5 Valentine’s Day Dinner Dates

1. Abe Fisher – 1623 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Abe Fisher was inspired by the Diaspora of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland and channels his inspiration into culinary adventures for the customer. Located in the heart of Center City, the Valentine’s Day menu will offer an eight-plate, four-course deluxe dinner for $55 per person, with the option to add a beverage pairing for an additional $30.

2. Neuf – 943 South 9th Street, Philadelphia PA 19147

Preparing delicious crepes pancakes with ham, tomatoes and herbs baked with cheese.

Stray from your usual night out with this North African eatery and enjoy the specials being offered on both Valentine’s Day Eve, and Valentine’s Day Night. On the 13th, enjoy a four-course meal for $110 per couple, with the dish selection left up to the chef. On the 14th you’ll be in control of the dish selection, at $140 per couple.

3. The Twenty Manning Grill – 261 South 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Typical spanish tapas concept. Concept include variety slices jamon, chorizo, salami, bowls with olives, peppers, anchovies, spicy potatoes, mashed chickpeas on a wooden table.

Patrons of the Twenty Manning Grill will be given the option of a three-course meal priced at $100 per couple, and a four-course meal for $65 per person. Located right next to Rittenhouse Square, this spot is perfect for a decadent meal after a romantic stroll through Rittenhouse.

4. The Twisted Tail – 509 South 2nd Street Philadelphia, PA 19147

Latin American food served at a restaurant on a wooden table - food and drinks concepts

This southern style restaurant will be offering a $65 four-course tasting menu for Valentine’s Day. This spot is the perfect place to end an eventful Valentine’s Day and relax with some delicious comfort food.

5. Xochitl – 410 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Still life with the best of Mexican Food.

This South Philly gem is tucked away in Queen Village and specializes in delicious Mexican dishes. Xochitl will be offering a feast this Valentine’s Day, including four-courses and a champagne toast for $95 per couple. Make your reservations now!

The Rothman Ice Rink at City Hall

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From now until February 26th, everyone can experience the transformation that Dilworth Park undergoes to become the local winter wonderland known as the Rothman Ice Rink.

Enjoy ice skating with friends under the glow of the city lights, and warm up in the Rothman Cabin located at the top of the rink with a delicious hot chocolate in the heated tent. Relax after an entertaining skate in front of the historic City Hall with seasonal cocktails, craft beers, and warm and delectable foods like poutine and chili, courtesy of Air Grille by Brûlée Catering.

City Hall is a quick 20 minute drive from Siena Place and you won’t find an attraction like this one for another year! Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 10 and under, and skate rentals are an additional $10.

Fun Friday Nights: 10 Ideas for Staying In and Still Having Fun

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It’s Friday night again and you’re all together and without plans. That’s a feat in itself to be sure, but now what will you do? You don’t have to go out to have fun. There are plenty of things to do at home that will get you laughing and bonding in no time.

1. Board Games 
Get off the phones and take down the board games. Go retro with throw-backs to Life, Monopoly, Candy Land and Battleship.

2. Homemade Pizza
Gather all the supplies for homemade pizza night. Everyone kneads their own dough, rolls it out, and puts on the sauce and their choice of toppings.

3. Build a Fort
Get in touch with your inner child and build forts with your own kids. Use blankets, pillows and more to make homemade tents. Gather flashlights, read books, tell stories, and snuggle up while pretending the power is out.

4. Have a Picnic in the Living Room
Make sandwiches, pack snacks, break out the checkered blanket, and have a feast while watching your favorite movie.

5. Have a Scavenger Hunt
This is great for the little ones. Hide objects and stick to a theme. Give clues and have them follow each clue to the last one where a prize awaits. Could be ice cream, candy, movie tickets or just bragging rights.

6. Give Each Other Makeovers
For a girls’ night in, have a spa night complete with face masks, cucumber slices, manicures and pedicures, fruit smoothies and massages. Pamper yourselves.

7. Camp Out Under the Stars
Use an app like SkyView Free or Pocket Universe to find and discover stars and distant planets. Challenge one another to spot a shooting star, or count as many twinkling stars as you can.

8. Have the Kids Put on a Play
Or, have everyone get in on your very own musical. Use old costumes you have lying around the house, scratch out a script on paper quickly, and put your play together just for fun.

