alfresco dining table - feature

Alfresco Dining in a Secret Garden

An alfresco dining area can be enjoyed anywhere – even in an unkempt yard. Move dinner outside and find your secret garden tonight! 

al fresco dining how to

Hi, Friends! Monday came so quickly – this summer is flying by. Our weekend was fabulous. It cooled down just enough for us to get outside for a bit of yard work and fun! But today, I am excited to be joining the lovely Chloe of Celebrate and Decorate for a sweet summer Alfresco Dining Tablescape Blog Hop!

I hate to admit that I’ve gotten behind on my gardening, especially in the backyard. The front yard received a little bit of love earlier in the summer, but we’ve completely neglected the back garden.

summer alfresco dining table

When things are looking overgrown as they are, I tend not to want to spend much time out back, as it usually reminds me of all of the work there is to do! But summer only lasts so long, and we should be taking advantage of the warm days and sultry evenings whenever we can. It’s all about perspective – rather than seeing my garden as overgrown; I’m choosing to see it as a secret garden! And there is no better place for a picnic for two than a secret garden – alfresco dining at it’s best!



summer alfresco dining table - hydrangea cuttings
al fresco dining for two in secret garden

One doesn’t need a fancy patio set to enjoy a romantic summer picnic – All that’s required is a quiet spot, a place to lean your elbows on, some comfy chairs, plates you love – unmatched or otherwise! – Good food and wine and great company! Candlelight doesn’t hurt either.

summer alfresco dining table - blue and white tablesetting
summer alfresco dining table - view of hydrangea and daylillies

I enjoy blurring the indoor/outdoor line by using my indoor furniture outdoors.

summer alfresco dining table - full table view
al fresco dining using humble materials
summer alfresco dining table - hidden alfresco table

summer alfresco dining table - hydrangeas on table with candlelight
My darling hydrangeas. I was surprised to see that the blooms on our shrubs were a kaleidoscope of colors this year – pinks, blues, purples – with both large and compact clusters!

summer alfresco dining table


summer alfresco dining table

So, do you have a Manicured or a “Secret” Garden? No matter what you have, I hope you’re able to spend some time in it before the summer’s end!

summer alfresco dining table

Thanks so much for stopping and make sure you drop by to visit some of my talented blogging friends for alfresco dining tablescape inspiration galore!

Pin for later: Alfresco Dining in a Secret Garden

Alfresco Dining Ideas
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july 4th tablescape_feature

Patriotic Table and Mini-Party

Happy Monday, friends! Although it’s officially a week away, I got the bug this weekend to throw together a patriotic table and mini-party for the July 4 holiday!  Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays and a great reminder of how lucky I am to live in this country. There is nothing I love more than laying out on a picnic blanket, surrounded by my family and a throng of friends, gazing up at the fireworks, all of us united by our feelings of patriotism. The lights, the sounds, the songs.. gets me every time!
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Happy Camerican Thanksgiving! A Friendsgiving Feast

Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving season with an annual Friendsgiving feast! Whether you’re bending the holiday rules due to shared custody or just need a break from tradition, a Friendsgiving Meal allows you to spend this relaxed but significant time with friends who are like family!

We are a blender family. As many of you blender families know, to survive the holidays, what with visitation and the constant coming and goings of every day, you need complete flexibility and a willingness to bend the holiday rules if necessary, to ensure that you have a meaningful season regardless of who’s year it is to have the kids.

Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

We share custody of two of our girls, and alternate holiday visitation every year. The years we do not have them on Thanksgiving Day, we often plan a pre-celebration on a different day. It’s our way of giving them the experience of a large, family-style dinner, surrounded by people that love them, even if it doesn’t fall on the right day of the calendar.  And, so it was that Ca-Merican Thanksgiving was born – our affectionate name for our annual Friendsgiving feast. The annual dinner, with all the fixin’s, we share with all of our children and some great friends, who, we a) are thankful for, b)think of as family, and c) lucky for us, are willing to eat turkey twice in a week.



Just because Friendsgiving isn’t exactly traditional doesn’t mean the decor can’t be! I set the table with autumn colors of orange, gold and green.

Looking for tips on how to set an informal table setting? I’ve got you covered with a free informal tablesetting cheat sheet!

Download Informal Tablesetting Cheat Sheet

friendsgiving - table decor

Holiday crackers are a fun Canadian tradition in my family – they are a huge hit! I was so excited to find these at Target for fall, but I’ve also been known to make my own!

friendsgiving - crackers



In creating the menu, I tried to serve dishes that were at least slightly different than we’d all be having on Thanksgiving Day. All of our guests brought yummies to share making this truly a Friends-giving!


Start with simple appetizers to keep everyone happy waiting for dinner.  Mixed nuts and pistachios, a veggie and dip tray, and a cracker, cheese and sausage tray are all easy and relatively inexpensive options. A bowl of goldfish was a favorite with kids. I’m weird, I love bread and butter pickles with my sausage and cheese cracker sandwiches, and I also like canned oysters, packed in oil, with cream cheese and crackers. You’ll also find a bit of both pickles and oysters on the counter.

friendsgiving - appetizersTurkey and ham are a no-brainer.

friendsgiving - turkey

Keep it traditional but add a twist – Mini pizzas all dressed up as fun, and funky turkeys gave the kids something to talk about. Pillsbury pizza dough and turkey pepperoni, with turkey printouts, made making them not only a snap but fun!

Traditional Thanksgiving - turkey pizza



This brussel sprout dish is always a pleasant surprise and loved by most – even by determined brussel sprout haters! Roast Brussel sprouts with bacon, shallots and pure maple syrup. This recipe has become a family favorite that we have all year round.
We also served twice baked potato casserole, green beans almondine, stuffing bites, and 3-cheese macaroni and cheese. Pinterest is packed full of unique Thanksgiving dish recipes – give some a try!


friendsgiving - pie bites cheesecake and pudding cups

One of our guests slaved over and brought a fantastic pumpkin cheesecake with a graham AND gingersnap cookie crust. It was AMAZING. You can find a similar recipe here.

Pumpkin pie tarts, using a basic pie crust (I used Kroger brand refrigerator crust), and a no-bake filling  – again, amazing, and so, so easy. I used a scallop-edged flower cookie cutter and a muffin pan to pre-bake our shells and then filled with this no-bake filling. We topped with whipped cream right before serving. Yum!

White chocolate pudding cups, dipped in chocolate and seasonal sprinkles, with a Hershey kiss and nutter butter acorns were a fun and kid-friendly addition to the dessert table. This idea came from Stephanie Keeping at Spaceships and Laserbeams, a favorite blog of mine.

Pecan pie bars rounded out the list of more traditional desserts with a bit of a twist – a shortbread crust, with an ooey, gooey topping had me eating more than my fair share of these. I’ll probably be working them off until Christmas, at least.

friendsgiving - cupcakes

We also served apple-crisp bites.. bite-size bundles of oh, so good apple crisp. Chelsea has a plethora of amazing recipes to share – do take a look around her site if you have the time.

Store-bought cupcakes and chocolate pie ensured there were plenty of choices to feed our sweet tooth!


One of the benefits of having a Friendsgiving Dinner is the lack of pressure for it to be perfect! You’re surrounded by friends who know the goofy side of you! Keep it light and casual, or plan it to be laid-back and boozy (if you wish). Either way, it’s so much fun!


friendsgiving fun

The evening was filled with great food, great conversation, many shenanigans, even more laughs, and much love. As always, we have much to be thankful for. Here is hoping you have just a great a day celebrating with the ones you love –  whoever they are, and whatever day that is! Happy Thanksgiving!


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