The warmer days of Spring are here and Summer is just around the corner. For me this means that it is time to bring dinner OUTDOORS! Spring and Summer holidays and special occasions (Mother’s Day is Sunday!) are the perfect opportunity to bring a meal outdoors. The change of scenery can help make any meal feel like a special meal. But, not every meal makes for a great outdoor meal. You’ll want a meal that can hold up to the weather, be easy to serve and not too complicated to pack up and bring to wherever you are having your outdoor meal. When Grocery Outlet asked if I wanted to work with them on a post I immediately thought of all the fun outdoor items that they get this time of year, and wanted to throw a little outdoor party in honor of Mother’s Day. Below are some of my tips for creating a great outdoor meal. Check in tomorrow for a few recipes that anyone can make that are great for an outdoor meal!
I think that there are a few factors that make for an outdoor meal, including simplicity. Part of eating outdoors should be that the whole meal has a more relaxed feel to it. Even if you are going super fancy and formal, the meal itself can be made simple and easy to eat while still being elegant. Last year I went to a wonderful outdoor farm to table meal that completely hit all my favorite notes of an outdoor meal! Here are my tips for what makes a great outdoor meal:
1. Keep it Simple – The meal does not need to be complicated nor have a lot of steps. The perfect outdoor meal can either be cooked outdoors, or packed up and easy carried outdoors. When planning an outdoor meal you’ll want to keep your ingredient list down (at least the items that are going to the table, if you want to prep a complicated many ingredient meal at home that still carries nicely and is easy to serve then by all means, go for it!), keep the garnishes to a minimum and let the meal really be the centerpiece of the experience.
2. Make sure it holds up to the weather- Besides food safety, considering the weather is important for the overall meal experience. If the meal you are serving really tastes best piping hot then you’ll need to figure out a way to cook or at least reheat outdoors so that the wind doesn’t take down the temp. Or, you can choose a meal that can be served at room temperature or cooled. If it is really hot then you might need to think about whether your desserts or meal items are going to just melt while waiting to be served. Of course, don’t forget about food safety as no one likes food poisoning. Items that are sitting out need to be properly cooled or heated to keep the items out of the danger zone.
3. A pretty setting – Eating outdoors can be a wonderful experience that can make any meal feel like a special occasion. Of course, if that meal is served in a not-so-ideal space and handed out wrapped in plastic it can feel more like a fast food experience than a special occasion. Take a few moments to make the meal special by taking care on how it is served. Even dressing up your picnic items a bit can make an ordinary meal feel extraordinary. When throwing parties in my back yard I often opt to cut flowers from my yard and use my basic dishware from the house. I leave my really nice dishware inside, but the basics can still feel dressed up when surrounded by nature! When I picnic I try to make things nicer by wrapping them in parchment paper and twine rather than just plastic baggies, or serving items on bamboo plates or reusable outdoor plastic plates instead of opting for paper.There are also a lot of great brands of really beautiful paper plates out there that can be perfect for making an outdoor meal feel special.
4. Think about pests – Nothing can ruin a meal faster than a few pests. Supply bug spray, plant bug repellent plants around your yard, or use some citronella candles to ward off pesky mosquitoes and flies. I found these adorable yellow tins with citronella candles at Grocery Outlet for less than $2 and bought a whole bunch of them for my outdoor parties. Not only do they look cute on the table, but they help ward off unwanted bugs!
Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for some super easy recipes that ANYONE can make for a great outdoor meal!
Grocery Outlet wants to help you serve a great outdoor (or indoor) meal and are sharing a $25 Gift Card with one lucky reader. Grocery Outlet operates 210+ stores in California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Check out the Grocery Outlet website to find a store near you!
This post was created in collaboration with Grocery Outlet. All opinions are my own. Thank you for reading and sharing posts that are created in partnership with brands that help support this blog.
This year my home parties have been pretty laid back due to busy schedules and tightening of budgets. But, being me, I still wanted to celebrate our milestones in some fashion. The picnic-themed party that I hosted for my husband’s birthday this year fit the bill for an easy, but fun event.
Chips: Sweet Potato and Kettle Chips — I just bought these chips at Trader Joes and then put them into paper bags that I had printed labels on.
Dessert: We finished off the meal with a dessert of spiked ice creams.
Drinks: Signature cocktails, beers, and lemonades made for easy beverages
Finally, a selection of lawn games such as a ring toss, bocce ball, and badminton kept everyone entertained.
*Edited to add this bit of awesome info:
Guests left the part with their very own Emergency Picnic Kit! I shared the kit, directions for making your own, and free printables over on Today’s Creative Blog! Check out the blog to learn how to make your own Emergency Picnic Kit party favor!
Hopefully this post and the posts that come out of this party serve to be an inspiration to you!
A big thank you to Jenni for having me as a guest poster today on A Well Crafted Party! After a little hiatus from my own blog, her invite was just the kick in the pants I needed to get back on track and get some MacSuzie mojo going! It felt really good to be in the kitchen and at my craft table working on this menu and table decor.
I hope you all enjoy the summer recipes I’ve put together for you – great as a menu altogether for the 4th of July, or any of them on their own as additions to your gatherings throughout summer. Many items can be prepared ahead of time (or require barely any prep at all!) so you won’t toil away the afternoon in the in the kitchen. Plus, the table decor is very simple and won’t cost you an arm and a leg
Start yourself off right with a fun and festive summer cocktail reminiscent of the ice cream man jingling down the street.
This Bomb Pop Cocktail has all the flavors of the original – cherry, lime and blue raspberry, with a grown up twist.
For the kiddos, a real Bomb Pop is a fun way to keep lemonade or soda pop cold
Grill out (or in, if your 4th gets rained out, as mine always seems to!) with this flavor packed Homemade Veggie Burger with Blue Cheese & BBQ Sauce that will impress even the staunchest of carnivores.
Lately, my favorite way to eat these is topped with a slice of blue cheese plus some pickled onions and BBQ sauce – so good!
On the side, the smell of these Tin Foil “Camping” Potatoes will make it hard to decide what you want to take a bite of first.
Packed with onions and garlic in a pocket of foil, it doesn’t get any easier. Ok, maybe it does… See below for my roasted corn!
It wouldn’t be summer without an ear of In-Husk Roasted Sweet Corn – just like the county fair vendors
You won’t believe how easy it is to cook corn on the grill or in the oven – no husking required! Hahaha, guess you’ll have to find something else to keep the kids (or husband!) busy.
End the meal on a fruity note with my Mini Red, White & Blueberry Strawberry Shortcakes!
Smaller than the usual shortcake, you don’t have to choose between the two toppings – have one of each! (both with a giant dollop of homemade whipped cream of course!)
To break up the traditional (and sometimes boring) red, white and blue, I decided to add in a touch of light turquoise here and there. I pulled in a few of turquoise Fiesta serving pieces I already had, plus my trusty vintage ball jar, some bandanas and scraps of paper and fabric and ended up with a beautiful table. You can do the same – just use what you have on hand and get creative!
To start, I used bandanas as place mats.
Some coordinating ribbon dresses up a plain jar or old vase without much effort.
Just a few scraps of paper and some stickers make boring old skewers into fun decorations. Use them on your burgers as I have, or put the flags on toothpicks and use for fruit or cupcakes.
Lastly, ditch the paper napkins and use some clean bandanas instead!
Quickly folded into a pocket and dressed up with some fabric scraps and ribbon, these bandana napkins are festive AND won’t blow off the table. :
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and summer!
Seriously, how cute is this party!? A huge thank you to Lindsey of MacSuzie.com for brining us this awesome 4th of July party! I can’t wait to try these recipes and entertaining tips for the upcoming holiday and throughout the Summer. By the way… if you’ve been wondering about the name MacSuzie here is how Lindsey describes it on her site: “A dash of ‘MacGyver’ plus a sprinkle of ‘Suzie Homemaker’ – all tied up with a bow!“
I’ve been behind on posting about some of the many events that I’ve been attending lately. I don’t like filling your feeds with pictures of people you don’t know or things you may not care about. I try my best not to post ALL of the events at once. I also really want to focus on the things that you can use to celebrate one of your own life events, make in your home, use as style or beauty tips, or at least find pretty to look at.
Near the end of July I posted a week of Picnic posts in honor of the Portland Bloggers’ Family picnic. I seriously have about 5 drafts of picnic posts I didn’t complete. I may have to save them for next Summer for another picnic week. And, while I shared some of the iPhone snaps of the event, I didn’t get the chance to post the gorgeous photos our amazing professional photographer shot of the event.
