Chef Romain Avril’s Parisian Pizza

If you love delicious, easy to prepare meals with gourmet style, you’ll love FoodLife with Tasco Appliances! They have just released Episode 6 on Youtube and we love it! In this episode, Chef Romain Avril prepares a homemade pizza with french flair.

As Chef Romain says, the great thing about pizza is that you can put just about anything on it and really make it your own! In this case, he used a homemade crust and Creme Fraiche as his base and then topped the pizza with a delicious assortment of ingredients including confit duck legs, confit potatoes, spring onions and carmalized onions. In case that doesn’t already have your mouth watering, he tops the finished pizza with frise and truffle!

Working out of the Monogram Design Center test kitchen, Romain Avril uses the Monogram Pizza Oven to create the perfect pizza using settings that create exactly the type of crust he prefers. Of course, if you like your crust softer or cruncher, you can adjust the settings to suit your own needs as well!

The Monogram Pizza Oven is the ultimate appliance for pizza lovers! The world’s only self-venting pizza oven, it features handcrafted materials and allows you to produce restaurant quality pizza right in your own home!

For more great FoodLife episodes, visit the Tasco Appliances YouTube channel and subscribe!

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Home Trends Magazine


9 Tips to Up Your Appointment Game for a More Likely Sale

Finding new leads as a contractor can be a tricky business. There are many ways you can up your marketing game during the search process, but the best way to secure a sale is by making a great first impression. The first appointment you have with potential leads will set the stage for your business relationship, so making sure to wow new clients during this meeting is a must. Here are 9 of our top tips to help you up your appointment game for a more likely sale.

Hiring a contractor

Get your ethos straight

The number one rule of marketing is knowing your business inside out. If you can pinpoint and communicate the key aspects of your company to potential clients, your confidence will rub off on them and they will be more likely to strike a deal with you.

Create a memorable brand

Quality branding is essential for any business, regardless of industry or specialty, because a memorable brand will stick in the minds of potential clients. Before reaching out to new clients, make sure you are happy with your logo and tagline – and make sure they are memorable for the right reasons.

Come prepared

Once you have decided on an impactful and quality logo, invest a bit of time and money into business cards, stationery, and pamphlets that clearly showcase your brand in the best possible light. Don’t forget to bring along these materials to an initial appointment with new clients – they will be impressed by your preparedness and the quality of your brand.

Keep it clear

When quoting prices and filling out information for flyers, make sure that your information is correct and current. In particular, check that your marketing materials all have an updated pricing structure and current contact information, list your most recent qualifications and projects. Don’t forget to include links to any website or social media accounts for your business – these are a fantastic marketing and communication tool for any 21st century business.

Stay organized

When the date for your first appointment with a client finally rolls around, make sure you come to the meeting prepared. Having all your materials sorted, collated, and ready to go will help create that fantastic first impression you should be striving for. Remembering the little things like a calculator, scrap paper, and extra pens and pencils will help with your organization and save you from getting flustered during your appointment.

Stick to a schedule

As any business owner knows, client meetings can easily get off track and run on – wasting both your time and the time of your clients. By staying focused and keeping to a predetermined schedule, you can avoid too many off-topic discussions and tangents. Wear a watch or discreetly check your phone to keep things moving along, but try not to appear aloof or uninterested in your clients’ questions and concerns. After all, the customer is always right!

Be a professional

While this point is certainly true for initial appointments with potential leads, we always recommend keeping a positive and professional relationship with your clients. This means never badmouthing other companies, even if a client initiates the conversation or asks your personal opinion about a particular professional or business. You can politely deflect these kinds of interactions by referring back to your own skills and avoid any ill-will with other pros in the future.

Be positive

Perhaps one of the most important points to remember during your first meeting with potential clients is to stay positive. Of course, this is often easier said than done for passionate business owners who are the first to point out their own faults. By highlighting your best traits and trying not to self-deprecate, you will come across as confident and self-assured.

Above all, be honest

Positivity goes a long way towards securing a sale, but honesty is even more valuable to many clients. If you have made mistakes in the past that get brought up in your appointments, don’t lie about them. Instead, think of them as learning experiences: how have you grown since then? What aspects of your business have you changed to prevent these mistakes from happening again? If you can answer these kinds of questions, you will be prepared for just about anything with any future sales you make.


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The Most Luxurious Ways to Rough It in the Wild

A weekend in the country can be rejuvenating, but the idea of roughing it, even for just a few nights, doesn’t appeal to everyone. Luckily, the glamping trend is still going strong. Resorts and campsites nationwide are creating luxurious rural accommodations for travelers who want to experience nature without giving up the conveniences of modern life. After all, how are we going to Instagram our rustic retreat without a phone charger? Here are 15 glamping locations that combine luxury with a rugged outdoor living experience.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Nordstrom Anniversary Sale: Accessories, Lounge & Active Wear

Accessories were good, although the assortment was smaller than usual. Take the time to browse them because there are gems that we miss the first time round.

The active area of the NAS is very popular at the sale. It’s one of the busiest tents after footwear. I’m a big fan of Nordstrom’s house brand Zella and so are my clients. Check out their workout wear in detail if that’s on your shopping list. Newcomer athletic brand Sweaty Betty from London knocked my socks off.

IMPORTANT: Check whether the items are available in petite and plus because I’ve only provided the description in regular sizes. In some cases regular sizes can work on petites, and regular size ranges extend into larger sizes.


Here’s the collection page if you would like to see the items alongside my descriptions.

Lounge & Activewear

Here’s the collection page if you would like to see the items alongside my descriptions.

NAS Top Picks by Category

This post is number 6 in a 6 part series:

Also check out my introduction to the series, and the items I brought home from the sale. Be sure to also browse wardrobe basics like underwear, socks, loungewear, sleepwear, or workout wear if you like to use the sale to replenish those types of items at this time of year. Also lots of fun stuff in homeware. Good hunting and happy NAS!

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Affordable Countertops for Your Bathroom

I am renovating my bathroom on a very tight budget. Can you suggest an affordable countertop option?

One of the most affordable options for countertops is laminate and today, laminate comes in a wide variety of colors and styles. The 180fx line from Formica offers 34 nature-inspired options including marble, quartz, granite and even wood patterns that give you a luxurious look without the cost. This allows you to customize your countertop to suit any design style, from modern and luxurious to rustic and laid-back!

Laminate is also very easy to install. Professional installation can be done in a matter of a few hours, meaning your installation costs are also going to be lower. It is possible to install laminate yourself but we suggest making room in the budget for an experienced installer to ensure a great looking finished product. – Formica

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Home Trends Magazine


Wardrobe Workhorses

A wardrobe workhorse is an item of clothing, pair of shoes, or accessory that gets a LOT of wear. Workhorses can be simple and subtle, or bold statement pieces. They can be printed, solid, any colour, any fabric, old or new, classic or avant-garde or vintage, retro or trendy, pricey or inexpensive. 

Wardrobe workhorses can be predicable items, or catch you by surprise. They can even be spontaneous wild cards. Items can be workhorses one season but orphans the next, and vice versa. We can carefully consider a potential wardrobe workhorse before purchasing it, but despite our efforts it malfunctions when it’s put through its paces. Workhorses can wear out faster than other items because they work extremely hard. Sometimes they are easy to replace, and sometimes not.

An item that becomes a wardrobe workhouse normally falls into one or more of these categories.

1. Basics

Wardrobe basics like knickers, bras, camisoles, sleepwear, socks, hosiery, workout wear and loungewear become workhorses because we wear them daily. Of course, everyone’s list of basics is different. Some basics are seasonal, and some people don’t wear sleepwear, loungewear or work out.

2. Essentials

Wardrobe essentials become wardrobe workhorses because they are the “glue” that makes other items in your wardrobe work together to create complete and cohesive outfits. Their versatility and simple design makes them easy to wear and incorporate into all sorts of looks, hence you frequently reach for them.

3. Eyewear

Improved eyesight with prescription specs or sunnies makes them an indispensable accessory and therefore wardrobe workhorses. I wear my eyewear daily, making it one of my most important style accessories.

4. Confidence-Boosting Items

Certain items in your wardrobe create instant confidence, and so you wear them often. It could be the way they fit or showcase the favourite parts of your body. It might be the way they conceal an area of your body, or how they add a crisp, streamlined and professional integrity to your outfit. Or it could be a sentimental item that makes you feel comforted and supported in some way.

5. Practical & Comfortable Items

We tend to crave physical comfort and items that do their job. Items made of cosy fabric can become workhorses, as can deliciously comfortable shoes. Waterproof and snow-proof attire can become workhorses because they protect us from the elements. We can frequently reach for breezy Summer tops and dresses because they are machine washable, breathable and don’t need ironing.

6. Items in Happy Colours

If your mood is lifted by wearing a specific colour, it might be the reason you reach for that item more than others. My own citron, white, ink blue and tomato red items lift my spirits, which is why items in those colours have a good chance of becoming a wardrobe workhorse.

7. Items that Refresh Your Style

A new-to-you item that adds just the right refreshed, evolved and updated touch to your outfits can become an instant wardrobe workhorse. It might be a trendy pair of mules or slides, a pair of wide crops, a new denim jacket, dangly earrings, a cropped top, a midi skirt, high-rise jeans, a straw bag, a gingham blouse, or a pair of utility pants.

8. Items that Form Part of Your Signature Style

Often items that form part of your signature style become wardrobe workhorses. My own chunky white pearl necklaces are a wardrobe essential and part of my signature style, and they work very hard. So do all my white pairs of flats.

Smaller wardrobes tend to have a large percentage of workhorses, because there are fewer items to choose from when selecting an outfit. Larger wardrobes tend to have a smaller percentage of workhorses because there are many items that compete for daily wear.

What are the workhorses in your wardrobe?



Kim, Fix My House: Creating a Stylish Bathroom on a Budget

Need inspiration? Check out this bathroom design board I put together for the magazine last year!

Turn your bathroom into a stylish and affordable sanctuary with these simple changes.

SERENITY NOW When imagining the ideal spa, one can’t help but think of the soothing music that so often sets the mood. For the ultimate Pavlovian response, install wireless or Bluetooth speakers in discrete areas of your bathroom to make sure that gentle instrumental tones are always available to enhance your experience.

FLUFF IS THE WORD As tactile creatures, we tend to associate soft, fluffy textures with the pinnacle of high-end indulgence. Splurging on soft, white bath sheets is the first step towards the spa zone. Add a luxurious bath mat, fluffy hand and face towels and you’re on your way to treating your body like royalty. To amp up the comfort level, installing a towel warmer will maximize the enjoyment you receive from all of your new plush accessories. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a cozy bathrobe to take the spa into your bedroom and beyond.

LIT FROM WITHIN To truly capture the spa-like ambience, ensure that your lighting scheme includes various sources and levels of brightness. Layers of lighting create a soft, flattering look and aids in the relaxation promoted in the spa environment. Dimmers will be your best friend in achieving that soothing glow that leads all the way towards an evening soak. Don’t neglect heavenly scented candles to complete the effect.

COLOR ME CALM Sticking to the right color palette will transform your bathroom into a space that inspires tranquility. A neutral color scheme of creamy grays, soft whites or pale blues will calm your nerves and reduce the stresses of the day. Complement the gentle tones with elements from nature like a leafy plant, a shell soap dish, or a wooden tray to further relax the senses.

GO CLEAN The latest trend in the blogosphere is to go through all of your makeup and toiletries to remove anything unhealthy for you or the environment. By ensuring that you only keep the products that are good for you, two goals will have been accomplished. A healthier skincare and makeup regime and a pared down number of items to clutter up your new spa space is ideal. Once only the necessities remain, choose attractive straw or clear acrylic containers to store things in the most pleasing way possible.

The post Kim, Fix My House: Creating a Stylish Bathroom on a Budget appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


How Leading Contractors Deliver the Ultimate Customer Service Experience

A great company is about more than financial success. Customer experiences can make or break your business. A number of factors go into creating a positive customer experience: communication, great listening skills, perks, and more. If your customers love the product and service you deliver, your business will flourish, but if they don’t, it can mean fewer referrals and a bad reputation. Here are a few of the ways that leading contractors deliver the ultimate customer service experience to their clients.

