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Finding a time when my husband and I can get time off to take a camping trip together is tough, heck, it’s hard enough to get one night together! But the promise of a romantic evening glamping in our own backyard makes it a little easier for both of us to clear our schedules.
But why go backyard glamping? Because I prefer the privacy and convenience of being close to home, so there’s no packing, traveling, and the expenses associated with camping. Plus, let’s face it, having a real bathroom just steps away is my idea of luxury – I hate traipsing to the public toilets in the dark in my PJs at campgrounds.
Because it’s so rare that we get to spend time together, I wanted to make our glamping experience special, so I upgraded our accommodations to a two-person hammock. I knew it would be the centerpiece for our outdoor adventure, but it sure wasn’t romantic bare, so I started planning the rest of our event a few days before. Of course, I didn’t want to go too girly with the decor; I tried to stay middle-of-the-road with practical decorative items for my husband and a few romantic ones for me.
DIY Backyard Glamping – Planning & Prep
The first thing I did was scour the house for blankets, linens, and other decorative items that were safe to use outside. They needed to be able to keep us warm because, after a sweltering 80°+ degree day, it can easily get to as low as 55° at night. Plus I wanted them to add a lot of color and patterns, even in the dim light.
I have an abundance of teal and blue around the house including throw pillows, an outdoor rug, and a tablecloth, so that’s the color scheme I decided on. I did buy a canopy, something I’ve always wanted, with the excuse it was to keep mosquitoes at bay. We don’t have many these pesky flying pests; I just think it looks romantic.
Food & Wine
Next, I needed to figure out what snack we’d enjoy. We’re not S more’s people – I’m a vegetarian, so no marshmallows for me and my husband’s not really into sweets. For us, it needed to be savory, easy to eat on a moving platform, and something we both enjoyed. Hummus and pita chips seemed a natural choice, and I added Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon. Their Single-Serve Stacked Wines are the perfect pairing for our glamping experience because the non-breakable glasses with easy pull-off tops don’t require anything else along to enjoy them.Robert Mondavi has been creating wines for over 30 years and they’ve created an easy way to take good quality wine on the go thus providing convenience without sacrificing their quality.
I also decided that we needed more lighting than the single candlelit lantern that we had. Sure, we have LED lanterns in our emergency kit, but those are not romantic in the slightest. I also knew that using real candles were out of the question because my husband, the fire captain, has forbidden them. I did sneak in two real candles and he worried about them falling over and catching everything on fire, so that was a mistake on my part and took away from our time together – lesson learned.
Permanent Marker Watercolor Glass Lanterns
Thankfully the rest of the candles were inexpensive battery operated LED tea lights that lasted more than 24-hours. I put them inside a ragtag bunch of jars I collected from my mom. I wanted an eclectic mix of sizes and shapes, but you could certainly use all Mason Jars (choose the colored version if you’d rather not hand color them).
While the jars were soaking in hot, soapy water, I spray painted their lids with car paint – the color my husband uses to cover dings on his 1982 Datsun Pickup. Yep, he still drives it every day. The paint covers fantastically in just one coat, but it must be used outside. I put the lids in a box to prevent overspray, and then left them there to dry.
I went back to the jars and found about half of the labels still firmly attached. I silently cursed the glue makers and after rinsing and drying them, I used adhesive remover to finish the job. I washed and rinsed them again and set them aside to dry.
I assembled my supplies: Sharpie Markers, rope, a paintbrush, hammer, Phillips screwdriver, scissors, transparent tape, plastic wrap, battery-operated tea lights
Using permanent markers (Sharpies work well), I colored the clean jars in a variety of ways. I color washed the inside of some jars by coloring them with a Sharpie and then using a paintbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol to turn the marker into a thin liquid that I could brush or roll around inside the glass. The trick is to use as little alcohol as possible so that it dries quickly. If you don’t like the color, add more marker and more alcohol and keep trying until you find a shade you like. The new alcohol will dissolve the dry layer(s) and mix the colors together to create a new one. Or wash the jar with warm soap and water and after it’s dry start over again.
I also created simple patterns on some of the jars. Stripes, flowers, or whatever design you like. The markers are far from permanent on the jars, even when they’re baked or allowed to cure, so unless you wear gloves, you will get ink on your hands.
