Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 53° Partly Cloudy

Water cooler: Cozy outdoor refuge as close as your yard

The patio area directly adjacent to the house is seen on a sunny May 29, 2019 at the residence of Jim Jackson and Nancy Caputo in Spokane, Wash. The property features one acre of intricate landscaping with many fountains, peaceful nooks for sitting, and a wide variety of flowers and vegetation. Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
The patio area directly adjacent to the house is seen on a sunny May 29, 2019 at the residence of Jim Jackson and Nancy Caputo in Spokane, Wash. The property features one acre of intricate landscaping with many fountains, peaceful nooks for sitting, and a wide variety of flowers and vegetation. Libby Kamrowski/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
From staff and wire reports

The sun has finally returned to the Inland Northwest making for a welcome break from the indoors. Taking walks and going to parks is lovely, but having an outdoor space at home is a great way to continue social distancing while you get some fresh air.

Here’s how to take your outdoor space to the next level so that it can be a worthy quarantine hangout space.

Make it private. With a lot of us feeling more like a hermit than ever, having an outdoor area tucked away from public view makes for a cozier quarantine spot as you reintroduce yourself to the outside world. This guarantees that you can even continue to wear the same pajamas every day without anyone knowing while you replenish your skin’s lacking vitamin D. Choose an area of your home that is out of sight or add a trellis to use as a privacy screen. If a trellis isn’t your style, most home improvement retailers offer a variety of privacy options in many styles, like paneled partitions, garden fencing and privacy screens with modern designs.

Create a sense of space. Whether you have a small or large amount of space, it’s always great to have items that help break up the area much like you would do in a studio apartment or loft. Furnishings like chairs and tables are the functional elements that create a space, but using outdoor carpets, umbrellas, partitions and decor items help set the intention for the usage of that particular area.

Don’t forget the lighting. The daylight hours are getting longer, but don’t forget about nighttime ambiance. String lights come in every shape and size these days so pick your favorite for an easy lighting fix. Overhead light is great for pragmatic lighting, but it’s nice to have lighting in smaller and more specific areas too. Add lanterns with candles (real or battery powered work great) or even a small lamp in the more intimate and cozy areas to create an enchanting feeling outside. Another great thing about smaller lighting fixtures is that they are less overwhelming on your eyes in the dark and it won’t intrude on stargazing.

Forget running back inside to freshen your beverage – be at the ready with an outdoor bar. You can have a bar that just serves as a drink-making station, or you can make it large enough for people to sit at if you have the space. You’ll want the basics, like glassware, a wine key or bottle opener, towels, utensils for cutting up garnishes, etc. but you can expand your possibilities with a drink dispenser, a cooler or ice bucket, snack supplies, a kettle for warm drinks and maybe even a drink list or custom drink menu. Obviously you have to limit guests according to the reopening phase, but it’s a good alternative for those who want to enjoy a drink with a friend without having to go out.

Bring the fire. Fire features can be elaborate or very simple, but either way they are a patio essential. Not only do they help add to the lighting, they put off warmth and give you outdoor cooking options (if you can count making s’mores and roasting hotdogs as cooking). Purchase a standing fire pit or for a smaller scale space, make a mini fire pit using a terracotta or heat safe bowl lined with aluminum foil.

Use nature to your advantage and bring plants into your space. Potted plants are great for defining certain areas and can even be used to help add privacy if they are large enough. They bring color and fragrance to a space while making it feel even more tranquil.

If you don’t have a porch or patio, you can create one easily by using gravel, cement pavers and stepping stones. Pea gravel is affordable and easy on your feet.

Be ready for bugs. Do yourself a favor and have bug repellents at the ready in your outdoors space. There are infinite choices out there for deterring bugs like the classic zapper lanterns, ultrasonic devices, candles, screens and more. One option that is cheap and uses natural materials – smoke. Any smoke at all works to deter bugs, but you can add an extra punch by smoking slightly dampened herbs like mint, sage basil, lavender and lemongrass. Even having those herbs planted in the area helps deter pests.

Brain train

Test your knowledge with today’s trivia question

What character does Josh Gad play in the “Frozen” movies

  • Sven
  • Plop
  • Elsa
  • Olaf

Thursday’s answer: 1793

Lord of the Rings

Josh Gad is at it again, bringing people together for a much-needed dose of lightness and childhood nostalgia.

Next on the docket, everyone’s favorite Fellowship. Sunday the cast of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy will reunite for the next installment of Gad’s “Reunited Apart.”

In his YouTube series, Gad has already brought together the cast and crew of “The Goonies,” “Back to the Future” and “Splash,” featuring guests like Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.

The videos are a delightful mixture of tongue-in-cheek rehearsed bits, fan service with the cast reenacting legendary lines, plenty of casual chat and perfect music queues for a polished production and optimum amounts of heartwarming nostalgia. Gad makes for a goofy and high-energy host, and that combined with the playful editing makes every video a blast to watch.

The teaser Gad posted for the video that reveals his next guests – Astin (again), Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom and of course with the most dramatic entrance of the group (queue bowing), Sir Ian McKellen himself.

People are undoubtedly pumped as the teaser video brought in over 800,000 views the day after it was posted. Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy was released between 2001 and 2003, and its fanbase has probably only grown since. It continues to be one of the most widely loved group of films and has reached nearly every corner of pop culture.

Although the teaser only revealed six cast members, Gad has been known in previous videos to bring in a surprise guest or two, like directors, writers, veteran actors and other people who worked on the film like Joe Pantoliano and Robert Davi who play the infamous Fratelli brothers, director Richard Donner, J.J. Abrams and even Cyndi Lauper.

Visit Josh Gad’s YouTube Channel at 9 a.m. to catch the “The Lord of the Rings” cast and see what surprises await you.

Map quest

The internet changed traveling forever

Not only are maps somewhat obsolete for the everyday traveler, but the whole traveling media industry has completely transformed. What was once reserved for books and television is now found on YouTube channels and Instagram accounts almost everywhere.

Many signature vistas and in-the-know spots are now readily available online. Photos and videos encouraging people to “wander” are ubiquitous. So if you’re in need of a little wandering within quarantine restrictions, you can at least get it virtually by taking to the internet for a bit of escape. Here are some great traveling shows available on YouTube to give you a taste of something new and exciting right at home.

Bald and Bankrupt: Follow Benjamin Rich to the rarely seen remnants of the former Soviet Union to explore the lives of people living amongst political and cultural reminders of the past.

Indigo Traveller: New Zealander Nick Fisher travels some of the most misunderstood areas of the planet, curating a Youtube channel with a human-focused lens. With a down-to-earth attitude Fisher approaches and chats with locals almost effortlessly. He explains on his channel bio, indigo means to skip around barefoot with your head in the clouds..

FunForLouis: Louis Cole has amassed over 1,800 videos of his travels and is at the top of the list of popular travel Youtube channels with over 2 million subscribers. All in the name of adventure, he puts out videos with titles like “Skid Row Festival of Love” and “Inmates Cook Me Dinner Inside Columbian Jail.” It may be a bit baity, but it’s hard to resist seeing what situation he finds himself in next.

Eva zu Beck: This is one of the most encourage travel channels to watch because it highlights the accessibility and amazing fun of solo female travel. She rides a motorbike in Yemen, camps alone in Oman, skis in Pakistan, and travels through Syria in 2019 thanks to some recently relaxed tourist restrictions.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Spokane7 email newsletter

Get the day’s top entertainment headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.