Welcome to the weekend in my backyard. Where I plan to sit.  And enjoy.  And relax.   I’m going to I’m going to I’m going to I’m going to.

O.K.  I think I typed that enough that I can’t take it back. No take backs on the relaxing pledge.  Only it’s kind of a lie because there’s a big project I have to finish in the backyard.  But once I do that on Saturday morning it’s going to be relax, relax, relax.

A few years ago I ditched the idea of using a patio umbrella in my backyard since it’s shady anyway and got the black table, chairs and bench you see from Ikea.  Not having the umbrella makes it feel much more like a real room.  That has bugs.  At least more bugs than the inside.


It’s the first long weekend of the summer in Canada and for the first time ever my backyard is cleaned up and ready to go.  Plants and everything.


I’m bored with it now, is it too early for snowpants?



Just kidding. I won’t get bored with the backyard until at least the second long weekend of the summer when I decide watering plants is for chumps and dedicate all my spare time to hoping they’ll die instead.

The fake wicker love seat on the left in the photo above is from Walmart and used to be brown.  I painted it the same way I painted my shed, with a sprayer.  The chairs were some kind of a deal at Costco a few years ago.  But what I’d REALLY like to do in this area is to create some built in furniture in the same conversational shape.



If you read my blog regularly you probably know I built a pizza oven because I live very far away from the nearest pizza place.  At least a block and a half.

Summertime hasn’t been the same since building it.  People come here. They flock to my backyard and they sit and relax and wait for pizza to come out of the oven so they can shove it in their mouth.  They get to relax while I get to sweat and slave over a hot oven making pizza.  It’s a win/win really.

If you’re thinking of building a pizza oven, you should get the Bible of books for such a thing, Build Your Own Earth Oven.  I used it and you should too.



But this year I’m vowing to do something I haven’t done before in my backyard.  No.  Not drink 14 cream sodas in a row. I’ve done that.

I’m going to relax.

See I’ve said it again so I really can’t go back on it now.


Hold up!  Where did you get those wire cloches, Karen???  Well, I got them at a discount store in town but I found similar ones in case you can’t live without them.  You  know, like you’ll cry an’ blubber and stuff.



Here’s a handy little tip in case you didn’t think of it.   Even if plastic furniture is clearly meant for inside, you can still use it outside.  Like these Panton S Chairs (copies because I can’t afford real Panton S chairs and even if I could I’d rather spend that money on a dancing troupe of Dachshunds who wear multicoloured tutus).  So, yeah.



(I’m not sure why the patio looks like it’s covered in a layer of dirt in the photo.  It doesn’t look like that in real life.  It’s all splotchy and stuff in real life, but at least it doesn’t look like it’s covered in dirt. )

I painted the potting shed black last year with my Wagner Spray gun.  It took all of an hour or so to do the whole thing 3 coats.

The three white balls you see have old Christmas lights in them so they glow at night.  Which is so stunning it’s enough to make me stop and stare every time I see them.  Which counts as relaxing.  You can read more about my spectacularly famous Glowing Outdoor Orbs here.

Most of the major things are done in the backyard, I just have a few things to get done.

Like what?  Like this …


That’s just for that one corner.  Ditto that kind of stuff for all the corners of the yard.

Except I can only do it if I also relax.  Because that is now the rule.  I wrote it in my notebook too so I’ve got it written down on paper.  Like The Bible.



I have a big rope hanging on my fence.  There is absolutely no reason for it other than the odd time I practice my lassoing technique on the ferns.  Just kidding.  I practice on the chickens.

The rug(s) at the pizza oven area are from a big box store. I can’t remember if they’re from Home Depot or Lowes or Rona but they’re available just about pretty much everywhere now.  I butted two of them up against each other to make a big rug instead of 2 smaller ones.



Someone who can’t relax in this backyard has something seriously wrong with them.  It’s not like my goal is to relax alllll summer. Just 10 minutes a day even. Or 5.  Or the length of your typical tween attention span.  Hardly anything at all really.   I can have my morning coffees outside for instance.  In the backyard, without my laptop or my iPhone.  No technology at all other than my iPad.



