Friday, June 16, 2017

Outdoor Spaces

Outdoor space for everything ... for planting, to park outside
toys, an area to lounge, a space to grill and to dine.
In recent years it has become very apparent that our home's outdoor living spaces are just as important as the indoor spaces.  While people have always tended to their gardens and the curb appeal of their houses, in more recent times we've come to understand that spending time outdoors ... even when we're still just hanging out at home ... has become just as big as going out.

More and more people are deciding that getting the full enjoyment from their homes means utilizing every inch of their outdoor space, as well.  It is no longer enough just to have a couple of chairs out on the front porch, or to be satisfied with a small pad outside for the grill.  Now people want outdoor living rooms, outdoor kitchens, outdoor pizza ovens, hot tubs, etc.

A comfy place to lounge and chat and hold hands.
It has always been popular to entertain outside.  Inviting people over for a backyard barbecue, to grill some steaks, or to enjoy some cocktails on the deck, has always been an indispensable tradition of summer.  Parties always seem to expand naturally outside, anyway.  People like spreading out, finding a quiet corner on the deck to have a private conversation, or enjoy the fresh air with a glass of wine and some nibbles.

But now people expect to have a comfortable outdoor oasis that they can retreat to anytime they want, a place that is pleasing to the eye as well as the spirit.  A lawn chair on the back patio is no longer good enough.  We want pleasing decor, furniture that is comfortable, options for privacy, and various nooks available to retreat from the world and spend time with nature.

When I had some minor construction take place on my house a couple of years ago, which ended up tearing up my original back patio, I decided it was time to create a patio space that made more sense and that I could really put to good use.  My previous patio had been too small to entertain on, and it lacked any kind of coziness factor at all.

After the new patio was poured, the next step of my dream plan was to put up a pergola.  It proved more challenging than I had anticipated, with construction projects on overdrive here in the Boulder area, so it didn't get built until last December.  But once it was up, I was in love.  I had my heart set on one, and it did not disappoint.  There is something so sweet about it, that it just melts my heart.

Space to grill, prep, and dine.
A privacy screen stands by, if desired.
I bought some furniture and decor in turquoise colors and fabrics that remind me of my favorite vacation destinations by the beach or pool, so I always feel I'm at a resort when I look at them.  The grill found it's spot, as did my favorite cozy round table with its umbrella, and I bought a convertible picnic table for extra seating and outdoor buffets, as well.

I spent much of the spring getting my patio space ready for entertaining this summer.  While I am no gardener and certainly no decorator, I was happy with the results.

There is a comfortable lounge area to hang out and socialize in, surrounding a lovely fire pit that was also a gift, just ready for friends and conversation.  There is a lovely glider my sister gave me, where I spend my evenings contemplating life and other big questions in the universe, or just a soothing spot to rock my adorable grand-niece.  There is the grill and dining area, all within easy reach.  I even bought a portable wooden screen in case additional privacy is desired.

A few nibbles to get the party started.
The first cookout of the season was a rousing success.  I had been gifted a brand new super-deluxe grill, and it was time to inaugurate it.

The appetizers included a whiskey cheese (huge hit), a tea-enrobed hard cheese (yes, tea), fig and black-sesame crackers (a runaway favorite), rosemary marcona almonds (tiny, aromatic joys), and watermelon salsa with chips (more delicious than I even anticipated).

The menu consisted of kabobs over rice with chimichurri sauce, hamburger sliders with cheddar, pork ribs with homemade barbecue sauce, grilled garlic asparagus and summer squash, and grilled pineapple.  My sister brought a fabulous green salad, delicious potato salad, and watermelon, and my niece brought homemade cookies-and-cream ice cream for dessert.  (There was way too much food, just how we like it.)  It was all absolutely fantastic!

Amazing watermelon salsa ... tidbits of tomatoes, red onion,
bell peppers, jalapeno pepper, cilantro and watermelon.
We washed it all down with both white and red sangria, wheat beer, and lemon-and-raspberry infused sparkling water.   (I had chilled prosecco on standby, just in case, but it wasn't needed.  However, we'll be enjoying those bottles the rest of the summer, you can be assured.)

It was a lovely evening, and I'm loving my new outdoor space.

I'm not done yet ... there are a few ideas still floating around in my head.  Possibly drapes or a screen for the pergola, maybe a hot tub, a hummingbird feeder, a wind spinner, and I've already bought the fairy lights for magical nights.  Reading a book, meditating on life, watching the butterflies, birds and occasional bunnies that sneak under the fence are now my full-time preoccupation.  Enjoying life, appreciating all I see ... the lush grass, the gorgeous trees, the beautiful skies, and my sweet potted flowers.

There's nothing better in life!

Plenty of room on this plate for more!
A beautiful ending to a wonderful evening.

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