Pool & Spa Outdoor Blog

Beautiful Pool Photos from the 2014 Master Pools Guild Awards

PHOTO Gallery of 85 Beautiful Pools







freeform infinity pool with fountain bubblers - Artistic Pools, Atlanta, GA - Master Pools GuildEvery year the Master Pools Guild honors some of the most spectacular pools in the U.S. and around the world with the International Awards of Excellence. These awards recognize the craftsmanship of elite swimming pool builders and designers and showcase a wide variety of pool shapes, styles and water features.

The winning designs include pools from across the U.S. and Canada, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, Guatemala, and Dubai.

 

Check out the award-winning pools photo gallery to see 85 breathtaking swimming pools and get ideas for your own backyard retreat. Explore options like glass tile, built-in spas, fountains, dramatic lighting effects and more.

See 85 beautiful pool photos >>

 

Photo courtesy of Master Pools Guild; Artistic Pools, Atlanta, GA

Award-Winning Pool Photos from the 2014 APSP Awards

100 Award-Winning Pool Photos from APSP







Swimming pool with stepping stone bridgeDid you spend Memorial Day weekend at a backyard barbecue or by the pool? With the unofficial kickoff to summer in full swing, you may be planning a pool of your own or dreaming of the many design possibilities.

If you are looking for beautiful swimming pool photos and ideas for your own backyard resort, view the the winners of The International Awards of Excellence presented by the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals (APSP). Every year, APSP honors talented pool builders and pool designers for their outstanding projects and water features.

 

Browse the entire gallery of award-winning swimming pool photos to see amazing photos pools with of rock waterfalls, custom spas, pool lighting, landscape lighting, and more. 

Choose your favorites to inspire your own backyard pool design or outdoor living space. See pool photo gallery >>

 

Photo courtesy of APSP; Teserra Outdoors, Coachella, CA

Aquamatic Introduces Artpoolcover Printed Pool Covers

Unique and Personalized Photo Pool Covers from Aquamatic Cover Systems


Printed Pool Cover

Above: Aquamatic Cover Systems’ exclusive Artpoolcover in Water #4 installed on a pool in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Aquamatic Cover Systems, manufacturer of hydraulic swimming pool covers, has recently partnered with Artpoolcover, a European company specializing in safety pool covers, to bring their innovative imprinted pool covers to the U.S., Canadian, and Central American markets.

Imprinted with graphic images and playful designs, Artpoolcover printed covers offer an artistic and personalized way to cover your pool. They can be used in conjunction with Aquamatic’s EZ-Cover and Hydramatic swimming pool cover systems, and come in more than 140 patterns and themes, ranging from nature to sports to fabric and even candy. (Visit www.artpoolcover.com to view the collection of available designs.)

Personalized Photos

For a truly one-of-a-kind look, you can have your own photo printed on the cover. “We have a client in Hawaii that wants to install his cover with a photo he took of the Pacific Ocean,” says Tom Dankel, owner of Aquamatic Cover Systems.

Dankel mentions another pool owner in Colorado who plans to take a picture of his deck and have the pattern printed on a pool cover, camouflaging the cover as part of the deck.

In order to have your photo printed on a pool cover, the photo must be taken from a 15 MP camera at a minimum resolution of 300 dpi using a JPEG/GIF format.

Installation and Maintenance

Artpoolcover printed covers can be installed on virtually any shape or type of inground pool and require the same maintenance and care as a regular pool cover. The imprinted design will last the life of the cover—typically five to seven years—and the cover can safely be cleaned with mild soap, water, and a nonabrasive brush.

Contact Aquamatic Cover Systems for more information.

Browse other pool covers by Aquamatic Cover Systems >>


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7 Pool & Spa Designs for 2014

Top Trends in Pool and Spa Design

By Kimberlee Courtney

If your goals for the new year include a new pool or spa (or a pool renovation) then you’ve come to the right place. The seven pool and spa designs below feature some of the most popular and innovative design trends for 2014. Take a look to find inspiration and ideas for your own pool or spa project.

1. Backyard Resort

Pool and Spa Design for 2014, Backyard Resort, Pool with Waterslide

This natural, lagoon-style poolscape boasts a curvaceous custom waterslide, cascading waterfalls, rock grotto, and custom spa, offering endless hours of enjoyment for the whole family.

At-home resorts like this have been growing in popularity over the past few years and will continue to be a requested pool design in 2014 as more and more homeowners seek to recreate the look and experience of their favorite vacation spot right their own backyard.


Photo courtesy of Dolphin Waterslides; Creative Ponds



2. Overflowing with Options

Pool and Spa Designs for 2014, Pool with Overflowing Spa

For families big or small, a pool that offers multiple levels of enjoyment is always a necessity. The elegant pool pictured above has plenty to offer. A wading pool at the entry allows bathers to enjoy a quick dip between tanning and also provides a shallow area for younger kids to splash and play. Water bubblers and sheer descents add beautiful sight and sound to the stairs that lead up to the pool and spa, and transform them into a decorative fountain for all to enjoy.

