Fun in the SUN

Fun in the SUN

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Fun fact for you-Part 2

Ok Liana, it’s your turn!
As most of you probably already know, Liana is a familiar face around our New Minas location. She started working at Holland Home Leisure in 2005, and quickly established herself as a great sales person. She is our number one sales girl for hot tubs and outdoor furniture, and she is doing an awesome job!
Liana is also in charge of event planning, and last September she planned and organized our entire 30th anniversary celebration!  This was a huge event that took many extra hours on her part, and it certainly showed us all that she is capable of great things!
Liana always has fresh, fun ideas in the marketing department as well. She can put a creative twist on any advertisement or promotion and make it great! Her marketing skills are definitely an asset to the company, and one of the things that makes her so valuable as an HHL employee!
“Liana is truly a great sales person and I have been told by many of her clients that she often goes above and beyond to find the perfect product for them! On the other hand, each of us excel at parts of our job but struggle in other areas. The Aylesford store is where the majority of the parts are kept and the staff always get a good chuckle when Liana calls looking for a part. She usually describes it in very technical terms such as “I am looking for a thingy that attaches to the other thingy”.  At which point we ask her to fax or email us a picture of the thingy in question! “ –Debby, Mom and Aylesford Store Manager
Aside from Liana’s work skills, there are some pretty important things that I think everyone should know about her. If you are ever in need of a good dance off, Liana will gladly break it down with you to any of top 40 hits that may be playing on the radio at the time. Did I mention that this often takes place in the middle of our showroom floor (with, or without customers present).  Just ask her, she’s fully aware of what great dance skills she has!
With an often unique choice of words that only other Holland Home Leisure employees would understand, you can usually pull her away from her busy schedule by starting a conversation based around weddings or babies. Conversation can get a little silly during our down times at HHL, and Liana’s usually right in the middle of it, with a great sense of humour.
So next time you’re in the area, or feel the need to spice up your backyard living, come in to New Minas and see Liana! She’ll help you find what you are looking for, and she may even provide you with a glimpse of her latest dance routine!
-Katie McLean
Liana and Katie
The Blog Team

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Brr...It's cold in here!!!

When I was young my mother encouraged me to join swimming lessons at a community campground. We had a pool in our backyard so I wasn’t what you would call enthused to go swim in someone else’s pool. My mom on the other hand, was always a little nervous with kids in the pool wanted to make sure I was a strong swimmer. We always had very strict rules with our pool, no swimming with out begging one of my older siblings to stay outside and watch, stay in the shallow end if they were outside but not fully committed to watching, and never ever go out alone!
So, I started swimming lessons. I can only imagine the frown I had the first day. Luckily, I had a plan! I had been paying attention to all of the “pool” talk in our home, and I was going to find something wrong with the campground pool! I didn’t find anything wrong with the pool, but I at least saw an area for improvement. The temperature…BRRR!
Being at an all knowing age of 8, I knew my aquatic knowledge far surpassed that of my instructor. Really, I truly believed I was trying to do a good deed for my entire class. “Umm excuse me, but have you ever thought of getting a heater?” I asked, with all 50 pounds of me shaking with a slight tinge of blue (I was not used to such “harsh” swimming conditions.). When the answer I received was a flat out “No”, I went to my second option. I suggested the use of a solar blanket, and I couldn’t imagine why my helpful advice was not received with thanks of gratitude.
I did not return for lessons the following year. Maybe my mom felt bad for my body being blue, or she was slightly embarrassed to bring me back? Either way, this is me reminding all you pool owners to pull those solar blankets on at night to maintain the precious heat you gained during the day. If you decide you need a heater to satisfy your picky swimmers, you know where to find us!

Swimming season is almost here!

-Liana vandenHof-Rhondenizer
My little one enjoying Nan and Papa's Heated Pool!!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Pool Memories

