Monday, June 11, 2018

A Taste for Something Better

'Tis the season farmer's markets begin sprouting up. They stock their booths and tents with spectacular bursts of color and amazing flavor varieties. Though many of the items can be found at local, big chain grocery stores, you can't beat freshness straight from the farm.

Here are some great reasons you may want to consider patronizing your neighborhood market:

1. It’s Local – When shopping with local farmers, your produce doesn’t have to endure long shipments. By reducing shipping, you are helping to cut down the amount of packing materials and carbon monoxide emissions used during the shipping process.

2. Unbeatable Freshness – Local farmers don’t have to harvest produce until it’s ready to eat, keeping the max freshness from soil to plate. Larger, nationwide suppliers must pick their produce before it's ripe to ensure it can be shipped and delivered to stores on time. In addition to losing freshness from early harvesting, also consider the amount of time produce has to sit on the shelves or in packaging.

3. Maximum Nutrition – Because local farmers can wait until foods are ripe to harvest them, their produce stays fully packed with nutrients and flavor - qualities that are lost with early harvesting and shipping. The sooner you eat produced after it's picked, the more nutritious it is for you.

4. In Season – Your farmer’s market will only carry what is in season. This could be a GREAT opportunity to learn what is available during certain times of the year, and who knows, maybe give something new a try! This could also be a great experience for children - encouraging them to find, taste and learn about food they haven't seen before.

5. Community Support – Chances are, the local farm is a small, family run operation, which has been part of the community for generations. They count on the support of neighbors and community in order to stay in business. What better way to show your appreciation of all they do and support your local economy in the process.

6. More Natural – There's a good chance your local farmer uses less harmful pesticides and hormones than nationwide suppliers. Unlike larger farms that are required to mass produce for stores all over the country, local farms don’t have this same demand. Many have the ability to be more precautious and take steps to ensure their food is healthy and flavorful instead of prioritizing large quantities over taste.

7. Know Your Food Source – People like to buy items from people they trust, why should food be any different? When you buy locally, you really get to know the people who bring food to your table. Take time to talk to local farmers. Learn about their farm; find out what processes are involved in harvesting, what types of soil and fertilizers they use, as well as what precautions they take against insects and other hazards to their food. All about organic foods? This would be a great way to find out if those are the standards your local farm lives up to.

8. Get Tips – Local farmers are often very friendly people and always willing to lend a helping hand to their customers. Unsure how to prepare a certain veggie? They are sure to have some great tips on ways to prepare the foods that they sell.

Everyone in the Accardi family has their favorite booth at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers Market:  Some of their favorites include the extra-large peaches from Tuckey’s Mountain Grown, sugared nuts from Nuts To You and the honey from Honey Bee Lake Apiary.  Visiting the market together is a fun family outing!

If you’ve never been to a local farmer’s market for food, why not give it a try this season and see what you think.

Monday, April 9, 2018

More than Meets the Eye

An optical illusion is the shift we experience between what our eyes see and how our brain processes that information. As we perceive the world around us, our brain receives 3 dimensional clues about our surroundings, including depth, shading, lighting and position, which enable us to see objects correctly. When viewing a 2 dimensional image, however, we can be tricked into seeing things differently or even into seeing things that aren't even there. While there is a wide variety of illusions, here are a few classic examples:


Multi-stable Optical Illusions: In a Multi-stable Illusion, your brain perceives an illustration in two different ways. In this example, Corner House by Istv├ín Orosz, it appears that the walls either come together in a way that the windows face inward, toward each other, or, as two walls facing outward away from one another. With crafty use of perspective, the image tricks your eyes into shifting between the two options. If you cover up the bottom half of the image, you can see it would be impossible for the windows to be facing away from each other and conversely, if you cover the top half of the image, it would be impossible for the windows to be facing each other. This combination is what tricks your eyes into seeing it flip flop between the two. Click here to learn more about him and see other examples of his impossible art. 

