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Irresistible Gingerbread Hot Cocoa

Gingerbread

Nothing says Christmas in a cup like a mug of gingerbread hot cocoa.  As Erika, the creator of this sumptuous beverage who runs the blog The Hopeless Housewife says, this drink is like “drinking a chocolate gingerbread cookie.”

Creamy, chocolatey, and absolutely decadent, this is the perfect drink to warm up with while curled up under a blanket by the fireplace on a cold wintry night.  Treat your friends and family to something new and delicious this holiday season, and give this recipe a try!

Servings:

4 servings

Preparation and Cook Time:

8 minutes

Ingredients:

  •         4 C milk (any kind)
  •         ½ C cocoa powder
  •         ¼ C brown sugar
  •         ¼ C white sugar
  •         ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  •         ½ tsp allspice
  •         ½ tsp ground ginger
  •         ½ tsp vanilla extract
  •         ¼ tsp sea salt
  •         Whipped cream

How to Make Gingerbread Hot Cocoa

  1.   Heat milk in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  2.   While the milk is being warmed, combine your favorite cocoa powder with the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger in a small bowl.
  3.   Whisk the milk until it is hot, taking care not to overheat or scald it.
  4.   Pour the cocoa into each mug and top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Quick Notes

Serve this drink with miniature gingerbread men to make it even more fun and festive.

You can sprinkle nutmeg on top instead of cinnamon.

This beverage can be transformed into an “adult-friendly” drink with a shot of Bailey's or Kahlua.

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain.

We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas.

Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

Winter in Florida

Geometric pool with Raised spa, outdoor fireplace, fire bowls

 

While most of the country is facing cooler temperatures and being threatened by frost and snow, Floridians experience what many of us refer to as “The Second Coming of Summer.” Yes, we miss out on watching the leaves turn and most of us would die of heat exhaustion if we pulled on a turtleneck sweater, but there are other things you can do to create a festive wintery poolside atmosphere.

It's All About the Decorations

Set the mood by purchasing red, green, and cream candles in scents like cinnamon, vanilla and evergreen, and hang a festive burlap or holiday-inspired wreath on the door. Evergreen trees, seasonal doormats, and snowmen will also help set the tone.

You can transform your poolscape into a fun fall escape by arranging different sized Christmas trees and poinsettias on your deck and throughout the backyard. Another favorite is to add strands of clear or soft white lights near and around the pool. If you have in-pool color changing lights, then you even have more options for creating a dazzling night time display when the sun sets.

Bake Seasonal Foods

Get in the mood by indulging in classic wintery dishes and snacks such as:

  • Rich soups
  • Filling stews
  • Hearty chilis
  • Apple cinnamon cake
  • Christmas cookies

If you have an outdoor kitchen, baking up these delicious foods outdoors will surely draw the envious attention of your friends and neighbors as the scents waft through the air.

Throw a Winter-Themed Bash

Let everyone enjoy the turn of the season by inviting them over for a winter-themed bash (it is also a good way to share some of those baked goods you have been whipping up in the kitchen). Sprinkle faux iridescent snowflakes around the outdoor dining table and lay down festive placemats and napkins.

You can also plan some fun outdoor activities, including:

  • A snowball toss with cotton balls
  • A penguin plunge
  • A snowman making station with different arts and crafts supplies
  • Roasting marshmallows by your outdoor fire pit

Enjoy the Cooler Moments

Grabbing a piping hot cup of hot chocolate when it is nearly 80 degrees outside may not be ideal. But waking up before the sun rises gives you the perfect opportunity to wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket and to sip on a warm beverage while sitting and enjoying your beautifully decorated wintery poolscape.

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain.

We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas.

Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

Pool Remodel Ideas for Fall

Geometric pool with deck jets and LED lights

 

Have you recently looked at your pool and dreamed of incorporating some new and exciting additions to it or noticed certain areas which could use some improvement? The fall is a great time to renovate the pool not only because you may be using your pool less, but because remodeling the pool now means that it will be all ready for when you reopen your pool in the spring.

LED Lighting

If you have basic pool lighting or the classic floodlight, consider upgrading to LED lighting.  There are two key benefits to this:

  1. LED pool lighting is more energy efficient than traditional lighting
  2. LED lighting offers a variety of color options, making it easy for you to add that personal touch to your poolscape

LED pool lighting can be changed to suit an occasion or a holiday, and some options even allow you to create exhilarating light shows.

Waterline Tiling

Want to update the look of your pool without breaking the bank?  Consider updating your waterline tiling.  This will improve the appearance of your pool and it may even be necessary if you have cracked or broken tiling.

