Saturday, August 29, 2009

And now a word about our sponsor

We want to thank for sponsoring our $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest. WQ Magazine is Sarasota’s premier women’s magazine. WQ recently launched an interactive online community “e-zine” for women, where you can become a member & contribute your own stories, post events, photos, video, & much more. You can log on each day to see your daily horoscope, promote your business, check out the latest style trends, read a story about healthy living or just catch up with friends. And don’t forget the contests! New contests are featured every week from local companies offering anything from a Retail gift certificate to our $16,000 Backyard Makeover contest. In less than four months they have over 10,000 subscribers to the WQ Daily Scoop, their e-newsletter & more than 1000 online members. Log on to & become a member today! Don’t forget to vote starting September 3rd for the best “worst” backyard in our Backyard Makeover contest on

Friday, August 28, 2009

Web Presence

How many 17 year olds do you know that own their own company? I know of only one & am proud to say she is my niece. Kayla Wakefield started her company when she was 16 years old. She started by helping set up websites for a few not so computer savvy small business owners, myself included, who were also short on time. Word started to spread about what a great job she did & after working pro-bono for several months for friends & family, and repeated suggestions from her “clients“, she decided to go into business for herself. She now specializes in small business websites at an affordable price. When I say affordable I mean affordable, a four page website starts at $100. She is also the youngest chairperson for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Society & is the webmaster for the local Sarasota Chapter. Whether you are looking to set up a new site, have someone jazz up your existing site or just maintain it for you contact Kayla at Click Web Creations also offers a social network setup service (facebook, myspace, twitter, linked, etc.) Kayla has donated a site for our $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover contest. You can visit our site at where you will find more info about each of the local businesses contributing to our contest. Make sure you log on to to enter!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Behind the scenes

For the last couple of weeks I have been sharing information with you about all the great companies that are donating their products & services to our Backyard Makeover Contest. I would like to also tell you about some of the businesses that are sort of behind the scenes. Premier Video Productions, Inc. established in 1989 by LaJuana Pruitt, a local videographer, will be producing a digital video of the entire makeover from start to finish & a copy of the video will be donated to the winner of the contest. Premier Video offers full service video production from the conception of your project to finished delivery. They videotape in digital and HD, serving both local & national cliental ranging from the legal & medical communities to fine arts & entertainment. Recently Premier Video completed a video taping of a television pet show. To learn more about Premier Video visit their website at or call 941-753-1910. Only 5 days left to enter the $16,000 ultimate backyard makeover contest only on

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Living your passion

“What is the single illuminating thing which shines its light on all the elements of the best parts of your life (the sound of which makes your heart sing and your feet dance)?"Answer that and then you know: that is the thing you must do..” Mary Anne Radmacher
This quote was sent to me by a friend a few days ago & it made me think, who do I know that is doing what they must do, another friend came to mind, Michelle Donner. Michelle has been taking photographs her whole life, and always loved it. She made a decision earlier this year to “live my passion” & launched Michelle Donner Photography. She now spends her days doing what she loves best, taking photographs of wildlife, pets & people. Her work can be seen in several local magazine ads & on Michelle will photograph & record small events to family portraits. She says she loves to make people smile! Michelle will be taking photos of our backyard makeover & will be donating a garden portrait of the winners of our $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest in their new backyard. To view Michelle’s photos visit win you must enter, so be sure to log on to .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Free Staycation

Every so often we need to get away from our daily routine & recharge our batteries. This can be difficult to do with work, kids & the demands of our busy schedules. Why not consider a staycation? Take a long weekend or even a single night & stay in one of Sarasota’s fine hotels. One of Sarasota's best hotels, the Best Western Sarasota Midtown provides lodging in the heart of Sarasota, near downtown where you will find wonderful local restaurants, entertainment & shopping And minutes from the Sarasota gulf beaches. The Best Western Midtown was recently remodeled & now features all new rooms. All rooms are now non-smoking & for those of you with pets....the Best Western Midtown is a Pet Friendly Hotel! Cusic Daniels of Charter One has provided us with a room at the Best Western Midtown for the lucky winner of our $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest. That’s right if you win you get a mini staycation too! While we are slaving away in your backyard you can be relaxing by the pool. Make sure to check out the Best Western Midtown at & hurry, before it’s too late to enter the $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest on

