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by RestonNow.com Sponsor — July 19, 2017 at 10:15 am 3 Comments

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Confetti, a Lab/Catahoula mix puppy available for adoption along with her three siblings.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about her:

Confetti and her sister Chelsea, along with brothers Cabo and Cosmo, are gorgeous Lab/Catahoula mix babies of about 12 weeks.

They are all striking, with beautiful merle coats and engaging eyes. They’re going to make terrific companions.

All four of these pups have happy dispositions and will make great family dogs. Confetti is a sweet little girl who would like nothing better than a family of her very own as she has lots of love to share.

This friendly little baby girl is going to bring lots of joy to some lucky adopters, so don’t delay. Get your application in to your coordinator Bob at [email protected].

Are you and Confetti (or any of her siblings) a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Eve Thompson — July 18, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Here are some Reston homes that changed hands recently:

11790 Bayfield Court 3 BR, 2.5 BA. Sale Price: $399,000

2224 Cedar Cove Court, 4 BR, 3.5 BA. Sale Price: $585,000

11616 Chapel Cross Way, 3BR, 3BA. Sale price: $659,000

11407 Gate Hill Place, 2 BR, 2 BA. Sale Price: $375,000

10850 Grovehampton Court, 5 BR, 3.5 BA. Sale Price: $811,000

1376 Heritage Oak Way, 3 BR, 3 BA. Sale Price: $537,500

1720 Lake Shore Crest Drive, 1 BR, 1 BA. Sale Price: $270,000

1969 Logan Manor Drive, 3 BR, 4 BA. Sale Price: $836,000

12615 Noble Victory Lane, 4 BR, 4 BA. Sale Price: $623,000

11715 Olde English Drive, 2 BR, 2 BA. Sale Price: $280,000

2463 Pyrenees Court, 4 BR, 4 BA. Sale Price: $344,500

11760 Sunrise Valley Drive, 1 BR, 1 BA. Sale Price: $246,000

1324 Wedgewood Manor Way, 3 BR, 3 BA. Sale Price: $600,000

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — July 17, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By Kimberly Berry

The Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) is a retirement savings and investment plan for federal employees and members of the uniformed services. It was established by Congress in 1986 as part of the Federal Employees’ Retirement Systems Act. The TSP offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that a 401(k) plan offers to private sector employees.

In April 2017, on the TSP’s 30-year anniversary, a bill was offered by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) to bring the TSP’s terms more up-to-date with similar programs. Specifically, the legislation seeks to expand investment and withdrawal options. Last week, the Washington Post published a helpful Q&A that provided more details regarding the TSP’s new investment options. For instance, one of the TSP’s five funds, tracking international stocks, will be broadened in 2019 to include emerging markets and Canada. The TSP is also working toward allowing account holders to invest in funds outside of what’s currently offered.

Additional bills pending before Congress also allow for more withdrawal options post-retirement, including for federal workers and servicemen and women still employed and at least 59 ½ years of age. Since current withdrawal options are limited, it is hopeful that these changes will allow participants more flexibility and freedom regarding their retirement savings.

Most TSP issues that we handle in our federal retirement practice involve withdrawal guidelines and requirements, including issues involving federal retirees who are divorced and ordered to divide their retirement benefits, including TSP benefits, with a former spouse. In addition, federal employees and uniformed servicemen and women leaving employment for retirement or other reasons may keep TSP accounts open. However, they cannot add to their TSP accounts post-retirement or separation, but TSP monies can be transferred to an IRA or other tax-favored plans. The transfer rules, including deadlines, can often be complicated and difficult to understand, but we hope that the legislation allowing for additional investment and withdrawal options will help bring more financial stability as well as a better understanding of the rules involving federal retirement plans.

If you need assistance with a federal employment, federal retirement or TSP issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — July 14, 2017 at 2:00 pm 1 Comment

In the Design Studio with Anna banner

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on Houzz; Pinterest; Facebook and Twitter.

Summer tends to be the time when people buy, sell and really move, a lot. Some will move to bigger homes with lots more space to spread the family and stuff around, and some will select to downsize.

People downsize for many reasons, family, financial and age. In all those cases, we are moving our family and changing our lifestyle, which is never easy — and with smaller space, the challenge is even greater. Here are a few ideas on how to deal with your space before and after the move.

