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Labor Day Recipes: 5 Festive Appetizers

5 Festive Appetizers for Your Labor Day Barbecue

By Patti Plummer

Labor Day may be the unofficial end of summer—but that doesn’t mean the party has to end! There are still plenty of warm days ahead, which means there’s still time for a barbecue or two by the pool. Here are five great appetizer recipes that are sure to be a hit at your Labor Day barbecue or any end-of-summer party.

Spending Labor Day by the pool? Check out the amazing pools in our Award-Winning Pools book—get a free download!

Deviled Eggs with California Avocado

Recipe Provided by the California Avocado Commission


Deviled Eggs with California Avocado RecipeServes 12

12 eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
4 tsp. prepared mustard
½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. pepper
½ medium onion, finely diced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
1 ripe, Fresh California Avocado

*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.



Hard boil and cool eggs. Remove shells, slice in half and remove yolk. Set aside white to be filled.

Sauté onions and celery until tender. Place sautéed onions and celery into food processor (or blender) and puree. Add yolks, mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and avocado and blend well.

Fill egg whites and sprinkle with paprika (if desired).

Recipe and photo courtesy of © California Avocado Commission



Grilled Spicy Watermelon

Grilled Spicy Watermelon RecipeServes 8 – 10

1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons garlic chili sauce
Pinch salt
1 watermelon, medium sized
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro


Preheat grill to high. In bowl, whisk together lime zest, juice, 3 tbsp. (45 ml) of the honey, garlic chili sauce and salt.

Cut watermelon into 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick wedges. Lightly drizzle each side with remaining honey and place on grill. Grill until just browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Place watermelon slices on a plate and drizzle with lime dressing. Garnish with cilantro.

For something sweet, try one of these delicious grilled desserts >>

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Watermelon Promotion Board



Classic Guacamole

Recipe Provided by the California Avocado Commission


Classic Guacamole RecipeServes 8

4 ripe, Fresh California Avocados, seeded and peeled
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tomato, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped onion
⅛ tsp. ground cumin
3 drops hot pepper sauce
Tortilla chips

*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.


Using a fork, coarsely mash avocado with lemon juice and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients to blend.

Recipe and photo courtesy of © California Avocado Commission



Roasted Red Pepper, Ham and Parsley Torte

Roasted Red Pepper, Ham and Parsley TorteServes 32

4 ounces smoked ham, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups butter, divided
3 3-oz packages cream cheese
3 tablespoons Madeira, or Port, divided
White pepper, ground, to taste
2 cups parsley, firmly packed, stems removed
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup ham, cubed


Place 1/2 cup butter, 3 ounces cream cheese, the 4 ounces chopped ham, 1 tablespoon wine and white pepper to taste; process until smooth. Remove to small bowl, cover and chill.

In processor, process another 1/2 cup butter, 3 ounces cream cheese, the parsley, green onion, 1 tablespoon of wine and white pepper to taste. Remove to small bowl, cover and chill.

Process remaining butter, cream cheese, the red peppers, remaining wine and pepper to taste until smooth; remove to small bowl, cover and chill. Line a glass 2-quart bowl or glass 9-inch pie plate with plastic wrap; sprinkle in cubed ham; spread the ham mixture, spread the red pepper mixture, and top with a layer of the parsley mixture. Cover and chill overnight. Unmold onto serving plate; let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.

Recipe and photo courtesy of National Pork Board



Festive Stuffed Figs and Celery

Created by: Almond Board of California


Festive Stuffed Figs and Celery with Almonds RecipeServes 55 (1 fig each)

2 packages (3 oz. ea.) Neufchatel cheese
3/4 cup creamy almond butter
1/2 tsp. brandy or orange juice
1/4 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 cup diced green chilies
1/4 cup chopped, toasted almonds
Fresh celery stalks
25-30 dried figs
25-30 whole natural or blanched almonds, toasted


Beat together Neufchatel cheese and almond butter. Divide mixture in half. Stir brandy or orange juice and orange peel into one mixture; chill. Stir chilies and chopped almonds into remaining almond butter mixture.

Stuff celery stalks with chili-cheese mixture; cut into serving pieces about 3-inches long. Chill until ready to serve.