I know, right?  Weird plant.  It’s a Boston Fern.  Oh.  You meant the other one.  That’s a Chenille Plant.



Those are a bunch of forks and knives on some plates.  I put them there because you’re supposed to do that if you’re a blogger.  Pretend you’re constantly getting ready for some big party.




My smoker.  Because I smoke.  I even made bacon from scratch in it once.



This thing is for real, not just a blog prop.  I keep many pots of herbs that I use for my pizzas right by my pizza oven so they’re always ready to go when I’m making pizza.  I said pizza a lot in that sentence.  Pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza pizza.  O.K. I’m done.




The plant on the left?  It’s baby tears.  The plant on the right?  Some type of succulent that I nearly but didn’t totally kill over the winter.


And finally my friend Buddha who may or may not help me relax.  I may stare at Buddha hoping to relax and then realize Buddha needs cleaning at which point a very non-relaxing rampage of some sort will ensue.  That’s how it all starts. With a dirty little Buddha.

It looks like relaxing is a huge goal for most of you who took my 2 question survey last week (thanks to the thousands who took the time!), so I’m not alone. We doers of stuff sometimes need to be forced to relax whether we want to or not because believe it or not relaxing is important.

Have a great long weekend my fellow Canadians, get your backyards cleaned up, fire up the BBQ and relaxxxxxxx.





  1. Paula says:

    Hi Karen, I have a dacshund & she has a multicolored tutu/hula skirt. I put it on her for halloween. It cracks people up.

  2. Gail Dedrick says:

    I have been plotting and planning a way to separate our vintage travel trailer from the backyard and create some privacy for guests, and I am taking my cue from your fence. Both are great, but the horizontal one, specifically. To be continued …

  3. The succulent is called donkey ears – and I love them. But you have to resist the urge to touch them, or all those little thingies fall off!!!

  4. Heather J Tebbutt says:

    Just bought some seeds from Cubit’s…will be working on making a raised bed this weekend.
    Your backyard looks amazing, Karen…it inspired me to finally ‘tackle’ my own.
    Have a great, relaxing holiday to everyone…

  5. Heather (mtl) says:

    I feel chill just looking at your backyard. Love how the dark stone looks! My balconey is large (for a balconey, I’m told) at 18’x5′. I have 2x6ft privacy blinds and have my rocking chair, table and lots of little lights for the relaxing times. Some latin music (or guitar with Ottmar Liebert or Jesse Cook) is a terrific addition.
    Do you have any music playing while you’re out reading and resting?
    Tomorrow is open veg garden day – can’t wait to prepare the balconey on Sunday with pretty plants!

    • Karen says:

      I LOVE music in the backyard and am just looking into what the best outdoor speakers are actually. But I tend not to have music if I’m reading. Maybe some classical or muted jazz but that’s all. I have Ottmar Liebert’s Christmas music CD., lol! If you like that general vibe in music try Adanowsky. He’s a weirdo and he’s one of my absolute favourites. ~ karen!

  6. Angelique says:

    Ha, ha, ha, ha! Relax, your funny.

  7. Ann says:

    At our house we call the chenille plant a tampon plant….I know, but it’s how we roll. Great space!

  8. Benjamin says:

    The glowing orb project is how I first found you and my life has never been the same since. (in a good way sister). Buddha head is perfect a little shabby chic. Love all the wonderful areas and relaxing vibe happening out there. When do we get to see a video of you lassoing the chickens? LOL

  9. Julie says:

    Where did you get the giant orb from?

    Btw, you have the best backyard ever. It’s my favorite.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Julie! I’m getting more and more fond of it every year as I add more things. Like chickens and pizza ovens, lol. I found the giant plastic orb in the garbage on a walk one night. ~ karen!