BEFORE YOU MOVE

Start early and plan: Most of us don’t decide on downsizing at the last minute. Finding a new place will take time, and of course selling the old one just as long. While you are searching, this is a good time to start planning. Start thinking about how small you want to go, will you be moving from a five-bedroom to two? Who will be moving with you? Do you have family members that are not planning to move with you, what will you do with their stuff? Make plans to hold an estate sale or donate the items you don’t want or need to take with you. If you already know or have found a place to live, find a floor plan as soon as you can, so you can start figuring out what furniture will fit into the space, and what needs to go.

 

Make lists: Go room by room and check what you have and what you really need and want to keep. Some things will be keepsakes and some just need to be trashed. You can make an inventory list by rooms or master lists such as furniture/clothing/memorabilia and keepsake. Have two columns: Keep and Gone. Make sure your Gone list is bigger than the Keep!

Ditch the duplicates and sort, sort and sort!: According to top fashion advisors, clothing items you haven’t worm in two seasons must go. Don’t sweat over the extra T-shirt or the dress you haven’t worn in three years, lose it! Check your kitchen — lots of gadgets! Are you really using them? Will you need them in your new lifestyle? How many mixing bowls do you really need?

AFTER YOU MOVE

Multi-function: Furniture and appliances that have multi functions are the key! Look into upgrading appliances in order to create a power house of cooking with fewer items. There are plenty of multi-function ovens such as the Miele Combi-Steam oven. Not only is it a convection oven, it has speed cooking and steam! You get three appliances in one, taking up one spot in a small kitchen. Small appliances such as the Instantpot can replace a steamer, rice cooker and a crock pot, while adding the power of pressure cooking.

Think of furniture such as a sleeper sofa for the occasional guest, or a coffee table with storage, for all your family room needs.

While looking for your new home, look for a room that can have multi functions. If you need office space or a spot for yoga, can this room be big enough to add a day bed and can it be used as a guest room? Skip the formal dining room, most people don’t use them, and consider converting it into an office, or a den — add glass doors to create a quiet space.

If you are ready to start decluttering (even if you are not moving or downsizing) make sure to join Buy Nothing Reston and re-gift you treasure to your neighbors.

Have you downsized lately? Have any other ideas to share? Please post below, we would love to hear from you.

Pet of the Week: Zeus

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — July 12, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

Meet Zeus, a young Shepherd mix puppy available for adoption.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Zeus and his sisters Tara and Skylar are gorgeous little Shepherd mix babies of maybe 9 weeks old.

He has a beautiful, rich brown coloring and is going to make a terrific companion. All three of these pups have happy, friendly dispositions and will be great family dogs. Zeus is a sweet, affectionate fella who would like nothing better than a family of his own so he could share his oversize store of love.

This extremely friendly little boy is going to bring lots of joy to some lucky adopters, so don’t delay. Get your application in to your coordinator Bob at [email protected].

Are you and Zeus a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Eve Thompson — July 11, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. Contact her on Reston Real Estate.

I spend a lot of time talking about all the amenities Reston has to offer, and you could easily fill all of your free time doing everything. But I would be remiss if I did not point you to the NOVA Parks.

I sometimes get so focused on my life at Lake Anne, I forget the incredible resources we have in Northern Virginia. The park authority maintains many of them.

NOVA Parks is a nonprofit that represents three counties and three cities — Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria, the City of Falls Church and the City of Fairfax. NOVA Parks staff, volunteer board members appointed from each jurisdiction and friends of the regional parks have worked together to preserve more than 12,000 acres of the rolling and wooded Virginia countryside, creating a priceless legacy for future generations. We are truly blessed that way back in the ’50s, regional leaders has the foresight to protect the Northern Virginia Wilderness.

NOVA Parks provides so many things to do, I can’t possibly list them all. So I’m just going to share my favorite. That is Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, also known as a little slice of heaven.

The gardens consist of 95 acres of ornamental display gardens and unique native plant collections. I particularly love the fairy garden, but all of the gardens are beautiful and fun. You can sit on a bench in your favorite spot, or meander along the walking trails, discovering local flora and fauna (be careful of nesting geese… they don’t appreciate visitors and they will charge you). The Atrium contains an indoor tropical garden. I’ve been to several events there, and the space is amazing. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is also home to the annual Winter Walk of Lights, a spectacular holiday light show featuring dozens of illuminated displays.

What is really nice is you can buy an annual pass for only $45 for the entire family! I think that is one of the best deals around. Of course, if you don’t want a pass, you can buy single tickets — $5 for an adult, $2.50 for seniors and children 7 to 17, children under 7 free.