When you’re ready to go for a swim, the large freeform pool offers plenty of space to swim laps, or delight in the soothing cascade of the rock waterfall. At night, relax and revive your muscles from all those laps with a warm soak in the custom spillover spa.

View more pool designs from Anthony & Sylvan Pools >>



3. Cutting-Edge Combo

Pool and Spa Combo Built into Patio

Every year, pool builders and designers are discovering creative ways to overcome unexpected site or construction challenges, giving more and more homeowners the opportunity to have the pool of their dreams. Such was the case for this infinity-edge spa designed and built by Tranquility Pools in New Jersey. Faced with restrictive zoning requirements, the designer came up with the idea for this 11-foot by 17-foot infinity-edge pool/spa hybrid built into the existing patio. The pool/spa is large enough to accommodate eight to 10 people and can function as a small pool where people can take a dip to cool off; with a few taps on his iPhone, the homeowner can activate the heater, jets, and bubblers and use it as a spa.

Patio with Infinity Edge Pool and Spa Built inWhat’s more, with the pool/spa built into the patio it becomes a prime part of the outdoor entertaining space, which also includes a recreation area, fireplace lounge with outdoor TV, and dining space.

Editor's Note: This pool and spa design received a Gold Award in NESPA’s 2013 Design Awards competition.




Photo courtesy of Tranquility Pools; Architect: Juan Ospina; Owner: Mitchell Knapp. Photography by Heather Knapp



4. It's Geometric

Geometric Pool and Spa Design

Just like fashion, pool trends come and go and come again. This year, geometric pool shapes are making a comeback. While some may consider geometric pool designs to be simple or utilitarian, the newest designs incorporate elaborate materials and design features, giving them an artistic edge.

Though basic in shape, the geometric pool and spa pictured above features a variety of sophisticated features, including sheer decent waterfalls, shimmering glass tiles, a sun shelf, and in-pool barstools. Colorful LED lighting gives the pool an exciting new look at night while maintaining its chic elegance.

Click to see more photos of this project, plus other pool designs >>


Photo courtesy of Anthony & Sylvan Pools



5. Disappearing Spa

Pool and Spa Designs 2014, Disappearing Spa

Now you see it, now you don’t. At the touch of a button, the circular spa and stone bridge magically appear from under the water. The flagstone bridge provides access to the spa from the deck, while an underwater tunnel lets swimmers enter the spa area directly from the pool. With the press of another button, the spa and bridge “disappear” by lowering below the water level.

As pool builders and designers continue to unlock the potential of new technology and construction options, we can only imagine what other exciting and sophisticated pool and spa designs will emerge in the next year.

Photo courtesy of Caviness Landscape Design; Photography by KO Rinearson



6. Focused on Fitness

swim spa in home gym

Swim spas—or swim-in-place pools—have been receiving a lot of attention lately thanks to the recent rise in health consciousness and the pursuit of fitness over the past year. Good for swimming, water workouts, and aquatic therapy, swim spas offer a great solution for small spaces, outdoors or inside.

Installed indoors, a swim spa becomes a piece of aquatic fitness equipment that can be used year-round. By moving your workouts to the water, you get a great cardiovascular and strength workout with little to no impact on your joints.

Browse more swim spas from Endless Pools >>



7. All-in-One Oasis

Pool and Spa Design, Pool and Outdoor Kitchen

Once designed as separate areas, the pool and outdoor kitchen are now being integrated into one central entertainment hub, as this backyard oasis demonstrates. By placing the outdoor kitchen next to the pool and adding a swim-up bar, one can dine, swim, and socialize all in one place.

The flow from the pool to the raised spillover spa to the attached outdoor kitchen and seating areas makes for one efficient outdoor entertainment space. A design like this is ideal if you have a small backyard because it allows you to maximum the use of the area.

See more pool designs from this builder >>


Photography courtesy of Elite Pools by Scott


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Gift Ideas for Pool Owners and Outdoor Design Lovers

Holiday Gift Guide for Pool Owners, Garden Buffs, and Outdoor Design Lovers


With Christmas just a few weeks away, you’re probably decking the halls (and deck’orating your yard), baking Christmas cookies and other holiday treats, and of course, looking for the perfect gift for everyone on your list—including the pool owner or outdoor lover in your family.

We put together some stylish and fun gift ideas sure to please kids, spouses, garden lovers, pet owners, and more.

Check out these unique pool and patio products sure to spruce up any backyard this season and all year round.



Garden Planters


Hayneedle bicycle garden planter bike outdoor decor

Right: This cast iron bronze bicycle planter is a charming gift for any garden lover. Not only does it show off blooms in style, it also serves as an eye-catching garden accent.

Made of durable iron, this bike sculpture includes two planting baskets in the back, one in front, and one in the middle for an attractive multilevel display.