  10. Kristy says:

    So are you relaxing yet? Doubt it. I have the same problem. I try to relax and find myself doing something productive before I know it. Sort of on autopilot like I don’t even know I’m doing it until suddenly I do. But seriously, your backyard looks amazeballs, and even if you don’t relax in it, just looking at it is somewhat relaxing so that counts?

  11. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I love your backyard Karen..I would love to sit there and relax with a book or magazine and wait for you to finish cooking the pizza…Then I would burp a few times, yawn and stretch and lie down on that fake wicker loveseat and have a nap..Could you get me a would be much more comfy…You could sit there too..maybe relax like I’ve told you many times that you need to do…if not I could always glue your ass to a chair…after you make the pizza that is…

  12. Michelle says:

    Your yard begs to sit awhile with one of your books. Simply beautiful and calming. It looks shady quiet and cool. A house and yard like yours with room for the goats and horse would be perfect. Would love it somewhere with seasons other than hot and dusty. Lol.

  13. Su says:

    ya gotta nice yeard der lady….

  14. Mary Michelle says:

    Karen, don’t you love it when all your hard work turns out so well. Sometimes satisfaction is just as good as relaxing!

  15. SusanR says:

    I think the Buddha looks good exactly the way it is. The dark spots give it character and age, as a Buddha should have. You’ll probably clean it, anyway, since it’s your Buddha and you get to do what you want with it, but if it were mine, I’d leave it alone and appreciate the artistic look it now has.

  16. maggie van sickle says:

    Now I really wish I was your neighbour you could help me make my yard a more relaxing place to be and you would not get bored and we could drink wine and eat pizza. Just sayin Karen. Love your yard!

  17. Anne McCarthy says:

    Your smoker is the big green egg. It is from the states and they cost a lot lot more than my 40 dollar piece of crap. Sure is purty though!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne. No, my smoker isn’t a Big Green Egg. :) I’m very familiar with those. They have a similar shape but a different finish and interior than my smoker. ~ karen!

  18. Karin in NC says:

    I am so unwilling to relax (do things! do all the things! all the time! – that’s me) that the idea of relaxing never occurred to me while filling out the survey. I will admit that I do spend 15 to 20 minutes drinking coffee in the morning and another 15 to 20 minutes drinking wine in the evening, all in my garden. That’s plenty of relaxing for me.

    Your space is gorgeous, btw.

  19. Monique says:

    Looks great and low maintenance!Zen.
    I think I have too many beds of perennials now.I know all your gardens are in the front:) And elsewhere..Your ferns are gorgeous..that kills me when I either give them away or put in the huge pile in the secret garden..come Oct..Karen I am coveting your baby’s tears..I have had some in the past and love the way they grow..I can’t find them anywhere..I know I live in QC..but where in Ontario did you find them.
    I have trouble relaxing too..I alwys spy something that needs attention:)
    So much energy and talent in one petite person!Every space must be filled up:)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Monique! I got the baby tears (the biggest container I’ve ever seen of them!) at a local nursery called Holland Park Garden Gallery. It was $12.99 I believe and was a hanging basket. ~ karen!

      • Monique says:

        Love them..and as you see I agree w/ you re bringing in the ferns..what a mess.
        I don’t have a Holland Park:(

      • Penny says:

        Hi, Karen. Here in the UK, the other name for Baby’s tears (Helxine soleirolii) is Mind-your-own-business.
        Who says we brits are polite!

  20. Cred says:

    Also, I have to ask, what’s that odd board with the metal rings, hanging on the fence near the conversation area?
    And do you overwinter all those Boston ferns indoors or do you just buy then new each season?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cred, That’s a piece of barn board that I turned into a wall light by drilling holes into it and inserting deck lights. It comes on at dusk and lights up that area a bit. I used to try to overwinter at least a couple of my ferns but they always ended up dead by February or March so I gave up. They’re a mess to deal with inside and take up a LOT of room. So I buy new every year and they’re really almost the only outdoor plants/flowers I buy now. ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        I’m with you Karen, tried keeping 5 ferns overwinter. Husband built a bench in the basement with lights from Lee Valley and it worked but it was a helluva a mess. So I’ve given up and buy them every spring. Costco has gorgeous ones for $13.99! Anybody need/want a nice potting bench?

