Living Poolside

Fire Features No. 1 Trend In Swimming Pool and Spa Design

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Jul 29, 2013

 Barrington Pools ChicagoThis swimming pool design and construction by Barrington Pools, Barrington, Illinois

There is no denying the element of fire adds a certain ambiance to an outdoor entertaining area and, following our 2013 Master Pools Guild Builder Survey,  we were not surprised to see that “fire features” topped the list of current trends in swimming pool and spa design. 

The ancient Greeks believed that fire was one of the four elements from which everything was made:  earth, water, air and fire.  The idea that these four elements made up all matter became the cornerstone of philosophy, science and medicine for more than two thousand years.  Isn’t it interesting that there are few places in which all four of these elements so easily co-exist as in a perfectly designed outdoor space?

The options for fire features are ever expanding, for example, in addition to traditional fire pits, fire tables offer a warm area to socialize and are ideal for spaces both large and small.  Today’s outdoor kitchen designs often include a brick oven as well as the traditional grill allowing an expansion of culinary creativity.   In addition to their aesthetic value, fire features are practical design &/or remodel additions.  Not only do they extend the outdoor season, often, they extend the daily possibilities for outdoor living which continues to increase in popularity.   Fire feature controls are simple to operate, with the push of a button, or swipe of your thumb, flames begin to dance beckoning all to gather near, stress to melt away and the day to last a while longer while you enjoy a bit of additional time, Living Poolside.

Get more information on our 2013 Top Ten Trends in Swimming Pool Design by clicking here.

Tags: In The News, Master Pools Guild Latest Greatest, Barrington Pools of Barrington Illinois, Swimming Pool Design Trends, Swimming Pool Design, Swimming Pool Builder Chicago, Barrington Pools

Kids Summer Fun Series Week 5: Shake It Up Ice Cream

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Tue, Jul 23, 2013

  Ice Cream Bag                                            

This week, we have a great activity for the kids that can be used as a cooking lesson/science experiment/game + snack!

Shake It Up Ice Cream In A Bag  

  • Ice cubes (enough to fill a gallon-size bag half full).
  • 1 cup half & half (you can use milk if you don’t have half & half on hand).
  • 1/2 cup salt - Bigger granules work better (Kosher or rock salt), but table salt is fine.
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pint-size zip lock bag
  • 1 gallon-size zip lock bag
  • Your favorite add-ins like chocolate chips, cookie crumbles or pieces of fresh fruit.
  1. Combine the sugar, half and half, & vanilla extract in the pint-size bag and seal it tightly.
  2. Place the salt and ice in the gallon-size bag.
  3. Place the sealed smaller bag inside the larger bag with the salt & ice & seal.
  4. Now shake the bags until the mixture hardens it will take about 5 minutes (feel the small bag to determine when it's ready).
  5. Take the smaller bag out of the larger one, spoon in your add-ins and eat the ice cream right out of the bag!
Of course, you may be like our group & not be able to resist shaking the bag to “Twist & Shout” – so a fun poolside activity that is a game AND a snack!  Some things are just naturally made for Living Poolside!  Enjoy!

Kids Summer Fun Series Week 4: Wonderful Watermelon

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Thu, Jul 18, 2013



Like swimming & pool side fun, the season of the watermelon is in full swing.  So, this week’s Kid’s Summer Fun Series post focuses on the sweet, juicy, summer time favorite – the watermelon.  We have listed two fun games below, one focused on the "older kids" & we have 2 recipes listed below - the second can be adjusted just a bit for the adults.  So, join us in declaring this week the wonderful week of the watermelon & enjoy this fruit both in & out of the pool!

Swimming Pool Games:

Watermelon Relay:

Of all the relay races in swimming pool history, truly one of the most popular is the watermelon race. All you need is two teams & two watermelons.  Perform the race as a relay.  Typically, the rule is that you can only push the watermelon when your feet are not touching the bottom of the pool.  Team members push up & back & the next team member takes over.  First team with all members completing the process wins.

Watermelon Polo:

Older “Kids” (including the adults) might want to try a game of Watermelon Polo.  Guaranteed laughs - Use baby oil or vegetable oil to lightly grease  a large watermelon, and then place it in the center of the pool. Blow a whistle, and then have two teams  kick, push or swim with the watermelon in an effort to get the watermelon to the opposing team’s side of the pool while the opposing team tries to do the same.   Note your team immediately loses if you damage the melon in any way.


Watermelon Pops:

The simplest of icy treats.  All you need is the watermelon & popcicle sticks.  Cut the melon in wedges, insert the stick & you can serve them as is or (& this is our personal favorite) put them in the freezer for an hour & let the freeze for the “coolest” of treats.

Watermelon-Lime Fresca:

Serves 4 (fills one blender)

2 pounds seedless watermelon (1/8th of a good-size watermelon)
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar

The key is to use the ripest watermelon you can find.

Simply toss the above ingredients into a blender & process adjusting the sweetness - agave - to your liking. Adults may add a splash of Vodka.

So grab a watermelon or two & enjoy Living Poolside this week!!!!

Tags: Living Poolside, poolside snacks, Kids Summer Fun Series, celebrate poolside, Food & Fun, Family Fitness, Poolside entertaining

Poolside Luncheon of Simple Sangria + Caprice Salad

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Jul 15, 2013



One fabulous poolside afternoon could soon be on your calendar.  Ok, this one is for the adults. Simple Sangria & Mini-Caprice Salad. Ladies, why not call a few of your friends today & schedule a poolside lunch? Add a loaf of crusty French bread to the menu below, and, all you need is a few friends to share. 

