Summertime means a lot of eating on-the-go for our family. It isn’t the running to and from activities like the school year, but the good stuff like picnics with my people, poolside lounging and road trips to the neighboring Michigan beaches.
Thankfully, the fresh produce and deliciously grown convenience food that we all love is in season. A container of cherries shared by the pool, bunches of grapes on our car trips, and strawberries by the fistful in the sunshine until we think we might turn into berries ourselves. It’s all such good stuff, isn’t it?
Salads are my go-to in the summer thanks to their amazing portability factor. Not only do I love fresh green salads made with romaine or spinach, but I adore a healthy topping of quinoa on top for that protein punch.
*This post is sponsored by Universal Pictures. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
We have had so much fun preparing and hosting our MINIONS Backyard Bash in honor of the film’s launch on July 10th! Today we want to show you how we decorated for our party, the fun goodie bags we got to share with our friends, and an easy cupcake minion you can create for your very own party (no decorating skills required!).
In the new film, you get to go back to where the story of the Minions all began! Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, the Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters-from T. rex to Napoleon-the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a terrible depression. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob decide to seek a new boss to follow and decide to make a journey to find their new master. This is where they meet their new potential master, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock- yay!), the world’s first-ever female super-villain. They travel from Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in London. It is here that they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.
We can’t wait to see this family-friendly film together and were selected to help throw a party in honor of this film’s launch. #luckyducks
We got an incredible package in the mail that included all the party supplies we would need to execute our backyard bash as well as fantastic party favors that included adorable beach towels, beach balls, and PlayDoh sets for all of our guests.
The only thing we really needed was Mother Nature to cooperate with our plans.
Unfortunately, it has rained for two straight weeks in Indiana so we had to move this party indoors and enjoy the fun inside instead!
We weren’t going to let a little rain ruin our party though! We outfitted our table in blue and yellow to go with our theme. I let my kids do the decorating while I prepared our snacks. The goggles, of course take center stage in this set-up. We secured a set of adorable goggles to each of the chairs with a little washi tape for each person to take home. Our centerpiece was also adorned with goggles and we even stapled some together to make a goggle banner over our table.
Lemonade, popcorn, and cupcakes were served for a little rainy day magic together.
The Minions are a hit with kids of all ages so we invited our friends and cousins to join us for the afternoon. We loved sharing our Cupcake Minion with them and everyone can’t wait to catch the movie this summer!
In honor of the film, I’d love to show you how to create this cupcake minion for your party table! Before we begin, I want to encourage you to make this as easy on yourself as possible! If you want to make this party treat REALLY fast, call your local bakery and ask for two dozen white cupcakes with the frosting on the side. This is what we did to save some time and our local grocer only charged $14.99.
Two Dozen White Cupcakes
Frosting, tint half of it yellow and then other half blue (I recommend these Wilton food colorings to achieve this bold shade)
1 canning jar ring
Black licorice (if you aren’t a fan of black licorice, we tried a new chocolate Twizzler variety that worked perfectly)
1 Hershey Kiss
1. Tint over half your frosting in yellow and the other portion in blue. Set one cupcake aside for your eye.
2. Ice as I have shown here (15 Yellow, 4 Blue, 4 Half Yellow & Half Blue, 1 Left Without Icing!!). You can pipe the icing on, if you prefer a more polished look, or you can just spread the icing on with an icing spatula, as we have shown here.
3. Cut your black licorice up in random smaller pieces and apply to the top of your Minion head to create the hair.
4. Trim the top off of your cupcake to expose the white cake of your cupcake for the eye (pardon our picture, we decided to do that one last minute!). Make sure to not trim it too deep, so that your canning ring will fit around on the outside of it. Place your canning ring around the cupcake top to create your goggle.
5. Invert a Hershey Kiss into the center for your eye. Place the cupcake on top of your other cupcakes in the center. Finish by tucking two pieces of licorice underneath the eye to create the glasses. Trim the licorice to fit across the cupcakes on the end. Finish by bending your licorice into a smiley face! How easy was that?
