Last weekend was a multi-day celebration of my husband’s birthday; I am a firm believer in the “birthday week” over just one night of festivities. We planned to kick off the weekend with friends heading out to a concert (Huey Lewis and the News played, and yes they were awesome). To me, one of the best parts of outdoor summer concerts is the tailgating before the show. We were heading to the event with friends, and we own a tiny car that isn’t ideal for this type of pre-concert picnicking. Luckily Enterprise CarShare reached out me about trying their car-sharing program in Boston and it was the perfect opportunity to borrow an SUV that would hold our friends and concert tailgating spread!IMG_4313 read more

Do you have a go-to warm weather recipe? The one you default to when it’s just too hot out to cook? I think this is my new  heat-wave dinner default, a summery panzanella salad packed with local, fresh ingredients that would make any farmer’s market wanderer proud. Panzanella always reminds me of Ina Garten, she’d say to use “good” olive oil and sprinkle giant sea salt flakes on top, so I like to channel her when tossing this together. What makes this panzanella different? Lots of sweet fresh corn — it’s the best this time of year and adds so much flavor and color! I served it with a few pieces of rotisserie chicken (didn’t even make it, I cheated and snagged one from the grocery store! Another great way to beat the heat!) and drizzled it with olive oil and salt and pepper to dress it up the flavors. I know this dish is going to be on repeat all the way through Labor Day.IMG_4161 read more

I tend to hit a cooking slump during this time of the summer. It has been terribly hot the past few days and I glance over to look at the stove like it’s going to bite me if I turn it on. Instead of phoning it in though (literally, I considered phoning in a pizza), I’ve been trying to take this heat wave as a cooking challenge — can I create tasty treats that also keep me cool? That’s where this idea came in! I took the elements of a nice chilled antipasto plate and made them into dippable skewers, laced with some chilled provolone, tortellini, tomatoes and olives. I made my own pesto for the dipping sauce (I just throw in garlic, basil, pine nuts and olive oil and keep adding until the consistency looks right) — try Ina Garten’s recipe if you like to be exact with proportions! They chilled down in the fridge for a bit until they were ready to bring to a friend’s pool party and proved to be the perfect cool snack.IMG_3985 read more

Last week I was sitting down at my computer to do some last minute planning for my vintage treasure hunting trip to Brimfield and I realized there aren’t many resources online for folks that haven’t been before and want to know what to expect. I remember the first time I went and I had no idea where to park, where to shop, or what it would be like. So I thought I would share a few of my tips for future Brimfield attendees, as well as some photos from my antiquing at the July show! IMG_3931 read more

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

I have been endlessly eyeing these chic straw market tote bags with gigantic bright pom-poms on them. I scroll through instagram and see them popping up in style bloggers’ posts and on celebrities, but I couldn’t justify spending an arm and a leg on what is essentially a beach bag. I decided to try and make one myself after sourcing some inexpensive straw market totes on Amazon. Making the pom-poms is super easy, but since these were so big and there several of them to make, I decided to finally invest in a pom-pom makerand it was totally worth the $7. The pom-pom maker made the DIY process go super fast, and I think it created a much more dense, uniform result. After making each pom-pom, I simply used two pieces of the string to tie a pin to the back of each one and attached them to the tote bag (hot glue would work too, but I liked the flexibility of being able to switch around the colors, or take them off all together!).  With all of them materials, the whole project came in under $40 — and I think it looks like a million bucks! (If you don’t have a pom-pom maker, follow these instructions to make them by hand).
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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