Meet With Contractor

Constant communication

One of the easiest ways to keep your customers happy is by keeping the lines of communication open at all times. Communication is essential in any business, and clients who feel like their contractors listen to them will feel that you really care about their opinions, concerns, and concerns. This can and should be done through a variety of mediums, including telephone conversations, emails, social media updates, and of course face-to-face meetings. Just make sure to keep the lines between work and home life clear: after all, you can only provide the best customer service with a work/life balance that suits you and keeps you rested and refreshed.

Positive attitude

Home improvement projects can be unpredictable: maintaining a positive attitude even when circumstances (or clients) are tricky is important if you want to keep your customers happy. Try to look on the bright side, seeing the silver lining in everything. Your training as a customer service professional will help you to help your clients see things this way, too. How can you do this in your day-to-day business life? Be a problem solver by acting proactively rather than reactively and anticipate issues that may come up in a building project, knowing how you will go about solving them if and when they do arise.


If for some reason a particular project does come across a bumpy road, it’s important that you tell your clients straight away. Hiding smaller problems may sound like an easy way to deal with a situation initially, but failure to reveal all the information could be disastrous if things worsen in the long run. We think honesty is always the best policy, so try to stay up front, open, and transparent about everything you do—including project issues, prices, availability of materials, and timelines. Trust goes a long way with customers, so getting this part of the client/professional relationship right is key if you want to deliver great customer service.

Dedication to quality services

If you love your brand, you will do everything in your power to make it succeed. Following your brand guidelines and ethos will not be lost on your clients; for example, if you say your brand specializes in eco-friendly builds, you can and should practice what you preach in every build. Clients will choose you because of the services you provide, so sticking to your guns will help your brand grow stronger and give customers another reason to love your work and remain loyal.

Employee morale

Contrary to popular belief, great customer service is about more than just pleasing customers. If you own your own construction business and employ subcontractors, architects, and other specialist builders, their happiness and satisfaction should be just as high a priority as that of your clients. Happy employees equal great craftsmanship and professionalism, so their attitudes will filter down through their work to your clients—and they will know whether or not your employees are happy in their jobs.

Perks and loyalty schemes

While loyal customers will stay by your side through thick and thin, a few treats every now and then never hurt anyone. In fact, introducing occasional perks and incentives to both new and existing clients will keep everyone happy. Similarly, loyalty and refer-a-friend schemes can bring in new business and further solidify the bond you have with regular customers. Try several different kinds of recurring offers and one-off promotions to keep customers pleasantly surprised and on their toes.

Satisfaction guarantee

While every contractor strives for perfection, the fact of the matter is that sometimes things don’t go to plan. If, for whatever reason, your customers aren’t 100% happy with the work you’ve done for them, they should have a right to say so. Of course, satisfaction guarantees can make a small financial dent when things go wrong, but having a policy in place from the get-go will make customers feel like they’re in control of their projects. An added bonus to this kind of policy is that it will look great on your marketing materials and draw in new clients.

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35 Lake Towns for a Weekend Adventure

Water is a welcome sight during warm-weather weekends, but the ocean isn’t the only place to get your fill of the wet stuff. America is overflowing with low-key lake towns featuring lively local venues and sprawling lagoons primed for carefree splash-abouts with family and friends. Before you plan your weekend on the lake, consider our picks for the best lake towns in America.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Sarah’s Industrial Meets Modern Dining Room Design Board

For this design board, I wanted to show a classic industrial look with a modern twist.The Splendour Brick Wall wallpaper from Prime Walls creates that “brick on the wall” era look. I choose a chandelier with a rustic, traditional style and a table with a strong industrial feel and then brought in modern chairs, lux fabrics and gold details to give the room an updated style with plenty of sophistication!


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Home Trends Magazine


The NAS Is Here

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens to the public on July 20. Early access, available to Nordstrom card members, started today. The NAS is by far my favourite sale of the year. It is unique in that it offers deep discounts for items from the upcoming Fall and Winter season. Prices go back up after August 5

The NAS is quite the event, especially in Seattle, the home of Nordstrom HQ and its flagship store. During the week of early access I have wall-to-wall appointments with clients. I spend a few hours with each of them, working from 8AM to 10PM most nights of the week. I love every minute of it, but I’m exhausted by the end of early access.

The NAS also generates a lot of excitement here on YLF and there is a special section of the forum dedicated to the sale. We have a lot of fun talking about the items, and also working together to ensure we spend our sale budgets wisely. I will be posting on the forum as I go, reporting on what I find and giving you some behind-the-scenes peeks at what my clients and I are up to. On the right is my own first find of the sale. A pretty, elegant, cool-weather dress that fits like a dream.

Whether or not you’re actively shopping the sale, please feel free to join the fun.

By the way, many people are not interested in the sale and that is part of the reason we have created that special NAS section. If you would like to tune out the NAS, just collapse that featured forum section using the “hide” button. And while I will write several posts about the sale, it won’t reduce the posting frequency on non-sale topics.

Enjoy the sale!

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Enterprise-level: The Importance of Aligning Sales with Marketing

It’s no secret that marketing and sales share a close relationship with one another—and like many relatives, that relationship sometimes falls on the love-hate side of the spectrum. Marketers who are eager to tie their efforts to revenue often complain that sales teams don’t react quickly enough to close their leads. Sales reps say the leads they receive are deader than a doornail. Teams can’t agree on what qualifies a lead, which may set competing goals.

Still, when marketing and sales do manage to come together, the results can be astounding. Strongly aligned sales and marketing teams are tied to better performance outcomes and increased revenue, along with more satisfied customers and a better experience overall. Here’s the why and how of sales and marketing alignment—and what it can do for your construction business.


Close More Sales and Grow Revenue

The numbers don’t lie. Well-aligned sales and marketing teams are associated with higher profits, increased revenue and more growth all around. In one survey, 89% of businesses that aligned sales and marketing objectives saw an increase in lead conversion. That translated to a 76% higher contribution to revenue from marketing and an average 32% annual revenue growth overall.

Part of the reason for this improvement is the increased efficiency achievable when sales and marketing teams interact closely with one another. Sales representatives are able to connect to leads quickly and effectively and to offer their feedback based on real-life customer interactions, which better tailors marketing content and refines campaigns. Open communication between both departments leads to a better understanding of which customers are more likely to convert and what kind of content will draw them.

Closely-Aligned Sales and Marketing Improves The Customer Experience

When sales and marketing function as a well-oiled machine, customers feel the difference. Tightly-aligned sales and marketing teams result in 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates, according to Marketing Profs. A study of B2B businesses showed that those with strongly aligned marketing and sales teams were 53% more likely to create relevant buyer propositions for clients. In other words, when sales and marketing work together, both teams are able to see the full picture of their business’s sales funnel and to more accurately gauge customer needs within that process.

To understand why that is, you have to come to grips with the desperate state of sales enablement today. Sixty-five percent of sales reps say they can’t find the content they need to convert prospects. Meanwhile, 57% of customers report that sales reps seem ill-prepared during their initial meeting. It’s easy to see the relationship between these two stats—in order for sales reps to close, they need access to effective content that is relevant to customers real-life challenges. Only by working together can sales enablement happen.


Selling to the Digital Consumer Requires More Cross-Functional Sales and Marketing

Marketing and sales have always had a close relationship with one another, but the birth of the digital consumer is changing marketing roles and rewriting the entire sales process. Modern buyers have tools to self-educate. Through online research and reviews, consumers now fulfill many top-of-the-funnel marketing functions by themselves. A recent report from the Ecommerce Foundation found that 88% of buyers research products and services online before they buy.

Additionally, sophisticated marketing tools and CRMs have allowed marketers and sales teams to track consumer behavior and engage middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel leads with a more customized approach. As a result of these technological changes, both functions have grown murkier, meaning that marketing and sales teams must now work very closely to streamline communication and make sure they’re not stepping on each other’s toes.

Adding to the issue is the increasing fragmentation of marketing channels. Consumers may use several different devices throughout their day—a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet, as well as other smart products such as a Fitbit, Amazon Echo, or Google Home Hub. These new portals open up additional opportunities for hyper-personalized marketing, but they can also make it more difficult to track where a lead stands in the sales funnel. This further underlines the need for effective interdepartmental communication, where teams are dynamic and cross-functional.

Beyond the techniques mentioned earlier, strongly aligned sales and marketing starts with agreeing on a few key markers. Teams need to come to an agreement on what defines a lead, along with each of the stages in the sales pipeline. Both departments should set mutual goals and meet regularly to measure progress and make adjustments. It’s not exactly a complete department overhaul, but who knows? It could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

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5 Things to Avoid when Staging a Child’s Room

When staging your home, especially when you are still living in it, it can be tempting to allow the children’s rooms to be staged to their personal preferences and habits but potential home buyers may not be looking for a child’s room. They need to be able to see the potential of the room. Here are a few things to avoid when staging your child’s room.

BEFORE: Nursery decals and too much furniture makes this space seem small and childish.

1. Colorful Wallpaper or Murals

Ditch the pink and purple stripes, removal all decals and don’t hire your best friend’s neighbor to paint a forest mural. While these things may be very popular decor trends for children’s rooms, they are very personal and will limit the potential buyers view of the space. Choosing a neutral paint color will help potential buyers envision the room as a guest room, office, etc. Potential buyers are looking for move in ready and to them, a mural is equal to a paint job unless they just happen to have the exact child who wants that exact detail.

AFTER: Removing decals and some of the furniture creates a space that feels much bigger. While it still looks like a nursery, it is easy to imagine other uses for the space.

2. Themed Rooms

Similar to wallpaper and murals, themed rooms can alienate potential buyers. Avoid things like sports teams, Frozen, Dora, pirates, rainbows, etc. This whimsical approach may seem fun but when staging, this is your opportunity to make more money and that takes priority.

3. Bunk Beds

While your first thought might be to use bunk beds to show that more can fit in the room, it actually has the opposite effect. A bunk bed takes up more vertical square footage and makes a room feel cramped. It also indicates to the buyers that the home does not have enough space.

4. Gender Specific Decor

You may have a little princess but your home buyer may be looking for a home for their son, or a home with room for an office or guest room. Choosing a neutral color scheme will help the potential buyer envision the room with alternative functions. Small doses of pink or blue accents are okay if done right but you should enlist the advice of a professional home stager for this.

5. Too Many Toys

BEFORE: Too many toys and an oversized bed create a cramped and messy space.

While your home is listed, pack away the majority of the toys as they make any room feel cluttered and messy. Purchase a plastic storage bin and allow your child to select their favorite toys to fill the bin. This way, when you have a last minute viewing, you can easily pack away the remaining toys and store out of sight. If you’re keeping 1 or 2 toys to use as decorative accents, make sure they work with the style and color scheme of the room and keep to a bare minimum.

AFTER: Removing toys and adding more sophisticated furnishings and decor along with a bed that fits this space gives this room a open, airy feel. Touches of pink are still included but they are minimal and tasteful.

It is always best to hire the expertise of a professionally trained home stager to help you determine the best choices in order to achieve the greatest ROI.

The post 5 Things to Avoid when Staging a Child’s Room appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


Celebrating Diversity in Style

I turn 48 today and feel extremely blessed. I’m happy, healthy, loved, have dear friends, a wonderful family, the best husband, and a precious little doggy. I have peace in my heart because I enjoy life and have learned to appreciate the small things that I’ve taken for granted in the past. I also love my job, which I find rewarding and fulfilling. 

I’ve been in the fashion industry — or “Rag Trade” — for 26 years. I’ve worked in garment manufacture, retail, and I’m now a consultant. First, I was a designer for children’s wear, and then a retail buyer who specialized in ladies wear. Later we moved to Seattle and created Instead of continuing a retail buying career, I started my own wardrobe consulting business in a brand new country on my own. I don’t think I’ll be so gutsy again, but glad I had the chutzpah at the time. I came up with a model that helps people with their wardrobe and style on a one-to-one basis — and the rest as they say is history. YLF and my wardrobe consulting business feed off of each other, and are in their 13th year. I have an amazing clientele who are the nicest people, and I happily share my experiences as a fashion professional with the YLF community for free.

I’ve accumulated a knowledge in different aspects of the same industry. And I’m extremely passionate about what I do. I feel a calling to help and encourage anyone who wants to develop and evolve their sense of style and have fun with fashion. I call myself a fashion stylist or wardrobe consultant, but these days I feel more like a style activist.

