Last summer, my bestie and I had a girls night and picnicked while watching an outdoor movie in the park. We both kicked ourselves for waiting until the end of the summer to finally do it, and I made a promise to myself that this summer I’d do it much more often. We live in a small apartment, so it’s not convenient to store big coolers or picnic baskets — I usually just grab a small tote and fill it up with a few essential picnic ingredients: 1) A cozy blanket — I love the Gunn & Swain Mexican blankets. 2) A few festive drinks — IZZE sparkling juices are tasty, and all you have to do is pop them open, no need to cart around glassware (but striped straws are encouraged!). 3) Snacks! I hate having to bring a knife and cutting board for a cheese plate – the less we have to carry, the better. To solve for this I took a mason jar and layered ingredients to make individual cheese plate ‘kits’ — this one has mixed nuts, dried apricots, sharp cheddar, salami and crackers. 4) Bring some cloth napkins, they’re eco-friendly, and since they’re a bit heavier than a paper napkin they won’t fly away. Throw it all in a fun tote, grab your sunnies and girlfriends, and you’re ready for a day in the park! izze picnic ideas 3izze picnicizze picnic ideas 2
 

Please Note: This post was sponsored by Izze; all images, ideas and content are my own. 

I am absolutely terrible at packing my lunch for work — I try to bring leftovers every once in a while, but I tend to prefer heading out for lunch to get something fresh. When a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More showed up in my mailbox though, I figured it was good motivation to make something tasty to bring along with me to work this week. The book has lots of good tips for layering salads and meal ingredients in mason jars to keep them fresh and crisp (dressing on the bottom, and pack down ingredients over it to keep other ingredients from getting soggy!). I took inspiration from the book’s caprese pasta recipe and made my own version: spinach tortellini with pesto, mozzarella, grape tomatoes, red onions, grilled corn, and more tortellini on top — the flavors melded together great!

ADSC_0177ADSC_0198AAA ADSC_0195

Last week I was run down and had a terrible cold, so I was determined to use the weekend to recharge. To me, there is nothing more relaxing or comforting than being in the kitchen, so that’s where I spent my time. I stayed in Friday night and baked up lots of treats, including mini mason jar apple pies, and sea salt caramel apples — both for a little Saturday project I helped style with two my good friends (more pictures coming soon!). And Sunday I let a hearty kielbasa and white bean soup simmer in the slow cooker all day — which made our apartment smell delightful. It was a delicious and successful attempt at a relaxing weekend.

Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam Processed with VSCOcam

Ready for the last installment of Handmade Holidays? There is no sweeter gift than homemade treats! 

Remember when I said this was the easiest DIY holiday present? I lied — it gets easier! Grab a package of Tollhouse chocolate chips from the grocery store and using the recipe on the back measure out all of the dry ingredients, layering them one by one in a mason jar. Next, write the recipe out on a pretty piece of paper and stick it on top of the jar, and finally, adorn the front with a personalized message and some ribbon (I printed my message out on Martha Stewart Avery Labels). How easy was that? Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Handmade Holidays Gift ideas here, here, here, and here!

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!

Want to keep up with the rest of my adventures? Follow me on Instagram and Twitter