One of the best responses we’ve gotten about this here adventure we call Hooch & Home was from a close friend in Philly. She had us over for dinner when Melissa was visiting, and while preparing dinner she shared with us how reading the blog has taken the mystery out of doing more at home yourself. Even something as simple as cold brew coffee can seem daunting. It just seems simpler to buy it at Whole Foods. There are many reasons to take a crack at trying things out at home. At the end of the day though, if the joy of making things yourself doesn’t do it for you, the budgetary advantages should.
This was, after all, the inspiration for the blog. While waiting for our house to be finished, I whiled away hours I should have been studying looking at Young House Love, Little Green Notebook, and Design Sponge; dreaming of the day I could start to invest my time and energy into my living space. However, those blogs are all written by people who seemed more capable than me. I wanted to start a blog where people with no experience could be inspired to do projects that would save them money and improve their home. Having something to toast with afterwards seemed just as important. We are here to prove that good cocktails and DIY projects are in fact attainable! If we can do it, anyone can do it.
And so, without further ado, I bring you a project that may sound daunting, but the most daunting part was getting the materials home in my two-door hatch back. Our backyard is small. Very small. About 7.5 ft deep and 15 ft wide to be exact. A little less than half of the backyard is covered in poured concrete. The rest was a dirt pile full of interesting artifacts. Here is a panoramic version of our backyard after we had dug out a layer of dirt full of legos, pencils, tiles, and other weird bits of plastic from over the decades so that it was a few inches below the concrete:
What we needed:
- Tape Measure
- Shovel for digging dirt out
- Trash bags for dirt and debris
- Rake for evening out dirt and raking through debris
- Pavers – we bought these red pavers from Lowe’s for $1.67 each
- Bricks – we bought these red bricks for 48 cents each
The amount of each material you will need depends on the size of your patio, and you will need to blow the cobwebs out of the corner of your brain where you store things like how to find the cubic feet of an area. For example, you need at least an inch of paver sand. To figure out how much sand you need you must multiply the depth of your sand by the length and width of the area you are paving. We used about seven bags of paver sand for our tiny patio. These bags are heavy and messy.We probably should have used more but this was all we could manage to get home. Also, this is not a solo project unless you have lots of muscles.
One final note: If you have access to a stamper, or feel like investing in one, this is a very useful tool for leveling dirt and sand. We did not feel like investing $30 on one, so we didn’t.
How To Pave Your Patio
Note: There are more comprehensive ways to do this. Our version is for those of you on a budget who can’t necessarily get all the needed materials home. Our patio turned out great, but isn’t perfect. Nothing I make ever is! See Home Depot’s site for some video’s and tips before starting.
Here is what we did:
- Measure area and do some math while at the store to see how many pavers you need to buy. I recommend drawing a diagram. Get materials home.
- After digging up all the dirt needed, we used a rake and a level to make our area as flat as possible. We also stomped around with our feet pretending we had the stamper. Here is where you use the stamper if you have one.
- Dump out bags of sand on ground.
- Use hands or pole to flatten sand making sure the sand is at least an inch thick. We used hands. A pole probably would have been easier.
- Lay pavers on sand.
- Make sure pavers are level with a level. We ran into some issues here and had to pick up some pavers to level the sand more before replacing them. You do not want your tiles to wobble. Also, we wanted our patio to slope down a bit to direct water away from the house. We were mildly successful at this.
- Place more sand on top of pavers and use a broom to sweep sand over pavers so that it fills the cracks between pavers.
- As the sand settles you may need to repeat the last step to fill in the cracks between the pavers more. This is to prevent weeds and to keep things stable.
Here is another weird panorama taken after we completed this project. The photo following is a more recent one that includes a most welcome addition to this little oasis: a cafe table! Now if only the giant tree that leans over our house would stop dropping things all over the place all day every day.
A Whiskey Cobbler
Cobblers were one of the first cocktails I came across when we began Hooch & Home. Back in the day, drinks had categories. According to Oh Gosh! a Cobbler is a cocktail that mixes a base spirit, sugar, and fresh fruit. I once read that the drink gets it’s name from the cobble-shaped ice used to cool the drink, but I can no longer find that reference. GONOLA backs me up though. This drink gets historical credit for proliferating the use of the straw. Because of how sugary it was, it was served with a straw to protect people’s teeth. I also have read that it lead to what we now call soda. But I hate soda (except root beer of course) and while a Sherry Cobbler is the most famous of the Cobblers, on National Bourbon Day I’d rather drink a Whiskey Cobbler. Here is how Oh Gosh! does theirs:
- 4 oz of Bourbon (that’s crazy, I used less – about 2 shot glasses worth)
- 1 bar spoon of maraschino cherry liquid (don’t skimp, go with Jack Rudy)
- 1 bar spoon of sugar (I used I good squeeze of Agave Syrup so it wouldn’t settle at the bottom)
- 1 slice of orange (I used a grapefruit because that’s what I had)
Fill tumbler with crushed ice. Add ice, bourbon, maraschino and sugar to Boston Shaker and shake. Pour into tumbler and garnish with orange and cherry.
My very cherished American and Other Drinks has a whole section on Cobblers. It calls for 2 wine glasses of whiskey. A wine glass used to be a common unit of measure which is about equal to about 4 oz. Apparently people were getting super drunk back in the day. I am currently writing this post halfway through my two shot cobbler and…let’s just say its more than enough for this lady.