May flowers are blooming, and hints of summer are in the air. It’s time to prepare your home and palate for the warmer days ahead! This edition of Good to Be Home is packed with activities, cleaning tips, and recipes that will set you up for a successful season.
There’s no place quite like a backyard to host your summer get-togethers. If you want to transform your outdoor space into a fun oasis, read the enclosed tips for setting up an at-home campsite, ideas for fun games to play, and a guide to creating a proper fire.
Before you start planning fun activities, you'll want to make sure the outside of your home gets a good cleaning. Check out the guide for solutions to thoroughly and efficiently get rid of grime, mold, and mildew on any type of siding to improve your home’s appearance.
Your grill needs proper maintenance and cleaning before you can begin using it for the season. The tips in this issue’s grill-care article can help you ensure your grill is clean and working properly before, during, and after use so you can create tasty meals all summer long.
When you don't feel like firing up the grill, sandwiches are a great alternative for your backyard picnics. The two recipes in this issue are sure to please you and your loved ones. Start off with a savory hot-honey fried chicken sandwich, and top off your picnic with a light, sweet, and fruit-filled pistachio mascarpone shortcake.
Here's wishing you a happy month full of summer-inspired changes for your home. As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Summertime is a season full of delights and wonderful moments to share with friends and family. The warm sunshine, longer days, and festive summer holidays present multiple opportunities to kick back and relax. However, you don’t have to leave your home to experience the classic joys of summer. Try these backyard activities to soak in the sun, play some games, and savor sweet summer nights, all in the comfort of your backyard.
Introduce your family to the joys of camping by pitching a tent in the backyard. See these tips for setting up camp, cooking over a campfire, and enjoying a fun-filled evening under the stars.
Looking for something fun to do with friends and family at your next get-together? Check out this selection of this season’s hottest backyard games.
Toasting marshmallows over a crackling fire is a quintessential summer activity. You’ll need to fire up something to enjoy them—take a look at this guide to firepits, chimineas, and outdoor stoves.
Pitching a tent in your backyard is an enjoyable way to shake up your routine and introduce your children or grandchildren to camping. The best part? Indoor plumbing is only a short walk away!
Summertime is perfect for getting outside. Try this selection of lawn games to play with loved ones and test your skills.
The Italian bowling game of bocce is one of the oldest and most popular lawn games. To play, choose a flat playing area and throw your bocce balls as close as you can to the small target ball. This backyard game can be played one-on-one or in teams. Bocce can also be adapted for players of various skill levels and ages, as the balls are lightweight, and you can increase or decrease the size of the playing area.
In the bean-bag toss game of cornhole, players throw their bean bags at the opposing player’s or team’s cornhole board. You win points by landing your sacks on the board or in its hole; more points are awarded for tossing a bag into the hole.
Another toss game, ladderball is played by flinging bolas, or two balls connected by a cord, at the competitor’s three-tiered ladder. Points are awarded for getting your bola on a rung, with the most points typically awarded for bolas that settle on the top rung.
The widely popular game of Spikeball premiered on Shark Tank in 2015. It uses a small trampoline-like net and a small, bouncy ball. Inspired by volleyball, the action starts with bouncing the ball off the net. The opposing team has three touches to ricochet it off the net, and you score points when the opposing team can’t return the ball.
Sitting around a firepit in the backyard can be a pleasant way to spend the evening. Firepits come in different shapes and sizes, burn different fuels, and vary in price. Check out these options for your next outdoor get-together.
A woodburning chiminea is an outdoor potbelly stove with a chimney. A clay or metal chiminea is sometimes a safer option than a firepit, since much of the fire is enclosed, providing some protection for small children, pets, and your property. However, chimineas can still get hot to the touch. A chiminea’s chimney can draw smoke up and away from the seating area.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a firepit—you can get a small, inexpensive option, such as the Yaheetech woodburning firepit. This model comes with a mesh lid to keep burning embers in and a poker for arranging logs, and it costs less than $50. Be mindful not to keep an iron firepit out in the elements, however, as it can easily rust.
A firepit table can be a luxurious and easy-to-use addition to your patio, and with some varieties, you can start your fire with the push of a button. Powered by gas or propane, these outdoor furnishings come in sleek and rustic styles but can be more expensive than other types of firepits.
The smokeless Solo Stove is a pricier yet popular option. Its design promotes airflow, allows wood to burn more efficiently, and produces little to no smoke. These stoves also tend to burn wood more quickly. However, if you like the look of a more rustic firepit, this sleek-looking stove might not be for you.
