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February, 2015

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Enjoy Spring with These Backyard Grilling Recipes

Whip up these meat and veggie dishes in your backyard oasis tonight!

Spring is in the air and soon everyone will be heading out to their outdoor living spaces to fire up the grill. We've been taste testing and we've found two great recipes for you to try this spring.

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 Cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ Cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp steak sauce (though Worcestershire Sauce will give your chicken more of a kick)
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  2. In a bowl, combine the mustard, honey, mayonnaise and steak sauce. Set aside 2-3 tablespoons for basting, and dip the chicken into the remaining sauce until its coated
  3. Lightly oil your grill grate and grill the chicken over indirect heat for 18 to 20 minutes. Turn the chicken occasionally or until the juices run clear. During the final 10 minutes, baste the chicken from time to time with the reserved honey mustard sauce.

Recipe Credit: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Honey-Mustard-Grilled-Chicken/?prop24=hn_slide1_We-Love-It-When-This-Happens&evt19=1

Warm Balsamic Kale Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • ¼ Cup diced onion
  • 1 diced red pepper
  • 1 diced yellow pepper
  • 8oz sliced baby portobello mushrooms
  • 4 Cups kale
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter into a large skillet. Add onion and peppers and saute until softened (several minutes). Add mushrooms and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Continue to saute until ingredients are browned.
  2. Add in the kale, garlic and balsamic vinegar, and saute until kale is a deeper green but not silted. Remove from heat. Top the salad with Asiago or Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Additional Tip: Chefs can even serve this salad in their backyard oasis as a meal if they choose to top it with grilled chicken, salmon, or legumes.

Recipe credit: http://pinchofyum.com/warm-balsamic-kale-salad

Fun Pool Games for the Tampa Bay Pools Family

Family fun pools are where fantastic memories are created. We have some great games that we've heard about and have played with our own families, and we hope that your friends and family enjoy them too.

 Catch the Swimmer

For this ring toss style of game, noodle owners can turn their pool noodles into a "ring" shape and then attempt to "catch" someone in the pool by tossing a ring over his or her head, arm, leg, or any other body part.

 MAKING A NOODLE RING: Take a toilet paper tube and cut it lengthwise. Roll it up and insert it into the hollow of your pool noodle. Attach the other end of the noodle to form a ring, secure it with duct tape, and you're set!

Go Fish

One player, with his or her eyes closed, stands in the pool or sits upon the edge of the pool and holds the noodle so that it's touching the water. Once the one player with the noodle pole shouts, "Gone Fishin'!" , the other players will dash, splash and swim around, attempting to avoid the one players' moving noodle. When the fisherman calls, "Got a fish!" after tapping a player with the noodle, that player then becomes the new fisherman.

The Pool Noodle Limbo

This game is for the avid divers in your group. Two people will start off by holding the pool noodle straight on the surface of the water with divers diving beneath it. With each successful group of divers the pool noodle will be gradually pushed lower, forcing the divers to dive lower and lower to swim underneath it. The person who dives the deepest wins!

Chicken Noodle

Much like the classic chicken fight pool game, the goal of this game in family fun pools is to knock your opponent off of his or her noodle. Both players can straddle or sit upon the noodle anyway they see fit and then work to knock the other player off balance. Whoever stays on the longest wins!

The Noodle Paddle

In this game, players lay on their noodles as they would a surfboard and then attempt to paddle themselves across the water of family fun pools using only their arms while still staying balanced. Whoever makes it to the other end first is the winner!

Top 10 Favorite Tampa Pool Designs

Take a look at Tampa Bay Pools' top 10 favorite pool designs of 2014!

 With 2014 now in the books, we thought it would be fun to take a look back and share ten of our favorite pool designs. Making our list for a variety of reasons, these pools showcase a range of design features we love such as fire bowls, infinity edges, awesome waterslides and inviting outdoor fireplaces. They also illustrate that almost any home on any lot can accommodate a pool. So be prepared to be inspired as you scroll through photos of the following ten pools, and please feel free to visit our photo gallery and create your own favorites list!

First up, is this entertaining paradise! Featuring a full outdoor kitchen with bar seating, multiple dining tables, and a separate covered living area complete with dual-sided fireplace and television entertainment system, this space can accommodate tons of guests and provide plenty of areas for them to congregate comfortably. Notice how the fire bowls enliven the pool by night and make an evening swim or a soak in the spa seem so inviting. And that huge open entry in the home's back wall makes inside and outside practically inseparable. We would accept invitations anytime!

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Check out the organic look of the coping on this nature lover's pool. Combined with the mystery of a dark interior finish, the effect is reminiscent of a natural stone swimming hole.

