Tag Archives: summer

Lazy Days of Summer


I can think of no other place that makes me as happy as the one above. I often tell people that I re-gain my personality in the summer. Lazy days at the beach, reading or knitting – or just chatting with friends and family with toes in the sand looking out at the ocean are how I truly relax. Book group friends might laugh that I count books among those things that I bring along with me to unwind at the beach, since during the school year I never seem capable of finishing any of the books that we read before the discussion! But for me, summer is for catching-up on all of the books I had hoped to get to during the year. It’s for finishing up all of the knitting projects that I began while watching my kids play sports on weekends and after school. Summer is when I re-charge my battery so that, with hope, in September I can come back home refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.


On a professional note, another thing that makes me happy is the day of the photoshoot that I schedule at the end of a completed design project. I am so grateful to have found a fantastic group of clients who have entrusted me with their beautiful homes and allowed me to help them to reimagine and transform their kitchens and other spaces. And somehow I’ve been fortunate enough to have found a professional photographer who makes every job that I do look even better in pictures! So, when those photos arrive in my inbox and I can see just how a space that we have been working on for months has come together, I’m particularly excited to enjoy the finished product and to proudly add the pictures to my website. So, when you’re enjoying your own lazy days of summer, please click here and check out the new photos that I’ve added to my website. As everyone knows, relaxing and enjoying vacations is only possible when your work is finished! courtneyzanelli.com/portfolio.html

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Sign of Summer: Outdoor Kitchen

source: Kris Horiuchi of Kalamazoo Gourmet 

Since it’s 97 degrees in New Jersey and hazy, hot and humid on this first day of June, I thought the best type of kitchen to write about would be the divine outdoor kitchen.  With Memorial Day behind us and Labor Day approaching more quickly than we would like to admit, many cooks turn to the outdoors to prepare meals so they can escape the hot kitchen.  Sidenote:  If you live in New Jersey and are fortunate enough to have an outdoor kitchen, you might not have any interest in using it for the next several weeks since the invasion of the cicadas has completely taken over!  Noisy, smelly, tree-hugging bugs aside, grilling and eating outdoors rank right up there with showering outdoors as some of my favorite summer-time activities.
Nine years ago, my cousin got married in Napa Valley in a wedding filled with superlatives.   The bride was absolutely beautiful.  The location of the wedding…breathtaking.  The food & wine…amazing.   And before the wedding we were entertained by the groom’s family in their lovely home, which had the most incredible outdoor kitchen and adjacent living space that I have ever seen.  The bar for such kitchens is now incredibly high in my mind, considering I still remember it vividly when often times I’m so scattered I can hardly remember my own name!
So, if you’re planning to build an outdoor kitchen, here are some things to consider:
  • If your budget allows, think about adding some plumbing for a sink…you won’t regret it 
  • Select rust-resistant hardware meant for outdoor use
  • If you’re in a sunny spot, consider adding a partial roof, pergola or some type of umbrella for shade
  • Plan your exterior lighting accordingly so that you can transition from day to night and still see what you’re doing
  • Select durable, hard-wearing and weather-resistant materials for both the countertop and flooring
  • A small bar fridge will certainly come in handy and limit trips in and out of the house
  • Plan a place for everything…cooking utensils, garbage, recycling, etc. — you’ll be happy you did!


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Summer Obsession: The Outdoor Shower

Indulge me…yes, it’s February, and if you live in the greater Metropolitan area, the temperature is in the 20s…but today I’m thinking about summer.  This morning I was flipping through the current issue of Coastal Living, and I came across a piece on one of my favorite little luxuries of summer – the outdoor shower.  I realize that this is one of those pleasures that some people enjoy and others simply cannot understand.  I am clearly in the former group, and if I had my way (and if I had a home at the beach), I would take every summer shower outdoors – yes, even on warm rainy days!  There’s just something about the feeling of the steam being lifted up and away by a gentle breeze on a warm summer day that makes me smile. 

Several summers ago my family rented a house with an outdoor shower – in previous summers I had to rely on the kindness of good friends, who allowed me to use their outdoor showers.  Yes, I admit, I’m a bit obsessed.  I would literally walk down the street in our cozy little neighborhood in my robe, with a tote bag filled with shampoo, body wash and a towel, just to take an outdoor shower.  So, at first during that summer with my own outdoor shower, my husband and I were the only ones to use it.  My boys thought I was crazy to traipse outside in my robe to take a shower – who would ever do that?  Yet, as summer progressed, I noticed that one by one, they each gave it a try.  And once they tried the outdoor shower, they were hooked, and they never went back inside!  Imagine how clean our bathroom was.  

The writers at Coastal Living gave some great tips if you plan to build your own outdoor shower.

  • Carefully select your materials.  Consider pressure-treated wood or a synthetic decking material for their durability and ability to withstand the elements.
  • Try to mimic the style of your home when constructing your outdoor shower so it looks like it belongs.  Pay attention to architectural details, especially if it’s a stand-alone shower away from the house.
  • Mount plenty of hooks for wet bathing suits and towels.
  • Be sure to consider all local building codes, including those for drainage.
  • Consider adding a bench if you have the room. 

So, while summer may seem far off, it’s never too soon to start dreaming about warm days ahead, and those little summer pleasures that put a smile on your face.  And if you’ve never tried an outdoor shower, why not throw caution to the wind this summer and give it a try — you just might become a believer like me!


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