Living Poolside

Where Did The Practice Of New Year's Resolutions Begin?

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Dec 28, 2015

New Years

Celebrating the start of a New Year began some 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians who rang in their new year with a festival in March that spanned 11-days.  Ancient Egyptians celebrated their New Year during the annual rise of the Nile River.  By 46 B.C., Roman emperor Julius Caesar, in honor of the Roman god of beginnings – Janus – moved the start of the New Year to January 1st

The Babylonians are credited with creating the practice of making New Year’s resolutions.  Babylonians reportedly made promises to the gods hoping this would bring them good favor in the year to come. 

As Roman history unfolded, the switch from celebrating the New Year during March – which is associated with Mars, the god of war, to celebrating in January – which is associated with Janus, a god of home and hearth, seems to follow the Roman society’s progression as they gradually shifted away from a more warlike society.  In Rome, the first half of New Year’s Day would have been filled with public ceremonies, oath-taking by government officials and temple sacrifices while the second half of the day was filled with social activities.  Romans would bring each other gifts for a “sweet new year” like honey, pears or other sweets.

Today, one in three people will make a New Year’s resolution.  Below is a list of the top 10 resolutions made for 2015.

Top 10 New Years Resolutions in 2015

1-    Lose Weight

2-    Get Organized

3-    Spend Less & Save More

4-    Enjoy Life To The Fullest

5-    Stay Fit & Healthy

6-    Learn Something New

7-    Quit Smoking

8-    Help Others

9-    Fall In Love

10-Spend More Time With Family

Are you among those looking to press a reset button in one of the above areas?  If so, we toast to your success & would like to edit the above list in a light-hearted way to the following:

Top 10 New Years Resolutions Poolside

1-    Lose Weight – swimming can burn 600 calories an hour!

2-    Get Organized – everything in its place inside & outside the house.

3-    Spend Less & Save More – pool owners can make upgrades with new technology that offers big savings.

4-    Enjoy Life To The Fullest – life by the pool – enough said!

5-    Stay Fit & Healthy – an active lifestyle in & around the pool.

6-    Learn Something New – build an outdoor kitchen & master those new cooking skills!

7-    Quit Smoking – do it!

8-    Help Others – teach a child to swim or donate to an organization that does.

9-    Fall In Love – romantic dinners poolside (use those new skills from #6).

10-Spend More Time With Family – again, life by the pool with the ones you love!

So here’s to all of us who are making New Year’s resolutions this year and our sincere best wishes to all for a happy & healthy New Year from your friends at the Master Pools Guild.

Tags: Fitness & wellness, Holidays Poolside, Healthy Lifestyle, Lose Weight, Family Time, New Years Resolutions, Master Pools Guild

Happy Holiday Sangria

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Thu, Dec 17, 2015

Fun and festive entertaining ideas for your holidays living poolside!

Happy Holiday Sangria

Holiday Sangria 

Ingredients

1 cup sugar

2 cinnamon sticks

1  & 1/2 cup fresh cranberries - set aside 1/2 cup for garnish

2 bottles of fruity red wine

½ cup orange flavored liqueur

1 gala apple cored and sliced thin

1 pear cored and sliced thin

1 orange sliced thin with slices reserved for garnish

1 tangerine sliced thin with slices reserved for garnish

 

Directions

-Combine sugar and 1 cup of water in small saucepan and bring to boil cooking until sugar has dissolved (about 2 min).  This creates your simple syrup.

-Remove simple syrup from heat, add cinnamon sticks and let cool to room temperature.

-Put cranberries in a bowl and add the simple syrup including the cinnamon sticks.

-Cover and refrigerate min. 2 hours max 24 hours then strain and discard cranberries and cinnamon sticks.  This is now your cranberry cinnamon syrup.

-Combine wine, liqueur, apple, pear, orange and tangerine slices in a container with tight closing lid.  Sweeten to taste with your cranberry cinnamon syrup then refrigerate for a min 4 hours up to 24 hours prior to serving. 

-Garnish with fruit &/or cinnamon sticks as desired.  Enjoy!