Hayneedle resin self-watering garden planter whiteHayneedle self-watering resin planter graniteHayneedle self-watering resin planter mocha outdor decor

Above: These self-watering resin planters are great for poolside accents and backyard decks. They come equipped with a self-watering system that gives your plant just the right amount of water and nutrients it needs for healthy growth. Made of woven plastic resin that resembles wicker, the planters are lightweight, UV-resistant, and weatherproof. They are available in two sizes and four colors: white, granite, mocha, and black.

Photos courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Stylish Outdoor Seating: Swings, Gliders and Day Beds


OW Lee monterra sofa swing porch swingThe Monterra sofa swing by OW Lee is the ultimate addition to any outdoor living space. Its loveseat design and cushioned armrests bring the comfort of indoors to your backyard.

In addition to its cozy bucket seat and stylish wrought iron frame, the swing has a lot of versatility. It is available as a stand-alone piece with an optional canopy for shade, or you can purchase the swing without the frame and hang it as a porch swing.

Visit www.owlee.com to find a retailer near you.

Photo courtesy of OW Lee, Inc.








Source Outdoor wicker Hampton day bedThis wicker Hampton day bed by Source Outdoor offers outdoor luxury and relaxation.

The off-white cushions are made of durable acrylic outdoor fabric, and the cushion covers unzip for easy removal and washing.

Photo courtesy of Source Outdoor




Hayneedle sling double glider patio chairThis outdoor double glider can seat two to three people and has fast-dry sling seat cushions, making it perfect for poolside seating.

The seats are available in two colors: beach (shown) and bronze.

Its aluminum frame is both rust- and weather-resistant, meaning your glider will look like new for years.

Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Hayneedle double sun lounger hammockCozy Hammocks

Who can resist a hammock on a lazy afternoon?

This double sun lounger hammock bed offers a place to bask in the sun, read a book, or enjoy an afternoon nap.

It is available in blue (pictured), green, and red.


Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Hayneedle striped hammock with pillowIf you’d rather be lounging under a tree canopy,
this striped fabric hammock offers a comfortable alternative to the basket weave rope used on traditional hammocks.

The fabric is made of durable polyester to resist fading and wear and tear, but feels as soft as cotton.

The hammock comes with an adorable yellow polka dot bird pillow.


Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com


Towel Storage with Style

Every pool owner knows you have to keep a stock of towels on hand for guests. What’s the best way to store them and hang them to dry after use? Check out these great options:

At West End fish wall towel rackHayneedle deck storage box bench pool towels

Complete with an adorable fish and water waves design, this iron 'towels' wall rack (left) is perfect for any pool house, while this outdoor storage deck box (right) doubles as a poolside bench.


Left: Photo courtesy of At West End
Right: Photo courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Outdoor Decor and Garden Ornaments


At West End caged rock flowers garden decorAt West End iron owl candle holder garden decor

These decorative rustic items by At West End add a touch of whimsy to any backyard.

We love these caged rock flowers (set of 4) made from recycled materials, and this iron owl candle holder lantern is an adorable accent to any back porch, deck, or garden.


Photos courtesy of At West End



Games For Kids and Sports Lovers


Hayneedle 2-in-1 pool basketball volleyball game setHayneedle 2-in-1 pool volleyball basketball game set

When you’ve exhausted traditional pool games like Marco Polo and Sharks & Minnows, this portable 2-in-1 pool basketball/volleyball set by PoolSport will keep kids and their friends entertained for hours.

The set includes a basketball net and 16-foot long volleyball net that can span up to a 22-foot wide pool. It easily converts between the two games with no tools required.


Photos courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Pet Beds For Dog Lovers and Pet Owners


The Refined Canine outdoor dog chaise lounge day bed Dog lovers can bask in the sun while their dog relaxes in the shade—in style.

The outdoor dog chaise lounger by The Refined Canine is an outdoor dog bed perfect for any deck or poolside patio.

The bed is made of waterproof plastic rattan material and includes a machine-washable, 3-inch thick outdoor cushion.

Photo courtesy of TheRefinedCanine.com




The Refined Canine wicker dog day bed with outdoor cushionWhen no shade is needed, dogs can enjoy this indoor/outdoor dog day bed.

Complete with bone-shaped detail on the front, this luxury outdoor pet bed is both cozy and canine chic!

Photo courtesy of TheRefinedCanine.com





Idea Books for Planning a New Pool or Backyard Makeover

Inspiration Series 2 - Pool Outdoor Design Books (set of 4) | ManorHouseBookstore.com
Our Pool Idea and Outdoor Design Books make a great gift!

Available in print, check out our selection of pool books on ManorHouseBookstore.com

Inspiration Series 2 (pictured) includes:
- Water Features
- Indoor Pools
- Outdoor Kitchens
- Conservatories

Inspiration Series 1 includes:
- Infinity Pools
- Award-Winning Pools
- Tropical Pools
- Desert Pools

Special pricing when you order one of the above sets of 4 (in print).

All titles also available individually in print and digital download for Kindle.

