Livingston Reporting - page 271

Website Launched: The Canopy Bottle and Gourmet Shoppe


Located in Brighton, MI, Canopy Bottle and Gourmet Shoppe has one of the largest selections of wine, beer and liquor in the state of Michigan. We specialize in offering single malt scotches, bourbons, and other hard-to-find liquors, wines, and champagnes. Ask about custom-made gift baskets that can be shipped anywhere in the US.

Check them out at

Personalized Toys: Giving a Gift that will be Remembered

When you give a gift how can you make sure it is one that will be remembered? My kids get hundreds of toys for Christmas and birthdays that get played with for a day or two and then discarded for the next new thing. I have found however that there are some toys that seem to stick around. The difference between toys in my house getting used for the long haul and ones that are forgotten is some personal touch from the gift giver. A personalized toy is defiantly going to stand the test of time in my home over one in which my child holds no sentimental value to it.

Personalized toys can mean different things to different people. Some people think in order to be a personalized toy it has to be painted or engraved with the child’s name or some other significant information. Personalized to my family means that it could have their name on it or something that the giver has put together specifically for my child. One of my daughter’s favorite gifts is a box that happened to have her name painted on the top with different scraps of fabrics, sequences, buttons and other crafty materials. It wasn’t something someone had actually purchased all together but instead a gift that the giver put together with her in mind.

Think about what the best present you ever received was. My favorite gifts are the ones that people make with me in mind. My friend always comes up with the best ideas. For instance, last year she made me a mirror and table out of wood from her yard. It doesn’t say my name but it is the most personalized present I have ever received. She took into consideration everything I love, birch bark and tree branches. Using natural materials instead of store bought products to build me a mirror and table showed me that she took time to personalize the gift. These are gifts that will be with me forever.

My sister-in-law is really good at this. She makes my children many personalized gifts. She thinks about what they like and need and adds their name to it. She always paints an object within their name that she knows they like. For instance one year she made them writing tables with room for pencils and crayons. On the top she decoratively painted their names on them and added a bear for my son and extra girlie touches for my daughter. They love these and carry them wherever they can. Another thing that has not only come in handy but also an heirloom is stools for them to use in the bathroom to brush their teeth and to reach high things in their closets. She didn’t just include their names but also painted the entire stool to match their personalities.

Personalized gifts, no matter your definition, will for sure become favorites for your recipient. Take time when picking out gifts. Personalizing toys and gifts make the person receiving them know that you took time to think of them. Gifts should come from the heart not the pocket book. Take that into account especially around the holidays when money gets tight. Personalize your next gift with the recipient’s name or take into account the receivers hobbies and add that into the gift. My niece wants a soccer ball this year. I think in order to make it personalized I am going to pick her favorite color ball and some permanent sharpies to put her name and the name of her team on it. I think it might just be her favorite gift this year. I might even let her cousins add their decorative touches. That way she can think of the every time she practices soccer. Have fun thinking about your next present a personalized gift.

Aluminum Fencing: The Superior Fencing Material

When considering fencing materials there are two main types people like to choose from aluminum and wrought iron. Of course there are pros and cons to both but as I see it the benefits outweigh the drawbacks when contemplating aluminum over wrought iron. What you decide of course will be determined by many different factors. Where will the fence be used? Is the purpose of the fence for safety? Will the fence be used to enclose a yard or pool area? Is the fencing for decorative purposes? Obviously you will need to determine what the main reason for the fencing is before determining if wrought iron fencing or aluminum fencing will be your fence of choice.

Aluminum fencing is perfect for people considering doing the fencing project on their own. It is easy to handle because it is light and comes in sections that are four or six feet tall and six feet long. It is a super easy do it yourself project. Installation is easy when using fast set quick concrete. You will set one post and another attaching the sections of fencing as you go along. The fence panels are so light it is a project you can do on your own or made a bit easier with some help. Wrought iron fencing tends to be heavy. Sections range from fifty to one hundred and twenty five pounds. Imagine trying to install this on your own in a do it yourself project. Wrought iron fencing would take a crew of people to install.

Another feature I like is that you can pick different pickets finials for your aluminum fencing. Although aluminum fencing is modern in design and fits most every décor if you get bored with the look you can go pick out new finials for the top of the fence posts. It is as easy as unscrewing the piece and screwing the new one in. With wrought iron fence you are locked in to one certain look for the lifetime of your fence. Wrought iron is completely welded together and the look cannot be updated if you change your mind later or if the overall design in your yard changes.