Hermann Grid Illusion: This Illusion was created by Ludimar Hermann in 1870. In this illusion, your eyes are tricked into seeing grey dots appear within the white intersections of the grid. If you were to now stare directly at one specific intersection, the grey dot within that intersection disappears altogether.  For a detailed explanation as to how this illusion works, click here.

AfterImages: An afterimage occurs when your eyes are focused on a stimuli and when that stimuli is removed, you see either a reverse or contrasting image to what was there previously. In this example, if you stare at the flag image shown for 30 to 60 seconds, then look towards a white surface, you will see a the image of the flag in contrasting colors. For more examples of afterimages and how they work, click here.

Ebbinghaus Illusion: What you see here is one example of an Ebbinhaus Illusion. In this illusion, one plays with relative size to trick you into seeing something bigger or smaller than it actually is. This classic example of Titchener circles takes two orange circles and surrounds them with different sized gray ones. On the left, the orange circle appears much smaller and on the right, the orange circle seems much larger, when in fact, they are the same exact size. These illusions work similarly to Ponzo illusions, which play on the use of perspective to accomplish the same task. Click here for a nice video that demonstrates the Ebbinghaus Illusion in action. 

Motion Illusion: A motion illusion is one in which an image appears to in motion due to the way our brain processes interacting color contrasts, shape and position. Illusory motion can occur in multiple ways depending on the image. Some can appear to turn, as in the example provided, while other can appear to flicker, pulsate or shift. Click here for some other great examples of Motion illusions.

Ambiguous Illusions: Ambiguous Illusions demonstrate how our brain can process images in completely different ways.  Look at the example by Oleg Shuplyak. At first glance you may see all the fine details of a little bird sitting on a branch near colorful leaves. Now, look at the image again, and look at the leaves again. You may notice now, that they also take on the appearance of a second bird. Some might see two birds at first before seeing that the illusion of a bird is created with an illustration of leaves. If you’d like to see some more of ambiguous artworks, click here.

Paradox Illusions: Paradox illusions are such that create an impossible shape. One classic example of this illusion is the Pemrose Triangle you see here. These impossible shapes could never exist in the real world, only as a 2 dimensional image. At first glance, it flows wonderfully, but upon closer examination, you notice that the the way in which the object is created, could never truly exist. Click here to view some other great examples.

Optical illusions have interested people for many years. Here are a few great resources to see the wide variety available and learn more in depth how they work:
Wikipedia, Illusion Index, How Stuff Works

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Helping Hands

As we enter into the holiday season, many people get into the spirit of helping others even more than usual. If joining in a community service effort sounds like something you’d like to do but just not sure where or how, here are a few ideas to get you on track:

Food Banks or Soup Kitchens – There are a large number of food banks and soup kitchens in Delaware that are always in need of help. The best way to find out what needs they have, running events, item collection, serving food etc… is to contact those you are interested in volunteering with and see what you can do to help. This website has compiled a list of some throughout Delaware and would be a good place to start your search.

Animal Shelter or Rescue – Contact local animal shelters, often times there are many ways that you can help serve animals in need besides just adopting them. Some examples that I have seen are:

 * Donating items - pillows, blankets, leashes and food are just a few needed items
 * Fostering animals
 * Helping at adoption events
 * Walk Dogs or Play with Cats
 * Pet Transportation
 * Financial Donations
 * And much more.

This website has some good advice to consider before you sign up for volunteering at a shelter. The best place to start is to locate a shelter near you that sounds like a good fit and inquire about their specific needs and requirements.

Neighborhood Projects – Getting together with neighbors and organizing a clean-up effort or other neighborhood project is another wonderful way to help your community.  Here are suggestions for ways you can serve those that live closest to you:

 * Locate a legal place to safely set up a little free library. This website has just about everything you need to know to start one of your own.
 * Create a neighborhood garden where people can get together and grow veggies or plant flowers as a community. * Take part in the Sawgrass Community Residents Adopt-a-Highway Program when the weather warms up.
 * Have a group meet-up. Volunteering to teach others a skill can be very beneficial. Interested participants can come together and learn to paint, use a computer program, play an instrument, learn to sew or any other skill you might have to offer. Also, it’s a great opportunity to make some friends with similar interests.
 * Good at sports? Offer to coach a youth team that might need assistance.
Virtual Volunteering – If you would love to help but getting out somewhere to volunteer is hard for you, there are still options aside from just donating money. This website helps potential volunteers find opportunities near them and that includes virtual volunteering! There are many ways we can still help our community from the comfort of our own homes. These opportunities include such things as translating, web development, writing, marketing, social media, blogging, fundraising and much more. Not finding a cause that suits your interests? You might discover that some of these skills could be useful at just about any charity. Take a few moments to give them a call and see if they have any virtual opportunities available.

Community Collections – A pretty well known option for community service is collecting of items. These are pretty easy to set up, pick a cause and an organization and run a collection within the community. You can spread the word with flyers, posting on e-mail listservs, mentioning it on social media platforms or even host a party if you wanted to get more elaborate. Wondering what to collect? Here are some ideas to get you started:

 * School supplies – always a great choice for July/August before school starts.
 * Homeless Care Packages – Warm clothing, personal care and food are always needed.
 * Books – There are many kids, schools or even some libraries in need of books of all types.
 * Food drive – non perishable items. Don't forget, this can be any time of year. Many times the warmer summer months often get forgotten, and these are the months children don't get lunches at school.
 * Toys for Tots –Organize a toy drive in your community and take the toys you’ve collected to the established location of your choice by their deadline.
Assist the Elderly – Helping the elderly members of the community throughout the year is a wonderful service project. Here are some ideas that may be appreciated:
 * Yard work - Shoveling Sidewalks, raking leaves, mowing lawns and trimming bushes and trees.
 * Food - Bring them frozen meals that they can just take out and heat up, help with grocery shopping or putting away items that have been delivered, go grocery shopping, offer to take them out for a nice dinner and keep them company.
 * Additional Help – Assist with minor repairs like fixing a leaky faucet or re-sealing a deck, take out their trash, clean their cars, walk their dog or just spend some quality time talking or playing a game.
 * Check with a local retirement facility and see if they have any specific needs. A lot of times, there are residents that would just enjoy company because they may not have family nearby.

Volunteer at Local Events – Many times there are local events going on that might need a few extra hands. It might be beneficial to check in with local schools, churches and community centers to see if they have anything coming up. Additionally, take a look in your newspaper or online for events coming up such as charity drives or 5K runs etc… they may need extra help as well.
Mentoring – Have a business of your own? Help out the others in your community by offering mentoring or internships. This is a great avenue for college students or even adults looking to make a career change or start their own businesses.

There are so many ways that we can help make a difference right in our own communities either by donating, interacting or just helping out. Once you find that perfect fit for you, you’re bound to enjoy giving even more.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fall at the Beach

Enhancing the natural beauty of your beach home during the summer is a breeze, but during the cooler, off-season months, you can find plenty of creative ways to keep that beachy feeling but also enjoy fall decorating. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Painted Seashells – A good way to use those seashells found over the summer is to paint them! You can do something simple like painting them fall colors, or add detail by painting them too look like pumpkins or other Halloween inspired creatures or wording on them.

Nautical Pumpkins – If keeping with a more traditional beach color scheme is more your taste, marry the two ideas. Purchase some pumpkins from a local store and paint them with breezy beach colors to give that feeling of fall without using dark colors. If you're the artistic type, you could even get into painting pictures on them as well such as octopi or seahorses.

Another great way to give a beach feeling to pumpkins is to purchase some artificial pumpkins from a store, spray them with an adhesive and then cover them with sand. This will give them a "sandcastle" appearance pretty easily.

Mermaid Corn – Another typical fall decoration is dried corn. Add some beachy flare to the corn by coloring the husks! Here is a great tutorial.
Pumpkin Jar – This time of year it should be pretty easy to find a clear glass pumpkin jar at almost any retailer or online store such as this. Another great idea I ran across was to buy one of these jars and fill it with beach finds. You could put sand, shells, stones, driftwood or any other beach related items.