So, to make this post about more than just sharing photos of a whole bunch of (awesome) strangers, I wanted to share a few tips for hosting a community style event. Community events could include a blogging community, church group, Instagram meet-ups, block parties… you get the idea. 😉 Photos feature members (and their families) of the Portland Bloggers group and are taken by the lovely Portland Lifestyle Photographer Macey of Motormouth Studios.
Licensing? But, I’m just throwing a picnic! Well, once you get out of the small group of people that can go anywhere together part of a gathering then you need to make sure that you have all your legal bases covered. Portland Parks have a great website that allowed me to find the park with the amenities I wanted and the prices of the rental fees. Even block parties now days usually need to have some sort of licensing to protect everyone invested in the event. Check for information online first and then give potential venues a call.
Oiw… this one is a toughie for a lot of venues. Restrooms and adequate parking are MUSTS for events. Yes, sometimes you have to deal with things like metered parking… and, it sucks, but it is better than NO parking or unsafe parking areas. Make guests away of the parking situation before hand whether in the invite, online message, or by phone.
Boy did this not go right for our event. I reserved a fairly popular park, but google maps sent everyone to a different part of the park and the park did not have great signage. It was a MESS. Thankfully everyone eventually found us! A way to avoid what we did is visit the site before your event and inform guests of special directions. Also, check to make sure you have phone reception at the venue in case people try tweeting, calling, or texting you at the event.
Balloons, signs, and bunting are great ways of letting your guests know where you are visually. Our picnic space at the Portland Bloggers’ picnic was fairly recognizable due to its balloons and signage. As a matter of fact, we had several people come to our site while looking for a different group because they were looking for ANYTHING that resembled an organized event.
Unless you have a company or well-off organization backing your event then the question of who is going to pay for what is definitely going to come up. Making the event a potluck or a Bring-Your-Own event can help share the costs of the event. Be up front about any costs or expectations in your invitation of the event. We made our event a “bring-you-own and if you want to share extra, feel-welcome” event. Everyone brought picnic lunches for themselves and their family members and a few people brought treats to share!
Portland Bloggers is a meet-up group and blogging resource for Portland, Oregon area bloggers and businesses. (Click the above “Portland Bloggers” tab for more information, a list of awesome Portland Bloggers, and to see more photos from our Portland Bloggers’ meet-up!
Recomonk was in house at the Portland Bloggers’ meet-up sharing their brand new blogging widget with our group. Recomonk is an easy way to share reviews and recommendation for music, movies, books and products you love with your blog readers. Click over to find out how you can earn rewards and easily share YOUR recommendations with your readers by clicking over to Recomonk.com.
Disclaimer: I did not receive any financial compensation to mention Recomonk, but they did give away a free gift card at the Portland Bloggers’ event. I know that some of my readers are bloggers and might like the opportunity to discover a new resource. All opinions are my own.
I’ve been so lucky to have been a part of the Portland Bloggers’ meet-up groups for some time now. We have such a great, supportive community and some of my dearest friends have been made through my participation of this group. Sometimes blogging can feel like a very lonely job. While it is great to be your own boss and have full control over content and the likes… it can also become daunting, boring, or just plain un-inspiring at times. Getting out into the real-world and meeting fellow bloggers— people who understand why you continually check twitter and bring a camera to dinner— can help inspire better content, relieve some work stresses, and help build your audience and connections. I’d highly recommend finding a meet-up group in your area.
If you are in the Portland, Oregon area then we’d love to see you get involved with the Portland Bloggers’ group or one of the other many meet-up groups out here. If you live in the Pacific Northwest then the PNW Blogger group is a great one to get involved with!
Below is a list of many of the bloggers that showed up to the Portland Bloggers’ picnic. (My memory is a little fuzzy… so, please forgive me if you were there and are not on the list. Email, Tweet, or comment that you were there and I’ll make sure you get added!) If you are looking for some new blogs to peruse and follow then definitely check these out or pin the above photo to come check out later!
The blogging resource that allows bloggers to easily share reviews and recommendation for music, movies, books and products you love
with blog readers and get rewards, Recomonk, was also in attendance at our meet-up!
