In case you haven’t heard, my friend Susan and I organize a food conference called Mixed. It’s a small boutique conference for approximately 100 food lovers bloggers that is held at Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia. You might recognize it from the movie Dirty Dancing. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading right now and look it up on Netflix, or Amazon Prime (what would I do without that) and then come back when you’re done because you don’t want to miss out on this GIVEAWAY! Not to be pushy or anything (because I would never ever do that would I) but it is one of the best movies of all time right underneath Pitch Perfect of course. We will actually be showing Dirty Dancing and another chicken flick (what’s your favorite? We’re open to suggestions) each night at the conference because we like to have just as much fun as we do learning. Pajamas and pillows are encouraged.
I’m kinda crazy for all things squash (I eat it, every variety I can get my hands on, and often) so it was only natural that I looked to the gourd family to inspire a little fall table-scape. I don’t like to go to any grand effort to dress up my tables but I do like to do something small and in season. That something for me needs to be: easy and LOW profile. There’s nothing more irritating to me during a meal (other than over cooked food and that’s just a given) than to have to bob and weave around a large centerpiece to try and have a conversation with your family or guests. Hence LOW profile.
I like organization. I wish my family had the same like of organization as I do but unless I break out the drill sergeant voice sigh they do not. I try to keep our main living area in order (not necessarily spotless mind you because who has time for that – just tidy and picked up, everything in their places) and I simply avoid the basement and upstairs as much as possible. It helps keep me sane. You can call it avoidance if you want. Lets not split hairs. A small thing I’ve done in my kitchen to keep my grocery list organized (no more notes laying around) is to paint a raised section of our kitchen door with chalkboard paint. I can’t tell you how much this has saved me from forgetting ingredients. When we’re out of something we grab the chalk and add it to the list. Done. It’s on the door so it’s not taking up any coveted counter space or my lack of kitchen wall space. Besides being used primary as our running GROCERY LIST, it’s a creative way to showcase your DINNER MENU or even DOODLING for the kids. Multi-purpose. It’s a good thing.
It’s back to school month around our neck of the woods !!! Yes I used three exclamation marks. I’m excited. The kids, not so much. They do however get excited about back to school shopping. I must admit I kinda get going myself about calendars, pencils, pens and the like. I’m old school in that way. I love to actually WRITE things in my calendar. As much as I love technology (and I really really do as my iphone is practically attached to my hip) there’s just something about putting pen (ehem or pencils) to paper.
Slip and slides were a part of my childhood. Every summer we’d go through several of them. We were rough and tough and usually after a few days of hard core competition they were torn to shreds. I was a sparkly tom boy (if that’s even a thing). We had the best time slipping and sliding all across the yard. Seeing who could go the fastest and the furthest. More times than not I came out the winner. I had a mean competitive streak and would practice my sliding until I was a raisin. Practice pays off.
Now that the weather is warm we spend a lot of time on our deck, which is located directly off our kitchen and faces our backyard. We’re fortunate to have a decent size deck that houses our container garden, a sitting area plus a dining table with umbrella and chairs. When the weather permits, we like to enjoy our family meals on the deck as well as entertain in this space. The deck overlooks our backyard which is heavily wooded and I can pretend that I’m in a tree house. One that just so happens to have plumbing. I’m not really the camping type, have I mentioned that?
A few weeks ago we got our started our container using Miracle-Gro Gro-Ables. Gro-ables are seed pods that provide an ideal growing environment for your seed. Each ready-to-plant seed pod contains growing materials, plant food and a specially selected seed from one of 17 different varieties including basil, spinach, cilantro, dill, sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes and more. All you need to do is plant your seed, water and enjoy watching it grow into something greater. Easy right?
It is finally spring! I can’t tell you how excited I am for sunshine, my garden and flowers! I’ve slowly been spring cleaning the inside of our house and now it’s time to focus on the outside. My front yard is let’s just say very natural. Our lot is extremely shady due to the amount of trees (practically a forest) we have. Trees mean lots of leaves to rake and limbs to pick up. On top of the piles of leaves and limbs, we also many many LARGE rocks (boulder size) peppered throughout the front yard. I’m thinking they were too large to move when the lot was being graded and someone thought they looked good (read not me). Sadly because of the shade we don’t have a ton of grass in the front yard besides a small patch by the mailbox. Cutting down trees (to allow more sunshine) is expensive so we’re looking into other ways to add pops of color and improve our curb appeal.
As one who cooks a great deal (okay a boat load) it’s important to me that I ALWAYS have fresh herbs nearby. In the spring and summer I typically grow them in containers on my deck which is right off my kitchen. It’s convenient and I’m able to make a mad dash mid cooking to snip exactly what I need. What’s not convenient are the oh say 18 or so containers that I have around every square inch of the perimeter of my deck. It’s kinda out of control. Until I discovered I could turn a palette into an awesome vertical outdoor herb garden.
