Dining outdoors is definitely one of my favorite perks of Summer. These shots from this month’s House Beautiful are a gorgeous example of an al fresco dining set-up; how fun is the window bar?

It has been a zillion degrees in my apartment for the past few weeks with this heat wave in Boston, which means I have been quite lazy with making dinners at home. I saw a recipe that required no stove time in this month’s  House Beautiful and it finally inspired me to cook something up besides take out. This recipe was a perfect simple summer meal;  I added on some grilled corn for a little extra color and flavor, and it turned out delicious!

This week’s 5 under $50 was inspired by one of the motifs we’re using in our wedding invites — anchors! It seems like they’re the shape of the moment; they’re on just about everything! These are 5 of my favorites for bargain, plus a bonus for your home (don’t you love the bottle opener?):

Bracelet ($45), iPhone case ($25), Bottle Opener ($9), T-shirt ($40), Espadrilles ($25), Earrings ($19)

Some of my favorite bloggers are sharing their summer entertaining essentials for being a savvy hostess this season, up next in the series is the master of the bar cart, Roxy, from Society Social:

Hi lovers!! I’m so tickled to be here sharing my summer entertaining essentials because a good social is what I love for! I live in New York City in a shoebox of an apartment so I’ve got to get creative considering the space constraints and I think a sunset picnic in the park is just the thing for the city girl craving big social style! In this case the park will serve as my living, dining, and bar area! Cheers to you!

Bamboo 21 piece insulated picnic basketWatercolor Picnic BlanketFrancis Ford Coppola Rose 2010Outdoor lanternsMonogrammed linen cocktail napkinsCroquet SetBose Sound Link Wireless Mobile Speaker

Last week I took a calligraphy class with one of my friends in Boston’s North End. I’ve always admired the delicate details of invitations and menus done in calligraphy and I was hoping to pick up the skill in time for addressing my own wedding invites. Here is what I learned: it’s a lot harder than it looks! It was great to understand all of the basic strokes and techniques, but I think it’s going to take a lot of practice before I start writing up cards on my own. I had lots of fun though, and loved looking at all of the different styles in Liz’s gorgeous studio space. For all of the Boston readers, if you’re interested in taking a class, check out Lettering By Liz — I recommend it!


I took a mini-break after the Fourth of July and made my way down to the Cape for the weekend. It was perfect Summer weather with warm days and cool nights, and plenty of beach time. I cautiously dipped my toes in the water (have you heard about the sharks?) and enjoyed spending some time with old friends over cocktails and BBQs. What sort of Summer fun did you have this weekend?

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My friend Navya, from the little flower cottage, is back posting her second installment in our flower series:

My husband and I throw an annual party and I like to make sure the house is feeling patriotic as soon as guest walk through the door — but you won’t find any store bought banners or dyed flowers here! To me, the Fourth of July is all about celebrating our American roots, so I think it’s a perfect time to break out a few of my vintage pieces to set the tone.  Since our party is pretty casual I’m often out back with friends (ice cold drink in hand) while guests continue to arrive — so this year these pretty flowers and vintage books will be greeting all our latecomers!

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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Last weekend my sister and I put together an Americana-inspired tablescape for a family BBQ. We incorporated lots of patriotic essentials like red and white striped straws for our lemonade and tiny American flags tucked into all white floral arrangements. It was a ton of fun and got me very excited for the holiday this coming week!

Now, ready for the best part? One lucky reader will win a party kit so you can host a patriotic BBQ too! Just leave a comment below letting me know how you’re celebrating the 4th of July, and I’ll pick one winner on Saturday to receive a package with striped straws, cupcake liners, American flags, and a few other surprises!

Want an extra entry? Follow me on Twitter @domestikateblog and tweet about the giveaway. Leave an extra comment below letting me know you’ve done so. Best of luck!

Update: Contest closed, congrats to the winner, Jess of Curating Style!