An activist is someone who campaigns to bring about political or social change, which is what I do in my own small way on YLF. Although it’s much better than it used to be, the fashion industry is still fraught with biases, sexist symbolism, ageism, and a lack of ethnic diversity. The concept of beauty and the ideal body type is based on a very narrow set of ideals that do little to encourage and empower women. Instead, a lot of fashion messaging communicates that there is something wrong with you when you don’t look a certain way. That you can’t feel attractive, look fabulous, dress wonderfully, or be stylish because you’re too old, wide, short, tall, asymmetrical, wrinkled, narrow, grey, round, straight, dark, pale, blemished, scarred, wobbly, hairy, dressy, casual, eccentric, tattooed… and the list goes on. These dated and demoralizing fashion concepts make me sad and angry. With every fibre of my being I believe that we can ALL have a great sense of style.

There is no one way to be stylish, no one way to look beautiful, and no one ideal body type. Style is not an age, dress size or budget. It’s an energy and confidence that is expressed through what you wear and how you wear it. As soon as you say that you can’t – I’m right there, saying, yes you can. Style is a puzzle that can be solved. It is not innate. It can be learned, refined and evolved throughout your life as we enjoy each leg of our style journey.

I’ve helped people find their personal styes across sizes US000 to US34, across heights 4ft 9 to 6ft 4, and across ages 16 to 81. They cover a range of nationalities, ethnicities, and genders. I have blind clients, clients with crutches, clients in wheelchairs, pregnant clients, and clients who have had full mastectomies. I’ve reviewed closets that are larger than most master bedrooms, and some smaller than a coat closet. I feel enormously fortunate to be exposed to a wide cross section of the female population because it keeps my mind open and constantly rethinking and challenging dated style concepts. It also makes me laugh at how fickle fashion can be, and how we must never take it too seriously.

There are no wrong sartorial choices but simply preferences that vary from person to person. There are no rules, but simply guidelines that you can take or leave at your discretion. Body type dressing is one approach, but is merely a starting point that helps you create a set of personal figure flattering priorities. Style is as diverse as the people in this world, and an appreciation for a look that is not your look shows respect and decency. So today, on my birthday, I’m celebrating YOU, your style, your beauty, your age, your love for fashion, and your positive energy. Help me shout from the rooftops that style is PERSONAL and should be encouraged and enjoyed at every size, lifestyle and budget.



The 10 Best Things You Can Do for Your Lawn

A great-looking lawn doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work and lots of care to keep your grass healthy and green. Luckily, the secrets to fabulous, lush grass are available to anyone who wants to learn how to master their own backyard. Put this simple advice into practice all year long, and you could have your best lawn yet.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Talking with Todd Talbot

Todd Talbot answers some questions about his career and gives us a peek inside his personal life.


TODD TALBOT I was cast in a teen series called Fifteen on Nickelodeon in the U.S. That show ran for five seasons and was filmed at Universal Studios Florida.


TT I don’t know if it’s mine or the audiences but in season 1 (over 6 years ago) I showed a couple a new build that was still under construction overlooking the water. We shot it just as the sun was setting. The budget was big and the woman cried so it made for exciting television. Other than that, I probably get my biggest joy out of making people laugh on the show.


TT It takes a conscious effort to find balance. I like to work hard and I work best when I’ve got a lot going on but it’s easy to let work take over. I find if I make my family and home a priority, it balances naturally with the amount of work that I agree to take on.


TT Stick with your passion and have fun. This formula for success is pretty universal and applies to most career paths. The other ingredient that I think is underrated and misunderstood is the idea that you are responsible for everything that happens. Whether or not that is actually true is up for debate but one thing is certain; it gives you the power to control your destiny.


TT Style is a big concept. In terms of clothes, I have a bit of nostalgia for an era gone by. I like classic, timeless looks for the basics but I like to throw in something fun, showcasing a pop of personality with every outfit. My socks have taken on a life of their own. In terms of design, I tend to embrace a West Coast contemporary style that captures the home’s surroundings as well as clean open spaces.


TT We just renovated a small home in East Vancouver and I think my favorite space is the living room. It’s a cozy space with a wall of built-ins, a piano, and an intimate seating area with the coolest couch and vintage chairs.

The post Talking with Todd Talbot appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


Link Love: The Summer of the Straw Hat

Last time we talked about sunscreen products, but hats are a great way to add an extra layer of sun protection. This time of the year you see all types of hats pop up in the stores:

The Guardian reports that it’s all about the “giant straw hat” this Summer.

The Huffington Post agrees, and shows us examples from the catwalk and Instagram if you need inspiration on how to wear one.

Allure has rounded up some wide-brimmed hats, which do a good job of keeping the sun off your face and neck.

From cloche hats to boater hats, here are more fun options if you are in the market for a straw hat.

Fab Links from Our Members

JAileen wanted to share this article on cleaning Summer stains. She thought the info about sweat and sunscreen were especially useful.

Sal enjoyed this article with ten ideas about green fashion in the future. She can absolutely see the merits of self-repairing clothes.

Joy found some nice ideas for how to wear scarves with long necklaces in this post on MaiTai’s Picture Book.

SarahD8 liked this article by a woman who has adopted a personal “dress code”: “The way she has honed in on a color palette and narrow range of silhouettes that work for her (not necessarily what’s trendy) is pretty inspiring. I also found the distinction she makes at the end about clothing as self-expression vs. an outlet for creativity thought-provoking.”



Editor’s Picks – Summer 2018

Editor-in-Chief Marc Atiyolil shares some of his favorite products (as seen in Canadian Home Trends Magazine Kitchen & Bath 2018)

The combination of a matte white lacquer finish with rich black walnut details gives the Vanité a luxurious, contemporary look. I love that this bathroom vanity offers plenty of storage space with full extension, 6.5″ deep drawers and high performance Blum push-to-open slide mechanisms to allow for a trendy, handless design. If space allows, there is also a double sink version! – Dezign Market

Luxury Vinyl Tile is a great choice if you are looking for an affordable, durable flooring option. The Malibu collection from 4 Corners offers a variety of trendy colors. My favorite is this Belize color that looks fantastic in a light and bright, modern kitchen. This easy to install flooring option is very low maintenance and can withstand the wear and tear of a busy kitchen. – 4 Corners

Ready to meet your new favorite table? The Plurimo is an entirely new concept in extension tables. My favorite design aspect is that it uniquely expands in both width and length with hidden extensions and self-storing leaves. There is no need to take up room in your closet for your table leaves. I love that it’s available in five sizes and in a variety of lacquer, wood, and heat and stain resistant, sealed concrete finishes. – Resource Furniture

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Home Trends Magazine


Case Study: Delivering Revenue Growth and a Foundation of Trust with Mr. Roof

The partnership between Mr. Roof and Modernize began in 2016 when Jim Ziminski sought additional revenue growth channels. Ziminski explains, “Our initial goal in working with Modernize was to create more opportunities for our sales team. We wanted to be able to reach consumers in a different way than we were able to do so on our own. Ultimately, we wanted to learn from Modernize, have Modernize learn from us and be good partners to expand our business”

Find out how Modernize generated more than $ 2.8 million in net revenue for Mr. Roof in 2017 by downloading our case study below!

The post Case Study: Delivering Revenue Growth and a Foundation of Trust with Mr. Roof appeared first on Modernize.



Fashion News Roundup: June 2018

A Nordstrom arts partnership, a Pierre Cardin documentary and other style news that caught our attention this month.

Fun Fashion Quote

I really like what Stella Blackmon’s says in her Week of Outfits feature on Cup of Jo about wearing clothes that work for your lifestyle and for who you are as an individual:

“You know how people say that kids always remember the times they threw up? I remember every outfit in my life that drove me nuts. Like my blue Mary Janes I had in fourth grade that pinched my heels unless I walked on my toes, or the cargo pants with five rogue zippers. Or the homecoming dress I had to casually hold up the entire night with one hand. What was I thinking? The clothes that let you do you are where it’s at. Now I know.”



Australian supermarkets work to prevent ‘bag rage’ as plastics ban takes effect

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s biggest supermarket chains are scrambling to combat “bag rage” as frustrated shoppers vent their anger over the removal of single-use plastic bags. One man put his hands around a supermarket worker’s throat, the West Australian newspaper reported, while grocery stores are putting on more staff to help customers get used to the change.

Reuters: Environment


Homeowner Survey Infographic: Q2 2018

Through our process of matching homeowners with quality contractors across the country, we survey thousands of homeowners each quarter. In the first half of 2018, we learned a lot about how homeowners choose contractors and why they start their projects.

A few key findings included:

  • How many estimates homeowners prefer to receive before making a decision on a home improvement professional
  • The means of communication that homeowners prefer to use once they have entered into the decision-making phase
  • What motivates homeowners to seek a home improvement professional

We will continue to gather data, and release each quarter to report our findings.

To find out what we’ve discovered about homeowners in 2018, download our first quarterly Homeowner Survey Infographic here, or just check out the insights below:

Homeowner Survey 2018 Q2

The post Homeowner Survey Infographic: Q2 2018 appeared first on Modernize.



Expert Tips for Selecting the Right House Plan

The Winchester plan offers a great open
concept kitchen and family room for informal
entertaining and a separate dining room for
more formal events!

It can be a little overwhelming to decide between so many fantastic options so we asked Diego Rizzardo of SanDiego Homes to share some of the tips he uses to help homeowners pick the best home plan for their lot at their Lakeside Living community in Innisfil!

LIFESTYLE Consider the daily needs, activities and hobbies of those who will live there. If you love to cook, a kitchen with plenty of pantry and workspace is a must. If you are a fitness buff, choose a plan that allows space for a gym. If you work from home, you will need space for a home office. Another important aspect is your entertaining style. “If you often have a large number of guests, a flexible, open concept space is a must,” says Diego. “If you prefer a more intimate setting, you may want a plan like The Winchester that has a separate, formal dining space.” You will also want to consider bedroom space if guests often stay overnight.

The Strathmore plan offers bungalow style living
with plenty of space for guests, perfect for
those who love to entertain and want a home
that will allow them to age in place.

CURRENT AND FUTURE NEEDS It is important to consider how your needs may change over the next 5-10 years. A newlywed couple may feel that a two bedroom plan is perfect for them but if they plan to have children in a few years, they will outgrow that plan quite quickly. For older homeowners, it is important to consider future health and mobility needs. “We offer a variety of bungalow style plans that will allow homeowners to age in place without costly renovations down the road,” says Diego. “Wide hallways are also standard in all models to ensure ease of mobility.” A main floor laundry, master bedroom and bathroom may not seem like a necessity right now but may greatly affect your ability to live independently in the home later in life!

PROPERTY AND LOCATION The lot you are building on and the surrounding area may also affect your decision. How will the position of the sun and wind direction affect the home? What is located on each side of the property? Large windows that take in a beautiful view of the sunset are great but those same windows facing the side of the neighbor’s home are much less enjoyable. “Choose a plan that will take advantage of the best aspects of your property.” says Diego, “But also consider available outdoor space and choose a plan that leaves space for outdoor entertaining, gardening or other outdoor activities you enjoy.”

The post Expert Tips for Selecting the Right House Plan appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


Project Cost Tips: 3 Dos and Don’ts of Creating Estimates

Construction Worker Planning Constractor Developer Concept

As a contractor, finding the balance between profit and positive customer relationships can be tricky if you own your own business. Of course, you know that there are many factors that go into creating an estimate for a home improvement project, and that no two jobs are exactly the same. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to strike a balance by giving your clients an accurate and fair price without compromising on costs. Here are top dos and don’ts for creating estimates.

Be accurate

Estimates are essential tools for contractors, and not only because they outline the specific costs of a project for potential clients. These figures are also useful for your records because they help shape your future estimates. That’s why it’s so important to include everything that you view as a cost for each project. Some of the most common costs include:

  • Materials
  • Labor
  • Miscellaneous costs, including:
    • Building permits
    • Administrative and other fees
    • Rental vehicles and equipment

Methodically listing and pricing each individual cost—or stick estimating, as it’s called in the industry—is a common way of accurately estimating a building project. However, it can be very time consuming. Some contractors now prefer to estimate by using unit costs instead, while others make use of construction estimating software to make the job even quicker and easier.

