Outdora Awarded by Twin Eagles as Top Retailer!

Just in time to ring in the 2012 Barbecue Season, Outdora was awarded a top retailer award by Twin Eagles, manufacturer of luxury outdoor kitchen grills.

The Outdora Showroom, located a half-block off the Sonoma plaza, displays high-end outdoor kitchen appliances including a full Twin Eagles island featuring a 36″ Twin Eagles Built-In Grill with Rotisserie & IR Sear Zone, Double Access Doors, Dine and Breakfast Club, Door and Drawer Combo, Pullout Paper Towel Drawer and Wide Outdoor Bar.

Don’t fret if you live outside the San Francisco Bay area, as all Twin Eagles products are for sale on Outdora’s ecommerce site.   Outdora offers free shipping in the contiguous USA and no sales tax outside of California.

So, why not welcome the barbeque season with a Twin Eagles Grill from their top retailer?  Call Outdora today for more information.  877-688-3672.

Stuart & Christina Twin Eagles

The History of Container Gardening

Square Planter GardenContainer gardening history spans the globe.  The idea for container gardening actually started out as society started living in cities and wanted to mimic the natural growth pattern of plants close to their home.  This concept was utilized in one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

In Babylonia 604 B.C., the “hanging gardens” could be found.  These gardens were not planted in hanging baskets but instead were planted on top of stone columns.  The vegetation would hang over the columns and in doing so would resemble “hanging gardens.”  The plant material would be watered in a mysterious way and that is water would run from the tops of the columns down through the vegetation.  The water never seemed to end and came from nowhere.

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The History of Cupolas

Good Directions Cupola and WeathervaneCupolas are both ornamental and functional in design. They are placed on top of domes or roofs and provide ventilation and natural light. This natural light is great for attics and loft spaces. The word cupola comes from a Latin term “little cupo” or little dome. Cupolas are made from an assortment of materials, which include aluminum, wood, fiberglass, and vinyl. The tops of the cupolas can be covered in either traditional shingles or copper.

The Humble Beginning of the Cupolas

Cupolas began to appear in Islamic architecture around the 8th century. These first cupolas were very large and contained one or more balconies by which criers would call for prayer. These large cupolas were placed on top of minarets.

Later on, these architectural structures were not limited to government building but could be found on homes in the Middle East and India.

Later on, nomadic Moors brought them to Europe by way of Spain. Cupolas are very prevalent in Bavarian and Austrian churches where the domed roofs topped with cupolas prevented snow from accumulating and collapsing the structure.

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Share Your Plant Wealth Through Plant Division

Plant PropogationEvery gardener knows the feeling one gets when one of their “garden children” are relocated to a new home.  This new home can be in a new-fangled area of the garden or gracing the garden at a friend’s new abode.  Regardless of where the plant ends up, the best way to share ones plant wealth is through a process called division.

Division is a form of propagation where the mother plant is divided into at least two parts.  While this may seem cruel, it is in fact healthy for the plant and increases the plant’s ability to take in more nutrition.  The drawback to this type of propagation is that it cannot be done anytime of the year.  It must be done while the plant is not growing.  This includes vegetative growth and flowering.  If done while the plant is actively growing, the plants cycle will be thrown off and the plant will not be able to generate enough food to store for winter.  This, in turn, could cause the plant to lose vigor and not survive its winter slumber.

Plants should only be divided in the early spring or early fall.  If you are not sure whether the plant needs to be divided, observe the plant material.  Plants that are dying out in the center, produce flowers that are small in size, and whose vegetation is laying over.  These  need to be divided.  Another way of determining if a plant needs to be divided is to perform this procedure every two years.  This will guarantee plant vigor and health while giving the gardener the chance to examine the plant material for disease.