Aluminum fencing is practically maintenance free. Wrought iron needs to be maintained in order to keep from rusting. Aluminum however is designed not to rust. Aluminum fencing can be maintained easily by hosing debris off. How many of us have extra time to maintain a fence. We purchase fences to keep our maintenance needs down. Aluminum fencing is put up to keep critters out or small children in. It can also be used around pools to prevent family members who are not being watched from getting into the area.

The other thing I like about aluminum in fencing is that it is easily repaired if damaged. If a section does happen to get damaged all you need to do is remove that one section and another can easily slide into fix the problem, I think the type of fencing material a person uses is up to their personal preference. I really enjoy the look and maintenance free qualities of aluminum fencing.

Aluminum Pool Fencing: Protecting Your Loved Ones

Aluminum pool fencing is beautiful and affordable. There are many companies out there that provide affordable aluminum pool fencing at reasonable prices. You can choose to install the fencing materials around your pool by yourself or hire a company that will install it for you. Both ways you will be protecting your family and their safety which is of course your top priority. Some people ask why choose aluminum fencing over pool alarms? Why fencing over a pool cover? I will answer those questions and more.

Pool alarms are nice because they are inexpensive. I know pool alarms have accounted for saving lives. My biggest problem with them however is that even though they sound it might not be enough to save your child. What happens if you happened to run in the house for a quick drink? What about the times the kids are playing in the backyard and you are mowing? If you don’t hear the alarm it is not going to help save your child’s life. The other problem I have is if you don’t get to the child in time. There have been incidents with pool drowning where the child has hit their head when falling into the pool, have sucked in so much water that they have not been able to be resuscitated. Why take this chance? It is so much easier to avoid that worry all together by putting an aluminum pool fence up. With a pool fence you can go on about your chores and know that your kids are safe at all times.

Now why would people choose a more expensive aluminum pool fence when they could use a pool cover? The thing I like better about fencing over pool covers is that they prevent your children from reaching in over the pool side to get a toy out of the pool and falling in. With a pool fence they will never be that close to the water’s edge. Another thing better about fencing is that it doesn’t cover the beautiful landscaping that your pool water provides. Pool covers cover the beautiful water. They are also difficult to latch and unlatch and consume extra time that aluminum pool fencing just doesn’t. Your children just wish to get in the water right now and they don’t want to wait for you to remove the pool cover.

Aluminum fences have so many benefits that I think outweigh pool alarms and covers. Aluminum fencing is affordable. I also like aluminum fencing because the styles it provides for your backyard are modern and seem to stand the test of time in regards to the ever changing styles in home design. Aluminum pool fencing helps eliminate a child from reaching into the pool and slipping in while trying to reach for a favorite toy that has fallen in. Fencing is also a great obstacle between outside critters that might want to enter the area and your pool. Aluminum fencing allows you to enjoy the aesthetic beauty that the water brings to your backyard while providing an extra barrier to keep your family safe.

Swimming Pool Fencing: Benefits of Installing a Fence around Your Pool

Everyone loves their children. Parents wish to keep their children safe at all costs. When you first find out you are expecting a child you read everything you can get your hands on about keeping them safe. They hold classes about child proofing your home. They have professional who come out and get on their hands and knees and scour each inch of your home for safety hazardous. The problem is that most people forget about the outside when thinking about hazards. One are that often gets over looked is the pool area.

Pools are so much fun and are often over looked because of the enjoyment they provide for families. Children are enthralled with the water and the toys that you play with while you are swimming. It is often easy for little kids to wander in to pool areas when their parents have their backs turned. Pools cause more accidental deaths for young children than many other hazards that we think of. This is because most people don’t consider the pool to be a hazard.

There are many products on the market that are meant to provide peace of mind for parents with pools. One product that sells frequently is the pool alarm. They work by attaching to the side of the pool or some float on the top of the water. They sound when a wake is created that causes movement in the water. This works if a child does enter the water and accidentally falls in the alarm sounds and a parent is able to hear it and hopefully save the child from drowning. Another type of alarm that is used for children are wristbands. This alarm is worn like a watch on the child’s wrist and if it gets wet an alarm outside of the pool sounds and the parent is then able to react.