If you opt for the high tech route, we recommend checking out a variety of programs and choosing one that suits you and your business best. If you need help choosing, other construction pros love the estimation software from companies such as BuilderTREND, Quick Bid, Sage Estimating, and Procore.

Whichever estimation method you choose, remember that accuracy is key. Ballpark figures aren’t good enough here; although it is just an estimate at the end of the day, your past projects will provide enough information to help you produce an estimate that is right on the money (so to speak!).

Be honest

If there is one thing more important to your customers than a good price, it’s honesty. This applies to the entire process of a building project, of course, but is particularly useful to remember when producing estimates for potential clients. If, for whatever reason, you decide to quote a price that is much lower than you actually anticipate, know that your decision will become evident sooner or later.

While under-estimating may secure a new lead and boost your clientele initially, rising costs throughout the course of the building project will soon become apparent. Once your client knows that the price you quoted isn’t exactly accurate, you will lose their trust and, most likely, their business. A positive client-professional relationship is more important than a high profit margin at the end of the day, because happy clients will be more likely to become repeat customers who give you great reviews and more business.

Be professional

In any business, professionalism goes a long way towards creating a brand that is both reputable and successful. For contractors, staying professional during the estimation process means:

  • Being honest – By following the recommendations outlined above, you will be able to provide your clients with an accurate and honest estimate for their home improvement work.
  • Keeping a paper trail – Always provide written estimates for your clients to look over (it’s also a good idea to keep a copy on file for future reference).
  • Communicating your costs – Arrange a meeting to discuss a breakdown of your estimate with your clients, taking time to answer any questions or concerns they may have about the itemized prices.

If, after costing a project for a potential client, you feel like you can’t commit to the expenditure, service, or time scale required, let them know as soon as possible.  Part of your job as a contracting professional is making sure you are the right person for the job, so if it turns out you aren’t, your clients will understand and appreciate your honesty.

Producing an estimate for every construction job you undertake may sound time-consuming and monotonous, but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. If your estimates are accurate, truthful, and clear, you will establish a positive relationship with new customers from the very beginning. This transparency will be appreciated by your leads and stand you and your business in good stead for a financially viable and successful future.

The post Project Cost Tips: 3 Dos and Don’ts of Creating Estimates appeared first on Modernize.



Weekly Roundup: Summer Shoes and Dresses

This week’s list of top picks is short and sweet. Pickings are usually slim at the end of the season, but this year has been exceptional. There is lots of good stuff to purchase if you’re in shopping mode and your Summers are long. 

This week highlights a footwear brand called Earth that generally makes very comfortable footwear for regular and higher volume feet. Their styles are often too wide for me, but I keep on trying. Sometimes I order half a size down when the toe box looks long enough hoping that they create a better fit. One day, one of their styles will fit because all good things come to those who wait. Fabulous dresses are still going strong because it’s the best dress season ever. Browse all the colour options and read the rave reviews.

  • Earth Masio Loafer: A comfy loafer with a sporty and casual integrity. Comes in six lovely colours. These might stay on feet with narrow heels. Solid and polished.
  • Earth Juno: A sandal for narrower heels and wider toes. Quite good arch support and with a manageable heel height. Our forum members rave about them.
  • Vince Camuto One Shoulder Ruched Top: Alluring yet reasonably covered. Needs a strapless bra, and might run a size big unless you’re broad-shouldered. Long in the torso so not for petites. Form-fitting yet the ruching is forgiving.
  • Vince Camuto Side Ruched Jersey Midi Dress: Fitted yet forgiving. Flattering, easy, and a super duper length. Suits a range of body types and is machine washable. I wish it came in a colour other than black.
  • Vince Camuto Ruched Stripe Tank Top: This top is not as long in person, but it’s just as form-fitting. The diagonal lines do an excellent job of straightening curves and camouflaging lumpage and bumpage. And they’re just as good at adding shape to a straighter figure. Fab on a larger bust or broader shoulder line.
  • Vince Camuto Chateau Floral Side Ruched Body-Con Dress: A WOW dress. Shaped in all the right places to create a streamlined silhouette yet magically forgiving. Might run a size big. If you wear a US0 and need a narrow fit, get an XXS.
  • Naturalizer Amabella Slide Sandal: Fabulously trendy and looks like they come straight from COS. But they’re Naturalizer, so a LOT more comfortable, and healthy for your feet. Comes in regular and wide widths, and a few colours. I vote WHITE.
  • Banana Republic Stripe Handkerchief-Hem Ponte Dress: SUBLIME dress on a curvy body type. Works deliciously well on wider hips and thighs because of the flattering effect of diagonal lines. Works well on petites. Elegant length and great drape.
  • Lucky Brand Ginger Bermuda Shorts: Flattering, comfortable, easy, versatile, and works on a range of body types. A streamlined fit and even wash add a polished touch to these fab denim shorts.
  • Banana Republic Pointed-Toe Robin Ballet Flat: I couldn’t believe my luck when I tried these pretty darlings. Pointy-toe ballet flats are hard to fit because they fall off my feet, feel too flat and unsupported, and squash my toes. These are perfect. Very comfy and cushioning, have room in the toe box and a substantial sole, and stay on my feet. VERY dainty and quite dressy on the foot. For low-volume/narrow feet only. They earned a place in my wardrobe and I’m thrilled with them. Colour is more saturated in person.
  • Sanctuary Samba Midi Tank Dress: An elegantly casual midi for those who like to showcase their midsection. The ruching is forgiving, but it’s still quite clingy so consider yourself warned.
  • Vince Camuto Venue Block Stripe Ruched Body-Con Dress: A streamlined midi that’s as forgiving as it is tailored. Comfortable and easy. Wow on those who can fill it out. Armholes aren’t too wide either.
  • Earth Hibiscus: Chunky sandals for higher volume feet. The straps create diagonal lines across the vamp of the foot which is visually attractive – especially on wider ankles.
  • Earth Tierra: Happy rainbow sandals that are pretty and solid on the foot. Must be able to fill out the broad straps. Comes in three colours.
  • Earth Sunflower: A chunky sandal for higher volume feet. Modern and simple. Flattering on wider ankles. Looks great in black in a ’90s type of way.
  • Earth Allegro: A substantial ballet flat. Euro and classic. Best on a wider foot and heel.
  • Earth Venus: A more avant-garde style for high insteps. Looks great on wider feet.
  • Earth Shelly: An interesting d’Orsay flat that looks better on the foot than in the photo. Very cushioning and soft. A little boho and arty.
  • Topshop Bath Stripe Straw Tote Bag: This adorable casual tote looks better in person. Soft straw, good size, lightweight and comfortable handles. Nice for the Earthy Casual.
  • Madewell Folk Fortune Bali Rattan Top-Lid Bag: A super cute rattan crossbody binocular bag in a good size that does not scratch. Fun lining and a trendy classic. Practical top lid opening too. Great with cognac footwear. I want it.

Here’s the collection page if you would like to see the items alongside my descriptions.

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Client Success Video: Mr. Roof

Under the ownership of Crane Renovation Group, Mr. Roof and Able Roof specialize in roof repairs and installations with a dedication to serve their homeowners with superior service, quality work, and a fair price. The award-winning company has become the largest residential roofing company in the United States, and Jim Ziminski, President of Mr. Roof, Able Roof, and Crane Renovation Group, is a veteran in the industry with more than 30 years under his tool belt.

The partnership between Crane Renovation Group and Modernize began in 2016 when Jim Ziminski sought additional revenue growth channels. Ziminski explains, “Our initial goal in working with Modernize was to create more opportunities for our sales team. We wanted to be able to reach consumers in a different way than we were able to do so on our own. Ultimately, we wanted to learn from Modernize, have Modernize learn from us and be good partners to expand our business”. Watch the video above or read the story below to hear more about our partnership with Mr. Roof.

What is your ultimate goal in working with Modernize?

“Our initial goal in working with Modernize was to create more opportunities for our sales team. I think as we’ve learned Modernize and built a relationship with Modernize, our goal was to learn faster and better by sharing information back and forth.”

How has your relationship with modernize evolved over time?

“The basis of the relationship was to build trust. Once we built that trust, it’s evolved to where we share more information and data. We love to look at research and data, Modernize does as well, and when we do that together, we’re more powerful as a unit than we are individually.”

What are some fundamental elements to the relationship?

“We are a family-oriented business. We’re owned by Crane group that’s been in business for 70 years, so the two things that are most important to us are trust and value.”

How would you have started your relationship with Modernize differently?

“At the start, we were testing the waters. I think we were too public about that with our people which led to cherry-picking the leads. The reality was that people saw that we weren’t fully committed at the beginning. Once we fully committed and we really began to look at the process, learn, and open up what we were experiencing with Modernize and saw that they wanted to hear our good and negative feedback in order to improve. People saw we were all in, we really got much better at working together and creating more value for us with the Modernize leads.”

What would be your advice for companies looking to grow with Modernize?

“Get together with your Modernize representative and share your information – They’re a very trustworthy company. Ask them to share their information – Modernize is very open. Learn from one another – that’s really the power. You’re going to learn faster if you’re working together instead of keeping them at arm’s length.”

How would you describe Modernize in one word?

“In one word, we would say value. We value the relationship.”

The post Client Success Video: Mr. Roof appeared first on Modernize.



Ask an Expert: Choosing Deck Materials

Photo Source: XMT Construction

What type of materials should I use when building a deck?

Most people are using composite materials. With the climate and weather we experience in the Lower Mainland, composite is ideal. Composite decking will outperform wood and other decking materials in every way. It will provide equal or greater traction than dry wood when it is wet. It requires no painting or staining, it will not produce splinters and it is made from 95% recycled materials. It is virtually maintenance free. – Adam Clark,

The post Ask an Expert: Choosing Deck Materials appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


10 Real Estate Negotiation Tactics That Can Really Backfire

On the lookout for a new home? First, peruse our list of negotiation dos and don’ts, culled from the advice of industry professionals. The bottom line? As you embark on the process, be your own advocate, but make sure you also respect the sellers’ time and heed their emotional cues. By avoiding these all-too-common behaviors, you can ensure a win-win deal.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Digital Marketing Tips for Today’s Residential Contractor: How Consumer Trends are Shaping the Roofing Industry

Roofers tend to think in terms of regionality, not demographics. After all, being able to identify materials that will withstand an area’s high winds or stand up to a sudden hailstorm is pretty useful information for customers. The contractor’s mind is packed with practical insights and solutions to counter the logistical challenges of weathering the elements.

However, given how the construction industry lags behind other fields in terms of marketing, some knowledge of what attracts customers and drives their purchasing decisions could be enough to propel a business toward previously overlooked markets. Roofers who include more digital marketing channels will position themselves well for the future, especially since digitalization is beginning to seriously impact consumer behavior. Download our eBook to learn how today’s roofers can take advantage of several burgeoning consumers trends to grow their markets and attract and wider range of homeowners. 

The post Digital Marketing Tips for Today’s Residential Contractor: How Consumer Trends are Shaping the Roofing Industry appeared first on Modernize.



Outfit Formula: Skirt & Flats

Gone are the days when wearing heels (and very high heels) with skirts and dresses elevated your style. It’s more trendy and current than ever to wear skirts with flats, which in most cases is more comfortable, practical and casual. Of course, wearing skirts with heeled footwear is a classic, and you should by all means keep on doing just that if it’s your preference.

The definition of a flat is not clear-cut. I think of heels up to an inch high as flats. Heels between an inch and a quarter and two inches are low heels. Anything higher than that is a high or very high heel.

Here are some casual and dressy skirt and flats outfits to get you started. It’s all about satisfying your figure flattering priorities and wearing what makes you feel fab. Choose any colour palette. 

1. Dressy Blazer & Loafers

These proportions have a fab ‘80s integrity. Combine a dressy pencil skirt with a layering top and blazer. Finish off the look with a dressy loafer or flat mule, and a structured bag. Tucking the top lengthens the leg line from the hips upward, and offsets the longer length of the blazer. If you don’t want to tuck the top, wear a shorter top and blazer.

