After much anticipation, May is finally here. This issue of American Lifestyle is geared toward helping you prepare for the sunny days ahead! Inside, you’ll find tips, products, and recipes to make entertaining during the summer a breeze.
Patios and decks are the social hubs of the backyard, so it’s worthwhile to purchase products that can help these areas shine. From water misters to grill carts, you don’t want to miss out on these game-changing items.
As much fun as decorating your outdoor space can be, summer is also an opportune time to spruce up your interior. Take inspiration from designer, artist, and author Bari J. Ackerman, whose fun floral-printed and bold-colored products embellish the best parts of the home.
Flies, mosquitos, and other flying pests can quickly ruin your activities outside or inside. These simple tricks can help you keep the interior and exterior of your home free of bugs.
The best part of any gathering is the food. Try your hand at these two delicious recipes from the cookbook Enjoy: Recipes for a Memorable Gathering that will make your guests feel at home. Start the meal with an Italian-style caponata dish, and top it off with a refreshing berry almond crisp dessert.
As May flowers bloom, use the tips in this issue to prepare for many memorable summer gatherings. As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
Decks and patios are the places where barbeques, bonfires, and other outdoor gatherings feel the best. Before you gather with loved ones outside this summer, prep your deck or patio area with these must-have accessories that can enhance your parties with comfort, style, and safety.
Sunny days are ideal for gatherings, but the sun can make it hard for everyone to enjoy themselves. Keep yourself and your guests cool, comfortable, and hydrated to prevent any heat-related problems.
Direct sun exposure for prolonged periods can be harmful to your skin, not to mention squinting to see other people isn’t ideal for conversation. Patio umbrellas help block the sun, but they can get knocked over by wind or rain and don’t always provide an area of shade large enough for everyone to use. A shade sail can be large enough to keep you and your guests cool and protected from harmful UV rays.
If you lack space or struggle to find a convenient place to keep a beverage cooler, consider this side table that doubles as a cooler. This convenient piece of furniture is easy for guests to access while they sit and chat and provides a long-lasting chill because of its tight seal, so you won’t have to replace the ice constantly.
Canopies and other overhead structures can reduce direct exposure from the sun, but on particularly hot days, the sun’s heat can be felt even in the shade. Patio misters provide a constant, gentle spray of cool water as you walk in and out from under an outdoor structure. Make sure you tell your guests ahead of time to avoid it if they prefer not to get misted.
When the sun goes down, the usefulness of your outdoor space shouldn’t go down with it! Try these bright ideas to keep your activities and conversations well-lit.
Sturdy solar-powered metal lanterns mimic a flickering flame to create instant ambiance. Lanterns are popular because they can double as a stylish and practical light source on your deck or patio. If you choose to use solar-powered lanterns, you won’t need to worry about an open flame or replacing the batteries. They are also very versatile, as you can hang them on an exterior wall or place them on your outdoor tables.
A firepit can be a lot of fun to sit around, but you should always consider safety over fun. Most people make the mistake of using a stick to poke the fire, but that stick can easily catch fire and hurt someone when you pull it out—and you need to be too close to the flame for the stick to work. A lightweight and sturdy stoker lets you easily maintain control over the flames and logs from a four-foot distance. It also comes equipped with a one-way air valve you can blow into to help the fire maintain its energy, which means you no longer need to crouch on the ground to blow on the perfect spot.
Grilled food is a summer staple best enjoyed with loved ones. Use these grill accessories to impress your guests with your skills and minimize cleanup.
Not every grill comes equipped with enough prep space on the side. If you have side dishes and drinks, use a handy bar and grill cart to make and serve them outside. The sides of the cart come equipped with hooks, the underneath has storage, and the top is a table. Plus, it serves as a gathering space near the grill to keep the cook company.
The last thing you want to do after hosting a barbeque is spend hour cleaning up the grill. Use reusable nonstick grill mats that provide a smooth surface to prevent small pieces of food from falling into the grill. Don’t worry, you’ll still get appetizing grill marks on your food!
Grilled food tastes best when it’s fresh from the flames. Grill baskets will enable you to try new recipes since you can use foods that might otherwise be too messy or small for the grates to hold. Plus, you can serve food right from the grill basket on the table. Using the grill baskets to serve your food cuts down on cleanup and keeps the food warmer for longer, but remember to put a hot pad on the table first to avoid burn marks.
What’s the point of having an amazing outdoor space if you can’t have fun using it? Try these accessories to transform your patio or deck into an entertainment hub.
Outdoor movies are an unforgettable experience. This tiny-but-mighty HD portable projector makes the process of setting up an outdoor watch party easier than ever. You can use nearly any device to stream your film to the projector: a laptop with HDMI or USB, a Roku Stick, an Amazon Fire TV Stick, an iOS or Android device, hard discs, or a PlayStation or Xbox gaming system. With so many ways to watch, you can host a patio movie marathon to remember!