Pet of the Week: Shelly

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — July 5, 2017 at 11:30 am 0

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

This week’s Reston Pet of the Week is Shelly, a Golden Retriever rescue from Tennessee.

Here is what her owner, Laura, had to say about her:

Shelly is an approximately 8-year-old Golden Retriever who was rescued from Tennessee. Her owners did not take care of her and she was hit by a car, resulting in her losing use of a back leg and being left at a shelter. However, the injury hasn’t slowed her down one bit!

Since adoption in 2014 from Adopt a Golden Knoxville, Shelly has added so much to our lives. A true “Velcro Golden”, all she wants is to be with her family. As a new resident of Reston, she is absolutely loving her big backyard. Most days are spent sitting outside in a patio chair (her favorite!) next to Dad who works from home. When she’s not relaxing on the deck, Shelly can be found patrolling the yard for squirrels and chipmunks with her Chihuahua sister, Mitzi.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

[email protected] a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Eve Thompson — July 4, 2017 at 10:15 am 0

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. Contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Happy Independence Day! I hope you have a fun-filled day planned. I’m looking forward to hanging out with my family — my favorite way to spend every holiday!

To me, the highlight of the 4th is always the fireworks. Most places did their fireworks on Saturday, which honestly is a bit of a letdown. There is nothing like watching the fireworks on the 4th. Thanks to the town of Herndon, you can!

The town of Herndon will hold its annual 4th of July celebration beginning at 6:30 p.m. tonight. This free event will feature entertainment, arts and crafts, bingo, and family games. How fun is that?

The fireworks display will begin at around 9:30. Maybe I’ll see you there.

by RestonNow.com — June 30, 2017 at 4:00 pm 1 Comment

In the Design Studio with Anna banner

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on Houzz; Pinterest; Facebook and Twitter.

School is finally over! And the kids are home for the summer, which means there are craft papers and art supplies flying all around the house! Yes, you did that trip to the art supply store to get all the googly eyes and glitter paper to keep the kids away from the TV for just few hours. So, what do you with all this now?

This week we are catching up with guest blogger Kim Creigh, owner of Creigh~ations, an Etsy shop that customizes in educational craft kits, birthday party decorations and cute gifts. She is the crafty hostess of the Creigh~ative Connection, a free Facebook group that helps moms connect with their children through creativity. She’s here this week to give us her expert tips on how to organize a craft room.

Can you thrive in a messy space?

Have you ever heard that a messy desk actually means you’re more creative?! No? Well, don’t burst my bubble because I’ve read articles that support this and I just chalk my scrap-paper-covered desk up to my creativity! What IS the best way to organize that space into something more orderly? After pinning lots of craft room organization, reading about it and then applying it to my own craft space, I’m going to share my top tips to organizing that craft room! (Some of the links provided are affiliate links in this article. I only recommend what I use and what works!)

What is the biggest problem in craft storage?

If you’re a serious crafter, you are also probably a paper hoarder. This is the biggest issue in a craft room, in my opinion. There are so many possibilities, but if you are a *true* paper hoarder, you need to invest in some paper storage options. These 12×12 shelves are key. Yes, it may look like a craft store, but these paper holders are the way to go! There’s nothing worse than grabbing a piece of pretty cardstock and seeing a bent corner because of how it was stored!

 

And now what?

Once you organize your paper, you are on the way to an organized craft room! I would also recommend having a bin for scraps. If you are super organized, you could even color code these bins, but I personally simply have a large bin that I throw all of my scraps into, and this seems to work.

What is your last tip?

I would highly recommend keeping anything you use on a daily basis within arm’s reach on your desk. For me, this includes my computer, my Cricut Cricut mats + tools, scissors, adhesive and whatever paper I need for my current project.

Decide what you use the most, position it close to you and then figure out a paper storage system that works for you. Organize your other craft tools based on importance and also how much physical space you have. You are on your way to an organized, happy craft space!

Do YOU have any craft room organization tips? Leave a comment below!

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — June 28, 2017 at 1:30 pm 1 Comment

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

This week’s Reston Pets of the Week are Wrangler and Blue, a pair of dogs who love to cuddle.

Here is what their owner, Kelly, had to say about them:

Wrangler and Blue are sisters residing in Reston. They are the best foster sisters around and help dogs with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue find forever homes.

Blue is a 4-year-old Bay Retriever mix and loves to get attention from any human she can and steal her sister’s tennis balls for a good game of chase. She is an avid swimmer and love hiking and going on walks and runs.

