Keep your Kids Safe this Halloween
by Cara, Friday, October 31, 2014

Many of us remember back when as kids nobody worried about our safety on Halloween. But times have changed and it’s essential that we watch out for our children and keep them safe while they’re out trick-or-treating. Taylor Morrison has put together some safety tips for ensuring a safe Halloween for your kids.

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  1. Be sure costumes are fire-resistant and fit properly to avoid tripping. Check masks to determine that visibility will be good. Remind kids to not get close to lit candles, even if their costumes are resistant to fire.
  2. Even if you’re a resident of sunny Southern California and own a new home in Yorba Linda, it still gets dark early. Be sure your kids will be seen by putting reflective tape or stickers on their costumes and bags. Also give them flashlights or glow sticks to carry.
  3. Don’t let children under 12 go trick-or-treating without an adult. If they’re old enough to go kids-only, have them walk in groups and know who they’re with and where they’re going.
  4. Doesn’t matter where you live, street safety is important. Steiner Ranch in Austin is a wonderful neighborhood, for instance, but kids still need to be reminded to look both ways before crossing the street and to stay on the sidewalk whenever possible.
  5. Remind kids to not take rides with strangers, trick-or-treat only at well-lit houses, and never enter a home unless a trusted adult is present.
  6. At the end of the evening, examine your tricksters’ treats for candy that’s been tampered with. Homemade treats should be tossed unless someone you know handed them out.


Creative Pumpkin Carving
by Cara, Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Whether you own one of the Taylor Morrison homes in Fort Myers, FL on one coast or a luxury home in San Juan Capistrano, CA, on the other, you’re probably gearing up for Halloween, getting out the carving knives for your pumpkins. Take a look at this mix of carved pumpkins that range from one end of the difficulty spectrum to the other.

Pumpkin Carving

Traditional

Simple doesn’t always mean boring. This collection of traditional carved pumpkins are fun, creative and easy to make.

At the Movies

Kids love to help make movie-themed jack o’ lanterns, from Nemo to Mary Poppins. For more detailed, adult-friendly carving think The Shining or Chucky.  

Speak to the Geek

Are you a geek? Carve computer-related icons, scenes and characters from games, and Star Wars.

Extreme Carving

Extremely creepy, extremely creative and extremely unique always impress. See some of the most unusual carvings around.

Decorative Ideas

Leave it to Martha Stewart to share some not-so-ordinary carving ideas for your home. Check out these lace-patterned pumpkins, instructions included.

Carving Templates

There are plenty of carving templates out there including those for beginners. You’ll also find some contemporary themes, traditional Halloween images, and stencils for every skill level and interest


Creative DIY Costumes for Halloween
by Cara, Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ah, Halloween. It’s coming up and that means you better start thinking about costumes for the kids. Sure, you can go with a store-bought witch, princess or super hero. That’s easy, but not particularly satisfying for your creative side. From creepy to clever to cute, these ideas are just some of the costumes you can make yourself. Have fun!

Roar

Pop-Arty Comic Book Character – Okay, this one you might want to steal for yourself, because it’s just that cool. To create a very clever cartoon illusion watch this makeup tutorial.

Sweet Flower Bouquet – Turn your little girl and her friends into a blossoming bouquet of daisies, tulips and sunflowers.

Precious Paper Doll – Here’s another costume for a little girl. This paper doll is easy to make and very cute.

Little Witch

A Living LEGO Man – Bring out your kid’s inner LEGO man. It’s a colorful and fun costume that little boy and girl LEGO fans will love. Here’s the how-to.

Easy DIY Giraffe – Stretch your creativity and make a giraffe using easy-to-find materials, including a cardboard box, poster board, construction paper, decoupage glue, and chopsticks. Here is how you do it.

Cutie-Pie Hot Air Balloon – So cute! Suitable for kids and grownups alike, this one’s a little more detailed as costumes go, but well worth the extra effort. See the step-by-step instructions


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.