Weekend Bits – Links I Love

sunsetI hope everyone is having a fun and festive holiday weekend.  Today I’m struggling to get back into a routine after spending a week with my family doing nothing more than lying on the beach and deciding where to have dinner each night.  To ease the transition back to the real world, I’m going to download my vacation photos and relive some of my favorite parts.  While I have hope that I’ll create a photo book, I may also try one of these non-scrapbook ways to capture our vacation (except maybe the photo lampshade – ha!).

Even though the United States is out of the World Cup, it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some amazing soccer.  And it’s a great excuse to throw a summer party that has a different spin than the typical backyard BBQ.  Check out these fun party tips for hosting a World Cup watch party.

Speaking of barbecues, I love this roundup of new twists on some classic recipes.  I’m definitely going to try these sweet tea ribs – yum!

You’re not doing summer right if you haven’t enjoyed a popsicle yet.  Here are 10 delicious options if you’re looking to try something outside of the traditional Bomb Pop.



Summer Throwback

lightening bugs

Summer is in full swing and there are plenty of trips to the pool planned along with a vacation to the beach.  But I also want to celebrate the season by sharing some of the simple things I did as a child during the summer with my kiddos.

Family bike ride to the ice cream shop – When I was growing up, my family lived a mile away from a quaint creamery called Adams Dairy.  One of my favorite summer memories is the family biking to the dairy on warm summer nights to enjoy an ice cream cone.

Catch lightning bugs – Firefly or Lightning bug? In the Kansas City suburb where I grew up, it was most definitely a lightning bug.  I loved catching lightning bugs in a jar with the plan to use them as a night light in my room.  Somehow when I woke up each morning, the lightning bugs had “escaped” back to their natural habitat.  Not sure my parents were as into my night light idea as I was.

Picnic at the lake – I love Subway and Jimmy John’s as much as the next person, but there is something to be said for making your own sandwiches at home and using a real picnic basket.  And there are plenty of local lakes to choose from in my beloved landlocked city.

Go to the drive-in – I can remember riding to the drive-in in the back of a pickup truck loaded with pillows, blankets and friends.  These days we’ll strap in with our seat belts for the drive there instead of hanging on to the edge of a truck bed, but we’ll still enjoy a movie in the summer air.

Water balloon fight – We used to celebrate the last day of school by playing Red Rover (anyone remember that one?) followed by a water balloon fight.  Not sure that my kids will take long drinks from the hose as they fill their balloons like I did back in the day, but they will love having a water balloon battle with friends.

Pick-your-own fruit – I enjoy going to the Farmer’s Market but this summer I want my kids to experience picking their own fruit (literally).  Growing up, we had an apple tree in our backyard to snag a snack from.  Luckily there are several local orchards nearby where I can take the kids to pick everything from strawberries to peaches.

What were some of your favorite summertime activities as a child?  Share some of your experiences below or sound off on the firefly vs. lightning bug debate 🙂

image: princesscourts.tumblr.com

Weekend Bits – Links I Love

linksilove 6.7.14Swimming at the pool, a lemonade stand and sleepovers, summer vacation has officially started at my house.  We packed so much into the first week that I’m using this weekend to recover and gear up for week #2.  One thing I’m giving a little more thought to is healthy summer snacks to pack for the pool.  I typically throw a bag of pretzels and some Twizzlers in my pool bag and call it good.  When I read this list of healthy pool snacks, I was guilted into putting a little more effort into my snack packing.

Speaking of the pool, if you don’t have a swimsuit picked out yet you need to check out this next link. It features 111 swimsuits for every taste, shape and budget.

And from swimsuits I jump to food.  Not the best segue, I’ll admit, but it’s how my mind works. 🙂  Fish tacos are one of my favorite meals to order when dining out so I’ve been looking for a version to try at home.  This recipe for spicy fish tacos with cabbage slaw + lime crema looks ahhh-mazing!

Father’s Day is next weekend so it’s time to brainstorm some ideas if you haven’t already found the perfect gift.  Here are affordable ideas for the dad who has everything.

“Tropical, creamy and sweet, but not too sweet” is how this mango coconut & orange vodka crush cocktail is billed.  It sounds like the perfect beverage to try for the next adult night at the pool.




Summer Sangria

Nothing says summer like hanging out on the deck or at the pool sipping sangria with friends.  My favorite recipe is a lighter version of the traditional ruby sangria because it’s made with white wine rather than red.  I serve it in a clear beverage jar so I can load it up with lots of colorful fruit like lemons, limes and oranges.  It looks as good as it tastes.

