Friday, December 4, 2015

Season of Giving

‘Tis the season for giving, and we would like to take the opportunity to share with you the charities near and dear to our hearts. If a charitable donation is on your list for the holidays, perhaps you would consider one of these worthy causes.


Autism Society Baltimore-Chesapeake - Selected by Carrie Accardi. "One of my best friends from college lost her first son, Spencer, to a rare brain tumor at age 1. She created Spencer’s Friends Foundation, which their family lovingly operated for 10 years. When their youngest son Kirby (commas removed) was diagnosed with Autism, they refocused their fundraising efforts towards this condition.  I supported Spencer’s Friends Foundation then, and the Autism Society now, in an effort to bring some peace and positivity to their family and all others like them".

A volunteer organization founded in 1976. It was created to help serve Maryland families of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. The organization provides information, advocacy and support for families and individuals with autism.


CancerHawk  - This charity was another selection by Carrie. "A very close friend of mine, Robyn Stoller, lost her husband Allan while they were raising three children. At the time they were all under 10  years old, the eldest being a best friend to my daughter.  It was a devastating loss to be witness to, but I’m eternally touched by her drive to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families.  Robyn turned her tragedy into hope and she continues to inspire every day with her blog and website (add link to website?).  I want to do whatever I can to support her life-changing work"!

Founded by Robyn Stoller, after her husband passed away from Renal Cell Cancer. Robyn made it her mission to assist cancer patients in navigating their cancer treatment plans to make the process easier for those already going through an overwhelming time. CancerHawk connects patients and caregivers with the services, products and no-nonsense expertise they need to make their cancer journey easier.


Children's Diabetes Foundation – This charity was selected by Don and Lori, and has strong personal meaning for them. On May 9th, 1999, their 10 year old daughter Tiara was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. For the past 16 years, this condition has had a life-changing impact on their family. By supporting the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, Don and Lori are able to help all those suffering with this disease get the best care possible, as well as fund research to find a cure.

Dedicated solely to the support of research in childhood diabetes and to provide the best possible clinical and educational programs for children with this disease. The Foundation’s mission is to raise funds to support the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes where over 6,000 children and young adults from all over the world receive the finest diabetes care available.



Delaware SPCA – Another selection made by Don and Lori, who have a sincere love for animals. Taking this care above and beyond, they support the Delaware SPCA and help give a voice to animals, who can’t advocate for themselves.

A private nonprofit organization dedicated to the elimination of animal cruelty, neglect and overpopulation by providing services for people and their companion animals since 1873. They do not receive federal funding, and there is no national SPCA. They rely primarily on local donations to carry on their work for the animals.


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - St. Jude was also a selection by Carrie. "My grandmother, Georgia Hazlett, asked me to donate whatever was left of her estate to St. Jude’s Hospital when she passed.  The expenses of her care until age 95 exceeded remaining proceeds from her estate.  She did not know at her passing that there was nothing left to give, but I assured her I would see that a difference was made in her name.  I chose this charity to honor her wishes and memory.

The mission of St. Jude Children’s Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of their founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.


Susan G. Komen Maryland - Our last featured charity was selected by Carrie as well. "Several friends, as well as my stepmother have battled this disease, and have all walked and/or participated in the events of this dedicated organization.  In their honor and name I wanted to do something to continue to fight the fight and make a difference.

Working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community. Through events like the Komen Maryland Race for the Cure in Hunt Valley and Ocean City, Maryland, the Maryland Affiliate has invested $35 million in community breast cancer programs since 1993 and has helped contribute to the more than $800 million invested globally in research.




Monday, November 2, 2015

Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we at Piccard Homes want to express some of what we are thankful for this year:

Our residents – The amazing family community we have is beyond words. Each of you share a special place in our hearts, and without your support and dedication to Sawgrass South, this community would not be what it is today. We enjoy watching the community grow and are truly thankful to have you in our lives.

Our sales team – Don and Lori are an indispensable asset to our business. They go above and beyond to ensure everyone at Sawgrass South feels welcome, secure, and gets the absolute best service. These two amazing people are really the cornerstone in which our community is built, and for that, we are forever grateful. We look forward to the many years to come.

