Spooky Treats just for Halloween
by Cara, Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It’s spooky how fast October has flown by. What are you going to cook for Halloween? Indulge goblins big and small with tasty treats. Take a look at our collection of recipe ideas to get you on your way to planning some delicious October delights. From our Houston homes to our homes in Sarasota, Taylor Morrison homeowners are sure to enjoy these goodies.

Boo                                                                 

Deviled Chicken Lollipops: Sounds strange, but isn’t that what the season is all about. These crusty drumettes are devilicious.

Pecan-Caramel Spiders: After they say ‘ewwww!’, they’ll take a bite and say ‘yum!’.  If you enjoy candy making, this is the recipe for you.

Dark Chocolate Graveyard Pots de Crème: Easy to make, incredible to eat. These mouth-watering little tombstones are delightfully good.

Spooky Witches’ Fingers: See the recipe and watch the how-to video for making these creepy cookies.

Strawberry Ghosts: For a juicy treat, these strawberries coated in white chocolate are just what the not-yet-departed ordered.

Mummy Cake: These enchanting little coffins use vanilla, raspberry and chocolate with a frosted mummy on top.


Family Activities in October
by Cara, Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There’s something invigorating about fall. The air is crisp, the skies are still blue, trees turn from green to gold and orange. After the heat and mugginess that can come with summer, October is a great time of year to have some refreshing fun with the family.

pumpkin patch

Visit a Ghost Town

Take a trip into history and visit a ghost town in your state. Own a house in Tampa? You have several ghost towns to choose from. Old gold mining towns can be found in the Sierra foothills of California.

Take the Kids to a Pumpkin Patch

Every town has a pumpkin patch. Take the kids through the corn maze, enjoy the refreshments and pick your Halloween pumpkins. Here are some pumpkin patches to visit near Taylor Morrison communities:

Austin – Sweet Berry Farm in Marble Farms has everything from Stuff Your Own Scarecrow to hayrides and a Candy Corn Hay Maze for kids.

Houston – A family favorite, Dewberry Farm features more than thirty-five attractions and ten eateries.

Southern California – Tanaka Farms Pumpkin Patch and Harvest Festival in Irvine includes pick-your-own pumpkins and veggies, and a wagon ride, corn maze and petting zoo.

Bay Area – A working organic vegetable farm, Perry Family Pumpkin Patch in Fremont features kid-friendly fun like a Maze & Tire Patch, photo opp with character cutouts, and Climb the Hay Pyramid.

Sacramento – Uncle Ray’s Pumpkin Patch touts itself as a laid-back, low-key patch offering carving as well as exotic pumpkins, hayrides, mazes and gifts.

Denver – Besides pumpkins, fun activities and treats, Rock Creek Farm has lots of farm animals like pigs, goats, ponies, donkeys and more.

North Florida – Located in Astatula, Stanley Pond Fall Family Festival has lots of activities including a Catch and Release catfish pond.

West Florida – The Sarasota Pumpkin Festival, October 24th, 25th and 26th, features a pie eating contest, a family midway with rides and games, and a beer garden for the grownups.

See the Fall Colors

Even California has fall colors. Folks who own our houses in Campbell and other California Bay Area community locations can take in the changing colors of the Napa Valley vineyards. SoCal residents can drive up to Julian, a quaint old mining town near San Diego.

Make Fun Things for Halloween

Kids love making stuff for the spookiest night of the year. They’ll have a blast making Halloween sounds with a Screaming Cup. All it takes is a large plastic cup, some string and water. Add violin rosin for an extra scary touch.


Home Maintenance
by Cara, Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Now’s the time to prepare your home for fall temperature and weather changes. Cold weather can do a number on your home, especially if you own a house in Denver or any other chilly region. But even if you have a new home in Irvine, CA, it’s a good idea to inspect and fix where necessary. So make a checklist and get out the ladder, gloves, and tools.