Cornucopia – A fun take on your typical cornucopia that I found was to replace the typical horn shape with a large shell and filling that with smaller beach-like items such as sand dollars, white pumpkins instead orange, starfish and so on.
While these are just a few, there are tons of ideas out there for decorating your beach home this fall season. Share some of your favorite ideas on our Facebook page!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Welcome Gail!

Please stop by the clubhouse and meet the newest member of the Piccard Homes/Sawgrass South Sales Team, Gail Trager.  She is originally from the greater Philadelphia area but has made Rehoboth Beach her home for the past 15 years.

She has an extensive real estate background, having sold new homes for Pulte Homes and Toll Brothers in Pennsylvania.  Since moving to the beach, Gail has sold new construction with Gemcraft Homes at the community of Five Points and general real estate with Lingo Realtors.

Gail is looking forward to her new career with Piccard Homes at Sawgrass South and we are very happy to welcome her as part of our sales team!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Beach Hacks to Make Your Next Trip a Breeze!

Who doesn’t love a fun filled day lounging out on the beach. It’s wonderful to relax in the sun, listen to the waves and enjoy the whole beach going experience. Here are some tips to help make your next trip a breeze.

  Baby Powder –
 This is a beach must. Sprinkling baby powder on your hands or body quickly removes the moisture allowing you to easily brush off caked, wet sand. This is perfect when you need to reapply sunblock and don’t want the grains scraping your skin, or want to have a snack.

Inflatable Kiddie Pool Have little ones at the beach that aren’t quite ready to play in the waves? Bringing an inflatable kiddie pool is a great way for them to enjoy the water. Fill it up a bit to allow them to splash around or play with toys. This allows parents to sit and relax while also letting the kids enjoy the water. As an added bonus, place the pool under an umbrella to keep out of the sun.

Cork Keychain These are simple to make and are a great alternative if you don’t want to carry around a full set of keys. All you need is a cork, eye hooks and split rings. Screw the eye hook into the cork, attach the ring and voila! A floating keychain, perfect to take to the beach!

Ice Alternatives Save cooler space by packing freezable drinks and snacks instead of ice. They will keep your items cold but as they thaw, there will be plenty of things to eat. Some good options are water, juice, lemonade, grapes, yogurt sticks, popsicles and PB&J (Tip: Put Peanut butter on both bread slices and top with jelly to prevent soggy bread).

Another fun idea is freezing water balloons. Pack your cooler with this ice substitute and then let the kids have a water balloon fight on the beach after they thaw. 

Mesh Laundry Bag Keep beach toys in a mesh laundry hamper. The mesh bags allow the sand to sift through the holes while also air drying the toys.

Fitted Sheets Bring an old fitted sheet to the beach. By placing heavier bags and coolers in each corner, you create a relatively sand-free room for you and the family to relax in. This will also make an ideal play area for babies, minimizing how sandy they get. Further, if you set up a beach umbrella near one of the corners, you have a shaded section as well. 

Freezer Bags Freezer bags make a great beach cover for your phone. They will help prevent it from getting wet (not completely waterproof) while still allowing you to use your touch screen through the plastic so you don’t have to remove it.  

Additionally, if you don’t own any ice packs, you can make your own by filling them with water and letting them freeze.

Reuse Plastic Containers There are so many uses for your empty containers at the beach:
     Disguise - Use empty household containers to disguise your valuable items such as keys, money, phones and wallets. You can make good use of Pringles cans, wipes containers, empty Chapstick containers for money or anything else that might trick someone. 

     Storage – You can use empty plastic creamer containers to put snacks that might otherwise crumble such as goldfish or pretzel sticks. Reuse an empty wipe container to store garbage bags or napkins/tissue so the boxes don’t get wet and soggy. Lastly, clean out those peanut butter jars to make a nice dry place to keep your phone, keys or money.

Cupcake Liners Keep little hands clean while enjoying a popsicle on a hot summer day by pushing the popsicle stick through a paper cupcake liner. The liner will catch all those sticky drips as the popsicle begins to melt instead of them landing all over your or your child.