When I was a kid, I was lucky enough to have a best friend (who was also my next-door-neighbour) who had an in ground pool!
I remember the summers prior to the pool being installed being filled with bike rides to the park (but always home before the street lights came on) and begging our parents to let us set up the sprinkler so we could run through it (if we were really lucky, we could set it up with a long sheet of plastic and take running dives across the backyard).
After the pool was installed I would get up every morning, wait until out of common courtesy (and my mother’s orders) and then bike/run/skip as fast as possible over to my friend’s house (swimsuit already on of course!).
We would spend all day racing back and forth in the shallow end, jumping into the pool in as many different shapes as possible, and of course, seeing who could do the better hand-stand! If we did happen to venture inside the house for a quick snack, we were quickly encouraged to get back outside and enjoy the pool! I was in that pool so much, I’m pretty sure that most of the time I thought it was MY pool!
As years went by, silly games IN the pool turned into fun-filled lounging BESIDE the pool (with quick cool-off breaks in the water) and eventually, my friend moved away and swimming in a pool was more of a rare treat than an everyday necessity!
Now, after living in a house that has a pool, I can definitely say that it wasn’t the swimming that made those summers so fun (turns out, I’m not one for jumping in a cold pool!) it was the memories that were made, and the time spent with friends and family in and around the pool area (corny, I know, but it’s true!). I can safely say that the majority of my childhood memories are centred around that in-ground pool and the fun that we created for ourselves every summer. Our backyards are our outdoor homes in the summer months; why not make them as enjoyable as possible!

-Katie McLean

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Remembering the 80's

I will always remember my first swim in a Holland Home Leisure Swimming Pool. The date was September 25th, 1980 and the time was 11:05AM ... I had just come from the hospital after the birth of our second daughter.  I thought I would go and visit my parents to spread the great news, this was way before the time of cell phones so it wasn't possible to call from the hospital!  When I drove into the driveway, I saw the pool in the backyard, we had just finished installing it and it had just been filled with water a day or two before.  To be honest the water did not look overly inviting because it had come from a nearby pond, and it looked pretty swampy, but I ran from the car, and did a running cannonball into the deep end fully clothed. 
That was the first of many swims that we as a family enjoyed in that first HHL Pool.  It seemed that for the next 10 to 12 years when ever there was any sort of family day it was held at my parents house.  The pool was only  16x32 but it was amazing at how many people you could comfortably fit into it. 
Over the next ten years or so we as a company concentrated on building in ground pools.  I think I can remember each and every pool we installed during the 80's, and the greatest satisfaction for me is seeing some of those customers still coming into one of stores today.  The 80's was a decade of great change, we bought our first computer in the early 80's and this totally changed the way we did our accounting, but to be honest I think some of the first accounting programs we used were more work than doing it by hand.  We also got our first cell phone, and while it was portable, it looked more like a purse then the phones we are used to seeing today.  The pool industry changed also as did the quality of many of the materials we used to build our pools.  In the early 80's virtually all the pools installed were sq cornered rectangles,  and by the late 80's kidneys and radius cornered rectangles were more the norm.  Liners in the early 80's were mostly either a solid blue, or they had a blue pattern border, by the late 80's the full pattern liner was becoming more common.  Mind you there were only a couple of patterns to pick from, but at least there was now a choice.
Looking back the 80's were a decade of change, but change was not as fast paced as we experience today.  I guess the one thing is that change is constant, and we always need to be prepared to adapt with it, but some things do not change, and one of those is the enjoyment that families and friends can experience around your very own backyard pool.
-Mike vandenHof
Photograph Taken on September 25th 2010
Holland Home Leisure's 30th Anniversary
*Photo by Matt Kozera Photography

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Fun Fact for You- Part 1

            We thought we would give you some valuable information on a few staff members, starting with Debby .v. our Aylesford store manager AKA the boss lady and our Staff mom (Literally and figuratively).
            Debby is best known amongst her fellow staff members for being computer illiterate, or technologically challenged. We are actually quite impressed she figured out how to follow the blog. (Kristi did you help her? I know I had to help her join Facebook!)
Fun Facts about Debby- She always speaks her mind, even (especially) when her opinion is the minority, she only eats bread that has a high percentage of “bird seed”, and she secretly loves to clean! Shhhh…. Don’t tell! She is constantly looking for her glasses, talking about her grandkids and calling Craig Curtis by mistake! She is bad at names but great with remembering faces!

“The things I admire most about Debby are how she treats customers and her work ethic within the store. She sets a wonderful example of what true leadership is and it is a joy and pleasure to work for her.”- Megan Banman

Debby’s strengths include: Keeping the Aylesford store running smoothly, and her #1 priority is customer satisfaction and dealing with any concerns or issues they have, she will not stop until she finds a solution. She cares for her staff genuinely, and she has been known to demand staff leave because of weather conditions and she may even call them at home to make sure they made it ok, she is a true mother hen! She dives head first into projects, and won’t stop until she has completed them!

“She is very humble, and is the first to pitch in when needed no matter what the task.”-Jenn McGrath

We love that she is the first to call or email to congratulate someone on a job well done, that she gives us healthy eating pointers (while scowling at our lunches), and even though she is partially retired and not working in the winters she still pops in the stores now and then to stay on top of things and have a little visit.

