Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 2

before and after brooklyn backyard makeover After revealing last week how my husband and I have become complete and total gardening nerds grown lots of veggies, I am excited to reveal, *drum roll please*……our entire backyard. We have worked many long, hard hours (even sacrificing time with friends) to take this space from a concrete dump (quite literally) to something where we can relax and entertain. $500, 19 trips to Lowe’s, 15 trips to Ikea, 10 bags of soil, 5 bags of mulch, a couple of furniture pulls from the side of the road, a few good finds on Craig’s List, 2 trips to CT to pick up our seating area furniture, 1 ridiculous month-long search for solar-powered globe lights (they apparently don’t exist for under $100), and more seeds and plants than I can count and #operationbkbackyardmakeover is complete. We still have plans for a few things here and there (like staining the wooden bench that Mr. RC made and adding plant name tags) but for now we’re spending time just enjoying our little slice of outdoor Brooklyn. I hope you like the pictures (because there are about a million of them #sorrynotsorry) and get some backyard ideas for your own outdoor space. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything in the comments (just so we’re clear, by ‘anything’ I mean anything pertaining to the backyard ideas and outdoor space makeovers, not like “Is there extraterrestrial life outside our atmosphere?” and “How many gum balls does a gum ball machine hold?”). FYI, sources of products are listed at the bottom and part 1 of our reveal was posted here. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Brooklyn backyard makeover From this….

budget backyard makover in NY budget outdoor space makeover Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 2 || Runway Chef …to this!

brooklyn backyard makeover on a budget ideas for small backyards Old $10 Ikea shelves that we stained + waterproofed

Ikea oudoor table Free table from Craig’s List + DIY bench

backyard makeover on a budget Brooklyn Backyard From L to R- chair + couch are Pier 1 given to us by my father-in-law, the black and white striped “cover” is a blanket from Ikea, and the other chair we found on the side of the road

Pier 1 outdoor couch outdoor furniture outdoor couch Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 2 || Runway Chef ideas for small outdoor spaces bugs Some of the little critters we see in our garden

budget backyard makeover backyard plants Brooklyn outdoor space


Bar Cart + Stools- a DIY made from a piece of Ikea furniture found in the free section of Craig’s List, tutorial here
Grill- Target
Plant Stand- Ikea shelving, stained by us
Table- Ikea via free section of Craig’s List
Bench- DIY by Mr. RC
Lounge Chair- found on the side of the road
Spool Table- found on the side of the road
Couch, Chair & Cushions- Pier 1 via my father-in-law
Black and White Striped Blanket (currently acting as a couch cover)- Ikea
Fire Pit- Lowe’s
String Lights- Ikea
Copper Watering Can- Target (smaller one here)
Copper Bin- Marshalls (similar one here)
BK Letters- Marshalls (similar here and here)
Door “Screen”- sheer curtain from Ikea
Pots- Lowe’s, my father-in-law, old tomato cans, Ikea, Goodwill, and a wooden toy box found on the side of the road

DIY Outdoor Bar Cart + Styling Tips

how to style an outdoor bar cart It was quite by mistake that we ended up with an outdoor bar cart in our backyard, but now that we have one, I am convinced everyone that doesn’t have one is totally missing out (ummm, having a bar just inside your house is so yesterday, haven’t you heard?!). Before I reveal the 2nd part of our backyard makeover tomorrow, I thought I’d share one last snippet (I’m such a tease, I know) by revealing our little DIY outdoor bar cart. Also, it’s Thursday, which means it’s almost Friday, which means it’s basically the weekend, which means you’re totally going to need a bar cart of booze in your backyard. Oh, and I made you a video, because, well, I couldn’t make you a drink at my outdoor bar cart, so making you a video was the next best thing. Obvs!

P.S. To see our full $500 backyard makeover, click here.

outdoor bar cart styling To make the bar cart, you will need:

Ikea Kitchen Island
Wooden Stain (you want something that says waterproof or exterior use)
Paint Brush

1. Make sure the kitchen cart is nice and clean.

2. Add on a coat of wooden stain, then let it dry for at least 4 hours. Repeat. Let it dry overnight.


To style the bar cart, some of the things I like to have include:

A non-acolholic beverage (otherwise known as a mixer)
Liquor (served in a fancy decanter, preferably)
Fun straws
Fresh fruit
Toothpicks (for the fruit)
Votives (battery operated ones are best for outdoors)
Various trays, slate, wood pieces, etc (to add visual variety) 

Proceed to style as you wish and watch the below handy dandy little video I made you for some styling inspiration.

Supplies Shown In Video (linked to either the same item or similar items):
Mason Jars
Slate Board
Flameless Votives
Galvanized Bucket (holding the white flower; also great to use as an ice bucket)

how to style a bar cart

outdoor entertaining ideas DIY outdoor bar cart paper straws how to style a bar cart bar cart styling

Hostess Gift Ideas

Hostess Gift Ideas Somehow in all our moves, I’ve never written a post on hostess gift ideas (can I blame it on moving brain??). But thanks to the suggestion of one of my blogging besties (post ideas are just one of the many perks of have good blogging friends) I’m finally getting around to sharing a few ideas. Of course, the old standby of grabbing a bottle of wine is easy (and totally acceptable), but it’s not the most creative of gifts, so I came up with a few ideas that are just as easy, but slightly more thoughtful and personal. With plenty of summer events, barbecues, and get togethers on the horizon, this list of hostess gift ideas is sure to come in handy.

1. S’mores Kit// Graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, roasting sticks; if you want to get extra fancy use a specialized chocolate and homemade or flavored marshmallows.

