How to Host a Great Easter Egg Hunt

Flowers are blooming, the trees are gearing up to provide us with shade and both spring and summer holidays are right around the corner. As you’re preparing for outdoor celebrations, don’t overlook Easter as a great opportunity to invite guests over for an afternoon Easter Egg hunt!

Here’s a tip: after you figure out how many little hunters you’ll have, multiply that number by ten or twelve. That will give the kids plenty of treats to feast upon as well as trinkets to play with (especially for those concerned about inadvertently creating a legion of sugar-crazed children, substitute small toys or coins for candy).

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Now for the actual hunt. Here are some fun alternatives to the traditional egg hunt:

Make it feel like a mission. Have each participating kid find one or two of each color egg and once they complete their mission, they can turn in their eggs to the host for a prize, like a sweet 401k (just kidding, go for something like a coloring book and some markers or crayons, or a fun game that they can play with their whole family).

Along with candy, trinkets and coins, feel free to put messages with something inspirational or kind written on them! If you want to tailor the notes to specific kids, assign each kid a specific color. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, use different colors of yarn for each kid to weave a treasure map around the yard. That way, they’ll get exactly what they’re meant to and each kid will feel as important as they truly are (and there won’t be any brawls over who found the egg first).

Who says kids get to have all of the fun? Have an adult team up with each kid (it can be a parent, aunt, uncle, cousin or older sibling) and search together. Hide some of the eggs in hard-to-reach places and when the little ones spot a bright color in a strange spot, their grownup sidekick can put the kid on their shoulders so they can reach it. Plus, they get to feel like they’re seven feet tall for a few seconds, which is nothing short of exhilarating.

Great news: you don’t have to break the bank to have a successful, thoroughly enjoyable hunt in your outdoor living space. When it comes to having fun, kids are certified professionals, and with fun adults to facilitate these kinds of adventures, they’re bound to have an unforgettable time.

 

Spotlight: Country Manor Wall

The castle estate aesthetic isn’t just for nobility and royalty anymore. If you’ve ever wished to live in a regal manor on the rolling hills of the English countryside, we have a solution that will meet you where are.

Country Manor is one of our eight styles of retaining wall stone that comes in a wide range of shapes and colors. It’s perfect for freestanding landscape walls, columns and moderately tall reinforced retaining walls. Country Manor stone makes a stunning addition as a fireplace…

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…an enclosure for an outdoor dining area…

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…or a walkway fit for royalty.

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Country Manor uses patented pin technology, giving your fireplace or column extra strength – and it’s easy to install, too! If you have a vision for your home, we can make it a reality without any hassle.

The possibilities are endless. Be sure to scan through the Belgard Idea Books tailored to your region and check out the combinations of Country Manor and pavers like Dublin or London Cobble. Once you find something you want, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you figure out how to give your home some rustic old world flavor.

Recipe of the Month: Smoked Salmon Dip

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Our recipe of the month is back, and this month it’s a savory smoked salmon dip! This dip takes a mere five minutes to whip up and makes a great party appetizer or a decadent snack.

Here’s what you need and how to make it:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 12 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill weed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion

In a medium-sized bowl, stir the cream cheese until it’s pliable and yielding. Add the salmon, Worcestershire sauce, dill and green onion and stir well until the ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the cream cheese. And that’s it!

If you want to add a bit of kick to it, add a few drops of hot pepper sauce into the mix. If you’re not a fan of smoked salmon, you can substitute smoked rainbow trout or another smoked fish. If you’re watching calories, substitute some of the cream cheese (though no more than half) with fat free or 2% milkfat plain Greek yogurt (it sounds weird, but it’s basically sour cream without the fat and it’s loaded with protein!).

Serve with crackers and if you still have leftovers and you’re feeling adventurous, spread some on a bagel.

And there you have it. Now you’ve got something new to bring to a party or to debut at a get-together of your own.

Celebrate the First Day of Spring!

Springtime has returned (it becomes official tomorrow!), and with it your ability to spend more time outside. Now that the sun isn’t setting as early and the nights aren’t as cold, what can you do with all of this extra great weather? Here are some of our ideas for celebrating the first day of spring:

Plant a garden! You don’t have to have a highly sophisticated green thumb to have your own garden. If you’ve got fertile ground where you live, you’ve got options. If you’re intimidated by the idea of growing your own food, you can just start with herbs – rosemary, basil, parsley and mint are all easy to grow and show off to your guests. Plus, you can always share with neighbors and friends if you have too much — a great way to break out of the winter season hibernation ennui! And a garden doesn’t just add color to your outdoor space – it adds character.