Our contractors – The hard work and dedication our contractors put in to build exquisite homes, is unmatched. Their skill, craftsmanship, and attention to detail  truly shine within each new residence that gets constructed. We cannot fully express the appreciation we have, because without you, none of this would be possible. Thank you for all that you do all year long.

Our employees – We are extremely thankful to all of our employees that help our business run smoothly. Each one contributes exponentially, and without them, success would not be possible. Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence. We appreciate each of you and look forward to what the future holds.

Opportunity to help charities – We at Piccard Homes believe in corporate responsibility, and we care about making a difference. We are thankful that we have the opportunity to fulfill that responsibility yearly. The ability to donate thousands of dollars to help those in need each year, would not be possible without our residents. By choosing one of our homes, you have really helped to make a difference, and for that, we are forever thankful.

Realtors and Lenders -  A special thank you to the Realtors and Lenders that make the process of purchasing a new home go as smoothly as possible, not only for the buyer, but for us as well. We are grateful for your professionalism, expertise, support and countless hours of dedication you put in.

Again, thank you to everyone that makes Sawgrass South a success and an amazing community to be a part of. We cannot express our gratitude enough.

Sincerely,

Mike and Carrie Accardi
Owners – Piccard Homes

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bring on that Fall Feeling


Bring on that Fall Feeling
With the cool weather and holidays quickly approaching, now is a great time to switch your home over from a breezy, summer feel to something a bit more cozy and warm. While there are endless options available to you, we hope that you enjoy some of these ideas to help you get your home ready for autumn:

Light autumn inspired candles– By choosing the right colors and scents for your candles, you can easily portray a feeling of fall. Some of the more typical scents available during this time of year include cinnamon, pumpkin or an apple variety. With so many choices to pick from, here are few places to get you started on your search:

Yankee Candle
Bath and Body Works

McCall's Candles

Get the fireplace going – One sure fire way of getting your home into the spirit of fall is to make use of the fireplace. The smell of crackling wood will fill your home and give your guests a nice cozy feeling. Want to add a little more flare? Here are some ways to include more fragrance to your fire:


DIY Scented Sachet’s

* More DIY Scent Ideas



Add some fall colors to your home – Now is a great time to switch your lighter, summer colors for deeper, autumn/winter colors. Ideal choices for fall are burgundy, dark browns and oranges. You can incorporate hints of these colors by substituting your accent pillows, including area rugs, adding a seasonal table cloth, changing picture frames or adding a dash of color to your drapes. Also, consider thicker linens like  Afghans or quilts, to further enhance the overall feeling of fall. Other ideas include adding a nice mix of texture or draping a cloth to completely cover an end table to give it a new shape.

Decorate your porch and steps –
When putting out seasonal décor; don’t just take in to account the interior of the home. This is a great opportunity to add interesting arrangements to the exterior of your home:

* Hang a corn husk wreath from the door

* Line the walkway with pumpkins


* Put out some rustic furniture


* Include some seasonal flowers such as Mums



Replace flowers with fall foliage – When thinking of adding centerpieces to a table, one usually envisions a floral arrangement. For autumn, put a new spin on the centerpiece by setting up an arrangement of fall foliage including branches and leaves. For an added touch, try using different types of containers for them and surround it with fallen leaves, sticks, pinecones or pumpkins and gourds. You can find an astounding amount of ideas from Google searches and Pinterest by typing in the words “Fall Foliage Arrangements”. In addition to centerpieces, these elements could also make for a nice fall wreath to hang from your door.

Use neutral place settings – To achieve a classic, elegant table setting, opt to use neutral and simple dinnerware such as a solid color or glass. By doing so, you can avoid your dinner table looking too busy. Amp up the season by including small pops of color like a miniature pumpkin in the center of the plate, using orange cloth napkins, putting out your new, fall inspired centerpiece and add some candles.