Get Crafty Here are a couple other creative ways to make your beach day a little easier.

     Duct Tape Beach Bag Don’t worry about your bag getting wet, here is a simple way to make a durable beach bag out of duct tape!
  • 2 rolls of Duct Tape, alternating patterns
  • white plastic trash bag
  • Permanent marker
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Cut open the plastic bag along one edge and the bottom. Tape it to a table top to keep it in place; use the marker to create a 16 x 30" rectangle.
  • Start duct taping right on top of the bag, covering the rectangle. Alternate your duct tape choices and slightly overlap each layer until you cover the entire rectangle. Make sure to overlap the edges you drew slightly.
  • Once you're done, press it all down well and then release your bag from the table. Flip it over and cut out along the Sharpie lines so you have a nice big rectangle of Duct Tape.
  • Next, apply strips of duct tape to each edge of the rectangle.
  • Fold up your bag and tape the sides together, leaving the top open. 
    • Handles:
    • Cut 2 26.5” and 2 25.5”pieces of tape
    • Center one shorter strip on top of one of the longer strips to create a handle
    • Stick each end inside the bag and attach. If you want to add to the durability, you can secure further by overlapping a piece of tape over where the handles are attached.
      Add Pockets to Your Beach Towels –By adding a few stitches to your beach towel, you can create pockets that serve the dual purpose of holding your items as well as help to weigh down your towel to prevent it from blowing around.
  • Start with an oversized beach towel so you have more space to work with.
  • Fold up one end about 6” (or however much you want depending on how deep or shallow you want the pockets).
  • Measure out the width you want for each pocket and mark it with a pin. You can make some pockets wider or skinnier if you want to customize a pocket to fit a specific item.
  • Sew along both sides of the towel and down each strip where you have the pins marked and done! As an added bonus, you can put all the items in the pockets when packing, then just roll the towel up and go instead of tossing them loosely into a bag.
Hopefully some of these tips will help your next beach trip go a little easier.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Board at the Beach

Summer vacations are around the corner, but what to do when we need to stay indoors? My family is a huge fan of board games, which is a great solution for those times when it’s rainy or too late to be outdoors. You have your standard classics such as Sorry, Scrabble, Life and Monopoly, but if you’re looking for something a bit more unique and interesting, then look no further. I’ve compiled a short list of some of our family favorites:

2-4 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
Four diseases have popped up across the globe and it’s up to you and your team of specialists to eradicate them before they take over. Each player selects a role from several different specialists each with a specific skill that makes them unique to the team. For example, a Medic will remove all cubes of a certain type of disease in a city instead of just one when treating. Each player will work in conjunction with one another to use skills wisely, plan strategies and ultimately save the world from extinction. This truly is a game where you all win or lose together. 

Forbidden Island:
2-4 Players, Ages 10 and up, approximately 30 mins to play.
Play as a team of explorers seeking out sacred treasures from a beautiful island paradise. Watch out though, this island is sinking! It’s a race against the clock as you work together to collect all four treasures and escape before the island is engulfed completely in water! Like Pandemic, Forbidden Island is also a cooperative game containing specialists that must use their talents wisely to accomplish their goal.

Survive Escape from Atlantis:
2-4 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
If escaping sinking islands sounds like a fun theme for you, this is a great choice for those looking for a competitive game. The volcano has awoken and now the people of Atlantis face certain doom! Each player works independently to evacuate their pawns (ranked by point value 1-6) from the island as quickly as possibly either by boat or by swimming, but watch out! The water is a dangerous place filled with sharks, whales and serpents! Whoever has the most points on the safe islands at the end, wins! This is an amazing reboot of Parker Brothers classic game, Survive!

2-4 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 45 mins to play.
Let the expedition begin! Karuba is an addictive tile placing board game in which all players take their turn simultaneously (great for those, especially kids, that have a hard time waiting until their turn). In this game, each player must get their explorers to their corresponding temples before everyone else, collecting treasures along the way. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins! This is a really fun strategy game for the whole family.

