participating in this trick-or-treat event. Join in the fun on Friday October 29th from 10a-1p! Not in the area? Downtown Windsor will also be hosting it’s annual Trick-or-Treat event on October 30th from 1p-4p. Stop by and say hi to the 20 participating businesses including our Windsor office located at 207 4th Street!

 

 

5. Stick with tradition and trick-or-treat in your neighborhood over the weekend. Wherever you choose to celebrate this year, we’re wishing you a Happy Halloween!

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How to Fall Proof Your Home

Each object in a home serves a purpose, but for those who experience dizziness and numbness, many of them can also be a potential hazard. Taking steps to reduce the risk of falling in your home is a worthy exercise for any homeowner, especially if you have elderly family members or young children living in your home or visiting often. Here are some ways you can fall proof the rooms in your home.

How to Fall Proof Your Home

Kitchen

The kitchen is synonymous with spills and messes. When these accidents happen, be sure to clean them up quickly and thoroughly to reduce the risk of a falling injury. Slippery floors have been the culprit of countless broken bones and bruises, so it’s best to wait until the cleaned spot is dry until you resume cooking.

Stay low to the ground as much as possible by keeping your most used items like spices, cooking utensils, and hand towels within reach to reduce the number of times you need to use a step stool.

Bathroom

In the bathroom surfaces are often slippery and slick, and the hard tile makes for an unforgiving landing spot. It’s common for homeowners to place a non-slip mat in the shower or tub to reduce the risk of slipping and falling. Grab bars are a more permanent option for making the bathroom safer. For those interested in installing a grab bar but have reservations about the aesthetics of installing a grab bar, look at pieces that align with your existing décor. Match the grab bar with your shower head, shower rod, and towel racks to make it fit with the space.

Bedroom

The key to preventing falls in the bedroom is visibility. Bedrooms are cozy, intimate spaces, which means that space can often be limited. Keep all pathways clear and make sure that your nightstands and bedside lamps are well within reach. Stow any cords next to your bed to avoid tripping over them in the night.

Staircases

We’ve all taken a tumble on the stairs at some point or another. To mitigate the risk of falling, keep your stairs organized at all times. It’s easy for clutter to build up at the top or bottom of the stairs or on platforms between floors, but these objects are tripping hazards. Consider installing a handrail if you don’t have one or add a second one if you currently only have a handrail on one side.

For more information on home safety, cleaning tips, and more, visit the living section of our blog.

Windermere Blog – Living

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6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots

It’s easy to get into a routine when cleaning your home season after season, year after year. While simply going over the same spots may make your home feel cleaner, at the same time, it allows the neglected areas to become dirtier. Here are six commonly missed spots around the home that, once given the attention they deserve, will help make your home feel completely clean.

6 Commonly Missed Cleaning Spots

1. Underneath & Behind Furniture

Dirt and dust love to hide in tough-to-reach, tucked-away spots like behind your nightstand, under your bed frame, and on the underside of your tables, chairs, and couches. Cleaning these areas may require some heavy lifting and rearranging but it’s worth your while. If enough dust and grime have accumulated over the years that your vacuum can’t remove the buildup, try using a washcloth to loosen the sediment.

2. Vents and Fans

Vents and fans not only collect dust, but they also distribute it around your home. Ceiling fans are one of the hardest spots in your home to reach, so you may need to use a ladder and an extended duster to clean them. Clean your vent grates with a dusting brush or a wire brush depending on the thickness of the buildup. If your home has central air, remember to replace your air filters periodically. A clean ventilation system is key to protecting your home’s air quality.

3. Bathroom Surfaces

We all know the feeling of picking up a rarely used shampoo bottle in the shower to discover a grimy ring underneath it. Wipe off your bottles and surfaces in the shower to keep it sparkling clean. Scrub away the debris from your shower head and soak it in a mixture of water and white vinegar to cleanse the device and to prevent a buildup of mineral deposits. To reach behind the toilet, you may need knee pads and an extended cleaning tool. Use a disinfectant-water mixture to prevent the spread of germs. Tackling chores like these will help make your bathroom feel brand new in no time.

 

 

4. Switches & Handles

Light switches, door handles, drawer pulls, and knobs are all hotbeds for germs and dirt and can easily be forgotten while cleaning your home. Take a two-step approach to cleaning these high-touch surfaces: first clean, then disinfect. Cleaning will get rid of contaminants, while disinfecting targets pathogens. The combination of the two will help make your home feel cleaner while reducing the spread of germs. Other high-touch surfaces such as keyboards, phones, tablets, and other devices require regular cleaning as well.

