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Posts tagged ‘Entertaining’

Our NEW Backyard Sanctuary

This past week we finally finished our back patio. We took a little time off in June to visit France and England (it was a blast). But, when we came home to a giant dirt hole, we knew we needed to get the patio finished. After all, we’ve had the stone since April! To speed up the process I invited friends over for a tea party – giving us a week to get it all done.

The main reason for the new patio (beside it’s beauty) is to have a permanent home for our patio furniture and pots. Since we removed the lawn we’ll also have less mowing and watering. Plus, it’s great for our outdoor movie nights.

We used Tumbled Pennsylvania Bluestone since it’s the same type of stone used on the front walkway and we liked the different shapes of the stones. I wanted our patio to look natural and old – not perfect! We even left a space between the stones so a variety of ground cover would fill the gaps. So far the chickens have only eaten/devoured/destroyed the Blue Star Creeper.

To see my inspiration and before pictures you can check out a post I wrote a couple months ago: My Backyard Inspiration Picture.

Here’s my new patio:

New patio looking towards the house.

View of the back of the garage & veggie beds from the house.

Our fire pit & movie watching area. We've even got a spot set aside for an outdoor outlet.

Raised veggie & herb beds.

Pots filled with Creeping Jenny, Coleus, Bamboo, Heather & Midnight Wine Wiegela.

Coleus, Hebe & Variegated Holly.

Containers full of Coleus, Creeping Jenny, Hebe, Heather, Corkscrew Willow & Bonsai Maple.

Container filled with a young Dogwood, Heather, Coleus & Creeping Jenny.

Our backyard is now low maintenance and sustainable. I love it! Now, we relax.

My Backyard Inspiration Picture

As some of you know, we’re in the process of remodeling our front and back yards. I already shared my front yard inspiration picture (source unknown) but I haven’t yet shown you my back yard inspiration picture and progress.  In short, we’re removing the grass and adding a stone patio with more flower beds.

Here’s my inspiration picture from Valerie Easton’s book The NEW Low-Maintenance Garden.

Back Yard Inspiration Picture (the water is a dream - don't focus too much attention there)

What I like about this picture/garden/patio: 1. the different shapes of the stones 2. the shape of the patio 3. the gaps between the stones 4. the different colors and textures of the ground covers 5. how the patio flows into the garden 6. it looks natural and not cold

Tumbled Pennsylvania Bluestone

Now that you know what has inspired us. I wanted to share what we’re doing to our space to pull off this look. Just a couple days ago we purchased a tumbled Pennsylvania Bluestone that comes in many different shapes and sizes. It’s sitting in our back parking spot until we get the prep and front walkway finished.

We really like the natural tumbled look of the stones.

Here’s how the spot looks right now. As you can see we still need to remove the rest of the lawn, level the space, add gravel & sand and plan the shape of the patio before we can set out the stones.

I also need to find ground covers that the chickens won’t eat! Those little rascals love to eat/kill all my ground covers…

Lots of work ahead... can you visualize the finished patio?

And in case you’re interested, here’s what the space looked like last summer with the patio furniture and paths – taken by the garage and facing the house.

Why we need a patio - I'm sick & tired of moving all the furniture to mow the lawn.

Outdoor Movie Night

Last night we held our first outdoor movie night in our back yard. We asked everyone show up around 7 p.m. to pick a spot and visit. Then started the first movie, WALL-E, around 8:30.

After the kiddies went home, we watched Haunting in Connecticut for our second movie. We figured a scary movie was fitting for backyard movie entertainment.
Then for the third movie, Adventureland, we went inside since our friends Aaron and Kala were the only ones left and it was starting to get chilly. That and we didn’t want to keep our neighbors up too late (we did let them know & invited them).
I tried to get a picture of everyone during the first movie but, unfortunately, it turned out a little blurry. I’ve never been known to be a great photographer.
Anyway, to add to the overall outdoor movie experience we ended up renting a popcorn machine. We LOVED the popcorn machine. It not only added to the experience but freed up time we would’ve spent manually making popcorn for our guests all night. We may even look into buying one for future parties – it’ll be well worth the investment.
To fancy it up a bit, we also provided some fun popcorn toppings:
  • Truffle Salt
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Melted Cougar Gold Cheese
  • Tabasco
  • Johnny’s Seasoning Salt
  • Fresh Ground Sea Salt
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Gummy Bears
But, since the popcorn machine is magic, it really didn’t need any toppings at all. Every batch of popcorn tasted perfect.

This is a bit of a surprise since we didn’t purchase the pre-measure kits that came with the machine and ended up guessing: 1 cup of popping corn, 1/4 cup of grape seed oil (then olive oil later when we ran out) and 1 tablespoon salt.I’m sure these aren’t the official measurements but they worked great last night! Plus, we just used the random oil we had in the house and I’m pretty sure this is NOT what you’re supposed to do. I read online that coconut oil is best.

All in all it was a great time. I highly recommend throwing an outdoor movie night – even if you can’t get your hands on a popcorn machine. It’s even a treat for the chickens since they’re waddling around the yard right now eating up fallen popcorn.