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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Well, would you look at those two nerds taking a selfie with Elvis? (My husband is a saint for agreeing to my antics, don’t you think?) We just got back from another road-trip adventure, our favorite vacation ritual. We flew into New Orleans for a few days and decided while we were there to take a quick excursion to Memphis for the day to see Graceland and get some local Memphis flavors (read: BBQ!). Graceland was everything I hoped it would be, tacky and over the top. The house itself is actually sort of small by today’s ‘mansion’ standards but the interior design was hilariously gaudy and rich. One of the best parts is that you can tour the inside of Elvis’ two planes and check out his massive car collection too. Graceland was the main Memphis attraction, but we also stopped into Central BBQ to try one of just about everything on the menu (my favorite was the pulled pork).

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I volunteered to make a pasta salad for a friend’s Memorial Day BBQ and decided to dig for inspiration to mix up my stand-by recipe. I found an old Martha Stewart antipasti pasta salad recipe and gave it my own spin with a few different ingredients. It wasn’t an exact science — I tossed radiatore pasta with balsamic vinegarette and lots of salt and pepper. Then I folded in a handful of chopped tomatoes, capers, provolone cubes, a jar of green olives, diced salami, finely minced red onions and lots of torn fresh basil leaves and chopped chives. It was a hit and will likely be the new ‘stand-by’ pasta salad for BBQs this summer!

I couldn’t bear turning the oven on in our apartment this weekend, (it’s been quite the heat wave) so I had to get creative making a dessert to bring along to a friends BBQ. I picked up a frozen cheesecake at the grocery store and chopped it up into small cubes, and layered the cheesecake bites with fresh blueberries and raspberries in pint-sized mason jars. To make them look a little more special, I used cut up fabric pieces from bandanas to top the lids, and used washi tape to affix mini spoons to the jars. We kept them in the freezer right up until they were ready to be served, and the result was a cool, handheld treat for our day by the pool!
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I kicked off the July 4th celebrations a little early this weekend, taking in some local fireworks, bbq-ing with friends (how cute are my friend’s mason jar drink dispensers?) and spent some time by the waterfront looking at the tall ships. I’m ready to take on the week, mostly because it’s a short one — here’s to making it to the mid-week holiday!

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I’m very excited to kick-off a new series on the blog today where some of my favorite bloggers are going to share their summer entertaining essentials for being a savvy hostess this season. Kicking off the series is my new friend Sarah of Chevrons and Stripes!

I was so excited when Kate invited me to guest post on my summer entertaining style because I absolutely live for the summer social season (phew, that was a lot of s’s)!  I’ve spent every summer since I was born at my parent’s beach house in Bridgehampton, NY and below are a few of our BBQ and bonfire essentials.  Stock up folks, because beach season is upon us!

1| levain cookies, 2| nickel lantern, 3| white pillar candle, 4| slate cheese board, 5| elderflower cordial, 6| mini sparklers, 7| faux bone servers, 8| rope pitcher, 9| table tennis set, 10| opal glass vase, 11| chevron blanket 12| mortar & pestle, 13| shells for decorating the table