5 Ways to Revamp Your Outdoor Space

As the weather warms, we can finally move our festivities and fun outdoors. But now that winter has released us from its freezing grasp, our decks, patios and other outdoor spaces might be in need of a refresh. There’s no need to spend money (or time) on an outdoor renovation: There are plenty of ways you can revamp your outdoor space without spending a chunk of change by using what you already have at home.

Give your furniture a makeover.

The easiest way to spruce up outdoor furniture is by adding pillows. You can fashion new covers out of an old tablecloth or shower curtain or add design elements to the ones you currently have, such as with this easy leaf print design. You can even make pillows out of those plastic bags you amass from the grocery store, no joke. And if you feel your furniture needs more than just new pillows, try refinishing them or paining them a new color. It’s still cheaper than buying a new set.

Let there be light!

Why let those Christmas lights go to waste in hibernation for the holidays? Instead, turn your holiday lights into a string of outdoor lanterns. For smaller lights, you can use ping-pong balls to make orbs of light, fold paper into origami lantern cubes or cut felt into floral fringe. For rounder, larger bulbs, this dyed cheesecloth DIY can transform your lights into bulbs of color that add decorative touch even when they’re turned off.

Recycle and reuse old pieces of wood.

Wooden pallets, sticks that have fallen off trees and other scraps of wood can be used to add interest and make over almost any aspect of your outdoor space. You can turn dirt into a wooden walkway; add an artisanal touch to a glass table; and glue sticks around a glass or bore tea-light-sized holes in a small log to make candle holders. You can also use wooden sticks, spoons or even tongue depressors to label the flowers, herbs, produce and trees in your garden (this is especially fun for kids and guests!).

Put unused containers to use.

Wooden boxes and baskets make especially great planters, but any old container will do. In fact, the more interesting, the better (old toys, teacups, etc.). Fill your chosen container up with dirt and plant as you would in a pot. You can also turn containers and other concave objects into bird baths and feeders.

Roll yourself an outdoor rug.

Do you have a tablecloth you bought and perhaps only used a few times? All you need to do is roll on a couple coats of some water-based polyurethane (about $10 a can) and you’ve got yourself an outdoor rug. It’s a great way to add a pop of color or deign to a patio floor.

Don’t feel in the mood for DIY projects? The simplest way to refresh your outdoor space is just to rearrange your furniture, plants and other décor in a new way.

Your Summer Camp Solutions

Keeping kids entertained in the summer can end up being a hefty undertaking. Hey, we know you’re tons of fun, but even the best of us can run out of steam while chasing kids around in the heat. If your kids are interested in attending a summer camp, or if you’re looking for fun activities to fill their downtime, we’ve got three ideas to consider before verano arrives.

Day Camp

Great for first-time camp goers, kids can have fun during the day, but still be home in time for dinner. Start by making a list of your child’s interests and your budget. Then explore what each day camp has to offer. An art camp, an athletic camp or even a theater camp all have different programs. Also make sure to tour the camps prior to signing up. Check out the facilities with your child and get their input. An important thing to find out is how each day camp handles daily transportation and food. Is lunch included or at an extra cost? If your child has special dietary needs or allergies, learn how each camp plans to work with your child.

Sleep-Away Camp

A sleep-away camp is a great choice to help teach your child independence. While navigating the different programs can be a daunting task, start by gathering sleep-away camp brochures and reviewing them with your child. Make a list of his or her interests and focus on the camps that match what they like. Once you’ve narrowed your list down to two or three places, speak to the parent of a past camper to find out what it is truly like. Did you know that many sleep away camps now cater to specific specialties? You can send your child to circus camp where they can learn acrobatics or science camp where they can do experiments that are not only fun but educational as well. If your kid dreams of being a rock star, you can send them to music camp. Whether or not you pick an unconventional sleep-away camp or a traditional one, remember that your child may get homesick. Sending letters or care packages with your child’s favorite foods or games to share with their bunk will be sure to put a smile on their face.

Weekly Programs

Not ready to send your child away for an entire summer? Choose from a plethora of weekly programs that are offered by community centers, the public library, museums, and local sports clubs or pools. Depending on your child’s interests, you can sign up for an art class, music program or sports clinics that will teach your kids while they have a fun summer!

For those days where there are no programs planned, turn your backyard into a mini summer camp. Set up a small inflatable pool, a table with simple arts and crafts projects, and an obstacle course for your kids and the neighborhood children. You can even serve fun snacks and sing songs together.

Fútbol Makes Us Family: Make Game Time Party Time

There is sure to be a lot of exciting fútbol played this summer, so use this opportunity to spend quality time together creating long-lasting memories. Here are six ways to host a party la familia and friends will be talking about until the next celebration.

Set the Scene

Hang fútbol-themed streamers and different countries' colors around the room. Set the table like a field with a green tablecloth and square white bowls on each side as goals. You can even cut out coasters from AstroTurf that can be purchased from a local hardware store.

Game time -- Pin the Ball on the Goal

Set up a large corkboard on one side of the room with an image of a goal. Let each member of your family attempt to pin a ball into the goal while blindfolded. Whoever gets the ball closest to the center wins.

Dress Code

Give the party a theme where each member of the family has to dress in their favorite team’s color or uniform. Athletic sweat bands or socks are encouraged!

Snack Time

Create a nacho bar. This is fun because everyone gets to make their own plate starting with a base of tortilla chips, but you can keep it healthier by selecting fresh toppings like onions, black beans, tomatoes, jalapenos, salsa and low-fat cheese and sour cream. 