A steel woodburning firepit, such as the thirty-six-inch Sunnydaze Crossweave Fire Pit, costs less than some other choices but can release more smoke. This option has openings that allow you to see more of the flames, and it comes with a spark screen and a poker.
What would summer be without your grill? For many Americans, it is where countless summer meals begin, and it’s the focal point of barbecues, tailgates, and family reunions. However, before you cook up some juicy burgers and veggie kebabs, you should give your grill some TLC. Use these tips to prepare your grill for a summer of delicious cooking.
Whether your grill is charcoal or gas, these are some general grill maintenance tips you should follow:
It’s critical to focus on your grill grates while cleaning because they impact the quality of anything you cook on them. One way to help your food from sticking is to oil your food instead of the grates. If you apply the oil directly to the grates, most of it will burn off before you begin cooking. Choose an oil with a high smoke point, such as grapeseed, avocado, canola, or peanut oil. After cooking, use a grill brush to scrub any leftover food from the grates. Make sure you clean the grates before they cool to avoid food and grease hardening. If you’re looking for an alternative to cleaning your grates, use an onion! Cut a peeled onion in half, stick a barbecue fork into the center, and run the cut side along the heated grill grates. Onions have acidic enzymes that act as a natural cleaner and remove grit from the grates. Aluminum foil also works well. Simply crumple some foil into a ball, grab it with a pair of tongs, and run it over the warm grates.
You should deep-clean your grill at least twice a year but more frequently if you grill regularly. Use this opportunity to inspect for damage and rust, and read your grill’s manual for special cleaning instructions. You can typically clean both gas and charcoal grills with warm water and dish soap, but be sure to disconnect your grill from the gas source before cleaning. Throw on a pair of gloves, grab a scouring pad, and scrub the inside of the grill. Start with the lid, and move to the grill body before rinsing with water and drying. If your grates look particularly dirty, soak them in a bucket of warm soapy water, and scrub away any built-up food and grease. Remember: charcoal and gas grills have unique cleaning steps you should follow.
Built-up ash from charcoal can block vents in the bottom of your grill and negatively impact cooking temperature. After cooking a meal, allow the charcoal to cool before removing the briquettes and ash. A convenient way to get rid of ash and coals is to keep a metal bucket or garbage can near your grill to store them. Once you fill the container and the ashes have cooled, you can transport the contents to a garbage bag. Before deep-cleaning your charcoal grill, remove any residual ash in the bottom of the grill with a brush or shop-vac, and rinse away the rest.
Regularly inspect your gas grill’s flame tamers. These angled metal plates separate the cooking surface from the burners. Due to their placement, food and grease often drip onto them. If they appear particularly dirty, remove and scrub them in warm soapy water with a scouring pad. Dry them thoroughly before returning them to the grill. While deep-cleaning your gas grill, take time to check the burners. Use a wire brush and scrub side to side to avoid forcing debris into the ports. You can remove grime from the ports with a toothpick or metal wire.
While grilling is associated with your favorite carefree summer activities, it is important to practice a certain level of care while using your grill. Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning, maintenance, and use instructions, and follow these tips for a safe grilling experience:
May is the unofficial start of picnic season. Whether you’re planning a traditional picnic with a basket and blanket or the backyard variety, there’s one thing you’ll need—great sandwiches. The convenience of packing and eating sandwiches makes them perfect for picnics, but peanut butter and jelly and ham and cheese are a little passé.
Be sure to give the recipes below a try to give your picnic a major upgrade!
This scrumptious sandwich has the perfect combination of spicy, savory, and sweet flavors.
Is there any warm-weather dessert more perfect than a miniature, fruit-filled shortcake?
recipe by patterson watkins
photos by patterson watkins
Hot honey has skyrocketed in popularity thanks to big brands like Mike’s Hot Honey, but you can make your own homemade version quite easily. And if you have yet to try this sweet-and-spicy topping, don’t hesitate. You might end up putting it on everything!
recipe by patterson watkins
photos by patterson watkins
Shortcake is a great summer dessert. The combination of delicate, flaky pastry topped with sweet berries and fresh cream can’t be beat. The recipe below also includes pistachio, which adds a new depth of flavor to this classic treat.
You might remember to clean your countertops and floors on a regular basis, but what about the outside of your home? Your siding needs routine cleaning too. A sparkling exterior can help prevent structural damage and add to your property’s appeal.
From traditional brick or stone to modern options like vinyl and stucco, every kind of siding is susceptible to mold, mildew, and grime over time—especially in warm and wet climates. Before you pull out your power washer, read these tips for cleaning your siding safely and effectively.