9. Make an Obstacle Course 
You can use railroad tracks, blocks, pillows, whatever you like. Race cars through them or yourselves, seeing who can finish the quickest.

10. Teach Your Teens How to Cook
Let them choose the meal (think easy like tacos), give them general guidance, and see what they come up with for an end result.

Staying at home on a Friday night is not as boring as you might think. In fact, with a little imagination, it can be even more fun than going out. The key is having a home you can feel comfortable in, with enough space to enjoy each other. Call Judd Builders for the home of your dreams.

2017 Kitchen Trends

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With the new year upon us, it’s time to start thinking about your dream kitchen. Whether searching for a new home right now, or thinking for the future – here are some of the latest and greatest trends to expect in 2017 including cabinetry and colors.

Cabinetry

Say goodbye to those dark wood storage spaces and hello to tuxedo cabinets, which blend both dark and light color combos for an elegant yet classic space. Hidden appliances are also in, so using beautifully crafted and paint cabinets to house anything from toasters to microwaves. Appliance garages allow you to keep all the devices you need regularly plugged in and ready to use yet without cluttering your countertops.

Shaker-style cabinet doors in shades of white, off-white and light gray offer a clean, streamlined look desirable for kitchens this year. They go well with any type of style, from cottage to modern. Glass front cabinet doors are also making a comeback. This helps to break up the space visually so you’re not staring at a sea of solid cabinet doors. This also gives you the chance to showcase beautiful dishes, glassware and even collectibles that previously had to remain hidden.

Storage

It’s all about maximizing space and creating efficiency in the kitchen. No longer is a Lazy Susan enough when it comes to creating storage options in this important room of the house. Now, you have options, from pullout trays to bread boxes that make the most use of narrow, awkward spaces.

Got large, cavernous drawers that are only good for tossing junk? One way you can make them even more efficient and functional is to add custom inserts that can hold cutlery, silverware, canned goods, and even pots and pans.

Colors

When it comes to sinks, colorful is the way to go this year. The trend is moving away from white or stainless steel and moving toward bold hues such as lime greens, cobalt blues and deep reds. Use pops of that same color when constructing the back splash as well. Apron-front sinks are making their way into kitchens this year.

Red-brown is a hot color for kitchens right now, allowing for complementary accents in lavenders, mauves and purples. Palettes of black and white are still trendy, and probably always will be for their classic, timeless look.

Light Fixtures

Go bold or go home. That’s the sentiment for 2017 in terms of light fixtures. Go with oversized hanging lights featuring black fabric shades measuring two feet in diameter to create drama and a sense of depth perception, especially nice in a kitchen with a low ceiling, says HGTV.

Easy Kitchen Storage Ideas

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Kitchens are a busy area in the house and can be hard to keep organized with all the food and supplies you store there! Here are some easy kitchen storage ideas to get the best use out of your space:

  1. Use magazine files to keep water bottles in a reachable place without them getting caught up in other kitchen supplies in a drawer or cabinet. Stack one on top of the other in the hard cover files for grab and go accessibility.
  2. Baskets can help organize anything from fruit to utensils to cleaning supplies. Hang  baskets above a sink using a metal rod or adhesive hooks for easy access. Wired baskets allow you to see what your grabbing so you don’t have to dig through everything to get what you need, or remember which items are in which basket.
  3. Store lose Tupperware lids in a wall file to avoid a mess of plastic containers. Hang the wall file on the inside of a cabinet wall, or wherever you feel it can be reached easily, with hooks to separate the lids from the bases and have less trouble finding it all in the future.
  4. Create a pot rack with S hooks. They can be hung from the wall, a ventilation hood above the stove, if you have one, or there are racks you can buy. With this, you can display your cooking pieces in style and they are much easier to find and grab then if they were all in a drawer together.
  5. Organize your cleaning supplies with an over the door metal caddy. A good place for this is the cabinet door below your sink, where they will be ready to use and very easy to access. You can use it to hold bottles of suppers, sponges, gloves, scrubbers, etc.

There are tons of innovative and easy ways to make your kitchen run smoothly. Don’t ever be unorganized again and use this simple tips for all of your kitchen storage!

