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

Ever since the weather has warmed up, we have been out on the porch grilling every change we can get. Over Memorial Day weekend we hit up friends’ BBQs, enjoyed a clambake at my parent’s house, and experimented at home with some new burger recipes. I am all about loading up a burger with a ton of tasty toppings and tested a burger that’s full of cheesy, avocado-y goodness. I mixed up a rustic ‘salsa’ with diced avocados, tomatoes, onions, roasted corn and scallions to top a burger melted with two cheeses: colby and pepperjack. I used Pepperidge Farm® Farmhouse Hearty Buns to hold it all together, these are key — they don’t fall apart under the pressure of all of these tasty toppings! The result was almost like enjoying my favorite nacho ingredients a top a juicy grilled burger on a fluffy, hearty bun (with some baked sweet potato fries for good measure!). Do I have you drooling yet? Full recipe below!  Burger1 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

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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