Paint your pumpkins – Instead of traditional carving, why not get a little creative and add some paint to your pumpkins! Here are a few steps to follow if you would like to give it a try:
* Choose acrylic paints as they will stick better than a poster or children’s paint.

* Choose a pumpkin with a smooth, even shape and be sure to check for soft spots or wormholes that may rot quickly.


* Gently wash the pumpkin with a damp cloth and allow to air dry, do not use an abrasive cloth or brush as it may damage the skin.


* Coating with primer is optional but may help paint stick better, also applying a sealer after the paint dries can help paint last longer.

No matter if you want to go all out or just add a hint to spice things up, you are sure to find the perfect solution to help you get your home in the spirit of the season.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Prepare for Change

Autumn is here, the season of change. Vibrant reds, oranges and yellows will fill the trees, the warm breeze of summer will turn crisp, kids return to school and our clocks will fall back an hour. Before we know it, winter will be staring us right in the face. So- what can you do to prepare? Here are some tips you can use now to get ahead of the game and make your home winter ready:

Check for drafts – Now is the time to ensure your home is sealed up tight to prevent cold drafts and excess heating. A good starting point is to look for old caulking or weather stripping that needs to be replaced. For more information, click here for a great article on detecting air leaks.

If you do happen to notice a problem with the caulk in your home, it is an easy, do-it-yourself project. Please see here for simple steps to follow the next time you need to reseal.

Mulching leaves – While most people tend to rake and bag their leaves, you may consider the alternative of mulching them instead. Mulching leaves has many benefits including the improving grass and reducing weeds. For more information read here, or do some further research to make the best decision for you.


Test your home’s detectors – Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are one of the most valuable assets to your home, and ensuring they are working properly should be one of your top priorities. It is recommended that you test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month and replace their batteries twice a year. A good rule to follow is to change the batteries when you change your clocks.

Evaluate your roofing – Before we get hit with snowfall, it is a great idea to give your roof another once over to ensure there are no cracked, broken or missing shingles. Without intact shingles, you run the risk of your home getting water damage as the snow melts. Read here for more information, but remember, roofing work is dangerous and it is always a good idea to hire a professional.

Keep gutters clear – Due to the high amount of autumn debris from leaves and twigs, it is imperative to ensure that your gutters and downspouts are clean. Clearing your gutters allows for water to drain properly while also preventing them from getting weighed down, causing separation from your home. With the wide variety of issues that can come from clogged gutters, it is best to clean them in early fall instead of waiting.


Check your HVAC system ahead of time – Have a certified professional perform a standard maintenance check on your heating and air conditioning system now before the cold sets in. During this time, it would also be beneficial to replace your air filter according the manual’s instructions. This way, you can be sure that there will be no down time when you really need it most. **If your air conditioning unit is outdoors, it is advisable to put a cover over it while not in use.

Adjust HVAC dampers – With the weather cooling down and many people starting to run the heating in their homes, it is important to remember to make these changes. By adjusting the damper in your home, you can redirect the warm air to the lowest level of your home. Since heat rises, this adjustment will help with the amount of energy your furnace uses to heat your home.

Turn on humidifiers – Another change that occurs in fall is the level of humidity in the air. Along with the cooling temperatures the air becomes dryer. Using a humidifier to increase moisture in your home has many positive impacts such as reducing dry skin, lessening static electricity and helping your home feel warmer. Please refer to your owner’s manual for instructions specific to your unit.

Chimney inspection – After sitting dormant during the warm months, a good practice is to contact an NFI Certified Chimney Sweep to evaluate your chimney and fireplace for cleanliness. Having a dirty chimney can result in fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Click here for a great resource to help you when determining your selection.

Winterize outdoor faucets – Before freezing temperatures arrive, it is necessary to winterize any outdoor faucets. To do so properly, you must drain all water from the faucet before shutting off the outdoor water supply.  When water freezes, it can build up pressure, resulting in pipe bursts and possible leaks which cause major damage to your home. This website offers a great tutorial on winterizing your faucet as well as other basic maintence operations.

In addition to draining faucets, it is also a good idea to drain and store any hoses which may be attached to outdoor faucets.  It is recommended they be rolled neatly and stored in a dry place.

