Monday, September 28, 2009

How To Host An End of Season BBQ To Remember - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

You’ve worked all summer long to get your home and yard looking fantastic, but what good is it if you don’t show it off? Before you shut down the outdoors for the season, why not host a Fall BBQ for your family and friends. Here are some tips for how to be sure that your party is a huge success:

The Entertainment
It is always a good idea to provide some sort of entertainment when you host a party. Music provides a nice background to any party theme. There are a few ways to do this, depending on what is available to you.

MP3 Player—Fill your mp3 player with your favourite songs, and create a playlist for the evening, whether it’s dance music, soft instrumental, country, etc., or perhaps you want a variety. Regardless, be sure to prepare a playlist in advance to ensure that the songs you don’t want anyone to know are in your mp3 library don’t randomly appear.

Instruments—If you have some friends that are musically inclined, encourage them to bring their instruments of choice, and set up a jam session. If you have instruments of your own on hand, such as guitars or hand drums, have these set out so that guests may be encouraged to join in.

Live Music—Often local, up and coming music artists will perform at private parties for minimal costs in an effort to increase exposure. Go online to find some local talent, and contact them about what their fees are. You may even be able to take up a collection with your guests to help to subsidize the cost.

The Food

First thing you need to decide when it comes to the food is whether or not you wish to do pot-luck style. This means that each guest would be responsible for bringing a dish. If you choose this route, you will want to be sure to coordinate in advance who is bringing what to ensure that you have enough food, and avoid duplicates. If you wish to do the cooking yourself, choose a theme and be sure your dishes compliment one another. This can be based on local seasonal vegetables, or flavours of the south, fall flavours inspired by thanksgiving comfort foods, or perhaps after a particular culture, such as Caribbean. If you have only one BBQ and are expecting a large crowd, consider cooking some items on the stove or in the oven.

The Setting
Since the season is known for cooler nights, be sure to prepare for this. Begin festivities early in the afternoon, to maximize the sunshine exposure. Advise guests that wish to stay into the evening to bring appropriate attire. If possible, provide an outdoor heat source, such as a bon fire, or a heat lamp (these can often be rented from party supply stores).

Although fall is not known for having a lot of pests around, it is a good idea to have some citronella candles and/or torches just in case. They provide a nice soft glow that helps to set the mood, and deter pesky bugs.

Be prepared with an entertaining area inside where guests can mingle in case of rain, or extremely chilly temperatures.

Good friends always means good times, so remember most importantly to enjoy yourself, no matter what.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The "F" Word - Getting Your Home Ready for "Fall" - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

It’s the season that usually follows two months of scorching heat, and is often welcomed with it’s cooler temperatures. Unfortunately this year it follows a somewhat questionable summer, but nonetheless, it’s best to come to terms with the facts—Fall is approaching Fast and Furious, and you need to make sure that both you, and your yard, are prepared.

Preparing The Garden
- Remove annuals that have finished blooming
- Trim back perennials
- Some gardeners will recommend digging up sensitive bulbs and bringing in for the winter—be sure not dig up though until after the first frost
- I like to split some of my herbs and replant in pots to bring in for the winter—plant in pots and leave outside for at least 1 week before bringing in—this will avoid too much stress to the plant
- Add mulch to help to protect your bed over the winter

Plant Spring Bulbs
Most spring bulbs require that you plant them approximately 6 weeks before the first frost. Some great spring bloomers are:
- Daffodils
- Tulips
- Hyacinths
- Crocus’
- Snowdrops

Lawn Care
Don’t wait until spring to get your lawn ready—let your lawn work for you over the months that it is buried in snow, giving you a thick, green lawn in the spring. Mix soil, fertilizer, and lawn seed in a wheelbarrow, and spread throughout the lawn. This is also a great time to level out some uneven areas by adding a little more soil. Remember that most grass seeds need water, so be sure to water regularly if rain is not in the forecast. Putting down grass seed just before the snow falls helps to keep the seeds moist, and allow them to work into the soil before the ground freezes. To prepare your lawn, rake first with a thatching rake to pull up dead roots, stems, and leaves. Also ensure that all fallen leaves are raked up before the first snow fall.