Slit figs partly down center. Pipe or spoon 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chilled orange-almond butter mixture into opening. Press one whole natural or blanched almond into center. Repeat with remaining figs. Chill until ready to serve.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Almond Board of California


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How to Maintain Your Pool Before and After a Rain Storm

Pool Care Tips: What to Do with Your Pool

Before and After a Rain Storm


How to Prepare Your Pool Before a Rain StormAlong with beautiful sunshine and warmer temperatures, the months of summer also bring a fair share of rain. According to the National Hurricane Center, June 1 to November 30 marks the Atlantic hurricane season, while the Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15 to November 30. (Peak hurricane season runs from mid-August to late October.)


The combination of rain, high winds, and even lightning can introduce an array of dirt, debris, and other unhealthy pollutants into your pool water as well as put a strain on your pool’s equipment and structure. Proper preparation and clean-up is important to ensure your pool remains protected and is safe for you to jump back in once the sun re-emerges. Follow the tips below to keep your pool safe, clean, and protected before and after a rain storm.

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems



How to Prepare Your Pool Before a Rain Storm

Keep the pool full – Never drain the pool before a rain storm. The weight of the water will help hold the pool in place in case the ground around it becomes heavily saturated with rainwater, which could cause the pool to lift out of the ground. If you’re afraid the pool will overflow, lower the water level no more than 2 – 3 inches and close the skimmer valve to prevent damage to the pump.

Freeform Swimming Pool with Loop-Loc Safety CoverRemove loose items from the pool area – High winds can blow items such as floats, lounge chairs, and other patio furniture into the pool which can cause major damage. Place pool floats, toys, and other items in a safe place, such as a garage, shed, or storage bin. Cover patio furniture or tie it down if you’re not able to bring it indoors.

Turn off power to the pool equipment – Turn the power off at the circuit breaker for the pump, motor, filter, heater, and lighting to avoid dangerous electrical problems due to flooding.

Protect the pool equipment – Even with the power turned off, your pool’s equipment are vulnerable to damage from high winds and heavy amounts of rainwater. It’s best to remove the pump motor and bring it indoors, or cover it with a plastic tarp and tightly tie it down to prevent water from getting inside.

Balance the water and add algicide – Rainwater carries many organic contaminants from the atmosphere. Balancing the water and adding algicide or extra chlorine before a storm will help ease contamination and save you a lot of trouble during the clean-up process.

If you have a mesh safety cover, put it on – A lightweight solar pool cover can easily be blown off or into the pool during high winds and a solid tie-down cover can tear if it accumulates too much rainwater; in most cases, it is best to leave these covers off of the pool. Mesh safety covers are better equipped to withstand harsh winds since they are tightly anchored to the pool deck with minimal gaps where wind can enter and blow the cover off. The mesh material also allows rainwater to filter through the cover and into the pool, so it will not collect on top. [Cover Concerns: Some pool owners prefer to leave their pool uncovered during storms fearing that fallen tree branches or other harsh debris will destroy the cover; however, these items can cause considerable damage to the pool's interior, which can be more difficult and expensive to replace than a pool cover. Decide which investment is more important to you.]


Photo courtesy of Loop-Loc, Ltd.



How to Clean Your Pool After a Rain Storm
 
Skim and remove debris – Remove any large branches, leaves, and other debris from the pool with a rake and skimmer.

Check the pump strainer and skimmer baskets – There’s a good chance these have been filled with dirt and debris from the storm. Clean them out to prevent clogging the system once you restore power to the equipment.

Inspect the pool equipment and restore power – Uncover the pump motor and check for water or water damage. If the equipment is dry, you can turn the power back on and start running the pool’s circulation and filtration systems. Do not turn the power back on if the equipment is wet or if there are signs of water damage. Instead, contact a licensed electrician and have him/her come out and inspect the equipment. Never try to clean or dry the equipment without first consulting a professional.

Pentair Kreep Krauiser Pool VacuumVacuum the pool – After restoring power to the pool equipment, it’s time to clean the pool. Brush the pool walls and floor to remove any dirt and then vacuum the pool.

Shock and balance the water – Even though you balanced the water before the storm, the organic materials in the rainwater most likely wiped out any residual chlorine levels and lowered the water’s pH and alkalinity. Add enough pool shock chemicals to bring the chlorine level to around 10.0 ppm. (Always pre-dissolve chemicals in water before adding to your pool.) Once the chlorine level recedes to 3.0 ppm, begin balancing the water.