Cheers to summer!sangria 1

Summer Sangria

1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. triple sec (or other orange liqueur)
1/2 c. brandy
2 (750 ml) bottles dry white wine
1 (750 ml) bottle club soda, chilled
1 c. lemon, thinly sliced
1 c. lime, thinly sliced
1 c. orange, thinly sliced
*you can also add kiwi, strawberries and grapes – almost any fruit works!

In a large chilled pitcher, combine sugar, orange liqueur, brandy and white wine. Cover and refrigerate for 2 1/2 hours. When ready to serve, slowly stir in club soda to taste. Add all fruit and some ice.  Pour a glass and ENJOY!





How Does Your Garden Grow?

I learned several valuable tips from my husband’s grandmother (like the fact that mayonnaise can help get adhesive tape off a dining room table after your toddler decides to “scrapbook”.  But that’s a whole different post….). The one that I follow year after year is her rule of thumb for spring planting in the Midwest: always wait until Mother’s Day when the threat of a late freeze has passed.  With Mother’s Day in the rear view mirror, I’m in full planting mode this week.  Here are some of my tried and true container combos for partial sun, full sun and shade.plant 1Partial Sun: Most of my deck is heavily shaded but the corner where the container above sits gets a few hours of sun each day. When designing my containers, I almost always follow the thriller, filler and spiller approach.  In this case my thriller is red gerber daisy, my fillers are the Blue Rush juncus (center) and white angelonia.  My spiller is blue lobelia.

plant 2Shade:  I have three pots of the above arrangement in corners of the shaded area of my deck.  After several years of failed attempts to grow shade loving blooming flowers (like impatiens), I gave up and went for gorgeous foliage instead.  I center a small fern in each pot and add my favorite coleus plant around the sides.  This year I used Chocolate Covered Cherry (picked it for the name alone!).  Coleus has become my go to shade plant because of it’s interesting leaves in varying colors.  I have a serious thing for coleus.

Plant 3Full Sun:  My driveway gets 7+ hours of sun each day.  Whatever I plant in the 4 planters that flank my garage doors has to be the toughest thing going because they take a beating.  Kansas City summers are hot (August, with it’s consecutive 100 degree days, will suck the life right out of you and the plants). I always go back to the same simple combo because I know it works and will give me the color I’m looking for well into October. I use a spike in the center for filler and height, red geraniums for consistent color (thriller) and sweet potato vine as my spiller.  Within 3-4 weeks, the sweet potato vine will have climbed at least 6-8 inches out of the pot and be down to the pavement by the end of June. Love it!

I should have mentioned at the beginning of the post that I don’t plant high maintenance plants or flowers. I’m good about watering but I really don’t do much beyond that.  I like easy, breezy flowers that thrive with little help outside of regular watering.

I’d love to hear what some of your favorite combinations are so please share.  Happy Planting!




Weekend Bits – Links I Love

audrey2On the day that would have been Audrey Hepburn’s 85th birthday, I had to share one of my favorite quotes from the actress. Great food for thought as we start another week.

Handmade Mother’s Day gifts are almost always more special than anything you can buy at a store.  I love this roundup up 20 creative ideas for DIY gifts.  And to further reduce cost, you can print gorgeous floral gift wrap with this free template.

If you’re in a pinch for time, Red Envelope offers unique Mother’s Day gift ideas here.  Their categories of Modern Mom, New Mom and Grandmother make it easy to narrow your search.

Add a twist to your Cinco de Mayo meal by making these Margarita cupcakes.  Lime cake with lime tequila buttercream . . . wow!

If you buy an old dresser from the flea market or Craigslist, you can take it from blah to beautiful with these 10 DIY ideas.

Sangria is one of my go to cocktails for summer entertaining so I can’t wait to try this recipe for Grapefruit Sangria.

Kate Spade has collaborated with Keds to update two of their classic styles with floral and geometric prints.  You can see the collection here.


image: imgquotes.com




Weekend Bits – Links I Love

may dayimage: Chasing Fireflies

When I was a wee tot, I loved picking flowers for May Day, leaving them on a neighbor’s porch and then “dinging and dashing” away.  Most of the time my little arrangements included dandelions but it was the thought that counts, right?  Help your kiddos out by printing out the cone and tag in the picture above with this template from Chasing Fireflies.

The warm weather we had this past week (and the fact that swimsuit season is only 5 weeks away) has me looking for lighter recipes.  I tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to salad ideas, making the same few favorites over and over.  I’ve been searching for some new options and first up is this Romanesco & Chickpea salad recipe.  I’ll definitely be adding the optional smoked salmon and soft boiled eggs – yum!

Got leftover Peeps and peanut butter cups from Easter last weekend?  This never seems to be much of a problem at my house but I do love these 10 creative ideas for using leftover Easter candy.

Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner.  Check out this  colorful “Nachos” bar for a fun way to celebrate.