The thing about picnics is that it is all about the food and all about portable food. You can’t have a great picnic without some delicious recipes! Well, actually, I guess you can… you can totally get some yummy sandwiches like my good friend Bee did. Or hit up your local deli and fill your basket with small tastes of delicious delicacies.
Many of the bloggers brought tasty treats that they made and then blogged about it after which made it super easy to create a list of some great picnic recipes that are portable and easy to make.
Caprese Skewers from Pechluck’s Food Adventures
Lemon Bars from Thyme of Taste
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Made by me from Alton Brown’s Recipe)
Cherry Tomatoes, Herbed Goat Cheese with Puff Pastry (Made by me and featured on Live The Fancy Life)
It’s Picnic Week here on A Well Crafted Party. I’m chatting about Picnics all week long… and, honestly, the picnic posts might swim out into the next month because I have so many fun ideas swarming around in my head as I get ready for the Portland Bloggers Family Picnic this weekend. Check out all my posts from this week, including an Italian Inspired Picnic Menu, for more picnic goodness.
I LOVE French food. It is rich and flavorful and uses fresh ingredients. So, when shopping for this menu, check out your local Farmer’s Market or stick to the most ripe and delicious looking vegetables. I’m actually making a spin-off recipe from one of the below links for the picnic I’m attending this weekend. But, that is a post for another day!
French Vanilla Soda— Okay, okay, this may be a stretch. I was trying to come up with a non-alcoholic French-inspired beverage and my mind was coming up blank. But, a good French Vanilla Soda will make you forget all about the fact that it may not truly be French. You can pick up a six-pack of the Barq’s French Vanilla Creme Soda and call it a day (YUM, btw) or you can whip up a batch of syrup, bring some soda water to the picnic, and make fresh sodas on site!
Wine— The French love their wine as much as the Italian do! A great bottle of french wine… maybe some Champagne (!) and you are set!
Plateau de Fromage— You gotta have a cheese platter if you are doing a French meal. Pair some popular French cheeses (or, really your favorite cheeses in general), some fruit, and a fresh baguette and you are golden. I love getting little Baby Belle cheeses for a picnic because they don’t really need much prep!
Fresh Tomato and Cheese Puff Pastry Tart— The French do pastries right… savory or sweet! This fresh tomato and cheese puff pastry tart will be making it into my picnic basket soon!
French Green Bean Salad— There is something so refreshing about a vinegery, delish green bean salad. Use thin green beens or haricots verts and a garlic & shallot infused dressing to make a wonderful green bean salad for your Parisian-style picnic.
Roast Provencal Chicken— Just imagine what it would be like to sit down at your picnic spread eating cheeses and drinking French wine and then pulling out a steaming basket of this roast provencal chicken. Seriously, you’ll be the envy of the park. Keep the dish warm, but still beautiful, by placing in a pretty ceramic bowl and covering with kitchen towels. Of course, you can never go wrong with foil either!
Macarons— Like many others out there, I just discovered the amazingness of macarons a couple of years ago when they started getting as popular as cupcakes. The brightly colored, light, and rich desserts would be a beautiful (and delicious) way to end a Parisian themed meal. Make some chocolate macarons or pick some up from your local French-inspired bakery. If you live in Portland, may I suggest Nuvrei?
If you haven’t been reading this week then you may not know that it is Picnic Week on A Well Crafted Party! I’m sharing all kinds of fun picnic ideas in honor of the Portland Bloggers family picnic that is happening this weekend. I’ve already shared a quick pasta salad, my favorite picnic supplies, and a huge list of picnic inspiration from around the web. Today I thought I’d delve into the picnic food menu. YUM. I’ve crafted menus that will make for a fabulous picnic meal and will continue sharing them throughout the weekend!
I love a well crafted menu. There is just something really special about a menu that has been thought about and crafted to taste great together. I’ve come up with picnic menus based off of some of my favorite styles of food to inspire your own picnic menus. I’ve linked to some of my favorite recipes as well. You’ll get everything from snacks to nibble on while playing bocce ball through to dessert and beverages. Starting things off today is one of my very favorite types of food— Italian!
