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Celebrating July Fourth with Retro Pro!

History of Independence Day!

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate the Fourth of July or how the Fourth of July holiday came about? Many people think we celebrate the Fourth of July because it is the day we received our Independence from England. While those people are thinking along the right track that is not the entire reason that we celebrate the Fourth of July, nor is it the reason that the Fourth of July holiday came about.

Way back in the 18th century, the United States was not considered the United States. In fact, what we now call states were actually called colonies. The United States was actually an extension of England. People traveled from England aboard ships to settle in America, but eventually, differences in life, in thought, and in interests began to develop which caused a rift between Britain and America.

When the colonies were first settled they were allowed to pretty much develop freely without hardly any interface from Britain, but things abruptly changed in 1763. Britain suddenly decided that they needed to take more control over the colonies. Britain decided that the colonies needed to return revenue to the mother country and they needed to pay for the colonies defense, which was being provided by Britain. But the colonies did not agree with these new rules at all. They felt that since they were not represented in Parliament that they shouldn’t have to pay any kinds of taxes to the mother country, hence the saying “no taxation without representation.” When Britain continued to tax, the colonies formed the First Continental Congress to persuade the British government to recognize their rights. When this didn’t work a war was declared, which is known as the American Revolution.

After the First Continental Congress failed to persuade Britain to recognize the colonies’ rights, and war was declared, things began to heat up. Many people who were both considered moderates and radicals had decided that enough was enough and that any kind of taxation without representation was considered tyranny. People such as John Adams, Samuel Adams, and Ben Franklin, as well as a group called the Sons of Liberty decided that it was time to unite all of the colonies and to stand together against Britain.

During the course of the American Revolution, a second Continental Congress was formed. It is this group that adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence was drafted by John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston, and Roger Sherman. After the first draft was written by Thomas Jefferson, it was revised by Ben Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson before it was sent to Congress for approval. All thirteen colonies stood behind the Declaration of Independence and adopted it in full on July 4, 1776.

This is where the Fourth of July holiday comes in. The Fourth of July is known as Independence Day because that is the day that the Second Continental Congress adopted the full and formal Declaration of Independence. Even though we had declared that we were independent, the American Revolution was still being fought, which meant that we were still not independent. Regardless of the ongoing war the following year, people in Philadelphia celebrated a muted Fourth of July.

While celebrations on July 4th during the American Revolution were modest, after the war ended in 1783 the Fourth of July became a holiday in many places. The celebrations included speeches, military events, parades, and fireworks. To this day the Fourth of July is the most patriotic holiday celebrated in the United States.

 

Recipes

Star Marshmallow Pops

Ingredients:

  • Kraft Square S’more Marshmallows
  • Star Cookie Cutter (about 2″ wide)
  • Red Sugar Crystals
  • Blue Sugar Crystals
  • Paper Straws-patriotic colors
  • water

Directions:

Start off by laying out some wax paper to avoid a sticky mess. Grab your cookie cutter and press it into as many marshmallows as you think you’ll want for star pops. Push the paper straws into the middle (sticky part) of the marshmallow stars and set them back down on the wax paper. When you ready to start decorating, put another piece of wax paper on the counter. Press the marshmallow into a cup of water-turning it over to coat both sides with water. Then press the “wet with water” sides into the sugar crystals coating the marshmallow with the sugar crystals. Set the coated marshmallow pops onto the wax paper sheet to dry-it will probably take about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then once they have had a chance to dry place them in a mason jar with rice at the bottom to hold them in place looking like a bouquet. Store in an airtight container if you want to keep them for a couple of days.

 

 

 

Red, White, and Blue Frozen Bananas

Ingredients:

  • Bananas
  • Ghirardelli Chocolate melting wafers or chocolate chips: red, white, blue
  • Lollipop Sticks
  • Red, white, & Blue sprinkles

Directions:

Peel the bananas and then cut them in half. Place each banana piece on a lollipop stick. Freeze the bananas for at least two hours. Melt the Ghirardelli chocolates in the microwave and then use a spoon to cover the frozen banana with the melted chocolate. If you are going to decorate your red, white and blue frozen bananas with sprinkles, add the sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. If you want to drizzle on the candy melts, place the chocolate covered frozen bananas back in the freezer until the chocolate is completely hardened. For the candy drizzle, place 15 Wilton blue, red and white candy melts in a Ziploc bags. Place the plastic bags in the microwave.  We started at 40 seconds increments until the candy melts were fully melted. Once the candy melts are melted, cut the tip off the bag and drizzle the candy over the frozen bananas. Place the decorated red, white and blue frozen bananas back in the freezer until you are ready to serve them.

