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On the Rocks or Straight Up? Tips for Stocking Your Home Bar

Adding a custom bar to your home is a fun and efficient way to entertain friends and family, bringing value to your home. Granite Transformations offers creative design ideas to create the perfect bar for your home with the use of top-shelf materials.

With all the trendy new cocktails on the bar scene today, stocking your bar can be a bit challenging. Experts agree that sticking to the basic spirits for traditional libations and adding a few flavored ones for a fun twist on old favorites is the perfect balance for a well-stocked bar.

Here are some suggestions on what to buy and have on hand for unexpected drop-in guests or a full-scale summer soiree:

Keep your home bar well stocked This home bar has a sink easy clean up.

Alcohol – On the rocks or straight up? Depending on your preferences and budget, you may want to invest in top-shelf brands of whiskey, scotch, vodka, rum, gin or tequila when enjoying your drink straight up. For mixed drinks, opting for a less expensive brand is a respectable choice. Rounding out the list, you may want to include sherry (dry and sweet), vermouth (dry and sweet), flavored liqueurs, brandy, bourbon, champagne, beer and your favorite red and white wines. Be daring and try one of the multitudes of flavored vodkas on the market. It’s a great way to experiment with new cocktails and a fun way to introduce your guests to something new.

Mixers – Offering a variety of mixers is a great way for your guests to create their favorite mixed drinks. Be sure to include the basics (like club soda, tonic, soft drinks, sparkling and still waters) and assorted juices (like tomato, orange, pineapple and cranberry).

Garnishes and Flavorings – Putting the finishing touches on your drink can make all the difference. Freshly cut lemons, limes and pineapple are a great way to add a splash of freshness to any drink. For a more sophisticated touch, cocktail onions and olives for martinis, hot pepper sauce for Bloody Marys and coarse salt for rimming a margarita glass take any drink from fun to fabulous.

Bar Tools and Essentials – Having the right tools takes the guess work out of playing bartender. Be sure to have a bottle opener, cocktail shaker or pitcher, corkscrew, cutting board and knife, drink stirrers, ice bucket and a jigger. Keep a dish towel on hand and have plenty of beverage napkins and coasters. A blender is a must if you’re planning on serving frozen drinks.

Glassware – Serving cocktails in the appropriate glass makes the drink even more special. When purchasing your glassware, be sure to include the basic styles of glasses (like low-ball and hi-ball, pilsner, martini, red and white wine, champagne, shot and liqueur). For specialty drinks, such as margaritas and brandy, you may want to consider purchasing a smaller quantity if those are drinks you don’t indulge in often.

Ice – Invest in a good quality ice bucket (and possibly consider buying two). Running out of ice is never a good thing, so plan ahead and stock up!

Heinz Mack’s ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns’

The waters off the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy will be enchantingly illuminated beginning June 3 through November 23, 2014, as the installation of Heinz Mack’s ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns’ is unveiled to the public at the Church of San Giorgio. The structural ensemble consists of nine symmetrical columns, each standing 24.5 feet tall and covered with a golden mosaic of 800,000 tesserae bearing the sky. The tesserae, or small pieces of 24k gold-leaf Trend mosaic tiles, are used as instruments to reflect the light of the sun and moon onto the water. German artist Heinz Mack designed the golden mosaic as a tribute to the city of Venice, exemplifying the long tradition of local craftsmanship and early cultural relations between Orient and Occident. It is estimated over 15 million visitors will experience this amazing installation in Venice over the next five months.

The Sky Over Nine Columns’ made with Trend Mosaics

24k Gold Leaf Trend Mosaic Tiles

A view before the nine columns are placed

The Sky Over Nine Columns’

Trend Group, the parent company of Granite Transformations, is proud to be an integral part of this monumental artistic installation. For homeowners who are thinking about a kitchen or bath renovation ¬– you too, can have a piece of history in your own homes. Granite Transformations uses the same exclusive product in their backsplashes (although the golden tesserae were especially designed for this project). Let our team of experienced design specialists help you design the perfect kitchen or bathroom for your home. Contact Granite Transformations today for a free in-home design consultation.

For more information on ‘The Sky Over Nine Columns,’ please visit: mackinvenice.com.

Ten Breathtaking Beaches for Planning Your Summer Escape

Close your eyes and imagine the feeling of a warm salty breeze blowing through your hair, powder-fine sand beneath your feet, and the soft crashing sound of waves on the surf. We all have our own visions of paradise and tranquility, but there’s just something about the beach that brings peace and serenity and beckons us from our busy day-to-day lives.