Fall Maintenance

1. Renew the Roof – Clean the gutters of leaves and debris and, if need be, repair downspouts and the sealing around the chimney and skylights.
2. Banish Walkway Cracks– Fix any cracks or loose pieces on walkways to avoid tripping and falling accidents.
3. Make Siding Repairs – Clean siding and make repairs if need be.
4. Foil Faucet Freeze – If your region experiences winter freezing, be sure to shut off valves to outside faucets. Open and drain spigots.
5. Switch Out Filters and Vents – Central air and heating systems should have monthly filter changes. For a window unit, either remove and store it or protect it with a waterproof cover. Change appliance filters and clean out vents.
6. Check the Chimney – Spruce up the fireplace to prepare for colder weather. Clean out ashes and make sure the damper works efficiently. If it or the flue isn’t working well, hire a chimney sweep.
7. Avoid the Draft – Maintain climate control by replacing any cracked or loosened seals or caulking around windows. For colder regions, consider installing heavier drapes. Replace cracked window glass.
8. Clean the Climate Controller – Clean the thermostat’s contact points, contacts and heat sensor. If it’s no longer accurate, replace the thermostat.
9. Drain the Hot Water Heater – If you have hard water, protect your water heater from sediment buildup. Drain the heater and, while you’re at it, look for signs of rust in the tank. If you have to replace the whole heater, go for an energy efficient model.
10. Test the Smoke Detectors – Press “test” on the smoke detectors. If you get a signal, change the batteries.

For a year-round menu of maintenance tips, check out this handy list.


Fall Decorating Ideas for your Home
by Cara, Thursday, October 02, 2014

Dress your home for fall and celebrate the colors and spirit of the season. An autumn palette of oranges, golds and reds can be created with pieces from the natural bounty offered up this time of year. From wreaths to pumpkins to gourds to art, the choices are fun and easy to make. We’ve found some beautiful ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Deck the Front Door on the Cheap – Make a beautiful impression at your entrance without spending a fortune. Ideas range from a gorgeous autumn wreath and matching garland, pumpkins, lanterns, dried flowers and more. Use them separately or all together for full effect.

pumpkins

Prettify with Pumpkins – Twinkle lights, an urn or clay pot, fall foliage, and a couple of creatively carved pumpkins make a stunning pumpkin topiary. Let the kids help you pick out the pumpkins at a pumpkin farm in your area. For instance, folks who own Phoenix area homes can pick from this list of options.

Gussy Up Some Gourds – Gourds are great for decorating. You can string them together for a gourd garland, pile them up, or make them pretty in paint. Pumpkin patches that sell gourds are abundant. Own a house in Denver? Check out this list of pumpkin patches and mazes in your area.

Fall

Get Artful with Autumn Leaves – Gather up some vibrantly hued fall leaves and create a work of art. These leaf prints give your home a touch of contemporary style and they’re easy to make. All you need are leaves, small canvas boards, glue and a craft knife.


10 Ways to Enjoy your Outside Space
by Cara, Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wherever you live, whether you have a house in Austin, TX, live in sunny Florida, or are buying property for sale in Irvine, CA, now is a great time to have some backyard fun. All it takes is some unplugged diversion for both kids and adults.

For the Kids

Backyard Fun 2


  1. Make a skateboard swing – Forget about installing a swing set. Try this homemade swing that uses a skateboard and some ropes.
  2. Build a fort – Use this downloadable template to build a backyard fort complete with built-in seats and a peephole to scope out visitors.
  3. Create a giant lawn Twister game – Keep the kids happy while the grownups fire up the grill with a super-sized Twister game board spray-painted on the lawn.
  4. Give them a backyard chalkboard – Put a big chalkboard out back and let the kids have at it. Use a real chalkboard or you can make one yourself.
  5. Make a fairy garden together – Build a fanciful fairy garden and watch your child’s imagination come alive.

Grownup Fun

Backyard fun 1

Backyard Fun 3

  1. Have an outdoor movie party – Invite friends over for a night at the movies in your backyard. Create an outdoor living room with seating, add some comfy blankets and serve popcorn.
  2. Build a beer and wine cooler table – Make it from scratch or modify an existing picnic table to include a center tray for ice and beverage bottles of your choice.
  3. Chill in a backyard hammock – Relaxing in a hammock never goes out of style. Try one of these one- and two-person hammocks
  4. Play lawn games – There are several lawn game possibilities, from Ladder Golf to Spikeball to traditional Badminton. All are perfect for a party.
  5. Have a classic barbecue – There’s a reason the traditional barbecue never gets old. Here’s how to put together the ultimate ‘cue



Fall Day Trips
by Cara, Thursday, September 25, 2014

When trees display glorious fall autumn colors, you can count on an event or festival to help you celebrate the changing season. If you live in our Castle Pines Village in Denver, you’re treated to shimmering Aspen trees, while residents of Taylor Morrison Bee Cave real estate puts you close to fun events to mark the changing colors in Austin.

What’s happening this fall in your part of the country? Here are some great events and festivals to try out.

ARIZONA                                                        

Phoenix

Enjoy workshops, exhibits at Acrosanti  and take in this homage to urban development focused on innovative design, community, and environmental responsibility.

Day Trip 1

CALIFORNIA

Bay Area

Spend the day in Half Moon Bay, sipping at one of the area’s wineries, get some fresh produce at a farmer’s market or rent bikes and pedal around.

Sacramento

Go back in time in Sutter Creek, with its Gold Rush-era main street and myriad of shops, eateries, and wine tasting.

Southern California

Located about a hundred miles east of L.A., Big Bear Lake awaits with plenty to do: swim, fish, dine, hike, bike or simply enjoy the gorgeous lake views.

Day Trip 2

COLORADO

Denver

Experience your bliss at Glennwood Springs, named the Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today. The Glenwood Hot Springs Pool has been relaxing visitors since 1888.

Day Trip 3

FLORIDA

Fort Myers/Naples

Soak in the sun at unique Captiva Island on the Gulf of Mexico. This subtropical barrier island features white sand beaches and a wildlife sanctuary.

Jacksonville

Check out Daytona Beach’s Feeling the Fall Festival Love newsletter and find out about all the great seasonal events, including the Daytona Blues Festival, Biketoberfest motorcycle festival and rally, and festivals celebrating art, wine, beer and food.

Orlando

Pack up the kids and drive over to Gatorland. Adventures and attractions with alligators and crocodiles are guaranteed to entertain both kids and grownups.

Sarasota and Tampa

Tour the Edison and Ford Winter Estates that made their owners a couple of the earliest snowbirds. These stately winter homes impart an authentic taste of historical Florida.

Day Trip 4

TEXAS

Austin

Down some brews and enjoy fun activities in Fredricksburg at the Oktoberfest. This annual festival, set for October 3-5, celebrates the region’s German heritage.

Houston

Blast off to the Houston Space Center for a spacy day. Kids find out what it’s like to travel in a space shuttle or on the space station, complete with the logistics of living in the weightlessness of space. There are many other attractions experience, including Lunch with an Astronaut.

Day Trip 5


Bonus Room Ideas
by Cara, Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The day you’ve looked forward to with both dread and giddy anticipation has come. The last of your kids has flown the coop. Go ahead, shed a few tears of sadness—or relief—then get to the fun part. What are you going to do with that newly empty bedroom?

Hampton

Another scenario: your house in Campbell, CA or new home in Orlando, FL came with an extra room. Even before you moved in, your head was dancing with ideas to make the most of the bonus room. All you know is that you want something more than a typical guest room or storage space.

Orchard Hills Saviero Four

Here are some great options:

  • Create the craft or hobby room you always wanted
  • Replace the door with a hinged bookcase for a secret personal retreat
  • Add a pool table and wet bar for entertaining friends
  • Line the walls with bookcases to create a library or office
  • Turn the room into a media retreat, complete with oversized flat-screen


Orchard Hills Saviero Three

Once you’ve made your choice, upgrade, add and change out to give the room a different look and feel. You can add a ceiling fan, pull up the carpet and lay a wood floor, paint the walls, and dress the windows to your liking. In the end, all your planning and hard work will pay off.


Want a chance to drive a brand new Tesla?
by Cara, Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In honor of Drive Electric Week, Taylor Morrison Austin is hosting its own electric car event at The Enclave at Rough Hollow on Saturday, Sept. 20, where one lucky person will win the opportunity to experience an evening out on the town in a brand new Tesla Model S.  

Rough Hollow Sorrento

Austin residents are invited to join the conversation and further explore how electric cars are changing personal transportation in terms of cost, environmental safety, technology development, American job creation and more.

Tesla electric vehicles will be onsite, giving guests an up-close look at the electric cars, plus real-life information on what it’s like to make the switch from gas to electric. Free food and refreshments will be served as well during the event, which runs from noon to 6 p.m.