 

DIY Projects

4th of July Fireworks Decor

Supplies:

  • Variety of sticks
  • Flat spray paint Red, white & blue
  • 3 Mason jars
  • A ribbon that is red, white & blue or themed for Independence day

 

Directions:

Spread out a bundle of sticks in pile of three. Spray each pile with red, white, and blue paint. Let dry and reapply if you see any missed sections. Take the mason jars and wrap the themed ribbon around the top. Place the sticks in the jar and display as a centerpiece or mantel decoration.

 

 

Firecracker Poppers

Supplies:

  • A stapler
  • Scissors
  • Craft or needlework needle
  • Fun craft punches for making your own confetti
  • Hole Puncher
  • Toilet paper (to make the rocket shape)
  • Colored construction paper
  • Red and Blue tissue paper
  • String
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Beads (these will not show so it doesn’t matter what they look like)
  • Ribbon for the streamers (red, white, & blue)

Directions:

Cut a small square of tissue paper that will be big enough to cover the bottom of your cardboard tube (about 3” across). Cut a small disc out of a sheet of construction paper that will fit just within the radius of the cardboard tube. With some glue attach this disc to the center of the tissue paper. Let it dry a few minutes. Thread about an arm’s length of string onto your craft needle and tie a bead to the end for a knot. With this, puncture the center of your disc that is attached to the tissue paper. This will be the trap door.

Next, you will need to glue this tissue paper trap door to your cardboard tube with a small line of glue around the bottom of the tube. Make sure you attach it with the bead side inside the tube and the string side hanging outside of your tube. You can add a pull tab to your long dangling fuse or just let it hang. We added stars to some of ours. Let dry. Cover the toilet paper with decorative paper so you don’t know that it is toilet paper. The length is roughly 6.5×4.25. Attaching the ribbons to the bottom inside of the decorative covering will keep it looking more professional. Roll your paper around the tube and staple the top for strength. You can’t staple the bottom because your tissue paper trap door keeps the stapler from getting inside but I found that a couple of pieces of tape did the trick. Now you can fill your tube with confetti. We just put in a few handfuls but feel free to load this sucker up. Just think about how much confetti you want to clean up later. Attaching the cone to the top of your rocket can be a bit tedious. It’s purely aesthetic so if you opt out of this part that’s fine.

Cut a circle about 3.25 inches wide across, then cut one snip all the way to the center of the disc like you see above. Take the edges of your cut and pull them together, probably about a half an inch or more. When your cone has reached a desirable height, staple it at the base. Attaching the cone to your rocket can be a little tricky. The important thing is creating a strong holder that you can use to hang your rocket from. Since these rockets will be tugged upon, you don’t want it to fall apart before it explodes. Putting a weight-bearing string through two holes punched in the top of the rocket body works best.  

Then string the two sides of the string through the center bead and up through the center of the cone so that it comes out of the point at the top of the cone. The cone itself can’t really hold the rocket together so taping it wouldn’t work. An easy way to string the cone is to open up the stapled cut from the inside of your cone and pull your string through the gap.

 

       

Here’s a Scientific Diagram 

I found that I needed to “prime” some of the rockets to ensure maximum explosiveness. You can do this by simply poking some small holes (or cutting with a sharp blade) around the bottom of the trap door. Just make sure you don’t cut it completely out because the ripping sound of that trap door being yanked out is probably the biggest part of the fun.

 

Feel free to Contact Us here at Retro Pro Kitchen and Bath and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have!

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Happy Memorial Day!

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children through bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.” -Ronald Reagan

History

Memorial day is an American holiday, observed on the last Monday of May, honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally it was called Decoration Day and started in the years following the civil war and became an official federal holiday since 1971. Many Americans observe the day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. It unofficially marks the beginning of the summer season.

Recipes

Fruit and Feta Salad Stacks

Ingredients:

  • Seedless Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp. Honey
  • 1 Fresno Chili Pepper, thinly sliced
  • Fresh Mint or Basil
  • Flaky Sea Salt
  • 6-8oz. Feta Cheese sliced into ¼ inch slices or crumbled
  • Star shaped cookie cutter or a knife if you’re talented

Directions:

Slice the watermelon and cantaloupe into ½ inch slices. Remove the seeds from the cantaloupe. Cut the fruit slices into stars using the cookie cutters into 1-inch cubes. Cut the  Feta cheese into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange the fruit and feta on a large serving plate. Layer alternating the fruit and cheese into stacks. Sprinkle blueberries and raspberries over top. In a small bowl, stir together the zest of 1 lime and the juice of 2 limes, the honey, and the Fresno pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the fruit. Add the fresh mint and sprinkle with salt. Drizzle extra honey if needed. Serve fruit platter chilled.