Wrangler is a 2-year-old Pit Bull/American Bulldog mix. She is obsessed with playing fetch and is also really into anything water-related. She works hard to end breed discrimination by being a certified therapy dog through Pet Partners. We work with the Heeling House and kids with special needs.

They are big-time Steelers fans and sport their jerseys on Sundays. At the end of the day, Blue and Wrangler are happy to cuddle up on top of one another for a much-needed cuddle puddle.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Eve Thompson — June 27, 2017 at 10:15 am 9 Comments

Right off Sunrise Valley Drive and within walking distance of the Wiehle-Reston East Silver Line station is a lovely street of contemporary homes. Upper Lake Drive is simply gorgeous.

Like many neighborhoods in Reston, Upper Lake is a horseshoe-shaped drive (don’t ask me why). Much of the street backs up to lovely Lake Thoreau (hence the name “Upper Lake”). At the entrance closest to the Metro, residents have easy access to a Reston Association tennis court. At the other entrance is Lake Thoreau pool. In between are mature oaks and maples and contemporary single-family homes nestled in the woods.

The neighborhood was built in the late 1970s, and the homes are very spacious. All are on generous plots, giving owners plenty of private space. I have a listing on Upper Lake with an open floor plan, exposed wood beam ceilings, wood floors and big windows. I’m not saying ALL the homes are like this, but this is typical of the neighborhood.

Upper Lake Drive is what Reston is all about: close proximity to schools, shopping and recreation while still feeling like you live in the country.

Photo courtesy Jessica Wallach/Portrait Play Time

Pet of the Week: Kevin

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — June 21, 2017 at 1:30 pm 2 Comments

This is a sponsored post from Becky’s Pet Care, a professional pet care service in Northern Virginia.

This week’s Reston Pet of the Week is Kevin, a kitten with a unique name.

Here is what her owner, Mark, had to say about her:

Kevin, just shy of being one year old, is female. My girlfriend and I clearly weren’t paying attention in anatomy class so many years ago. Kevin doesn’t care, though; she still responds to her name and saunters around the house like she would with any other name.

Kevin is a die-hard Orioles fan, often catching games with me on TV, but she’s pretty pessimistic about their playoff chances this year. When she gets heated about the games, I like to massage her back and neck and remind her that this is our burden to bear as Orioles fans.

Kevin reminds me a lot of myself, to be honest: she’s a bit shy in the face of change, but adapts well. We just moved into a three-level townhouse, which is quite the upgrade over the cramped condo we lived in before. It took Kevin a few days to venture out of the basement, but she’s up and running around now, chasing any insects that flutter their way into the house, and cuddling with us when we get home from work.

She holds a huge piece of my heart, and I’d have it no other way. She’s my baby kitty.

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

by Eve Thompson — June 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm 0

This is a sponsored post from Eve Thompson of Reston Real Estate. For a more complete picture of home sales in your neighborhood, contact her on Reston Real Estate.

Here are some Reston homes that changed hands recently:

11659 Chesterfield Court, 2BR, 2BA. Sale price: $272,500.

11967 Heathcote Court, 3 BR, 3BA. Sale price: $414,000.

2265 Hunters Run, 1 BR, 1 BA. Sale price: $200,000.

11705 Karbon Hill Court, 2BR, 2BA. Sale price: $301,000.

1675 Parkcrest Circle, 2BR, 1BA. Sale price: $230,000.

1142o Purple Beach Drive, 4BR, 3BA. Sale price: $855,000.

2412 Southgate Square, 3BR, 3.5BA. Sale price: $345,000.

2042 Swans Neck Way, 3BR, 4BA. Sale price: $527,500.

1526 Woodcrest Drive, 3BR, 2BA. Sale price: $375,000.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — June 19, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Plaza America that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John H. Berry

Many of our clients who are federal employees have been facing difficulties as a result of the hiring freeze enacted by the President in January. While the initial hiring freeze has been rescinded (in part), there are many restrictions still in place. These restrictions have affected our federal employment practice since we often argue for or resolve cases involving changes, transfers, desk audits and promotions. This article covers the latest on the federal employee hiring freeze and where it presently stands.

Background

The federal hiring freeze began on Jan. 23, shortly after the inauguration of the President, and covered most hiring actions for federal employees. This had the unfortunate result of causing many federal employees to take on additional jobs that were previously handled by other employees (who had left) but with no increase in compensation. In many federal agencies, it appears that federal employees are unable to perform their basic work functions given the lack of staffing. The ban was eventually lifted, for the most part, on April 12. Additionally, there has also been a lack of staffing at the appointee levels as the current administration has only appointed one third of the amount of appointees that the previous administration had in place at the same point in time.