Simple Sangria – serves 6


  • 3 cups ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup lemon slices
  • 1/4 cup lime slices
  • 1/4 cup orange, slices
  • 1/4 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 cup seedless grapes
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup peach brandy
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup lemon/lime soda


In a pitcher, combine all the ingredients and stir. If time permits, wait about 1 hour for the fruit and the wine to infuse each other, but you can drink it immediately.


Mini-Caprice Salad – serves 4 - 6


  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 cup basil leaves, about 20 leaves, + a few extra for garnish
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup bite-sized fresh mozzarella balls drained & halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Combine lemon juice, garlic, basil in a food processor or blender.  Process &slowly add olive oil to form a smooth dressing. Combine tomatoes, cheese and dressing in a bowl and season with a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Garnish with a few torn basil leaves.

So enjoy your time Living Poolside!  Summer's there for everyone!

Tags: Food & Fun, Caprese salad, Master Pools Guild, Poolside entertaining, Sangria

Kids Summer Fun Series Week 3: Ping Pong + Fruity Fish

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Jul 08, 2013

Exercising Mind + Body!

Swimming Pool Ping Pong

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Swimming Pool Ping Pong is a fun alternative to the traditional dive & hunt type of game since this game takes place topside as the ping pong balls float on the water's surface.  It may sound easy but the ping pong balls white color does not always make them super easy to find.  Label the balls with numbers and have swimmers match the numbers in pairs or add each swimmers collection for the highest total.  Switch it up & print the initials of the swimmers on the game pieces & have them either find their own name or, when someone else finds their name then they are “bounced out.”  There a many ways to use these fun & inexpensive game pieces to keep your swimmers active physically & you can add a hidden math exercise in there too!

When it is time for a snack, keep the cool, pool, school theme with our:

School of Fruity Fish Snack

Ingredientsdescribe the image

  • Dried apricots
  • Mini pretzels
  • Cream cheese
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • 1 Plastic sandwich bag


  1. For each fish, slit one end of a dried apricot & insert the bottom of a mini pretzel pinching the apricot around the pretzel to keep it in place.
  2. Next, place the cream cheese in  the plastic sandwich bag & snip off corner.  For a fish eye, pipe on a small dot of cream cheese & then add a mini chocolate chip, tip down, pressing chip into the cream cheese.


Kids Summer Fun Series Week 2: Fourth of July Poolside

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Wed, Jul 03, 2013

The Master Pools Guild Living Poolside’s Kids Summer Fun Series! Where we share a fun activity & a great poolside snack each week.

Summer Fun Week # 2 Celebrating Independence Day

Even if you don’t reside in the USA, you can have a splashing good time with this set of games & poolside fun.



Crossing the Potomac Race:

Putting a new spin on a pool time favorite – the raft race, Crossing the Potomac can be performed solo or by teams.  Each team needs a raft.  Teams begin at one end of the pool & race to the other end.  One team member pushes the raft while the remainder of the team members are on the raft either laying across or sitting..  Team members on the raft can help push along or not.  Make your own rules & change this up.  For example, let the raft riders only use their legs to help.

Cannon Ball Splash Contest:

Nothing brings everyone together more than a cannon ball contest.  Get your contestants, find a prize for the winner & have the audience judge by applause. ALWAYS exercise caution when jumping off the side of a pool. 

Cannon Ball Run Relay Race:

Divide into teams.  Each team needs a beach ball which will be the cannon ball.  The object of the game is for each swimmer to move the cannon ball from one end of the pool to the other but only using their nose! Another great race for a relay!

Star Spangled Splash Dance:

Divide into teams (or individuals can complete).  Have teams choreograph an Independence Day themed water ballet (use pool noodles/floats etc. for props).  Then invite family, friends & neighbors to watch the premiere.  Great to have in the evening with pool lights adding that dramatic flair to the presentation.  Have multiple “awards” so each team is a winner (i.e most original, most patriotic, most “red,white & blue”).

Star Spangle the Food & Beverages:

Cup Station:

Avoid the mix up of cups (which typically happens at parties) by providing guests with a cup station.  Set up a table that has plastic cups (solid color), markers, in black, blue, silver & star stickers in patriotic colors & have everyone decorate & place their names on their cups.  The kids can help decorate cups for their parents too.  This not only avoids cup confusion but will also help reduce the overall number of cups you use.

Frozen Stars:

We loved the star shaped ice cube trays we found (at Wal-Mart for .98 Cents!)

We used them to make red, star shaped ice cubes (we used Crystal Light

Pomegranate Sugar Free) which will be kid fun & friendly served poolside in lemonade.

Fruity Stars:

Next, grab a star shaped cookie cutter (or hand it off to a kid helper) & dive into the watermelon.

Add blueberries & a few strawberries for a super star fruit salad! Another possibility would be to skewer the fruit & put those star shapes on the top of the skewer.

Whatever you do to celebrate, here’s to celebrating your holiday & Living Poolside!


Tags: Fitness, Living Poolside, Holidays Poolside, poolside snacks, Food & Fun, Master Pools Guild, Family Fitness, Poolside entertaining, swimming