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We love how both the infinity edge of the spa and the fire bowls draw the eye beyond a graceful iron railing to the stately trees and manicured lawn of this genteel Southern estate.

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Pool number four never ceases to catch our attention with its raised spa and seating area tucked artfully between the water and lush tropical planting.

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This is bay living at its finest with an infinity edged pool that enhances rather than competes with the view of the water.

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An interesting, rounded triangle shape proves that a pool can not only fit but complement almost any lot!

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This clean, modern beauty uses matching white tile, coping, and decking to make geometric simplicity the star of the show.

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Who wouldn't want to spend every evening basking in the double warmth of this cozy spa and fireplace? And that generous Baja ledge is the perfect place to do a little sun worshipping during the day.

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We can't get enough of the way the infinity edged pool and potted trees bring this hillside lot right into the woods!

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We saved or absolute favorite for last with this amazing pool! Tampa Bay Pools' designers totally nailed this seating island in the middle of the pool accessed by a refined little wooden bridge. Loungers can converse across the water with others enjoying the raised spa or catching some rays on the Baja ledge. If that's not cool enough, the kid in all of us can't wait to zoom down that incredible, two-story corkscrew waterslide! Can we move in here? Please?

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Thanks for taking this virtual walk with us through some of our favorite recent projects. For more information about our construction process, please click here. We would love for our next favorite pool to be built in your backyard. So, to get started with the pool and spa you and your family have been dreaming of, click here or give us a call today to schedule your own in-home design consultation!

Benefits of a Screen Enclosure for your Pool

A quality swimming pool enclosure can help you enjoy your pool in safety and with less effort all year round!

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Would you like to swim securely year-round, virtually pest free? How about reducing your family's exposure to UV rays and your pools chemical requirements, and dramatically slashing maintenance time? At Tampa Bay Pools, we are frequently asked by customers if they should invest in a screen enclosure. While customer needs vary greatly because of lifestyle and location factors, we generally advise weighing the following benefits.

Year-Round Enjoyment

Every Central Florida resident knows that our climate can be both a blessing and a curse. Many of us choose to live here because our blessedly mild winters allow us to enjoy the outdoors free of ice, snow and their associated unpleasantness. With a swimming pool enclosure, you can even enjoy your swimming pool in the coolest months in relative comfort! Utilizing the warm rays of the sun, a custom enclosure creates a greenhouse effect that keeps your pool environment warmer than outside and even lessens heat loss from pool water during the evening hours. And in the peak of summer when temperatures are nearly unbearable, an enclosure can provide shade while screen panels make the most of cooling breezes to keep your pool water an inviting retreat from the heat.

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Safety and Security

In addition, our pool enclosures' UV blocking materials protect you and your loved ones from the dangers of the sun's most harmful rays. Not to mention how they cut your monthly chemical expenses since unfiltered UV rays burn up chlorine molecules. Have you have ever been concerned about who may access your pool when you're not at home? If you worry about your liability for the death or injury of wandering children or other unauthorized intruders, a swimming pool enclosure may give you much needed peace of mind. Equipped with lockable entries, swimming pool enclosures keep undesired visitors out, and protect you and yours from predators while enjoying your pool area.

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Another way you may need protection is from annoying and even dangerous insects and wildlife. Just imagine enjoying the outdoors free from Florida's pesky mosquitos! Ants, roaches and spiders can certainly put a damper on enjoying the water as well as clog up pool filters and make for nasty surprises when emptying skimmers. And whether you live in a rural area or even in the middle of a suburb, wild animals such as rodents, frogs, snakes and even alligators can be unexpected guests. A quality swimming pool enclosure keeps out everything from these creepy critters to the neighbors' cats!

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Decreased Maintenance

Finally, who wouldn't want a cleaner pool with less hassle? Most pool owners agree that the only downside to owning a pool can be the maintenance and upkeep required to keep it enjoyable. By shielding your pool from leaves, grass clipping and other organic debris, and by filtering out windblown dirt and pollen, a pool enclosure can virtually eliminate the need for skimming, reduce the frequency of emptying skimmers and filter baskets, and even keep your filter cleaner longer.

If these advantages to installing a custom swimming pool enclosure seem appealing to you, don't wait another day! Give the experts at Tampa Bay Pools a call for your in-home estimate, and increase the enjoyment you get from your pool and spa.

8 Gardening Ideas for Your Tampa Backyard!

Make the most of spring this year with these 8 gardening ideas for your Tampa backyard!

With the coming of Spring, most of us feel more drawn to the outdoors. Days are getting longer, temperatures are at their most pleasant, and everything begins to bloom and grow again. Start planning ahead now with these 8 ideas for making the most of your Tampa-area backyard.