 Makes Approx. 8 Servings

Tags: Swimming and Christmas Holidays, Holiday Sangria, Holiday Entertaining, Poolside entertaining

How To Prevent Swimming Pool Heat Loss, If Your Pool Could Talk

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Nov 02, 2015

Design by Barrington Pools, IllinoisWhat Your Pool Would Tell You about HEATING & HEAT LOSS 

While we all want more days spent in the swimming pool, balancing that desire and keeping budget and environmental impacts at a minimum can be challenging.  If your swimming pool could talk, we feel certain it would want to share this information with you about heating and heat loss:
  • Cover Me:  You can drastically reduce heat loss by using a pool cover (an added benefit it that it also will keep out debris like falling leaves!) According to the U.S. Department of Energy your savings could reach 50% - 70%.
Barrington With Cover
 If you look closely around the edges of the pool near the home, you can see the cover that extends over the pool when  not in use. This is the same pool pictured at the beginning of this article, just a different view.  Barrrington Pools, IL.  
  • Give Me Some Shelter: Fencing, hedges, landscaping, and cabanas that offer shelter to your pool against prevailing winds will further reduce any heat loss.
Design by Claffey Pools, Southlake, TX
 The poolside structures and placement of this pool help to keep the elements at bay.  Claffey Pools, Southlake, TX
  • Upgrade Me: If your pool heater is more than five years old, chances are a new high efficiency gas heater could quickly pay for itself in savings on utility bills. 
  • Pump Me Up: A pool heat pump can save up to 80% in energy usage compared to a gas heater. Check with your Master Pools Guild member builder to see if a heat pump is appropriate for your region.
Gib-San Swimming Pool Design
Not easily affected by Mother Nature but perfect for homeowners who love to swim - designed by Gib-San Pools, Toronto, Canada
  • Working For The Weekend: If you use your pool primarily on the weekends, reduce your heater or heat pump thermostats settings by eight to ten degrees during the week. 
  • Please Don’t Go: But if you must leave for vacation and are staying for more than a week, turn off the pool heater or heat pump, including the pilot light. But you must use caution in freezing conditions.
  • Time On My Side: Install a timer or a control system to automate the hours of operation.
  • Check Me Out: When reopening your pool, make sure to verify that your heater or heat pump is working properly. 
Here’s to longer swimming seasons Living Poolside with a smaller environmental footprint!

Tags: Swimming Pools, Swimming Pool Energy Savers, Master Pools Guild, Swimming Pool Heaters

5 New Ways To Make S'Mores

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Sun, Sep 20, 2015

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While the exact origin of the treat is unclear, S'Mores are a popular summertime snack especialy during the evening fireside.  It is believed they may have orginated with boy & girl scouts as reports about scouts from as early as 1925 describe them.  Merriam-Webster marks 1974 as the first use of the term S'more, though recipes for "Some Mores" appear in various Girl Scout publications until at least 1973.  A 1956 recipe uses the exact name (S'Mores), and lists the ingredients as "a sandwich of two graham crackers, toasted marshmallow and 1/2 chocolate bar." Whatever the history, the S'More is still a snacktime staple and we decided it might be fun to find a few ways to put a modern twist on this traditional treat.  Here are 5 of our favorite finds:

1) Nutty For Nutella:  Slather some Nutella on the inside of the graham cracker before assembling the remainder of the traditional ingredients.

2) Caramel Drizzle:  Place graham crackers on a plate, add toasted marshmellows and chocolate but drizzle with carmel topping &/or chocolate syrup before placing the remaining crackers on top. 

 

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3) Cookie Lovers:  This is a simple but fun twist, replace graham crackers with your favorite cookie. Chocolate chip, sugar cookies or peanut butter work great.  Consider offering guests several options.

4) Pot O' S'Mores:  You can use that pizza oven to create a Pot O S'Mores!  

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (14-1/2 ounces) whole graham crackers, crushed

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup butterscotch chips

  • 2 cups miniature marshmellows

Directions:

  1. Line a Dutch oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Combine cracker crumbs and butter and press onto the bottom of the pan. Pour milk over crust.  Sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips and top with marshmallows.

  2. Cover Dutch oven and place in your oven.

  3. Cook for approx 10 minutes or until chips are melted.  Using tongs carefully check for doness by lifting cover.  Makes 12 delishious servings!

OR....perhaps you would like to prepare a special batch of smores for the adults to nibble poolside at your next gathering...

5) Captain Morgans S'MORE Fudge (For Adults)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can  (14 ounces) fat free sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 oz spiced rum (Captain Morgans is perfect)

  • 2 graham cracker sheets broken into small pieces

  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup miniature marshmellows

Directions:

  1.   Pour condensed milk into a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

  2. Once simmering add in the chocolate chips. Stir occasionally until chocolate is melted and             creamy.

  3. Slowly pour in rum and stir until well blended.

  4. Remove from heat and stir in marshmallows and graham cracker pieces.

  5.  Pour into a wax paper lined 8x8 baking square and refrigerate until set (best if left              overnight). Once set remove from pan and cut into 1 inch squares.  The perfect adult Smores  desert!