Bringing In The Rain Barrel
Drain and disconnect your rain barrel in the fall to ensure your rain barrel and the overflow hose do not crack. Store in a garage or shed over the winter and store your overflow hose indoors. If you must store your rain barrel outdoors, drain it and put it upside-down with the water valve left open.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back To School for Your Home - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

“Back to School” can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Regardless of whether you are gearing up to return to classes yourself, or have kids that are, or neither, it’s hard not to be affected by all the Back to School media attention, and the whole atmosphere surrounding it all. Back to School is simply a time of year when things seem to return to normal, or at least a state somewhat resembling normal anyway. Plant shutdowns are done with, vacations are over, you begin closing the cottage, and the pool, and preparing for the fall ahead (don’t worry—that’s next week’s article). This week I was inspired by the Back to School blitz, and wanted to give you some ideas for returning yourself, and your home, to “school”. Here are some basic supplies that you’ll need:

Pens/Pencils—If you’re finding that all the pens you thought you had around the house have mysteriously disappeared, now is a great time to purchase some new ones. Get rid of all the mis-matched pens, likely only half of which actually have ink, and stock up on some pens in a variety of fun colours, or perhaps one colour specifically to compliment your d├ęcor.

Books—Just because you’re not taking any actual classes doesn’t mean that you can’t learn a thing or two. Consider purchasing a book about a topic that you’re interested in learning more about. Whether it’s a home renovation project, or a new language, or simply a hobby or interest that you want to learn more about, such as a historical event, or astronomy, or maybe classic cars. Learning can be fun when you have chosen the material, and when you’re done, the book can be displayed on your bookcase as art.

Backpack—Re-usable bags are eco-chic! Treat yourself to a new bag for picking up all your new supplies. You can find great, fashionable bags at stores such as Winners, The Bay, Lulu Lemon, and almost anywhere you find fashion. For the glam bag pictured to the right, check out Envirosax ( In addition to providing uniquely stylish re-usable bags, Envirosax also donates a percentage of its sales to charities and non-profit organizations dedicated to the preservation of the environment.

Day Planner/Calendar—Don’t wait until the last minute to start planning for 2010. Pick yourself up a new calendar and/or day-planner, and start planning your winter escape, spring break, or weekend get-aways. Getting a jump-start on your calendar allows you to write down new year appointment reminders as they come up, such as the dentist, car tune-ups, furnace cleanings, etc. To the left is the At-A-Glance day-planner that I use. I love to support Breast Cancer Awareness, and this planner comes in a pretty soft pink, and gives me plenty of space for notes to plan my days.

New Fashions—Probably one of the most exciting parts of Back to School is all the new clothes! Why not treat your home to some new fashions too? End of season sales will help you stock up for next Spring/Summer, whether it’s new outdoor furniture or lighting, or for the indoors, perhaps some cozy blankets, or new window coverings, table settings, a new area rug, or maybe simply some small accessories such as candles, artwork, or small vases. Whatever you need for your home, inside or out, now is a great time to take advantage of end-of-season savings.

Written By: Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Designing A-Z (Part 2) - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

Last week featured a guide to designer terms, with A-M. This week, we complete the glossary with N-Z. Whether you are hiring a design professional, or planning to do work yourself, be sure you understand these terms before you get started.

Niche—recessed opening, often arched at the top, set in a wall with a shelf, often lit from the top to display sculpture or objects of art (see Figure 1).

Organza—sheer, stiff silk or synthetic fiber, often used for fashionable evening wear (see Figure 2).

Parquet—wood floor laid in geometric patterns (see Figure 3).

Quatrefoil—rounded, Gothic tracery design with 4-leaves or "foils" (see Figure 4).

Rosette—round, elaborately detailed pattern resembling a rose, most often found in a carved wood or plaster mould application.

Sconce—wall-mounted electrified or candlelight fixture.

Torchier—standing lamp with indirect upward light (see Figure 5).

Undertone—The colour obtained when a coloured pigment is reduced with a large proportion of white pigment. The colour seen when a coloured pigment is spread on glass and viewed with light passing through it.

Vignette—little displays; using art or decorative pieces to create small decorative displays (see Figure 6).

Widow's Walk—rooftop platform, said to have been created for widows seeking their husbands who had been lost at sea, often found on Victorian homes (see Figure 7).

Yard—a unit of length, often used to measure fabric, equal to 3' 0" or 36".

Zigzag—pattern formed by a continuous line, which turns sharply back and forth making a series of "V's".

Even the simplest of projects can come with challenges. Understanding some basic terms will help to get you started, however it is always best to consult with a professional to ensure that you did it right, the first time.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes