I really can’t believe Memorial Day is in just two short weeks, spring sort of zoomed by in the blink of an eye and summer will be here before we know it. I’ve got some summer activities on my mind this week because I partnered with Better Homes and Gardens to create a series of summer recipe cards for their BHG Summer Guide! The recipe cards are available to the winners of their summer party box, featuring lots of fun items for summer entertaining (enter for a chance to win!).DSC_0097 read more

There was a glimmer of summer that happened this week when the sun was out and the temperatures hit the 70s and I was delighted. I started to get that early summer buzz where I want to skip through the farmers market, spend every ounce of daylight outside on the patio, and get my summer BBQ on! You can say this recipe is like training for those summer BBQs; I’m getting my creative juices flowing and trying to think of new spins on the classic summer party sides. My family loves a pesto pasta salad so I took a crack and giving it an update with a mint and pea based pesto, tossed with Prince Pasta Medium Shells (did you know 38 of Prince Pasta products are now Non-GMO Project verified?). Shells are a clear choice because their little shell pockets get filled up with bursts of pesto and cheese and fresh peas. My hope is that by packing the recipe with fresh herbs and veggies, it’s slightly healthier than our traditional pesto pasta salad recipes — and it’s bursting with fresh summer flavors. Full recipe below:PeaMintPasta1 read more

We’ve been busy chipping away room by room at our house to bring things up to date, I still feel like none our rooms are totally “finished” (let’s be real: will I ever?), but gosh are things starting to look better (aka a little more 2016 and a little less 1974). Figured it was about time to finally share some updates here, starting with our kitchen. We outsourced two major projects in the kitchen over the winter: removing the coal stove that took up a major part of the room’s footprint, and installing new hardwood floors — bye bye to the linoleum straight off the set of That 70’s Show!  Those two projects have already made it into a totally new space. IMG_2182 read more

Don’t worry Mom, there are no gift spoilers in this blog post, just a simple DIY idea for a gardening-inspired Mother’s Day gift. We’ve been busy updating the yard and patio to get ready for enjoying our first summer at our house. It’s so exciting to have tons of outdoor space after living in the city for a decade. While I have a well-known penchant for killing even the most durable of plants, I have been wandering the outdoor living aisles at some of my favorite stores thinking about having a garden, and that’s exactly where this idea came from: a Mother’s Day gardening kit. I started with a terra-cotta pot as the base, and filled it in with gardening tools, gloves, and herb and flower seeds; some tissue paper and an oversized burlap bow finish it off! I think this would be such a sweet gift to give your mom, grandma, or mother-in law along with a pretty plant or flowers for her garden. It takes about 5 minutes to assemble, and you can grab all of these items at Target or your favorite hardware store. What are you gifting mom this year for Mother’s Day?  DSC_0192 read more

I’ve so been busy writing about Cinco de Mayo celebrations this week that I’ve almost let a few last-minutes Mother’s Day DIYs slip by (Mom, I swear we love you more than margaritas!). I created my own mom-customized wrapping paper for Mother’s Day gifts. Start with a roll of white paper — try the craft store for ‘banner paper‘ or a shipping store for white packaging paper — and start scrolling out the word Mom in various sizes with a thick marker. The fun thing about this project is you can be really loose with it, it looks put together because the patterns repeat, but aren’t too perfect or precious (if you have kids give them a try at practicing their writing!). What worked best for me was using the king-size sharpie marker, and rotating the paper to get the writing at different angles. It can be totally customized — does your mom have a fun nickname, or do you kids call her variations of Grandma? Write those on too! When you’re done, wrap up the present and tie it with neon twine — I grab this hot pink twine at the hardware store (or purchase it on Amazon if you’re a prime-addict like me!). DSC_0007 read more

When I was visiting my family recently I told my mom I’d be in charge of the signature cocktail for a get-together she was hosting. The proximity to Cinco de Mayo left me no choice, I had to go with a margarita. My mom agreed, but noted that her friends may not be as adept at holding their tequila as I am (I’ll take that as a compliment!) so I decided to experiment with a sangrita recipe — margarita inspired with a sangria flair. I made this in a big batch so it was easy for guests to self-serve. Start with a clear pitcher and 4 limes quartered and squeezed in the bottom. Next I poured in about 2 cups of ice, 2-3 tbsp of sugar, 1 cup of tequila (or more, depending on taste!), and 2 bottles of Izze Sparkling Clementine. Stir it all up and let it sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes to chill and combine the flavors. When you’re ready to serve, pour a glass halfway full of the margarita mixture and top with a light, crisp rosé (try a sparkling rosé too!). A few festive straws are all you need to finish off the drink (PS: how cute is my mom’s Target bar cart?), and luckily between the two of us we have a life-time supply of those!
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When Martha Stewart says it’s time to make something better, you listen up! The team at Martha Stewart Living sent me a little care package this month with a challenge to add a few new tricks and treats to my week, and I’ve been digging in to try them all out! The project at hand was a DIY chalkboard menu, and oddly enough, for a girl that has packed decoupage and glitter in her overnight bag before, I’ve never used chalkboard paint! It’s a DIY mystery how I’ve made it this far without chalkboard-ing something in my home so I was eager to try out these Martha Stewart Crafts products. IMG_2754 read more

We’re coming up on one of my favorite excuses to consume excessive amounts of margaritas and Mexican food, Cinco de Mayo! To get in the holiday spirit I decided to play around with some nacho recipes (It’s a tough job people, but someone has to do it!). I really like the idea of nachos being a full meal, because I usually feel just full enough after eating them that I don’t really want an entree (but then I’m like, did I really just eat a bowl of cheesy chips for dinner?). My solution: add the full meal to the bowl of chips! I stepped out to our new grill (my current favorite toy) and grilled up some skirt steak, corn, and baby peppers. All of that grilled flavor adds such a great element to the nachos, and you get your protein and veggies in!FSTG Cinco De Mayo Steak Nachos 1

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Life goal: find ways to make pasta more healthy. I could seriously eat pasta for every single meal, but know that I shouldn’t! Salt for Life and their team challenged me and a few other bloggers to come up with healthy recipes featuring a few key ingredients (like our own version of Chopped!). This is my second recipe in the series, check out the avocado-toast appetizer I created for my first recipe.CornSwissChardShells1 read more

Everywhere you look there’s a girl instagramming her avocado toast. I’ve seen more avocado toast on the internet than macarons lately, and that’s really saying something. So I start this post with a disclaimer, this isn’t an avocado toast, it’s California Bruschetta. So very different, right? I was going to call these mini-avocado toasts, but my husband walked in to scoop one off the tray mid-click of my camera shutter and asked — “what is this? California bruschetta?” He gets full credit for naming this one (and truth be told, he has a lot of great ideas that end up on this blog that he doesn’t always get credit for).  California Bruschetta 6 read more