We hope these ideas inspired you for a MINION’S Backyard Bash of your own! Remember to catch the film on July 10th! We can’t wait to hear what you think about it!
This post is sponsored on behalf of BHG at Walmart.
If you have learned anything from my past posts, you know that my desire is to make the most of every corner in our little home. Small space living requires works especially when want you make each room as functional as possible. I love how much it challenges me and today I wanted to show how we made over a neglected closet into a closet office as a birthday gift for our soon-to-be teen son. As part of the BHG Live Better Network, I am partnering with them to show how to help someone create a new space so today we are showing off our ideas for small space office that we think would work beautifully in a closet in your home. The best part is that this makeover cost us under $200 to pull off!
My son’s room is small and his closet is pint size like our’s (thus why I embraced the fashion capsule project so much). Over time though, we have learned that these closets are just right for us and this closet wasn’t getting a lot of use now in his room. We had pulled his dresser in there to save space, but you can see how beautifully that all worked out (ahem!). Too small clothing and the piles of clothes given to this kid to put away in his drawers on laundry day had created a mountain of a mess. The first step was to weed through the pile and, with our recent growth spurt, we were able to whittle this pile down to nothing and give our great stuff to someone in need. The dresser was relocated to the end of our bed which freed the space up entirely for a new purpose.
The hard part with this makeover was just getting this space prepped and ready for its new purpose. We removed all the old closet hardware and trim, painted the walls in our favorite shade of Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (leftover paint from our shed makeover last summer) and sanded down the old eighties paint job on the high shelf to create a more distressed wood look to the shelf.
Here’s a fun fact! We found a little boy’s name scrawled on the side of the wood when we took it off the shelf. That is one of the best parts about having an older house…the sweet discoveries of little things like that add to its charm. We, of course, left it there for someone else to discover one day.
We hung a single curtain panel that helped frame the space and also could be a way to hide the inevitable chaos that will happen on this desk. As you can see, we hung the bar high to help prevent our chair from rolling into our curtains and also to make this tiny space feel bigger.
On the side, we moved our hamper so it is tucked away for tossing our clothes into. A giant pegboard was added to the wall for odds & ends and any art we want to display. I hung his favorite hat on top of a thumbtack that I had pushed in. This sign made him laugh so we thought it would be a cute touch (found at Hobby Lobby). A task lamp with extension cord creates a well-lit space for doing our homework in this space.
Happy 13th birthday, Ethan! We hope you create your next artistic masterpiece in this new space we have created for you! Thank you BHG at Walmart for the fun challenge this month! We couldn’t be more thrilled with our space and to create a new purpose to a once cluttered closet!
In accordance with the FTC Guidelines, I am disclosing that I received compensation from BHG at Walmart for my time and participation in the BHG Live Better Network. Although we have material connection to BHG, any publicly stated opinions of BHG and their products remain my own.
*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Proceeds from this post were donated to Riverbend Cancer Services. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site and our community!
Have you ever wanted to create your own DIY Outdoor Home Theater? We have had this on our summer bucket list for years and this summer we decided to finally put together our very own DIY outdoor movie night together with our kids and are sharing it with you today! There is something truly magical about watching a movie together under the stars and I love that you can do this right in the comfort of your very own backyard. We partnered with Walmart to show you just how easy it is to host an outdoor movie night of your own.
Now that you know what to buy, here are my tips for hosting your own diy outdoor movie night:
An EASY DIY Set-Up
You don’t need a lot to create a great movie set up. A simple white sheet (we like to double ours up to get the optimum picture) and some clothespins are exactly what we used to create our set-up. We simply draped our sheet on our clothesline out back and held it in place with a couple of clothespins. Anchor the bottom of your sheet with rocks or a brick to hold the sheet in place, particularly on those windy days.
Although there are more expensive screen options that you can purchase, I have found that sheets don’t take up a lot of storage and offer a decent picture for the price. Make sure to iron out those creases to avoid having ripples on this DIY screen- it’s worth the extra step!
Get a Great Picture (and Sound)
Your biggest investment in your outdoor movies will be your projector although Walmart does offer several affordable choices (check out this budget-friendly option for just $113.88)! More than likely, you already have the laptop and with the addition of small external speakers, you will have incredible sound.