Personally I think the best safety tool parents can use in pool areas is a fence around the pool. Swimming pool fencing comes in many styles and can be used in the décor to enhance the design of the back yard. The best part about pool fencing is that when you are not in the pool vicinity it can be locked. Make sure you get a latch and lock type fence. They provide extra security because the latch is often above the child’s reach. If the door is shut it cannot be opened by anyone other than an adult. When the pool area is not in use parents can lock the latch with a lock that can only be opened by a key or combination. Swimming pool fencing is honestly the number one safety tool in backyards with pools.

You could always use life jackets each time you let your child outside. But are your children going to be comfortable playing outside everyday with life jackets on? You can never trust a child in a pool area. The water and toys will lure them in each and every time. Swimming pool fencing is a much more practical way to keep your child safe if there is a pool in your backyard.

Burger Bars: A New Way to do Buffet

Burger bars are becoming the new it thing for social gatherings. It is not necessarily a buffet but it is as easy as one. The great thing is that each person is able to create their own master piece. The best thing is that as the host you aren’t slaving over a plated meal. Burger bars can be fitted to each individual guest’s dietary needs. If you have vegetarians you can have special burgers just for them but also beef burgers for those guests who prefer the real thing. Burger bars are perfect for any type of gathering. Throw together lots of toppings, a few sides, some chips and you have yourself a low key almost maintenance free event.

With so many toppings available how do you decide what to put on your burger bar? You first must decide on the level of work that you are willing to put into maintaining the meal verse socializing with guests. Maybe you want to throw the burgers on and let the rest take care of itself. In this case you need to stick to ingredients that are not going to spoil after a few hours out of the refrigerator. If you are able to balance maintaining the bar and socializing then go for the gusto. Add items that can be maintained with an ice bath so they don’t spoil and all the other extras.

It is a simple concept to throw together on short notice. There many things to consider when putting together a burger bar. First consider what type of meat you want to use for the patties. I suggest making sure you take into consideration each of you guests preferences. Veggie burgers are popular and can be purchased ahead of time. Beef burgers can be bought ahead of time however I would not recommend this type for the serious burger fanatic. Use a mixture of beef that contains a decent fat to beef combination and combine different seasonings for added flavor. This will suit many different taste buds. As for toppings below you will find a thinks to think about for your next burger bar gathering.

Buns: I am shocked at how many types of rolls and buns are out there for use with hamburgers. For the burger bar I like to use things that people wouldn’t think of when making burger at home. Bagels, rye bread, onion rolls, buns that are covered with seeds, pita bread and of course plain buns for guests who like to keep it simple.

Cheeses: Decide whether you want the cheese to be melted on the meat or can you place the cheese on a plate and have guests choose from there. I would suggest a variety of cheese for guests to choose from. Some to think about are Swiss, Cheddar, American, Provolone, Mozzarella or whatever you can think of. Some people even use cream cheese so really prepare for all of your guests different and unique taste buds.

Vegetables: You can choose to sauté the veggies or leave them raw. Many guests would love some sautéed onions, mushrooms and peppers. A quick and easy way to make this happen is to throw them in a packet of tin foil and butter and grill them ahead of time. You can then use a small crock pot to keep them warm for guests to eat later. Other veggies to consider are lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, sprouts, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, relish and cucumbers. Some fruits to consider adding are apples and pineapples. Fruit adds a tangy, sweet kick to every bite.

Other Meats: For those meat eaters who love to pile it on cook some ham, bacon, lamb or sausage ahead of time for guests to have on their beef patty. This will be an added bonus for meat eating guests.

Seasonings and Sauces: Don’t forget the seasoning salt and ground pepper. Consider putting out Cajun spice for those guests that like to spice up there burgers. Sauces to consider are hoisin, barbeque, A-1, ranch and sweet and sour. You will also want to add the standard mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise to complete your burger bar.

Of course not everything in this list needs to be added for a successful burger bar gathering. Include the items that will satisfy the taste buds of your guests. Then sit back and enjoy all the praise you get for the best gathering idea ever.

Pizza: The Healthy Way to do Pizza

Peanut butter and jelly, pen and paper, cheese and crackers, all things that just see to go together. Two things that don’t seem like they would go together are pizza and healthy. I will divulge secrets that will turn that into a myth. Nowadays it is possible to choose toppings that will make your pizza healthier than you ever pictured it could be.

Let us start with the base. Everyone thinks pizza must be made with lots of white flour, eggs and oil. I will dispel this myth quickly with some low fat options. I will start with whole wheat flour. Try using whole wheat flour in your crust mixture. The thinner the crust the healthier it will be for you. Another item I like to choose for a super healthy crust option is whole wheat pita bread. This will make sure your pizza still looks like a pizza but adds a healthy crust alternative.