*Be sure to wear rubber gloves and eye protection while working with bleach or other chemicals.
Vinyl siding is low-maintenance and only requires a gentle cleaning every two to three years. You can purchase a commercial vinyl cleaner, like Simple Green House and Siding Cleaner, but it’s not always necessary if you’re dealing with minimal dirt buildup.
If you decide to use your pressure washer, check with your vinyl manufacturer first to ensure pressure-washing is safe for your vinyl. A pressure washer’s strength is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), so ask how much pressure your vinyl can handle.
Create a solution of two parts warm water and one part dish soap or vinegar, and apply it to your siding using a soft-bristled brush. Rinse off the solution using medium pressure with a spray hose. For the best results, start at the bottom of your house and work your way up, rinsing top to bottom before the cleaning solution completely dries.
Traditional brick and stone masonry can look charming, but both require more upkeep than vinyl. You should inspect and clean your exterior at least once a year. Before you start cleaning, inspect the masonry siding. If there are small cracks or missing mortar, you can repair it yourself with concrete caulk, or seek the help of a professional for large cracks.
For general cleaning of dirt and grime from your brick or stone siding, you should use a mild detergent, a hose, and a brush with a long handle. Do not use a power washer. You will risk damaging your mortar and caulking, especially if your masonry is painted; it will likely cause the paint to peel or fade.
Lawn sprinklers and heavy rain can leave dingy hard-water spots on your home’s exterior, but these can be carefully removed with an acid-based cleaner. Follow the label’s directions, cover nearby plants with a tarp, and apply the cleaner using a stiff-bristled nylon brush on an extension handle. Rinse the solution thoroughly with a garden hose when finished. Make sure everyone in your household avoids contact with nearby grass for forty-eight hours or the amount of time on the label’s safety guidelines.
Vegetation and algae are often unavoidable on brick or stone siding, but you can remove them using an oxygen bleach solution. Get rid of any loose vegetation by scrubbing it away using gentle circular motions with a soft bristle brush. On a dry day, apply the oxygen bleach solution to the affected areas with a clean brush. Don’t rinse the solution in order to give it time to kill the roots of the vegetation—wait for the next rainfall to dilute it.
Stucco is an eco-friendly and attractive siding option. However, due to its textured surface, it can accumulate large amounts of dirt, grime, mold, and algae. To keep your stucco looking like new, clean it two to three times a year.
Like brick, you should inspect stucco for cracks, gaps, and openings before cleaning it. If you find hairline cracks and chips, use an acrylic caulk that matches the color of your stucco. For large cracks, hiring a professional is the best option to prevent water damage to your walls.
Rinse the surface of your stucco to loosen dirt and other debris before applying any cleaning solution. You can use a soft-bristled brush or a pressure washer with a level of 1,500 PSI or below and a 25- or 40-degree nozzle. Leave at least twenty-four inches between the nozzle and the stucco surface, and rinse using a consistent stream at about a 45-degree angle.
Use a mixture of three parts liquid dish soap to two parts warm water to remove light stains. If there is mold, algae, or mildew, use equal parts bleach (or borax if you don’t like bleach) and hot water or a diluted commercial stucco cleaner.
Once you have your cleaning solution, apply it at a downward angle using a 65-degree nozzle tip (if your pressure washer can handle chemicals). Leave eighteen to twenty-four inches between the nozzle tip and the stucco surface. If you use a brush, apply the solution in circular motions with firm but gentle pressure. Let the solution sit for about five to ten minutes without letting it dry completely. You can keep it damp by lightly spraying it with water. Rinse thoroughly.
Clapboard, shingles, and board-and-batten siding have an elegant appearance, but they can be expensive siding options, so don’t let your investment go to waste. Rot is the biggest concern of homeowners with wood siding, so be sure to clean it once a year.
It’s important to choose a cleaning solution that is safe for your type of wood to avoid stripping it. Here are a few popular types of wood siding and what to use on them:
When it comes to wood, people are divided on whether or not to use a pressure washer. It’s best to consult a home professional first or avoid pressure-washing if you can since it could strip your boards.
If you clean your wood siding manually, apply the cleaning solution using a soft-bristle brush. Rinse thoroughly soon after application so the solution doesn’t soak into the wood. Use a low-pressure setting between 1,000–1,500 PSI if you pressure-wash your wood. Stand about six feet away from your siding.
No matter what type of siding you have, a thorough cleaning can give your home a brand-new look!