Halogen Lace and Pinstripe Pencil Skirt

2. Casual Khakis & Slides/Sandals

Combine a casual skirt with a striped, printed or solid semi-tucked tee, and finish things off with flat slides, sandals and a crossbody bag. The khaki skirt can be substituted for a denim one and the formula is the same. Add colour or keep things neutral.


3. Moody Shine & Slides

I like the relaxed elegant vibe of this look. The dressy items are dressed down to look more down to earth. Combine a dressy tank, shell or blouse with a dressy pencil or A-line skirt. Semi-tuck it if you need to lengthen the leg line of a midi. Add dressy flat mules or flats, and a structured bag. I’m not as fond of the slides here, but they work. Keeping the palette dark has a moody effect.


4. Fit-and-Flare with Mules

This is a dressy outfit with flats. I love that! Combine a flared midi skirt with a tucked or semi-tucked top. A roomy cropped top will also work. Finish off the look with flat dressy mules, sandals or ballet flats, and a clutch. You’re ready for a Summer wedding. The low-contrast mules with pointy toes do a good job of lengthening the lower leg when the heel is flat.


I wear all my Summer skirts with flats these days. My current favourites are a new blue and turquoise lace skirt, and an old acid wash denim skirt. Both are knee-covering pencil silhouettes. I like to wear them with an assortment of blue and white tops that I semi or fully tuck. A few of the tops can be worn untucked. I finish off the look with white pearls, eyewear, and white or blush loafers or mules. Very occasionally, I’ll wear white sneakers with the denim skirt. The bag can match the shoes, or I’ll throw in another colour like citron or turquoise to break up the palette. Here are the exact items from my wardrobe that create those outfits.

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22 Effortless Ways to Create Less Trash

There’s something rotten in America—and it’s the trash! The average American creates 4 pounds of trash every day, and while that may not sound like a lot, it adds up to more than 200 million tons of waste every year (enough to fill the entire Busch Stadium two times a day, according to the EPA). All that trash poses an obvious problem: where to put it. And as the United States’ trash is shipped to its southern states, and around the world, it’s clear that the problem has yet to be solved. The best solution in the long term is to make less trash. Not only will making less trash keep our environment cleaner, but it can save the average American household thousands of dollars every year. Read on to learn some of the easiest things you can do to reduce your waste and simplify your life.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Negar’s Versatile Powder Room Design Board

A modern look with light flooring and dark frames.

Light and playful, this small powder room takes inspiration from nature for a well-balanced and harmonious design. The design is so versatile that this powder room could be part of a cottage OR a transitional/ semi-traditional home! The console sink with chrome legs is modern take on a traditional piece. Combining that with a clean-line and square profile fixture creates a fresh and timeless design. The modernized vintage-style wall lights and large mirror with shiny chrome trim add sparkle and understated elegance to the space. The Amelie tree trunk wallpaper ties in beautifully with a rustic handmade basket and wild flowers in the vase, adding an organic touch to the space.

For a more eclectic look, choose darker flooring with lighter frames.

The design can be pulled together with reclaimed wood floors for a more eclectic look or bleached herringbone oak floors for a more modern look. You can change your picture frames to fit each look better!


The post Negar’s Versatile Powder Room Design Board appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


6 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Repeat Customers and Referrals

There’s nothing like a familiar face, especially when it comes to your business. Nothing against new customers, but there are a lot of reasons to appreciate your existing clients. For one thing, they’re a lot cheaper than new ones. In fact, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can boost profits by anywhere between 25 and 95%. And according to at least one marketing expert, a customer who is satisfied with your work is 14 times more likely to buy from you than a brand-new lead.

However, existing customers are also a coveted source of unpaid advertising. Nielsen surveys show that friends, family members, and acquaintances are customers’ most credible source of brand recommendations. Eighty-three percent of survey respondents say they trust in-person reviews more than any other form of recommendation. Industry-specific surveys turn up similar results. When internet marketing agency Contractor Nation asked homeowners where they get recommendations for home contractors, the majority—42%—said they ask friends for a name, while another 28% said they query home contractors they know.

It’s easy to understand how pivotal the customer referral becomes when you view the issue through the context of the home remodeling industry’s reputation. Home contractors shared notoriously low trust among customers, a fact that has been documented both anecdotally and statistically throughout the years. That makes loyal customers all the more valuable—these clients have already established a trusting relationship with you, making them more willing to pull the trigger on various projects. However, bolstering repeat projects and referrals takes some work on your part. Here’s how you can leverage existing clients to boost profit margins.

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Deliver Top Tier Service

Repeat business starts with superior customer service. For contractors, that means setting expectations early, before customer assumptions and misunderstandings can tank your project. Keep the communication coming with regular check-ins—with texting as popular as it is, it’s incredibly easy to catch homeowners up every day. Report issues promptly and keep your work as unobtrusive as possible to customers’ everyday lives. Chat with customers in-person when available because there’s nothing like talking face-to-face.

It may seem basic, but these are the nuts and bolts of customer relationship building. In one comparative analysis, customers rated competence, completeness, and frequent, effective communication as the most important factors in establishing contractor trust. And that trust is integral for capturing repeat business and referrals.

Follow Up After a Project Completes

Most contractors follow up with clients after projects conclude as a matter of course—so if you’re not doing it yet, it’s time to start. A follow-up call is a great chance to settle any issues that might have popped up after the job wrapped, allowing you to solidify your reputation for great service. It’s also an opportunity to discuss future projects that might be on your clients’ horizons and to remind customers about your referral program if you have one.

Create a Referral Program

Everyone loves a discount. Initiating a referral program for customers is a double bonus: a chance to seal the deal with an existing prospect while gaining advertising in return. Some contractors offer free upgrades or maintenance if a referral comes through, and others give discounts on the next project or even gift cards to popular retailers nearby. However you decide to reward customers, make sure to remind them occasionally throughout the project.

Provide Discounts on Additional Projects

This is a technique many contractors employ without really thinking about it. Offering customers a discount if they agree to add on additional work is a sales tactic that’s about as old as it is effective. But you can add velocity to your retention rates if you institute a formal discount program. Many homeowners have more than one project in mind when they contact a contractor, so even shaving a small percentage off additional job may be enough incentive to encourage a second project.

You can even create discount packages for follow-up work. For instance, many HVAC professionals offer discounted maintenance packages for newly installed units. Study your customers and look for trends in the buying process. For instance, a homeowner who installs a new roof may start thinking about re-siding their home to match. A homeowner who’s just built a new deck off their back exit may suddenly get an itch for a new patio. Think about these kinds of common pairings when you create your discount strategy.


Stay in Touch

The more you are able to stay in front of your clients, the more likely it is that you’ll land those repeat jobs. A quarterly newsletter with seasonal sales or discounts is a wonderful way to make sure your name sticks in your clients’ minds. Personalized birthday or holiday cards are another strategy and are always welcome—particularly if they come with a coupon included. Ideally, you want to be the one person homeowners call when they need work done, so be sure to keep your presence alive in your customers’ memories.

Build Your Relationships with Other Contractors

Given that other contractors are homeowners’ second pick for contractor recommendations, it makes sense to build your relationships with your peers. No doubt you work with many different tradesmen day-to-day—for instance, a kitchen remodeling business may regularly subcontract out to electricians, plumbers or HVAC technicians and probably also works closely with architects, interior designers and perhaps even realtors. Networking with these agents can reap big profits.

However, if you don’t typically interface with other contractors or professionals, it’s time to develop these kinds of relationships. Consider joining a professional trade organization or attending an event at your local chamber of commerce. Local conferences are another way to make valuable contacts—these connections can lead to informal partnerships and more referrals, if you play your cards right.

Ultimately, tapping past clients is all about engaging soft skills in customer service. Strive to empathize with clients, listening to their concerns and noticing the types of problems they have with their homes. Work towards 100% transparency and polite, friendly, frequent communication. Hone these abilities and you’ll find yourself booked solid for months on end.

The post 6 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Repeat Customers and Referrals appeared first on Modernize.



America’s Most Burglarized Towns and Cities

According to recent FBI statistics, burglary is on the decline in America. Nevertheless, in 2016 victims of robbery and other property crimes (excluding arson) collectively suffered $ 15.6 billion in losses. That’s why homeowners planning to relocate should thoroughly research crime rates in the towns they’re considering. To get started, make note of the 20 most burglary-prone places in the country, compiled from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program data for 2016.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Weekly Roundup: Assorted Summer Items

If you like knee-covering casual and dressy frocks with sleeves, stock up right now because it’s the BEST dress season I’ve seen in a long time. I was done with my Spring and Summer refresh in March, but could not resist a few more dresses. I just bought Club Monaco’s Elianna Knit Dress, because it’s exactly where I want to be with dresses. No more sheaths and sack silhouettes for now — I crave structure up top but want flare at the bottom, and I’m finding it. So I’m milking the exceptional dress season after waiting seven years for longer lengths and tailored silhouettes.

These items have been winners on my clients and our forum members recently. Browse the colour options and read the rave reviews.

  • Munro Brinn Sandal: Trendy, very comfortable, and well made. Quite chunky on the foot so consider yourself warned. Available in three colours and FIVE widths. Goes up to a US13.
  • Paul Green Raven Sandal: Moon Walking Slide Fabnes. Soft, cushioning, and well made. Best on regular and higher volume feet. Too wide for narrow feet.
  • Frye Terri Perf Oxford: Fabulous Summer oxfords in a lovely soft suede. The cracked cream leather is just as nice as the mint. Quite comfy. Best on low and regular volume feet.
  • print pajamas: Kate Spade Pyjama Fabness. Classic and adorable.
  • Frye Diana Chelsea: Western boots may be on trend, but they are always in style. Frye is a good way to go if you want a pair of timeless fashion-y western-inspired boots. These are a great fit, feel comfy, look chic, and are well made.
  • Frye Cindy Two-Piece: Chunky yet refined ankle strap sandals that are best on regular and higher volume feet. Too wide for low-volume feet. Very comfy.
  • Frye Terri Gore Mule: Fun mules for higher volume feet. Refined on the foot, and comfortable.
  • INC International Concepts I.N.C. Ruffled Denim Jacket, Created for Macy’s: One of our forum members modelled this in an XL and blew me away. It looked much better on her than on the model. The peplum is subtle, and adds a playful kick to the masculine trucker silhouette.
  • Columbia Saturday Trail II Knee Pant: Athleisure long shorts available in a range of colours. Works on both a curvier and straighter body type. Incredible reviews.
  • Alfani Printed Convertible Tunic Shirt, Created for Macy’s: Fab tunic that works best on those who can fill it out. Nice over cropped white jeans.
  • Charter Club Petite Floral-Print A-Line Dress, Created for Macy’s: Gorgeous dress on a curvy petite. One of our forum members modeled it in a PL and it looked SUBLIME. The flared skirt is flattering on a pretty pear-shaped body type. Elegant length.
  • Connected Petite Draped Sheath Dress: A flattering dress on a curvy petite. Slinky and form-fitting. Works on a pretty pear shape. Yummy.
  • CAMPER Tropik Cross Strap Wedge Sandal: A chunky wedge for higher volume feet. Sleek on the foot. Comfy.
  • COS Layered V-neck Chiffon Dress: Fab dress for Team Tall who likes to wear V-necks. The diagonal line across the torso adds an avant-garde effect that’s flattering and interesting. Suits a range of body types.
  • COS Panelled High-neck Dress: A good dress for a long neck, small bust, long torso and athletic top half. Works well on a curvy bottom half.
  • COS Short-sleeved Silk Shirt: Drapey Shirt Fabness. Size down.
  • UNIVERSAL STANDARD Geneva Dress: AMAZING silhouette on both a straighter or curvier body type. Works well on a larger bust. The side drape is genius because it adds curves to a straighter hip and flattens a curvier hip. Nice colours and rave reviews.
  • COS Shirt Dress With Gathered Hem: Imagine the sleeves scrunched and it’s a great dress for a mild Summer. It can go straight into Fall with hosiery and boots. Not for petites. Suits a range of body types. Comes in peach.
  • Vince Camuto Skinny Jeans: These are tight, but quite comfy and substantial. Not see-through. Not for wider calves.
  • CAMPER Balloon – K200611: Fun chunky sandals for regular and higher volume feet. They are bright, but come in black and silver. Works well with wider ankles.
  • CAMPER ‘Oruga’ Two Strap Slide Sandal: A refined Birkenstock vibe from Camper. Quite cushioning and supportive. Might run a little short. Works for wider feet.
  • Club Monaco Elianna Knit Dress: A navy and white striped casual and very polished midi with a GORGEOUS fit. Drapes like a dream. Heft, substance and well made. It’s very structured up top so you have to be okay with defining your torso and midsection. The length and asymmetrical hem are elegant and swooshy. Very comfy.The DOUBLE belt is NOT attached to the dress so you can place it where you like. Genius. The stripes of the belt go in different directions which is super cute. Looks great with simple flats. Machine washable. Impeccable.

