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July 3, 2015

Happy Birthday America! A Celebration and Reminder of Why We Celebrate

 In America, no holiday is more significant than Independence Day, the Fourth of July; the day in which we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the relative “beginning” of this illustrious country.   In honor of this esteemed holiday, while those of you who live in the States are out enjoying the parades, the fireworks, the  grilling and the gathering – here are a few inspiring quotes to help us all remember the reason we celebrate.

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  ~Erma Bombeck

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.  ~Elmer Davis

Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. ~Abraham Lincoln
And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. ~Lee Greenwood

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular. ~Adlai Stevenson

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. ~Nelson Mandela

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. ~Woodrow Wilson

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Where liberty dwells, there is my country.  ~Benjamin Franklin

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. ~Thomas Jefferson

There, I guess King George will be able to read that. ~John Hancock

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people. ~ Abraham Lincoln

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

As mankind become more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community, are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America amongst the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. ~George Washington

Give me liberty or give me death! ~Patrick Henry

America…it is the only place where miracles not only happen, but where they happen all the time. ~Thomas Wolfe

Above all, we must realize that no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. ~Ronald Reagan

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Happy Birthday America!  To those that have fought and sacrificed for the freedoms we hold dear and to those that continue to hold the line; We at Allan Block thank you.

June 26, 2015

Backyard Design Ideas: Sunken Patios

Have a completely flat area or a hill for your backyard?  Spice it up by adding a hidden sunken patio.  Create a cozy hidden area that is ideal for entertaining or just getting away that has a sense of privacy and welcoming style.  With a sunken design you create a sense of privacy allowing you to for-go installing tall fences, retaining the outside view.

Incorporate pools or water features, fire pits, outdoor cooking areas and entertaining area, built in seating or planting section.  The Allan Block products are versatile enough for any design and will last for years of enjoyment. 

Create a sunken patio area to connect between other levels in the backyard or with a lower level entry to your home. Enjoy a cup of coffee in a hidden backyard garden, or have a large party without disturbing the neighbors - the possibilities are endless.  

June 19, 2015

An 8 Year Old's Tips for Retaining Wall Construction

Summer is made for swimming reading, camping, boating and in some cases building a 160 ft. Allan Block retaining wall.  Using the talents and brawn of 4 generations, our 4 ½ ft. high wall was completed in 10 straight days.  The three youngest of the family crew, ages 2, 7, and 8 were able to help shovel gravel, try out the tamper and watch various large machines negotiate our lakefront yard. 

The wisest of the family didn’t let 90 years slow her down from helping prepare food and wash dishes for the unbelievably ravenous pit crew of 11 (little ones included).  The experience brought together three grandchildren, three sisters, two brother-in-laws, two parents, and one great grandmother.

Through the work, frustrations, beer, creativity, sore muscles, perseverance and laughter, we built the Great Wall of Nakamun. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the gifts and strengths of each family member put into serious action!  Out Great Allan Block Wall was an amazing accomplishment that reminds us that summer is made for swimming.

June 12, 2015

Backyard Design Ideas: Lighting

With the busy schedules of today, many still want to enjoy the great outdoors long after the sun goes down.  Outdoor lighting will help you enjoy the ambiance of your landscaped patio well into the evening with family and friends. 

The use of lighting around your outdoor spaces provides not only safety and security, but offers a warm and inviting feel.  Accenting your home or walkway adds beauty and character with the functionality of a well-lit outdoor space. 

There are many options available to install lighting within the AB retaining wall units or the pavers as well as within the landscaping itself.  Be creative with low voltage lighting. 

Want just an outdoor accent build a patio encircling an outdoor fire pit.  Enjoy years of entertaining and story-telling with your welcomed guests.  Build an outdoor bar and/or kitchen area with under counter or pergola lighting for a stunning effect.

June 5, 2015

10 Budget Friendly Home Improvement Ideas

You don't have to break the bank to turn your house into a home where you feel happy and comfortable. Often times when you think of improvements for your home all you think of is a bunch of $$$$$ when in fact all it will take is a simple facelift and a little TLC to make it feel new and better. 

Doing it yourself is the most budget friendly way to go about a project but it will require time and knowledge.  With the help and instructions available on the internet, you can learn the steps on how to tackle your project. YouTube is a favorite, also manufacturer’s website where you can find information specific to the products you are using. If anything, you will be able to get ideas and understand the scope of your project. You will also find out when you might need to seek professional help. 

Here are some ideas for budget friendly home improvements:

  1. Paint: a fresh coat of paint can go a long way. Whether you are looking to brighten a room, add color or simply clean up these walls from the kids and pets prints. Painting will sure give your room and great feel of newness and cleanliness
  2. Adding architectural accents to your room: crown molding or ceiling medallions can give architectural definition to the room by creating contrast and depth
  3. Dress up your doors and windows
  4. Give your cabinets a facelift with paint or new hardware
  5. Adding backsplash to your kitchen or bathroom counters
  6. Accessorize the room with candles, mirrors, artwork etc…
  7. Change or add light fixtures
  8. You cannot afford to change your floor, paint it
  9. Add laminate flooring that looks like wood, easy to install and float over existing flooring
  10. Add curb appeal to your front entry with plants, flowers and garden accessories.