2. A Mini Herb Garden// For a host that enjoys cooking, a mini herb garden filled with things such as thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley or chives, is the perfect addition to their kitchen. Anytime they want to season a dish, the herbs are right there. Go the extra mile and include plant markers.

3. Relaxation Package- Hosting an event can be stressful, so help your host unwind with a few relaxing goodies- a cozy pair of socks, a sweet smelling candle, bubble bath soap, some tea, their favorite magazine, and a sprig of lavender. Also, some wine wouldn’t hurt!

4. Muffins & Jam- Pack a towel-lined basket with muffins (homemade or from a local bakery) and add a jar of jam (and coffee or tea)…your hostess will appreciate not having to cook up breakfast the morning after entertaining guests.

5. Local Fare// If you’re traveling some distance to see your hostess, bring an item that is unique to where you live, i.e. a locally brewed beer, or chocolates handmade in a small shop around the corner.

6. Homemade Items// Of course, in my opinion, homemade items are always the best. Whether it’s homemade caramels, seasoning mix, jam or even pickles, your host will really appreciate the extra mile you took to make them something special.

7. Pasta Dinner Kit// A bag of pasta, a basil plant, a head of garlic, a handful of fresh tomatoes (or a jar of your favorite sauce), and a chunk of parm, make it easy for your host to throw a quick and relaxing dinner together the next night. Bonus points for fresh bread, a bottle of wine, and the red and white checkered table cloth.

DIY Flower Pepper

DIY Flower Pepper When my Mom first introduced me to one of her favorite seasonings, Trader Joe’s Flower Pepper, I’ll admit, I wasn’t overly enthused to try it. Despite my love of tossing flowers in salads or dousing them in sugar, I somehow wasn’t keen on the idea of grinding flowers into my food (go figure). But a few twist of the pepper mill later and my mind was changed. While it’s not a seasoning for everything (or everyone), it has become one of my favorite ways to spice up a salad, a dressing, a piece of fish, or even a poultry dish with just enough of a floral essence to completely change the dynamic of flavors in a totally subtle and effortless way. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s no longer carries their flower pepper, but, while plotting out the perfect mother’s day gift a few weeks ago, I stumbled on my old flower pepper bottle in my spice cabinet and realized just how easy it was to recreate this seasoning for my Mom (who had been desperately trying to hunt down any remaining bottles). Not only was it easy to make, but the flowers were so pretty and colorful to work with, and of course, call me biased, but nothing beats homemade!

dried flowers diy spice mix dried lavender dried roses peppercorns dried flowers DIY flower pepper Dried rosebuds DIY Trader Joe's Flower Pepper DIY Flower Pepper

DIY Flower Pepper
Peppercorns (I used a mix of black, green, and red)
Rose petals

An empty pepper mill


Measure out your ingredients using the estimated ratio of 4 parts pepper to 1 part flowers. My final recipe was about 1 cup peppercorns, 2 tablespoons of lavender, 1 1/2 tablespoons of calendula, and about 1 tablespoon of rose petals. I layered the ingredients in the pepper mill (it was a clear one from Ikea) for a prettier presentation (this looks nicer if you’re giving it as a gift). However, you can also just toss all the ingredients together. If you choose to layer the ingredients, simply be sure to shake the pepper mill a few times prior ti using.

This tastes great on salads (especially ones with fruit), mixed into goat cheese and then served with crackers, and on chicken and pork.

*If you have trouble finding dried flowers, I recommend checking your local health food stores as well as a place like Whole Foods. You can also order them online from stores like Amazon (although they tend to only come in larger amounts). For those of you in New York, I got my dried flowers at a shop in the East Village called Flower Power.

How-to: Marble Nails

How-to: Marble Nails || Runway Chef My love affair with marble is nothing new. I have long dreamed of a sleek, marbled kitchen (something along the lines of this) but unfortunately, the only marble happening in my kitchen is this. So you could say the marble print popping up in fashion is getting me slightly excited. Ok, really excited. Like uber, over-the-moon excited. After all, if I can’t have a marble kitchen, why not go for a marble closet?!

Now I haven’t actually taken the plunge on any marble pieces just yet, so I thought the perfect way to start incorporating the trend was with marble nails. It’s easy (no water, tape or plastic bags needed for these marble nails), it’s quick, it’s pretty much foolproof, and for those of you who aren’t quite sure of this trend (or only prefer it in small doses) this has your name marbled all over it.

easy marble nails marble nails marble print nails


White Nail Polish (I used Sally Hansen White On)
Gray Nail Polish (I used OPI Suzi Skis in the Pyrenees)
Top Coat (I used Sally Hansen Clearly Quick)

marble nails tutorial 1. Prep your nails- make sure they are trimmed, filed, and cleaned.

marble nail tutorial 2. Unscrew the tops from the nail polishes and set aside (it will make it easier to work if you keep them open the entire time). Working on one nail at a time, sporadically drop on a couple drops (2-3 for the smaller nails, 3-5 for the bigger nails) of the white polish.

marble nails without water 3. In between the white drops, add in a couple drops of the gray polish. To give my nails some variety, I used 2 drops of gray on a few nails and 3 drops on others.

marble print nails 4. With a toothpick, immediately begin swirling the polish around as you simultaneously spread it across the entire nail bed. If you find you are short on polish, simply add on another drop or two.

marble nails without water 5. Continue on in this method until you have completed all your nails.

easy marble nails 6. If needed, clean up any stray polish with a q-tip and nail polish remover. 

easy marble nail tutorial

7. Finish your nails with a clear top coat and let air dry for at least 30 minutes.