Create your perfect backyard getaway

Turn your yard into the ultimate fun zone with comfy nap spaces, a refreshing outdoor shower, and recipes for morning, noon, and night

homemade tipi

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Morning: Wake up in a homemade tipi

This tent-like tipi with an air mattress is so comfortable, you may decide to spend the night.

No fancy tools needed! Wrap an oversize blanket around some poles and you’ve got a comfy tipi. Or make the more elaborate tipi pictured by sewing a cover (a bit of a challenge) of weather-resistant fabric like Sunbrella.

More: See how to make this tipi

French toast kebabs

Photo by Thomas J. Story; food styling by Randy Mon

Grill your breakfast: French Toast Kebabs

Turn French toast into food-on-a-stick.

Soak 12 wooden skewers (10 to 12 in.) in water for 20 minutes; drain. Cut day-old pain au levain into 1-in. chunks, including some crust on each, to make 2 qts. In a large bowl, whisk 3/4 cup whole milk, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract to blend. Mix in bread to coat; thread onto skewers. Grill, covered, on a well-oiled cooking grate over medium heat (about 350°) until browned, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with maple or berry syrup and melted butter and dust with powdered sugar if you like. Serves 4

Tricks for great French toast:

  • Use day-old bread
  • Each cube should have some crust
  • Soak the skewers

Strawberry orange juice

Photos by Thomas J. Story

Morning drink: Strawberry Orangeade

Ready in 5! Plus, it's got more vitamin C than plain OJ.

Purée 3 cups berries in a food processor, then strain, discarding seeds. Mix purée, 3 cups fresh OJ, and 2 tbsp. sugar. Serves 4 or 5


Frozen fruit pops

Photo by Thomas J. Story; food styling by Randy Mon

Noontime snack: Layered Fruitsicles

These layered treats have just 90 calories. Start them a day ahead.

Put 1 cup each puréed raspberries, apricots, and plums in separate bowls. Stir in superfine sugar to taste (about 21/2 tbsp. per bowl). Add lemon juice to taste (up to 2 tsp. each). Pour berry layer into 8 juice bar molds, add juice bar sticks, and freeze until firm, about 1 hour. (Chill remaining purées.) Pour apricot layer over berry layer and freeze. Repeat with plum layer. When firm, at least 1 more hour, briefly dip molds in warm water to loosen. Makes 8

Raspberries: A member of the rose family, with loads of health benefits.  

Apricots: High in vitamins A and C. Go for the Blenheim variety, if you can find it, for the most tangy-sweet flavor.

Plums: Also a good source of vitamin C. We love the rich sweetness of Santa Rosas.


backyard lounger

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Afternoon: Take a nap outside

Kick back in your own cozy outdoor nest. After all, research shows that naps are good for you.

Get the look: Dedon Orbit loveseat (8,226 as shown;

Create your own napping nook

diy outdoor shower

Photo by Thomas J. Story

DIY outdoor shower

This weekend project has three basic parts: two wing walls and a center pole with the plumbing attached. All materials are available at the Home Depot.

Time: One weekend (4 hours of labor, plus drying time for sealer)

Difficulty: 3 (on a scale of 1–10; requires modest woodworking skills)

Cost: About $170

Full article with tools and materials list

Iced green tea

Photos by Thomas J. Story

Afternoon: Teatime

Try a calming combo of lavender and tea.

Iced Lavender Green Tea: Add 4 green-tea bags and 1½ tsp. fresh lavender blossoms or ¾ tsp. dried lavender to 1 qt. water brought to a simmer. Steep 5 minutes. Strain and let cool. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with lavender sprigs. Serves 4

Greek salad with sliced steak

Photo by Thomas J. Story; food styling by Randy Mon

Grecian Steak Salad

Invite friends to your party space around sunset. You’ll have sunlight till at least 8 in June. This showstopper salad gets a fancy touch with grilled New York steaks, and fresh mint leaves from your garden set off the feta.

Recipe: Grecian Steak Salad


Hibiscus tequila cocktail

Photo by Thomas J. Story

Nighttime drink: Hibiscus Tequila Fizz

Get the party started with this cocktails recipe from Bay Area mixologist Alex Smith.

In a large pitcher, mix Hibiscus Simple Syrup (recipe below), 2 cups reposado or gold tequila, 1½ cups grapefruit juice, 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, 3/4 cup sweet vermouth, and 3/4 tsp. aromatic bitters. Fill tall glasses with ice. Pour 1/2 cup syrup mixture, then 1/2 cup club soda into each. Stir, and garnish with lime slices. Serves 12

Hibiscus Simple Syrup: 

  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups dried hibiscus
Combine ingredients in a saucepan, then bring to a boil. Cool, strain, and chill at least an hour. Keep for up to 2 weeks, chilled.





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