Some of the leading choices for waterline tiling include:

  • Glass tiling (can be used to create a myriad of gorgeous designs)
  • Stone tiling (best for nature-inspired pools)
  • Ceramic tiling (an affordable option)
  • Porcelain tiling (great for adding striking accents to your poolscape)

Upgrade Your Pool Equipment

Fall is a great time to upgrade your pool's equipment to more energy efficient systems.  A variable speed pool pump is one of the most popular options as it uses less energy and it may even qualify for an energy rebate.  Solar powered features such as solar powered heaters and automation systems like robotic cleaners are also great options.

 

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain.

We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas.

Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

October Featured Pool

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Tampa Bay Pools, your Clearwater and Tampa Bay pool builder, invites you to take a look at their October featured pool of the month. This spacious poolscape is an ideal location for fall entertaining with friends and family with a contemporary pool and landscaping as a unique and stylish centerpiece. Custom features include:

  • Geometric pool
  • Raised spa
  • Decorative tile
  • Planters
  • Paver decking

As a second generation family business, Tampa Bay Pools understands the importance of family and values the reputation they have built together for excellent customer service and customer satisfaction. Our Brandon showroom includes more than 200 tiles, pavers, water features and other options for you to view, touch and feel the difference before selecting what will work best for your family.

For more information on this project, or other custom pools, contact Tampa Bay Pools.

 

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain. We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas. Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

Enjoying Your Outdoor Living Area in the Fall

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Thinking of ways to get the most of your backyard this fall?  Whether you are considering revamping your existing outdoor living area or are planning to build it from scratch, these tips below will help you create the perfect fall-friendly outdoor living space.

Invest in your Furniture

Your outdoor furniture is going to take a beating.  Sun, snow, rain and wind can quickly make inferior quality outdoor furniture look weathered and worn.

When exploring your outdoor furniture options, look for basic sets which are made from heavy and durable materials.  You can dress up this furniture with less expensive elements to make it look more engaging, such cozy blankets and soft, supple pillows.

Create a Cover

Covering your outdoor seating area will not only provide you with much needed shade in the summer months; it will also help you keep in the heat when the temperatures start to drop.  A cover such as a pergola or a large and sturdy umbrella will go a long way in keeping you comfortable while outdoors this fall.

Heat Up the Night

Apart from having comfortable outdoor furniture, nothing will tempt you to embrace the cooler evenings and encourage you to venture outdoors than a fire feature.  Fire pits are one of the most popular fire features as they are versatile and can be custom built to suit the atmosphere of your outdoor living area.  Other popular fire features include:

  • Fireplaces
  • Fire bowls
  • Fire lanterns
  • Fire cauldrons

Consider a Kitchen

If you are planning on doing a lot of outdoor entertaining this fall, consider going beyond the barbeque and having an outdoor kitchen built.  This not only encourages guests to stay outside and enjoy your beautiful backyard, but it expands your living space.

 

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain.

We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas.

Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

Pool Design Ideas for the Late Summer and Fall

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Pool owners often forgo renovating and remodeling their poolscape during summer for one simple reason - they want to be able to use their pool.  This is why many pool owners choose to redesign their pool in late summer and fall.

If you're hoping to change up your backyard oasis but aren't sure what to do, here are some ideas to get you started.

Add a Water Feature

The late summer and fall months is when you will be able to find pool equipment and accessories at near rock bottom pricing.  This makes it the perfect time to incorporate a water feature such as arching jets, bubblers, waterfalls and scuppers you have always dreamed of to your pool.

Another benefit to adding these at this time of year? Business will be slowing for many pool renovation and remodeling companies.  This means that they will be keeping their prices lower in order to remain competitive with other pool design companies.

Get the Spa You Always Wanted

It may be a bit too chilly to take a dip in the pool, but it is never too chilly to enjoy a relaxing soak in a spa.  If you have been dreaming of adding a spa to your poolscape, late summer and fall is the perfect time to do it. Spas are able to be enjoyed year round, and are especially enjoyable soaking in the warm water with the crisp air all around.

Create a Recessed Lounge

One of the hottest trends is having a recessed lounge area right in your pool.  This unique and ultra chic pool feature allows everyone to be in the pool together – even those who don't want to get wet.

For those who are looking for in-pool seating that does not take up nearly as much space, consider sunken loungers on a baja shelf or installing pool bar stools near the outdoor kitchen or barbeque area.

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain. We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas. Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

August Feature Pool – Clearwater, Florida

August Feature Pool

Your Backyard Island Oasis

Tampa Bay Pools, your Clearwater and Tampa Bay pool builder, invites you to take a look at their August feature pool of the month. This spacious screened-in pool creates the perfect space for family get togethers or socializing with friends.

This custom swimming pool is a freeform naturalistic design with attached spa, center island with firepit and plenty of space for outdoor seating. Additional features include:

  • Spa spillway
  • Wooden foot bridge
  • Raised wall planter

Contact Tampa Bay Pools to get started on your custom swimming pool.