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getaway in your own backyard

There is nothing I enjoy more than sitting on our porch in the evening listening to the sound of trickling water as it runs over the waterfall & into our pond, watching the Koi gliding gracefully through the water as the butterflies & dragonflies are darting around the flowers. This is the most relaxing part of my day. A time where I can take a few moments & let go of the days business & enjoy the peace & quiet. It’s like getting a mini vacation all year every day long! Then I remember, this is what we get to do for a living, create a place for you to get-away from the world without having to leave your home. A peaceful retreat in your own backyard. The Backyard Getaway will be creating a one of a kind water feature for the winner of the $16,000 ultimate backyard makeover contest. If you would like to see pictures of some of the beautiful water features created by Backyard Getaway visit our website at or contact Backyard Getaway at 941-752-POND to set up a pond consultation & of course don’t forget to enter the Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest on .

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hurricane Season

It’s that time of year again, hurricane season. This is a good time to start thinking about replacing your old windows & doors with hurricane impact resistant windows & doors. Installing impact-resistant windows will not only protect your home from high winds, rain, and the destructive force of wind-borne debris they will also provide energy savings, noise control, UV protection and peace of mind.
There is a bonus, installing Energystar impact resistant or energy saving rated windows in your Florida home could qualify you for local utility rebate programs & a federal tax credit of up to $1500 (or 30% of the original cost). Of course you don’t want to install those windows yourself that would be a pane. Call our good friends Bill & Bill at NDC Carpentry (941)524-0930 or email them for more info at The guys at NDC Carpentry are local general contractors specializing in custom interiors. kitchens, baths, windows, doors, Custom trim, arbors & decks. They are donating a garden arbor for our $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover contest. Time is running out to enter make sure to submit your entry to

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gulfcoast Plumeria Society

Palma Sola Botanical Gardens in west Bradenton has a new Lei garden containing over 75 Plumeria Trees thanks to the Gulfcoast Plumeria Society. You may not know that the Plumeria is the beautiful flower that is used in traditional Hawaiian Lei. Plumeria are actually know by many names including, Frangipani, Melia, or Temple Tree. Native to tropical America these trees are considered Florida friendly & are widely used in tropical landscapes around the world & is usually associated with temples. The Gulfcoast Plumeria Society is an organization that is dedicated to furthering public knowledge of the Plumeria. They meet the 2nd Saturday of each month at 11am at Palma Sola Botanical Gardens in Bradenton under the oaks. The meetings are free & open to the public. Laurie Galle, president of the society has graciously donated a couple of her beautiful Plumeria trees to our Backyard Makeover contest. If you would like to learn more about the Gulfcoast Plumeria Society please contact Laurie or Roger Galle. 941-758-3588. To enter our $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover contest log on to .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carbon footprint, greenhouse gases what does it all mean?

Have you thought about updating your home or office to make it more environmentally friendly but don’t know where to begin? Maybe you are overwhelmed with all the “green” information that you think why bother, it will cost too much or take up too much time. Did you know that going green can be as simple as changing your halogen light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs & unplugging or turning off electronics that are not in use. Of course there are larger steps you can take like adding solar panels to your roof. Not every one is ready for that big of a step but every little step you take will add up in helping to reduce your carbon footprint. Ok, carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, green washing, if these terms are Greek to you there is someone who can help, Steff Marcusky founder of Your Green Home Resource. Steff started her business with the belief that we can leave the world a better place for our children. She tells us that there are three facets of “green” living: energy/water efficiency, air quality & environmental stewardship. Learning the importance of these facets will help in your journey. Of course, taking that first step is important & Steff will help you start the process by educating & coaching you & your family as to what steps you can take to make your home & office “green”. Your green home resource isn’t about forcing anyone into a choice that they are not comfortable with & suggests starting slowly, maybe try something new every six months. To learn more about Your Green Home Resource visit . One more thing, If you win our $16,000 Ultimate backyard makeover contest you will receive a complete home consultation from Your Green Home Resource. Remember to enter at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Super Summer Sale

