Best of the Web

A Year of Picnics Giveaway + Best of the Web

by Grace Bonney

Over the past almost 13 years of writing here at Design*Sponge, the greatest honor has been getting to work alongside some of the kindest and most creative people in our community. For three years author Ashley English helmed our Small Measures column (inspired her wonderful homesteading blog) and since then she’s gone on to write not one but TEN books, including her latest, A Year of Picnics: Recipes for Dining Well in the Great Outdoors (Roost Books).

Ashley’s latest book gets right to the heart of who she is and what she loves most: nurturing those around her. Over the years we all worked with Ashley, we got to experience firsthand just how much love she shares with others and how generous she is with her time and attention. Seeing that generosity of spirit carry on through her book series has been an absolute joy and her latest book, dedicated to seasonal picnics with friends, is Ashley’s heart in a nutshell. The book is filled with over 20 picnic ideas, separated into seasons and filled with delicious food and drink recipes (and tips for cooking and eating outdoors) like Smoky Chai with Cardamom, Rose Water, and Berry Coffee Cake. Today we’re giving away 10 copies of A Year of Picnics (!!) and all you have to do to enter is leave a comment here sharing a memory of your favorite picnic moment — or one you hope to have one day. (Mine is somehow clearing off the Brooklyn Bridge for one night, and making dinner for Julia and I to eat together and look at the city where we first met and fell in love). Until Monday, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend. xo, grace


Suggested For You


  • Summer picnic in the front yard … simple as grabbing a picnic blanket and putting a sandwich on a paper plate … then, watching the butterflies go by!

  • My favorite picnic memories are all of quick stops on beautiful hikes. Finding the perfect secluded spot with a great view is half the fun of hiking when you have a pack full of tasty cheeses, crackers and fruit!

  • My three-year-old granddaughter loves picnics, tea parties and princesses. How fun it is to picnic with her at the park while she collects rocks and sticks, looks for bugs, and enjoys the lovely spring weather.

  • I remember picnics at the park near the beach with my mother and father when I was really tiny. I’m sure the food was great, my mom’s food was delicious, but what I remember most was the blanket, a bright red plaid on one side and a super-cool leopard print on the other — which was, of course, the side I wanted to use. Now I have that soft and well-worn blanket, and I’d love to take it on a beach picnic with my little twin nephew and niece.

  • Best picnic was with my youngest child in the back of the car on a freezing cold and windy day at the park. Too cold to go out, but fun in the car!

  • I remember the first time I went on a picnic with my husband. Fried chicken, lemonade and potato salad with lots of smiles.

  • My favorite picnic moment happened one sunny day this May, where we rounded up some leftovers from the fridge and had dinner at a fabulous outdoor playground about a 20 min drive from home with our two little kids. What made this one special was not only that it was the first one of the year but it was our first picnic since our 4 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in Feb of 2017. We carb counted the picnic at home and did all the other diabetes tasks on the grass at the park and everyone was happy. Love a good picnic and not going to let a T1D diagnosis put a damper on that!!!

  • My friends and I picnic’d at a Shakespeare by the Sea event in Florida. Our wine, cheeses, and dinner were delicious and it was a great night and a perfect performance of Halmet.

  • We had cooler chests packed with fresh steamed lobster, littleneck clams and corn on the cob to take out on the docks in Provincetown, MA. Sitting and watching the buttery sun set over the boats with our bellies full of the sea was heavenly and so peaceful.

  • I was given a picnic basket full of cheese, crackers, and spreads as a gift a few months ago. I’m waiting for blue skies to use it! Congrats to Ashely on the book. Can’t wait to read it.

  • We took a picnic with us (me, my boyfriend and his two sons who live with us full-time) to a concert at the Oregon Zoo. Trying to find a concert we’d all enjoy was chancy but I went with “Weird Al” Yankovic and it was perfect! We had such a lovely picnic before the show and the boys got to act all grown up even though one of my favorite things about picnics is their laid-back feel. Luckily, Weird Al covers newer songs as well so we could all enjoy and I got a trip down memory lane with songs from my childhood. It was a lovely bonding experience and now that they’re 14 & 16, it’s laid a great foundation for our relationship.

  • When I was a kid in the 70’s our cool, creative babysitter set up a picnic on the living/dining room floor of our apartment. I’ve had lovely picnics in many outdoor settings but this childhood memory sticks with me. I hope I’ve done some fun things that my babysitting charges will remember fondly, as well.

  • We surprised our friend in england with a picnic at the little pond at Hanley Swan. Ducks came over to see what we had on offer. A vegan spread of green salad, cold pasta dish, hummus roll ups, cheeses, and homemade apple blackberry crisp.