Where We Are Now

While the original federal hiring freeze has been lifted for most agencies, some individual agencies have decided to leave the ban in place in order to reduce their number of employees. The somewhat understated goal is to reduce the size of the federal workplace. For example, despite the lifting of the ban, the EPA and Department of State currently still have varying restrictions on hiring new personnel as of right now. Other agencies have not openly continued the hiring freeze but have only been hiring on a limited basis.

In addition, since the lifting of the initial freeze, guidance has been issued intending to restrict hiring of federal employees. Other agencies, like the Department of Defense that lifted the hiring freeze, issued requirements that hiring officials comply with the intent of the OMB memorandum of April 12, which focuses on reducing the numbers of employees for agencies. In getting back to normal, following the freeze, there has also been a significant backlog of background and clearance investigations from dozens of federal departments that need employees. This will slow down the onboarding process for these employees.

We suspect that hiring will eventually increase and the policies will be liberalized somewhat, because even agencies looking to reduce their size and scope have to perform basic functions. We have run across a number of federal supervisors and other employees who have become overburdened to the point that they may leave federal government altogether because they have no assistance and are performing multiple jobs. This will eventually lead to increased hiring. It will also likely take a year in order for the federal government to get back to where it was in staffing and productivity before the change in administrations and the enactment of the hiring freeze.

If you need assistance with a federal employment issue, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also like and visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

by RestonNow.com Sponsor — June 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm 2 Comments

In the Design Studio with Anna banner

This is a sponsored post by Anna Gibson, owner of AKG Design Studio and an award-winning, certified kitchen and bathroom designer. AKG Design Studio is a boutique design firm specializing in kitchen, bathroom designs and cabinetry sales. Contact Anna at 571-989-2541 or [email protected], and follow her work on Houzz; Pinterest; Facebook and Twitter.

Summer is here and the season of treating friends, family and the kids is upon us. There will be plenty of family visiting from out of town and kids running around, so here are a few appliances that will help you get through it all!

Beverage Center: Wine cooler or a mixed-use under counter beverage centers are great to clear space in your main fridge and lets guest and kids serve themselves from wine to soda, you can store all your drinks in there. They can be free-standing or built-in, based on your layout and space. Great spots for these are in the island, away from your prep area, or maybe convert that desk area (the empty space that no one uses) to the beverage center. It is usually far enough from your prep zone, yet still in the kitchen for easy access.

Ice maker: We all run out ice at some point! If you barbecue outside or are just hosting a cocktail party, there is always that call for extra ice. Most ice makers are made to be built into your cabinet space, kitchen/bar, but there are a few new options for countertops as well. You can even keep them outside by the grill!

Blender: Blenders allow you to make drinks for any type of party. These are ideal for mixing cocktails, non-alcoholic mocktails, milkshakes and just about any other type of drink you can imagine. Look for models that come with a frontal spout for easy serving. If you’re going to be mixing drinks with a lot of ice in them, look for a blender or drink maker with a pulse or ice-crushing function for easy blending.

Ice cream machine: You can go basic or go big with the Margaritaville brand. Since they are portable, you can use them inside or out. They even have models that will work with your car charger. So party wherever you are!

Crock pot and Instant pot: Just toss all your ingredients in and off you go the pool while dinner is cooking and no extra heat from running the oven. You can even leave it plugged in to keep the food warm while you are serving or self-serve at your party. And it’s easy to store.

There are few models out there made for parties with smaller portions for added variety (up to three different dishes).

Pizza Maker: Everyone loves pizza! While you can invest in a large built-in pizza stove in your kitchen or backyard, the awesome Breville Crispy Crust Pizza Maker sits on your countertop and lets you make restaurant-quality pizza at home. Or, use this perfect add-on — your grill!

Have a build-your-own pizza night. I can assure you all the neighborhood kids will be at your house!

Microwave drawer: Time to take down the microwave from the top of the stove and move it to under the counter. There are a few companies like Sharp and Thermador that have fantastic models. We usually install those in the island, creating easy access for kids to warm up snacks and popcorn without additional assistance or climbing over stoves. And if you don’t want little hands playing, they even have a lock feature!

What are your favorite summer hosting ideas? Share your ideas with us in the comments. We would to hear from you.

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