15 Tips to Enjoy Summer at Home
Two weeks until summer!
I am a last minute vacation (or anything!) planner, and I still don't have all of our vacation plans set. But it's OK, because I plan on spending some great times this summer in my very own home.
BACKYARD AS PARTY CENTRAL
Summer isn't complete without plenty of backyard parties! Check out Dawn & Elizabeth's post 3 Ways to Enjoy the Party This Summer and get tips how to host a family BBQ, Ladies Night or Couple's Dinner party this season. Audrey at Fashion & Beauty is giving you tips on what to wear to these parties! But now, let's get started with how you can easily turn your home into party central this summer, while still enjoying it with your family on an everyday basis.
While many of us dream of having those fancy outdoor bars and a pergola with couches in our backyar for entertaining guests, truthfully I don't recommend buying anything that you only see yourself using a couple of times per summer.
I recommend setting up your backyard in a way that you can easily turn it into party space when needed - and the rest of time it is a functional space for your entire family. You might also want to read Dawn & Elizabeth's tips for setting up your backyard for parties and my recommendations on how to spruce up your backyard for summer fun.
Here are my tips for creating a family backyard that easily turns into party central:
1. Make sure you have enough seating that you can either store when not in use or perhaps you can get storage boxes that work as extra seating, or benches that you can also use to display potted flowers.
2. The grill is the center of most backyard parties.
Make sure you have a well functioning grill and that you alsotruly know how to use it.
3. Only get outdoor toys for kids that you can easily hide during parties or that can be enjoyed during the party too.
For example, I remember enjoying bocce when growing up, it was a game that both adults and kids loved. Read more tips on how to make your backyard a family fun center.
4. Have the basics ready.
Stock up on outdoor dinnerware, napkins, drink pitchers etc. Have buckets to chill drinks, have an iPod dock that you can take outdoors to play music. Most of these items only have to be purchased once, and you will have them for years. I recommend buying good quality, timeless designs in serving dishes so you can use them for years and with any party decorating theme.
5. Easy clean up and upkeep.
You will have more fun if upkeep and cleaning is easy! When your lawn is maintained, and your garden looks pretty, you are more likely to host a backyard party. Design your garden in a way that it's easy for you to upkeep, and if planting flowers and sprucing up the garden is too much, plant flowers in pots and get fruit trees that are easy to take care of -- and you can eat the fruit too!
ENJOY SUMMER COOKING
I love cooking at home, but even more so during summer because of the grilling, the availability of fresh produce, and also having more time because carpooling isn't an issue and the kids are home helping.
6. Take Grilling to the Next Level
Read Shaina's grilling tips at the food channel and think how you can incorporate more grilling into your summer. In our family my husband grills, I just prep everything, and I love this division and cooking together. One of our favorites is what we call Greekburgers. They are Greek inspired hamburgers with pita pockets and tzaziki sauce. You have to try out my recipe for our Greekburgers! Think of new items to grill, and make sure to check out Dawn & Elizabeth's grilled pound cake recipe for dessert.
7. Let kids cook!
Conversation that happened in our house:
"Mommy, can we go to the pool"
"No, mommy needs to work and then make dinner"
"What if we go to pool first and then you work while we cook dinner"
Result: I took an hour off to spend time with the kids at the pool and then ate crepes with brie and orange marmalade for dinner. I would call that Winning!
It's never too early to get kids excited about cooking, and summer is a great time to do so. Teach them a few basics and let them explore, and enjoy time cooking together with them too.
8. Use that blender!
Do you have a blender somewhere hidden in the closet? Summer is the perfect time to take it out of hiding and make some frozen treats, smoothies and quick salsas. Go to your farmer's market and pick up some fresh berries and fruits. Freeze some of that trendy yummy Greek yogurt and mix that and the fruit in a blender for healthy and refreshing smoothies.
9. Enjoy Drinks
Let there be plenty of happy hours this summer. If you are lucky like me, and there are no evening hobbies and carpooling the kids around, this mommy enjoys her happy hour during summer time. Learn to make a new cocktail, or two. Get fresh mint for mojitos, mix some fresh raspberries with sparkling wine, or make some summery sangria. Try my strawberry sangria, it's dangerously good.
10. No bake desserts
Ice cream, frozen treats, S'mores, popsicles... so many good ideas for no bake desserts that are perfect for summer! If you don't have a fire pit or a grill, try my two fireless S'mores recipes: Nutella S'mores on a stick and S'mores Ice Cream Sandwiches.
STAY FIT - AT HOME
My kids are home for the summer.. that means I'm canceling my gym membership for a few months. But I've got you covered for staying fit at home!
11. Fitness gaming
Ok, maybe fitness gaming is better for winter months, but there will be rainy days... I have heard great things about the Your Shape for Kinect Xbox 360. Me? I like to dance to Michael Jackson's moves on the Wii dance came with his name on it.
12. Yoga at home
Yoga and Pilates are trendy, and no wonder. Have you ever been to a yoga class? Every single person who does yoga is lean and thin, and I swear yoga is the best thing to stay fit or get fit even for those who don't like sports. You can also practice yoga at home, check out the yoga videos at Gaiam and get started this summer. Its awesome, especially if you are able to create a relaxing oasis for your backyard to enjoy some serenity.
13. Be like a kid!
Ever see how much your kids run and jump and stay active? Join them in the fun this summer. Ride bikes with your kids, hula hoop in the backyard, get roller skates and go to the park. HAVE FUN with the kids, like kids do, and you will start noticing how you feel better and more fit. I guarantee your kids will like it too.
14. Yard work
To have a clean, attractive yard ready for parties... you can hire a gardener or you can do it yourself. Consider it a workout when you work in your yard. Pat yourself on the back for multitasking: you're getting ready for a party, cleaning the yard and staying fit! And after you are done, it's time for the Mommy Happy Hour -- make yourself a smoothie or a margarita.
15. Take Time Off
Mental fitness is as important as physical fitness. Take some time off this summer from the demands of every day life and relax in your yard with a good book or your ipod full of tunes.