Spring Garden: Cozy and Delicious

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the flowers that overhang our back patio

We’ve been diving into Spring, and we’re so excited it’s here! I know, I do live in Southern California, and it’s pretty temperate most of the year. But still, Spring is the best time of year. The temperatures stop dropping into the low 40’s, the Winter rain takes a break, and just like on the East coast everything becomes new and green and lush again.

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our back patio (the “lounge”), great for reading, grilling, and chilling

On the first warm weekend, we jumped at the chance to get our outdoor space ready, starting with a refresh of our back patio (which I lovingly like to call our “lounge”). Last week I mentioned our first bbq of Spring; this is where the ladies watched from as the guys battled it out over a game of bocci ball!

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I love to cozy up here with a book

Plus, we have long aspired to be herb gardeners, and since this is the first Spring since we moved into our house last year, we finally have the space for a modest vegetable and herb garden. The hubby cleared out the garden left by the last owners, mainly because it was mostly berries and berries can be impossible to wrangle! (If you’re not familiar with growing berries, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are travelers so they can quickly take over your garden if you’re not careful!) We put in a 4×4 raised garden bed and a collection of pots (most of them found around our yard in unexpected places, left lying around by the past two owners of the house).

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our raised herb and vegetable garden

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4 x 4 raised garden bed for the vegetables

We included all our favorite herbs, the ones we use the most in the kitchen.

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thyme

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cilantro

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basil

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rosemary

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chives

We have four types of peppers and a tomato plant, which we hope one day to combine with our young lime and avocado trees (they live in the front yard) to make completely home grown guacamole.

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4 kinds of peppers

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tomato

We threw in a zucchini and a cucumber, because you can’t go wrong with either of those.

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zucchini

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cucumber

And as lovers of strawberries, we decided to replace the ones we pulled out of the original garden with a few in large pots, so they can travel all they want within the confines of a controlled environment.

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strawberries (and one of the inherited gnomes that live in our garden)

I love peeking over at the garden to see how it’s doing, while lounging out back. And it’s especially satisfying when we need some thyme or basil for a meal and we simply go outside and snip off a sprig from our garden. Hooray for Spring!

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the view of our garden from our lounge (and another inherited gnome; we decided to let them stay for good luck)

What have you done to prepare your outdoor space for Spring?

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Games to Love at Your Spring BBQ

Spring is here! We had our first bbq over the weekend with a few of our closest friends to kick it off, and it was glorious. Burgers and drumsticks straight off the grill, homemade sangria, and some incredible side dishes brought by our guests that included everything from guacamole, to macaroni and cheese, to homemade Indian samosas. It was a lovely relaxing evening in our back yard, and before long a few of the gang were head long in an intense game of bocce ball on the lawn.

There are so many awesome lawn games fit for a day of grilling, eating and drinking (because we have to burn all that off somehow, ‘eh?) so here are some classics you can play as the weather starts warming up and you look for more excuses to spend your weekends outside.

Bocce Ball

Play as two people or two teams, each with a set of 4 bocce balls. A small ball, called the jack, is thrown toward the end of the lawn, and the object of the game is for your team to get closer to the jack than the other team by tossing and rolling your bocce balls toward it. Just like in pool, things start getting ugly when opposing teams start knocking your balls out of the way to make room for their own near the jack! Each team takes turns based on who is currently closest to the jack, so strategy can be the key to winning!

Horseshoes

Play as two people or two teams. The object is to throw your horseshoe at a stake at the far end of the lawn (traditionally 40 feet away). If you hook the horseshoe around the stake, it’s called a ringer. The only way to score points is by getting a ringer or landing your horseshoe on the ground, closest to the stake. Those horseshoes are heavy, so throwing one that distance is not as easy as it sounds!

Croquet

This game always makes me think of that scene in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland where the Red Queen is hitting curled up ground hogs (or some rodent-type furry thing) with a flamingo-mallet  through the playing-card-soldier arches. Firstly, it’s played with balls not cute furry animals, and the mallets are just mallets, not birds. The game is basically similar to golf, but played with mallets and there are arches instead of holes in the ground (which is much friendlier on your lawn). It’s known to be quite a competitive game!

Volleyball

The great thing about volleyball is you can play with any number of people; whether it’s one-on-one or seven-on-seven, anyone who wants to play can play. All you need is a net, a couple of posts, and a volleyball. I’m sure there are very specific “regulation” rules, but it’s a generally flexible game if you need to fudge the rules a bit for any reason. Plus, playing in your yard is great practice for when the party moves to the beach this summer!

Frisbee

This is probably the easiest to get going, since nearly everyone has a frisbee in their garage somewhere. Just a friendly toss back and forth will get you and your friends up and moving, and a couple challenging throws can make it a lively game. You can also get a group tossing it back and forth. I find most fun when you don’t know who it will get thrown to next! (I love a good fake-out!) If you have a big enough yard and are feeling especially ambitious, step it up with a game of Ultimate Frisbee (remember college?) which is a lot like football but without the tackling. Well, usually without the tackling anyway.

Happy Spring, everyone!

What’s your favorite BBQ activity?