Friday, May 6, 2011

Al Fresco Dining For The Summer

AL FRESCO DINING Definition: Italian for "fresh air"; eating outside, especially in temperate climates during the summer months when moderate temperatures and weather are favorable. Originally a practice to escape the indoor heat and dine in the cool air and shade of the outdoors. Often a casual meal where one lingers.

Photo Courtesy of Pinterest

Ever since we moved into our "forever" home, we have practiced al fresco dining all summer long. Our back porch area was non-existant for years until we could add a patio, so we placed an old rustic table on the front porch of our farmhouse. Anyone in the area could see us, but I really didn't care. For me, dining outdoors is such a treat that I just wave and go on with my meal, telling myself that they all wished they had a porch to dine on, too.

At first my husband didn't like eating "in public" very much, but it quickly grew on him and he was a convert as well and soon every meal in the warm months was taken out on the porch; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know the girls will have wonderful memories of this! When the brisk autumn weather returns each year, there is a bit of sadness as we realize we are eating the last meal of the season outside.

Time has passed and the back patio was finally put in place about three years ago, but we've continued to eat out front because we didn't have the back area set up for dining. If you remember, I recently moved the outdoor dining table to the school room for the girls, so now I have no dining area at all! With warm weather is upon us, I really need to come up with a frugal solution - fast!

Next weekend is the Community Rummage Sale and although I will have a booth, I plan to leave the family in charge a while so I can scour the other wares for a possible table and some chairs; rustic but comfortable and easy to store for the winter months. Pray that I score! I'd settle for just a great table this year and I'd use folding chairs (that I already have) until next season when I could add some new seating. But it would be awesome to find enough items to pull together a charming dining set.

The internet is wonderful for getting the creative juices flowing! Since I'm not normally an out-of-the-box thinker, I often need some inspiration to help me think of the possibilities so that I don't get my heart set on just one thing (which I often can't afford or find). Pinterest is always wonderful for lots of eye candy and heart stopping, artistic vision. Since frugal is a key word in this situation, I picked a few favorites that might fit that bill to inspire... 

 We don't get super fancy every night, but it's good to have something special like a candle or a small centerpiece. I keep a couple of items handy such as short glass vases that will hold birdseed with a candle, flowers, or fruit; an antique roasting pan with planted herbs; an old sugar mold with votives.

It's amazing what a few linens from inside the house can do to help transform a space. A large piece of fabric that is frayed on the edges and set at a diagonal works for color. Just add some cloth napkins and voila!

Another thing that creates ambiance is lighting and plants. A few potted items go a long way for softening a space. Don't forget that shrubs are excellent for this kind of application as well as flowering beauties. Christmas lights are cheap and add a touch of sparkle or try hanging a non-electric chandelier and add candles! One of my favorite items are the big strings of white carnival type lights.

These would be romantic for two. We have french doors just off our bedroom onto an area of the patio... perfect!

I don't have an orange grove, but I'm seriously thinking about some type of table in my vegetable garden so that we can dine out there on occasion. And why not? It's one of our favorite places! I love these retro industrial type metal chairs. They would hold up in the sun and weather but stack nicely for winter as well, although I might add a cushion on occasion.

{Sigh..... } 

Please share some of your outdoor dining tips so we can all get ready!


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