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First Barbecue of the Summer

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Yesterday for lunch, we barbecued for the first time this year. It was so good we grilled again for dinner! This was the scene.

Ah, those leaf plates. I’ve had them for years and I still love them. It was Brandon’s idea to add them to the table, and a good one at that, though somewhat surprising (because he hates them!).

We need to get out there and clean up the garden. I ignored it last year (excuse: I had a baby and a toddler), and this year things are bad out there. It is, however, much easier to overlook the garden being overgrown and overtaken by weeds if your peonies are in bloom.

A patterned tablecloth probably helps too. This is the same one I used for Eleanor’s birthday party, but I think I like it outside even better.

My family always used paper plates and plastic cups and cutlery outside, but I like to use our regular dishware. We do use plastic/melamine plates and cups sometimes (we did for dinner yesterday), but I still like those better than disposables. Plus the wind doesn’t toss a real plate like it does a paper one.

How do you set the table outside? I like to set out stacks of plates too, and let everyone help themselves, buffet-style.

Eleanor was so excited about being able to eat outside. I think we all were.

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Social Space Makeover Contest Winners

Thank you all for voting for your favorite finalist in the Social Space Makeover Contest! After a lot of drama in the end, and a lot of data crunching this weekend, I can officially announce Heather as the first place winner. Today, I’ll be sharing the custom design board that she has won. And after resolving some issues with the voting data, the second place actually goes to two winners: Lisa and Mary Sue. They were only six votes apart out of thousands, and in my book that’s close enough to call it a tie. They will each receive a $100 gift card to The Home Depot, courtesy of the American Express Membership Rewards program. Congratulations to all three winners!

Heather’s Winning Entry:

Help! We’ve been remodeling the inside of our home for the past 2 1/2 years but have totally neglected the outside of our home – including our front patio that has a lot of potential but is just barren and boring! When we had our daughter Zoey 10 months ago we really stopped all work on our home and now that she is getting close to walking we want to spend more time outside with her and entertaining friends and family but have no place suitable to do so (our backyard is even worse than this, with a death trap back porch!) […]


Heather’s blog post
Heather’s original entry

Here’s how I’d use Heather’s 150,000 Membership Rewards points to redo her front patio.

Heather and her husband, Mike, are handy and they’d like to build a custom bench for their space. They may also replace their existing firepit with something custom, but I included a ready-to-go option in case they want to go that route. They’d like to change the exterior of their house to be yellow and gray, but Heather tells me that they’re saving up for a big siding replacement job. When they’re ready, I think they should go for it and paint their door a cheery yellow, like my friend Erin Loechner did. I’d set aside $400 to use at The Home Depot for materials and paint.

I would add a sleek table out there with six colorful chairs (in a green/yellow color that isn’t a perfect match for a yellow door, but that goes well). Tubtrugs are inexpensive and perfect for corralling toys, holding drinks for a party, or even as big planters. The solar lights are the only thing in the design plan not available through points, but they’re so good for the patio that I had to include them, and then cute accessories from west elm finish off the space. And plants! I can’t advise as to what’s good for the area, but I’d be sure to use some of that Home Depot money to add some greenery out there too.

Heather is free to use her points as she wishes, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with her space. Congratulations again to Heather, and also to Mary Sue and Lisa! Thank you, everyone, for following along with the contest. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!

We Trimmed the Tree

Our Eastern Redbud is looking a little sad. And also, perhaps a little Seussian.

Three men in full protective gear came to prune that bitty little tree. Poor tree. I tried to secretly take their picture from the kitchen window, but I grabbed my camera a little too late and only got one guy as he was leaving. Hi, guy.

The arborist that came out thinks that the tree will bounce back and look fine in a couple of years. I’m just hoping it makes it through the winter.

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