  • My favorite memories of picnicking are a blur of packing up a cooler and heading to Ft. McHenry in Maryland with my parents and 3 other siblings. We’d bring frisbees and balls to play with, and stroll along the water when we were tired from running around. I haven’t picnicked in a long time, but I hope to change that soon!

  • My husband and I love to picnic in our local park and watch the kids running around! We always have ham sandwiches and a thermos of wine, perfect for sharing on a park bench.

  • My best picnic – we went up to a reservoir to hike with some friends and brought homemade bread and homemade pickles and fresh cheese. It was simple and so tasty and perfect for that fall day by a lake.

  • My favorite picnic moment is all the ones I shared with my parents growing up. They all blend together, but they all had similar things in common. For instance there was always a band playing. Lots of the small towns in the suburbs of Atlanta have summer nights were a coverband comes to play. We always had a blanket to spread out as well as a couple of lawn chairs. The camping chairs of today are much more comfortable than the metal and nylon chairs of the 80s. The last thing that all these picnics had in common was fried chicken. Sadly the chicken was never home made, but the sides always were. The chicken would come from Mrs. Winners because that was my moms fave. We would always have those tasty biscuits with it. Sides that my mom would fix would often be potato salad and some sort of fresh fruit salad because you have to have some “health food” to mix with the fried food. When I think of picnics I think of hot summers, background music, and fried chicken.

  • My favorite picnic memories are with my husband… before children. We would drive out of the city, through suburbia, and into the country and find random roads to get lost on. We always packed a picnic and enjoyed it together in the middle of nowhere. I look forward to the days when we’ll have this great time together again … until then, we’re introducing our toddler to the fine art of picnicking.

  • The first picnic I had with my husband, sitting on the rock wall in Kennebunkport, drinking wine, eating bred and cheese, and watching life go by.

  • My favorite picnic memory is from going to see the Cherry Blossoms in DC about 10 years ago when our son was just a toddler. It was such a beautiful day and one of those moments when everything was OK and I realize how lucky I was. <3

  • I come from a lineage of “picnicers”. Though raised in the military and moving every 2 years, I usually got to see my grandparents every summer or so. One of my grandmother’s favorites was to go to the lake on a Sunday afternoon and have a picnic. She was English so we had cold pasties or sandwiches and vinegar and cucumber salads. An old quilt and a tartan thermos of coffee for the adults and lemonade for us kids. We would swim, laugh, read and snooze.
    My mom carried on this tradition, weather rain or shine.
    I recently found an old family picture from the late 1800s, in it beautifully hatted ladies and dapper gentlemen picnicing. My ancestors- it’s in the blood!

  • That would be burritos in Dolores Park in San Francisco – introducing my new husband to the place I’d do ilicit substances as a teenager, looking out over my beautiful city homeland!

  • my best friend has a collection of antique picnic baskets – one of my summer bucket list items is to spend a day by the Atlantic Ocean together on a blanket. It’s been a tough year and I’d like to celebrate the good things. There’s a reason why Nova Scotia is called Canada’s Ocean Playground … we live for sunny days and salt air. xomeg

  • My favorite memory is my husband and I going down to Belle Isle , Detroit’s large Island Park situated between Detroit and Canada on the Detroit river! It’s a lovely place to go, sit under some willow trees and have a picnic with some wine on a nice summer day.

  • When my son was 2 months old, we went out for his first picnic. He was lying down on my husband’s lap, his eyes glued to our faces munching sandwiches. It was so difficult to get out of the house when he was that small. But the weather was perfect, and he was content.

  • I have two favorite picnics. The first one being the one my boyfriend prepared the first time he ever came to visit me (we use to live 3h away from each other). We had met once prior to that and it was such a great picnic with food so beautifuly curated.
    The second, is one my sister and I had while visiting Boston. We were suppose to go a concert but it was so hot outside, we decided to eat in the Public Garden and ride the Swan Boats. A really precious memory.

  • When my husband and I were dating and we were cash-poor university students, we used to go to the grocery store (Thrifty Foods!) and buy tortellini salad, bread, and chocolate milk. We would take our picnic to eat by the water in various locations around Victoria, BC, where Owen went to school. The Waterfront, Dallas Road, Beach Drive… It wasn’t fancy, but the views were AMAZING. And it was on one of those picnics, at Witty’s Beach, where he asked me to marry him. Such great picnic memories!

  • One particular picnic stands out in my memory. My partner and I hiked one of our favorite peaks, popped open a bottle of champagne and shared cheese and bread at the top.