Next let us move into the sauce. Everyone has a different preference in sauce. Some people enjoy thick hearty sauce. Most sauces off the self will contain high amounts of sugar. If you are choosing a sauce from the shelf make sure it contains olive oil, little sugar and contains natural ingredients that you can pronounce. You will not want any ingredients included on the label that you cannot say. I suggest making fresh sauce. It might be more difficult but I promise it will be healthier. Blend Roma tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, lots of garlic and Italian spice. After you remove it from the blender you will have the healthiest sauce for your pizza imaginable.

Toppings and cheese will be the most difficult topping to keep healthy on your pizza. Make sure to keep all blends of cheese healthier by choosing low fat varieties. Another option is to use fresh parmesan instead of any cheese at all. This will give your pizza the hint of cheese flavor without all the calories. When choosing meat toppings think about low fat options such as turkey and chicken. Ham, bacon and sausage are much higher in fat. If you feel these are a must for your pizza just make sure to choose one type and go light. Vegetables are where you can go wild. Cover your pizza with all the onions, peppers, garlic, broccoli, avocados, watercress, squash, and spinach you want. Nuts are also another topping to explore with your pizza. Add some almonds for crunch and health.

I hope you will use these tips the next time your family puts together a pizza night. Choosing healthier options will prevent that feeling we almost always get after eating the fat laden pizza we are accustom to. Healthier options allow natural processing through your body and will leave you ready for some family fun. Enjoy!

Restaurants: All Important Ambiences

Ambience is defined as the mood, character, quality, tone and atmosphere of an environment. It is the single most important word that people can use when describing a restaurant. I know what you are thinking. At first it is what I thought also. What about the food? What about the services? Aren’t these things important too? Yes, of course they are important but ambience is the most important part. The feeling that people get when they are in your establishment will make them return or not. A restaurant could use the best ingredients, hire only the most experienced servers and without the stage being set you have lost that customer forever.

When developing the space for seating within your restaurant take into consideration the size and placement of your tables. Are you going to use square tables or round? Chairs with high back that are soft or hard chairs with low backs? Do you want to be able to have quant quite tables for two or is your restaurant intended for bigger parties and families? Make sure that your space has maximum seating while maintaining the warmth and feel you are choosing to express in your restaurant design.

Noise also needs to be minimized. Make sure that the sounds that are heard within your restaurant are the sounds that you are meaning to be heard. Do you really think your guests want to hear toilets flush or pots and pans banging from the kitchen? Make sure those sounds are muffled and silence is limited. Make sure your music fits the ambience you are creating. Don’t play rock if you are going for an environment inviting to families just like you wouldn’t play Mozart at a bar. Little things like this are so important in the overall picture you are creating.

Something most business owners don’t take into consideration is the temperature of their establishment. Make it pleasing to the majority and make it a temperature that makes people want to stay and eat. Make sure your heating and cooling elements are not hitting customers directly. Also take into consideration that certain spaces will heat the establishment in different ways. Tables set by the kitchen will be warmer so take this into account when placing tables and vents. In order to have an even temperature you will need to have several different thermostats so plan accordingly.

Ambience is also created in the way restaurant facilities are kept. Make sure your cooking areas and restrooms are presentable and inviting to customers that will use them. Another thing you might need to do is rearrange your facility to accommodate for the position of wait staff areas and bathrooms. Customers enjoy sitting in areas where their privacy is maximized and that traffic is minimized. Most guests will not choose areas in the middle of the restaurant so make sure every seat feels like a cozy cove meant just for their party.

People are looking for certain things when they eat out. It matters how an establishments smells, looks and feels. It is important that a customer be relaxed and gable to get what they would like to out of the meal. It is important that if you are serving customers on paper plates and plastic cups your ambience is a backyard bbq. There is something about the way the seats are placed, the type of music that is played, the temperature and even where the bathroom is located. Ambience is the key to making a restaurant successful. Ensure you have the correct ambience for you clientele and the food and service will find their way.

Blinds between the Glass: Choices in Interior Design with Built-Ins

Windows with blinds between the glass are the latest rage in home design. They are a little bit more expensive than other replacement windows but when you add up the energy savings, savings on window treatments and time savings you are getting a true value. In doing research I have found that your options of window treatments for windows with blinds between the glass are not as limited as when the product was first developed. If you were turned off at the concept because you felt limited to mini-blinds or accordion shades then you will be excited at the following new options in replacement windows.