Join us on Saturday August 22nd 9am-2pm for our Semi Annual One day pond "yard" sale.
Enjoy savings up to 75% off select pond decor, fish food, new & used equipment & more.
Aquatic plants starting at $2 each, Sale on Koi too.
For more info & directions contact us at

Keeping it clean

It doesn’t matter where you live these days in every neighborhood you will find at least one house that is empty because the owners are either trying to sell the property or it’s in foreclosure. You know the one that has grass & weeds growing knee high, paint peeling & is basically an invitation for trouble. That property doesn’t have to be an eyesore. There are companies that are available to help maintain the property. D & T Handy Girlz is one such business. Doris & Terry have over 15 years experience in caring for both commercial & residential properties. They specialize in securing, cleaning & maintaining foreclosed properties. Not only are these Handy Girlz landscape experts they can fix & install tile, paint & wallpaper & do many small household repairs. We are pleased to have them on our landscaping team for the $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest. If you know of anyone in need of a home preservation specialist have them contact Doris & Terry at 941-713-1387 Don’t forget to enter to win the Ultimate Backyard Makeover contest on

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trash to Treasure

Have you ever heard the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? In this case, every one’s trash is one women’s treasure. Patricia Gormley is one of those people that has a talent for making something beautiful out of what most people would consider to be garbage. Utilizing a plasma cutter & a mig welder she makes whimsical garden art & useful interior art sculptures out of old car parts, metal furniture, hardware, lawn equipment & what ever else she can find. Patricia has been a silversmith since 1991 & in 2007 decided to start her own line of hand crafted sculptures using 100% recycled materials. Patricia has graciously donated a unique piece that she is creating especially for our backyard makeover contest. This one of a kind artwork will be revealed during the Backyard Makeover. To view some of Pat’s most recent work visit her new website at or contact her directly at Enter to win the $16,000 Ultimate Backyard Makeover at click on the backyard makeover link & add your yard picture & why you would like to win. Hurry contest ends August 31st.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Going Native

What’s all the fuss about planting native plants over exotic or non-natives? Planting Native or Florida friendly plants in your landscape is important for so many reasons. To begin with they will require less water, saving you time & money. Native plants have been exposed to Florida’s pests conditions for many generations which has helped build up their resistance to insects & disease. They have also adapted to the weather conditions allowing for them to need less fertilizing. Butterflies, birds & other wildlife depend on native plants for food & shelter. Natives bloom & leaf out when they are needed most by wildlife. This means by doing something as simple as planting a native or Florida friendly plant you will be helping the environment by conserving water & eliminating the worry of chemical run off into our local waterways as well as providing food & shelter to wildlife.
If you aren’t sure what qualifies as a native plant or Florida friendly plant ask the experts Laurel Schiller & her partner Dan Walton owners of Florida Native Plants, Inc. FNP is a local owned business that was founded as Florida Scrub Growers & has been growing native plants from seeds & cuttings since 1982. To learn more about Florida Native Plants visit . I’m sure you have guessed by now Laurel & Dan are donating some of their wonderful native plants to our $16,000 Ultimate backyard makeover contest which you can enter to win at