If your home has an irrigation system, it is advisable that these be drained as well.  In some cases, the homeowner may be responsible for this on their own and should consult their owner’s manual or hire a professional for assistance. In other circumstances, homeowners may have an HOA that does the work for them when appropriate. Click here for more winter plumbing tips.

Reverse ceiling fans – During the cooler months of the year, it is ideal to switch the rotation of your ceiling fan blades. By doing so, the fans help to push warmer air towards the floor as it rises.

Service winter equipment – Now is the time to ensure that all equipment you may need for a snowy winter is in proper working order. If you happen to have a snowblower or backup generator, here are some of the basic things you can do:


* Check the oil
* Inspect the belts
* Tighten the bolts
* Replace air filter


Be sure to review your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance for your specific unit or call a professional for servicing.

Check walkways and driveways – Take the opportunity now to evaluate your walkway and driveway for cracks. This would be the perfect time to get them filled preventing water from settling in and freezing, causing them to get bigger and more expensive to repair later.

Stock up on supplies – Don’t wait until there are mobs of people flooding the stores to stock up. Here are a few items you may consider getting ahead of time:

* Firewood
* Ice melt or salt
* Emergency items: flashlights, batteries, bandages, blankets and replace any expired items from an emergency kit * Non-perishable foods
* Bottled water

Reorganize shed or garage – Rearrange your garage or shed so fall and winter tools are more accessible and shift other things back that you won’t need. This is also a great time to clean and store seasonal furniture.


By preparing now, you can get ahead of the game and have a much smoother winter.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Capture the Moment

There is no doubt that professional photographers have an amazing talent and uncanny ability to capture the essence of their subject. This beautiful art form preserves history, sells products and can produce profound emotion without saying a word. Hiring a professional photographer is a real treat, though we are not always able to do so.

Luckily for us, gaining access to a camera is much more readily available nowadays through the use of  cellphones, a small point-and-shoot camera, or larger models. In light of the last month of summer, I thought it would be nice to provide some tips that might help to give your final summer photos a little extra spark. These  guidelines are easy to incorporate into your everyday photos, and enhance the overall experience.


1. Focal Point – It is important to choose a focal point for your image, this is the main point of interest in the photograph that draws the viewer’s eye in. Without this, the image tends to get distracting, confusing and starts to blend together.


2. Foreground – While expansive landscaping is impressive in person, it tends to lose a little something when transferred to photo. Liven up your landscape by finding something in the foreground to draw the viewer’s attention (Focal Point). Not only will the foreground make the image more interesting, it also helps illustrate depth.


3. Rule of Thirds – Imagine a photograph being broken down into a 3x3 square grid. When thinking of your composition, position the subject in such a way that it falls onto one of those imaginary grid lines or intersections as opposed to the center.  While there are exceptions to the rule (perhaps a singular flower or portrait shot), the idea here is that a photograph tends to look more pleasing, interesting and natural when it is off center.








4. Horizon Line – When considering the rule of thirds, it is also good to keep the horizon line in mind. Try to place the horizon along the top or bottom third of your photo instead of directly in the middle of the picture. By centering your horizon, the photo appears split in two instead of having a flow to it.


5. Juxtaposition –Try to photograph something from an unexpected angle to give the subject more interest. For example: a bird’s eye view of the city or a worm’s eye view of a person.  Experimenting with different angles can lead to some pretty interesting photos as well as just being a lot of fun.


6. Eye Contact – Play with eye contact. Instead of having your subject look directly into the camera, see how a shift in the direction of someone’s eyes can affect the message of the picture or tell a story.
7. Leading Lines – Leading lines are natural lines found within the photo that guide the eye through the picture as well as give a sense of depth to the image. Leading lines are all around you and they don’t have to be straight. Some examples of Leading lines are:
  • Shoreline
  • Railroad Tracks
  • Road
  • Line of trees
  • Fence
  • Pathway
  • Buildings
  • Mountains
  • Rivers

Determine your strongest lines and decide how you can use them to enhance your image and composition.