Are you ready for the ultimate beach escape? Here is a list of ten beaches that have been voted to take your breath away:

Anse Lazio; Praslin Island, Seychelles
There is snorkeling and swimming on the shores of Anse Lazio in Seychelles.

Located northeast of Madagascar in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Anse Lazio sparkles with clear, pure water and offers great snorkeling and swimming. It is known for its wide horizon line, which attracts tourists from the Praslin’s area and beyond.

Lanikai Beach; Hawaii, US
Lanikai Beach in Hawaii is a beautiful place to watch the moonrise over Mokuluas.

Situated within Kailua on the windward coast of Oahu, Hawaii, this small, half-mile long beach has consistently been ranked among the best beaches in the world. It is a popular spot for photo shoots and is recognized as being the place to watch the moonrise over Mokuluas.

Navagio Beach (Shipwreck Beach); Zakynthos, Greece
Navagio or Shipwreck Beach in Greece is a famous for its limestone cliffs, making it a photographer’s paradise.

Known as the “The Shipwreck” (as it is home to the wreck of the ship Panagiotis), Navagio Beach is located on an isolated sandy cove on Zakynthos Island, Greece. It is defined by its sheer limestone cliffs, white sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water, and it attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is known as one of the most famous and highly photograped beaches in Greece.

Eagle Beach; Aruba, Caribbean
Eagle Beach is one of two beaches that allow nudity in Aruba.

Located in Oranjestad, Aruba, Eagle Beach has been rated one of the best beaches in the world, but take caution, it is one of the two beaches in Aruba that allow nudity.

Grace Bay Club (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos)

Grace Bay Club (Providenciales, Turks and Caicos) has been voted the number one beach in the Caribbean, and is home to some of the best resorts.

This 12-mile stretch of soft-white sand has been recognized as the number one beach in the Caribbean and the number two beach in the world. Some of the best resorts in the Caribbean are located on Grace Bay Beach. Visitors can enjoy a relaxing day exploring for starfish, sand dollars and marine life, or enjoy family time seeking other aquatic adventures.

Pink Sands Beach; Bahamas, Caribbean
Pink Sands Beach in the Caribbean has one of the top dive sites in the world, called “Current Cut Dive.”

Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas is renowned for its pale pink sand, with the beach spanning three miles long and 50-100 feet wide. It is considered as one of the top pink sand beaches in the world. Harbour Island also boasts one of the top dive sites in the world, known as “Current Cut Dive.” This beach is home to fine cuisine, family-style restaurants, deep sea fishing and surf fishing. Day excursions to nearby Eleuthera and Spanish Wells are available for shopping in Dunmore Town.

Whitehaven Beach; Whitsunday Islands, Australia
Whitehaven Beach in Australia is named by CNN.com as the top Eco-Friendly Beach in the world.

Named the top Eco-Friendly Beach in the world by CNN.com, Whitehaven Beach is Queensland’s cleanest beach, prohibiting dogs and cigarette smoking. It is known for its white sands and consists of 98% pure silica which gives it its white color. The sand doesn’t retain heat, making it comfortable for a barefoot walk on a hot day.

Radhanagar Beach; Havelock Island, India
Radhangar Beach in India is a spectacular beach in Asia with unique color combinations of the sky and sea.

Considered one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia, Radhanagar Beach is known for its unique color combination of the greenish-blue colored sea, complemented by the stark white sandy beach. Tourists enjoy riding bicycles on the beach and resting in beach-side cottages.

Siesta Key Public Beach; Florida, US
Siesta Key Public Beach in Florida has the world’s finest and whitest sand.

Winner of the world’s finest, whitest sand, Siesta Key Public Beach extends half a mile along the most pristine white sands in the world. Located on the Florida West Coast, the pure white quartz sand is pulverized into a fine powder. Even under the hottest subtropical sun, it remains cool to the touch, making it one of the best walking beaches in the USA.

Bamboo Island; Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand
Bamboo Island, in Thailand, is part of a group of small islands off of Cambodia.

Located in the Gulf of Thailand, Bamboo Island is one of a group of small islands located about six miles off the coast of Sihanoukville City in southern Cambodia.

Photo content provided by: tripadv

Todd Michael Creates Modern-Day Mosaic Designs Using Old World Artistry

Blending the artistry of an ancient world with a modern twist has defined mosaic artist Todd Michael as one of the most sought after mosaic designers in South Florida. As a self-trained ‘mosaicist’ (a designer of mosaics), Todd has been transforming spaces into permanent works of art with mastery and beauty for the past 15 years.