Here’s the collection page if you would like to see the items alongside my descriptions.

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Ask an Expert: Hiring a Pro to Repaint a Home

My home’s exterior needs to be repainted. Should I attempt to DIY it or hire a pro?

Exterior paint, when properly applied, helps shield the surface from the regular day-to-day damage of weathering, temperature changes, and sunlight. Most exterior surfaces will last longer and look better when properly treated with paint, plus you get a brand new look for your home and a boost in curb appeal!

The quality of the paint you are using is extremely important. Spray-Net formulates their own brand of industrial-strength coating and they apply it using their specialized equipment and technique. Each coatings is tailored to the specific exterior surface to ensure maximum adhesion and a premium factory-quality finish that won’t peel and leaves your home looking brand new, not repainted. Plus, you have peace of mind with their fifteen year no-peel warranty that you won’t be repainting every few years!

Painting your home’s exterior on your own can be a major project. Using a professional service means you can focus on smaller and easier projects. With Spray-Net, most projects are complete within a day! If you’re considering refreshing the look of your aluminum siding, vinyl siding, brick, stucco or even your doors and windows, definitely hire a pro! – Melissa Grasso,

The post Ask an Expert: Hiring a Pro to Repaint a Home appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


Infographic: Growing Your Lead Revenue

They say money doesn’t grow on trees, but we don’t necessarily agree. Growing your home improvement business is a lot like harvesting money trees. It takes time for your work to come to fruitions, but successful money tree farmers understand that it’s worth the wait. Take a look through our infographic below to understand how baking periods come into play with homeowner inquiries.

Growing your lead revenue

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20 Amazing Places You Aren’t Allowed to Visit

Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.” That’s necessarily the case now for many awe-inspiring locales around the world that have been rendered either wholly inaccessible or severely restricted to the public. Scroll through to see some of the most spectacular forbidden sites around the world. This may be the closest you’ll ever come to seeing them up close!
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Magnitude 6.1 quake in Japan’s Osaka area kills three, stops factories

TOKYO (Reuters) – A magnitude 6.1 earthquake shook Osaka, Japan’s second-biggest metropolis, early on Monday morning, killing three people, halting factory lines in a key industrial area and bursting water mains, government officials and broadcaster NHK said.

Reuters: Environment


My Father’s Style

My darling Dad is 86 and lives on his own in a very quaint little town called Velp, in the Netherlands. It’s a five minute drive from Arnhem, which played a crucial role in World War Two because it was headquarters for Operation Market Garden. If you’ve seen the movie, “A Bridge Too Far”, you’ll know what I’m talking about, and see how my Dad grew up during the extremely hard war years. Papa moved back to his hometown when my Mum died eighteen years ago in Cape Town. My Dad loves his hometown and is very happy there.

I’m close to my Dad and enjoy a special bond with him. Our bond grows stronger each year, which is something that I nurture and cherish.

As far as my Dad’s style goes, Mama sorted that out because Papa finds shopping tortuous and tedious. Since Mama loved to shop, she happily took over that part of his life. I’ve taken on the role of sorting out my Dad’s wardrobe and style since Mama died, and am happy to do it. With my Dad’s blessing on what he likes and dislikes, I’ve chosen everything in his wardrobe for almost two decades.

Papa likes to keep his wardrobe VERY minimal, simple and classic for maximal versatility and ease. He wears the same undertees, shirts, jeans, socks, belts and shoes all year round. He simply layers over the lot with knitwear, jackets, coats, scarves and hats when the weather is cold. The formula works extremely well for him.

Papa only wears short-sleeved button down shirts, because he finds long sleeves fussy. He has eight shirts. He wears black, blue and brown jeans, and has one in each colour. He has an assortment of cashmere and cotton pullovers for varying weather — about eight in total. He has a black and brown belt, one to match each pair of lace-up shoes. He has one jacket, one coat, two scarves, and three hats. Apart from wardrobe basics like undies, socks, sleepwear and Birkenstock type slippers for at home — that is it. He does not wear shorts, sneakers, tees, sweats, hoodies, blazers, sandals or trousers. It’s easy fitting my Dad’s very small wardrobe into his very small Euro closet.

My Dad’s wardrobe may be minimal, but it’s colour-rich. He’s worn shades of orange and red for as long as I can remember. His specs are burgundy, which he chose himself! He likes most shades of blue, brown and green. He does not like black or grey, but enjoys his one pair of black jeans. Papa’s shirts are from the Gap and his jeans are Levis. His knitwear and belts are from J.Crew and Banana Republic. His outerwear, scarves, hats and shoes are from Nordstrom. Both pairs of shoes are Ecco.

I’m thankful to have a wonderful Dad who is a role model to me. He’s soft-spoken, introverted, gentle, generous, intelligent, good with numbers (he’s an accountant), a very hard worker, extremely independent, smiley, headstrong, and has busloads of grit. Papa is one of the most charming people I know, a gentleman, and utterly adorable. I’m grateful to be able to visit him three to four times a year (he stopped travelling to Seattle at 82.) These are the moments in life that count.

We at YLF wish you, your Dads, including Dads who are no longer with us, a happy and peaceful Father’s Day.


Ice Cream



Designer Space: Breezy Beach

A small front room gets a family-friendly, open concept makeover.


LORI STEEVES This space is home to a family of four who wanted to transform a small front room into a living and dining space. The space offers a comfortable beach vibe with plenty of storage space and personalized details to really bring the room  to life.


LS The starting point for the décor was the homeowners’ treasured antique chaise which we positioned under the large window. The rest of the décor scheme grew from there.


LS It was important to the family to include personal details in the space. We designed a family gallery wall that combined family photos and shadow boxes for treasured keepsakes.


LS We employed a few important space saving techniques in this room. We custom built a corner bench in the dining area. It was designed to double as storage space. The coffee table was also custom built and the footstool tucked underneath can double as an extra seat when needed.


LS We chose to conceal the TV into the custom millwork above the fireplace. This allows the TV to be hidden out of sight when not in use. – Simply Home Decorating,

Photography by Tracey Ayton Photography

The post Designer Space: Breezy Beach appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


Why Before and After Photos Are So Important and How to Take Yours

A common saying around the restaurant industry is “people eat with their eyes”—that is, people are drawn to meals that look as great as they taste. A similar motto holds true in home remodeling: people buy with their eyes. That means that in order to attract a larger customer base, you have to provide some visual proof of the quality of your jobs.

As a contractor, you’re actually lucky in this regard: your work naturally lends itself to visual interest. It will be easy for you to give potential customers a taste of your offerings simply by showing off before and after photos of a project. Your online portfolio provides a quick, easy-to-digest snapshot of your services and your craftsmanship. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Pictures can expand your online reach and improve your web presence. Here are some of the potential benefits of before and after photos—and how to take better pictures for your digital outreach.

Flat design.

Before and After Photos Communicate What Words Can’t

Customers are typically hesitant to give a new contractor a shot—this is their home we’re talking about, after all. But residential contractors don’t exactly have the best reputation, either. Right or wrong, many new customers will be skeptical of your skills until you’ve proven yourself. An outstanding photo portfolio is a quick way to defend your quality of service without saying anything at all.

Similarly, photos offer a common vocabulary with which customers and contractors can communicate. Homeowners don’t always know the technical jargon associated with each job, but they can point out what they like in pictures. Providing snapshots of your past work helps clients in the idea phase as they try to envision what their space will look like once various features are remodeled.

All White Kitchen

Photos Give Your Web Presence Digital Cache

Photos aren’t just helpful from a service perspective, though. They’re also a smart move for your digital marketing. Photos add professional polish to your website, particularly when they’re used smartly to illustrate the various services you offer.

Photos add punch to your web presence simply because they communicate information faster than words. The majority of your website visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your site, so it’s important to make the most of that time. The brain processes images 600,000 times faster than text, allowing you to make the most of those few seconds you have.

Then there’s the issue of SEO and search engine ranking. Digital marketing experts argue back and forth about how photos impact your search engine score. Regardless, photos provide yet another avenue for customers to discover you: through Google image search. Additionally, all photos on your site can repurposed as posts on your social media accounts, with links back to your website. Adding those potential sources of traffic and linkbacks usually raises your site’s overall ranking and visibility in web searches.

Blue Cheerful Home Exterior

Tips for Successful Photos

Of course, you can’t do all that without great photos to begin with. Taking project photos can be tricky work, particularly if you’re not used to handling a camera. Luckily, these days, with high-quality smart phones and great free editing tools, you don’t really need any special equipment—just some photographer’s chops. Here are a couple of quick-and-dirty tips for snapping stunning before and after photos.

  • Choose Projects With Great Visuals. No matter how thrilled that customer was with the shag carpeting you installed, it’s probably not a great candidate for a before and after photoshoot. Choose jobs with visual impact—ones that feature stylish finishes, unique colors or unusual project specifications.
  • “Stage” the Shots. Let’s be honest here: not every contractor does the kind of work that would be featured on HGTV. But whether you’re shooting a new roof or hot water heater installation, the effect will be stronger if you take the time to clear debris and other eyesores away before taking after photos.
  • Before and After Photos Should Feature Similar Angles for Maximum Contrast. Think back to those before and after weightloss photos you see in commercials. The person in the photos is always wearing the same kind of clothes, with the same mugshot stance. Try to match the angle and perspective in both photos. Take note of where you were standing when you took the first photo so you can match that composition later on.
  • Take “Action” Photos of the Process. Homeowners like to see how the sausage gets made, and “action” shots provide a window into that process. It’s also a great chance to feature your crew and subcontractors on your website, too!
  • Use Natural Lighting Where Possible. True, a finished basement may not have a lot of natural light, but where possible try to include some ambient lighting to get you the best photos possible.
  • Use a Photo Editor to Place Before and After Photos Side-by-Side. Modern photo editing tools are wonderful. Use them to crop out distracting details, add attractive color filters and to arrange photos side-by-side for maximum impact.
  • Hire a Professional Photographer. Nobody knows better than you do about the importance of hiring a pro. If you just can’t seem to master before and after photos, a professional photographer may be a better alternative. Photographers can compose and edit photos so that they have the polish you’re looking for. And who knows, maybe they have a friend who needs some repair work done on their home!

It takes a little practice, but after a while, you’ll be snapping photos like a bonafide Instagram star. Hello, high-paying customers!

The post Why Before and After Photos Are So Important and How to Take Yours appeared first on Modernize.



The Top 10 Most Dangerous Insects to Avoid This Summer

Summertime is packed with fun activities: barbecues, beach vacations, afternoon swims, and backyard games. But the warm weather also summons pesky bugs and creepy-crawlies, which threaten to wreak havoc on your outdoor agenda. Some of these critters even spread disease— yikes! Stay safe this season by avoiding these 10 dangerous insects that could be lurking around your property, inside or out.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Honey-Chipotle Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

A few simple steps and a sheet pan are all you need to make this recipe. Even though they share the same marinade, each ingredient’s flavor comes out in its own unique way. I love the smokiness and heat that the chipotle brings and the honey and lime help balance the flavor profile. Make sure to try your marinade first, as those chipotle chiles are hot! – Chef Rob Thomas


  • 1-2 chipotle chiles from a can of chipotles in adobo
  • 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lime, halved, divided
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes , peeled and cut into
  • 1-inch chunks
  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro


Place the chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, garlic, oil, honey, cumin, juice of half a lime, and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Place the chicken, sweet potatoes, and green beans in a large resealable bag or bowl and pour in the marinade.

Toss to evenly coat everything in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F.

Place the chicken skin-side up and the vegetables on a baking sheet. Roast until the chicken registers 165°F in the thickest part of the meat not touching bone and the vegetables are tender and lightly caramelized (30 to 35 minutes).