8. Series Shots – Try using a burst setting that will snap multiple pictures in a row creating a sequence. This can be especially helpful when capturing moving objects, children and pets. Additionally, it looks pretty cool to have a framed sequence to hang up instead of just a singular static image.
9. Movement Shots – When considering the composition of a moving object, it’s often more pleasing to the eye if we can see the implied location the object will end up. For example: If you take a photo of a car driving down the road, people tend to want to see where the car is heading instead of the road behind it. It adds a sense of movement and anticipation.

10. Candid Shots – Try to snap pictures of your friends and family when they don’t realize they are being photographed instead of having them pose. This is a great way to capture natural reactions and honesty.


11. Shadows – Playing with shadows in a photograph can add another level of interest. It can add power, mystery or drama. Adding different amounts of light and shadow can give your photo a whole new look or meaning.


12. Natural Lighting – Typically, the best times to photograph outdoors is around sunrise or sunset when the sun is not directly above your subject. A harsh light can lead to harsh shadows on the face. If you can’t make it out at these times, play with the direction of light to get different effects on your subject or even find a bit of shade to balance out the sunlight.

Photo Presentation and Enhancements:

Now that you’ve taken a bunch of new photos, what do you do with them? One option, instead of the standard print and put into an album or frame, is scrapbooking. Traditional scrapbooking is a great way for you to get crafty. You can find supplies including different types of papers, stamps, embellishments and scissors as well as ideas or books on the matter at just about any craft store in your area. In addition to traditional scrapbooking, there are also a wide variety of digital scrapbooking sites that give you a similar look without the mess. Here are a few to get you started:

If you’re looking to just make adjustments to the look of your photo, there is a variety of photo editing software available as well. Here are a few options:

With these types of editing software, you have the opportunity to alter your photos. Remove red eye, experiment with black and white or sepia tones, adjust the brightness and contrast or even add some interesting filters.
Hopefully these tips will spark some ideas the next time you set out to capture your lasting memories. Keep in mind, these are only suggestions and rules are meant to be broken. The best thing you can do is to experiment with your camera and most importantly, just have fun.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Delaware - Little State, Big Opportunities

Bustling boardwalks, beautiful beaches, serene parks and vast amounts of history make Delaware an interesting and exciting place to live or visit. There are endless opportunities, it's no wonder Delaware has earned the title “The Diamond State” - it really is the little gem of the east coast!

Beaches:
Delaware was nicknamed by Thomas Jefferson as “The Diamond State”  due to its strategic location on the eastern seaboard. What does that mean for you? Beaches. Delaware features miles of beaches, some of the finest in the country as a matter of fact. According to www.visitdelaware.com: “Dewey and Rehoboth Beach have been recognized as two of the nation’s cleanest beaches by the Natural Resources Defense council. Plus, Bethany Beach was named one of the "Top 10 Best Beaches for Families" by Family Vacation Critic and is known as one of the "Best Secret Beaches" by Travel + Leisure Magazine”.



Beaches aren’t just for sun bathing or playing in the waves - there are an astounding amount of things to do while you are there. The boardwalks feature a variety of options. Charming shops offer everything from beach gear, to toys and souvenirs, to portraits. And with all the amazing food options, you are sure to find something for everyone. 

Want more adventure? You can take part in some of these other exciting beach activities:

• Sportfishing - Grizzly Sportfishing, for example, in Rehoboth. A wonderful charter boat experience able to support parties of 6 or more. Flounder, Tuna, Sharks… Need we say more?

• Amusement Parks – Places such as Funland and Midway Speed Park, also located in Rehoboth, offer a variety of carnival-style rides for people of all ages.


• Parasailing – What better way to get a view of the beach but by parasail! Places such as Dewey Beach Parasail, which has been in business for roughly 10 years providing an amazing experience for beach goers ages 6 and up.