Todd Michael, mosaic designer & artist

“The process begins with my imagination as it comes to life after studying the space,” Todd explained. “It has to be a perfect fit, since mosaic installations become absolute and permanent.”

His latest work of art, ‘The View from Delilah,’ began in January when he was commissioned to design a space in the grand foyer of one of South Florida’s magnificent homes on the Intracoastal Waterway in Ft. Lauderdale. Todd first began translating his idea into an artistic composite, which was drawn to scale and then transferred and used as a full-size template. He then hand-placed 82,000 hand-cut pieces of Trend Mosaic Tile onto a flexible piece of mesh, ensuring that all of the glass tiles were in place, secured and ready for transport to the location. “The installation phase is just as important as the design phase,” Todd said. “This is where the craftsmanship comes into play.” Todd explains how precision, placement and the use of quality materials will ensure a flawless installation and guarantee a lifetime of beauty set in glass. “There are no shortcuts in mosaic,” Todd said.
Trend Mosaic Tile work done by mosaicist Todd Michael Trend Mosaic Tile Design

Mosaic Tiles from Trend Group for Todd Michael  Hand Cut Trend Mosaic Tiles

This large-scale project took two months to complete, with over 200 hours dedicated to the meticulous preparation and execution of the design. The end result is a magnificent 10′ x 15′ mountainous backdrop of a Mediterranean scene with a spacious terrace surrounded by native fauna. “I especially enjoyed creating ‘The View from Delilah,’” Todd explained. “I tapped several artistic factors to design the perfect balance of textures, color and flow.”

The View from Delilah by Todd Michael using Trend Mosaic Tiles

Todd says the use of Trend Mosaic Tiles in his designs is the cornerstone of his creations. “Trend mosaics offer me an artist’s palette of beautifully cut tiles in a variety of colors and textures that capture the beauty of gemstones.” In a time where being ‘green and clean’ is at the forefront of an environmentally-friendly world, Todd is proud to tell his customers that Trend Mosaics are made from up to 80% recycled materials. “I’m an artist who paints in glass,” Todd explained. “It’s a great feeling to know I’m creating timeless art with the best products on the market today.”
For more information on Todd Michael and his work, please visit http://www.mosaicsbytodd.com. You can also find exciting updates and posts on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mosaicsbytodd.

Summer Drink Recipe: Watermelon Lime Chiller

Try this delicious, refreshing summer drink by the pool with your family or with friends at a BBQ – it’s easy and takes no time to make. All you need is a blender, seedless watermelon, fresh lime juice, rum, and – if you’d like ­– some kind of sweetener (depending on the natural sweetness of your watermelon).

 

Gluten-Free Note: If you are going to use rum, make sure the rum is Certified Gluten-Free. Most rum is naturally gluten-free, but it’s always best to check.

Untitled

 

Summer Drink Recipe: Watermelon Lime Chiller, a refreshing summer drink recipe.

Prep time:5 minutes
Total time:10 minutes
Yield: 2 Servings

Watermelon Lime Chiller Ingredients

- 3 cups cubed seedless watermelon, well chilled
- 1 1/2 fresh limes, juiced
- 1/4 cup rum (optional)
– Sugar (or your favorite sweetener), to taste
- Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

Mixing Directions:

Put watermelon chunks and lime juice into a blender and process on high until smooth. Add sweetener to taste, if needed, and blend again. Pour drink into two glasses over ice. Garnish with fresh mint. Serve.

Attending a Wedding Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

Blushing brides will be walking down aisles all across the country this month, and statistics show that many of us will be attending at least one wedding this year. With the cost of attending a wedding having surged almost 75% over the past two years, it’s a good thing that invitations go out months ahead of time – just so we can begin saving and budgeting for the big event. A recent American Express study revealed the average cost of attending a wedding is $592 (and that doesn’t include the cost of a gift, or if we happen to be in the wedding party). Weddings can break the bank (even if we’re not the ones getting married). Here are a few stress-free money-saving tips to help save and budget for an upcoming wedding:

Save the Date – Check your calendar and save the date. See how many months you have to work with before the wedding.

Airfare and Hotels – If the wedding is out of town, try using any frequent flyer miles or credit card reward points to offset the cost of travel and hotel accommodations. Book early to take advantage of lower rates. When booking a hotel, be sure to ask the bride if she blocked rooms at a discounted rate for her guests.

Wedding Gift – Check the bridal registry to see the “Wish List” of the happy couple. Typically, the majority of these gifts are purchased for the bridal shower, so look early to choose a gift that fits within your budget. Group gifting is also a great way to give a more expensive gift without busting your budget. Ask any friends or relatives who are also planning on attending if they would be interested in sharing the cost.