We have had our projector for years and take it with us on our trips as a back-up plan for rainy days and we use it at home regularly especially in the winter months.
We were always struggling with sound on ours and we had an ah-ha moment and realized that with the right cable, we could hook the sound up to our daughter’s mini guitar amp. Now we have sound and we didn’t even have to make a speaker purchase. This goes to show that you can really think out of the box on creating your own DIY theater for a great picture and sound for your movie night.
Create the Mood
With the humble beginnings of a sheet and some clothespins, I am all about creating a mood. Consider stringing some outdoor lights up and around your movie screen to really create the movie magic for the night. I have always found that twinkle lights take everything up a notch when outdoor entertaining and are less than $20 a strand. It’s an affordable luxury for really creating the mood!
Comfy seating keeps your guests in their seat longer (although running around the yard while the movie is playing is totally required!). Add some blankets to the ground and some comfy outdoor pillows (I love these from BHG at Walmart). Consider also gathering your patio furniture around to keep things cozy for the adults in the crowd!
Bring On the Snacks
You can’t watch the movie without POPCORN! Take your popcorn game up a level and craft up a popcorn bar for your guests. Fill trifle containers with popcorn (don’t forget your scoopers!) and then fill ramekins with candy treats, marshmallows, and other fun mix-ins for you guests.
To make the treat more interactive (while you are waiting for it to get dark), you can have a table for decorating paper bags with stamps, markers, and decorative scissors for cutting a pretty scalloped edge. Have kids create their own popcorn bags and fill them with their favorite combination of treats. For older guests, the party section of the store offers a variety of fun containers you can use for your snacks.
I am also a big fan of the reusable insulated solo cup for outdoor drinks and a perfectly sized popcorn bucket. We found these in the outdoor section of our store.
For drinks, I am a BIG fan of using an inexpensive outdoor flower box for your soda drinks. Isn’t this a fun way to bring drinks to the table? Retro sodas and paper straws are always a hit with my kids. Center this on your picnic table for easy grabbing!
Here is our movie screen once it was dark. As you can see, even with a tiny projector, you have a pretty great picture on your sheet. We found adjusting the bricks to pull out any wrinkling, made a dramatic difference in the projection of our show. Our first movie night we caught, “Little Rascals!” The kids ran around like crazy, catching glimpses between games of hide and seek.
At the end of the night, it ended up just being me and my Dad, sitting side by side in two chairs, finishing out the show together.
We both agreed, that was pretty darn sweet.
There is certainly something so magical about an outdoor movie and we hope we have inspired you for a night of your own!
Reservations to our movie theater are highly recommended. We encourage you to dial our yellow phone to hold your seat! We would like to say a big thank you to Mallory Dzierla Schoenle of Copycat-Design for sharing her talent with the Riverbend Cancer Services.
We purchased her beautiful donation of this handmade lemonade stand to help support the cause and transformed it into a popcorn stand for the evening festivities. Mallory is a big giver in our community and as a DIY girl myself, I can see the labor of love that goes into each of her projects. You can check out her Facebook page or her website for more information about her beautiful pieces!
For more fun summer activities, check out this page of great ideas! Have you ever hosted an outdoor movie night? Please share your tricks and tips here for a fun night with the family!
*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
This upcoming month we will be focusing on Beauty for our m challenge! I am giving you a sneak peek on my beauty routines today as I partner up with Walmart to share about some of their great beauty essentials. In the past I have worked as a craft contributor for their team, but I get to switch gears now and share about beauty & fashion with them this year. I am sure you have seen my obsession for these two things grow as we have talked about fashion capsules (my summer capsule reveal happens next month- stay tuned!) and as we talk about our favorite beauty products in It’s the 3 Little Things each week! This switch feels like a great fit and will give me a chance to try out some new beauty routines to share with you!
