Al Fresco… At Last!

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I’m knocking on wood, holding my breath, and crossing my fingers as I write this, but it seems that spring might ACTUALLY be here to stay in Calgary. We’ve survived winter and second winter, the birds are singing and all of the snow has melted from the roads to reveal the construction pylons beneath. The signs are all here, my friends – it’s time to dig out the patio furniture!

Like many of our fellow Canadians, making the most of every second of summer sunshine is high on our family’s list of priorities. During the day, our kiddos spend as much time in the yard as they possibly can, and we’re happy to join them as they do it! In the evenings, we love to host friends for backyard barbecues followed by visits around the campfire and (my personal favourite) – an outdoor movie. I’m gonna paint you a picture of my perfect summer evening and if you aren’t knocking on my front door to join in by the end of this post, I owe you a hot dog (and with the recipe I’ve got below, trust me – you’re gonna want one).

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 8.53.52 PM
First of all, this patio set. I don’t have it, but DANG, if I did. With two kiddos under four and a bunch of friends with kids the same age, we want a set up that’s cozy for grown ups to sit at, sturdy and durable for little guys, and easy to clean up for everyone. These chairs are easy to wipe down, and don’t have cushions that will get faded from the sun or stained when your kid inevitably drops their mustard-coated hot dog on it. Add to that the fact that it seats eight people – this guy is perfect for entertaining.

If you haven’t seen the episode of Queer Eye where Antoni teaches his cooking protege how to make the perfect hot dog, you’ve probably heard about it. Yep. Chef Antoni made a hot dog. Well, actually two hot dogs. But our friend Antoni was so right about these dogs that I’ll never doubt the man again. These are the hot dogs you NEED at your barbecue. And great news! If your kid only ends up eating a bun drenched in ketchup and leaves their hot dog on the plate, that means you can totally go for seconds.


  • 8 hot dogs (whatever kind you want – the fanciness comes from the toppings so even plain ones will do the job!
  • 8 hot dog buns (splurge and get some bakery-fresh ones – at least for the grown ups)
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • pickled carrots
  • 3 tablespoons mayo
  • 1-2 tablespoons chipotle in adobo sauce (it should be in the aisle with the Mexican food – look for the canned chiles etc.)
  • your favourite chips (preferably plain, ripple ones, though)


  1. Mix the mustard and honey to taste for fancy shmancy hot dog A.
  2. Thin-slice your pickled carrots for hot dog A.
  3. Mix the mayo and adobo sauce for fancy-pants hot dog B.
  4. Cook your hot dogs on the barbecue or over a fire! Toast the bun for extra yumminess.
  5. For hot dog A, load your bun up with the honey mustard sauce and add the pickled carrots.
  6. For hot dog B, spread the adobo mayo onto your bun and crush up some chips to sprinkle on top.

Add your hot dogs to the buns and devour. Good luck eating only two!

Next, you’ve gotta have a fire pit of some description. Whether it’s built-in, or portable, it doesn’t really matter. But you need to be able to burn real wood so that everybody leaves with that glorious campfire smell that clings to your hair for th
e next three days. I love the idea of having a fire pit with a cover to protect kiddos from shooting embers. Obviously, teaching little ones about the importance of fire safety, like never touching the fire pit or playing around the fire is a must, but once they’ve got these rules down, there’s really nothing that says summer like an evening fire. Bonus points if you bring all the fixings for s’mores (my favourite s’mores hack is to put your chocolate onto the graham cracker and let it sit on a sheet pan over the grate to give the chocolate a chance to melt before putting your roasted marshmallow on top. Also, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Thank me later.)

Screen Shot 2019-05-13 at 9.15.05 PMFinally, the cherry on top of the perfect backyard party is an outdoor movie. The setup is pretty quick and easy – all you need is a screen, which can be as simple as hanging up a white sheet or as fancy as a legit portable screen like this one , and a projector. If you don’t own a projector, they’re pretty easy to find to rent from A/V businesses around town. However, if you’re planning to have more than one movie night this summer, it might be worth the investment to buy one of your own. Tons of blankets, cushions, and a crackling fire will make for a night that your kids will be talking about forever!

fried marshmallows on top of black steel nonstick frying pan
Photo by Pixabay on

So – are you coming to our place for our next backyard party? The patio set is still but a dream, but everything else is ready to go!

xox k

2 thoughts on “Al Fresco… At Last!

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