Run the pump and filter – Keep the circulation and filtration systems running for at least 10 hours after shocking the pool to ensure the water is properly sanitized.

Turn on the pool heater – Due to rainwater and wind, the pool’s water temperature is probably a little on the chilly side. Turn on your pool’s heating system so that it has enough time to warm the water to your desired temperature.

Photo courtesy of Pentair Aquatic Systems



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Lighting Options for Your Swimming Pool - Part 1 of 4 - Incandescent

Pool Lighting Options - Part 1



Hillside Pool with Interior Lighting at NightPool lighting makes swimming at night safer and more convenient, plus adds drama and ambiance to your backyard. Today’s pool lighting options come in a variety of forms and colors and can use incandescent, LED, fiber optic, or solar technology.


We broke down each type of pool lighting on the following pages to help you choose the best option for your pool.



Photography courtesy of Scott Sandler for HydroScapes LLC


Incandescent Lighting


Conventional lighting for inground swimming pools consist of incandescent or quartz halogen light bulbs that are sealed inside a protective waterproof fixture. These simple white lights are mounted in wall niches—typically made during pool construction—and operate on either low-voltage or standard electrical power. Incandescent pool lights provide a bright illumination and have plastic color lenses that fit over top of them to create a more dramatic effect.

Incandescent and halogen light bulbs are the most common type of pool lights, as well as the most inexpensive—they usually cost around $170 – $250 each. While relatively affordable, they require more maintenance than other pool lighting options and are not as energy efficient. The bulbs typically have a lifespan of only 1,000 hours and frequently need replacement. Changing a bulb can be a difficult task as you have to remove the entire fixture and bring it out of the water before you can remove the old bulb and attach a new one. Traditional incandescent pool lights are typically installed during pool construction or renovation due to the electrical engineering.


NEXT: LED Lighting >>

Lighting Options for Your Swimming Pool – Part 2 – LED

Pool Lighting Options - Part 2 LED Lighting An environmentally-friendly alternative to incandescent pool lights are LED lights, which use light emitting diodes to illuminate the pool. These energy-efficient pool lights use 80 percent less energy than incandescent and halogen light bulbs and last considerably longer—up to 100,000 hours on average; they also tend to be brighter. LEDs have a broader spread of light, which may reduce the amount of lights needed to light the pool. Photography courtesy of J. Brownlee Design; photography by Jeff and Leah Harp, Focus Photography, LLC Most LED pool lights screw into the existing wall sockets used for traditional incandescent inground pool lights. There are also aboveground options that install directly into the pool’s return line or hook over the wall of the pool, so there’s no need to drill holes. Aside from being economical, the main appeal of LED pool lighting is the built-in color features. LED lights come in various colors ...

Read the rest of entry »

Lighting Options for Your Swimming Pool – Part 3 – Fiber Optic

Pool Lighting Options - Part 3 Fiber Optic Lighting Fiber optic pool lighting consists of long, thin strands of glass—about the diameter of a human hair—that are arranged in bundles, or optic cables, and transfer light over long distances. There are two types of fiber optic lighting: end glow and side glow. In end glow fiber optics, the fibers are covered in an opaque black or white PVC jacket, and the light is emitted through the end of the fiber. When combined with lenses, this type of fiber optic cable creates a spotlight effect. It can also be used to create “stars” on the bottom of the pool, as seen in the pool picture at right. Side glow fiber optic cables are covered in a clear PVC coating which allows light to escape through the sides of the cable. They resemble neon tube lighting and are used for perimeter pool lighting—they do not illuminate the body of water. Side glow fiber optic cables are applied to a track placed under the pool coping and create an o ...

