May is pretty much my favorite month of the year and I am always sad to see it end. With Mother's Day, my birthday and Memorial Day weekend it's pretty much a month long party. Not complaining!
I have so many beautiful cards on my mantle along with fresh flowers and potted plants that have come my way the past couple of weeks. It just makes everything feel so festive.
I have been working hard on outdoor living spaces as I have talked about repeatedly here. I am happy to report that for the past several night we have been out on our front patio, with the solar lanterns lit playing games and having fun. Every day it seems I add something new. First it was a couple of tea lights in jars, then I broke open a big box of wicker lanterns like these on the table above.
Story about those wicker lanterns. In December 2011 (!!!!), we had just gotten engaged and I was in full-blown, excited wedding planning dream land. I found these wicker lanterns at TJMaxx and ended up driving all over the Los Angeles metro area buying them out of every store so that I had enough to use them on the long tables for our wedding. You can see my original blog post full of enthusiasm about having found them here. Well fast forward 6 1/2 years (oh my gosh....) and we never had our big wedding thanks to a little detour called Afghanistan.....and these lanterns, along with anything else I purchased for our wedding have been languishing in storage ever since.
I didn't have the heart to get rid of them, thought perhaps someday we might actually have a vow ceremony/reception of some kind that we could share with family and friends. So in boxes they have sat. Finally I brought one box out and opened it. Along with six lanterns I found a couple hundred really cute paper napkins I had purchased for a pre-wedding picnic or rehearsal dinner or something. Wow. Anyway I put three of these lanterns out on the coffee table on the front porch and they look so fun and festive and create such a lovely light in the evenings...and I feel a little sad that they are going to get used and get ruined without every having served their true purpose but whatever. I have to get over that...
I started making a small buffet table for the back deck with two towers of four cinder blocks and a pretty wood top that I built. I spent part of Friday night at Home Depot with my building plans, trying to figure out the best materials to use and pushing one of those gigantic pull carts that was so heavy I had to totally lean my entire body into it to get it to move. Then I packed everything into my little VW Golf (crazy amount of cargo space, even fit 6' wood plants and 10 cinderblocks with room to spare!).
I have been working on this table since Friday night and hoped to have it done Saturday but it's definitely a work in progress and I should have it done by Wednesday. I have the top done, just need to even out the edges on each side and then stain it and polyurethane it for outdoor use. It's a bar height and will fit our new little portable barbecue grill and leave room for serving food too. You can see the example of the table I'm building here. I'm not doing the sides, just one long 6' length. I figured we can add the sides later if we feel we need them but I think the three-sided table is more than we need and doesn't fit out space all that well. We have a fairly narrow patio but it's very long so a long table along one wall makes great sense for us. I'll share more details when I have a finished product to show you. Excited about it! Really makes my soul so happy to have a creative project.
We also got our temporary, but large and fabulous, bi-fold door/sawhorse dining table out of the shed last night. Hooray! throw a giant tablecloth over that and we have a table to eat at outside. I made a makeshift grilling table out of a 3x3 stack of cinderblocks to hold the little portable grill I picked up at Ace Hardware on Friday. I was looking for a different grill which they have on line but apparently don't carry in the stores.
While they didn't have the one I wanted, they had this little grill on sale for $12.99 and how could I beat that?! Some day we plan on having a nice big grill in the back - and are so lucky to already have a gas line from the house out to the patio -- but until we decide what we want and how we'll configure it all, this little grill will work just fine. I probably should've bought two or three and we could've had an awesome little grilling station for $36. I might still do that. That would get us through some fun entertaining and they are so small and easy to deal with. I like the idea of having three of these on a long table and cooking up all kinds of fun things that way.
I couldn't let Memorial Day Weekend pass without a barbecue so that was my big goal for the weekend. I kept the menu easy and light. Burgers with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Here's a link to my hamburger recipe I've been refining for a few years now. I think I've found my groove with the spices in these and they always taste good. I picked up some already cut up pineapple, a big watermelon and chips today and we were in business!
We ate dinner just as the sun was setting with our cafe string lights on, wicker lanterns on the table and a delicious, simple summer feast. We had a great time and after the meal we played with Kiddo's plethora of glow-in-the-dark bracelets, necklaces and other trinkets she's been stashing in a drawer. Nights here in Albuquerque are so perfect for outdoor time. Little to no wind, no bugs, perfect temps so you don't need a sweater. It's just lovely being outside on summer nights here! I hope we'll start eating outside every night we can throughout the summer.
Now that we have everything set up, it should be a cinch to enjoy our outdoor areas as much as we can throughout the summer. Looking forward to having friends over and swimming the summer away. Speaking of which, the pool is up and running as of today --- with just one little challenge. Our heaterless pool is still a little cold. Water temps at 63 degrees. We need some hot sunny days!....or I need to finally order that solar pool heating blanket I kept looking at last year that is supposed to heat pool water up by a good 17 degrees. That would work.
I am so happy we're set for summer finally. Being able to go outside to read, have a cup of tea, relax, take a nap or eat a meal is the best and it just makes our home feel tons bigger when you add these outside rooms where one can go. Hooray for summer. Here are a few more things I am thinking about building for the backyard this summer.
Two by Four Bench
Simple Concrete Planters