These natural-looking Bluetooth rock speakers blend perfectly into any outdoor environment. If you place them strategically around the perimeter of your deck or patio, you’ll have a surround-sound setup so everyone can enjoy music no matter where they’re positioned. Don’t worry about putting the speakers away at the end of the night or before a storm–they’re waterproof.
Designer, artist, and author Bari J. Ackerman is anything but boring. Open her most recent book, Bloom Wild, or peruse her fabric, rug, bedding, and wallpaper offerings from her Bari J. lifestyle brand, and it’s like stepping into a secret garden filled with lush, beautiful florals, vibrant hues, and uniquely embellished creatures eager to introduce you to a fun way of using color and pattern.
When Ackerman designs her home or those of others, she brings the most she can into the space by layering colors, patterns, and a combination of old and new finishes and furnishings. “I’m a color-loving maximalist,” she says. “I often say that I’m a ‘Curated Maximalist,’ a term I coined about six years ago because, while I feel more is more, I don’t think more is more just to have more. I think that color and pattern should be layered with intention, and editing is very important. I love florals—they are definitely my wheelhouse—and I also feel that mixing in geometric and other abstract patterns creates a look that has depth and warmth.”
Ackerman’s love of color and flowery prints grew in her childhood as she watched her mother, who is also an artist, fill their home with blooms. “I love color and florals,” Ackerman says. “My mom decorated in a lot of florals when I was growing up. She also painted florals, as I do now, and planted all kinds of flowers in her garden. I have a distinct memory of being a little girl sitting next to her as she needlepointed a huge tapestry of flowers in a brass vessel. It took months if not years to finish . . . if you look closely at my work, you’ll see that motif is an indelible memory for me.”
The seeds of the Bari J. lifestyle brand were planted in the early 2000s when Ackerman started making jewelry as a creative outlet. In 2005, she made and sold her first custom handbags. She decided to design her own fabric to make her handbags stand out, and before she knew it, she had her own fabric series, Full Bloom. In 2011, her first book, Inspired to Sew by Bari J., was published. Since then, she has created more than twenty collections of fabric.
Along the way, Ackerman picked up a paintbrush, giving her fabrics, prints, and home products an elegant, painterly feel. “Around 2010 I started painting and I couldn’t stop,” she says. “I found it was what I truly loved the most and where I thrived. Now my surface designs are a mix of digital and painted, which I think creates more depth and contrast in the collections. I also sell my painted originals and prints.”
Today, the prints that Ackerman invents look almost vintage, except for her modern use of color and juxtaposition of patterns. Her bold designs can be found on Loloi Rugs, Joybird furniture, Art Gallery Fabrics, Wallternatives Removeable Wallpaper, and Makers Collective bedding, among other products.
When she is not painting or designing new prints, Ackerman lends her artistic vision to interior design. She decorates clients’ homes and uses her own residence that she shares with her husband, Kevin, as her canvas. Her kitchen was one of the last spaces she decorated in her Scottsdale, Arizona, home before moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2021.
The kitchen features a deep emerald-green backsplash in a herringbone pattern made from handmade tile from Mercury Mosaics in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A patterned pink rug, black cabinets, and gold hardware provide vibrant contrasts to the green tile. The bright-white plates on the open shelves and the simple marble counters balance the space’s bold colors. A floral pattern on the bar stools, fresh flowers, and live greenery gives the kitchen its signature Bari J. look. “I wanted the kitchen to reflect our love for color and pattern, and I hoped that when you looked at it, you wouldn’t be able to pin a style or a date it might have been designed,” she says. “I wanted it to be warm and welcoming.”
While green is trending in home design, the color is more sentimental than on-trend for Ackerman. “I have always loved green, probably because there was a lot of it in my childhood home,” she says. “My mom put green leather wallpaper in the living room, and all of the woodwork was painted an evergreen color. I am guessing green fills me with nostalgia.”
The designer has been adding her unique stamp to her new home as she redesigns it room by room. “I love color and pattern, and I want all of the rooms I create to feel joyful and also timeless,” she says. She reveals the details of her life, such as her home projects and new product offerings, on her blog, Bloom Wild with Bari J. There, she enjoys sharing tips about developing your decorating style. “Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns,” she says. “My rule of thumb is to use similar prints that have a color in common but contrast in scale and type of print. For instance, a floral print can easily be mixed with a plaid, provided they have a color that ties them together. And remember . . . leopard print rules the wild interior—it goes with everything!”
Nothing is too fierce for this designer as she continues to invent and mix bold patterns, design new textiles and wallpapers, and fill her world with a nostalgic mix of color and florals.
For more info, visit barijdesigns.com.
With warmer weather arriving, you may be getting ready for outdoor get-togethers, alfresco dining, and gardening. However, the warmer temperatures can also increase the number of bugs in and around your house. Say goodbye to these nuisances by using these tips to make your home a pest-free zone.
Depending on how you feel about bugs, the experience of finding them in your home can range from annoying to downright frightening. Use these tips to help evict them.
The first step to eliminating bugs from your home is to stop them from getting inside in the first place. Start by filling any cracks or holes you find in your foundation with a vinyl concrete patcher, repairing holes in your siding with silicone caulk, and filling gaps around pipes with steel wool. If you notice holes in your windows or door screens, repair the holes before leaving them open regularly. While weatherstripping and door sweeps are excellent ways to keep out drafts, they can also block bugs from entering your home.
Ants, beetles, and moths can all invade your kitchen in search of food. Be sure to keep your food stored in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers, and purchase smaller packages of food that you’ll be able to finish quickly. Don’t forget about your pet’s food, as many bugs will indulge if given a chance, and remove any pet food from bowls before heading to bed.
Clean spills immediately, wipe down your counters and shelves regularly, and sweep and vacuum your floors weekly to remove any food crumbs. Also, if you recycle, thoroughly rinse any items you’re putting into the recycling bin. Keep the bin outside your home or in your garage. If you have fruit flies in your kitchen, you can create a DIY trap by placing a mixture of apple cider vinegar and a small amount of dish soap in a Mason jar, covering the top with plastic wrap, and punching a few holes into the plastic. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar but they won’t be able to escape once inside.
Moisture can also attract insects to your home, and some bugs, such as silverfish and house centipedes, prefer damp conditions. Check for leaky faucets, pipes, or drains, and fix them immediately. Also, check appliances like washing machines and air conditioners to ensure they are working correctly. If you have a basement, run a dehumidifier to help remove moisture from the space.
Spending time in your yard can be an enjoyable experience until bugs turn their attention toward you. However, you can strike first and reduce the number of pests in your yard with these tips.
You can actually use your garden to help eliminate bugs. There are a variety of herbs that act as natural insect repellants, including:
Cut back tall grass, brush, and weeds around your property—these can act as a natural habitat for insects—and prune away any branches touching your home to help eliminate easy access. Avoid a build-up of clutter, such as leaves and grass clippings, in your yard, which can be a refuge for various bugs. If you keep a woodpile in your yard for your fireplace, try to keep it as far from your home as possible, and check any wood you plan to bring inside for unwelcome guests.
Be sure to empty stagnant water from planters, buckets, and trashcan lids to help prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs near your home. Don’t forget to regularly clean birdbaths and pet water bowls too. Water features with moving water, such as koi ponds or waterfalls, are not attractive to mosquitoes.
Moths, flies, and stink bugs can all be attracted to outdoor lighting, and spiders are drawn to this smorgasbord of bugs. However, you can change the light bulbs to help reduce these nightly visitors. Some insects are attracted to bright white and blueish light, so add bulbs that produce a yellow light that is less appealing to insects.
Your local feathered friends can act as natural exterminators in your backyard. Many birds consume a diet of seeds, berries, and insects, so make sure to install a bird feeder and birdbath so they are encouraged to spend time near your home. You may also want to add some small trees or twiggy shrubs to act as a natural home for birds.
While bats have a reputation for being creepy creatures of the night, they are a natural way to eliminate mosquitoes, beetles, and moths. You can place a bat house in your yard to attract bats in warmer months, but make sure to put it in a location that receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
Eating great food is one of the most enjoyable parts of life, but it’s not enough that your food should taste good—it should make you and those you’re serving feel good too. These recipes from the Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings cookbook are perfect for making everyone feel right at home.
This traditional Italian-style dish is full of hearty vegetables and rich flavors, and it can be made ahead for easy preparation.
The season of perfectly ripe berries is upon us! Make the most of it with this fruity dessert recipe.
Excerpted from Enjoy: Recipes for Memorable Gatherings by Perla Servan-Schreiber, Flammarion, 2020. Photography by Nathalie Carnet. Images may not be reproduced or transmitted digitally without written permission from the publisher.
recipe by perla servan-schreiber
photos by nathalie carnet
In my opinion, caponata is one of Italy’s finest traditional dishes. Whether I serve it chilled or at room temperature, it’s always a winner. Although cooked in oil, it is not heavy and it’s packed with sweet-sour flavors; if you leave the celery a bit crisp, there are contrasting textures when you eat it. Best of all, you can make caponata a day ahead.
Notes: You can serve caponata as a side for meat, poultry, or fish, but I particularly like it on its own as a starter.
recipe by perla servan-schreiber
photos by nathalie carnet
Keen cooks everywhere can’t wait for summer and the arrival of all those luscious soft fruits. Each bite is a revelation, as it is with raspberries, blueberries, currants, and cherries. If you have a particularly big stock, with a handful of at least three different fruits left over the following day, try this relative of a classic crumble—probably my favorite dessert. I love the contrast of the sweet, crunchy topping with the tartness of the fruit, with neither one overpowering the other. In short, perfect harmony!