After 30 years of being involved in the business we could go on and on about her accomplishments within the company! We want to thank her for a job well done, and let her know she is greatly appreciated by everyone!

-Liana vandenHof-Rhodenizer
Love you Mom!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Pool Side Fashion

I personally have never been one to enjoy a trip out to look for bathing suits; they are usually full of awkward moments, laughing, and sometimes a grimace or two. I have never loved the trying on process; although I have approximately 8 suits that is not my point! (A girl needs options!) My point is, trying them on is not very fun. It could be because I have a very haunting memory of bathing suit shopping with my parents when I was 16. I was on the hunt for a one piece bathing suit, for a specific occasion, and after about 6 stores and no one being able to breathe from laughter I settled on a very hideous maroon floral print. (It turns out my waist may have been longer than the average girl my age, not good.)
I know right now my mother is giggling with memories of this day, and maybe she is elaborating to those around her on how bad this experience really was, but I am going to leave you with…it just wasn’t good. For a 16 year old, when almost everything is embarrassing and awkward I know I hoped that bathing suit shopping was something that would get better as I got older. I was wrong!
            Since this memorable day, I have had many more equally mortifying bathing suit experiences. It may be that no matter whom you are, you’re going to be not 100% comfortable with shopping for something you know you have to wear in public that is the equivalent of what you normally wear with a full outfit on top! So, here we are in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia…fashion capital extraordinaire, and I have decided to do a little research on the topic! What is in style for the skin bearing season of 2011? How can we stay in fashion pool side?
            Well, this is what I found out from the so called “fashion experts”. This summer season is all about color, or lack there of; Nude, khaki, white, beige, taupe, and black with small splashes of teal and aqua (for the adventurous only). Sounds exciting I know, mind you maybe they are on to something…black tends to be one of the most flattering options for the rest of your wardrobe!
            If you are going to branch out and get a print on your new suit, apparently the acceptable options include a nice light floral bohemian print, paisley, or anything “earthy”. If you want to have your suit compete with the “Jones” suit, look for wooden accents, and fringe…Oh ya! Fringe! All fashion forward suits include  fringe.
            If you are uncomfortable strutting around in something with no more coverage than your undergarments offer invest in a cute wrap or cover up! Also, get a big floppy hat and some abnormally large shades and go out incognito, in true celebrity style.
            My advice…maybe skip the hot trends of 2011 and go with a well fitted, well structured suit with a generous side of SPF60.

Just don’t forget the fringe!

-Liana vandenHof-Rhodenizer

Monday, 18 April 2011


Having worked our first Sunday EVER yesterday, I am trying to be as enthusiastic as possible J
The new staff are training as we speak and Brian has returned back to us for his 5th summer (yes, he WILL be here to help you carry out your salt/sand/chemicals this summer).
The weekend is over, and so is the tent sale! Friday and Saturday brought sunshine along with some cooler temperatures, and we saw lots of customers coming through our doors to check out our great deals!
Sunday was a different story, the rain and wind storm hit hard, but it didn’t slow down the steady stream of customers! Soaking wet or not, people were in all day long, keeping us busy for the first Sunday in Holland Home Leisure history!
Some great deals were had and I must say, we even had a little fun ourselves!
I decided to include a delightful summer drink recipe to help kick off your week!
It’s delish (as Liana would say)!
Virgin Margaritas
• 1 Can frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
• 1/4 Cup orange juice
• 2 tbsp Kosher salt
• 1/2 Lime, cut into 4 wedges
• 4 Cups ice cubes
How to Make:
Put the salt in a shallow dish and rub the rim of each margarita glasses with a lime wedge
Dip the rims into the salt and keep the lime wedges aside.
In a blender, blend the orange juice, limeade and ice cubes on high speed for about 1 to 2 minutes till well blended and the ice cubes are crushed.
Now pour into the glasses, garnish it with the lime wedges and serve.
-Katie McLean

Friday, 15 April 2011

Weekend Recipes!