  21. Anne McCarthy says:

    Who makes your smoker? It looks so much better than my piece of crap 40 dollar electric smoker I use a ton. I’d love something that looks so nice in my backyard.

    • Karen says:

      I wish I could remember the name of it Anne. It was a gift from my ex-fella and he bought it off of a competitive BBQer who had won it in a competition. It’s from the States somewhere and I feel like it might have the word dragon in the name? Actually if you click through to my post on making bacon, I might have mentioned the name of it in there. But I’m not sure. :( Sorry! ~ karen

    • Karen says:

      Hi Anne. I actually just emailed the BBQer I got the smoker from. It’s a Bayou Classic Classic Cypress smoker which retails for around $850 US! He told me he misses it, lol. ~ karen

  22. Leisa says:

    Your backyard looks amazing! Enjoy :)

  23. Cred says:

    Simply beautiful. I’m inspired (again) by your glowing orbs (sorry, that kinda sounded dirty). I made two of them for my dresser and I’d moved one into my Xmas planter but now they need to go outside for the summer and I must get a ginormous one to make a trio. I love them.
    Good luck with the relaxing. Happy may 2-4.

  24. mickey says:

    You’re right about ditching the ladder. I have the perfect spot for it in my back yard
    and would be pleased to take it off your hands.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Oh, I was about to say that she’s wrong about ditching the ladder . . . I like it there. Sorry Mickey, I don’t want to mess up your nefarious plan so I won’t mention it.

  25. Mary W says:

    You’re smokin, girl! I looked at the rope and thought what is that for and instantly you answered my question. I spent $95 last fall on a rope lasso, a huge black (plastic) steer head, and a bale of hay. My intentions were totally that of a 70 year old out of touch woman, planning to have a fun activity ready for two teen boys, a teen girl, a six year old and their two extremely competitive dads. Well, just to be nice each one threw it once, missed, and went back inside to their little black isolation devices. I was the only one (and my sweet six yo granddaughter) that lassoed more than once. The hay got used as mulch, the lasso is hung on a wall, the head is out under a bush. So much for my backyard. The deer ate my beautiful new peach tree, basil and dill. They stomped my strawberries. The cats chased butterflies around my tall flowers which destroyed the flowers. And my daughter wonders why I don’t garden anymore. When I look at my backyard, all I see are projects, problems, and I used to see produce, plants, and petunias. It is too sad so that is why I spend my garden time on my personal isolation device and enjoy your wonderful efforts. The big difference between you and me is when I see dust on a ceramic piece, I think, interesting texture! On gorgeous black floor block? I see wonderful depth of rich color, not dirt. My life is full – I can dream and I subscribe to you. LOL

  26. Ellen says:

    Giggling and trying to drink my coffee…love the post Karen.
    I hope your Buddha is facing East…it’s almost Sacrilegious if he’s not? :O
    So miss having a family member who had a pizza oven…drool…PIZZA!
    Now, go relax…

  27. Jillian says:

    Beautiful! Going through the photos I felt I was really there relaxing with you. I like the rope and the ladder just being there with no purpose, btw. lol

    So I have a few questions,

    1. What is the square footage of your back yard?

    2. Did you install the pavers yourself (I’m assuming you did)? And if so, do you have a post on how to do it?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jillian. I have no idea what the square footage of my backyard is, lol. I’d have to go out and measure. I did install the flagstone, but I did it a couple of years before I started this blog so there aren’t any step by steps. If you click on the link to me redoing my backyard there are plenty of photos though. Since these are natural stone they’re different from laying pavers. Much harder, because each stone is a different thickness so they all have to be laid individually. As opposed to manufactured pavers which are all the exact same thickness and size. ~ karen!

      • Jillian says:

        It doesnt look that big and about the size of my back yard. You did a wonderful job cramming things in without looking like you crammed things in!