To order via phone, call 888.768.3222


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Outdoor Christmas Deck’orations – Lights, Garland, Planters & More

Merry & Bright Christmas Decorations for Your Backyard, Deck, and Porch


Outdoor Christmas DecorationsIf you love decorating your home for Christmas each year, don’t forget to spread the holiday cheer to your backyard deck or porch. The front of your home may get all the attention from passersby, but a festive display of holiday decor in your backyard is something you can see and enjoy whether you're spending time on the patio or viewing the yard from inside your home.

From bright lights and garlands to lawn ornaments and festive displays, here are some outdoor Christmas decorations and ideas to help you make your backyard patio or deck look festive and stunning for the holiday.




Photo courtesy of Brookstone



Christmas Garlands


Nothing signifies Christmastime like swaths of fresh evergreen garlands draped across outdoor fences and decks. One of the great things about Christmas garland is that it looks beautiful and festive on its own, but can easily be dressed up with lights and other decorative extras like ribbon, bows, berries, pinecones, and Christmas ornaments.

Christmas Garlands

Above: A simple and classic way to decorate your backyard fence for Christmas is with garland and bows. Attach big red bows to the posts of your deck or fence to add a pop of color that can be seen from miles away.

Lighted Holiday Garlands
Right: Lighted garland strands look stunning draped across the railings of a deck and quickly add holiday charm to the backyard. Best of all, the garland can be left up after Christmas to keep your backyard landscape bright and shiny all winter long. 


Editor's tip: If using pre-decorated or artificial garlands, be sure to check that they are designed for outdoor use.




Photos courtesy of Christmas Lights Etc.



Christmas Wreaths


Christmas Wreath on Backyard FenceWreaths aren't just for front doors and mantels. A beautiful lush wreath is a great way to add a festive focal point to your deck or fence. As with garlands, you can customize a purchased wreath with ornaments, lights, and other accents that coordinate with the rest of your outdoor Christmas decorations or theme.

Wreaths are often used in conjunction with garlands, but they offer plenty of Christmas charm when used alone. A large wreath placed between each set of deck or fence posts is a classic holiday look.

Photo courtesy of Foegley Landscape, Inc.


Editor's tip: Try decorating with wreaths in unexpected ways. For example, create a striking and festive wreath wall by hanging multiple wreaths in a zigzag pattern along the back section of your fence. Make this a fun family activity by having each family member decorate their own wreath!



Christmas Trees


Christmas Trees Give your backyard deck some real Christmas spirit with a brightly decorated tree. You can choose to buy a second live tree or purchase an artificial tree designed for the outdoors. Place the tree in the center of your deck or patio, decorate it with outdoor lights and ornaments, and add a few lighted present boxes under it to complete the holiday display.

Another way to decorate your backyard is with mini Christmas trees. Stake pre-lit artificial trees in the ground along the perimeter of your fence or deck, or line them along pathways. You can also put the trees in urns to add some holiday flair around the pool or patio.





Photo courtesy of Christmas Lights Etc.



Christmas Lights


Bright, colorful lights are a quintessential part of any home's Christmas décor and will help give your backyard deck or porch a fun and festive look. Outdoor Christmas lights come in every shape, color, and form—from traditional white twinkle lights to cascading LED icicle lights to large multicolor light bulbs to Christmas lights in festive shapes like snowflakes, stars, and candy canes.

Porch with Christmas Lights

When choosing Christmas lights, consider the holiday theme or look you wish to achieve. Also, don’t limit yourself to one type or color of lights; a creative combination of Christmas lights often creates the most eye-catching display.


LED Beaded Christmas Garland Lights
There are many ways to decorate your backyard, deck, or patio with Christmas lights: you can wrap lights around the railings and posts of your deck, hang them from the beams of a pergola or awning, weave them between fence pickets, drape them across tree branches, or string them around a trellis or gazebo.

If you have a covered deck or porch, try creating a shimmering wall of Christmas lights by running string lights up and down between the beams of the gazebo and the top rail of the deck.




Photos courtesy of Christmas Lights Etc.



Lighted Christmas Displays and Lawn Ornaments


Lighted reindeer Christmas display

Photo courtesy of Christmas Lights Etc.

From whimsical reindeer and snowmen to a life-size nativity scene, lighted Christmas displays, statues, and silhouettes can provide the finishing touch to your outdoor holiday décor. For instance, your backyard will look more like the North Pole when there’s a few lighted reindeer prancing around the patio. You can even turn your backyard into the Island of Misfit Toys with illuminated figures, including The Spotted Elephant, Charlie in the Box, and Dolly.

Besides festive Christmas characters, there are all sorts of lighted lawn ornaments and decor—metal trees, snowflakes, candy canes, present boxes—that can truly make your backyard shine bright for Christmas.

Outdoor Christmas Decorations














Pre-lit Gift Boxes and Metal Christmas Trees: Photos courtesy of Brookstone



Christmas Planters and Window Boxes


Hanging Christmas Planter
Bring new life to dormant planters and window boxes by dressing them up for the holiday.