5. Appliances

It’s easy to think of your appliances strictly as devices that help your home stay clean and organized, but they are magnets for dirt and gunk, too. After cleaning out the refrigerator and scrubbing down the shelves, find the coils and clean them of debris with a vacuum or a brush. The floor underneath your refrigerator can be a seriously grimy spot, so a quick mop of that area is worth your while. Give your dishwasher a good cleanse to prevent mold buildup and bad odors. Remember to clean out the filter occasionally with soap and water. Cleaning your appliances routinely can help avoid repairs and can even extend their life expectancy.

6. Baseboards

Baseboards are the perfect settling point for dirt and dust. The space between your walls and floors is an easy trap for buildup, and upon closer inspection, you’ll find some combination of scuffs, dust, food remnants and scratch marks. To thoroughly clean your baseboards, you may need to move your furniture away from the walls but be careful not to scratch the floor or damage the baseboards. Wipe away the dust before cleaning the surface. Use either a mix of soap and water, water and vinegar, or the proper wood cleaner for wooden baseboards.

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Summer Parties Made Simple

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Windermere Living by Amanda Zurita.

Summer, especially this summer, is meant for barbecues, outdoor movie nights, garden gatherings, and rooftop cocktail affairs. Keep the focus on reconnecting with friends and family by opting for unfussy, minimalist decor and clean color palettes. It’s about time we have something to celebrate, isn’t it?

Backyard Barbecue

Upgrade the summertime tradition of the backyard barbecue with stylish and simple tools.

A group of people sit at a table outside for a backyard barbecue.

Image Credit: Jayme Burrows / Stocksy

 

The most time-honored summertime gathering takes place in your own backyard, and a lineup of modern tabletop grills and tools means you can feed a fête without much fret. For example, BergHOFF’s sleek tabletop grill has a compact design that can easily transport to a balcony or the beach—simply add charcoal, and you’re ready to take orders. Or switch it up with one of this year’s most popular cooking contraptions, a portable pizza oven, like the one made by Ooni. With models powered by gas or by wood fire, these ovens can cook a 12-inch pizza in as little as 60 seconds and will work for meats and vegetables, too. Focus on main courses, and ask your guests to bring sides or desserts to share. Complete the ambience by piping a playlist through portable outdoor speakers like the Move by Sonos, which are equipped with voice control and Bluetooth tech, so you can play DJ with ease.

Elevate Your Grill Game Without Going Too Crazy

  • Burgers on the menu? Stuff them with gourmet cheeses, like bleu or mozzarella, before throwing them on.

  • Sitting down together? Time your steaks right by searing them first and finishing them just before serving.

  • Make it a pizza night—with or without a pizza oven. Load pies with your favorite fixings, roll them out on a pizza stone, and cook them over the open flame.

  • Don’t skimp on fruits and veggies. Grilled vegetables are summer’s side dish; peaches and pineapple make for a sweet and juicy dessert (make it á la mode!).

Garden Party

Elevate your outdoor space with basic romantic elements.

A group of people sit around a large table at a backyard party.

Image Credit: Trinnette Reed / Stocksy

 

A garden party is a glorious way to gather with friends for an elegant afternoon. Start by creating a special space in the yard by laying down some outdoor rugs or erecting a temporary canopy to provide shade. To illuminate the celebration, surround the table with candlelit lanterns, or string outdoor lights between overhead branches. Then, it’s all about the tablescape. Select durable (and unbreakable) dishware like sustainable bamboo plates and bowls from Fable New York, which come in a range of colors like soft blush, buttery yellow, and eggshell blue. The same goes for glasses, which can be as durable as they are chic in fluted acrylic designs from West Elm. To distribute your chosen refreshments, fill a cheery pineapple-shaped beverage dispenser from Nordstrom with punch or lemonade, or stock bottles of bubbly in a sleek Permasteel rolling patio cooler. Once you’ve covered the dining and decor, add extras that keep your guests comfortable, like classic paddle fans, supplied by party stores and wedding suppliers like The Knot. Keep mosquitoes at bay with a discreet Patio Shield repeller by Thermacell, which creates a 15-foot zone of protection around your gathering.

Add a touch of natural beauty by creating simple flower arrangements based on what’s in your yard—or the local farmers market. Seasonal blooms like tulips, peonies, and ranunculus come in many shades and have a textural, wild appearance. To step outside the expected, add branches from cherry or olive trees or fresh fruits from trees on your property. Take your time adding and subtracting elements until you achieve a look you love. A flower frog or stretch of lattice can help hold everything in place. For a minimalist spray, choose a monochromatic color palette, or keep it light with just a few blooms.