All you barbecue enthusiasts must be excited that the weather is finally nice enough to move to our outdoor kitchens. For the vandenHof’s it meant that the big green egg was fired up for last Sunday night’s dinner and we enjoyed our first barbecue of the season! I don’t know about all of you but we look forward to the change of seasons as much for the change in menu and the ability to entertain in the back yard as the warmer air temperature.
If you were to read our families Facebook posts you would see a common thread and that is that our posts generally relate to food, and what new recipe each of us tried that week. Once a recipe gets good reviews from one family member then we share it with the entire family until it becomes part of everyone’s repertoire.
 I am sharing with you my daughter in laws Mediterranean Potato salad recipe, and it is always a huge hit. In my opinion this is the best potato salad recipe I have ever eaten, maybe because I am not a fan of mayonnaise and this dressing is made with olive oil, which is also heart healthy I might add! The other thing I like about this recipe is there is no peeling and dicing which means more free time to be outside with our guests.I am also including a delicious Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing from my sister in law in California. I used this as a dressing for my pasta salad yesterday and it was a big hit. Just boil your favorite type of pasta, and add whatever fresh veggies you have in the fridge (peppers, broccoli, cucumber) then toss with the dressing! How good was it well I had just enough left over to bring for my lunch!

 I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as we do!

-Debby vandenHof

                                                Mediterranean Potato Salad

2lbs baby potatoes unpeeled cooked and cooled
1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in two
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced green onion
½ cup chopped parsley


6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard ( I used honey mustard)
2 cloves garlic minced
Salt and pepper to taste!

                                            Poppy Seed Dressing
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely chopped sweet onions
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
¾ cup olive oil, add slowly to above ingredients either mix in blender or use a whisk!

YUM :)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

New Staff Warning

Wow, is that the sun I see? Well, maybe not but either way spring is in the air at HHL.
New furniture is on the floor, and the tents are up for our kick off to spring tent event. Spring is an exciting time of year for us, new products, new promotions, new staff, and new clients coming in through the doors. It is a great opportunity to make new friends and build new relationships, and continue old ones.

            The winter months for us can be long and sometimes just a touch boring. Now, our winter projects can hibernate and we prepare ourselves for warm weather chaos. Believe it or not, we get excited for the chaos! Well, I guess I should speak for myself.

            Monday is our first day for new summer staff, so make sure to come in to check out some new faces. I would like to officially welcome our new staff to the HHL family, and to use this opportunity to warn you of the slightly intense summer ahead! Also, to make you aware there will be laughs in your future.

            We tend to have an off beat sense of humor around here and it may take some time to get used to our silly ways. So, I have decided to compile a few words of wisdom for you all. For those clients reading, here is some information about the staff members who are testing your water.

            If you have a knowledge or interest in weddings (including diamonds), babies (the fresher from the womb the better), and food in general you will immediately fit in with lunch time conversations. Sorry boys, that goes for you too! We expect you to participate with up beat enthusiasm. (It may be possible too many woman work here?)

            No matter how tempting it may be, do not, I repeat DO NOT, actually take a pizza order when someone calls requesting Greco on Friday nights. Yes, we may joke about it often but it would be frowned upon to actually follow through. 681-3030 is very similar to 310-3030 but it is considered different…Who knew?

            If one of the owners (no names necessary), decides to sing and/or dance in the middle of the showroom floor to any of the top 40 hits…you may either embrace it and join in or simply ignore. I find neither reaction will offend him, but if it offends you…don’t worry eventually he will get bored and move on with his day.
 In the end, remember as busy as we get and as stressful as it may become, have fun! P.S. If you choose to be sarcastic (which absolutely none of us are), remember to bring a quarter because around here it will cost you. Staff members have been known to loose a small portion of wages to the sarcasm jar (mostly Mike).

-Liana vandenHof-Rhodenizer

Monday, 11 April 2011


Recently we asked our Facebook followers what makes vacationing at home so appealing. Most dominate answer was sleeping in your own bed, followed by no long car rides, and no crowds.
            For those of you traveling with children…or me for that matter, you are well prepared to hear in the car the following: I’m tired, I’m bored, I’m hungry, I have to pee, I don’t feel well, when do we get to stop?, and the classic ARE WE THERE YET? Frankly, I’m impressed my parents took me anywhere! Mind you I am the youngest of 4 siblings, so it’s very possible they learned to tune me out!
            Holland Home Leisure’s idea of “vacationing at home” has been around for years, and last year in our Backyard Escapes magazine we expanded on the concept. How do you have a vacation at home? Well, here is our list of tips on how you can enjoy your own backyard this summer, no packing required.
            If you have booked off time from work specifically for “staycationing”, treat it like any other vacation (or as my mother would say holiday)! Turn off your phone, dig to the bottom of your dresser drawer and pull out the most offensive tropical shirts (if your children do not laugh at you, you have picked the wrong one), wear the shirt with pride, and settle in for a beautiful day outside. Avoid your computer and responding to emails. (P.S. your blackberry, iphone, ipad and any other strange handheld device I’m unaware of counts as both a computer and phone, so turn it off!) Just because you are closer to the office does not mean you are still available to work, you are on vacation!
            Play games and make the most of your time with your family. Bocce Ball, washer toss, frisbee, and pool volleyball are all great options for a backyard tournament. Invite some friends over, have a theme party (witness your friends equally offensive tropical shirts), and try to do something new and exciting! Take Pictures! Facebook would feel incomplete if you did not upload your vacation pictures. Any other vacation would be photographed and this should be no exception. You will want to look back and remember how much fun you had! Take a picture of someone sleeping in the hammock instead of on the airport floor!
            Stock up the fridge with favorites, fresh fruits for breakfast, all the necessities for sundaes, and your families BBQ favorites. Vacations should include a “first”, so try something new and have your family dress up, try a new recipe and have a 5* restaurant in your own home (backyard preferably).

