A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

I Love Picnics!

We had the opportunity this past weekend (including a Thursday night concert in the park – lots of dancing) to pack a picnic lunch on maybe three different occasions. Man oh man I love picnics. It made me realize that there are certain foods that I always keep on hand (well, almost always) for such awesome, spontaneous moments where eating outdoors is part of the adventure.

Summer Picnic Essentials | PepperDesignBlog.com

We ended up food trucking our dinner Thursday night and packing easy sandwiches and carrot sticks on Sunday for the beach. Seven out of 10 times though we usually assemble finger foods from our fridge that are sort of special picnic snacks and pack them up in a reusable shopping bag or backpack.

I love, LOVE picnics. Or maybe actually it’s the reason that we need to pack one. Eating outdoors on a towel or blanket means that we’re on a hike, playing at a park, walking the zoo, listening at an outdoor music venue, watching a movie under the stars, relaxing at the beach… we’re having a fun, out-of-the-house family day.

Special picnic foods might be fresh sliced fruits, handmade tapenedes, hummus, sweet or pickled veggies… plus foods that we almost always have stocked in the fridge:

1 | Heirloom tomatoes (love, love these with salt, they come in our csa box and I really look forward to their arrival.)

2 | Balsamic vinegar & mozzarella (because they pair so perfectly with tomatoes! Instant gourmet caprese salad. I should have included a handful of basil leaves from the garden in the above photo because in our house those four ingredients are regularly stacked in tupperware and poked with toothpicks for eating on the go.)

3 | Salad-of-the-week (leftovers from whatever we were munching on that week – potato, pasta, artichoke spinach… equally yummy when picked up from the deli down the street.)

4 | Cheese! (I really dig having lots of cheeses on hand for a spontaneous appetizer hour – really yummy while cooking dinner solo or with friends – so you can usually find brie or chèvre or something of the stinky variety in our cheese drawer. Also perfect for a picnic.)

5 | Liv is obsessed with salami. Don’t know what it is but it’s her go-to sandwich and snack, and she’d eat the entire package if no one was looking. We love it with french bread and swiss cheese, mmm.

6 | A loaf of french or sourdough bread (best picked up that morning) for soaking up caprese goodness or layering with sandwich fixings.

We don’t pack a separate lunch for the girls, they treat the above picnic menu like a buffet and choose what they want that day. Summer is awesome here in San Diego, sometimes it starts early in the spring and doesn’t end until well into the fall! That is, the warm evenings part of summer :). Picnics are sort of the ultimate summer activity for me…

My Favorite Liv-isms

Livisms | Farmer's Market | PepperDesignBlog.com

Sometimes I capture something so funny/adorable/sweet that I can’t help but make note of it. Favorite Liv-isms recently:

While we’re stopping for gas.
Liv: I need to go potty.
Mom: Can you hold it? This gas station doesn’t have a potty.
Liv: Daddy can take me to a store that has a ‘this store has a potty and sells food’ sign.

While at my brother’s graduation upon seeing a blow horn for the first time.
Liv: I wish I could have one of those things that snorts at them [the students]!

Upon discovering that most of the story books in the girls’ room have been rearranged.
Mom: Why are you moving all of your books from your bookshelves to your rocking chair pockets?
Liv: Well, I recombized (recognized) that these pockets were empty so I decided to fill them (holding hands up innocently with a shrug).

While being silly.
Liv: You know me, I’m Olivia! (And then bursting into hysterical laughter.)

While laying in bed early one morning.
Liv: Mom, can I marry you?

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PS in other news, a big thank you to Saustark Design for featuring Liv’s Ikea hack mini kitchen on their blog and in their book (soon-to-be-published). This particular post link is in German, but you can read the English version on PDB right here.

A Summer Refresh for the Backyard

Backyard Refresh Ideas | PepperDesignBlog.com

garden stools | navy pillow | coral pillow | succulents! | patterned pillows

One of the first spaces we tackled when we moved into our home was the backyard. We have a rental (a granny flat) that takes up more than half of the yard and what’s left has affectionately become our ‘entertaining space’. Mostly because Kevin and I designed it to do just that – host lots and lots of people! There are many days when I wish we had a big patch of lawn and a space for the girls to run and play (and many days when I wish I could just send them outside to run off some steam), but that was not our mode when we moved in as a young couple ready to throw all sorts of outdoor soirees.

We love this space. We’ve used it from the start – and at the start it had a lean-to-esq quality – to bbq, host birthdays, watch football games (there’s a tv that we can secretly swivel out one of the windows) and play in the warm San Diego sun.

But it’s been five years since we’ve really spruced up the outdoor fireplace seating area (besides adding the wrap around deck and big handmade table). The sectional is starting to fade in the sun and the pillows need some serious love. It’s my mission to give this area some attention in anticipation for many an outdoor evening with friends.

Yard After | PepperDesignBlog.com

I’ve already purchased two of the above garden stools by saving up credit from my affiliates program with Ruelala (it’s taken me a few years but I was so excited to pull the trigger – ps that site is so addicting, I have to stop visiting) and I’m searching eBay and other sites for reasonable outdoor pillows. Overstock and etsy often have great choices. Also! potted plants. My mom has been a tremendous help in this department (some of her work evident here) but we’ve been doubling the amount of pots and slowly filling them with more drought-tolerant (for watering-intolerant minds like mine) varieties. Will keep you posted. Really excited about what’s happening out there.

PS more yard transformation action here. and I can’t believe that it all started here.

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