Sunset Soirée

Watch the sunset from your rooftop, porch, or balcony at an elegant yet restrained affair. 

A man and a woman attend an outdoor party during sunset.

Image Credit: Jovo Jovanovic / Stocksy

 

To set a classic (and classy) mood, make a portable record player the center of attention, and invite guests to bring a favorite album. Many options, like the turntables from Crosley, have Bluetooth capabilities, so you can link speakers and switch to digital music with ease. To keep the evening chill away, set up a portable fire pit (Solo offers wood-burning, smokeless options in a number of sizes). Citronella candles, like Pottery Barn’s artful candle, help maintain the romantic ambience while keeping the buzz kills away.

Cheers to You

A polished party deserves an equally upscale signature drink, but you don’t want to spend all night playing bartender. A Champagne punch you can batch in advance is easy to make but elegant enough to fit the vibe. This recipe for a berry satsuma sangria will fit the bill and please a crowd, especially when served in shatter-resistant stemware from Williams Sonoma. Prepare about an hour before your party to preserve the bubbles.

Ingredients

  • 6 satsuma oranges
  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 bottle of chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 6 oz Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 4 oz club soda
  • 2 oz cherry brandy
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Recipe

Place the segments of two oranges and all of the strawberries and raspberries into a large punch bowl or drink pitcher. Juice the remaining oranges for about . to ⅔ cup of orange juice, and add to the bowl along with the remaining liquid ingredients. Stir together and taste, adding simple syrup if it isn’t at your desired sweetness. Serve over a large ice cube and garnish with mint.

Movie Night

Everything you need to get cozy under the stars.

A man and a woman watch a movie on a projector from their driveway.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Pump Up Your Popcorn

Toss plain popcorn with a variety of seasonings: try butter, salt, and truffle oil; crispy bacon, a few tablespoons bacon drippings, butter, and chopped chives; butter, sriracha, and lime—or bake popcorn on a tray with a few cups of your favorite cheeses for a crunchy-melty treat.

It’s lights, camera, action with a backyard movie night to rival any drive-in. If you’ve spent the last year watching everything Netflix has to offer from the comfort of your couch, this change of scenery is (literally) a breath of fresh air. Opening your own outdoor theater is easy with movie screens, like Pottery Barn’s streamlined option, that set up in no time and come with a portable storage bag. Upgrade from blankets or lawn chairs to specially made outdoor bean bags from Jaxx, line the aisles with IKEA’s romantic solar lanterns, and you’re ready for showtime under the stars.

Project: Projector

When choosing a projector, consider brightness levels in your yard. If you have any light pollution, you’ll likely need a projector that puts out 800 lumens for an 80-inch screen size. A short throw projector, placed three to eight feet from the screen, is ideal. Epson’s EF-100 Mini Laser Projector is a good bet, and it’s both powerful and light, weighing just under six pounds. As for audio, most projectors that do have built-in speakers won’t offer the cinematic sound quality you’re looking for, so a set of well-placed Bluetooth speakers will round out the full experience. A pair of Anker Soundcore Motion Boom speakers placed at the back corners of your viewing area can create rich surround sound. And be sure to let the neighbors know about movie night so they aren’t surprised—better yet, why not extend an invite?

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Windermere Living: Board it Up

For an intimate gathering or celebration, or just to change up a weeknight dinner, charcuterie boards are impressive crowd-pleasers.

Once an innocuous appetizer, charcuterie boards are stealing the show as stunning smorgasbords studded with salami roses and a rainbow of ripe vegetables, flamboyant fruits, and sweet and savory snacks. Traditionally, charcuterie boards are composed of meats and cheeses—the name even comes from the French for “cooked flesh.” A part of French culinary art since at least the 15th century, they were considered the food of the bourgeoisie for hundreds of years before catching on with higher-end cooks. Now, they return to accessibility as people find ways to customize their boards and feature all sorts of spreads. Trays and wood blocks can be artfully piled with everything needed for a build-your-own brunch buffet, a vegan midday meal, or an elegant soirée starter. Boards tap into a host’s creative side as an easy, fun way to put out an incredible spread that pleases every type of person. “I love making them for entertaining,” says Amy Holt of Peas Thank You in Venice, California, “because it’s a centerpiece for conversation.”