Enjoy!  Here's to many S'More adventures Living Poolside!

  

Tags: entertaining by the pool, poolside snacks, Easy Poolside Recipes, celebrate poolside, Food & Fun, S'Mores, S'More Recipes, Poolside entertaining, Celebrating Poolside, BBQ Recipes, Making S'Mores

Tips for Hosting A Lobster Fest: Elegant or Relaxed

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Fri, Sep 04, 2015

Tips for Hosting A Lobster Fest: Elegant or Relaxed 

 

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This weekend why not try something new & hold a Lobster Fest.  You can choose a sophisticated soiree or a relaxed nautical theme for your gathering– either is sure to be a hit & we have great tips for planning both!

The thought of cooking fresh lobster can be intimidating but, with the right advice you will be looking like a pro: 

LOBSTER EQUIVALENTS & MEASURES:

  • 1 pound cooked = about 2 cups chopped chunks

  • 1 (8-ounce) tail = 1 serving or 4 ounces cooked meat

  • 1 (1- to 1-1/2-pound) whole lobster = 1 serving or 4 ounces cooked meat

Traditional Boiled Lobster

Bring at least ½ gallon of water per pound of lobster to a rolling boil in a very large pot.

Add in 4 tablespoons of sea salt per ½ gallon of water

Carefully drop in the lobsters, one at a time, headfirst into the water. Return the water to a boil, and then begin timing:

1 lb. = 12-15 min
1.5 lbs. = 15-20 min
2-3 lbs. = 20-25 min

How To Know When Lobsters Are Fully Cooked:

  • Remember:  Lobsters will turn their characteristic bright red color well before the meat is thoroughly cooked inside.

  • Tug on an antennae or pull off one of the small walking legs. They will come off easily when the lobster fully cooked.

  • You will find the meat inside will be firm, white and opaque.

  • Much of the body cavity is filled with tomalley, when fully cooked will be green.

  • The roe in female lobsters will be bright red and firm. The lobster is undercooked if it is a dark greenish black with an oily tar-like consistency.

  • The internal temperature should be 180 degrees.

  • If you do not plan to eat the lobsters right away, they must be cooled quickly in ice water. Drain the chilled lobsters, cover and keep refrigerated.  Cooked lobsters can be safely stored in your refrigerator for 1 or 2 days. 

 

The Elegant Lobster Fest Soiree: 

Decorations: 

White china.  Serve with fresh lemon wedges and have plenty of melted butter on your table for dipping.  A small container for each guest is best.

Add sparkle with lots of candlelight.  If you have them, place starfish or sand dollars on the tables & sprinkle with a bit (small amount) of glitter or shiny confetti. 

Menu: 

Serve your lobster accompanied with a nice Chardonnay, a small green salad & baked potato. 

Desert should be the classic northeastern favorite of blackberries with a dollop of whipped crème.

 

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The Relaxed Lobster Fest - Let It Roll...: 

Decorations: 

White china.  Use balloons, fishnets, plastic pails, anything nautical creates a fun and festive atmosphere. 

Menu:

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The lobster roll is a delicious and affordable way to stretch this premium ingredient. 

You can make the mayo-based lobster filling up to a day ahead and keep it refrigerated until just before serving.

  • Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)

  • 5 tablespoons canola mayonnaise

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery

  • 3 tablespoons minced onion

  • 2 tablespoons whole milk Greek-style yogurt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

  • 1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3, 1 1/2-pound) lobsters)

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 8 (1 1/2-ounce) hot dog buns

  • 8 Bibb lettuce leaves

Preparation

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well. Add lobster to mayonnaise mixture; toss. Cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Brush butter evenly over cut sides of buns. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place buns, cut sides down, in pan; cook 2 minutes or until toasted. Line each bun with 1 lettuce leaf; top with 1/3 cup lobster mixture.

Serve your lobster rolls with your favorite beverages.  Add sides from traditional bbq's like Cole slaw, chips, &/or vegetable casseroles, and juicy watermelon slices. Dessert can be simple cupcakes dressed up with a nautical theme or mini cheesecake desserts with blueberry topping.  Let your imagination run with your theme.  

Whether elegant or laid back, we wish you a fun filled Lobster Fest and hope yours is hosted Living Poolside!