We will start with the basic snap in blind. You now have color choices that will let you match your interior without adding additional curtains to the windows. Shades come in many different colors so be sure to check with your manufacturer before settling on off white. You will be surprised at how accommodating the choices are. You can also custom order the windows for the décor in each of your rooms. The windows do not need to all be ordered with the same color. Another feature that many clients don’t realize with the new blinds is that they are easier than ever to snap in and out. If your rooms look changes so can your blinds. The other thing I just love about these built in shades is that they create a consistent look from room to room. Even if the colors are different the basic concept is the same and to some consumer this is a huge selling point.

Another feature between the glass windows are featuring is cellular shades with different fabrics available. The nice feature about this is that even if you are adding a splash of pizzazz to your room décor the curb appeal is kept uniform by the backing that is placed on the shade. The white or cream backing provides a neutral look to the windows. If you want your home to have a uniform look from the curb these fabric cellular shades can give you that while providing a custom look to the interior. Another great feature about cellular shades is that they are able to be opened from the top or bottom. This is important especially in houses where the floor level is equal to the street. To prevent people from being able to see in your home you can have the shades open from just the top.

This is probably my favorite new product available for windows with the between the glass feature, patterned panels. These are perfect for basements and bathrooms. You still have one hundred percent of the light while keeping one hundred percent of your privacy. When looking into windows with between the glass features check out the different panel design options. I am sure there is one that you will fall in love with.

Last, but not least, are grilles. This is my least favorite option but people like the decorative appeal they provide. Some people don’t realize this but you can use grilles and blinds together. This gives a dimensional look to your windows from the road without the hassle of cleaning separate squares like you would have to do if the grilles were on the outside of the window.

Hopefully you will find exactly what you are looking for in your replacement windows. Remember when shopping to do a price analysis that includes window treatment cost and I think you will agree that windows with built-ins and windows without are fairly close in cost. This is especially true once you take into consideration the cost of window treatments.

Windows with Blinds between the Glass: Weighing Replacement Window Options

Buying replacement windows is hard now days. There aren’t only so many brands to choose from but options that exist within the windows themselves are overwhelming. The newest feature in replacement windows is blinds that are built in. They also bombard us with choices between different styles of shades that can be placed within the glass. In just a few years the choices have gone from single to double pane to about a hundred different combination of windows and blinds.

Windows with the blinds built directly in them aren’t only for people who can afford extra luxuries anymore. They are now reasonably priced. When you price out windows without the built in blinds along with what window treatments it comes out almost dead even. As with any window and window treatment there are certain advantages and disadvantages. It is always the best option to take into consideration your wants and needs to determine if the product is correct for you.

Advantages of replacement windows with the blinds built in:

Windows with blinds encased between the glass are better for people with severe dust allergies because the dust isn’t landing on the blinds and allowed to build up. Instead the dust that would be collecting on the mini blinds is falling to the floor and able to be swept up.

• The cords are also built in between the glass so there is no chance that your pets and children can get caught up in them and strangled.

• The blinds are encased so they don’t endure the same build up of dirt and dust that typical mini blinds do.

• They are easier to keep clean because the dirt and dust does not get trapped leaving a thick grime to remove.

• A house with little kids and pets tend to bend typical plastic mini blinds. This is not possible with replacement windows that have blinds encased within them.

• Windows that have the blinds built in tend to have a sleeker, classy look to them. They defiantly add value and curb appeal to your home.

Disadvantages of replacement windows with the blinds built in:

• They are more expensive than typical replacement windows. This being said compare the cost of new windows and window treatments to the cost of windows with blinds built inside of them.

• Most companies only offer their own selection of blinds to use. You might not be able to match your décor which for some people is a make or break deal. Make sure to check out the company’s options if this is something that is important to you.

• Another disadvantage is that when you do change the blinds out you will need help. You need to actually take out the inside pain of glass and switch the blinds out so be prepared to have an extra set of hands on hand when attempting this.

Make sure you weigh out all the advantages and disadvantages of whatever replacement windows you are choosing between. Be sure to check out the different companies that make windows with blinds inside them. Do a cost analysis on the replacement window and window treatments to do a fair price analysis against the windows with shades built in. Also consider all of the pros and cons of each design you are considering so that in the end your final decision has put all options into proper perspective.