 

 

Summer Herb Chickpea Chopped Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4-8c. Butter Lettuce, chopped
  • ½ c. Fresh Basil and Parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Thyme
  • 2 ears of Grilled Corn Kernels, removed from cob
  • 1 ½ c. Tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • 3/4c. Blueberries or Blackberries
  • 1 Peach, finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2c. Cooked Chickpeas
  • 1/2c Mixed Toasted Pepitas, Pecans, Walnuts and Pistachios
  • 1/4c. Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Honey
  • ½ -1 Tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1-2 cloves Garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 Lemon juiced
  • Salt n pepper to taste
  • 1 Avocado, pitted and chopped

 

Directions:

In a large bowl combine the butter lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, grilled corn, tomatoes, red pepper, berries, peaches, jalapeno, and chickpeas. In another small bowl or glass jar combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, chipotle chili powder, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Whisk until combined. Once ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss well. Add avocado and goat cheese and gently toss again.

 

 

Guacamole Turkey Balls

  • ¾ # of Ground Turkey
  • 1/2c of ground up mushrooms
  • ½ Tsp. Chili Powder
  • ½ Tsp. Cumin
  • ½ Tsp. Onion Powder
  • ½ Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ Tsp. Salt
  • 1 ½ Avocados
  • A few sprigs of Cilantro, diced
  • 2 Tsp. lime juice
  • ¾ Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 3 Tsp. Olive Oil

 

Directions:

Mix the ground turkey together with the ground mushrooms (this helps make the turkey juicy), chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Form into three patties. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 3 teaspoons of olive oil. Cook the patties, making sure they brown on both sides until they are cooked through. Meanwhile, make your guacamole. Mash together the avocados, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic powder in a bowl. Season to taste with salt. Serve turkey balls with a dollop (1 blue container’s worth) of guacamole on each patty.

 

Watermelon on the Grill

Ingredients:

  • 1 Watermelon
  • ¼ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Grated Lime Zest
  • ½ Tsp. Red pepper Flakes
  • 8 Lime Wedges, 2 limes cut into quarters

Directions:

Prepare grill. Cut up watermelon into triangles about ½ inch thick slices. Combine sugar, lime zest, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Sprinkle the watermelon slices on both sides with mixture. Rub into the watermelon to make it more of an even coating. Grill watermelon until grill marks appear and the watermelon is warmed through about 2-3 minutes on each side. Squeeze lime wedge and serve. It’s optional if you want to add a sprinkle of feta cheese or greek yogurt on it, or a scoop of ice cream if serving as a desert.

 

Raspberry Cheesecake Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ c. Graham Crackers crumbled
  • ⅓ c. Almond Meal
  • 1 tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 3 tbsp. Butter melted
  • 1 pkg. Cream Cheese
  • ⅔ c. Icing Sugar
  • ⅓ c. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • ¼ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ½ Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Zest
  • ¾ c. Raspberries or Strawberries
  • ½ c. White Chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • 8 small Paper Cups
  • 8 Popsicle Sticks

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together graham crackers crumbled, almond meal, brown sugar, and melted butter until combined. Make sure it is crumbly, the mixture should hold together when you squeeze it. Set aside until ready to assemble. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add in icing sugar, and lemon zest until smooth. Next add in greek yogurt, heavy cream and vanilla, then beat again until smooth and evenly combined. Place the raspberries or strawberries into blender and puree until smooth in a new bowl. Separate ¼ c. from the bowl and set aside for later. Add the remaining puree to the yogurt mixture and beat until evenly combined. Now you can start filling your cups. First, spoon about 1 heaping tbsp. Of the yogurt mix into the bottom of each cup. Next, take the remaining raspberry puree and evenly distribute it in each cup. Next, sprinkle 1 heaping tbsp.  of graham cracker mix. Add another layer of yogurt mix and then add the remaining graham mix on the top. Once the pops are assembled, place a popsicle stick into them. Then place into an 8×8 inch baking pan and place in the freezer to firm up for 5-6 hours or overnight. Now that your pops are frozen, in a small bowl microwave the white chocolate and coconut oil together to melt and whisk until smooth. Set aside to cool about 10-15 minutes. While waiting, whisk together a tbsp. Extra of the almond meal and graham cracker crumbs for garnish. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take out the popsicles and peel away the paper cups gently. Set the pops onto the prepared parchment paper. Dip the bottom of the pops into the white chocolate and use your finger to wipe away the excess and then immediately dip into the graham garnish. Once coated, set back onto the parchment paper. Remove pops from the freezer 5-10 min before serving to soften slightly.