I’m of the opinion that you always have more to learn. Taking classes is a great way to do that. One thing I’m always striving to improve is my photography. While I have come a LONG way since I started my blog five years ago I still am not where I would like to be. Have you heard of the website Craftsy? They offer online classes that are taught by world renowned instructors. Since Craftsy classes are ONLINE they’re available to you anytime (read you can take them in your pajamas) you want for as long as you want, there are no scheduled class times, so you can enjoy them entirely on your own schedule. Each class is taught by an acclaimed instructor and consists of several hours of HD-quality video content.
Do you know what Valspar’s Pantone color of the year is? It’s Radiant Orchid. “Radiant Orchid blooms with confidence and magical warmth that intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination. It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple—one that draws you in with its beguiling charm. A captivating harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid emanates great joy, love and health”
This post brought to you by Starbucks. Opinions are my own.
Brunch is the perfect easy entertaining scenario. I like brunch because there’s not as much pressure as there would be say hosting a dinner party. Plus there’s COFFEE, lots and lots of COFFEE. Something everyone who knows me knows I’m very passionate about. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays behind us now is actually the perfect time to host a casual brunch for friends and family. To catch up, chat about this and that and consume copious amounts of coffee and culinary creations. That’s exactly what I did last weekend.
Sometimes it isn’t WHAT you’re making in the kitchen that’s important – its that you’re in there with your family and friends MAKING memories that you will treasure for a lifetime. Now that’s important. Cooking shouldn’t be a scary process. Just get in there and have fun. So what IF you burn dinner (it happens to all of us). You have a laugh, make a sandwich or go out for dinner. Well unless it’s $25 lb diver scallops and then it’s okay to shed a few tears. But let’s not talk about that. Cooking isn’t rocket science (thank goodness because that I’m NO good at). Nobody starts out being an excellent cook. Being good at cooking is like being good at anything else. Practice makes perfect, at least with this kind of practice you get a snack.
My kids just went back to school from Christmas break. Despite having many new toys to play with thanks to Santa they still expected wanted to be entertained. Since I absolutely suck at wii games (with the exception of bowling where I rule) and I made more Rainbow Loom bracelets than I care to admit (double fishtail anyone?), I needed a back up plan. One that was preferably on the cheap and didn’t require me to leave the house (have you seen the traffic). In comes homemade play dough.
This post brought to you by Arm & Hammer. Opinions are my own.
Let’s just face it, going to the dentist isn’t high on anyone’s list so I try really hard to make sure that everyone in our house brushes and often. Sadly that’s not an easy chore for me. Does anyone else have to fight with their kids to get them to brush their teeth? Sigh. To keep the whining, moaning and groaning to a minimum I’ve found that spin brushes seem to help. Arm & Hammer has a few fantastic options. For the kids, try Tooth Tunes – Two minutes of music in your mouth. Tooth Tunes is the only toothbrush with Music in your Mouth technology. Just turn it on and start brushing. Dancing is completely optional.
This post brought to you by Starbucks. Opinions are my own.
I love a good party don’t you? I believe the secret to a successful party, no matter the size, is planning. Yes homework it’s something we have even after we finish with school. I know that Christmas is now behind us and New Year’s Eve is literally right around the corner but I’m not ready to put away the festivities just yet. I’m looking ahead to a winter BRUNCH that I’m hosting next month. Brunch is that magical meal that lets you choose from your favorite breakfast items and lunch items. It’s a marriage made in meal heaven and perfect for easy entertaining.
This post brought to you by Scotch-Brite. Opinions are my own.
It’s no secret that I HATE to do dishes. At all. If there was a contest to see who could use the least amount of dishes when cooking/baking I’m pretty sure I’d be on the podium. Thank goodness there are things to help me out with those dirty dishes. You know the ones that you thought you buttered up well enough, or sprayed them in every nook and cranny. The ones that you’d almost rather leave in the sink overnight than try to tackle. Like say ooey gooey cinnamon roll pans?
I’m one of those people that eats ice cream and frozen treats year round. I might be doing it curled up on the couch under a blanket watching HGTV but I’m doing it. Take that winter! And clearly I’ve passed that trait onto my kids because they HAVE to have popsicles and ice cream in our freezer at all times. It’s a thing and I’m guessing because the freezer aisles are stocked with more options that you can shake a stick at that there are a lot more people out there like me too. Naturally when the folks at Outshine asked me to give their seasonal limited edition fruit bars a try I jumped on it.
DIY HOLIDAY FLOATING CANDLES , DIY CINNAMON CANDLESand now Rustic Log Candles. Are you sensing a theme? Am I that obvious? Yes, okay it’s true I happen to love candles. Both of the previous candle posts have been extremely popular posts so I’m guessing y’all like candles as much as I do. Since we’ve established our love of candles, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and stock up on tea lights because I see we’re all going to go through a wagon full.
It’s December and I’m kinda in shock to be honest. I blinked and it’s almost a new year. I’m going to TRY very hard to slow down and enjoy this month that naturally happens to be full of social gatherings and soirees. It’s no secret that I do love a good party and details. I love details. Parties are made in the details. It’s those little extra touches that make a big difference. They don’t however have to break the bank.