Trails and Parks: 
While Delaware may be well known for its sandy coastline, other natrual beauties can be enjoyed via state parks and trails. While there are too many to list them all, here are some examples within different areas of Delaware to get you started:


Cape Henlopen State Park - Located in Lewes, Delaware, this park boasts an astounding 5,193 acres of beautiful landscape to explore. In addition to offering beaches to its guests, there are plenty of things to do while visiting:

• Boating - Canoe/Kayak rentals and excursions provided by Delaware State Parks.

• Disc Golf – A fun activity for the whole family! Discs are reasonably priced and can be purchased at almost any sporting goods store. Click here for a list of some of the stores available in Delaware.

• 8 Trails – Difficulty ranges from easy to moderate and trails are available for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

• Camping – Cape Henlopen has accommodations for RV, Tent and cabin camping.



Bellevue State Park  - Located in Wilmington, Delaware, this park is noted as a park for all seasons. Bellevue offers its visitors a wide range of activities including:

• Tennis Center – Offers eight clay courts near Bellevue Hall. Instructional and social programs available.

• Arts Center – Offers a variety of activities such as concerts, tournaments and volleyball to name a few.

• 3 Trails – Rated as easy in difficulty, trails are available for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

• Historical Sites – Including Bellevue Hall, Cauffiel House and Mount Pleasant Meeting House.


Lums Pond – Located in Bear, Delaware, Lums Pond is built around the state’s largest fresh water pond. This beautiful state park offers amazing relaxation and fun:

• Fishing – Some of the best freshwater fishing in the state.

• Boating – Since the pond is the park’s main focus, boating is one of their main forms of recreation. Sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available for rent. Check Scheduling and Prices.

• Go Ape! Treetop Adventure Course – See the park from the trees! Double Stirrups, Zigzag Trapeze, Flying Carpet, Canyon Crossing, two Tarzan swings and five zip lines. Watch the video to see it in action!


Killens Pond State Park – Located in Felton, Delaware, Killens Pond became a state park in 1965. Open year round, this popular park has much to offer:

• Boating – Canoes, rowboats, kayaks, and pedal boats can be rented during the summer.

• 4 trails – Available for hiking and biking, these are easy rated trails.

• Killens Pond Water Park – Gently sloping pool, Mushroom Fountain, Lily Pad Fun Walk, Tot Pool, small slides and much more! Tons of fun for the whole family! Click here for more info.

• Nature Programs – Offering concerts, nature exhibits and other activities. See their schedule.

This is just a small sampling of all the parks available to visit in Delaware, to see a more complete list and further details, click here.

Park photos courtesy of www.destateparks.com

History:
 There is a vast amount of history that surrounds the state of Delaware. History buff? Just like learning? Here are some sites you can visit to learn more about our nation’s first state:

• Lighthouse Tours – There are various lighthouses throughout the state that can either be visited for photo opportunities as well as some you can climb inside. Click here for more information on visiting some of these amazing landmarks.

• Delaware History Trail – A wonderful trip that gives explorers the chance to visit historical locations and sights. Learn More Here!

• Nemours Mansion and Gardens - Located in Wilmington, Delaware, this DuPont family estate is one amazing site to behold. The mansion is positioned on a spectacularly landscaped 3,000 acre lot featuring immaculate décor and gardens.

• Delaware Museum of Natural History – Another Wilmington location, this museum invites vistors to discover the wonders of natural history up close and personal.

• Ryves Holt House – The oldest standing house in Delaware, built in 1665.
Delaware is bursting with history and facts - If you’d like to find some sites on your own, click here for one suggested resource to get you started.

There you have it, just some of the wonderful reasons you might want to consider living in or even just visiting the lovely state of Delaware, a little state with big opportunities.

Monday, June 1, 2015

High-Tech X Marks the Spot


Summer fun is never in short supply. Finding unique activities, however, can sometimes be challenging. Looking for exercise? Excitement? Something… different? A lesser known game, Geocaching, might be just what you’re looking for. Geocaching is a contemporary treasure hunt practiced all over the world, combining modern technology with the classic thrill of adventure.


Geocaching was born in May, 2000, with the advent of GPS (Global Positioning System). As enthusiasts discussed the potential for this technology online, Dave Ulmer posted instructions for a new game, "The Great American Stash Hunt", to a GPS forum.