 

 

Tags: entertaining by the pool, Food & Fun, how to boil lobster, new ides for cookouts, Celebrating Poolside, lobster roll recipe

Perfect Poolside Popsicle

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Aug 31, 2015

 

With only 3 ingredients.

Gluten free & under 100 calories a serving!

 Blueberry Yogurt Pops

Makes: 6 POPSICLES

Prep time: 10 MINUTES 

Total time: 6-8 HOURS 

These super simple, protein-packed 3 Ingredient Blueberry Yogurt Swirl Popsicles will help keep family and friends hydrated on those poolside summer afternoons!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons agave or honey
  • 2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt

Equipment Needed:

  • Popsicle molds
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions:

  1. Blend the blueberries in a blender or a food processor at a high-speed setting until nearly liquefied.  You want to achieve a smoothie-like consistency.
  2. Pour the blueberry mixture into a large bowl adding the agave/honey. Next, slowly stir in the yogurt, gently mixing the three ingredients.
  3. For a tie-dye look do not fully blend the yogurt and blueberries. The mixture will be thick.  Give it a taste and adjust by adding more sweetener if needed/desired.
  4. Pour mixture evenly into each popsicle molds inserting sticks before freezing.
  5. Quickly run popsicle molds under warm water to easily remove the frozen treats & enjoy!!!

*Try replacing the blueberries with other summer favorite fruits and enjoy a variety of versions Living Poolside!

 

 

Tags: entertaining by the pool, Fitness & wellness, Living Poolside, poolside snacks, Popsicle Recipe, Homemade Popsicles, Blueberry Popsicles, Easy Poolside Recipes, Food & Fun, Gluten Free Snacks, Gluten Free Popsicles, Family Fitness, Family Outdoors, Celebrating Poolside, brunch by the pool, Blueberry Yogurt Popsicles, Under 100 Calorie Snacks

Hot Trend In Outdoor Kitchens: Pizza Ovens

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Tue, Aug 18, 2015

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Outdoor pizza ovens make for easy summertime entertaining. In today’s poolside kitchens, pizza ovens are becoming more and more popular as Mediterranean-style living continues to rise in popularity.  For many, a pizza oven is a natural component of an outdoor kitchen.  It is essential if your family loves a slice of authentic-tasting pie - the delicious smoky taste of a pizza pie baked in an outdoor oven is truly hard to mimic.

Fortunately, these private pizzerias can be included in your outdoor kitchen without sacrificing a great deal of space.  Costs for an oven to make the perfect pie can run from a few hundred to several thousand dollars depending on various factors so working with your swimming pool designer will help you maximize space and minimize the impact to your budget.

One popular trend is to incorporate a pizza oven as part of the outdoor fireplace. These custom-made ovens sit atop a standard outdoor fireplace. The more traditional approach has pizza ovens constructed in a free-standing style by building a masonry bottom to hold the domed pizza oven.  

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Whether you opt for a new styled pizza oven or one more on the traditional side,  including a pizza oven in your poolside kitchen plans, will expand your kitchen’s flexibility and enhance one of your family’s favorite dinner choices while living poolside!

Tags: entertaining by the pool, Grilling, Outdoor kitchens, pizza oven, Time To Build A Swimming Pool, Master Pools Guild, Poolside entertaining, Family Outdoors

How To Make Homemade Frosty Dog Treats

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Sun, Aug 09, 2015

Boy And Dog Swimming

The dog days of summer find everyone doing their best to stay cool – both man and his best friend!  Store bought frozen dog treats can be expensive, but, follow our recipe for a great alternative.  While regular ice cream is not a healthy snack for your dog this recipe is nutritious and will delight the pallet of even the pickiest of pups! 

Frosty Dog Treats 

First Find Your Freezable Containers

You will need containers for molding/freezing.  Small plastic containers or paper cups work great – the best rule of thumb is to try for a hockey puck shape.  You also have the option to pour the mixture into ice cube trays and make bite-sized snacks.

Ingredients:

1 Banana

32 Ounces of plain yogurt

2 tsp of peanut butter

2 tsp of honey

(if you are rushed for time/ingredients the peanut butter and/or honey can be omitted).

Directions:

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender pulsing until everything is well blended.

Once blending is complete, use ice trays or your plastic containers as molds, pouring

small amounts of your mixtures into the containers (Fill containers ½ to ¾ full).

Freeze until solid – store in the freezer. 

Your canine pals will enjoy this tasty pick-me-up during the dog days of summer AND it will help them stay hydrated as well.   So, here’s to spoiling them just a little #LivingPoolside !  