        Darn! Was hoping you had step by step for flagstone. I want to do a flagstone patio where my backyard is. In fact, I just received 150 square foot of it for free off of Craigslist! Had a feeling you were going to say each had to be laid individually because of thickness…..sigh, was hoping for an easier job but will still enjoy the project.

        Thank you, again, Karen. Enjoy your relaxing Spring/Summer lol

  28. danni says:

    You have a classy yard! I could not manage a classy yard, I have an “eclectic” yard… (crazy lady yard)
    With a hammock. I love my hammock, and have no problem, when I’m sweaty and panting from some crazy lady exertion, dropping everything and relaxing in my hammock. It’s gawdamn ZEN I tell you!

  29. Diane R. says:

    Back yard envy here! Yours is simply beautiful.

  30. Leslie says:

    Oh I love your pizza oven and your sitting corner. It is so nice. I can almost smell the bacon with the smoker going.

  31. Rose says:

    Love the smoker. Makes you want to relax and smell the bacon, never mind the roses.

  32. Pat Marino says:

    I love your cozy backyard…makes me just want to come visit!!! Suddenly I feel I HAVE to make a pizza oven….won’t my husband be thrilled, not, he just rolls his eyes these days. Have a great weekend Karen!

  33. Maureen Locke says:

    I could relax there, no problem.. especially if my belly was stuffed full of pizza with fresh herbs. :) Beautiful back yard Karen. I’d love to have one, however my husband feels that a back yard consists of one huge patch of green to mow. No trees, no plants, no flowers. I did manage to talk him in to a beautiful magnolia right dab in the middle of said lawn. It only took me three years. All other greenery I have to plant on the edge of the lawn. Seriously, it looks silly. When I retire, I’m going to become bold and just plant helter skelter beautiful shrubs and flower beds and have a tranquil seating area, perhaps a pond, chickens and a garden. Hope he doesn’t have a coronary.

  34. Cathy says:

    I’m in the midst of ripping out my old rotted deck; not like a huge multilevel thing you see behind fabulous estates, but a small 10×10 floating affair. More like a stage where my table sits and we dine alfresco occasionally. I used to have a Summer Solstice party there where ” hats are mandatory, shoes optional.” The evening light is magical.
    Did you build your shed?

  35. All that talk about pizza, and yet, no pictures of actual pizza!

    Don’t relax until you make some pizza and post the photos, please.

    Mmmmm pizza!

  36. Carol says:

    Don’t ditch the ladder. It’s in a good location, feng shui-wise. Paint it white, put plants on the rest of the steps. It would look fab, like the rest of your yard. Nice clean up job!!!

    • Penny says:

      I didn’t know about the feng shui bit, but I thought the same! The ladder is in a perfect location for a Primula auricula theatre, (in which case I’d paint it black or dark green) or Karen could use any plants in small pots.
      Lovely job, Karen. My back garden looks like the Somme, circa 1918.

    • Kelly says:

      I totally agree with leaving the ladder, but not white against all that black. Not sure it has to be painted at all; it brings a nice soft natural look back to the darkest corner.

  37. Lisa says:

    Love your backyard – and yes the relaxing bit…trying trying. I’ve always called your Chenille Plant a Lipstick Plant or cat’s tail…had to take mine out when the neighbours dog kept reacting to it. Enjoy a “gin, ginger beer (real only – Bundaberg Ginger Beer is the best) and lime” in your garden….very refreshing. Not that I’m ever one to encourage a drink. :-)

  38. Tammy says:

    I might suggest moving the wood from where you sit. It can attract all sorts of unwanted creatures that you may not be happy with once they find you!

    • Karen says:

      Oh, it doesn’t stay undisturbed all summer Tammy. It’s for feeding the pizza oven, so it needs to be close and it’s constantly being used and replenished. I know exactly the bugs you mean because every summer I have to stack whatever wood I haven’t used in the winter at the end of my driveway and by the fall the things growing and multiplying in that stack are horrifying. ~ karen!

