This time of year I find myself excited for preparing our home for the chilly months ahead. Even before the air gets crisp I get busy washing throw blankets, replace worn out couch pillows and dig out those yummy smelling candles. It makes me want to stock up on coffee and hot cocoa to share with friends when they gather in our home. Although I am still inclined to do those things, this year is a bit different as the world of social distancing has changed our abilities to gather with friends and family like we used to. Much like this past summer where we did more backyard pool hangouts and bike rides instead of indoor dinner birthday parties and game nights; this Fall I expect the changes to continue and that we will be doing more front porch chats rather than indoor cocktail hours. Whatever may come with the chilly air I do know one thing… we still need people and it can still be just as wonderful to gather together! The question that I’ve been asking myself is “how can our family pivot with the times and continue to gather, visit with friends, meet for coffee, share dinners and celebrate in life milestones?”
Priceless are the stories that our grandparents tell of the days when they would sit on their front porch waving to neighbors and visiting with friends. In those days front porch sitting had more to do with the absence of air-conditioning then social distancing and mask wearing but, whatever the reason, I believe that we have a wonderful opportunity to bring back the front porch tradition into our modern reality. So, this Fall, instead of turning my attention into our living room, I am looking to my front porch (and backyard) in preparation for gathering with people there. Here are a few of my ideas for creating an outdoor space to be used well into the cold winter months. You can also continue to join me in the journey by following me at @silvertoothfarmhome.
Putting together your gathering space
- Somewhere to sit… Even if you don’t have a front porch, you might have a garage, a yard, a little corner under a tree. Pick a spot and plant some chairs there (6ft apart theses days!). Our Adirondack Chairs are an old version from World Market but any outdoor chair will do. If you have a covered space then don’t be afraid to pull out those indoor chairs, too! It’s charming to see repurposed wooden dining room chairs sitting on a covered porch.
- Something to feel: Instantly give your outdoor space the feeling of indoors with an outdoor rug. It seriously changes everything by making the space like a living room! I get my budget friendly outdoor rugs from Boutique Rugs but you can find them at any price point. Include a pillow or blanket for warmth and when the days get really cold a patio heater is a major bonus.
- Something to see: Bring on the layering of flowers, pumpkins or candles to bring the space to life. I like to work with different heights and textures (here I placed my chrysanthemums in bushel baskets from Hobby Lobby and placed them on stools to elevate them to eye level). The possibilities are endless so be creative and have fun!
- Something to eat: Fill a basket with caramel apples on sticks, kettle corn in brown paper bags, coffee or tea in paper travel cups. I love using baskets and trays to easily transport items from my kitchen to the outdoor space.
Keep it practical. If your porch is covered then everything can live outside all season long. If your gathering place is open to the elements than designate a spot indoors, such as a corner in your coat closet, to store your outdoor pillows and blanket on those dewy nights and rainy days. Then, you’ll always know where they are when its time to pull them out as friends come by. Heres to building your own new memories with old front porch traditions!
Caramel Apple Recipe
- 4 Granny Apples, stems removed and chilled
- 11oz package of soft caramel candies, unwrapped
- 2T heavy cream
- Parchment lined cookie sheet
- Wooden Apple Skewer Sticks
Caramel made from scratch just can’t be beat! However, sugar is tricky to work with so this time I choose to use the “halfway homemade” approach to save myself the stress. First, prep apples by washing off the wax coating with soap and water. Remove stems and chill apples in the refrigerator until ready to use (having cold apples is key!). Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside. Unwrap individual caramel candies and place in a microwave safe bowl. Add cream. Microwave for 1min and stir. Microwave for 30seconds, stir and repeat every 30sec until melted. Dip apples into melted caramel and let the excess drip off before placing them on the lined cookie sheet. Chill until set.
- Brown paper lunch bags
- Popcorn or Kettle corn
Cut off the top 1/3 of your paper bag. Using both hands, slowly roll the bag down until you come to the desired height. I love when the bags are imperfect in shape and size so don’t be worried if they all look different! Fill each bag with popcorn and share with friends.
Stacked Pumpkin Topiary
- 3 faux foam pumpkins (1 small, 1 medium and 1 large)
- 1 wood dowel rod (measure the height of your stacked pumpkins + add 12in)
- Faux magnolia leaves (or any real or faux greenery)
- Box cutter or kitchen knife
- Hot glue gun
To create stacked pumpkins for your planter simply remove the stems from your large and medium sized pumpkin. A kitchen knife did the trick for removing my pumpkin stems. Take your large pumpkin and push the wood dowel rod through the bottom center and out where the stem was removed. Then push the rod through the bottom center of the medium pumpkin and out where the stem was removed. Finally add the small pumpkin on top making sure the your rod doesn’t push through the stem. Leave about 12-18in of the dowel rod sticking out of the bottom of the large (bottom) pumpkin. Trim if the rod is too long. I simply snapped mine off without the need of a tool. The extended rod is then used to push through the soil of your planter to stabilize and support the pumpkin stack. To finish, hot glue faux greens in-between the pumpkin layers. You can even use real leaves found around your yard but they might need to be replaced mid-season as they dry out. My pumpkin topiary is now going into its 3rd season and still looks great!
For more ideas, follow @silvertoothfarmhome on Instagram.