Speaking of Cinco de Mayo, here is the latest margarita recipe I plan to try in my quest to find the best.

Magazine pages, records and postcards are just a few unique things you can decorate your walls with. Here are 11 alternatives to artwork.

Win, Place or Show…here are my tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby Party.



Kentucky Derby Party

The “most exciting two minutes in sports” makes for a colorful and festive party theme.  Equestrian style is huge right now which makes finding fun decorations easy.  I co-hosted a Kentucky Derby luncheon last year with friends and our biggest challenge was deciding what decor ideas not to use.

The Kentucky Derby is known as ‘The Run for the Roses’ because of the blanket of red roses draped over the winning horse.  Incorporating roses into your decor for this party is simple and makes an elegant statement.  We picked up several bouquets at a warehouse club (Costco or Sam’s) and used them as the main centerpieces like the picture below.  We borrowed horse show ribbons from a couple of friends whose kids compete.  You can also buy show ribbons on ebay from sellers like this one.

kd tableimage: Sandra Clark

If you can borrow a vintage trophy cup or find one at a flea market, it’s a perfect prop for this party.  Or if you are willing to splurge a little, you can buy an authentic looking option here. For the 2nd look below, go to your closet and pull out a pair of tall black boots.  Fill them with roses and you’ve got instant “wow” factor.

kd rosesimages: (l) CelebrationsAtHomeBlog.com (r) Spoonful.com

Traditional Kentucky Derby fare includes southern flavors and plenty of bourbon. There are lots of fabulous options to choose from, but below are my top 4 “must serve” items for your Derby menu.

kd menu1 Mint Julep // 2 Hot Brown // 3 Benedictine Spread Tea Sandwiches // 4  Kentucky Derby Pie (image: acozinhacoletiva.blogspot)

I tend to get caught up in the food and decor but there is actually a race going on!  Set up fun wagers by printing this list of the contenders for each guest.  You can make this complex by taking win, place and show wagers but we took the easy route and had each person choose the winner only.

Because the race is short, you’ll want to have a few activities planned like a game of backyard horse shoes or a best hat contest (as you likely already know, big hats are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby).  Or do what we did and make hats as one of your activities.  We bought basic straw hats from a hobby store along with supplies like feathers, ribbons and faux flowers and had plenty of glue guns on hand. This also eliminated guests feeling stressed that they needed to go out and buy a hat before the party.hat

For a party favor, fill a mint julep cup with Junior Mints and tie it off with a rose.  You can buy mint julep cups here.

mj cupimage: Fashion Meets Food 

 Now you’re off to the races . . .


Easter Brunch

Is there anything better than brunch?  It gives you the freedom to put together a menu that’s a mash up of your favorite foods and alcohol is usually involved (Bloody Marys and Mimosas – need I say more?).  To me, Easter and brunch go together like bunnies and eggs (oh, wait a minute…). Regardless, you’re going to need sustenance for those egg hunts and there are endless options when you decide to host a brunch.  Below are a few recipes that I’m chomping at the bit to try.  Enjoy!

Easter Brunch1  Asparagus, Spinach & Feta Quiche // 2  Potato Salad with Dill Aioli // 3  Fruit-Granola Parfaits // 4  Absurdly Addictive Asparagus // 5  Perfect Deviled Eggs // 6  French Toast Roll Ups // 7  Strawberry Crush Mimosas // 8  Lemon Cream Cheese Monkey Bread


 burlapimage: My Home Lookbook

Leading off this week’s roundup of favorite links is a simple DIY project (pictured above).  Buy burlap from Hobby Lobby, stamp a design on it (stamps and ink also available at craft stores) and wrap it around a coffee can (or any size can you want).  Fill it with a floral arrangement and you’ve got a unique vase made by you!

To a world that seems to be against carbohydrates, I say sometimes you’ve got to indulge a little.  If you’re a like minded individual, try this Strawberry Basil French Toast recipe.  It looks simple and delicious.

I pick out a new pair of sunglasses every spring but it’s almost as difficult as picking out the right pair of jeans.  Before you shop for your next pair of shades, check out this guide for the most flattering sunglasses for your face shape.

Looking for a creative way to set your Easter table?  Here are 28 easy DIY tablescapes to give you some ideas.

A few years ago, a friend of mine picked up some window panels at Lowe’s and they looked fabulous in her home.  It opened my eyes up to the idea that you can find so much more at a hardware store than nuts and bolts.  This link highlights some of the very cool home decor that you can find at Lowe’s right now.

In the latest designer collaboration, Kohl’s has partnered with Peter Som to offer high end looks at lower prices.  His collection is in Kohl’s stores starting April 10th but you can see the lookbook here.