It’s raining and you are overwhelmed with a hankering for chocolate chip cookies. And not just any chocolate chip cookie will do. You want those perfect cookies that are just the right balance of crispy and chewy, that are oozing with a mix of milk and semi-sweet chocolate, that have enough heft that you can feel the weight in your hand telling you that you are holding something special. Yep, it is that kind of chocolate chip cookie day.
You check to make sure you have milk to go with those perfect cookies. Yep. Now it’s time to bake. You gather the ingredients, excitement building as you find the chocolate chips, sugar, flour, and salt. In the fridge, you find the eggs and. . . uh oh. There is no butter. You check the freezer. Nope, nothing there either.
There are no substitutions in this recipe. It is butter or nothing, and you have passed the point of no return. These cookies must happen today. As if by magic, you hear the roar of your neighbor’s lawnmower coming to life. You are saved. They are happy to help. He pauses the mower and walks in his house to retrieve the butter. (This recipe demands two sticks!) You offer up sincere gratitude and some warm chocolate chip cookies by the time he finishes mowing.
Neighbors are good for so many things. They don’t just supply emergency butter, but they are there for game nights, block parties, and taking care of animals while we travel. And still, as wonderful as they are, there are times when you might want to be in your yard and feel comfortable in your own private space. Sometimes you want to enjoy those cookies all alone! Or perhaps you want to carve out a private space of your own within your larger yard. There are multiple, easy ways to create outdoor nooks that offer privacy and seclusion when you want them.
Custom Gazebos, Decks, Pergolas and More
If you haven’t invested in outdoor architecture, consider doing so now so that you can enjoy your structure throughout the remainder of the summer and fall. Some people prefer that their structures are wide open, but there are also many ways to build them so that they provide a high degree of privacy. Talk to our custom deck builders to find out how you can create your own little backyard haven for a competitive price. And once you build your gazebo, deck, pergola, or other structure, you can even add your own flourishes for added beauty and privacy.
Planting for Privacy
One way to achieve the aforementioned beauty and privacy is through planting. If you are looking for something permanent, you can plant shrubs and bushes to create borders where you want them. These can be simple shrubs or you can go with large, flowering bushes that will add delicious scents to your private retreat. If you want something less permanent, you can use large planters to create defined lines for privacy. There are a myriad of options in color and size, and you will be able to find a set that will complement your yard and fit your style. Another planting option that offers privacy but doesn’t take up extra space is to plant something at the base of your fence that will make its way upward. Climbing vines and flowers can create a charming space and a beautiful privacy fence.
Building for Privacy
If you want to create privacy without the upkeep that flowers demand, then there are options that you can build. An idea that combines both options would be to mount a variety of flower boxes on your fences or deck rails. This adds both color and privacy.
If you have an outdoor dining space (deck pergola, etc.), hanging outdoor curtains could provide a lovely outdoor retreat for gathering together. Perhaps you want to enjoy the outdoor space but still feel like it is a private dinner party. Outdoor curtains might do the trick and can be pulled back when not needed. Retractable screens offer that same option. There are several styles of these screens. This is an easy to install system that can be lowered and raised as you’d like to enjoy privacy and shade on your porch or deck.
There are also options for constructing dividers that will offer more privacy to areas of your yard. There are simple screens that you could build from leftover fencing materials or pallets. These can be fun DIY projects or purchased in a multitude of places. You can choose something large and permanent or smaller and transportable.
Being an active and connected member of a neighborhood is a wonderful goal. It builds community to get outside, swap recipes, and be with one another. This builds happier communities and families. Still, there is nothing wrong with wanting some privacy as well. Explore your options, and you will create a space that feels just right for enjoying the quiet and one or two. . . (we aren’t judging) delicious cookies. Then, share with your neighbor, even if they didn’t have to give you the butter.
To do our part to help make that possible, here’s the recipe to an amazing chocolate chip cookie.
- 2 cups flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup milk chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper).
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough ¼ cup (THAT IS NOT A TYPO–these are HUGE and amazing cookies!) onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.
- Bake for 16-18 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.