You can spread Christmas cheer around your deck with hanging baskets or holiday window boxes. For a charming display of Christmas trees, arrange a row of Alberta spruce or boxwood trees in the boxes, wrap each tree with battery-operated twinkle lights, and adorn with miniature ornaments and/or bows. Another fun idea is to spray paint the window boxes red, then paint a thick black stripe around the middle of the box to resemble Santa's pants. Fill the boxes with flocked pinecones and faux poinsettias or holly leaves.


Photo courtesy of Brookstone

Christmas Planter in BackyardA few eye-catching Christmas containers can be all you need to make your backyard merry and bright.

Right: To create this shimmering floral display, fill large planters or urns with an arrangement of evergreens or hardy shrubs and insert lighted birch branches and twigs in the center using a Styrofoam ball; attach large Christmas ball ornaments to the evergreen branches with green floral wire.

In addition to the ornaments, you can incorporate a variety of other Christmas items, such as candy canes, gift bows, Christmas lights, and beaded garland to give your containers even more holiday panache. 


Check out more outdoor holiday decorating ideas  >>





Photo courtesy of Deborah Silver & Co.| Detroit Garden Works



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5 Haute Patio Heaters

Stylish Outdoor Heaters to Warm Up Your Patio


   
Stylish Patio Heaters
Patio heaters are becoming a popular outdoor heating choice thanks to their large heat output—most models can heat from six to 20 feet in diameter—and ability to extend your outdoor entertaining season a few extra months or even year-round.

Along with their growing popularity, patio heaters have expanded in design and now come in an array of placement, style, and fuel options, including decorative gas heaters that look like interior lamps and sleek wall-mounted electric heaters that keep your patio warm and open.

Whether you want to entertain family and friends on a chilly summer night, host a backyard tailgate party in the fall, or expand your holiday festivities to the patio or terrace, here are some stylish patio heater options to keep your outdoor room cozy and chic in cool weather.


Photo courtesy of B. Gordon Builders Inc.



Freestanding Gas Patio Heaters

Gas patio heaters, which use propane or natural gas, are easy and convenient options to heat your outdoor area. These chic patio heaters from Kindle Living provide an attractive alternative to the typical stainless steel standby. Plus, they’re made from eco-friendly materials!

Stylish Patio Heater with Lamp DesignResembling an oversize table lamp, this patio heater from Kindle Living adds whimsical warmth and mood lighting to outdoor gatherings.

Available in both natural gas and propane operation, this freestanding heater features a battery-powered light base that can be used independent of the heater and illuminated in any of seven colors. Its classic silhouette makes it a beautiful complement to any style setting, be it traditional or modern.




Natural Gas Patio Heater with Lamp ShadeThough slim in design, this natural gas-powered patio heater supplies powerful heat performance. As heat radiates from the burner flame, it is enclosed in the fireproof shade and directed downward, wrapping bystanders in a soft and pleasant warmth.

Paired with a smooth shade (pictured), this sleek and sophisticated patio heater harmonizes well with contemporary venues.



Combo Patio Heater Lamp
Featuring a gently curved base with vertical ribbing (and hidden propane tank), this posh combo patio heater/lamp exudes style and personality. Its graceful design meshes perfectly with the casual charm of a coastal cottage, yet works equally well in formal or modern environments.

It’s versatile in function too: along with providing heat and light, an optional cocktail table accessory (not shown) can be placed over the base of the heater to hold drinks or snack plates when entertaining or lounging by the pool.




(Editor's Note: Natural gas and propane heaters are safe for outdoor use only. NEVER place or use a gas or propane heater indoors or in an enclosed area.)



Photos courtesy of Kindle Living



Wall/Ceiling-Mounted Electric Patio Heaters

Pergola with Electric Patio Heaters
If you’re looking for a more subtle way to heat your patio, then an electric patio heater may be your best option. The quartz infrared electric patio heaters from Infratech can be mounted to a wall or ceiling—and custom colored to match—to warm up your outdoor space without interfering with its décor.

The electric heaters contain quartz heating elements that emit a medium wavelength of light that transfers heat directly to nearby objects—such as a person, table, or floor—rather than heating the air, providing a comfortable and quick warmth.

An electric heater was bracket mounted to the wooden beams of a pavilion to keep this veranda cozy in cool weather without detracting from the pleasant setting.



Photo courtesy of B. Gordon Builders Inc.



Outdoor Room with Electric Heaters Mounted in CeilingBecause electric heaters do not produce heat by combustion, they require less clearance than gas heaters and can be used in enclosed patio areas.

To complement its contemporary design, six Infratech heaters were flush mounted into the ceiling of this outdoor room, making it usable year-round. The heaters are configured to a solid-state control system which allows the homeowners to vary their output with the current climate.


Photo courtesy of Infratech

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7 Delicious Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Thanksgiving Recipes: 7 Tasty Side Dishes


By Patti Plummer


Thanksgiving is a holiday about being thankful for all the good things in our lives, and what better way to celebrate that happiness than by serving family and friends a bountiful feast, complete with all their favorite dishes—plus some new ones.

