Thursday, August 22, 2013

Backyard Living, Drinking, Eating/Feeding and Lounging

I am passionate about the sweet animals and the savory herbs in my backyard....with the delightful sounds and the shady breezy greenery...and with the best places to get lost in a good book, a nice glass of wine or an early nap.  For months I have treated the birds and squirrels like they are royalty and they have me pretty well trained at this point.

Adirondack chair with perfect wine rest!
Join me on this walk through my favorite personal spaces and let me share with you some of my "friends", some fun tips and ideas plus some refreshing recipes for enjoying your own personal oasis a little bit more.
Took this last week at Bok Tower Gardens near Lake Wales, Fl - a great egetaway at the Chalet Suzanne.....
We will start off this journey with a refreshing drink to get the party started off right... and since this is a SAVORY spoonful mingling today with the sweetness of a lingering summer- how about this....

 My sister in law Elizabeth and I concocted a deliciously frosty beverage that I would love to share with you.  She also posted about it on her blog at so click here for the recipe for our Yummy Strawberry Spritzers.

 Top it off with a spring of fresh mint or basil.  These cute basil herb sticks were made by Marcy Chapman and I received them at a wonderful homemade craft and food swap last year.  Learn more at  Homemade Swappers of Sarasota here.  

Now it is time to sit back in your favorite chair to enjoy this nice beverage or just pull out some wonderful vino or sweet tea and join us as we walk among my green heaven....

We moved into our suburban home on a half acre 4 years ago due to a promotion I received at work.  When we walked into this house we knew immediately it was the right one for us - every single thing on our wish list was there. The only caveat before we looked at each other and nodded YES! was when we saw the enormous backyard and my husband said - the only way we are getting this house is if I can get a riding mower - DONE!  Honestly... that was it!  We had found a gold mine in the middle of a cul de sac in a lovely shaded neighborhood with phenomenal neighbors in a perfect northern part of Tampa!

Our Rat Terrier, Casey checking out the mower - of course while wearing his Chicago Bears Butkis Jersey! :)

Our most favorite room of the house, hands down is our back patio/porch/Florida Room.  A screened in long room built for entertaining regardless of the weather.

A large bar and bar stools, couches, Adirondack chairs, and a new long dining table as well - tons of space to entertain, listen to music, sit back and clink some glasses with loved ones.

It is a place to relax under the fans and shade (plus a solid tin roof that is so delightful when it
rains).  The most indulgent times are when I can cuddle up on my patio couch with some tea and maybe a candle and a book (but usually the ipad- let's be honest) and lose myself in the chirping birds, scurrying squirrels and songs of the trees or drizzle of the rain. 

You can find us out here daily regardless of the heat (with fans) or the cold.  With our awesome tabletop fireplace in the colder months we keep comfy.  We have hosted many parties and events out here and it is a true joy to experience.  To learn more about this nifty fireplace that is indoors or out at a reasonable $99 click here to go to Anik's. 

Our latest addition is a 6 person tile topped larger table to accommodate more guests and dinners.

And then OUTSIDE......

We have done many things to spruce up the vast green area that you see in front of you when lounging on the patio- almost completely private with a 12 foot wall of tall bushes and ivy directly running across the back wall.  

Awesome privacy from very tall bushes, trees and ivy year round.

Lots of tall shady trees and an amazing space for our nieces and nephews and pets to run around!

One side of the yard we built a deck for an amazing hot tub spa that you must come over and try.  Enough room for our firepit and for friends to share a cigar and a glass of wine while Robert grills up dinner.  Easy to open and close the tinted sliding doors for privacy or sit at the bar side and chat.

Our good friend Jim Montjoy is a GC and helped us plan and building this awesome deck space.

Wild penguins have found a way into our "always the right temperature" regardless of the season spa!
Firepit for star gazing and sharing with friends while Rob grills nearby.

When I am not traveling you can bet I am out here every day....a nice refreshing 89 degrees in the heat of summer is like a refreshing dip in the pool, and those wintery nights when we drop below 70 (lol) we bring it right back up to is so easy to lose yourself for hours in here especially with friends over.....Made by Spa Manufacturers =  here is the contact info on how you can get one too - it is so worthwhile!

We placed Rob's grandmother's blessed virgin statue under the palms and added accent lights that come on each night.  Stepstones guide you to her serene space.  Nearby twinkling Italian light strings sway with the breeze.

 My grandmother's St. Francis statue sits silently amid the birds and squirrels in another area thick with green and sunlight.  A friendly garden penguin (do you see a theme here with me yet)..... watches over the patio doors with a smile.

