Our Deck Makes Everyday a Party

The Party Deck

The Party Deck

One of the things we did right when we built The Little House is add plenty of outdoor living space so we could enjoy our natural surroundings while relaxing.
Dale and a neighbor built our deck onto our house in the burbs, but we quickly realized after hosting our first BBQ that a 10 x 12 deck doesn’t give you much room to move – particularly when your husband owns 4 BBQ grills.

When we built The Little House, lesson learned, we added a 24 x 10 party deck to the back and a 24 x 6 covered porch to the front of the house.Now I have plenty of room for patio vegetables and it also gives us room to entertain during mild weather, which is pretty common here in the Ozarks. We even spent one fair weather New Year’s Eve on the deck looking at the stars until midnight.
We also use the party deck for a lot of cooking. I guess you could say we had an outdoor kitchen before outdoor kitchens were cool!
In the city, we ate out at least three times a week, sometimes more. We had drifted from the ritual of cooking together and enjoying meals in our home.
Being here in The Little House has given us an appetite for eating at home again.
On the nights Dale isn’t working, we use mealtime – from the planning and shopping, to the preparation, to enjoying the meal – to bring our separate days together and wind down. Every dinner is something we’ve accomplished together and feels like one of celebration.
Most of the time, either the preparation or eating (or sometimes both) happens on the party deck. We have dreams of building a real outdoor kitchen adjacent to the deck someday, complete with a fireplace, running water and other amenities, but for now, the party deck is part of what make The Little House, Home.

If you would like to grill something spectacular this holiday weekend, here’s a recipe for Bacon Wrapped Grilled Tenderloin:

Take one medium sized pork tenderloin and wrap it completely with bacon. Use toothpicks to hold the bacon on the meat. Place in a shallow dish and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight in a garlic marinade (we use Ken’s). Turn once to ensure the marinade soaks completely through all of the meat. Grill over white-hot coals (not open flame) for approximately 1 hour, leaving the grill covered and turning the meat at least 4 times. You can eat it with the bacon (removing the toothpicks, of course!) but we take the bacon off and give it to the dogs. For us, the bacon is simply to hold in the flavor and juices of the tenderloin. Slice the tenderloin into 1-2 inch medallions and serve with potato salad and baked beans.
Bon Appetite!

Today’s Poll: Where in your house is your favorite place to enjoy food or entertain?

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16 Responses

  1. Alberta Daw says:

    Alas! Years ago our screened porch was enclosed with sliding glass doors, heated with ceiling radiant heaters and the concrete floor leveled and covered with Mexican tiles.
    This was because the oldest of our five children had attained the age of boyfriends and needed a place where the younger children would have no excuse to come.

    We still have the patio which is great for entertaining and overlooks the garden. A bit too cool in winter, though!

    • Kerri says:

      You should add a 1-room heat pump system that cools and heats like the one we put here in the writer’s studio so you can enjoy it in the winter too!

  2. My favorite place to entertain at my house AFTER summer, of course (since I’m in Arizona), is on the back patio. I also like my loft. I have an upstairs deck off the loft that I’d like to enlarge some day. Right now, it’s just too narrow. I envision a deeper space, with iron railings around the edges, rather than the stucco wall it has now. I like open spaces. Your place seems to have that. Nice!

  3. Kim says:

    Hi! We have a front porch on our old house that’s great, but the mosquitoes swarm around most nights in the summer. I have plans for a screened in patio some day (a la the Florida Room @ the Jamaica Cottage Shop), but for now, we literally “eat and run” back inside to escape the bugs.

    • Kerri says:

      We have a total of 3 porches – the deck, a covered porch on the house and a covered porch on the writer’s studio. I think I would like to see one screened in someday too – just for those nights when the bugs won’t leave us alone! :)

  4. Mark says:

    Nice post, Kerri. I rebuilt and enlarged our original 12×24 deck to 16×34. Also replaced the 5/4 decking w/ alternating 2×8,2×6,2×4,2×6,2×8 and so on prior to putting a roof over it all. Although it was framed to be screened, we love the openness and use the space as additional living/eating space for 3 seasons. 2 4’x4′ sky lights add all the lighting needed other than candles. No problem w/ bugs even with trees and stream nearby–looking forward to trying the pork recipe

    • Kerri says:

      Thanks, Mark! A deck with a roof and skylights? Too cool! I think you and my husband would get along quite well. :)
      Let me know how you like the tenderloin.

  5. Kim says:

    This is a great post. I don’t think you can have a big enough deck – it’s great for entertaining. Our problem is the bugs on our deck> We love to eat out there, but the bugs devour us. Maybe you have less bugs than we do?

    • Kerri says:

      Kim,
      We’re in the middle of the woods with the lake about 100 yards below the deck, so I don’t think we could have less bugs. I’m wondering if it has to do something with the smoke from the BBQ grills (Dale usually has more than one going)? We also light about 4 citranella candles before we sit down. Still, we do sometimes have to fight the flies, which have been horrible this year.

  6. Kathy Winn says:

    Kerri- we built a deck on the back of our house just this past spring. I wish we’d done it ten years ago! I love taking my journal out there and writing to the sounds of birdsong and cicadas. When/if we build at our land, the outdoor spaces are going to be very important. I haven’t been eating meat (not gone long enough without it to call myself a full fledged vegetarian) so won’t be able to try the pork tenderloin, but the carnivore in me thinks it sounds delicious!

    • Kerri says:

      I also love writing out on the deck – taking my laptop out and thinking how lucky I am to be working from here and not in some gray corporate cube!
      Taking my Country Living magazine out there on a sunny Saturday afternoon is a real treat.
      Good luck with the non-meat commitment. I did it for 9 months once, but when you’re husband won’t go for it, then it’s hard to plan a meal. I sneak in 2-3 meatless dishes a week though!

  7. MarthaandMe says:

    We built a deck this size onto our house too and love it. We put in a Sunsetter awning over a large part of it and the screen room attachment. Before that, we didn’t use it too much – too many bugs, the sun was too hot, etc. But now this is an extra room for us in the summer and we usually eat out there.

    • Kerri says:

      My husband would love to put a roof on the deck, but I keep telling him it’s unnecessary as we have the covered front porch. Still, it would be nice to not only have it roofed – or have an awning and the screens sometimes. We tried eating out there earlier this summer and the flies converged!

  8. Kerri says:

    The great thing about the south is that we get to enjoy the outdoors through much of the fall too. I agree, it has been cool here too, but at least we didn’t have many days with that unbearable humidity we get here!
    Let me know how you like the recipe!

  9. Wendy says:

    Great post, Kerri! I love our backyard living. It’s one of the best things about summer. We have a canopy of trees over our deck and this summer it has almost been too cool. :)

    Thanks for the recipe. Sounds delish!