Here are seven Thanksgiving side dish recipes guaranteed to become Turkey Day must-haves after just one taste.


Holiday Brat Stuffing


Serves 12Brat sausage stuffing Thanksgiving side dish recipe


1 package (19 ounces) JOHNSONVILLE® Brats, casings removed
1/2 cup butter
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
12 cups unseasoned bread stuffing, cubed
1 tsp. rubbed sage
2 tbs. poultry seasoning
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, brown and cook crumbled sausage until no longer pink. Drain. Remove from skillet; set aside. In the same skillet, melt butter and sauté onion, celery and green pepper until tender.

In an extra large mixing bowl, combine sausage, vegetable mixture, bread stuffing and seasonings.
Add eggs and broth; toss gently. Salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a buttered 3 to 4 quart baking dish.
Cover with foil and bake at 325° for 60 minutes.

Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or until lightly browned. Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer, it should read 165°F when done.

Recipe and image courtesy of Johnsonville Sausage



Root Vegetable Chipotle Cheddar Gratin
By Chef Brandt Evans

Root Vegetables Chipolte Cheddar gratin potato thanksgiving recipeServes 8


1 large butternut squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, halved, seeded
2 large sweet potatoes (about 3/4 pound each), peeled
1 medium rutabaga (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved
2 cups (8 ounces) Wisconsin Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar Cheese*
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
*Or use a Wisconsin Chipotle Cheddar or Chipotle Jack Cheese.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Using a mandoline, slice squash and potatoes lengthwise 1/8 inch thick. Slice rutabaga crosswise 1/8 inch thick.

Spray 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange half the potatoes in dish, overlapping slightly; add layer of cheese (half the cheese). Season with salt and pepper. Top with half the rutabaga and squash, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Repeat layering. Pour broth over all.

Cover tightly with foil; bake 1 hour until vegetables are almost tender when pierced. Remove foil and pour cream over gratin. Bake 30 minutes longer, uncovered, until liquid has thickened.

Preheat broiler. Mix panko crumbs and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over gratin. Broil 3 inch from heat 2 minutes or until golden, rotating for even browning. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes.

Recipe and image courtesy of ©2013 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.



Cheddar and Hickory-Smoked Bacon Cornbread

By Chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart Zazu Restaurant, Sonoma, CA

Cheddar hickory smoked bacon cornbread Thanksgiving recipeServes 6 - 8


3/4 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese, preferably aged, grated
8 ounces bacon, diced small, fried until fat is rendered and drained
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup corn oil
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray 9-inch square baking dish or cast iron skillet with nonstick spray. In medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, cheese, bacon, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine milk, oil, and eggs. Add to cornmeal-flour mixture and stir just until blended. Do not overmix.

Pour into prepared baking dish and bake until golden and springs back when touched, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Recipe and image courtesy of ©2013 Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.



Sweet Potato Fries with Guacamole


Sweet potato fries with guacamole Thanksgiving side dish recipeServes 4


4 medium-size sweet potatoes or yams (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled, cut into long sticks, 1/4-inch wide*
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt, divided
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
2 large ripe fresh Hass Avocados, seeded and peeled
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced, more or less to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 450° F. Spray 2 (12”x17”) baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, toss sweet potato sticks with oil, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the chili powder and crushed red pepper (if using) until thoroughly coated. On prepared baking sheets, spread sweet potatoes in a single layer. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, with a fork, mash avocado with lime juice, jalapeño, green onions and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Serve sweet potato fries warm with guacamole for dipping.

*Large avocados are recommended for this recipe. A large avocado averages about 8 ounces. If using smaller or larger size avocados adjust the quantity accordingly.

Recipe and image courtesy of the Hass Avocado Board




Baked Potato with Cranberry Dip


Baked potato with cranberry dip Thanksgiving side dish recipeServes 4


4 large floury potatoes (each 300 g)
6 tbs. olive oil
Salt
40 g dried cranberries
1 ripe avocado (e.g. Hass)
1 tbs. lemon juice
250 g cottage cheese
Pepper

Wash potatoes and dry them. Rub each potato with 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and lay them on a baking tray. Bake them in a preheated oven at 180 degrees (convection heat is not recommended) on the bottom third of the oven for 1 ½ hours.

15 minutes before the end of the baking time, prepare the cranberry dip. Coarsely chop up the cranberries. Cut the avocado in half, remove the core and scoop out the fruit flesh with a spoon. Cut the fruit flesh into ½ cm sized cubes and immediately mix them with the lemon juice. Mix the avocado, cranberries and 1 tablespoon of oil into the cottage cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Take the potatoes out of the oven, cut them lengthwise and push them slightly apart. Spread the cranberry dip over the potatoes. Sprinkle the rest of the olive oil on top and serve.