Okay, maybe it is a traditionalist in me, but you can’t go wrong with some sparkling water and your favorite Italian red for a picnic. Try taking a chilled Lambrusco to relieve the heat! A great way to keep your chilled red or white wine cold (and not watered down) while drinking is to freeze grapes and plop them in your wine glass! Eat the wine soaked grapes as they thaw.
Antipasti platters are one of my favorite Italian appetizers. Make it picnic-ready by creating antipasti skewers. You can really make this one up with items you like and stack them on skewers. I like to add items like olives, basil, cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella, Italian meats, and cooked tortellinis. Try this antipasta skewer recipe out for more ideas.
Caprese Salad—I think salads are the perfect summer food. And, caprese salads are so easy, delicious, and refreshing. To make a caprese salad in a jar simply build the salad by putting in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, cherry tomatoes, balls of mozzarella (the fresher, the better), and basil leaves. I sometimes like to mix my basil with sweet baby green as well.
Italian pressed sandwiches— These sammies make for a filling and very portable lunch. I’d cut them into individual portions, wrap in wax paper, and tie up with twine to add an extra special touch. This would be a great way to identify speciality sandwiches for friends and family that need items left out of their sandwiches— just write a note on the paper or tie it on with the baker’s twine! There are a ton of recipes out there for Italian pressed sandwiches. My favorite? My own! Check out my Italian Pressed Sandwich Recipe here!
No Bake Tiramisu in Jars— When I think Italian dessert I instantly think of tiramisu. MMMMM. I’m not a fan of too much fuss for a picnic meal, so I tend to lean toward things with “no bake” or “one pan.” Building an easy and delicious tiramisu in a jar will make you look like you slaved for hours over a hot stove while you sit pretty and relax with your Lambrusco in hand.
This is a part of a food series on leftover party foods. My first post for the series gave tips on party foods that make for great leftovers and how to store them. Today I’d like to talk about Party Food Leftover Breakfasts…. my favorite way to enjoy leftovers. Read on for my favorite Party Food Leftover Breakfasts!
I am habitually making too much food for parties. I never, ever want to have a party and run out of food! Recently I made way too much food for a ladies night and had a bunch of leftovers. Party food leftovers typically go bad fairly quickly if they are not stored right and used soon after the party. So, when creating breakfast the next day with my leftover party food this series was born. I’ll spend a couple of posts talking about party food leftovers… I include some recipes and tips. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use this list the next time you are working on planning and executing your next party!
|A week’s worth of lunches and snacks for me and my hubby.|
One way that my husband and I try to save money is by not going out to eat very often. This is difficult for us, as we both used to love going out for dinner at least three times a week. Plus, my husband works right next to some amazing food carts in downtown Portland. HARD STUFF.
But, eating in restaurants adds up. Every weekend I sit down and create a menu plan and grocery list for the week ahead. When I get really savvy I will also look up the deals at our local grocery store to help me make my plan for the week. Most the time though, I just shop at a grocery store with consistently low prices and a plentiful bulk goods section.
Some people like to stick to the same types of foods every week. While it does make grocery shopping easier, it drives me batty to eat the same thing week after week. So, I’ve put together some tips that I have found help me in my menu planning. Over the next few months I am going to try to share some of my favorite menu plans with you along with some recipes.
|Free Printable Weekly Menu Planner|
|INFO GRAPHIC SHARED BY CREDITSCORE.NET|
I am no money expert. I’ve made plenty of financial mistakes. I grew up on welfare. I have thousands of dollars of educational debt. NOT PERFECT.
That being said… I am all about living a well-rounded life on a budget. Learning how to manage your money so that you have the money to pay the bills and lead an enjoyable life is a life skill I feel would be much more beneficial to high school students than some of the required courses.
One of the things I pride myself in is my ability to menu plan. My husband and I typically eat foods that I prep and make rather than eating out or getting a bunch of prepackaged foods. I’m not the best at it EVERY week. But, I do a pretty fine job. I’ll be sharing more about menu planning and a free printable menu planner tomorrow.
Recently I was shared the pretty neat infographic above about brown-bagging-it to save money. I thought I’d share it here with you and ask:
What do you do to save money?
*This is NOT a sponsored post. I was shared the above info graphic and I felt that it would work with a series of posts I am working on about Budgeting Basics. I am not affiliated with Creditscore.net in any way.