  • On a first date wih my husband, he made a picnic lunch of egg salad sandwhiches and eclaires to be eaten by the Charles River. His apartment on beacon Hill had no stove and he wasn’t a cook, but I was delieiously happy anyway.

  • Best picnics are with friends and kids… got to have kids for the “joy and fun” of being outdoors and eating hand-foods and ice cream.

  • My husband and I had our first baby 14 months ago and have decided that we are completely over due for some “us” time. We immediately started saving and decided to book a trip to Paris (neither of us have ever been!) My perfect picnic would be spent with my husband in Paris in a not so crowded park where we can soak up the sun, hear ourselves think, and just relax! OH, and of course eat lots of cheese and bread!

  • My college friends and I packed up everything we needed for Afternoon Tea and then went to near by McClay Gardens to have a spring picnic. McClay has several different styles of gardens, but if you know the place as well as my friends and I do, you know that there is a secret garden tucked away among the gardenias a camillas. We spread our blankets in this natural cathedral, raised our pinkies high and indulged in the wonder that is homemade clotted cream and fruity scones.

    Someday I want to throw an over the top, Midsummer Night’s Dream themed evening picnic, complete with thousands of fairy lights, light summery dresses and flower crowns for everyone.

  • Picnics are truly one of my favorite things. I always have a couple blankets in the trunk of my car for spontaneous picnics by the beach or in a new park. My boyfriend and I also have something called picnic dinners when we don’t feel like cooking, which usually involve a loaf of bread, cheese, pickles and a lot of salami. As opposed to feeling like lazy grownups, giving it the name picnic dinners makes it feel playful and extra fun :)

  • I love a picnic in the Tallgrass prairie of Kansas when the wind is cool and the sun is warm. Even better is when the wildflowers are blooming. It’s easy to imagine what it was like when the grass spread across large swaths of the country and getting lost was easy.

  • My most favorite picnic was one that didn’t come easy. My boyfriend and I took a fall trip upstate and acquired many NY specialties like cider and gourmet cheeses. We decided on our way back to hike up Overlook Mtn in Woodstock with our goodies and set up shop on the top. Well let me tell you, that was NO easy hike. Of course he said it would take roughly 45 min, that quickly changed to 2 hrs going up an extremely steep mountain. Picture us with cider, basket, and walking sticks in hand and stopping every 15 just to catch our breathe. Hahaha I can laugh now, but back then I was secretly cursing him for misinforming me about the real struggle we had before us. But I digress…when we reached the top….breathtaking!!!! It was all worth it in that moment (like so many obstacles in life). We sat at the edge of the mtn and enjoyed our amazing cider w delicious cheese and crackers. That was by far the best picnic ever! 😁💕

  • Some of my favorite picnics are at Summer Music Festivals. It seems perfect that picnics and music go together so well for a laid back memorable evening. I would love to spend the summer traveling around the country going to see great music and testing out A Year of Picnics.

  • One of my favourite days to remember was having a picnic in the woods near my granny’s house. I was there, whith all my cousins and aunts, mother and granny, in the grass, collecting the most beautiful flowers, white bulbs that grew everywhere, laughing and running in the creek. It was a day that all those who where there remember and cherish, more now that my granny passed away and the marvellous place was long time ago neglected and is full of litter…

  • My favorite picnic memory was eating dinner waterside at the lake one lovely summer evening and watching a bald eagle fall from the sky, crash into the water, and re-emerge with a giant fish in it’s talons! It was truly unbelievable to watch!

  • My favorite picnic is yet to come. I’m looking forward to many picnics with our recently adopted 4-year-old daughter. :)

  • My favorite picnic was with my fiancee. We’d just gotten together, and a bunch of us went to the beach. We didn’t have a whole lot of food, and sand was everywhere. But it was such a perfect day.

  • We just had a lovely picnic this weekend! Easy food, beautiful weather … it was our little ones 1st picnic =) Looking forward to many more!

  • An impromptu picnic last summer is the first memory that comes to mind. On a bike ride with my boyfriend, we biked by fancy event with music, grabbed a few snacks and a drink and laid by the river and listened to their music! I’d love to plan a real picnic!

  • My favorite picnic memory occurred this year in the middle of May. It was near the end of finals week so it was a stressful time. But somehow my boyfriend and I managed to eke out some time to grab goat cheese, grapes, and a baguette (he has excellent taste in food). We then ate it in the garden situated in the middle of campus while enjoying the just arrived warm weather and sunny skies.

  • My favorite picnic was back in Turkey, two years ago. While we were hunting in villages for handmade kilim rugs, we found possibly the best view in the world. I am not sure how to spell it right but somewhere called mount olympus(?). I will never forget there and hopefully i will be back one day.

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