Ticket to Ride:
2-5 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
Ticket to Ride is a train-themed board game in which players connect cities across the country via railway routes. Players will collect various colored train cards in order to claim railways and connect their destinations. Tensions rise as you use strategy to decide whether to go for more points or secure a critical route! This is an easy to learn game that offers a lifetime of replay value.

2-4 Players, Ages 7 and up, approximately 45 mins to play.
Blokus is a low-key and fantastic strategy game. Players take turns placing one of their geometric shapes on the grid. The object is to fit as many of your pieces on to the board as possible while also trying to block your opponents. The rule is this, your pieces cannot be adjacent to your own, but must touch at least one corner of them. The game ends when no more pieces can be played and the player left with the least amount of squares (what each shape is made up of) wins!
2-4 Players, Ages 6 and up, approximately 45 mins to play.
Qwirkle is another fun, tile placing game.  The objective of this game is to place matching tiles into the play area. Matching tiles consist of those that share ONE attribute (all the same color but different shape OR all the same shape but different colors) but not both. The dynamic of the game is similar to that of Scrabble, in that you place tiles in straight lines and can play off of other rows of tiles. Players score 1 point for each new tile they place in addition to 1 point for every adjacent tile affected by the placement. If a player is able to complete a row of 6 (1 of each color OR 1 of each shape) that is considered a Qwirkle and 12 points are given. Play continues until all tiles have been drawn and one player goes out. The person with the highest score wins!

Incan Gold:
2-8 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 30 mins to play.Will you brave the hazards of the temple or escape with all your coveted treasures? That’s for you to decide in Incan Gold, a fast-paced, press your luck game. Players take on the part of an explorer looking for treasure in an ancient Incan temple. Over the course of 5 rounds players secretly decide if they will continue going deeper into the temple for more treasure, or leave safely with the share they’ve already found. Watch out! If you get scared out of the temple by a hazard, you lose it all! At the end of the game, the player with the most fortune wins!

Hive :
2 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 20 mins to play.I’ve included this game because not only is it fun, but it can sometimes be challenging to find a really great 2 player game. Hive is along the same lines as chess, but with insects. Each insect type has a specific movement or ability that makes it unique from the others. Use strategic planning and trap your opponent’s queen bee first! The first player to surround their opponent’s queen (by using ANY of the pieces on the board) wins!

4-16 Players, Ages 13 and up, approximately 60 mins to play.
Outrageous fun for everyone! Cranium is a great party game that incorporates creativity, thinking and trivia all into one game. Players work on teams to complete tasks in each category (Data, Performance, Creative and Words) to win. The team that makes it to the end and completes all of their challenges wins!

Bonus Party Game
3-10 Players, Ages 8 and up, approximately 10 mins to play.
**Requires a FREE app to play**

If you’re looking for something REALLY different, I’d like to recommend One Night Ultimate Werewolf. This is a fast-paced bluffing game. Over the course of one round (1 day) each player will secretly have a role to play. At the end, you as a group must decide who the werewolves are amongst you. This gets fun as people try to bluff their way out of being revealed as werewolves. Can YOU think on your feet?

There you have it, a list of some of my favorite games. Find one that has peaked your interest? Great! Now what?

I love to learn as much about a game as I can before purchasing it because, let’s face it, they can be pricey and I want to be sure it would be a good fit for us. One resource I can’t live without in regards to board game research can be found here . On this site, you can find just about any game you can think of. In addition to providing descriptions, they offer reviews, game ratings, a forum for discussion, a place to browse games for sale and they also have put together lists of top games in different categories.

Buying the games. Some of these games can’t be found in your local toy superstore, but they are all easily obtainable. Here are some other options for purchasing:

*Some comic book stores carry a variety of board games.
*Boutique toy stores usually offer these higher end games. 
*Small gaming stores such as Born to Game in Dover, DE, will usually have a great selection to pick from.
*Online retailers such as Ebay or Amazon are also a popular choice.

I hope you enjoy one (or more!) of these titles as much as I do and they can find their way into your board game library!

Happy gaming!