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We are officially in that stretch of summer where you have to escape to the porch to keep cool! A few steamy days in a row and our house has warmed up enough that we were lying in front of fans while watching TV last night. In this day of Netflix and Tivo apps, I realized that it’s pretty easy for me to grab my laptop and enjoy a relaxing night on the porch watching an old flick while enjoying the cool evening breezes. Of course I like to take any good idea and turn it into a great one with a little bit of creativity and some themed snacks for a DIY outdoor movie night! IMG_4014 read more

Please note: This post was created in paid partnership with Time Inc. and Chinet.

A few weeks back I got the chance to work with MyRecipes.com and Chinet to film a little video sharing some of my favorite tips for throwing festive summer BBQs — using everyday items like bandanas and mason jars and Chinet products. We tackled everything from the table decor (a DIY no-sew table runner!) to setting up your BBQ buffet (with a festive plate weight and bandana napkins) to creating a no-bake, red white and blue dessert perfect for the Fourth of July (because who wants to turn on the oven on a hot summer day?). Check out the full video below, and read more summer BBQ tips on myrecipes.com.

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I am long overdue on posting a few highlights from a baby shower I threw last month — so overdue in fact, my guest-of-honor has had her baby girl since the party already! There’s a due-date pun in there somewhere, but let’s get to the decorations and the menu already. It was a brunch, so we set up a champagne bar with several different kinds of homemade simple syrups to mix-up self-serve cocktails. I added a few bottles of sparkling water too so mocktails could be made with the same flavors. There were tons of baked breakfast treats, and one of my favorite parts of the menu was mini yogurt, berry and granola parfaits that I chilled in tiny mason jars — they flew off the table! For decorations I went with a palette of pool blue, mint and peach for paper fans and garlands — all fresh, bright pastels that complimented the Liberty print paper goods I found for the table and pieces from my vintage jadeite collection. I couldn’t host the shower without a few DIY elements, and crafted up some mini “party-animals” out of plastic kids toys, gold spray paint, and party hats made from paper and pom-poms. I used them to decorate cupcakes and nestle in between the food and bar tables — the perfect little details for a festive baby shower! Colleens Baby Shower

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I just sent out on email to some friends inviting them to our first summer BBQ at our house. We moved in right at the end of Fall, so we’re experiencing summer with fresh eyes now that we have a yard and porch! I’ll be keeping the BBQ casual, but it’s just the start of summer parties and I have a tons of inspiration stored up for backyard soirees and warm-weather party themes. I’ve been gathering a few of my favorite outdoor party essentials to prepare: turkish towels for chilly nights, a brand new cooler filled to the brim with iced beverages, tons of lawn games, and festive napkins, plates and barware! Check out a few more of my ideas for your summer festivities below! Summer Party Supplies read more

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

In celebration of their “Kiss Clutter Goodbye” events this spring, The Container Store sent me some of the Laundress’ laundry and cleaning products to try (I don’t even want to open the packages they’re so pretty!!). Besides being adorned with an oh-so-cute black and white label, they’re a friendly reminder to get my spring-cleaning on, and the perfect place to start my new entertaining series: Modern Hostess! Hosting guests, throwing parties and all things soiree-related are what makes me happy, so over the next few months I’m going to start sharing a bit more about how I prep for parties, my favorite party tools and serving pieces, a fool-proof party planning checklist, and other entertaining tips. To start, I’m going to share a little bit about my pre-party cleaning routine.Laundress 32 read more

I haven’t quite celebrated St Patrick’s Day the same way since college – Lucky Charm cupcakes are a long way from my days of kegs and eggs and shamrock stickers on my cheeks. But one thing hasn’t changed, my penchant for playing with my food! Making these ‘lucky’ rainbow St Patrick’s Day cupcakes was a treat for my color-coordination obsessed tendencies, it felt like a nice therapy session sorting through the marshmallows and dropping them into like-colored piles.LuckyCharmCupcake read more

This weekend I threw what I hope is my first annual dip party. A dip party you say? What is a dip party? Well, a group of girlfriends got together, everyone bought a different homemade dip and we snacked and snacked and snacked! I had each girl send me their recipe in advance so I could make sure we had no repeat ideas (we had quite the variety, from asian dips to hummus to dessert dips!), and it gave me the opportunity to pick out some delicious  all-natural Food Should Taste Good chips to pair with them. I used a big tiered serving stand to display all different flavors (jalapeño, blue corn, and sweet potato were my favorites). I also used the recipes to make little recipe card sets for party favors, each guest brought home a stack of cards with each dip recipe to make again and again. I’ll be sharing some of the recipes here over the next few days!Dip Party 1 read more

How is it already 5 days into the New Year? I feel like I was in a mad sprint at the end of the year with work, holidays, and getting tons of projects done for our annual New Year’s Eve party. This was the first time hosting it out at our house, so we made New Year’s Eve an official housewarming party since many of our friends hadn’t seen our new place yet (and plus, it guilted them to drive out to the ‘burbs for the night, #realtalk). It was a totally different experience throwing this party than our past 5 years of apartment hosting. For starters, it takes a lot more time to clean and prep a whole house than it did an apartment; we also had quite a few guests sleepover so we had lots to do to fix up guest bedrooms and freshen bedding. On top of all of that, I didn’t have my party flow down — you know: the spot you always put the bar, the place you always set out the food — all of that was trial and error this time around. Oh and one more thing: we had construction going on in our kitchen and wet paint in our dining room up until about 20 hours before the party started — can you hear my panicked laugh?!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

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It’s here! It’s here! My favorite holiday of the year! I know people get all grumpy about New Year’s Eve because it usually involves an overly expensive dinner or a crowded bar, but that’s why I decided a long time ago to throw my own New Years bash and give all my friends the perfect plan for sending out the year in style and kicking off the new one just right. Call me a sap, but I love the idea of starting the new year with my best friends, doing what I love most: entertaining. It’s also one of my favorite holidays because it involves all things glitter and sparkle and confetti-filled. So if you’re hosting your own soiree this year, or need to add a little pop of celebration to a night in watching the ball drop, I’ve got a few last minute DIY ideas you can craft up. I worked on these with Julie of Posh and Prep who lent her expert calligraphy skills to make them a little extra special! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset read more