Tags: Pets and Swimming Pools, frozen dog treats, poolside with pets, Master Pools Guild

What Is The Best Way To Clean My Outdoor Grill?

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Mon, Jul 27, 2015

Grilling Outdoors

There is no doubt that a major element of Living Poolside is our love of cooking and eating outdoors.  Here are a few tips from the Master Pools Guild for keeping gas & charcoal grills in great working order! 

Cleaning a Stainless Steel Grill – Easy Does It!

The key to properly cleaning a stainless steel grill is being gentle. Mix a mild dishwashing detergent with water and scrub the surface.  If needed, you can allow the mixture to sit a few minutes before you scrub it off.  Afterwards, rinse with warm water and dry with a clean cloth. There are numerous brands of Stainless Steel Grill cleaner but glass cleaner works great to remove fingerprints or minor stains.   When cleaning stainless steel, soft cloth or paper towels should be used – NO wool pads as they will harm the stainless steel surface. 

Routine Maintenance for all grill types:

Grates: Routine brushing of the grates will prevent food and bacterial buildup.  Follow each cooking session with a good grate brushing using a brass wire brush.  Once the grates have been cleaned wash and soak your brush in hot soapy water. Hang to dry with the brush upside down on a grill hanger. Drying the brush naturally will help the bristles last. After your brush is dry, storing it indoors will reduce weather exposure to the bristles and extend the life of your brush.

After you've brushed down your grill grates and they are at a cool temperature, spray them with some cooking oil. This will help prevent rusting and ensures a long life. If you don't have cooking spray, another option is to pour some cooking oil on a clean cloth and wipe down the grates.

Burners:  Cleaning burners is also important as burners accumulate grease and food which can lead to uneven cooking temperatures.

Grease Traps: Grease is highly flammable.  It can cause a fire or heat up all of the grill’s surfaces including the handles so make sure to cleaning out grease traps frequently.

Charcoal Ash: For charcoal grills, dump all used charcoal or ash after each use and clean the insides with a wire brush. Ash catchers should be cleaned after each use. Keeping the bed of your grill clean will reduce excess smoke and bad flavors. 

Semi-Annual Maintenance

It's smart to dismantle your grill and give it an extensive cleaning at least twice during the year. If you have a gas grill, disconnect the propane tank before you start the process. Then, soak the grates in soapy water and scrub (using steel wool if necessary). After cleaning your grill, turn it on and let it cook for 10 minutes. This allows burn off of any cleaning substances.

It's also a good idea to check the grill chassis for any rust. Rust will come off with a stiff wire brush or a steel wool pad. Inspect all joints, connectors and fasteners to ensure there is no corrosion.  Check or re-tighten fasteners, replacing any grill appendages as necessary (wheels, knobs and handles) and double check cover hinges. 

Polishing Your Charcoal Grill

Baking soda on a sponge can be used to polish your grill and to clean exterior surfaces. If you notice any missing paint, grill-safe paint is your best option for sprucing up the appearance. 

For all grills and outdoor appliances:  Always follow all manufacturers’ suggestions/instructions first & foremost! 

So fire up those grills and enjoy your time Living Poolside !

Tags: entertaining by the pool, Outdoor Furniture, grill maintenance

Frameless Glass Fencing Offers a Spectacular View of Your Pool

Posted by Master Pools Guild on Fri, Jul 17, 2015

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Swimming pool designers are excited to discuss the options of frameless glass fences with their clients.  Modern innovation in architectural landscaping and pool safety, frameless glass pool fences offer maximum protection with minimal intrusion. Glass fencing maintains unobstructed views of your outdoor living area, providing a seamless flow from indoor to outdoor space.  

Frameless glass pool and patio fences are growing in popularity as a contemporary and elegant design element for new construction and renovation.  Stylish and secure, frameless glass fencing enhances the aesthetic nature and value of the property. Its simplicity in design and luxurious nature sets frameless glass fencing apart from others. 

Considerations:

  1. Glass fencing does not obstruct a your view and is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

  2. Glass fences are extremely durable and resist weather damage more than wood.

  3. Unlike metal fences, glass fences are resistant to chemical corrosion.

  4. Frameless glass can be more expensive than other fencing options.

  5. Like any other glass, it needs to be cleaned regularly.

  6. There is a learning curve with pets as animals gets used to having to move around the glass fence.

Symphony Pools, CA

Whether utilized for swimming pools, spas, patios or decks, it can be a great design element for your poolscape!

Tags: water features, Swimming Pool Design Trends, Swimming Pool Remodel, Glass Fencing