If you prefer the chicken skin to be crispier, broil for a few minutes until the skin is browned and crisp. Remove from the oven, and squeeze the remaining lime half over the chicken and vegetables. Let cool for 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve by itself or over cooked rice.

The post Honey-Chipotle Chicken and Sweet Potatoes appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

Home Trends Magazine


Weekly Roundup: Summer Items

The fabulous shopping season continues as stores sell the last few months of their Spring and Summer collections. Size ranges and colour options are depleting and that’s the challenge at this time of year. Take a good long look at your wardrobe, lifestyle and sartorial preferences, and assess what you still need or want for the warm-weather season. Duplicate wardrobe workhorses and make sure you have your bases covered. This week’s top picks might help out.

  • Kiyonna Stella Cinch Top: A wrap top that’s tailored and fluid in all the right places. Works well on a curvy figure with a larger bust. Gorgeous drapey flutter sleeve. Might be a little long for petites.
  • Kiyonna Stella Cinch Top: Vertical stripes are unique and rare, especially in blue and white. The streamlined integrity is effective, and the flutter sleeves drape like a dream. Works well on a curvy figure with a larger bust. Might be a little long for petites. Good on narrow shoulders.
  • Old Navy Plus-Size Lace-Up-Front Swing Dress: Breezy Casual Dress Fabness. Comes in florals. Read the rave reviews.
  • Sol Angeles | Anthropologie Sol Angeles Floral Tee: A casually polished tee. Very nice round hem and fun watercolour floral pattern. Great semi-tucked, and exceptional with white jeans. You have to be okay with the high neckline. Read the rave reviews.
  • Maeve | Anthropologie Sherbrooke Tie-Waist Top: Good structured knit top for Team Long Torso with a defined waist.
  • Left Of Center | Anthropologie Puglia Ruffled Tank: A very casual and easy throw-on-and-go sleeveless ruffled tank in an assortment of colours. Quite streamlined despite the swingy silhouette. Good on petites. Armhole coverage is great. Read the rave reviews.
  • VELVET by Graham & Spencer Women’s Gauzy Whisper Classics Surplice Tank: A faux wrap top to wear with flared skirts, pants/jeans, or under a jacket. Sleek fit and will cling so consider yourself warned. Does not camouflage muffin top. Available in white.
  • Lands’ End Women’s Plus Size Underwire Wrap Bikini Top: I haven’t seen this Modern Retro bikini in person yet, but it looks gorgeous and comes in a few more patterns. Unfortunately, the top does not come in bra sizes, but it might be worth a try because of the fabulous structure of the cut.
  • Boden Georgia Maxi Dress: Casual maxi dresses are popular, and the offerings from Boden are exceptional quality and generally a great fit. This style works well on a larger bust because of the structured torso. Great vertical back ruching on the bodice. Not as clingy on the tummy area as it looks. Sizes go up to a US18. Read the rave reviews.
  • Boden Diana Jersey Maxi Dress: A very casual jersey maxi dress with excellent reviews. Comes in an assortment of patterns, has pockets, and goes up to a US18. Fabulous quality and great drape. Forgiving on the midsection. Works on a range of bust sizes.
  • Brooks Brothers Jersey Faux Wrap Top: Polished and professional to wear on its own or as a layering piece. Sufficiently short to pair with a flared skirt. Nice quality. Might run a size big.
  • Boden Evelyn Embroidered Dress: Boho Summer Fabness. The navy and turquoise version is just as lovely. Works on a range of body types because it has structure on the torso, a roomy fit on the skirt, and stops at an elegant length. Looks good on a larger bust. Fab drape, and excellent quality.
  • VANELi Tallis: Well-made and fashionable slides that come in six colours and FOUR widths, so all foot volumes are covered. Very comfy, cushioning and quite supportive.
  • Club Monaco Quynh Silk Dress: GORGEOUS dress that looks as fabulous layered with a blazer. The hem isn’t too short on the one side unless you’re very tall, and the diagonal line does magical things on the body. Fluid and flattering. Fit can work on petites.
  • Bailey 44 Fennel Dress: A fitted frock that works extremely well on a curvy hourglass and pear-shaped body type. Not as clingy as it looks. Quite forgiving of lumpage and bumpage. The length and diagonal hem are the brilliant part about the cut because it creates an attractive fit on the body. It adds curves to straight figures and straightens the curves of a curvy figure. CLEVER.
  • Gabor Gabor 83.700: Extremely comfy slides for regular and higher volume feet. Generally too wide for low-volume feet. Cushioning, soft and reasonably supportive. Well made.
  • VANELi Hirin: A clean and simple Trendy Classic available in three colours and a few widths. LOVE that low block heel. Dressy yet uncomplicated.
  • Sesto Meucci Sylke: Fun sandals with a surprisingly refined cut for the chunky style. Available in five colours and across a few widths. Lots of rave reviews.
  • Karen Millen Single Shoulder Top: The asymmetrical cold shoulder looks fresh, and isn’t as breezy as symmetrical cold shoulders. Covered yet alluring. I like this silhouette, but haven’t seen it in person yet. Could look lovely with white, black or navy pants.
  • Alfani Women’s Voyage Wedge Sandals, Created for Macy’s: WOW, these are comfy, classic, versatile, and under $ 40. They fit an assortment of feet because the elastic is forgiving. They even worked for my low-volume feet if I sized down half a size. They are almost sold out online, but check out in stores for more colours and sizes. Excellent value. Exceptional reviews for good reason.
  • Treasure&Bond Ruched Knit Midi Skirt: A tube skirt with asymmetrical ruching looks fresh and fab. The diagonal hem creates a flattering line on the lower leg. Works on a range of body types. Super cute with casual flats.
  • Nordstrom Two-Tone Floppy Straw Hat: St. Tropez Chic. One of the best sun hats of the season. Our forum member rocked the look. Comes in tan.
  • White House Black Market Cold Shoulder Stripe Knit Shift Dress: A repeat style that works well on petites. Might need to size down. A lot more forgiving on the hips and midsection than you might expect. The style is almost sold out online, but they have variations in stores.
  • Anne Klein Printed Faux-Wrap Shirtdress: A classic fit-and-flare that works well on a curvy body type. Dress it up or down. Available in plus sizes.
  • Tommy Hilfiger Pleated Fit & Flare Dress: The fit of this Modern Retro frock wowed me on the forum. It has enough length and is awfully pretty. Cute with a tough denim jacket.
  • Calvin Klein Handkerchief-Hem Midi Dress: An elegant midi for a curvy body type. Might run a size big. Fab drape, streamlined despite the flare, and good swooshing integrity. The pattern-mixed floral is more calming on the eye than you might expect.
  • H&M Faux Suede Biker Jacket: Oh my word. A petite and curvy forum member ROCKED this on our forum last week. It blew me away. The sleeves were not too long. Works well on a pear-shaped body type.
  • Naturalizer Wendy: These are SUBLIMELY comfy, and come in three widths. I bought them in a narrow and they are a perfect width. Not too flat, super soft and quite pretty on the foot in a boho huarache way. White all the way, if you’re after a pretty look. The tan are more boho.
  • Club Monaco Elianna Knit Dress: A navy and white stripe casual and very polished midi with a GORGEOUS fit. Drapes like a dream. Heft, substance and well made. It’s very structured up top so you have to be okay with defining your torso and midsection. The length and asymmetrical hem are elegant and swooshy. Very comfy.The DOUBLE belt is NOT attached to the dress so you can place it where you like. Genius. The stripes of the belt go in different directions which is super cute. Looks great with simple flats. Machine washable. Impeccable.
  • Banana Republic Petite Stripe Soft Ponte Twist-Front Dress: An easy breezy FLUID Summer dress that suits a range of body types. Works well on a larger bust, and if you’re not too tall the hem just covers the knee. Looks great with sneakers.
  • Kork-Ease Marianna: Super comfy sandals that look great on the feet. A dressier casual vibe. Manageable heel height and best on regular volume feet.
  • Lauren Ralph Lauren Striped Asymmetrical Dress: I haven’t seen this dress in person yet, but I love the diagonal lines. It will probably work for a larger bust because diagonal lines create a streamlined effect. You have to be okay with the volume on the midsection. Might need to size down. Super cute over cropped black skinnies too.
  • Boden Lizzie Dress: I loved this on one of our forum members. Fabulous dress on a curvy petite. Works well on a pretty pear shape. Elegant and breezy. Fab with flat sandals. Immaculate quality.
  • Boden Kassidy Jersey Dress: GORGEOUS dress on a curvy figure with a regular size bust. Grab it if you wear V-necks well. Elegant, yet very simple, and well made. FUN pockets.
  • Boden Elisa Jersey Dress: Very elegant on a broad shoulder line and a small to regular size bust. Gorgeous tiered skirt detailing. Fabulous quality.
  • Boden Emory Jersey Dress: The photo does not do this very pretty frock justice. It looks SO much better on my clients and on our forum members than on the model. Elegant and easy breezy. Very comfy.
  • Boden Louisa Jersey Dress: Boho Fabness that can work well on petites in the right size. Beautifully made and makes quite the statement. Works well on both a straighter and curvier figure. My friend blew me away when I saw it on. She paired it with yellow mules and bag. KILLER.
  • Banana Republic Lace Midi Pencil Skirt: AMAZING lace midi that is as soft as can be. Very forgiving fit and extremely comfy. Works well on curvy bottom halves. Beautiful elegant length. Comes in black, but the white is sublime. Runs a size big. I was sized out of the smallest size, or it would have been mine. CHIC.

Here’s the collection page if you would like to see the items alongside my descriptions.

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12 Things Never to Leave in a Hot Car

Common sense dictates that you not leave babies, pets, and expensive gadgets in hot cars. But did you know that some everyday objects, from sunscreen to art supplies, can get damaged in scorching vehicles as well? To stave off health hazards, technical malfunctions, and other unpleasant occurrences, be sure to remove these 12 items before you walk away from your parked car on a sunny summer day.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Designer Space: Living on the Sunshine Coast

This luxury, 4,000 square foot, post and beam vacation home offers amazing views and plenty of room for guests.


ANDY KOBERWITZ This home was designed to take advantage of the amazing views of Agamemnon Channel. It carries the signature style that West Coast Log Homes are recognized for worldwide with unique craftsmanship and distinctive design. Using whole Western Red Cedar logs, the home was handcrafted using precision joinery for immense strength and natural beauty. Dakota Ridge Builders, our construction contracting company, completed the finishing of the home.


AK The owners wanted the design to lend itself well to hosting indoor/outdoor summer parties. Tall kitchen windows open the full length of the kitchen to expose the area to the deck. This allows the hosts to prepare delightful meals while easily chatting with guests on the patio. Downstairs, the floor to ceiling doors open the entire length of the wall. This provides for an easy flow from the great room to the patio and infinity pool beyond.


AK Every wing of the home takes in amazing views. One can admire the sunset, keep an eye on the kids in the pool or simply watch kayakers glide past from one of the many decks or windows.


AK Every successful building project begins with a good design. Design with a goal and your lifestyle in mind. Know your spending limits, develop a realistic home building budget and select an experienced builder who will help plan, organize and coordinate your project. With proper planning and management, a builder can help you achieve your goals for scope, cost, time and quality.

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Home Trends Magazine


Outfit Formula: Denim Wide Crops & Flats

Wide crops are roomy from thigh to hem and fitted on the hips and waist. The roomy fit on the leg varies from silhouette to silhouette. Some are gently A-line, and others a lot more voluminous. Wide crops are also known as culottes and gauchos, come in all sorts of fabrics, and are relatively structured. Lengths vary from just below the knee to a couple of inches above the ankle bone. Generally, I like these at least three inches above the ankle bone to offset some of the leg volume.

Today’s outfit formula is about denim wide crops across any wash. It’s predictable to pair wide crops with heels because leg volume lends itself to wanting to lengthen the leg line in some way — and heels are an easy way to do that. But flats up to an inch in heel height are usually a more comfortable footwear choice, and these days a very trendy one too.

There are multiple ways to lengthen the leg line when pairing wide crops with flats, which I’ll examine with some visual examples. There is no need to feel dumpy, stumpy and flat-footed in wide crops and flats if you style them in a deliberate way.