Invite over some friends, family or neighbors for a backyard barbecue potluck. Set out coolers with drinks and popsicles. Having a party outside has a twofold benefit: you get to reconnect with your loved ones and the great outdoors.

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Celebrate the new season by going someplace that’s new to you! Springtime is a prime travel time because as winter thaws out, more destinations become accessible to those of us who are accustomed to warmer weather. When spring is in the air, it’s hard not to feel inspired watching everything be reborn around you. Take your family or some pals out for an adventure through nature, taking photographs as you go, then share them at the end of the trip. If you’ve got some artsy folks in your troupe, let them know they’re more than welcome to bring their gear and draw or paint anything that piques their interest.

We hope you have a marvelous time inaugurating the new season. If you’re one of those fancy people who are already on the ball and has a whole shebang planned, we’d love to hear your special plans! Here’s to a wonderful spring for everyone.

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Spotlight: Belgard Idea Books

Everybody wants a beautiful home, and everyone knows that it is your own personal style and taste that turn a house into a haven. But it’s intimidating to start from scratch, which is why we’ve put together the 2014 Belgard Idea Books. There are seven, each tailored to your own geographical region, and they are all brimming with ideas for how to transform your outdoor living space!

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No two homes are alike because no two individuals who live in them are completely alike. The purpose of these idea books is not to prescribe a particular ambiance for your home but rather to give you a large enough palette so you can take what you like and create a space that is suited to your individual taste. They’re also designed to let you see what your living space is capable of and how seamlessly it can flow into your surroundings, whether you live in a close-knit neighborhood or on hundreds of acres on the tranquil frontier.

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One of the advantages of the Idea Books is that since they are arranged by geographical area, you won’t have to waste time finding something you absolutely adore only to find out that the nearest distributor is 1,000 miles away. Each idea book is relevant to the landscape, climate and idiosyncrasies of your region. Our Idea Books feature all different types of homes, showing you that there are innumerable ways to customize a hardscape to make your space truly one of a kind.

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There are thousands of ways to transform your outdoor living space. Maybe you don’t have a pool that’s dying for a new paver in your backyard, but that doesn’t mean the pavers you see wouldn’t look great as a backyard party area or even as a driveway. These Idea Books are here to provide inspiration so you can take the best of all possible worlds and make your own. Design is a collaborative effort and the Idea Books provide enough possibilities to give you the confidence for manifesting your own personal, original vision of what a sanctuary your backyard can become.

 

Daylight Savings Time: What to Do with the Extra Sunshine

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One of the most exciting moments in the transition from winter into spring is the return of sunlight after 6pm. This year, Daylight Savings time lands on March 9th. We wanted to share some ideas and activities to help you all acclimate to the process of regaining your bearings.

When you wake up Sunday morning, you’ve already lost an hour. Considering the fact that the sun will be going down much later than it has been for the winter time, you won’t feel completely robbed of time. But that doesn’t mean it’s time to party. Losing an hour gives you less time to check off your to-do list, and if you’re spending your day rushing around to make up for “lost” time (honestly, where does it really even go?), then you aren’t giving your body the rest it needs.

If there’s one thing we’re big proponents of, it’s relaxing and having a beautiful space in which to do it. So how can you make the most of lost time? It sounds like a paradox, but there are ways to work within its framework. Here are some of ours:

Go to bed an hour early on March 8th. We know, we know; this doesn’t sound thrilling. But just because society increasingly treats sleep like a luxury does not mean that it is. Sleep debt can never be repaid (those college all-nighters have pretty much filed for bankruptcy by now, and they’re not even sorry). Your livelihood and the collective livelihood of your family, community, city and country depend on everyone being well rested. The benefits of sleep are priceless (and sometimes invisible).

Spend some extra time outside before hitting the hay. Take advantage of the extra daylight and spend it outside burning off some of that pent-up energy so you can rest well and ease into the time deficit. Work in the garden, spend time getting your pool ready for warm weather, or play some outdoor games with the family. Wearing yourself out will make getting to sleep earlier immensely easier, and when you wake up rested you’ll be glad you did.

Spending time enjoying your outdoor living space is immensely more satisfying in the daylight. Now that your circadian rhythms are considerably less ruffled than they would have been with an hour less of well-deserved rest, you can face the week ahead and enjoy relaxing outside after work in the sun!