Friday, August 14, 2009

It’s summer in Florida you know what that means… rain nearly every afternoon. This is a good time to install a rain barrel to harvest rain water. We may not be thinking of watering right now but soon the rain will stop & out will come the hose. Most rain barrels are made out of 55 gallon drums & don’t take up much room, like the ones you can purchase from Eco Essentials in Sarasota. A small rain barrel may not provide all the water you would need to sustain your garden but it will help to supplement your watering schedule. Imagine this, a 1” rainfall will generate roughly a half gallon of water per square foot of roof area, or 1000 gallons of water for a 2000 square foot roof, that’s a lot of water! You can save a substantial amount of water over a period of time using stored rain water. Jodi John of Eco-essentials has even teamed up with a local artist to paint the barrels she sells so they will fit in to any d├ęcor. She tells us that larger barrels are also available for people with large yards. Personally we have two 55 gallon barrels & a 150 gallon container that we use for our ponds & gardens. It does help. Jodi has kindly donated one of her rain barrels complete with spigot, overflow hose & mosquito netting. Eco Essentials also offers earth boxes, worm farming & an Organic Shitake Mushroom buying club. You can contact Jodi at or at 941-954-6035.
Don’t forget to enter to win our fabulous backyard makeover contest on

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hydroponic gardening made easy…
What is hydroponic gardening? It’s the science of growing plants with an inert medium like gravel, sand, pumice & even sawdust instead of soil. A nutrient solution is added to the soil-less culture that contains all the elements needed by the plant for growth. Now that we have that out of the way, wouldn’t it be great to be able to grow all your veggies & herbs in a small 14” space, using less water & not have to use traditional insecticides or fungicides too?
Local inventor/grower Chester C. Bullock has the perfect solution. He invented the HYDRO-STACKER system a vertical hydroponic growing system. I have seen these unusual systems in action at the Hydro-Taste you pick farm, it’s amazing! The HYDRO-STACKER system saves up to 400% of water usage over traditional gardens using only 3 quarts of water for 20 plants in 14 square inches. Chester believes that the system should be easy to set up, easy to use & give great results. To learn more about the Hydro-Stacker system visit for directions to the farm visit . One more thing, if you win the Backyard Makeover contest you will receive two of these innovative systems. Make sure you enter at by August 31st.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finding art in unusual places

What do aluminum trailers, stainless steel kitchen backsplashes, fire hose racks & metal sculptures have in common? These items & so much more can be custom made for you by All Phases Welding & Fabrication Inc. All Phases is a local independent business based out of Ellenton. Bradly Ranney & Stefanie Gross founded their company in 2008, offering over 15 yrs of experience in all aspects of welding. They pride themselves on offering quality workmanship, honesty, integrity & great value.
What’s interesting about this business is that they also do artistic projects too. Last year All Phases partnered with Electra Lee Arcotte Magnet School for the Arts 8th grade class for a sculpture project funded by a grant from The Arts Council of Manatee County. They worked side by side with the students for six weeks to design this sculpture for the school. What is even more exciting is that Stefanie & Bradly have agreed to create two one of a kind solar lamp post for our Backyard Makeover Contest! Now we can’t show you pictures of the lamp post, you will have to wait for the makeover to see them, but we are including a picture of the Lee middle Sculpture. To see more on this project & what else they offer visit Remember you can only win if you enter so be sure to log on to & click on the backyard makeover link.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tiki, Jewelry & Candles...oh my!

I love it when I find something unique & out of the ordinary especially when it is hand made. There is a quant gift shop hidden amongst the stores along Gulf Dr. on Anna Maria Island. When you walk through the courtyard you would never guess that inside the store you would find so many beautiful items. The Hive Creations carry several different unique hand crafted lines. We found a beautiful hand made jewelry line, Nectar Jewelry, The Illustration Nation which includes illustrated children’s book, cards, paintings & hand printed clothing, AnnaMariki Tiki a collection of hand carved woodworks & Tiki, and some fabulous hand made Palm oil candles that I couldn’t resist.
What makes this shop stand out from the others is the fact that all of these lines are created by jewelry designer, Rachel Vanatte Noyes & Illustrator, Justin Kingsley Noyes. This talented couple have donated two of Justin’s hand carved Tiki for our backyard makeover contest. Justin told us that the wood carving started by accident. One evening he picked up a piece of wood & started carving & before he knew it AnnaMariki Tiki was born. Another interesting tidbit, Justin’s Illustrations were featured in last year’s motion picture The House Bunny. Make sure the next time you are on the Island you stop in to see Rachel & Justin. To learn more about this interesting couple check out their website at & make sure you enter the FREE $16,000 Backyard Makeover contest on

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Christmas...In August?