Wedding Attire – Most attendees will opt for purchasing a new dress, suit, shoes or accessories. If purchasing a new outfit is not in your budget, take an inventory of your formal wardrobe to see if you have a dress or suit that you can update with a few tweaks – such as a trendy new necklace and earrings, new dress shirt, or a fun tie. • Wedding Fund – Save a set amount of money out of each paycheck for the months that lead up to the wedding. This will ensure you have the cash to pay any expenses to eliminate any unwanted debt.

How to Save for Your Dream Kitchen

Saving for your kitchen renovation is as easy as applying a few strategic saving techniques to your budget. Here are some money-saving ideas to help you get one step closer to your dream kitchen:

  • Assess your budget and begin trimming expenses where you can. For example, scale back your cable bill, limit clothing purchases and dining out to free up extra cash.

Saving for your kitchen renovation - trim expenses & track spending

  • Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it.
  • Set a realistic goal and begin saving a set amount every month to reach your goal. You can even set up automatic monthly deposits from your checking into your savings account.
  • Set aside any income tax refunds and apply these to your kitchen renovation fund.
  • Stop or reduce spending on your credit cards. Reducing debt before a big purchase can lessen the burden of making payments and frees up additional money in your budget.
  • Stay focused on your goal and tailor all spending to live within your budget.
  • Frequently check your bank statements to ensure there is no frivolous or unnecessary spending happening.

Schedule a free in-home design consultation with a Granite Transformation design professional and start planning your dream kitchen today – it’s easy and stress-free. We look forward to earning your business and making your dream kitchen a reality.

Planning Your Summertime Dinner Party

If you are one of many homeowners who have recently renovated their kitchen, now is the perfect time to show it off by hosting a summertime dinner party. Whether you’re hosting a formal sit-down dinner or a more casual buffet-style soirée, here are some entertaining tips for a memorable occasion.

  • Who’s Coming to Dinner? – Write out your guest list and send invites at least three weeks in advance so that you can plan your seating and grocery or catering list to gauge how much food you will need.
  • What Are You Serving? – Warm weather entertaining typically brings lighter foods, colder drinks and a more relaxed atmosphere. Choose grilled meats or fish for your main course and serve lighter salads with a vinaigrette dressing instead of heavier mayo-based salads. Assorted grilled vegetables or steamed vegetables tossed in olive oil and fresh garlic are an easy way to serve your sides at room temperature without the fuss of keeping them hot.

Summertime dinner party meal ideas.

  • Drink Up! – For a fun bar setting, let your guests make their own drinks by offering a specialty drink. Flavor-infused vodkas with a selection of juices and mixers are a great way to get the party started. Offer chilled beer and wine to round out your bar. Be sure to offer non-alcoholic beverages to your guests and don’t forget the cardinal rule…you can never have enough ice!

Drinks can help get the conversation flowing when guests arrive.

  • Set the Mood – Choose music to set the overall mood for the party and select your playlist a few days ahead. During the first hour when guests are arriving, choose songs that will get the party started as everyone settles in, mingles and relaxes. For dinner, select music that is relaxing (but not so soothing that your guests want to take a nap after dinner). For dessert, pump it again, but this time create a montage of songs that are reminiscent of times spent together to create a feeling of nostalgia. Your guests will leave with a happy heart.

Show off your new kitchen with a summer dinner party

Tips and Suggestions to Host the Perfect Summer Dinner Party:

  • Iron your napkins and tablecloths a few days before your party.
  • Set your table ahead of time.
  • Empty your dishwasher.
  • Keep centerpieces low and elegant for easy conversation.
  • Serve beautifully arranged appetizers “family style” at the dinner table.
  • Use your china. (What are you saving it for?)
  • Set up the bar the day before. Start making ice, or buy enough ice and store in a cooler.
  • Decide on which platters and serving pieces you will be using.
  • Plan seating and use place cards for cordial and stress-free conversation.
  • Serve one-bite appetizers and have bowls of munchies and dips on cocktail tables and buffets.
  • If you plan to grill, make sure you have an extra propane tank on hand or fill the one you have.
  • Allow for grill time while your guests are mingling before dinner.
  • Don’t be shy when your guests ask to bring something. Keep a list of items you may want – like a unique dessert, a specialty coffee, or even a favorite family recipe side dish.
  • Don’t forget the powder room. Placing a pretty flower arrangement and disposable guest towels in your powder room are elegant ways to show your guests you are thinking of them.

