Rethinking Outdoor Spaces for Everyday Living and Entertaining
Making my “outdoor room” as important as my kitchen or den is to me indoors is one of my missions. I grew up in a family where the emphasis was to spend as much time outdoors as you could. I still carry this out to this day; and creating a lifestyle incorporating “living” outdoors is what it’s all about.
Here are three of my key elements of outdoor style for an approachable easy way of living.
Small spaces look even smaller when they’re cluttered and crowded. Take a second look at your back patio or deck and see what’s really “working for you” and what’s just plain taking up valuable real estate. You might realize that you’re storing things in your backyard that lend no purpose or function to your lifestyle. Time to free your outdoor living space of any clutter. You might find that you now have room for a pair of chaise lounges or a larger dining table for entertaining.
Let’s face it, food is usually the root of all backyard activities; whether regularly host parties or just make it your destination place to relax on weekends. Know your audience. Flexibility is probably the most important thing to consider when rethinking an outdoor space. Keep in mind a party of six easily turns into a party of twelve or 20, especially this time of year.
Think in terms of occasions, graduations, reunions and birthday parties. There are some beautiful new outdoor seating sets like the Atlantic Hampton Sectional Set. It’s ideal for entertaining, with multi-seating and lounging functionality.
Speaking of multifunctional, no more eating in the dark. Outdoor dining will never be the same again. You now have one more option when choosing your next dining or seating set. Illuminated surfaces are now an option. This is exciting for outdoor living and looks absolutely beautiful at night. Check out the Agio Bella Luna Collection.
Point of View
Take it outside; this means everything. We’re in a wireless age. Everyone is armed with mobile devices; reading books, shopping, listening to music and watching videos. So, make your outdoor space as comfortable as inside living. One of my favorite collections for one of my outdoor living spaces is my La-Z-Boy Adelaide Seating Set.
It’s perfect for entertaining or just spending time reading and kicking back. It’s also available with ottomans which either become additional seating or an instant lounger. This collection is designed so well and you can use it indoors and outdoors.
A brownie is considered a sheet cookie, as its soft batter spreads across a baking pan to bake. Other types of sheet cookies include blondies and rainbow cookies. After sheet cookies are baked they’re cooled and can be cut into squares, rectangles or any other shapes.
George Hirsch’s Best Chocolate Brownies
(Makes 12-18 Brownies)
This brownie derives its character from a deep rich cocoa base for the chocolate flavor.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened at room temperature
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1-1/2 cups semisweet chopped chocolate pieces; or chocolate, or butterscotch chips
Preheat your oven or grill to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar, and cream on high speed for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy. On a low speed, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stopping machine to scrape down the bowl well after each addition.
On a low speed add the flour and cocoa powder to the butter mixture and mix just until the powder is absorbed. Do not over mix. By hand, fold the pecans and chocolate in with a rubber spatula. (Optional: If using coconut; mix 3/4 of coconut with pecans and chocolate.) Using a spatula, spread the batter into baking pan making sure the batter is spread evenly and smooth.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, being careful not to over bake. Brownies are done when pressed cake springs back when pressed lightly with your finger or when a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2 hours and cut the brownies into rectangle or square pieces. Serve with a scoop of coffee flavored ice cream for the ultimate in decadence.