Two Daily Herald readers have recently been enjoying new outdoor living spaces, thanks to the Daily Herald's annual Get Your Summer On outdoor makeover package.
While winning major prize packages added a special luster to the summers of these two couples, 13 other readers received smaller packages of gift cards, and in some cases, mosquito treatments from Mosquito Hunters.
Shirley Allison of Des Plaines was the winner of the grand prize, valued at about $7,250. Tanya Miller of South Elgin won second place of outdoor furnishings valued at more than $5,800.
Allison, a retired teacher, and her husband, Larry, a retired police officer, mentioned in their entry letter that the patio of the home they moved into in 1989 was in desperate need of attention. They once had a plan to make it a lovely entertaining space for their family and friends, but their children's high school activities and expenses ate into their patio fund. Then the college bills came and the patio plan was moved farther down on the list of priorities.
Once the children were out of college, Larry developed health problems and was no longer able to tackle upgrading the patio. So it had devolved into a work area with lots of tools and yard implements stored behind the house, all of which needed to be moved every time they had company.
So Shirley saw the notice this spring about the Daily Herald's annual Get Your Summer On promotion and chose to enter, hoping to upgrade their outdoor space that had long been filled with furniture from big box stores and garage sales. And she hit pay dirt!
The Allisons won a Weber on Wheels catered party ($2,500 value), an outdoor furniture package from Steinhafels furniture in Vernon Hills ($2,000 value), an O.W. Lee fire pit from Northwest Metalcraft in Arlington Heights ($2,000 value), eight mosquito treatments of their yard from Mosquito Hunters and gift cards from Lurvey's Garden Center in Des Plaines, Northwest Metalcraft, Binny's Beverage Depot, Tony's Fresh Market and Blain's Farm & Fleet in Elgin.
"The whole experience was wonderful!" she said.
In an effort to create a patio seating area to complement their existing dining set, the couple picked out two love seats and two gliding chairs, all of which feature orange cushions on heavy, dark gray metal frames. They also purchased furniture covers to protect everything from the weather; a 9-foot crank umbrella featuring dark orange, ecru and charcoal stripes; and a low, square fire pit. An end-of-the-season sale allowed them to get all of that within their prize package.
From Northwest Metalcraft they received the fire pit for their yard. Mosquito Hunters will start their service next spring and the Allisons are still looking forward to shopping at Lurvey's and Blain's Farm & Fleet.
Over Labor Day weekend they invited family (including two daughters who live out of town), friends and neighbors to the catered Weber party in their refurbished yard. They used the Binny's and Tony's Fresh Market gift cards to supplement the party.
"We had 27 adults and eight children here for the Weber on Wheels party. The food was great and the staff was amazing. Our guests loved it and after the Weber staff left, things were so clean you couldn't even tell they had ever been here," Shirley said. "All of our friends and family were very impressed. The Weber staff even packed up all of the leftovers for us."
The meal included steaks, chicken, a mixed green salad, fruit, garlic mashed potatoes, green bean almondine, asparagus, red and yellow peppers, homemade kettle chips, pretzel rolls and, for dessert, cookie bars and round cookies.
"I had even bought hot dogs and hamburgers for the children and the Weber staff cooked those for us, too," Shirley said.
"Everyone just raved about the food and lingered long after the truck was gone. I loved it all myself, too. I am so glad that I entered the contest and our three daughters are thrilled for us."
Tanya Miller, the second-prize winner, is equally pleased with her new outdoor furnishings. Tanya is a teacher in West Chicago and her husband, Nick, is a tool-and-die maker in Carol Stream. They live in South Elgin.
In her entry letter, Miller said: "We currently have an unfinished patio, mismatched patio furniture and a small portable fire pit. We would really like to have a more welcoming and inviting space to spend time with family and friends. Our dreams include finishing the seating area, building a real fire pit and adding some nice lighting so we can keep enjoying the space after dark."
In response, the Daily Herald prize committee chose the Millers to receive a $2,000 gift certificate for outdoor furniture from Steinhafels in Vernon Hills, a La Paz waterfall fire pit from Northwest Metalcraft of Arlington Heights ($1,995 value), a $1,200 Toro lawn mower and gift cards from Northwest Metalcraft, Lurvey's Garden Center, Binny's Beverage Depot, Tony's Fresh Market and Blain's Farm & Fleet.
The Millers quickly got to work, shopping for their new outdoor space. At Steinhafels, they purchased a patio set featuring a couch, two chairs and a coffee table, all in light beige, as well as an outdoor all-weather rug featuring black and tan stripes. From Northwest Metalcraft they got the waterfall fire pit, which Tanya describes as "huge" and "awesome." They use it all the time, she said.
"My husband loves the new Toro lawn mower. He says it makes the task of cutting the lawn so much easier," Tanya added.
Lurvey's supplied the couple with mulch and plants for their new flower bed, as well as a decorative trellis they are using to grow ivy. They used the Blain's Farm & Fleet gift card to buy potting soil and additional mulch.
"Winning this was so much fun," Tanya said. "We really enjoyed shopping for everything and making our home's outdoors look great. It made such a big difference that now we are spending so much more time outside. Next, we need to host a big party to show it off to everyone."