7 New Home Gadgets for 2017

Womans controls Internet of Things in smart home with appGot a new home? Then you need some new tech-savvy gadgets to go with it. Every year, new items come out that help increase our comfort, convenience, security, and entertainment levels at home. This year is no different. Check out seven of the best tech gadgets to invest in for your home for the new year.

1. Amazon Tap: This wireless, Alexa-enabled portable Bluetooth speaker offers the utmost in entertainment convenience. Simply tap lightly on the microphone button and ask to hear tunes from Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Connect to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot not only to play your favorite music but also to read the latest news and sports, get the weather and order takeout. Powered by Dolby sound, Amazon Tap feature two stereo speakers with 360-degree omni-directional audio for nine hours of playback.

2. Youmo: This modular systems allows you to create your own power system depending on your needs. Build on a basic power module and power base cord and then attach more modules that include Wi-Fi, USB, wireless charging, power LAN, a light and speakers.

3. Nest Cam: With capabilities of monitoring your home 24/7, you can back up video to the cloud so that important information can quickly be observed if your home is robbed, vandalized or attacked. Best part is, you can view your home and what’s going on in and around it right from your smart phone.

4. Canary: This home security device features a video camera, to be sure, but it also will sound an alarm if someone has entered your property or home. It’s simple to install, and it works wonders to scare intruders off your property.

5. August Smart Lock: Keep your home secure with this device that ensures you never have to worry about losing your keys again. Got your smart phone? You can unlock any door in your home, thanks to the ability of August Smart Lock to communicate with your phone via Bluetooth.

6. Panasonic SC-BTT195: This home theater system is top rated for 2017, delivering high-quality tallboy speakers, Energy Star-certified system, 5.1 channel system, bass boost speakers, and wi-fi system that allows you to stream media from anywhere.

7. Nest Learning Thermostat: Nest has been topping lists for a few years now, but this new-generation thermostat has even more features that can integrate nicely with other smart phone home products. With easy to use apps and software, you can program your heating and cooling system from your smartphone, tablet or other device. With a recent hardware update, Nest Learning Thermostat is a leader in the smart home comfort industry for good reason.

To learn how Judd Builders can help you achieve higher comfort, convenience, security and entertainment value for your new home, call us today.

10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home

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The idea of living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff sounds attractive to many. They have considered the benefits of owning fewer possessions: less to clean, less debt, less to organize, less stress, more money and energy for their greatest passions. They are ready to declutter but some get quickly tripped up by the very next question… where in the world do I begin?

Consider this list of 10 creative ways to declutter your home:

1. Give yourself 5 solid minutes. Leo Babauta at Zen Habits recommends 18 different 5-minute decluttering tips. Pick one today that sounds appealing. Or better yet, pick a random number 1-18, read the specific tip, and commit 5 minutes to completing it.

2. Give away one item each day. Colleen Madsen at 365 Less Things gives away one item each day. Over the past several years, she has experienced quite a transformation simply reducing her stuff one day at a time.

3. Fill one trash bag. Early in our journey towards simplicity, one of my favorite decluttering techniques was to grab a simple large trash bag and see how quickly I could fill it. While much of what I collected was trash, this could also be used to fill a bag for Goodwill.

4. Try the Oprah Winfrey Closet Hanger Experiment. While this idea didn’t originate with Oprah, she was the one to help give it notoriety. To identify wardrobe pieces to clear out, hang all your clothes with the hangers in the reverse direction. After you wear an item, return it to the closet with the hanger facing the correct direction. After six months, you’ll have a clear picture of which clothes you can easily discard. This experiment could also be applied to a number of clutter areas in your home (cleaners, toys, linens, tools, hobbies and craft items).

5. Make a list. Dana Byers recommends creating a list of places/areas in your home to declutter beginning with the easiest… which doesn’t sound all that creative until she adds this note, “When you’re done with one area, STOP.” This list could be made as easy or difficult as you desire based upon what areas of your home make up the list (drawers/closets/rooms). And could easily fit into any schedule.

6. Take the 12-12-12 Challenge. A simple task of locating 12 items to throw away, 12 items to donate, and 12 items to be returned to their proper home can be a really fun and exciting way to quickly organize 36 things in your house. On more than one occasion, this challenge actually became a quick competition between my wife and me… and your kids don’t have to be too old to participate as well.