DIY Projects

Table Decoration

Supplies:

  • 3 mason jars or clear vases
  • White Daisies or other preferred fresh flowers
  • Food coloring (red, blue)
  • Water

Instructions:

Fill the jars with water and add 1 drop of food coloring of the red in one jar and blue in the other jar. Leave the third one clear. Add the flowers, after about a day the food coloring will travel up the flower’s stem and change the color of the daisy to the food coloring.

 

American Twine Letter Decoration

Supplies:

  • The twine of your choice
  • Box lettering a U, S, & A
  • Hot glue and gun
  • Patriotic ribbon or bow
  • Red, Blue, or White large button

Instructions:

Start your twine at the bottom of the letterboxes and glue every so often as you twine up the letter. Make sure to wipe the excess glue so you don’t see it as it dries. When you are finished covering the entire letter add a bow or make a bow from your patriotic ribbon and glue around the U letter. Add a button and place the decoration on your mantel or on your table as a centerpiece.

Feel free to contact us here at Retro Pro Kitchen and Bath and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have!

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Area Rugs Informational Guide

HT_BG_FL_AR_Body_Img-Arearuggripper
Change a room’s complexion with a simple addition
Area rugs do much more than simply cover your floors. They offer both comfort and style, and with the right positioning, can alter the entire appearance of a room. Standard rectangular rugs provide both utility and elegance while circular and octagonal rugs add a unique look. There are a wide range of sizes and styles available in a variety of colors and patterns, so you’re sure to find one perfectly suited to any room or living space in your home. Area rugs can be constructed from a number of different materials as well, giving you even more choices. Selecting the perfect area rug can be simple with the following questions:

  • How large should your area rug be?
  • What style is best suited to the room?
  • What colors and patterns will help you achieve desired effects?
  • What purpose will the area rug serve?
  • What type of fiber is best?

Size, Style, Fiber and Care

When purchasing a large, room-sized rug, it’s a good idea to select the rug first and then the furniture, drapes and other features. Large rugs can dominate your room, so it’s important that the rest of the room match accordingly to avoid discordance. Smaller rugs should be selected to match existing décor as much as possible. When choosing a color, darker hues help create a cozy, more intimate feel while lighter colors complement open spaces and make smaller rooms feel more spacious. Rugs are available in a wide range of prices, offering decorative and utilitarian flooring solutions for all budget levels. Cost is largely determined by the materials used and the manner in which it was constructed and how large it is. Rugs made of synthetic materials are normally less expensive than those constructed of natural fibers. Similarly, handmade rugs are more expensive than those made via machine. Remember, the larger the carpet, the higher the price, so determine what your price range is, and then purchase the highest-quality rug you can afford. Consider such factors as durability, stain resistance and other important features when making your selection.

Size: It’s important to choose a rug that’s neither too large nor too small for a room. Scatter rugs are typically 2? x 4? and are used in bathrooms and kitchens as well as entryways. Runners are long, narrow rugs that are perfect for hallways and areas such as foyers and kitchens where you want to define traffic flow. Use 3? x 5? or 4? x 6? accent rugs to define nooks or other special areas. Room-size, or room-fit, rugs are most commonly found in 5? x 8? or 6? x 9? sizes. These and are ideal for general decorating purposes in dens, living rooms and family rooms. to provide a stylish accent or to add comfort and warmth to the floor.

  • Scatter rugs can be used to accent chairs, small tables and shelving
  • Runners often measure 2? x 8? and can be used to hide worn paths
  • Place accent rugs in foyers and entryways to help protect floors from dirt and moisture
  • Look for rugs that are 8? x 11?, 9? x 12?, 10? x 13? or bigger for large and oversized rooms
  • Measure the size of the room before making your purchase to avoid a poor fit

Style: Area rugs come in a variety of styles, with options to match any décor. Traditional rugs, which are often mistaken for true Oriental rugs, are most often rectangular, but can be found in other shapes, such as ovals or octagons. They typically have a fringed edge and come in numerous colors, patterns and designs. True Oriental rugs are woven or knotted by hand using wool or silk fibers. They feature unique and ornate patterns that can serve as a showpiece for any room. Persian rugs usually have a central medallion framed by an intricate border. Both Oriental and Persian rugs are ideal for formal areas such as dining rooms, living rooms and sitting areas. American rugs feature patterns based on colonial styles and work well with traditional, country and casual décor. Dhurrie rugs are economical and are available in a wide range of colors, particularly pastels. Border rugs are rectangular and feature large, solid fields surrounded by textured or patterned borders. They don’t usually have fringe and are well suited for use under a dining room table or in a foyer.