Photo and recipe courtesy of Cranberries from the USA



Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Frizzled Ham

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with ham Thanksgiving recipe vegetableServes 8


6 slices ham, (about 3 ounces), cut in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 3/4 pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed
1 large orange
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups shallots, thinly sliced (8 to 10)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tsp. white balsamic vinegar, OR white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Working in batches, place the Brussels sprouts in the feed tube of a food processor fitted with a thin slicing disk and slice. (If you don’t have a food processor with a thin slicing disk, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts by hand.) Zest the orange, then squeeze 1/4 cup of orange juice (save any remaining orange for another use). Set Brussels sprouts, orange zest, and orange juice aside.

In a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer ham to a plate and set aside.

Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts. Stir in the orange zest and orange juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until Brussels sprouts are tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl, top with the ham, and serve.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board. For more information about pork, visit PorkBeInspired.com


Ham and Peas with Mint and Tarragon

Ham and peas with mint taragon Thanksgiving recipe vegetableServes 4 - 6


4 ounces ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 cups peas, fresh or frozen
3 tbs. unsalted butter, (1/2 stick), cut into 4 to 6 pieces
1/4 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped plus sprigs for garnish
2 tbs. fresh tarragon, coarsely chopped , plus sprigs for garnish
Salt and pepper

Bring a medium saucepan of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and cook until tender, 3 to 8 minutes depending on the size of the peas.

Drain the peas, reserving 2 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the peas and cooking water to the saucepan. Add the ham, butter, mint, and tarragon, stirring until the butter melts. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a bowl, garnish with the mint and tarragon sprigs, and serve.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board. For more information about pork, visit PorkBeInspired.com



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8 Fire Pit Safety Tips

8 Tips for Fire Pit Safety







By Patti Plummer


OW Lee outdoor furniture fire pit patioWhen the weather turns cooler, homeowners can continue to enjoy their outdoor living spaces by adding a heat source like a fire pit.

There are a variety of types, including custom-made and pre-fab, but no matter what type you choose, remember to keep a few crucial safety tips in mind before, during, and after you light the fire.

Before you purchase a fire pit or have one built, remember to check with your local government to confirm that fire pits of any make or model are legal in your municipality.


Photo courtesy of OW Lee, Co.



OW Lee fire pit table chairs1. Choose the right fuel.

It is important to select the proper heat source for your fire pit. If it is a pre-fab model, the manufacturer will list the correct type. If you plan to have one custom built, work with your landscape architect to obtain the type that best suits your needs.

Most fire pits can safely control fires that are fueled by hard woods like cedar and oak or can be outfitted to produce heat through natural gas, propane, or gel.


Photo courtesy of OW Lee, Co.




Stonecrest Pools fire pit chairs seating2. Make sure your fire pit is on a stable, fireproof floor.

Your fire pit must be placed on a surface that can handle sparks or embers that might blow from the bowl. Any natural stones, like flagstone, travertine, slate, and granite, and manmade materials like concrete and durable fire-safe paving stones, are excellent choices.


Photo courtesy of Rugged Class Waterfalls & Pools; Photography by Stephen K. Wolfe




Rugged Class Pool fire pit patio3. Keep your fire pit away from anything flammable.

The rule of thumb is to maintain at least 10 feet of space between the fire pit and anything combustible. That means, when you use the fire pit, keep furniture and accessories at a safe distance. You will still feel the heat and enjoy the ambiance!



Photo courtesy of Stonecrest Pools; Photography by Sean Gallagher






Rugged Class pool patio fire pit4. Check weather conditions before lighting the fire pit.


Never light a fire pit in windy conditions. Not only will you have difficulty starting the fire, but you will also have a greater chance of flying embers or sparks blowing away from the controlled area.


Photo courtesy of Rugged Class Waterfalls & Pools; Stephen K Wolfe Photography




OW Lee fire pit table patio5. Keep your fire low and slow.


Be patient. If you are using wood in your fire pit, start the fire slowly. Once the fire is burning strongly, add more fuel until you have the level of heat you desire. Never, ever use an accelerant like gasoline—it’s too unpredictable and risky.

Photo courtesy of OW Lee, Co.



EP Henry dusk mesh fire pit cover family6. Use a mesh cover.

A good way to keep embers and sparks from flying out of the pit is to contain them from the beginning, and a wire mesh cover is a great option. The warmth and ambiance remains intact while the fire pit area has one more line of defense against unsafe conditions.




Photo courtesy of EP Henry







EP Henry fire pit couple lanterns7. Never neglect your fire pit


No matter the fuel, always attend the fire. If you are using wood, you should have a container of water or fire extinguisher on hand to quickly but carefully contain a flare-up.

If your fire pit is fueled by propane, natural gas, or gel, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, all it takes is a turn of the knob to extinguish the fire. It’s a smart plan to have a fire extinguisher nearby that can dowse your particular kind of fuel should it become necessary.

Photo courtesy of EP Henry



Fire pit patio Pools by John Clarkson8. ALWAYS make sure the fire is out before you leave the area.