  39. Sue says:

    Doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s inside or out; usually you can’t even sit down and get comfortable before out of the corner of your eye you see something that needs to be done.
    We have a lovely small deck off the bedroom where we have our coffee in the morning and watch the hummingbirds cavort. All I have to do is see a feeder that could be better placed, and I can’t sit still until it is moved – or a hanging plant that needs to be deadheaded.
    And, I don’t dare go back inside for fear I’ll get trapped doing something and never get back out. If I attempted to seek counseling for this condition, I would probably be so distracted by mentally rearranging the pictures on the wall that I would lose all track of therapy – actually, I have been there, and done that now that I think about it . . .

  40. Debbie from Illinois says:

    Road trip to Karen’s for Pizza!!!

  41. Steph says:

    Truly, really fabulous

  42. Jennie Lee says:

    I like your comment about how indoor plastic furniture can also be used outdoors. I do the same, only backwards: I have 4 white plastic outdoor chairs that I use indoors. And I don’t care if that’s against some kind of rule. They’re Rubbermaid, from over 30 years ago, Magic Erasers keep them snowy white, they’re so comfortable I’ve fallen asleep in one, and I think they’re pretty. So there. And your backyard looks wonderful. You may know there’s work to be done, but I assure you, everyone else is wowed.

  43. Carey says:

    Damm, that backyard looks good enough to relax in, all summer long. Enjoy!

  44. Lynn says:

    I wish you luck Karen in your relaxing goal . As the saying goes ( take the time to stop an smell the roses ). It goes along way to improving both mind an body. You have your list of todo’s . I love your yard I have to say . This Friday we get natural gas ran for new BBQ , fantastic no more lugging tanks ? . At some point age snuck up on us an it kinda shocked us both . Go figure ( we are suppose to age … What the heck ….). Enjoy your long weekend Karen

    • Karen says:

      Lucky you! I just had to buy 2 new tanks for my BBQ and it wasn’t cheap. I looked into it and I think it was going to be around $500 to run the line for gas. Maybe another year. ~ karen!

  45. Muff Hackett says:

    You need a little Connie Kaldor to inspire your relaxation.
    You’re welcome

  46. charlotte tataryn says:

    it’s gorgeous Karen – stop showing off! Some of us don’t live in climates, or under that tree, which means YOU obviously don’t have a ka-billion maple trees to uproot nor are you waiting for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday’s rain to dump the 200-ka-billion elm seeds that make the tree APPEAR GREEN until they land IN MY YARD. Obviously, I’m envious.
    Happy Long

    • Carswell says:

      Heh. I put a bunch of fresh soil in my garden beds last year and topped it off with a generous portion of mulch.

      Sadly, that’s the perfect habitat for maple keys to take root and I’ve been chipping away at removing an incipient maple forest from my garden beds for the last couple of weeks. They are easy enough to pull at this point but geeeeez loueeez there’s a lot of them.

  47. Jani says:

    I am like you…I would go out there to relax and then look at everything that needs to be done! I don’t even know how to relax!!

    • Amy Parker says:

      ha ha, me neither. What’s the point of having a yard if you can’t tinker around in it? Relaxing is overrated.

  48. Gayle'' says:

    The plant on the left? Maybe a burro’s tail. I think. Anyway, that reminds me I need to get out and trim back some of my potted succulants. Love them. Hard to kill ’em if they are rated for your zone. Have a great time relaxing–it will rejuvinate you to do even more.

    • Gayle'' says:

      Oops–make that on the right. Lol

      • Susan says:

        I brought a cutting of that home here from Denmark in 1998 since I’d never seen it before. It’s still living. I really don’t know how it survived the trip home since now it falls apart if you look at it! Neat plant though.

    • JulieB/Julie Spahn says:

      Yep! My mom had burros tail, along with a million and 17 other plants when I was growing up. She even made a few macrame hangers for some of the plants. Can you tell that many of my formative years were spent in the ’70s. :D

  49. Paula says:

    The cloche link doesn’t work!

  50. Marna says:

    Your backyard looks great! :)

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