 

Photography by Carly Diza – Food Styling by Anne Parker

 

At cocktail parties, casual gatherings, or before a sit-down dinner, charcuterie board–style spreads allow people to create their own bites and discuss what they paired and how they ate it—functioning as both food and icebreaker. The chameleon of catering, boards fit in as easily at a small family picnic as they do at an upscale event, while also giving people more flexibility than a set menu: hungrier guests can make almost a full meal of the offerings, while lighter eaters can sparsely snack. But the ultimate asset of an attractive board to anchor an event is the freedom to indulge artistic whims in building a creative, edible assortment. Expert charcuterie board makers from around the West talk about how they design their signature creative boards with both classic snacks and unorthodox offerings in elegant arrangements for family, friends, and gatherings large and small.

Magnificent Morning

When a client for her charcuterie board business requested a bagel spread for a bar mitzvah, Sylvie Stulic, of the Bay Area’s On the Board Gourmet, saw it as the perfect opportunity to get creative. Now it’s part of her standard offerings, and she’s gained knowledge on the best way to build a bagel board.

Functional Design

The big size and flavor of caperberries always draws wows, says Stulic, while she adds extra brightness with red sweetie drop peppers. “I love to include a floral element,” she says, which may be actual (edible) flowers or cucumbers styled into roses. One standard bagel fixing not found on the bagel boards, though, are onions. “They contaminate the other flavors,” Stulic explains.

Tips of the Tray

Unless the board is enormous, Stulic slices and cuts the bagels in half so that they don’t visually overwhelm everything else. She uses the halves to create a line down the middle and creates symmetry with the colors around it. Aim to keep the bagels surrounded by dry ingredients so they don’t get soggy on the board. For serving a crowd or an event, bagels work well because they are traditionally eaten at room temperature. But at home, she branches out, creating similar breakfast spreads for her family out of crepes, waffles, and pancakes.

 

Photography by Carly Diza – Food Styling by Anne Parker

Creative Colors

The rainbow platters made by Amy Holt of Peas Thank You in Venice, California, stand out for their bold use of patterns, whether as a fun fruit display, a vegan snack selection, or a traditional meat and cheese board.

Shop Savvy

“Start at the farmers market,” says Holt. That’s the best place to find natural-looking fruits and vegetables, like radishes with their stems and broccolini with flowers. But even if limited to a grocery store, she can look for the same effect with tomatoes on the vine and celery with nice leaves to use as a garnish. Instead of buying pre-sliced meats or trying to slice them at home—especially for small boards that only need a few slices of each type of meat—Holt uses the deli counter at the grocery store, which will cut them to order. Holt uses honeycomb on cheeses and tops a chia seed pudding with toasted coconut to add special touches.

Tips of The Tray

Bring variety in shapes as well as color by cutting and stacking the food creatively: put berries on a skewer, clip the grape bunches into manageable sizes, and fold the meat in different ways. Start with the biggest things first by plating any dips or spreads. Holt uses a coconut chia seed pudding as the anchor to her fruit boards and hummus on her vegan spread. Arrange foods in groups of three, and always use odd numbers, as they are more naturally pleasing to people. Use triangle formations to direct the eye across platters, drawing attention to the whole board, rather than a single spot or line. Finish by tossing a small, attractive garnish all over the board—berries, little tomatoes, or cilantro flowers—to add a decorative touch.

 

Photography by Carly Diza – Food Styling by Anne Parker

Edible And Upscale  

When the fashion industry slowed down during the pandemic and the events Rona Argana once planned dried up, she used her sharp eye for design to craft grazing boxes as gifts to send to her friends. That turned into For Love and Graze, her North Hollywood, California business that spins casual snack platters into eye-catching displays.

Ingredients for Elegance

Use the green color of leaves to signify freshness, says Argana. She likes mint sprigs in the spring, rosemary and sage in the winter. (Keep them well hydrated ahead of time, so they last longer.) Fancy can still be fun, and she loves to use letter-shaped cookie cutters and slices from a log of mozzarella cheese to add celebratory messages. Savory needs a balance of sweet, so even her traditional snack boards always include a sugary nibble like chocolate-covered almonds or yogurt-covered pretzels.

Tips of the Tray

Start by setting out a neutral color palette of the crackers, meats, and cheeses. Then bring in a limited range of colors, sticking to greens, oranges, and reds. Balance each color with multiple tones and items: use both olives and grapes for green and offset the reds from berries with similar shades of citrus. Most of all, Argana says, don’t forget the purpose of the creation, and consider the flavors as much as the colors: “Make sure it tastes as good as it looks.”

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