  • Each style is available in a wide range of prices, from machine-made synthetics to hand-knotted wool
  • Handmade rugs usually require a larger up-front investment but they offer a unique design and are heirlooms
  • Machine-made rugs are economical and stylish with precise patterns
  • Oriental rugs are made from wool or silk and add a beautiful focal point in any room
  • Southwest-style rugs work well with casual, rustic and contemporary furnishings
  • Contemporary-style rugs are ideal for complementing modern or eclectic décor

 

Fiber: Choosing either a natural or synthetic fiber depends on the style of the rug and how much traffic you expect to have in the area. Cost will be a factor as well, as some materials are more expensive than others. Fibers may be either staple fibers, which use short lengths of fiber and may shed initially, or bulk continuous filament (BCF), which uses continuous strands of fiber and does not shed or fuzz. Use the chart below to learn about the different fibers available to you and their defining characteristics.

 

Fiber TypeCompositionBenefits, Uses and Points to Consider
CottonNatural
  • Durable
  • Soft feel
  • Wide range of colors
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas
JuteNatural
  • Beautiful natural coloring
  • Suited for low-traffic areas
  • Soft feel
  • Should not be placed under furniture
NylonSynthetic
  • Strong and resilient
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Stands up to heavy furniture
  • Conceals and resists stains and soil
  • Available in many colors
PolyesterSynthetic
  • Retains color clarity
  • Easy to clean
  • Provides a plush feel
  • Ideal for living areas
Polypropylene (Olefin)Synthetic
  • Easy to clean
  • Resists moisture and mildew
  • Best for low-traffic areas
  • Colorfast
  • May be used outdoors
Sea GrassNatural
  • Easy to clean
  • Should not be placed under furniture
  • Natural coloring provides a rustic look
  • Well suited to high-traffic areas
SilkNatural
  • May provide highlights in wool rugs
  • High luster
  • Soft feel
  • Best for low-traffic areas
SisalNatural
  • Strong
  • Ideal for high-traffic areas
  • Best for indoor use
  • Coarse texture
WoolNatural
  • Provides a luxurious feel
  • Soft and thick
  • Strong, resilient and static-resistant
  • Perfect for high-traffic areas
  • May shed when new

Care: Area rugs can be a big investment, so it’s important to properly care for them to ensure long life. Vacuum high-traffic areas frequently, and don’t forget to vacuum less frequently used areas on occasion as well. Clean spills quickly by blotting rather than rubbing and scrubbing. If you have a particularly expensive rug, consider a professional cleaning periodically. Use a pad underneath, particularly on hard floors. This will help prevent slipping as well as provide greater comfort. If you don’t use a pad, be sure that rug corners are out of the way in high-traffic areas.

  • Rotate rugs every 6-12 months to prevent uneven wear
  • Check the back of rugs periodically to prevent damage from moths and carpet beetles
  • Pads help prevent dyes and colors from rugs bleeding through to the floor below

Features

Nonskid Backing: This is a particularly important feature for scatter rugs placed in the bathroom. Rugs with nonskid backing won’t slide out from underneath you when you step on them, even if the floor beneath them is very smooth.

Rug Pad: Each rug should be purchased with a corresponding rug pad. Just like carpet padding, rug pads help extend the life of your rug by keeping it in place while providing extra cushion and insulation. They also prevent moisture and spills from seeping through the carpet to the surface below and staining the floor.

Resilience: Resilience measures how well fibers bounce back from crushing and the weight of heavy furniture. Look for rugs with high resilience if you plan to place them underneath furniture or in high-traffic areas.

Stain Resistance: Some rugs are specially treated to prevent stains, an important characteristic for rugs in frequently used rooms or if you have children in the house.

Soiling: If you’re placing a rug in a high-traffic area, choose one that hides soil well. Darker colors and stain-resistant fibers are best at hiding and resisting soil and dirt.