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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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8605895155

Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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Articles

O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.

 

Filtering by Tag: family

Five Hosting Hacks for the Holidays

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you are responsible for hosting holiday festivities, chances are you’ll probably spend this weekend trying to figure out how to fit guests comfortably in your home. While entertaining can be fun, it’s also a time when metal chairs are dusted off, table leaves are unpacked, and spaces are reconfigured to accommodate a crowd. This is also the time when homeowners start thinking about future remodeling projects and how they can make updates to create more space for people to gather. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite holiday hosting hacks to make life a little easier this Christmas.

  1. Keep the chef sane. The kitchen is always a major attraction for people to congregate to see what’s cooking, help with clean-up, or just to linger for a chat. This type of gathering can be stressful for a holiday chef on the move, so it’s nice to have a plan to keep people out of the way. I like to create temporary seating in eyesight but away from the cooking area itself using a few chairs, benches, or even a spare sofa. This will accommodate guests who want to be part of the action while keeping them away from the food preparation.

  2. Make a holiday cocktail for all. Festive sangria, mulled wine, or spiced cider are all great options that will please a crowd without having to spend a fortune on too many different types of beverages. Plus, a punch or winter warmer encourages guests to serve themselves, allowing the hosts to be more focused on food, fun and other aspects of entertaining.

  3. Keep the fridge functional. Speaking of drinks, don’t let lots of small items such as bottles and cans, condiments you’re not using, and old leftovers take up valuable real estate. Set up a cooler on the back deck for beer, water, and soft drinks, and hide another one away to store the day-to-day items that you won't need for Christmas. With so many ingredients to keep cool, every square inch of space can be useful in some way.

  4. Give the oven an upgrade. Somehow there is never enough space for everything that needs to be cooked. While kitchen remodels are certainly off the table for this time of year, a simple three-tiered oven rack is a great way to increase your capacity instantly. It’s like having a double oven and is the perfect solution to get plenty of pies and sides in with that turkey or ham.

  5. Don’t forget to de-ice. You never know what kind of weather Christmas can bring so be sure to be prepared with plenty of salt or sand for the driveway, sidewalks, and walkways. It’s also a good idea to have de-icer on hand for your guest’s windshields in case it snows while the party is in full swing.

On a personal note, it’s been a wonderful year and I want to wish you all a safe, happy holiday season and a fantastic 2019. Merry Christmas!

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.


Which Christmas Tree is Best For My Family?

Chelsea O'Donnell

With so many beautiful Christmas trees to choose from, it can be hard to pick a style and species to suit a family’s home and unique needs. You might not know that some trees are better for kids while others are great for people with allergies. Yet other varieties are good for certain types of heat and can withstand warmer, dryer temperatures for longer. So without further ado, here is my list of the top trees that you’ll find at your local farm or stand and some of the key differences to help you find your perfect match.

Balsam Fir

One of the most popular picks for Christmas is a balsam fir, which is loved for its sturdy needles, bright green color, strong scent, and beautiful shape. Because of its popularity, the balsam fir also one of the more affordable options of all the different tree types. You can’t go wrong with this classic, which grows strong and lasts long. Plus, like most firs, it’s hypoallergenic too.

White Pine

This is another popularity contest winner but for a much different reason than the balsam. White pines are loved by families for their super soft texture and touchable needles. They can grow very large and they are also inexpensive, which makes them the choice tree for many families with young children. One thing to note about this species is that those soft needles grow from delicate branches, so only go this route if you have lightweight ornaments.

Douglas Fir

Though called a fir, the Douglas is actually a species all its own. While grown mainly in the Northwest region of the United States, this tree is popular all over the country because it’s tough enough to withstand early cutting and lots of traveling. The needles are soft with a sweet fragrance and the shape is conical, making it easy and fun to decorate without too much precision.

Blue Spruce

The color of this tree makes it the hero of any holiday decor. Those beautiful bluish needles are easy to fall in love with, but decorator beware - those babies are sharp! If you have a good set of gloves, they will be well worth using to get this tree in place. But once it’s decorated, you can rest easy as pets tend to keep their distance.

Concolor Fir

The concolor is a favorite in our house because it has all the wonderful characteristics of the fir species - great shape, good color, strong branches, and long needles. The difference is the smell. Unlike most Christmas trees, this variety offers a beautiful citrus scent, keeping the house bright and fresh smelling through the holidays.


What type of tree does your family favor? Is there one I have missed that makes its way into your house year after year? I’d love to hear from you - shoot me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Beat That Turkey Belly With This Post-Thanksgiving Exercise Routine

Chelsea O'Donnell

With the biggest eating holiday of the year behind us, now is a great time to get in a healthy habit of regular exercise to help fight off that holiday weight and get you feeling your best.

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), the average Thanksgiving Day dinner packs in a whopping 3,000 calories which means that the average 160-pound person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 30 miles just to burn it off. That’s a lot of exercise for just one meal!

I love to indulge just like most people, but I also like to get back into my regular routine as quickly as possible. I usually start my day with a brisk walk or jog around Rockwell Park in Bristol, and this morning was no different. We all love to feast on Thanksgiving treats, but getting back on track quickly is the best way to ensure that your turkey belly doesn’t continue growing through the New Year. A 20-minute walk or jog gets the blood pumping and it helps to energize you for the rest of the day ahead.

While I am walking, I like to take hand weights and incorporate squats into my routine. I stand with my feet shoulder width apart and push down into a sitting position with my knees bent. Three sets of ten squats are usually enough to get the glutes fired up and they help me forgive myself for that extra slice of pumpkin pie.

Next, I like to move into lunges which are a fantastic exercise for strengthening the thighs. I do mine while walking which helps to improve balance which is key as we approach ski season. Lunges are easy to do - just take a big step forward and bend both knees at the same time, returning to standing when your knees are bent at 90 degrees. Try five on each side to begin and do three sets to really feel the burn.

For the upper body, I like to alternate pushups and tricep dips to get the muscles in my arms, back, and shoulders fired up. If you’re not used to push-ups, you can modify your positioning by starting on your knees which will make it a little easier to do them in proper form. For tricep dips, you can use a sturdy chair, bench or table that will hold your weight, but I like to use the outdoor exercise equipment in the park.

Then we come to that turkey belly. I often lay on my back and slowly raise my legs up to the sky before lowering them down again in sets of 10 repetitions. Then there is the plank, which can be done simply by getting in push up position and holding the body in place with the elbows against the torso and the back, glutes, and legs all in alignment. Try holding your plank for 30 seconds at first and then you can work your way up to two minutes.

With the holidays now in full swing, it can be easy to let your normal routine fall by the wayside in favor of sweet treats and deliciously lavish dinners. But if you keep your exercise up and enjoy the foods of the festive season in moderation, you’ll be much better off when it’s time to make that New Year’s resolution.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.