As you can see, I try to keep things pretty neutral when it comes to beauty since this is my typical make-up job. I don’t know if that will appeal to you or not, but many of the routines I have had in place have worked for me for many years. I use many of the same facial washes and make-up brands that I have used since high school. For summer beauty, my objectives are really simple- PROTECTION from the sun, WATERPROOF since I tend to be a sweaty mess all the time, and MULTI-USE products since our bathroom doesn’t have a ton of storage space.
Oh, and I’m lazy.
Based on these factors, here are my FAVORITE summer beauty products that I truly love!
We hang out at the pool all summer and my kids are little fishes in the water. We look for sunscreens with staying power and fast application. This Neutrogena Cooldry Sport Sunscreen is fantastic because it is water resistant for up to 80 minutes. The best part is that it dries quickly upon application and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy. I am prone to breakouts from sunscreen and this one doesn’t make me break out. We still stick to cream application and sticks to our faces, but this is a quick one for getting everyone protected and in the pool in no time flat. I priced it out at a lot of places and Walmart really does have the best price (it was $3 cheaper than another superstore in our area). Since we live at the pool, we spend a ton on sunscreen so that savings adds up quick.
I’ve been experimenting with lots of different BB Creams and I have to say that I love the Aveeno BB Cream the most because it isn’t drying to my skin, the sunscreen has performed really well on my fair complexion, and it seems to offer really great coverage at hiding imperfections in my skin. I had to laugh when I was at an assembly for my daughter and my friend said, “Your skin is so beautiful. I just want to touch it.” After uncontrollable laughing, I told her that THIS is my secret. It’s almost like an airbrush to your face and it keeps my skin feeling soft and smooth. I always had a hard time finding it, but it is usually over in the facial washes/moisturizer aisle and not in the makeup area. It’s my priciest investment ($11.72), but if you compare ounce for ounce on other brands, it really is a bargain. I also save a ton by using an all-in-one product instead of purchasing several bottles.
In the Fall & Winter months, I love a bold lip with heavy coverage. In the summer though, I just want a little tint to my lips and a lot of shine. I have always been a fan of the Burt’s Bees lip balms, but only recently discovered these lip shines for my summer routines. These smell so good, have good shine, and they do a great job moisturizing the lip. PS- If you haven’t watched the Burt’s Bees documentary on Netflix, you really must. He is such an interesting man and there is much to admire about someone that famous who chooses to live so simply. You will love it!
You will rarely catch me without eyeliner on. I could care less about mascara, but I won’t leave the house without a swipe of eyeliner on my lids. I have tried so many brands and none of them stick except for this one. It says it holds up to sixteen hours…I am going to say it stays longer than most, but sixteen hours is pushing it. It really stays on the longest of any I have tried though and goes on smoothly. For summer, this is the one I would recommend adding to your make-up routines! Pair this with infallible eye shadow in iced latte and your eyes are set for summer!
Dry shampoo is EXPENSIVE especially when it comes to the salon brands. As a brunette, it is hard to find a dry shampoo that does not leave me looking like I have a white film on my hair. When this product came out originally, I looked like a mess because the residue was so bad. They switched their formula though and I purchased a trial size to try it out for a trip and it works BEAUTIFULLY now. In the summer, I often look like I need to wash my hair. I don’t know if you saw THIS or not, but I really hate washing my hair especially now that it has gotten so long. This stuff is a year-round essential, but really perfect after a day at the pool with the kids when I could use a little freshening up and it costs less than $5!
Ladies, I am the fairest of them all and I am telling you right now to RUN to Walmart and get this stuff. It used to come only in an aerosol can and I have ruined a few shower curtains and sprayed up some walls trying to get my legs tan, but now it comes in a cream so no more mess. It’s water resistant so you can tan up your legs even when heading to the pool or beach and the only way to get this stuff off is with a lot of soap and water. If you haven’t tried it, it’s like a concealer for your legs. Bumps, bug bites, skin imperfections… all that stuff disappears. If you think you are the fairest of them all, they came out with a new color called Fairest. They even have travel size, perfect for packing for your summer trips. After you try it, send me an email to thank me for changing your life!