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Components of Barbecue Flavor: Seasoning (Part 1: Dry Rubs)

Dry RubThe final component of barbecue flavor to be dealt with here is seasoning, most typically a dry rub and/or a sauce. Seasonings may be utilized pre-cooking, as marinades, during cooking, as a mop, or post-cooking, as a dip. Today we will deal with some of the most common styles of seasonings found in the United States. Again, when deciding what seasonings we wish to utilize, and when to use them, it is important to keep your eyes on the prize, i.e., know what final result you are after in terms of taste. We will want to balance the tastes of meat, smoke and seasonings into our equation to produce what is the ideal barbecue product in our eyes. A couple of quick reminders before moving on to a discussion of the various types of seasonings, if you are, like me, a fan of using marinades, again, be extremely careful with the use of sugar and salt in your seasonings. Extensive use of salt in the pre-cooking stage can lead to severe drying-out of your meat. Think jerky! Extensive use of sugar in a marinade, or even during the cooking process, can lead to caramelization of the sugars, which means, quite simply, with meat, burning. In general, marinades can serve two purposes, the addition of flavors which will bring out dimensions of flavor in your meat, and the tenderizing of meat. A number of ingredients have enzymatic properties which aid in the tenderizing of meats. Acid is one such ingredient, and so the judicious use of something like vinegar in your marinade will help tenderize meat. Mustard is another ingredient which will tenderize. The most concentrated form of mustard will be in its powder form, but prepared mustard with sufficient mustard powder component will also do the job. Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, works extremely well, as does bromaine, found in pineapple, and pineapple juice. Okay. “Nuff said. Let’s talk about some of the most popular forms of seasonings used in this country in barbecue.

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Shade the Backyard from the Sunshine & Rain on Umbrella Day

blue_umbrella_peopleWhen rain drops the size of giants’ tears are falling from the sky, you’re more likely to steer clear of the outdoors and seek shelter inside. Rain is Mother Nature’s way of recharging groundwater and flushing out the toxins, and this precipitation is an important part of the water cycle. However, there’s no doubt that these storms or mists can rain on your parade and put a damper on your plans. Instead of stopping your life for the impending drizzle, you can shade those gray clouds out of your life with a functional invention.

On Thursday, February 10, flaunt your umbrellas and step out into the sunshine or rain with confidence, because it will be Umbrella Day! This is your moment to seize the day regardless of the weather and appreciate the many uses of an umbrella, and all umbrellas at Outdora are up to 40% off the list price.

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DIY Amazing Maze or Labyrinth Garden

labyrinth2Labyrinths and mazes have their beginning in European countries where Kings and Dukes would petition a labyrinth or maze for their castle.  But in recent times, labyrinths have found their way to spas, hospitals, and retreats where mental exercise or contemplation is needed.  Mazes on the other hand, have been used by farmers to create agritourism opportunities, parks as an attraction, and even in the common home landscaping.  But to create your own labyrinth or maze one must understand the difference.

Labyrinths are typically designed to define a sacred space that has one entrance/exit.  The paths are designed to go in one direction and lead to a predetermined destination.  While an individual walks along the path mediation and contemplation occurs.  The goal of a labyrinth is not how one gets to the predetermined destination but instead the journey itself.

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Don’t let frigid temperatures outdoors put a damper your love of grilling!

snow-day-egg-300x225I’m a big fan of outdoor cooking, no matter the season, and the fact that winter is upon us hasn’t stalled my grilling at all. If anything, I feel more inspired to get out on the patio and fire up the Lynx Grill, (36” Freestanding, in case you were curious,) in an effort to

keep the frost and chill at bay. Few things keep me warmer than an open fire, and what better excuse can be found than, “I was cooking dinner!”

There are several things to take into consideration when it comes to winter grilling. The obvious being struggles with ice and snow. A build up of ice on the grill, or a snow drift around it means your grill will take longer to heat up and that it will also have to work harder to maintain a constant temperature. This is where debate over the use of gas or charcoal rages. Traditionalists will argue that there is simply no replacing the feel or flavor of charcoal grilling. However, in cold weather a gas grill has certain advantages. You will find it much easier to achieve high and consistent heat with gas, no matter the temperature outside. Charcoal requires more patience, regardless of the season, but especially during colder months. One sure way to mitigate the cold when using charcoal is to cook with a ceramic unit like, The Big Green Egg. Sturdy ceramic walls will hold heat exceptionally well, and will allow the charcoal to burn efficiently.

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How to Disguise an Unsightly Patio Wall or Backyard View

blank_wallAs you ease into your favorite patio chair and reach for that tall glass of iced tea, IT catches your eye. “It” could be an unsightly patio wall or your neighbor’s idea of a backyard design—an unkempt lawn strewn with toys. Either way, the mood is lost, but fear not, you can fix either of these irritations in just a weekend.

Wall of shame

Give an unsightly patio wall a facelift with a cover of foliage and flowers in three steps: hide the eyesore, add a focal point and accessorize with existing container plants and garden art or a few new purchases.

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