new again

I’ve been meaning to show you this, as it has revolutionized our porch time around here.

We’ve had this decrepit picnic table for ages. It came in to replace the old Martha Stewart Kmart “teak” table that simply collapsed one idyllic summer night a few years back. (I don’t blame you, Martha!) We kept the benches that went with it, and each, in its own time collapsed under the weight of some unlucky sitter. That set just disintegrated. And so, when we came across this old and very free picnic table, we welcomed it into our yard with open arms. We’ve loved it, collected splinters from it, and hurt our backs toting it around the yard. It has held us and countless others. This table is on its last legs and this is probably its last summer. But we felt it should  live out its last days in style.

So, armed with his trusty staple gun and a few rolls of oil cloth, Joey gave the old girl a makeover. And all of the sudden, we loved our porch. It was magical. I put geraniums in the planter, and we extended a sail from the roof to give us some shade. And when we think the other person isn’t looking, we lovingly run a hand along the oil cloth. Nice, right? You can do it too–I won’t look.

And speaking of porch life, how about those comments on the last post! Can we collect those and write a book about summer cooking? I think we should. Let’s include a chapter on old and lovely outdoor tables, too.

Congrats to Kathy Shea, lucky number 99 ( loves you!). You’ve got the People’s Pops book coming to you. Send me an email with your address, and it’s on it’s way.




  1. Cathy Hoff says

    Alana, when I read the title and saw “oil cloth” I was reminded of a story I read 40 years ago in my mom’s Woman’s Day magazine. A woman wrote that when she was a little girl during the Depression, desserts were few and far between. Her mother made a chocolate frosted cake and put it in the middle of the table that was covered with an oil cloth. The little girl was admiring the cake and leaned in to sneak a little frosting when her arm slipped on the cloth and her hand landed SPLAT right in the middle of the cake. She felt horrible and was afraid the dessert was ruined. Her mother told her not to worry and outlined the hand with white frosting, put a little lace decoration at the wrist and a candied violet on the ring finger. From that day on, this cake became a tradition in her family.

  2. Suan Fife says

    Very pretty ! I’m very glad you are enjoying the summer with many days on your porch. This is a wonderful idea.

  3. Rebecca says


    That’s a great story! Makes me wonder how many times I’ve gotten mad at my daughter when I could have made her feel better about her mistakes.

  4. says

    Hi Alana! I’m currently trying out the recipes from your cookbook (I just posted about marshmallows today), and I’m thoroughly enjoying the results. I also found your beautiful blog. Thanks for sharing your stories and recipes!

  5. says

    Rebecca, Cathy and Alana,

    This is why I love reading blogs. Great ideas, wonderful stories and personal insights. I thought the same thing you did Rebecca after reading the story Cathy posted; how we really could do better as parents sometimes to turn mistakes that make us snarky into happy occurrences and traditions. I will strive to do better! Thank you everyone for sharing- this is one of those “it takes a village (albeit a virtual one) to raise a child” moments for me.


    ps. love that cheerful cherry fabric Alana!

  6. Kathy Shea says

    Hi Alana!

    First, Thank you – I can’t wait to receive the book!

    Second, this is a fun idea what you did with the table. I love it!

    We have an old picnic table in the back yard that was not being used so I started adding potted plants to the top and then they spread to the seats and underneath (for the shade loving plants). My husband cleaned out his fathers old storage shed, a week ago, the shed had been closed for over 10 years. He found out all these amazing old glass jars and tin canisters. He sat them on the plant table with the intention to clean the jars. I said, “Leave them! They look perfect mixed in with my plants and don’t clean them, I like the old, rustic look of them.” So, I love seeing what others do with what they have – I love seeing how you transform things. This is a bright, cheerful idea! Thank you for sharing.

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