If a new kitchen or bath renovation is on your summer to-do list or you’re interested in learning more, the experts at Granite Transformations are only a call or click away. Contact us today for a free in-home consultation.

Father’s Day Gift Ideas from Granite Transformations

With Father’s Day approaching, it’s only natural to reflect on our dads and recall fond memories of years past. This year, celebrate your unsung hero by surprising him with the perfect Father’s Day gift!

Granite Transformations has some fun and exciting gift ideas to put a smile on Dad’s face and make his day:

Logitech Harmony Touch Universal Remote – We all know that Dad requires full remote control access. Surprise him with this streamlined universal remote, featuring a touchscreen that can be customized to control 15 devices simultaneously (including gaming consoles). This device also comes equipped with an accompanying app that can turn Dad’s phone into a customizable remote. This is a gift that he will thank you for every day.

Universal Remote Control-Logitech Harmony Touch

Kebo One-Handed Bottle Opener – Is your Dad a beer lover and also a multitasker? Here’s the perfect solution to cracking open a cold one while he’s on the phone, at the grill, or surfing the web.

One Handed Bottle Opener by Kebo

Chillsner – This is the perfect solution for when the ice runs out. The Chillsner will quickly cool down any lukewarm beer and can fit into any bottle while Dad sips away – without interference.

Chill down any beer or beverage with the Chillsner.

Swingbyte 2 – For the competitive golfer with a need for perfection, the Swingbyte 2 is the ultimate golf coach. The Swingbyte 2 uploads data about Dad’s golf swing directly to his smartphone or tablet, allowing him to analyze club-head speed, path, plane, and the angles of impact.

Swingbyte helps perfect that golf swing.

Bose® QuietComfort 15i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones – This is the perfect gift for when Dad needs to escape from the chatter or wants to crank up the volume on his favorite movie or song without hearing, “turn it down!” This is also perfect for traveling.

Bose® QuietComfort 15i Noise Cancelling Headphones let Dad escape

Netflix Membership – Binge TV watching has become the new craze these days – you can now get through an entire season of a show in hours. In addition, so many favorite old movies and television shows from decades ago are now available at the touch of a screen or remote. There are also so many hit shows that you can’t watch anywhere else except for Netflix. Let Dad catch up on his new and old favorites with the gift of a Netflix Membership.

Netflix lets Dad catch up on his favorite movies and TV shows on his time.

Empty-Nesters Find Creative Ways to Transform Their New Found Space

Let’s face it. If you’re a parent of a graduating high school senior, your emotions may be running high. Anticipation of “Graduation Day,” impending college expenses and knowing your family life will be forever changed can leave you on an emotional rollercoaster. With empty-nesters discovering their new-found freedom, they are also realizing their homes have just increased by one room (or sometimes more). Although some parents may rope off their son’s or daughter’s room as a shrine to their childhood, others are embracing the realization that although the kids are away at school, they will be back (and most likely bring friends).

Some of the more popular room transformations range from the designing of a man-cave for dad with a cool home theatre or media room (complete with full remote control access), to a sewing and crafting room for mom, or even a gym for both deserving parents to enjoy. With a free in-home design consultation from Granite Transformations®, your dreams for a new space are only a call or click away.

: Create your own craft space with cabinets and countertops from Granite Transformations. A home gym is the perfect way to transform your new found space.

Here are a few fun ideas to turn your new found space into an exciting and functional retreat:

Media Room/Home Theatre: Today’s homeowners are discovering media rooms as a multi-purpose space designed around a large, flat-screen television and outfitted with surround sound and cozy seating. Whether you’re converting a spare bedroom or transforming a larger space (like a garage or basement), your new media room will be the hot spot for entertaining friends and family, streaming music, or it may be your private sanctuary for escaping to watch a favorite movie or even getting lost in your favorite book.

Sewing & Crafting Room: With the kids off to college or moved out of the house, today’s moms are embracing their lighter schedules by finding the time to tap into their creative sides. With the expert advice of the design consultants from Granite Transformations, your new sewing and crafting room could be only days away. Beautiful cabinetry, granite or quartz countertops and even an island for those larger crafting projects make the perfect backdrop for your dream space.

Home Gym: Keeping fit and healthy can be challenging these days because of our demanding schedules. Having the convenience of a home gym leaves the excuses at the door, and opens up the possibilities of balancing the demands of work with staying healthy.

Embrace your new found space and consider a quick and easy remodel by contacting the experts at Granite Transformations for a free in-home design consultation.