For a delicious nacho recipe that's packed with protein, check out Goya's black bean nachos.

Raise the Stakes

Make a rule that the person who selects the winning team gets a prize. They can give away their chores for the week or choose their favorite meal for dinner the next night.

Tasty Arts and Crafts

Cupcakes will make for a sweet ending to the party. Bake them ahead of time, and then lay them out with sprinkles and icing in various colors. Let everyone in the family decorate their own after their favorite teams and players.

Recetas for a Backyard Party

Warmer temperatures and longer days mean outdoor dining and entertaining can finally commence. This season, prepare Latino dishes that embrace your culture. “The food of a country plays a key role defining the personality of its people, and the other way around,” says Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, author of The Brazilian Kitchen and My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook. Here, Schwartz shares easy-to-make Brazilian recipes perfect for outdoor dining.

Main Dish: Sanduiche Natural de Galinha com Cenoura

A popular cuisine sold along the beaches of Rio de Janeiro

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 4 sandwiches


3 tablespoons raisins (dark or golden)

2 medium carrots (132 g)

1 1/2 cups (200 g) thinly shredded chicken

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

8 slices whole wheat bread

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Plump the raisins by soaking in 1/2 cup warm water for five minutes.

2. Grate the carrots on the largest holes of the grater. You should have about 1 cup grated carrots; place in a bowl.

3. To make the shredded chicken, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chicken breasts, and boil for approximately 20 minutes. Make sure there is no pink. Hold the chicken in place with a fork, and using a second fork, pull at the chicken, causing the pieces to shred.

4. Drain the raisins and add to the bowl with the chicken, mayonnaise and chives. Season with salt and pepper and mix with a rubber spatula.

5. Divide the mixture among each slice of bread and sandwich them together.

Side Dish: Biscoito Palito de Polvilho (Yucca Sticks)

A great Latin alternative to French Fries

Cook time: 90 minutes

Servings: 25 to 30 sticks


1 1/2 cups sour manioc starch (povilho azedo)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more for sprinkle

8 tablespoons (1 stick) 82 percent unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1 egg

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary

Zest of 1 orange

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, more for sprinkle

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil to brush


1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

2. Place the manioc starch in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

3. In a small saucepan, bring the water, milk and salt to a boil.

4. Immediately pour the hot liquid over the manioc starch and turn the machine to a low speed. Beat it until the mixture looks like a coarse meal, about one minute.

5. Add the butter and beat until the dough is smooth, and the sides of the bowl are clean.

6. Add the egg, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, orange zest, ground chipotle and two to three twists of freshly ground black pepper. Beat until the dough turns pale and creamy, about three to four minutes.

7. Stop the machine and scrape the dough into a resistant pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip, size number 3. (Alternatively, you can roll them by hand, on a surface lightly floured with manioc starch. Roll one piece at a time into a 6-inch long stick, then transfer to the baking sheet).

8. Pipe the yucca sticks into 6-inch lengths, leaving about 1/2 inch between each stick. It is important to pipe the sticks quite thin, as they expand during baking time (and they don’t look attractive when piped like a fat stick).

9. Lightly brush the sticks with olive oil and sprinkle some salt and rosemary. Lightly dust some chipotle powder over each stick.

10. Bake the sticks in the oven until they rise and turn slightly golden, about 25 to 35 minutes. Do not remove them from the oven; turn it off, open the door all the way, and leave them inside the oven, with the door open for another 30 minutes. Trust your senses: they will make some clicking noise almost sounding like ice crystals falling -- that’s normal. Only when they stop clicking, remove them from the oven.

11. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the sticks cool at room temperature before serving, about 10 minutes. Place them in a tall glass and serve.

Cocktail: Caipirinha

A refreshing cocktail using Brazil’s popular alcoholic ingredients

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Servings: 1 caipirinha


2 limes

1 tablespoon sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons cachaça (adjust amount to taste)

Ice cubes


1. Cut the two ends off of the lime and cut lime into medium chunk wedges.

2. Using a muddler, mash the lime with sugar, making sure to squeeze out all the juices and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.

3. Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaça and ice cubes. Shake well (about eight to 10 times) and pour into a large (but not tall) sturdy glass.

Romantic Valentine’s Date en Casa

A Valentine’s date doesn’t necessarily mean fancy dinners or expensive gifts. This year, get creative and think outside the chocolate box. “Stay home and celebrate by bringing the outside in,” says Lisa Velazquez, a love coach and founder of Lisa Talks Love. Velazquez shares her top ideas for bringing out the romance on Valentine’s Day -- and every day.

Prepare in Advance: Build up the anticipation with your partner by having a little countdown to Valentine’s Day and leaving written notes to each other prior to the holiday. “Remember little tokens of appreciation,” says Velazquez. “Do what you did when you were single, such as sending a cute or sexy text. That way, you’re igniting the fire before you get home.”

Go All Out, Stay Indoors: Prepare a space in your home for your romantic date that is off-limits to kids. Hire someone to cook, and get dressed up as you would for a night out. For your date night, turn the living room into a dance floor, and the dining room into an elegant candle-lit restaurante. If you’re the more casual type, have an indoor picnic in the living room. “Remember why you got together in the first place,” says Velazquez. “Let your man express his emotions, and be an interested listener.”

Involve the Kids: Before your romantic date, get the whole family involved in celebrating. “Teach kids to express their love in healthy, creative ways,” says Velazquez. Plan a Valentine’s Day breakfast and pass out tokens, such as flowers, to each other. Make your child his or her favorite individual meal. Share the reasons you’re thankful for your kids, and help them to do the same for you.