The difference between gas and electric cars

Some car lovers may be reluctant to give up their gas-fueled cars at first because they’re not sure if they’ll like the way a hybrid or electric car runs.

Many are surprised, however, at the contrast between the smooth, quiet ride and the high torque of these electric vehicles, which makes for an exhilarating ride that also saves stops at the gas station. To quell any concerns about electric cars in adverse weather conditions, the high torque also allows them to handle well in snow, according to electric car experts.

Not surprisingly, the cars are also cheaper to “refuel”. In fact, the cost of fueling with gas is five times more expensive than fueling with electricity, expert say. To put things in perspective, the national average for gasoline is $3.90 a gallon. If a typical sedan averages 22 miles per gallon, the total gas expense would equal $5,318 after just 30,000 miles.

On the other hand, exchanging gas for electricity (which has a national average of $0.12 per kilowatt hour) tallies total fuel costs after 30,000 miles at $1,048, according to Tesla’s fuel savings calculator.

Tesla

The future of electric

The future of electric vehicles is looking bright with more than 200,000 sold to date. That number is expected to continue to increase as more models and electricity options become available.

Greater demand for clean energy solutions like wind and solar power benefit the electric car industry even more as cleaner energy sources mean even cleaner transportation, which can significantly help reduce the country’s dependency on oil and therefore the amount of toxic emissions polluting the air everyday.

With this increase in demand, advanced technology vehicles and components are being built in at least 20 states. A report by the Sierra Club estimates that half a million jobs will be created and 3.5 million barrels of oil per day will be saved by 2030.

This year’s Drive Electric Week will be the fourth series of annual events since the event began in 2011. Each event is led by local electric, hybrid and plug-in advocates who wish to share the advantages of electric vehicles with their communities.

Drive Electric Week consists of simultaneous events held around the country from Monday, Sept. 15 through Sunday, Sept. 21 celebrating the widespread availability of all different variations of electric and hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles and more.

Plug In America, Sierra Club, and the Electric Auto Association serve as team support to Drive Electric Week events taking place in communities nationwide.





Unique Gardening Ideas
by Cara, Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good news for wannabes: You really don’t have to have a green thumb to garden, and you don’t necessarily need an outdoor spot to make it happen. Whether you’re a Mr. Green Jeans or not, try some of these unique ideas to get your garden growing, indoors and out.

Create moss graffiti – This is a whimsical way to dress up your garden, or any wall for that matter. You’ll need buttermilk or yogurt, sugar, water or beer and maybe corn syrup.

Unique garden 3

Plant wheat grass in eggshells – Take half a broken eggshell, add soil and wheat grass sprouting seeds, water the soil and you’re done. It’s that easy.

unique garden 2

Grow celery plants from grocery store celery  - This little growing trick is simple. Once your new stalks sprout, they’re ready to plant in soil.

Plant a hanging garden made from a shower caddie – Perfect for making a succulent garden for your patio.

Put coffee grounds to workAdd coffee grounds, a great source for nitrogen, to the soil to create compost. Apparently, coffee grounds also repel slugs and snails.

Unique garden 1

Add baking soda to soil for sweeter tomatoesEnsure your garden tomatoes are sweeter by sprinkling baking soda on the soil around the plants, never on the plants. 


Keeping Your House Cool
by Cara, Thursday, September 04, 2014

Chances are good you’ll experience an Indian summer this fall. Just when you’re used to the cold or frosty weather, it’s suddenly warm, hazy and still. Like during the heat of summer, you’ll have to change gears and keep your house cool instead of warm.

Cool House 4

Tips for Keeping Your House Cool

  1. If you own a home in one of our Phoenix neighborhoods or any region that heats up, it’s a good idea to plant shade trees around the house.  
  2. Do you own a new home in Houston or other area known for its humidity? Be sure your air conditioner can deal with it; variable or multi-speed blowers are helpful.
  3. Seal air conditioner ducts, insulate any ducts that run through an unheated basement or attic, and close ducts in unused rooms.
  4. Install white shades or blinds, which can cut solar heat gain by as much as 50 percent.
  5. Set the thermostat to 77 F. Use ceiling fans and you can probably keep it as high as 82 F.
  6. If you can, buy a high-efficiency air conditioner. The energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating should be higher than 10 for room air conditioners. Central A/Cs should have a seasonal energy efficiency ration (SEER) rating above 12.