Think beer and hot tubs go together like peas and carrots?  Think again.  Our friends at expound on the dangers of drinking alcoholic beverages in a hot tub:

Soaking Under The Influence: 5 Reasons Why Drinking In The Hot Tub is a Bad Idea

You're probably enjoying an ice cold beer in your hot tub right now reading this article on a waterproof iPad or something, but the truth is, you really shouldn't drink and soak in your hot tub at the same time.

I know it's not something you want to hear because it seems drinking and hot tubs go together like peas and carrots – and yes I stole that analogy from Forrest Gump.

If this article is bumming you out already, I urge you to keep reading so you at least know the risks. I personally enjoy consuming alcoholic beverages – I'm a homebrewer for Pete's sake! However, while writing this article, it really opened my eyes to the dangers of drinking and hot tubbing.

Teaching your kids to swim offers a tremendous amount of benefits. Not only does it build confidence and improve co-ordination, but it is a great cardiovascular workout. A new study has revealed that getting your little ones into the pool earlier may also help them to reach some of their cognitive, physical, and language developmental milestones earlier than their peers.

For their study, which has been called the world's most comprehensive study on kids and swimming, a team of experts from the Griffith Institute for Educational Research, interviewed parents of kids aged 5 and under from New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, over a three year period. Researchers gave parents an inclusive list of milestones and asked them to identify their child's achievements.

To remove the chance of parental bias, the scientists also observed the 180 children aged 3 to 5 who participated in intensive testing.

Lead researcher, Professor Robyn Jorgensen, noted that children who were taught to swim when they were young were able to learn a variety of skills before other children in their age group. "Many of these skills are those that help young children into the transition into formal learning contexts such as pre-school or school."

Pool Design Trends for 2013

by Phillip Veno,

Much like the latest trends in fashion, car design and the flavor of the month at the coffee shop, pool design trends are constantly changing. But it's a little funny how it works: Trends often develop out of a need to stray from a common theme. However, when someone comes up with an innovative idea, it's only a matter of time until everyone jumps onboard. And once again, the cycle continues as we look for what's new and different in the world.

With this in mind, we can take a look at what was up and coming in 2012 to see where the industry is headed in 2013. Based on my experience working with clients, this is what I think will make a splash in 2013's pool design.


Fire has been a source of wonder and amazement for the human spirit for thousands and thousands of years. We naturally gravitate towards its warmth and love the mood that its subtle glow offers in the evening. Over the last few years, companies like Grand Effects and Bobe have developed fire bowls that make fire features affordable and easy to operate with a simple push of a button. Burners can now be set among rock groupings or on pedestals around the pool — away from foot traffic, of course.

When juxtaposed with water, a fire feature provides a beautiful contrast, not to mention a beautiful reflection after dark. And until only recently, fire features haven't been widely used as a common design element; they were seen as unaffordable to the average consumer; a hassle to operate with frequent blowouts in windy conditions and costly, as those blowouts led to hundreds of dollars in wasted gas. Thanks to the new technology found on most manufactured units these days, you get automatic relights after a detected blowout, making worries of wasted gas and possible accidental detonation a thing of the past.

Visually, fire offers the consumer a feature you won't find on the average pool and can be attractively utilized on a freeform or a geometric pool. Expect to see a lot of it next year.


This is an interesting article from that discusses a recent housing trend:

Something small is afoot. Backyard cottages — from 800-square-foot bungalows to Lilliputian studio cabins — are springing up behind houses in many cities, some of which have changed zoning laws to accommodate them.

Often, the cottages are built for aging parents or grown children. Sometimes, they're rented out for extra income, or are used as studios or offices.

"Backyard cottages increase density in a nice way," says Bruce Parker, principal of the Seattle-based design collective Microhouse. "They use existing infrastructure and ... they're inherently sustainable. A cottage is the antithesis of a big house on a tiny lot."

Seattle updated its zoning laws in 2009 to allow for "accessory dwelling units" on single-family lots of at least 4,000 square feet. (Permits are needed depending on the size of the cottage and whether it has plumbing and electricity.)

While Parker had been designing small homes for several years, the microhouse law inspired him to focus on backyard dwellings. Soon, he was teaching classes on backyard cottages with the Seattle firm NCompass Construction.

About 90 per cent of his students, he said, wanted to build a cottage for their parents.