That also means anything you set them near may get ink transference as well. The longer they dry, the less that’s likely, but they’re never truly permanent, and they can be washed clean in the dishwasher. I appreciate that the color is temporary because that means I can reuse them for other things. If you want a true permanent application (though there’s nothing that won’t come off of glass if you rub on it), use glass paint or Sharpie Oil-based Markers. They’re very pricey and don’t come in many colors, and they can’t be blended as easily as the permanent markers.
Perfection isn’t necessary here – it will be dark – but if you’re a stickler for straight lines and perfect shapes, you can use tape to create lines, though unlike paint, you can’t tape over an area you’ve already colored with marker. You could tape inside if you coloring on the outside or put a stencil on the inside and draw it on the outside. I go with the homemade, shaky hand look.
After all of the jars were colored – some were left plain and just color washed, others had so much decoration you could barely see inside – I started on the lids. I put a hole in the center of each lid with the hammer and Phillips screwdriver, using a thick block of scrap wood to keep me from going through the lid and damaging the table below.
Once the lids were ready, I cut 24″ of rope for each glass lantern, using a piece of translucent tape to wrap around the rope and cutting through the center of it so that the ends didn’t fray. I cut my 12 pieces and then I started putting them through the lids and knotting them to stay in place.
Because I wanted the lights in the top of the lantern, I needed to attach them upside down to the lid. But because I chose to take the easy route of punching a hole instead of tying loops around the outside of the jar (which would also use twice the rope), it meant I had to suspend the light down inside the jar. I think this works great because it gets the light closer to the bottom where we’d see it better. Remember, we’d be looking at the lights from below.
To accomplish this, I took a piece of cling wrap, stuck the flame of the tea light through it, and then placed it upside down in the mouth of the jar. I pushed it gently, just until the bottom of the tealight was below the rim of the jar. I made sure the plastic wrap was tight and then I screwed on the lid, again, as tightly as possible. Once in place, it was easy to tear the extra wrap away from the jar, but you could also cut it.
Putting it All Together
As soon as all of the lanterns were assembled, I had my husband hang them in the trees above the hammock. I asked him to vary the heights and place them randomly around the hammock. I wasn’t allowed to do it because it required the use of a ladder and I have a habit of falling off of things because of my neurological condition. I probably should have stayed and supervised his work because somehow he managed to get all of the yellow lights on one side and blue on the other. Go figure.
Instead, I was inside gathering my glamping decor and after the lanterns were hung, the outdoor rug and plants put in place, it was time for me to dress the bed. First, I covered most of the hammock with a large piece of teal burlap. It helped set the theme for the evening. Next, I took two queen size pillows and placed them in the center of a large teal tablecloth. I rolled them tightly, creating one long round pillow, and using hair ties, I slipped them over each end to keep the fabric in place. I turned the extra fabric back over itself to create a finished edge. This enormous pillow was placed in the back and provided the foundation for everything else.
I put three velvet throw pillows in place and finished it with a lumbar pillow I made a few years ago for my husband that has our initials on one side and our wedding date on the other. Then I added a blue, white, and teal quilt with a Sherpa lining, a colorful round cotton blanket, and a lacy throw to provide a little romantic touch.
I added a string of white lights with star-shaped paper mache covers for even more lighting and loaded a tray with Woodward white and red wine plus our hummus served inside a red pepper along with pita chips. The tray was decorated with seashells, starfish, and raffia as well as another real candle inside a holder we purchased on our trip to Sedona, plus plenty of battery-operated ones as well.
Backyard Glamping – The Reality
That’s it! It was time to relax and enjoy our work. It was a beautiful evening and romantic under the canopy of the tree. We enjoyed the wine and chips, marveled at what a beautiful day it had been, and reminisced about trips we’d taken in the past.
But after an hour my husband’s back started bothering him, so I gave him a pass and sent him inside to our very expensive and comfortable king size bed.
I stayed outside and watched a show on my tablet under the canopy then I snuggled under the blankets with Gracie, my 5-pound Maltese who was very confused about it all.
Within 30 minutes I remembered why I hate camping….everything, including me, was covered in dew. Done with being cold and wet, Gracie and I joined my husband inside.
The best thing about glamping? A warm and comfy bed is ready and waiting when you’re ready and there’s no drive of shame home from the campground.
Have you tried the new Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon Stacked Wine 4-pack? What event would you enjoy them at?