The object was to hide a box filled with trinkets - known as the "stash" - mark its GPS coordinates, and post them online. Seekers would then attempt to locate the stash using only their GPS. The rules were simple:
  • Locate the box using the provided GPS coordinates.
  • Take an item from the box and replace it with something else.
  • Return the stash to its hiding place.
Within days, two seekers located Mr. Ulmer’s stash and reported their findings. The idea quickly exploded as people began hiding their own, and seeking each other's caches - known today as Geocaching! To read more about this history, click here.

Geocaching is an exhilarating activity that has steadily grown in popularity and can be enjoyed by anyone, anytime, anywhere! Caches range from easy and quick to find, to quite difficult, depending on what kind of outing you're looking for. Caches come in countless shapes and sizes. Here are just a FEW examples:


Important things to remember:
  • A cache does not always say “official geocache”.
  • A container can take any shape; I’ve found them inside a large, Lego-type block before!
  • Caches are not always hidden on the ground.
  • It’s important to take into consideration a margin of error with GPS coordinates - roughly about 30 feet from the exact marked location.
With over 2 million Geocache locations worldwide, the adventures are endless. Chances are you can find several cache locations near you, no matter where you are. For example, a quick internet search showed me 213 caches in Rehoboth Beach alone, and almost 3000 in the state of Delaware! See below for just a small sample:


In addition, if you’re looking for an extended adventure, there is the Delaware Geocaching Trail with caches located throughout the state. Click here to read more! 

Interested in giving Geocaching a try? Here are some tips:

1. Online Resources - There are a variety of websites where you can register for a free account and gain access to cache locations. It is worth noting that upgraded, paid subscriptions are available, but not required. Here are a few options:
These resources have everything on history, rules, and cache info. Additionally, you can always look to the online community and talk to other Geocachers... which is awesome!

2. Navigating - You'll need a GPS. Luckily, most smart phones have them built in, or, you can buy one. Since the only necessities are this and an internet connection, Geocaching is a very inexpensive activity! 

3. Helpful Apps - I'm currently using Geocaching Intro by Groundspeak Inc. on my iPhone. This free app shows you various caches in the nearby area. It includes the difficulty, cache size, coordinates, real-time map, the option to read hints from other Geocachers, and allows you to check off the cache once you find it. It also links to geocaching.com, as they're both run by Groundspeak. There are many geocaching and GPS apps to choose from, so just do a little research and decide what works best for you. See below for an example of Geocaching Intro app:


4. What to Bring/Wear - While this is not necessary, I prefer to take a backpack when I go, since I usually seek more than one cache at a time. Here are a few helpful items I like to bring:
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Bandages and Neosporin (just in case)
  • Flashlight
  • Sweater or jacket
  • Trinkets for trading
  • A Pen (some caches do not contain one for logging your find)

Sometimes the cache is close enough so you can leave the bag in the car, others, or spots with multiple caches, require more hiking.

Lastly, I prefer to wear long pants, as some caches could be in wooded areas with a lot of brush to walk through.

5. Trinkets - They don't have to be fancy or expensive, just tokens. Though smaller caches may just have a log book, you’ll want to have something to trade when you find a trinket-filled cache.

6. Log Book - Most caches will have one for you to write your name/username, and date. Some have additional space where you can add a little note too! I like to thank the owner for the cache and let them know I had fun looking for it.
No matter what site you choose, Geocahing is a great opportunity to explore new places, get some fresh air and exercise, and have fun in the process.

Friday, May 1, 2015

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:   Carrie likes the wheat grass juice from Susie Sunshine Sprouts, Mike enjoys the extra-large peaches from Tuckey’s Mountain Grown, Cassidy always gets sugared nuts from Nuts To You, Colby says the fresh homemade pasta from Papparadelle’s Pasta tastes better than any other and Cameron likes the honey for his peanut butter and honey sandwiches 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. We’d LOVE to hear some of your stories or tell us about your favorite farm on our Facebook page!