7. Change your perspective. Unclutterer offers a powerful approach to decluttering when they offer a number of strategies to help you change your perspective and begin to notice some clutter you may have missed. Among their ideas: take photos of your house, invite over a toddler, or ask the boss to meet in your office. With all of the examples, the hope is to cause you to see your home in a new light.

8. Experiment with numbers. For example, Courtney Carver invented Project 333 to challenge people to wear only 33 articles of clothing for 3 months. If 33 articles of clothing seems too little, adjust the rules as you need by picking a new number. The important thing is to challenge yourself to live with less and see what you learn from the experiment.

9. Use your imagination. Psychology Today recommends using your imagination to help declutter objects that may seem difficult to remove. Try asking yourself unique questions like, “If I was just buying this now, how much would I pay?” These creative techniques may prove to be very helpful for some with difficulties removing unneeded clutter.

10. The Four-Box Method. As we first set out on our journey to minimalism, this was the technique most often used in our home. As I set out to declutter an area, I brought four boxes: trash, give away, keep, or relocate. Each item in every room was placed into one of the four categories. No item was passed over. Each was considered individually. Some projects took an hour… others took days or weeks. But the technique and principles remained the same.

No matter what you choose to help you get started – whether it be one of these ten or one of countless others – the goal is to take your first step with excitement behind it. There is a beautiful world of freedom and fresh breath hiding behind that clutter. How you remove it is up to you.

3 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

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Every year when January rolls around you vow to get in shape, save money or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home?

Here are our three picks for the best home improvement resolutions for the new year and how to achieve them:
1. Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean

  • Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths – in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
  • Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder’s apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)
  • Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
  • For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.

2. Streamline the stuff
One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter. Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most.

This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in, says Antoinette Nue, an Atlanta consultant who specializes in helping people simplify and go green.
“Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken,” she says.Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays, says Stuart McCormick, a designer with Liz Levin Interiors in Washington D.C.

Clear your counters of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.
3. Get your place ready for entertaining
Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?

You don’t have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates says designer McCormick.

One easy update that makes your home seem more “finished” is the addition of plants, she says.

“They bring in new energy and help clean the air,” she says. “And it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget.”

A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter that complements your existing color scheme will do the trick.

Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.

Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

Tips to Keep Your Home Cozy

 

Senior woman sitting relaxing on the sofa using digital tabletAs the temperature drops, so too does your tolerance for outdoor activities. This means you’re spending more and more time in your home, bundled up under blankets watching movies, working on your laptop, cooking comfort foods, and drinking hot chocolate. There’s a lot more to keeping your home warm than just jacking up the heat. Here are a few ways to stay cozy in your new home.

Open the Drapes

On sunny days, open those curtains, drapes and blinds wide to let in the natural warmth of the sun. Close them again as night falls to lock in that extra heat.

Switch Your Fan Direction

Switch your ceiling fans so they are going in a clockwise motion to push the rising warm air down. This could help you save up to 10 percent on your home heating bills.

Seal Drafts

Your windows and doors are likely leaking precious energy, so use rolled-up towels under your doors and caulk around your windows to keep those drafts at bay.

Invest in a Smart Thermostat

Program and control your thermostat remotely from the device of your choosing to start up your heat when you’re on your way home from work, for example. This will ensure it’s nice and toasty by the time you arrive. Turn it down at night to save energy and load up with blankets instead.

Light a Fire

Not only can fires be cozy and romantic, they can heat up your living room with a natural glow. If you spend a lot of time in your living room in the winter, you can turn down the heat in other rooms and take advantage of the crackling fire as you watch TV, write out Christmas cards, play games or work. In the same vein, close doors and vents to rooms you hardly ever use, such as guest and craft rooms. No sense in heating those rooms if you don’t use them.

Make a Simmer Pot

A surefire way to make your home smell cozy and warm just in time for the holidays is to make a simmer pot of your favorite scents. Bring water to boil in a small sauce pan and fill with cinnamon sticks, apple peels, orange rinds and whole cloves. Turn heat down and simmer, adding water every half hour as it depletes. Try this natural alternative to candles that will save you money.

Warm Things Up

Rather than crank the heat up another few degrees, have lots of throw pillows and blankets draped on your chairs and couches so it’s easy to bundle up. Keep slippers handy – even a few pairs for when guests come over – to keep those toes warm.