I have terrible circles under my eyes and never could find a concealer that could camouflage these enough for me. I also have very dry skin so these products often created more dryness and creases around my eyes contributing to my tired look. I wish I could kiss L’Oreal for making this product. It actually hides my circles and it doesn’t dry out my skin. If you have had a bad night with the kids, this stuff makes you look well-rested. I also really love the roller ball applicator on this one.
Have some hooves for feet? Me too. This stuff costs less than $3 and works better than any fancy foot creams I have ever bought. I keep it in my nightstand and use it at night on my hands and feet. It also helps repair your nails especially if you have indulged in one too many shellacs (*ahem*)!
Between my sweaty gym routines and and the days spent outside working on the yard or taking my kids to the pool, I can be one sweaty mess. This deodorant is amazing at keeping sweat at bay and has helped boost my confidence a lot this summer. If you are looking for a deodorant with staying power, give this one a spin! I promise it won’t disappoint!
I hope I haven’t given all my secrets away in my very first post, but I love sharing my favorites with you. Do you have any beauty products you think I should give a spin this summer? Let me know in the comments so I can try them out! I’m always looking for new products to add to my beauty routines! xo
*This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I am honored to get to share about Barbara Delinsky’s latest novel, Blueprints. With 21 books under her belt (published in 28 languages!), Barbara Delinsky is a household name in literature and today I have the opportunity to share and giveaway her beautiful new book that is on store shelves now.
Pinch me, please. How can this be my job?
If you haven’t heard of Blueprints, here is a little synopsis (without the spoilers!) to share a bit more about what you can expect from this book. On Caroline MacAfee’s 56th birthday, she is told that she is too old to continue hosting the home improvement show, “Gut It!” that she has been a part of for years. Her replacement doesn’t want to tell her about the switch. I mean, how do you break it to your own mother that her replacement is…well, her very own daughter? There is, of course, conflict knowing that the job that Caroline loves and knows so well is being taken from her and there is sadness as Jamie finds the relationship she has with her mom is slipping away from her in this new role. When a traumatic death happens in their family, not only do these two realize that they will have to work together to pick up the pieces of their loss, but their entire life has went into a different direction than either of them expect.
Since this book tells the story of Caroline, at the age of 56, and Jamie, in her thirties, it is a book that you could share with your own mother and will appeal to women of all ages. The story of friendship between this mother & daughter duo made for a beautiful read and would be a great beach read escape this summer. The story particularly shines as Jamie learns to find herself and finds love for the unexpected family she has been shouldered with. Caroline’s blossoming relationship between her and her longtime pal also builds into a beautiful love story in the golden years of life. I would recommend this book for fans of Kristen Hannah and Diane Chamberlain, two of my favorite authors for a fun escape from the heavier books.
At the heart of it all, this story is all about how the blueprints of our life change over time. We all have plans, but let’s face it… they rarely work out the way we expect them to.
I don’t know about you, but the blueprints for my own life are so very different than the ones that I started with. To be honest, I didn’t start with very good blueprints from the beginning and, perhaps, more comic book illustrations of a magical land for how life would work out. I was one of those people that just figured things out as they came to me and lived in the clouds the earlier part of my years. I had no real goals or plans after college, I married quick, and I settled into life early in our marriage back in our hometown after an unexpected job loss.
We started with our “starter home,” a house that made me weep around every corner at all we would have to do to make it livable. This was not the dream home. We figured we would improve upon it and then get the heck out of here with a fat check for all of our hard work.
Unfortunately, in Indiana that’s a rarity.
As we started to put the elbow grease into our space though, we found that maybe JUST MAYBE, this home had some potential.
The first thing people say is, “This house is so YOU.”
And I grin like an idiot because I am so proud.
How’s that for a blueprints switch?
Instead of buying a bigger house, we decided to do something different with our money… we have decided to see the world instead! We are six years away from paying off our home and we can’t wait to say that this home is REALLY our home. With the money we save on our mortgage, we can show our kids the world.
To me, these blueprints are so much better than our original plans. To see the world with the people you love FAR outweighs the care & maintenance (not to mention that mortgage payment) for a big, shiny new home.
That doesn’t mean we are done with the projects though. We continue to discover that there is potential around every turn. I am so thankful that God granted us this blueprint for our life.
