and just like that, my first year as a homeowner is in the books. It’s hard to believe it’s actually been a year, but a couple of weekends ago it was my first anniversary with the cottage. I realized it a few weeks back when I was coordinating the summer weekend calendar with friends (you know I have a google doc, right?) It was the perfect opportunity to throw a belated housewarming to invite my friends who have helped make this place my second home. My number one tip for entertaining is to actually enjoy the party you are throwing. Once the first guests arrives, make sure you have a glass of wine in your hand and enjoy. So, here are some pics from the party paired with some of my entertaining tips to help make throwing a party easy and (more importantly) fun for both your guests and for YOU!
Setting the Scene:
Use what you have. I don’t have a table and chairs for 25 people (at least not yet) so combining some blankets, cinder blocks, and wood panels makes for the perfect outdoor dining table. It’s a great mingling location and takes minimal effort to set-up and take down. Also, invest in a VERY long strand of bistro lights. These were leftover from my brothers wedding and I use them all the time.
Setting the Table:
You know I love a good picnic spread. Make a three dishes that actually require cooking. In my case it was a tomato/ kale pasta salad with garlicscape pesto (thanks Clara for the pesto magic), a peach/tomato/burrata salad, and grilled steak and veggies. Both salads can be made in the morning and I waited until most of my guests arrived to grill the steak. The rest of the spread was a mixture of cheeses, meats, fruits, and some classic chips, salsa, and generally things that just looked good at the store.
It was the perfect afternoon filled with great food, plenty of rose, and surrounded by close friends who at the end were happy to help me clean up. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year has in store!
Summer is in full swing and that has meant putting down my hammer and picking up a glass of rosé. That’s right, I’m proud to be a rosé drinking, picnic packing, 80’s music lovin’ kind of girl. While the main house projects are taking a much needed break (mainly for my bank account), I have shifted my focus to the great outdoors to make outside feel right at home. This meant scouring the internet for the perfect affordable picnic table that could be left out and uncovered and shipped for free, planting a few flower pots (which I’m shocked are still alive), adding some lighting that could easily come down each weekend, making one epic trip to the dollar store, and finally buying my very first grill.
Here’s the skinny…
Dining table: I wanted a picnic table. I looked at dining tables with chairs, and it just felt like too much to clean and move around. This way, I can flip the benches on top of the table to protect the tops while I’m away. I will note, I picked this up from Joss & Main a month ago and it was about $100 less. That being said, it’s worth every penny. The table is beautiful, sturdy, and easy to put together.
Lighting: Thankfully, my brother had tons of bistro lights leftover from his wedding last year, so Mom shipped them out. I bought a very long extension cord an I just hang them from the trees and take them down before I leave. I also picked up a few lanterns with battery lights (the idea of lighting them each time seemed like a pain.) The ones I bought are now out of stock, but adding the link just in case they come back. They were a great price and can easily withstand the rainy summer weather.
The Grill: Nothing too crazy, just something that could last a few seasons and wasn’t ugly. That was the brief. So far so good – will give you a full report at the end of the summer once I’ve used it more than once.
The Dollar store: this is an entertaining must- for about $40 I picked up plastic trays, cups, and a variety of bowls that will last all summer long, are perfect for packing up and taking on those summer concert and boat adventures. As you can see from the picnic pic below, I am lucky enough to have friends who love a picnic just as much as I do, so when we pack up for concerts at the nearby Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center (we have already seen Hall&Oates and Journey this season) these dollar store finds come in quite handy.
Sometimes all the planning, pinning, and prepping still isn’t enough when it comes to home renovations. Case and point – say hello to my “tax return floors.” I HAD planned on exposing the beautiful hardwoods hiding under the vinyl floor in the kitchen and the dining room, BUT as we started to poke around, it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to save the wood. Basically, the plywood that had been installed on top of the hardwood was nailed down – EVERY INCH had a nail, so if we had tried to pull them up, the hardwood would either get pulled up with it, or I would have been left with some holy wood! Instead if ripping everything out, we decide it would be best to install new floors on top of the plywood. My father got it into his head that he just had to remove the vinyl floor first (about half way through, he was regretting that decision)
A day later after a good google/ pinterest search – I had made a new flooring decision. Given I like to take my time, this was just gut decision since the clock was ticking. I knew I would never be able to install floor that would match the original in the living room, so opted for a wider plank, painted, and installed in a different direction. The result? I’m in love. Everything about the new floors makes the room feel big, fresh, and totally intentional. Here is what I used, what I learned, and some pics along the way.
What I used:
- Paint: Behr Patio in Gentle Rain
- Brush: Paint Pad My mother swears by these, and she was so right. It gives you an even coat and uses less paint. I will never use a regular bristle brush for big projects again.
- Wood: Yellow pine 8″ X 1″ planks with tongue and groove. I picked this up at my local lumber yard.
- Nails: We rented a nail gun (lifesaver)
What I learned:
- Make sure to measure the actual wood planks to ensure you have enough. The actual was about 7″ instead of 8″ and we had to scrap together the final board (thankfully it was under the fridge, so you can’t tell.)
- I painted the planks before they were installed – which helped with keeping the planks seams from filling with paint (I wanted them to show.) Once installed, I did one final touch up coat and sealed with a clear sealer.
- I watered down the paint and tested it on the back side of one of the planks. This was key in having the grain show through. I didn’t use any primer.
- Use something (like plastic protectant) to have down as you finish the floors.
Are you ready for the results???
the before – vinyl everywhere
Getting my paint on
Dad cutting away – (always cut with the paint side down)
It might look like I’m relaxing, but trust me, it was a rare moment of sitting down.
We laid all the planks out before going back and nailing them down.
The finished product!
Up next at the Cottage – getting my outdoor entertaining prepped for an epic summer season.