My dear Saint Kateri Statue has a place of honor on the patio - she is truly a spiritual blessing to me and I am so lucky to have this handmade statue. 
On the far back corner of the yard is something my husband likes to call his cigar area/man cave.  Many an evening he has hung out back there with friends and some beers enjoying the twilight. 
With a few incredibly comfortable rocking iron chairs every now and then he gets to enjoy the view from his "man cave" looking towards the house.

This is another view from Rob's  corner, you can see our large shady tree, picnic table with Italian string lights, and even a door leading to a cabana bathroom.   Huge gates that allow for the John Deere to get through.... and space...just maybe..... for a future pool....... for now this space has been home to a few al fresco dinner parties with family and friends for fun!

Here is a neat idea for a pool for when you want to retain that extra space in your yard yet still have a refreshing place to cool off- you gotta see this (warning- mute your PC if you are at the office, etc as there is neat james bond music).

We have plenty of flora and fauna.... like gardenias and rose bushes we share with our neighbors, pretty bright bougainvilleas, banana trees with bunch yielding every year.  And some pretty orchids from my beloved grace the patio too! 

Here is a fantastic tip about cutting back on your hydrangeas and getting even more growth, flowers and years from there that I found on pinterest (where else!)


The latest enhancements have all been for the animals that we know and love around here.  My friend Steve Griffis has a gift for woodworking and built me a beautiful squirrel feeding house. 

They certainly do love it.....

Yet they seem to like going everywhere else in addition to steal the birdfood too......

So I gave up on tempting the birds with this Disney-Colored beautiful house that I bought in St. Augustine and it now also houses squirrel feed so they can share more peacefully.  They adore it!

Somehow this little guy always finds his way to our birdfeeders........  so I finally learned about Safflower Seeds -which birds love and squirrels scoff at thanks to Wild Birds Unlimited so check out their link here where it says safflower seeds and give you and your feathered friends a hand/wing!  Sorry Charlie......

Oh how they taunt me when they run out of food, I honestly wonder how they survive when we are travelling.....

Can you see him standing there, tapping his foot inpatiently?
And this one is practically waiting to come inside from the rain unless I throw him some more peanuts!

Advice from a squirrel - words to live by!!!!!

So finally yes- there are numerous beautiful singing birds everywhere sharing our paradise... they love munching on our friendly lizards who I have a childhood affection for too... Below is a pretty birdhouse that of course is inhabited by none other than squirrels instead of purple martins - but we have them plenty of other options and it is cute how these guys have a tall overhead vantage point in the mans cave area......

My little bird feeding area has grown (and still growing) to several feeders and a beautiful china water tea cup we picked up at the local farmers market. 

beautiful happy cardinals

Captured in mid flight

Our final addition this past week was a beautiful lawn memorial sign for our sweet rat terrier Casey who passed away 2 weeks ago after 16 long and wonderful blessed years with us.  You can get a yard sign or memorial from the Metal Man located here: 

Here are some other amazing tips and ideas for your backyard green space....
Let's make another cocktail to take for the remainder of the journey, how about a savory one this time?.....
cucumber rosemanry gin and tonic recipe here

Enjoy serving it in style...
How about a fold-down entertainment center?

repurpose a glass and keep bugs away here

framed plants to delight the butterflies and bees.....

And if we do ever put in that pool into that lush green space, you'd better believe it is gonna look exactly like this......

How about making a little pond for your fairies to play in?
How about making a pretty

OR just an easy retreat to nap in and then put away for another beautiful day?

 Watch your birds from inside making their nests - get more info here:

I think we could easily convert a corner of our yard into a beautiful butterfly garden and keep some fresh herbs growing......

My last step is to share some delightful gifts I bought for some very special family members who delight in the beauty of nature and learning new things.....  can't wait to share these books with them...

And finally:
And a wonderful recipe from Linda Gannon's book called
 Midsummer Night's Dream:
Dried Flowers and Herbs:
2 C red rosebuds
1 C grapy hyacinth flowers
q C sweet pea blossoms
1/2 C lavender
1/2 C lemon verbena leaves
1/2 C mint leaves
Essential Oils:
2- drops tuberose oil
8 drops bergamot oil
4 drops lemon verbena oil
1/4 C mix of ground cloves and cinnamon

Finishing Touches:
1/4 C pressed and gilded pansy flowers
1/4 C blue star confetti

Last of all a special journal called Advice from a Tree - and I know just the right special person to gift it to someday soon.....

Above all,
create your space into something very special.....

And share it only with special
people & living things....


Do you.........

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