Throwing a Successful Summer BBQ or Potluck

Deluxe Charcoal GrillSummer has barely begun, and I’m guessing you have already been to a number of barbecues, cookouts and potlucks. We humans sure love summer entertaining! Gathering with family and friends to gobble down good food, share stories, splash in the pool and soak in the sun is what we live for all winter long. But as we know, throwing a successful summer party is no easy task. There’s a lot to prepare, and a lot to handle once it’s over.

I’m going to address three key issues and offer up some solutions for making your barbeque or potluck easier and better than ever: Read more

Savvy Outdoor Storage Solutions

So you’ve decorated and groomed the patio and gardens for summer entertaining, now what? Besides the obvious next step (inviting friends over for a party), the next great upgrade for your outdoor space, whether it is a front porch, a back deck or a grassy garden area, is to add storage for all of those summer-entertaining tools to keep your outdoor space neat and tidy. Here are some great finds for either adding storage or making the most of what you already have:

Storage Box
A sturdy deck box, like this beautiful dark brown eucalyptus Storage Box, can hold cushions, candles, even dishes, and should always double as extra seating for those summer parties. Check weight capacity limits on any deck box you buy to ensure your guests can use it that way. Read more

Outdoor Kitchens: No Plumbing or Electricity Required!

You don’t have to go through a costly remodel of your backyard to enjoy the benefits of an outdoor kitchen. Enjoying a meal outside with friends and family, whether it was created on your stove inside or on the grill outside, is one of the finest ways to take advantage of the summer season! Gather these simple items that will be there for you every morning, noon and night, keeping you outside (and maybe even entertaining), more often!

Anti Fatigue Deck Mat
It all starts with the right space, and an outdoor rug is a great way to define that space. This Anti Fatigue Deck Mat eases back strain while standing over a hot grill. Read more

Valentine’s Day Recipes

Chocolate CupcakeLooking for something to eat (or do) on Valentine’s Day? Here are some resources from around the web to celebrate the day this year:

Cooking for the Family? Taste of Home has recipes to cover pretty much the entire day, from breakfast (Camembert Souffles!!!) to dinner (Chicken with Cherry Sauce). Since Valentine’s Day is a school-day this year, I’ll skip the breakfast recipes, but who says you can’t have souffle for dinner? Read more

Soup’s On – Cheddar Ale Soup Recipe – I Tried and it’s True!

I tried out this cheddar ale soup recipe last weekend from fakeginger – it was excellent! I didn’t get the pretzel bowls made but the soup was very hearty by itself. Would be great without the beer part too, and you could definitely reduce the cheese amount by 1/3 if you are watching your weight!

Check out recipes we’re trying on pinterest with our glorious food board!

Superbowl Wings, Slow Cooker Style

footballThis season was the year I finally convinced my wife to give watching football for fun a try, and slowly but surely she has come around to enjoying it. It doesn’t hurt that every Sunday when we do watch the games we make an event out of it and fire up the crockpot to make our favorite game-day delights.

With the regular season long-gone (and with that my favorite team long-eliminated from the post-season) and the playoffs in full swing, it is time to think about the big event that is coming up – the Super Bowl! This year’s NFL championship game will be played on February 3rd, so there is still time to get your game-day menu all set.

As I mentioned above, our go-to for snack-making during the game is our handy-dandy crock pot. Read more

Cheers to Stemware Storage!

Cheers!I know I might be a little late on this one, but those of us who went on vacation the week after New Year’s may just still be cleaning up after Christmas. This year I invested in some beautiful champagne flutes as I hosted both Christmas and New Year’s eve at my house. So I’m adding to my fancy-dish storage collection a special keeper for my festive glassware. Stemware chests come in all sizes, colors and various degrees of protection. There are even special chests for balloon style wine glasses. You certainly don’t have to do this for your everyday wine glasses, but it’s a great idea for special-occasion glassware, and in particular, champagne glasses (because what else are they for but special-occasions, right?) For something as fragile as thin glass, I suggest a hard-shell outer box with dividers on the inside, like this fluted stemware storage chest. Stemware storage boxes do a much better job than the old cardboard and newspaper diy models, and are relatively inexpensive – a great investment to keep your glassware in great shape in between uses!

After Holiday Clean Up

Ornament KeeperIf you enjoy the holidays but find all the clean up exhausting, this might be the year to get all your holidays decorations organized and easy to pack up. By having the right storage for all your favorite holiday decorations you can save time and energy after the holidays. There are a number of decorations that can use special storage, like artificial trees, wreaths, ornaments and gift wrap.

Keep those family ornaments safe and sound the other eleven months of the year with custom ornament storage. The Ornament Keeper provides lots of storage in one compact space, with three trays each safely storing up to 20 ornaments. Read more

Preserve Precious Pieces

china storageAfter a long holiday season with so many parties to go to and so many parties to host, it’s finally time to put away those “fancy” dishes. Whether you have real china or, like me, you simply have a set of special dishes reserved for holidays and other special occasions, you probably have some extra-special dinnerware that you are ready to pack up and put away until next season.

  • Garage Storage – If you are storing your holiday dishes in the garage, a hard plastic or wooden trunk is a must have Read more
  • Christmas Songs That Don’t Drive Me Crazy

    MusicI gave this post that title because it’s actually the name of a Christmas playlist I created for myself. Now, if you don’t mind hearing the same Christmas songs year after year and haven’t gotten sick them, I certainly don’t mean to offend you with my pessimism. But… I can’t stand to hear the standard versions “White Christmas” or “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” one more time! This year I just got tired of them and had to find new ways to enjoy Christmas music. After a little research, I found that there are alternative versions to these songs that you don’t hear in the stores every year, and they’re quite refreshing! Read more

    One Week to Stress-Free Entertaining

    CleaningChristmas is just one week away. If you, like me, are hosting family this year on Christmas day, are you ready for action? Creating a plan will help keep the Christmas-day party madness to a minimum, so you can actually enjoy some time with your loved ones. I can’t tell you how to clean your house, or even what needs cleaning. So here is a guide I use (and anyone can benefit from) for getting those extra special entertaining-related cleaning jobs done starting a week ahead of time:

      7 Days Out

  • Finalize the Menu and Shopping List
  • Shop (or send the hubby)
  • Read more