1. Wide Crops, Cropped Jacket & Pointy Flats

The most effective way to lengthen the leg line when wearing flats is to lengthen bottoms from the hem and hips upwards. That means shortening the crops a little more than two inches above ankle bone (three inches is fine), and showcasing the waistband by wearing a short top, or semi-tucking and fully tucking a regular length top. Here the model is wearing a tucked top, which shortens the torso and thereby lengthens the leg line. The cropped jacket further accentuates the length of the leg line by drawing the eye upward from its hem. Pointy toes do a great job of elongating the lower leg line without wearing heels.

Halogen Short Trench Coat

2. Wide Crops, Fitted Top & High-Vamped Footwear

Don’t worry if you don’t like tucking and semi-tucking tops. Wear a fitted top in a regular length to offset the volume of the wide crops. To lengthen the leg line, keep the top low contrast to the bottoms, which the model is NOT doing here, but you get the idea. If her top was dark like the bottoms, the visual effect would be more vertical. Make sure the crops aren’t too long either. Throw in a pair of low-contrast high-vamped shoes like oxfords, loafers or sneakers to lengthen the lower leg line. This is a great version for those who are short-waisted, or don’t like to tuck tops.

THEORY Terena B Cropped Linen Wide-leg Pants

3. Wide Crops, Fluid Shirt & Sandals

These wide crops are shorter, which tempers the volume and adds structure right away. They’re more streamlined in the leg, which adds further structure. An oversized shirt is structured with a semi-tuck, which in turn lengthens the leg line by shortening the waist. Open footwear like sandals adds further structure because showing skin adds structure.

Universal Thread Plus Size Wide Leg Crop Jeans

4. Wide Crops, Volume & Sandals

Combining wide crops with a voluminous top is an acquired taste because the outfit is quite unstructured, which makes you look wider than your natural shape. That said, it’s just-structured-enough because there is subtle structure in the right places. First, the shorter wide crops offset their volume. Second, the diagonal hem of the top offsets the horizontally cutting line that would have been created with a straight hem, which in turn creates some vertical integrity. Third, open footwear like sandals add further structure.

COS Short Sleeved Concave Top

I LOVE my denim wide crops. I’ve only had them for three years and I only wear them in Summer because the denim is thin. I recently wore a version of the first look here by combining wardrobe golden oldies. The short top and topper do a great job of lengthening the leg line from the hips up. The low-contrast flat loafers lengthen the lower leg.

Here are the exact items of the outfit from my wardrobe.

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Infographic: Exclusive Leads vs. Non-Exclusive Leads

It’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to non-exclusive leads because in our current environment, homeowners are turning to the internet to educate themselves before they are ready to begin a project. That means, they’ve likely had several conversations with your competitor before you’re paying top dollar for their “exclusive” information. We’ve listed out all of the pros and cons to consider before you decide on the marketing strategy your company is ready to take on.

The post Infographic: Exclusive Leads vs. Non-Exclusive Leads appeared first on Modernize.



The Best Free Summer Destination in Every State

Summer can be a bummer when every activity has an entrance fee. If you are vacationing in an unfamiliar state, it is easy to get roped into costly tourist traps. Luckily, every state has plenty of fun, free things to do that could wind up being the most memorable parts of any trip. We’ve rounded up the best totally free things to do in each state, so your summer adventures don’t have to strain your wallet.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Designing a Laundry Room with Easy Access

If your laundry room is merely an afterthought, perhaps it’s time to renew your take on this important room. Just a few years ago, frill-free and forlorn was the norm when it came to laundry rooms, but contemporary trends have since redefined that norm, citing the modern laundry room as an accessible, stylish place that homeowners actually want to spend time in.

Designer Kelsey Kosman, of Dollhouse Design, shares some tips on modern laundry room design, and speaks to an advancement in drain pump technology, which makes the task of modernizing your laundry room system much more feasible, flexible, and cost-effective.

Front-Loading Machines

When faced with the choice between front-loading or top-loading washer/dryers, Kelsey recommends the former for a very practical reason. Employing front-loading systems frees up invaluable space for folding on the top of the machine, and homeowners can better capitalize on that space by utilizing a laminate countertop piece as a tabletop.

Cheerful Color Use

Paint is an economical way to improve the atmosphere in your laundry room, and beyond that, vibrant color use is an effective way to improve your experience doing every-day chores. Salt Spring, by Beauti-Tone, is a bright, cheerful, and optimistic hue, perfect for adding visual intrigue to your laundry room walls. Go one step further, and supplement with some creative laundry-room-themed wall art.

Location, Location, Location

As far as location goes, laundry rooms tend to inhabit less-than-prime real estate in the home, be it in the basement, adjacent to the garage, or tucked away behind the guest bathroom. That said, as a family of two grows into a family of three, four, or five, having your laundry room at the bottom of a flight of stairs may end up being more of a hindrance than anticipated. The same can be said if you’re planning on aging in place.


At this point, you might be asking yourself: is relocation even feasible? Given the high costs associated with plumbing, uprooting your entire laundry system probably seems like more hassle than it’s worth. Enter: the SANISWIFT by Saniflo. The SANISWIFT is a modern drain pump which boasts compact design, high performance, and powerful and economical pumping action. Put simply, the SANISWIFT system makes it possible to mobilize a variety of sanitary fixtures, including the kitchen sink, shower, and laundry system. 


In addition to being economical, the SANISWIFT system forgoes the use of complicated, moving parts, and can contour neatly into tight spaces, no construction necessary. The SANISWIFT system is perfect for small spaces or rental units, and can be easily installed, DIY-style.

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Home Trends Magazine


Why Response Time Is So Important for Contractors with New Leads

If you own a home improvement contracting business, you already know how to hustle. But there’s one way you may be letting potential customers down and losing good business: by being too slow to respond to new leads.

Online leads are a powerful source of new business, but only if you have follow-through and the ability to act fast. Leads coming from online contact forms and lead generation services tend to go cold fast, and that window is growing more narrow as technology continues to improve business response times.

To stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to be able to get on the phone and call. And if that means organizing new workflows or hiring new employees, it may be time to make that investment. Need more convincing? Here’s what the data says about lead response time—and how you can improve the call-back times for your business.


Customers Expect Fast Turnaround

In an ideal world, leads would wait patiently while you finished laying that tile. But that’s just not realistic. Homeowner expectations are influenced by the consumer world, where you can instantly chat with a customer service representative at your bank or cable provider, 24/7.

Customer service outsourcing platform Arise researched the matter and found that 37% of surveyed customers expect businesses to respond within an hour. Less than 20% said they’d be satisfied with a response time over 24 hours. And if past trends continue to hold true, those time frames will only get narrower. You’ve got to be fast if you want to score new customers!

A Fast Response Time Sets You Apart from Competitors

The internet is a big place. If leads can’t get the answers they need from you, they’ll just go somewhere else—most likely to your competitors. Don’t assume that the customers who reach out to you are set on using your services. It’s just as likely that they’re using the contact forms on your competitors’ websites as well.

Of course, if you’re using a lead generation service, the likelihood of another competitor swooping in is increased. You’re probably not the only one with access to those leads. With lead generation, it’s all about the survival of the fittest—or in this case, fastest.

The good news, though, is that your competitors are probably also pretty slow to the draw. When Harvard Business Review studied business response times, they found that many weren’t able to hit that first-hour benchmark. Only about 37% reached out within 60 minutes. Twenty-four percent took over 24 hours, and a surprising 23% never responded at all!

The big takeaway here is that if you can reduce your initial response time to one hour or less, you’ll beat out about two-thirds of businesses. And that will definitely give you a reputation for being outstanding in your field!


Leads Are More Likely to Convert When You Respond Quickly

Response time directly correlates to lead conversion success rates. Study after study confirms that the faster you answer an inquiry, the more likely you are to land a sale. According to the research, if you can reach customers within one hour of contacting you, you’re seven times more likely to qualify the lead—i.e., set an appointment—than if you call back in the second hour.

It makes sense when you think about it. Homeowners lead busy lives—it’s easy for other commitments to crowd their thoughts and distract them from your business. Don’t let your business drop off their radar. Get out in front of them and get projects rolling as fast as you can. It’s all about hustle!

Tips to Improve Your Response Time and Lead Conversion

Okay, you’ve heard the why—but what about the how? If a fast response time was easy, you’d already be doing it. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can simplify the process and get better lead conversion rates.

  • Use Technology. An automated response is a lot better than no response at all. Use auto-responders to send an instant email to customers who complete online contact forms. That will buy you a little time if you’re not able to call right away.
  • Delegate. Phone calls are very effective for converting new leads, but you probably don’t have a lot of spare time to spend on the phone. If you’re having trouble personally responding to leads yourself, hire a call center employee or administrative assistant who can help qualify leads and set appointments. If it helps you get more business, it’s worth it!
  • Follow Up. It may take another try before you’re able to connect with your lead. If you get voicemail the first time, call them again after a few hours. Don’t trust that leads will return your message—many appointments are booked with a second follow up call to potential customers.
  • Take the Long View. You never know when a lead will convert—maybe homeowner who turned you down yesterday will decide they actually need your services two months from now. Treat every homeowner you talk to with the kindness and consideration you’d show to a potential hot lead, and you may find customers are crawling out of the woodwork to work with you!

The post Why Response Time Is So Important for Contractors with New Leads appeared first on Modernize.



Fab Finds: Casual Sandals

These casual and polished sandals have been recent winners on my clients and some forum members, and they received rave reviews online. There are many colours to browse in each of the styles, but unfortunately only one width. 

1. Franco Sarto Lorelia

I saw the red on a friend and they blew me away. The unique cut of the vamp straps is extremely flattering and elegant on the foot. The broad ankle strap is in the right position and works on most ankle widths. Quite comfy and best on regular volume feet. Low-volume feet can size down half a size for a snugger fit. Fabulous stable heel.

2. Caslon Claire Slingback Sandal

A classic, versatile and very comfortable Euro sandal in a bunch of colours that won’t break the bank. Cushioning footbed, super soft suede, and a little arch support provided by the baby wedge. A little wide for low-volume feet, but try sizing down. Best on regular and higher volume feet.

3. Vionic Solana

Like most Vionic shoes, these have great arch support, making them comfortable for feet with high arches. They’ll be extra comfy if you prefer to wear heels instead of flats. The velcro straps allow the adjustment of fit so try them if you have lower or higher volume feet. The ankle strap is in a flattering position and suits a range of ankle widths.

4. Mephisto Lise

These are well made and very comfy. The metallic effectively dresses up the cork wedge, and kicks the look up a notch. My petite client paired these with a gorgeous floral midi dress and looked like a million bucks. Works on lower and higher volume feet. Especially good for higher volume feet.

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AP source: 2 Eagles planned WH visit; decisions individual

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eagles players and officials made individual decisions to not go to the White House for a scheduled celebration of their Super Bowl title, leaving two players actually planning to make the trip to Washington before the visit was canceled by President Donald Trump, according to players and a person familiar with the arrangements.
Sports Headlines


14 Cheap DIYs for a Better Backyard

Most homeowners are eager to improve their outdoor living space, but professional landscaping services and patio furniture cost a pretty penny these days. Don’t give up hope! With a little imagination, you can create the backyard of your dreams on the cheap. Check out these 14 budget-friendly DIY projects from around the web. Maybe they’ll inspire you to transform your space before the next neighborhood barbecue.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


Jo Alcorn’s Dining Room Trends 2 Watch

Home Trends’ Style Editor Jo Alcorn shares her favorite dining room trends. (As Seen In Canadian Home Trends Magazine May 2018)

ORGANIC 5 LIGHT CHANDELIER: Graphic/abstract lighting is becoming the main conversational piece. While function is still important, more modern, artistic lights are a popular choice. – Alcorn Home

GREENERY: Add a large plant or small tree branches in a vase on the dining table. This look is dramatic and eye catching in a dining room. – Wayfair

STRETFORD DINING TABLE: Bring some curves into your space with a round table that creates interest and movement. – The Goods

KAISHI CHAIR: Splurge on dining chairs that will become statement art pieces within the room. – CB2

FRENCH GREY DESIGNER SERIES LAMINATE: Lighter wood floors are growing in popularity. The goal is a light, fresh and modern look. – Peerani’s Flooring


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Home Trends Magazine