Read the rest of entry »

Lighting Options for Your Swimming Pool – Part 4 – Solar

Pool Lighting Options - Part 4 Solar Pool Lighting Solar pool lights are an eco-friendly way to light up your pool. They float on top of the water’s surface and have a solar panel that collects energy from the sun and charges a rechargeable battery located within the light. At night, the lights are automatically turned on via an electronic light sensor. Most solar pool lights use an LED bulb for energy efficiency and can last up to eight hours per solar charge. Solar pool lights come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be a simple globe or disc shape, or look like frogs, lily pads, and even floating jellyfish. They also come in an array of different colors, and some can create multi-colored patterns of dancing light throughout the pool. Most solar pool lights are weighted to help keep them in one place; others float freely around the pool and come with a nylon anchor for when you want them to stay in a particular area. Some can also come with a stake, pole, or stand and be used for ...

Read the rest of entry »

Stylish Gazebos, Canopies, and Pergolas

Made for Shade: Stylish Gazebos, Canopies, and Pergolas







Summer means spending a lot more time outdoors and having a little fun in the sun. But if you’re spending any length of time outdoors during steamy summer days, you’ll probably want some shade to get a break from the heat.

Deck, patio, and table umbrellas are a simple option, but if you’re looking for something more permanent to add both shade and style to your backyard, consider a gazebo or pergola. Check out these stylish structures for ideas.




Custom Gazebos

Geremia Pools gazebo bridge boulders rock Gazebos come in all different sizes and materials and are the perfect structure to add beauty, shade, and seating to your backyard. Many come with built-in benches for seating, although many homeowners will furnish with outdoor furniture. Since they can stay up year-round, they become a permanent fixture in your backyard.

Left: Set in the middle of a private grove, this large gazebo features a red tiled roof and has an ornate architectural style. Boulder accents and beautiful landscaping give this pool a natural look, while the bridge adds charm to the entire poolscape.


Photo courtesy of Geremia Pools, Inc.; photography by Dick Hinkley




Portable Gazebos with Canopies
Hayneedle gazebo canopy shade

Portable gazebos with canopies are a great way to provide shade and create an outdoor room. These can be set up and taken down seasonally or left up year-round. They can be anchored to your lawn or bolted to your deck or concrete slab, making them a versatile option for any backyard.

Add an outdoor area rug, a weatherproof living room set, and a few planters, and the entire space becomes its own relaxation spot.

Hayneedle gazebo canopy shade SunbrellaLeft: This gazebo's Sunbrella canopy offers shelter from the summer sun and rain protection. It also features a vent for wind escapement. The gazebo is easily assembled and spans 130 square feet creating the ultimate space for an outdoor living room set.



Photos courtesy of Hayneedle.com



Pergolas and Awnings
Walnut Hill Landscape Company curved pergola outdoor fireplace

Pergolas provide partial shade and add a lot of style to your backyard. Pergolas can also be ideal to provide shade over an outdoor kitchen or to define the space for an outdoor family room. Many homeowners will mount a weatherproof TV in the corner.

Above: To complement the Pennsylvania flagstone patio, a custom blend of stone was used for the fireplace and sitting walls. The curved pergola, made of laminated mohagony, offers just the right amount of shade. The plants include cryptomeria, sweetbay magnolia, and pale pink, kooper king hibiscus, as well as heavy metal switch grass and dwarf fountain grass.



Photo courtesy of Walnut Hill Landscape Company; photography by Michael Prokopchak





YShade FX pergola with retractable awningou can increase the amount of shade provided by a pergola in a few ways. You may wish to have ivy growing across the wooden beams of the roof, creating a natural plant canopy. This also makes the pergola feel more like it’s a part of the garden.

Another option is a retractable awning. Available in many different colors and patterns, retractable awnings add to both the function and décor of your pergola and the outdoor room your are creating.

Shade FX pergola with retractable awningAbove: The lattice panels add a bit of privacy and a whole lot of style to this pergola set on a beautifully landscaped property with a pool. The retractable awning provides homeowners with the option of full or partial shade. The awning’s striped pattern matches the cushioned outdoor couch and throw pillows creating a unified outdoor room.



Photos courtesy of ShadeFX Canopies




Walnut Hill Landscape Company outdoor kitchen pergolaThis pergola adds elegance and definition to this outdoor kitchen, surrounded by colorful landscaping. The roof provides partial shade, but heat and smoke from the grill can still escape through the beams.



Photographed by LandMarksPhotography.com for Walnut Hill Landscape Company, Annapolis, Md.



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Types of Awnings, Canopies, and Patio Umbrellas >>
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Gazebos: Enclosures for the Garden >>

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