            Remember you are not settling by not traveling! The options are endless and there is more time to play and less traveling headaches…Enjoy planning your vacation at home this summer season!

I can’t wait to hear all about them!

Liana vandenHof-Rhodenizer

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Swamp Vegetable

The sun is shining and the pools are thawing out! The spring opening kits are starting to fly off the shelves, and were all getting excited for our busiest time of year – Pool Opening Season‼ J
In the theme of pool opening, I decided to share a little pool opening story of my own!
In 2009, my fiancĂ© and I had moved into a house with an above ground pool. Let’s just say, the previous owners did NOT get their pool closing advice from Holland Home Leisure. Such a lovely shade of green!
After about 2 weeks of steady scooping from the swamp that was our above ground pool, my fiancĂ© yelled inside for me to come see what he had “found”. As you can imagine, walking onto the back deck I had many thoughts of what I was about to witness.
A turnip wasn’t really the first thing that came to mind! But there it was, sitting on the pool deck, in all its slimy glory! After a good laugh, we both ventured many guesses as to how it had gotten in there. Vegetable lawn bowling? Or was our pool actually swampy enough that it had GROWN this lovely turnip over the winter?
The ‘pool turnip’ has since become very famous, and I can always count on my yearly phone call from frantic friends who have pools stating they are having “trouble” opening their pool. Inevitably, the problem is always the same; they just can’t seem to find their pool turnip‼
So remember, no matter what is hiding under that winter cover this spring, I have probably seen worse (much worse) and with a little patience, it CAN be clear in time for swimming season!
I challenge you ALL to top the famous ‘pool turnip’ and tell me your best/funniest pool story the next time you’re in! I can’t wait to hear the stories!
Until next time,
Katie McLean

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Water Traditions

What is a tradition? Something simple such as holding hands before sharing a meal or something seasonal like piling into the car and driving around your local neighborhood admiring holiday decorations (often including a box of chocolates)? By definition a tradition is anything that is a custom, habit or general practice in your family often passed down through generations.

Welcome to the vandenHof’s world of water traditions. So far, four generations of swimmers have had the pleasure of enjoying water as the backdrop to many family memories.

Luckily for children in the vandenHof family, who generally get as hot and bored in the summer as children in any other family, they are never too far away from a pool during the hot summer months. On most occasions there are many uncles to play with, mothers to splash, cousins to have contests with, and siblings to tease which makes a picture perfect setting for an afternoon in the sun! Mind you, our gatherings still include picky eaters, good bye tears, and the odd temper tantrum because mommy’s watch runs a little fast and that was not nearly five more minutes in the pool. When it’s time for us to all leave, good byes always include an invitation for a quick return. My father’s goodbye words always include, come by for a swim anytime the pools always open. He has learned that these types of invitations usually mean his fridge will most likely get opened as well!

The first Holland Home Leisure pool was in fact a vandenHof pool. So I am a strong believer of a pool being part of our family’s traditions. The styles, the shape, the size of the pools have all changed over the years, but the usage and the purpose has stayed the same. Family! For me and my family, splashing water, warm water, salt water, my brother pushed me in with my clothes on water, still peaceful water, and a quiet rippling of the wind moving the water had been the background to so many memories and family fun. Memories that include holiday celebrations, family gatherings and reunions, staff parties, birthday parties, important conversations and even two wedding receptions. All of these memories include sparking water as a centerpiece.

My summers would not be complete without memories that include water.

 Until next time...
-Liana vandenHof-Rhodenizer