About Tampa Bay Pools

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain. We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas. Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

Ideas for Throwing a Back to School Pool Party

Back to school pool party

Tampa Bay Pool Party Experts

Since there has been a summer break there have been celebrations across our nation rejoicing in the fact that the school year is over once again. But there is a new trend on the rise - celebrating when school begins!

There's a lot to celebrate about going back to school: it's a fresh start, it's a chance for students to embrace the joys and tribulations that come with learning, and parents get what may be a much needed break. This year, why not throw the kids (and yourself) a back to school bash to celebrate the upcoming school year?

Plan a Spectacular Pool Party

If you're planning a pool party for younger kids, choose decor and pool accessories that are bright and colorful. Beach balls, pool noodles, and fun food-inspired floaties are all the rage.

For older kids and teens, consider creating a chic pool party.  Create an aura of sophistication by choosing decor such as Chinese paper lanterns and white LED lights.

Regardless of the age of the attendees, make sure that safety is a priority.  A responsible adult must be supervising younger children in the pool at all times, and you should have appropriate safety equipment on-hand.

Have a Fall Harvest Celebration

Fall is right around the corner, so why not throw a harvest-related party? You can set up bobbing for apples in the pool, create a hay bale maze or obstacle course, and have a potluck feast on the patio by the firepit. Winners of any races and games you have planned can win school-related prizes such as pencils, markers, a backpack, and more.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain. We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas. Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

3 Most Important Aspects In A Pool Design

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Tampa Bay, Brandon & Clearwater Pool Design Elements

Having a gorgeous pool that you can't help but look out at is important, but it's not the only aspect that pool lovers need to take into consideration when designing their swimming pool.  The first item that you need to consider is:

Pool Usage

First, how will you and your family likely use your pool? If you envision lots of water volleyball, basketball and Marco Polo games, a "play pool" with depths less than five feet may be best for you. For lap swimmers, a rectangular shape with long, straight stretches could be most useful. Families with small children may benefit from incorporating a wide tanning ledge for shallow play that also does double duty as a lounge place for mom to catch some sun! Plan to do a lot of entertaining around the pool? Consider a raised spa or raised accent walls that offer convenient extra seating areas for guests.

Low Maintenance

Some pool owners may love spending countless hours every weekend cleaning and maintaining their pool, but most of us would like to keep the maintenance to a minimum and spend the rest of that time enjoying being in and relaxing around the pool.  You can save yourself time by:

  • Installing a sanitizing system (what each offers may vary, so make sure you choose the right system for your lifestyle and pool)
  • Using an automatic pool cleaner
  • Making use of automatic control systems that control the pool temperature, filtration, and more

Alternatively, you can always hire Texas Pools & Patios to stop by on a regular schedule to maintain your pool for you.

Cost

When we dream, we dream big – sometimes bigger than our budget allows.  But all because one finish may cost more than you're able to afford, a good pool designer may be able to offer you alternatives that will give you the look that you want at a price you're able to afford.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain. We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas. Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.

Tampa Bay Pools Ranked as One of the Top 50 Pool Builders in the Country

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Named One of the Top 50 Pool Builders in the Country

Tampa Bay Pools takes pride in providing superior customer service when it comes to pool design and construction, and we’re proud to announce Pool & Spa News magazine ranked us 40th on its list of Top 50 Pool Builders in 2016, continuing our long reign making the annual list.

Why is Tampa Bay Pools a Top-Ranked Pool Builder?

With thousands of different pool builders throughout the country, Tampa Bay Pools earned its top ranking through its commitment to the Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater and St. Petersburg communities, as well as an excellent track record of providing superior pool construction and installation.

Tampa Bay Pools continues to be heavily involved in the pool and spa industry, including being the only Tampa-area member of the prestigious, invite-only Aquatech Society of Pool Builders and an active member of the Florida Swimming Pool Association.

Remaining an Industry Leader

Tampa Bay Pools remains dedicated to building quality pools and spas for our customers. As an industry leader, we remain dedicated to providing you with the highest level of customer satisfaction, building practices and service. When you choose to work with Tampa Bay Pools, you’re choosing company that continues to provide the greater Tampa area with award-winning pool and spa design and construction.

About Us

Tampa Bay Pools is a custom pool builder serving Tampa Bay, Brandon, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg areas, who understands the importance and value of your own backyard escape. That’s why we build spectacular new inground swimming pools that are easy to maintain. We offer a wide variety of custom projects including residential or commercial swimming pool building, stunning custom features to customize your pool, outdoor enclosures for your backyard oasis, and custom spas. Our pools can be designed to fit any style or budget; we even offer swimming pool financing options.