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(Photo: Keith Scott Morton)

1. Lay a firm foundation.

Even the most beautiful and luxurious of gardens is incomplete without a place from which to enjoy it. If seating areas and walkways seem to be lacking in your backyard, now is the perfect time to design and install them. From gravel to concrete, from natural stone to tile, hardscape options are available in a wide variety of price ranges and in styles to suit every taste.

http://pics.davesgarden.com/pics/2004/03/19/htop/95a00f.jpg

(© 2000-2015 Dave's Garden)

2. Enjoy Some Seasonal Color

Central Florida's balmy spring season is a great time to go lavish with the seasonal color. Milder warm temperatures and no more risk of frost, allows tons of flowering or otherwise showy plants to thrive, including begonias, verbena, salvia, dusty miller, cockscomb, moss rose, and zinnias! So go raid your local nursery and get creative with layers of color and texture. Then be sure to take time to enjoy the roses. Or phlox. Or Impatiens. You get the idea!

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(©2015 Pavestone)

3. Plan for Water Conservation

Statistically, irrigation of lawns and gardens accounts for the largest use of Florida's municipal water supplies. You can minimize your irrigation needs by taking such measures as installing a professional sprinkler system programmed to water only the amount of time necessary, and by running the system an hour before dawn to allow soil to absorb water before the sun rays cause it to evaporate. Also, consider hardscape options such as eco-pavers that allow water to quickly sink into the sub-soil, and apply a fresh layer of mulch in beds to minimize evaporation.

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(Zannah Crowe, MonchesFarm.com)

4. Go Native

One dynamic way to keep water and fertilizer usage in check is to opt for plants that are native to central Florida. Avoiding the extra propagation measures needed for non-native plant life to thrive is a great method of keeping your property sustainable, minimizing your impact on the local environment. Check out 9 compelling reasons to go native over at FloridaYards.org, a project of the Florida Springs Initiative of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. (Psst, their site features lots of cool resources such as a handy Florida-friendly Plant Database that makes selecting flowers, shrubs and other native plants a snap!)

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5. Accent with Succulents

Characterized by their thick, fleshy, drought-tolerant leaves and stems, succulents are perfectly suited to survive in our area. They thrive best when provided with excellent drainage, so potting them in a commercially available soil mix specifically designed for succulents and cacti works well. Requiring virtually no maintenance, succulents are the perfect way to bring big visual impact to even a small space. For an informative introduction to some of the most popular varieties, watch this video from the queen of all things green, Martha Stewart.

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(© 2015 Landscape Lighting Pro of Utah)

6. Light the Way

To get the most outdoor enjoyment through the evening hours, consider investing in a landscape lighting system. Today's landscape lights are available in a variety of styles for every application, and many even offer the compact brilliance and energy efficiency of long-life LED bulbs. Eliminate the risk of navigating pathways or stairs in the dark. Highlight specimen plants or architectural elements, and add ambiance to seating areas. You will be amazed how a few simple lights tucked discreetly throughout your yard can amp up the drama and sophistication of outdoor entertaining as well as contributing to the overall security of your home.

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(© 2014 Tampa Bay Times)

7. Add in Some Edibles

One particular benefit of our Florida climate is the ability to grow a wide variety of things edible. Planting such things as mangos, avocados, bananas, and of course, citruses such as oranges and lemons is a great way to enjoy the "fruits" of your labor. Look to your local nursery for advice on which varietals to plant and how best to nurture them. Also, don't forget about other easy-to-grow edibles such as tomatoes and herbs that can be grown in containers and used to grace your table nearly year round!

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(rr graphic design)

8. Dare to Be All Natural

Finally, make this the year that you explore some all natural options for fertilization. Chemically formulated commercial fertilizers, though capable of producing phenomenal results, can have an adverse effect on local wildlife such as bee populations, and through run-off have become a leading cause of toxicity in lakes and streams. Consider turning your own organic waste products like grass clippings and fruit and vegetable scraps into nutrient-rich compost that you can till into soil in planting beds and even spread throughout lawns. Pinterest is a treasure trove of inspiration for crafting your own backyard composters that require very little space like our favorite pictured about. For more information about composting, check out the awesome infographic here.

We hope you have enjoyed these 8 gardening ideas for your Tampa backyard. For even more outdoor inspiration, click through our photo galleries of pools, spas and outdoor living and call us for your own in-home consultation!

2014 Director of the Year Award

We would like to congratulate Kenneth McKenna on being named by the FSPA as their 2014 Director of the Year ! ( Director of the Year ). Click on the link to see all of the wonderful things they had to say about our company president.