Isn’t it funny how every year when it’s time to put up your holiday lights they always seem to be a tangled mess & when you do finally get them straightened out half the bulbs are blown? I know it’s a little early to worry about holiday decorating but this year I plan to be prepared. No, I am not going to start untangling those old strands of lights, I am calling Decorating Elves. Can you believe it, there is a company that will install your holiday lights for you! What‘s even better is that they will maintain them (change out blown bulbs, etc) through out the season then take them down & store them for you. Best idea I’ve heard of in a long time!
Don’t let the name fool you there is more to these guys than just holiday lights & decorations. Decorating Elves & it’s sister company Tampa Bay Landscape Lighting, also offer traditional landscape lighting with free demonstrations, as well as lighting for special events, wedding receptions, parties, graduations, retail & event displays, corporate events, restaurants and clubs. Decorating Elves was started as a small business venture by Nick Schriver to help homeowners Avoid the Holiday Hassle. To view their portfolio & see what they have to offer visit or . And yes, you guessed it, they are part of the fabulous $16,000 Backyard Makeover contest sponsored by . Decorating Elves will be installing a set of 10 low voltage landscape lights complete with transformer in your new backyard.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some yard projects are better left to the professionals

Have you ever tried to do a home improvement project in your yard only to have it look worse than it did before you started? Laying pavers can be one of these type of projects. It’s important to make sure your area is level & you have the correct base before you lay the pavers. As much as I enjoy working in my yard this is one project I would rather have installed professionally. Choosing an installer who will do quality work is as important as choosing the pavers you want to use that’s why we are so glad that Sarasota’s Paving Crew Inc. will be installing the pavers patio & retaining wall with seating for our backyard makeover contest!
Paving Crew Inc is a company specialized in installation of interlocking brick pavers, old Chicago pavers and retaining walls. Brick pavers are today's most durable solution for patios, around pools, decks, driveways, porches, and paths. To get a glimpse of what a beautiful & artistic job the Paving Crew does visit their website at & remember you can’t win if you don’t enter. Enter exclusively on post a picture of your yard & why you need a new backyard (or front yard). Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What would you do...

What would you do if someone gave you a brand new shed? I don’t mean those metal kind that come in a kit & rust so quickly or the plastic ones that the doors always fall off. I mean a handcrafted wood shed that will not only stand up to our Florida weather but will make a beautiful accent to your home. I can think of a few uses, how about a home office, a craft room, a home gym, a playroom for the kids or a “man cave” for the man in your life. For me the perfect use would be a potting shed to hide all my plant baskets, planting medium & potting tools that seem to always be scattered around the yard. Hmm, have you thinking don’t I? Can you imagine having a shed valued at $1800 given to you!
Jo-Anne Peck co-founder of Historic Shed has donated one of their sheds to our Backyard Makeover Contest. Historic Shed is a company that was founded by the historic preservation professionals at Preservation Resource, Inc. to meet the needs of historic-home owners for affordable and attractive garden sheds and accessory buildings that complement and enhance their historic homes. Joanne & everyone at Historic Shed pride themselves on being eco-conscious by using true preservation practices through recycling & repair. To learn more about Historic Shed visit & don’t forget to enter the Ultimate Backyard Makeover Contest on .Be sure to include a picture of your yard. Hurry contest ends August 31st 2009. Remember you can't win if you don't enter!