Working by myself, it took a total of 2.5 hours to (a) move the plants off of the patio (more tomatoes and cantaloupes to harvest - whee!) (b) take down the existing umbrella & remove the patio chairs (c) haul the sukkah-construction-stuff outside (d) erect the sukkah, and (e) get all of the tables and chairs together and set up.
We hosted two large (9-10 ppl) and one small meal, and were able to do this without using a single piece of disposable plastic or paper. I'm pretty happy about that: this is a first for us this year, and it entailed a whole heck of a lot of dishwashing, but it's worth it to me. I like to think that the first duty of a conservative is to conserve.
This was also a grill-heavy weekend: grilled chicken and kebabs for friday night, planked salmon for saturday night, and burgers for sunday. Mmmmm.... rea'ah nikhoah laSHEM... (c.f. Leviticus 1:17 for the pun). I also made applesauce (recipe below), and that was a big hit as well.
I really like sukkot as a holiday - I get a strong sense of the feeling of being under God's direct protection and providence. In addition, the prayers particularly speak to me: the hoshanot are probably the oldest consistent prayer form we have - the parade around the reading desk with the arba minim (four species, not four sectarians) has been a contiguous form since the first temple days. All of the other prayer forms we use - the silent prayers, recitation of psalms the way we do them, piyut (liturgical poetry) are developments of comparatively recent vintage - only up to 3,000 years old (psalms, but the big change was the eschewment of instrumental accompaniment 2000 years ago), and in some cases as few as 500 years (many piyutim).
The hoshanot themselves are meditative rather than rational - this is part of why many prayerbooks leave them untranslated, because translations completely fail to capture the essence of what it is that makes them powerful prayers. I think there is a similarity between the meditative nature of the hoshanot and that of the end of the selihot service - the aneinu, for instance, has the same type of alphabetical meditation as today's l'maan amitakh, but the way it feels is quite different. Aneinu is said at a frenzied pace each person by himself, where we are begging God for our salvation on an individual level and hoping to get our request in "under the wire." Hoshanot, by comparison, are stately, with the leader chanting a phrase to be repeated by the congregation during the processional. This is a call for communal, rather than personal, redemption. The different words used in the repeated chant (aneinu = "answer us", hosha na = "please save us") go to the different emotional states - being answered necessarily preceeds a petition for salvation.
David's Applesauce (cooks for 8-10 hours)
12-15 apples of various varieties (I tend to get 4 granny smith, 4 gala, and then the rest whatever happens to look good at the instant - recently it was courtland/honey crisp/rambo)
ground cloves, ginger, allspice, nutmeg
Peel the apples and coarsely chop them (not the cores, because cyanide isn't your friend). Toss them into the crock pot, add several shakes of cinnamon and a pinch of the other spices. Add about a shot of water (just enough to wash a little of the spices to the bottom), and cook on "low" overnight. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. After the time has elapsed, remove from heat, stir well, and enjoy.