Today I am giving away TWO COPIES of Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky. Follow the instructions below in our Rafflecopter widget to enter to win! Please note that you must be a US Resident to win! Good luck, everyone!
*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
One of my favorite celebrations is 4th of July and today I wanted to share with you a fast & easy 4th of July fruit dessert platter you or your kids can make into a flag to celebrate the holiday. Walmart partnered up with me to share a festive 4th dish and I have to say that this delivers on the red, white, & blue.
Since I am gluten-free, I often have to bypass the dessert trays. As an adult, it is not a big a deal. As a child, the dessert table is EVERYTHING, especially when it comes to holiday feasting. I wanted to create this cute tray just for them and I found these glutino gluten-free yogurt covered pretzels are not only a fantastic way to add the white we needed for our stripes, but they also are highly addictive and delicious. You can certainly make your own white chocolate covered pretzels, if you are feeling ambitious, but these cut down on the time invested in creating our cute tray!
Flag cupcake picks can be a great way to festively pick up a berry (or ten). I found these at a local party supplies store and they are an adorable touch to a festive spread.
I think the best part about this tray is that it is not only relatively healthy, but it is also a tray that you can confidently create and know it will get eaten. After a big cookout, light desserts are a wonderful addition to the table for snacking on. Have too many desserts on your table? Save this to serve up during the fireworks. It will be gone before it even gets dark enough to see them!
Check out the instructions below on how many supplies you need to put this tray together!
I love entertaining outdoors in the summertime and today I wanted to share with you some fun and frugal ways you can entertain utilizing items found at your local Goodwill store. Outdoor entertaining does not need to be expensive and many of the items found at Goodwill can be repurposed into great items to have on hand for outdoor meals and entertainment for your guests.
Join me over on the Goodwill Tips blog for a few beautiful summertime ideas I have gathered to help you make the most of your outdoor space! I just know you will feel inspired after you see these fun ideas!
*This post is sponsored by Wild Oats. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
Grilling season is in full swing and I couldn’t be happier. What could be better than dining outside, keeping your kitchen clean, and providing a great meal (with leftovers for the week) in the process? Each year I vow to try my grill in a new way and this year I wanted to try some new ways to grill vegetables. Today I am partnering up with Wild Oats and sharing an easy veggie side dish you can create with just Brussels Sprouts, a few of your favorite dried and fresh spices, and a couple of other basic pantry ingredients.
Brussels Sprouts are one of my favorite veggies in the world. In winter, I love to roast them until the taste resembles a decadent plate of french fries. For the summer months though, I love to keep my kitchen nice and cool so I wanted to figure out a different way I could make them. I decided to try them on our outdoor grill and see if the results would be just as tasty. Guess what? It didn’t disappoint.
Wild Oats offers a variety of delicious organic dried spices that you can use on your grilled veggies this summer. Have you seen these jars in your local Walmart store? It’s a great value and I love the dried spices, particularly when the garden isn’t in full swing or to mix even with the fresh herbs we have on hand. For these Brussels Sprouts you can add a little paprika for a smoky flavor, or chili powder for a little heat, or dress them up simply with a little Italian seasoning blend which pairs perfectly with the fresh garlic we have in this recipe.
Although I love the charred bits on my Brussels Sprouts, I do like to protect them with a double layer of foil to prevent them from getting really burnt. The length of time you cook them really depends on your own personal taste. I like mine to have a nice crunch still so 10-12 minutes is a good amount of time for me. If you prefer a softer veggie, 15-18 minutes should do the trick! Keep in mind, these are a great one to prep the night before for a party and tuck in your fridge for your events. How awesome is that?
A couple of years ago, quinoa wasn’t even on my radar as a food that I would want to eat. Once I went gluten-free though, it became necessary to really explore foods that I hadn’t considered before and the absence of so many of my go-to carbs made this option seem rather appealing.
In all honesty, since changing my diet to gluten-free, it has become my favorite pantry staple that I have used to create delicious, protein-packed dishes that my whole family loves. In the summer months, in particular, quinoa is perfect for your summer salads because it can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature.