Recreating a Sonoma Valley Picnic with Outdora


As one of the most idyllic places in all of California, the Sonoma Valley has long been known for its lush rolling hills, impressive restaurants, and of course, its world-class wines.

While Sonoma locals grab their picnic gear, wine, stop at The Sonoma Cheese Factory for a picnic lunch special, and head over to Goat Rock Beach or to sip syrah underneath the oak trees at Buena Vista Carneros, you can recreate your own version of a Sonoma Valley picnic in your backyard with Outdora.

Sonoma Picnic

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5 Famous Addresses: Make Your Home Well-Known Too

Customized PlaqueNew York, California and Florida are some hot spots for many celebrity homes, and each mansion makes a unique statement of its own. First and foremost, these luxurious houses have an immediate visual impact because of their immense size and upscale exterior design. Another feature that makes these residences so incredible are the entryways. The front of your home is what most people notice first, but even if you’re not a celebrity, you can still create an inviting and high-end appearance. One place to start it is by adding or updating your decorative address plaques.

But before you move forward and start searching for address plaques, it’s best to learn from the pros. These following five celebrity homes are great examples to help you enhance your curb appeal.

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How to Craft the Maximum Curb Appeal For Your Home

First impressions are always important and real estate is no exception.  Take pride in your home and make sure to make a great first impression by creating curb appeal.

Everything to do with the front of your home (facing the curb) plays a part.  From the front door to the landscaping and architectural details, each little aspect adds up to the overall impression your house makes.  Curb appeal comes into play when your home is on the market, but should also be an essential part of your exterior decorating at any time.

How to Craft the Maximum Curb Appeal For Your Home

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Feng shui and home design: The Water Element

The hustle and bustle of our everyday lives lends itself to many stresses that hopefully, fall away as we walk through the door of our home. But creating that peaceful environment can sometimes prove stressful itself.

Feng Shui, a system that sets about achieving harmony between people and their environment through design and specific placement of objects from the five elements – wind, fire, water, metal and earth – can be the answer in creating that sanctuary.

Today we will be talking about the water element of feng shui.  In Feng Shui, water symbolizes emotion, therefore the water in and around your home should be flowing and clean in order to have the best effect on the “chi” or life force.   Since water holds chi, if that water is stagnant it is said that there can be problems within relationships as well as have an impact on wealth and prosperity.

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Have a Worm Farm You Can Be Proud Of

Tumbleweed Worm FarmThe thought of wriggly worms in your compost bin might give you the heebie jeebies, but it’s really not as awful as you may think. Starting your own worm farm can be beneficial not only for the environment, but the resulting compost can significantly improve your soil, which will make your flowers bloom brighter and your vegetables grow bigger. Who can turn their nose up at that?

Although you might not be thrilled to add worms to your existing compost bin, you could always enlist a family member who isn’t so skittish. Teaching your children how to start their own compost bin will instill them with eco-friendly values and prepare them for an independent future. Once we look into the advantages of vermicomposting, you might put your hesitance aside.

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Re-creating a French Countryside Garden with Outdora

Claude MonetThe allure of the French countryside has long since inspired artists from around the world as through the gardens and paintings of Claude Monet.  Just over an hour outside of Paris, the magnificent garden of Monet in Giverny is a dimensional array of colors, flower varietals, and of course, home to the famous lily pond.

The key to re-creating your own Monet-style garden is to allow flowers to grow naturally with no organization other than to group them according to color.  Visual interest can be created by planting flowers of varying heights and by choosing selections that will bloom throughout the seasons.

As if to welcome visitors, a bed of yellow Sunflowers stands proudly at the front of Monet’s house.  The Natural Rust Patina Sunflower Garden Sculpture (available in two sizes) can be grouped together with the Natural Rust Patina Iris Garden Sculpture to create a Monet inspired bouquet of cheerful flowers.

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Lacinato Kale Recipe from the girl and the fig® Restaurant

Girl and the FigWe’re glad you’ve stopped by for the third and final part of a delicious recipe contributed by Sondra Bernstein, owner of the girl and the fig restaurant—a beloved Sonoma establishment. To purchase the girl and the fig cookbook or learn more about their fresh country dishes with French-inspired flair, visit their website.

See our previous posts from Wednesday and Thursday for the first two parts of the total dish: Grilled Pork Chops with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary-Potato Gratin. The recommended wine pairing for this meal is a bottle of old vine Grenache.

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Roasted Garlic and Rosemary-Potato Gratin Recipe from the girl and the fig® Restaurant in Sonoma

Girl and the Fig ExteriorToday brings part two of a savory recipe contributed by Sondra Bernstein, owner of the girl and the fig restaurant located in the historic Sonoma Hotel.  As a tribute to the country setting that surrounds the girl and the fig, the restaurant uses fresh local ingredients and offers Provencal-inspired cuisine.

Pair this secondary course with the main dish posted yesterday on the Outdora blog, Grilled Pork Chops and Brine Recipe, and check back tomorrow for the final part of this dish: Lacinato Kale.

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Grilled Pork Chops and Brine Recipe from the girl and the fig® Restaurant in Sonoma

girl and the figA Sonoma hot spot for home-cooked country cuisine with French flair, the girl & the fig is known for their cheese & charcuterie platters, French aperitifs, and charming antique bar. Their inventive seasonal menu highlights rustic French bistro fare, house-cured meats, and, of course, fresh figs and vegetables.

Sondra Bernstein, proprietor of both the girl and the fig and the sister restaurant Estate, has shared a recipe for Grilled Pork Chops with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary-Potato Gratin. Today, we offer you the first part of this dish: grilled pork chops and a brine recipe that creates moist, tender chops.

Check back over the next few days for the second and third parts of this delicious recipe:  Roasted Garlic and Rosemary-Potato Gratin and Lacinato Kale.

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Creating a Private Space for Outdoor Solitude

Relaxing on a HammockEscaping the house and heading into the yard is all about fresh air and sunshine.  We want to feel that warm breeze, hear the birds and smell the flowers.  Sometimes that means running around the lawn or digging in the gardens or washing the car in the driveway.

Other times you might want some much needed privacy.  Like breathing room to have a nap, read or just rest awhile.  And unless you live in a rural area, that can be difficult to do when all of the neighbors are hanging out in their yards too.

It’s important to create areas of privacy on your patio and in your yard.  With plantings and hardscaping you can bask in the open air and sunlight while enjoying privacy and solitude. Continue reading “Creating a Private Space for Outdoor Solitude”

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