When you are finished with the fire pit, take precautions to make sure the fire is entirely out. If you used wood, smooth the ashes and let them cool. Then, gently pour water over the cinders. Look for hot spots or smoldering embers; once the fire pit is fire-free, you can exit the area.


Photo Courtesy of Pools by John Clarkson, an Aquatech Builder; Photography by Ben Brewer Photography





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8 Cozy and Cool Indoor Swimming Pools

8 Cozy and Cool Indoor Pool Rooms

An indoor pool has many benefits: year-round enjoyment, privacy, a comfortable and controlled swimming environment, regular exercise or physical therapy, and protection from the sun. While you may picture an indoor pool as a large rectangle similar to the one at your local gym, indoor pools have just as much design versatility as outdoor pools and can be suited to any size or style home.


From a cozy living-room lap pool to a serene spa retreat to a cool tropical escape, the impressive indoor pool rooms below showcase some of the most amazing design capabilities and features of indoor swimming pools.

Which one of these pools do you want to take a dip in? Let us know in the comments.



Lap Pool in Living Room1. Lap of Luxury


A pool in the living room has to be the ultimate in comfort and design. This elevated, indoor perimeter-overflow pool and spa features an all-tile finish and elegant Grecian shape—which is repeated in the mirrored tray ceiling. A big-screen TV and custom fireplace complete the space and give the impression that nothing is out of the ordinary.



Photo courtesy of Aquatic Consultants Inc./Brian Van Bower;
Photograph by Automated Lifestyles; Pool construction by Superior Pools



2. Evening Escape

Cozy indoor pool with lighting and fireplace

What better way to end your day than with a relaxing dip in this indoor pool? The pool’s deep blue lighting creates a peaceful and meditative atmosphere that encourages a sense of calmness and rest; the double-sided fireplace adds a warm glow and coziness to the room.

Notice how the pool is a natural part of the home, corresponding with the architectural style and interior design elements found throughout the rest of the house.


Photo courtesy of Goodall Pools

This pool is featured in the 2013 Aquatech Award-Winning Pools Gallery >>



Luxury Indoor Pool Room3. Indoor Retreat

This stunning indoor pool room is a statement of luxury. Large windows and an overhead skylight fill the room with beautiful natural light which causes the pool’s extravagant beach glass tile finish to sparkle. A detached whirlpool spa lies beyond the pool and provides a blissful solution to rainy days and the winter blues.



Photo courtesy of Alka Pool Construction

View more pools from Master Pools Guild's 2012 Award Gallery >>



4.Year-round Getaway

Tropical Indoor Pool Design
Take a break from reality and plunge into this indoor paradise, which was featured on HGTV’s Cool Pools series. Designed for both pleasure and fitness, this tropical indoor pool features an exhilarating speed-slide (concealed within the massive rock mountain) and a powerful swim jet for infinite swimming.

A 14-foot sheer waterfall, fiber-optic lighting, romantic cuddle cove, and panoramic sunset mural complete the feel of a private (indoor) beach retreat.

Photo courtesy of Shehan Pools

See this pool in the 2013 APSP Award-Winning Pools Gallery >>



5. Swimmer's Delight

Cool Indoor Pool and Spa Room

Just because a pool is indoors doesn’t mean it has to be isolated from the outdoors. Two stories of windows, sky blue walls, and several doors that open to the back patio connect the pool room to the outdoors (but honestly, who would want to leave?!). With its ample size, elevated spa, and exquisitely tiled deck, this indoor pool is a delightful and inviting place to go for a swim, no matter if it’s the dead of winter or the dog days of summer.


Photo courtesy of Platinum Poolcare, ltd.; Photo by Outvision Photography

View more winning pool designs by Aquatech >>



6. Pool with a View

Indoor Pool with Greek Key Tile Pattern
An intricate Greek key tile design adorns this magnificent indoor pool, which features an integrated perimeter-overflow spa.

The stately wall of windows plays in tandem with the pool’s graceful design and provides both an abundace of natural light and a spectaular view of the landscape.

See this pool in the 2012 NESPA Awards Photo Gallery >>


Photo courtesy of Ramapo Valley Pool Service, Inc.; Photo by Ed VanLuvender



Indoor Pool with Endless Pool Swim Spa7. Endless Exercise

Think you need a large space—and budget—to enjoy the benefits of an indoor pool? Think again! This compact room houses an “endless pool,” or swim spa, where you can swim in place against a current to your heart’s content.



Click to watch an Endless Pools swim spa in action >>




8. At-home Spa

At-home Spa Room with Pool - Cozy Cool Indoor Pools
A day of pampering at the spa is just a few rooms away for the lucky homeowners of this indoor sanctuary.

Offering a place for everyone to relax, the room features a 12-foot deep lap pool with a beautiful stone diving platform, a partially recessed mid-sized hot tub, comfy lounge area and flat-screen TV.

Browse more award-winning pools from Aquatech >>


Photo courtesy of Ramapo Valley Pool Service & Construction, Inc.; Photo by Douglas Gornall


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