Summer Picnics are #NaturallyAmazing

*This post is sponsored by French’s, a #NaturallyAmazing product.  All opinions are mine.

A clean eating dinner picnic.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy kids ask for a dinner picnic almost every single night during summer.  And fall.  And spring.  So we try to have them as much as possible.  There is something absolutely magical about sitting outside as the sun turns golden.  Eating outside brings an entirely different energy to dinner time.  It is much more casual and playful.  And the food is always kept simple and fresh.  This picnic set up shared through out this post, however, is a dream scenario.  In our real dinner picnics, the blanket gets all wrinkled, plates get kicked over and there is grass.  Lots of grass.  Everywhere.  This is what summer picnics would look like if my kids were robots that I could control with a remote control.

Lavender lemonade is the perfect drink to bring to a picnic or potluck.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy robot children would willingly try all the wonderful and delicious foods that I love.  They would not be afraid of things that sound a little bit different.  They wouldn’t turn their noses up at lavender lemonade.  They would drink it and be instantly transformed in to a wonderfully relaxed state of mind.  They would never ask for soda even though they know they only drink it very rarely.

Fresh veggies and a tangy mustard based dip are a great dish to bring to a picnic.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI am very lucky that my kids do, in fact, like vegetables.  They don’t hesitate to grab them off a buffet table and never complain when I send them in their lunches.  Up until a little while ago, my oldest son couldn’t eat anything with milk in it so he never really had anything to dip them in.  We are very fortunate that he seems to have outgrown that allergy.  For this picnic I made a delicious mustard dip.  French’s mustard is, and always has been a natural food.  What I love about it is that is adds SO much flavor.  And it is an absolute essential for summer grilling.  It is perfect with hamburgers and hotdogs but also delicious grilled veggie sandwiches.  It also sort of inspired the color palette as well.  You normally don’t think of mustard yellow as a summer color but I think these rich colors are perfect for the time just before sunset.  French’s wants you to get inspired also.  They have a new Pinterest page and it features other great ideas for #naturallyamazing entertaining and recipes for any occasion: graduation celebrations, picnics, summer BBQs, light lunches and more!  You can follow them by clicking the image below!

French's is now on Pinterest!

Cabbage salad for a delicious and easy dinner picnic.  #sponsored #NaturallyAmazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMy real family has recently started eating more salads.  I’ve always loved salads so this has made me so happy.  However, only my robot children would eat this cabbage salad.  While the cabbage is really mild in flavor, the herbs would totally throw my kids off.  I loved the bright flavors of the mint, basil and cilantro.  And the lime sesame dressing had a touch of sweetness that paired with it really nicely.  Robot children are the best, aren’t they?

A vintage blanket works perfectly for a summer picnic.  #naturallyamazing @frenchsfoods #sponsored // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd only my robot children would be able to eat on this vintage blanket with a mustard dip…

Wooden cutlery for a summer dinner outdoors. #sponsored #naturallyamazing @frenchfoods // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI decided to keep the elements of this picnic really natural.  I mixed wooden utensils with wooden plates and platters and recyclable paper containers for easy clean up.  But since this was for pretend children who don’t break things, I used my fave blue glasses for a pop of color.  In a real scenario I would probably use some clear plastic cups, nothing colored as I wouldn’t want to compete with this gorgeous blanket.

Succulents transport well and are really great for decorating picnics.  Also, wine.  You should always serve wine.  #sponsored #naturallyamazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comSucculents are a great thing to bring as decorations when entertaining out of the house.  They are a really hearty plant and look great.  I also like to use bright-colored fruits because they double as part of the meal and decoration.  My robot and real children love cherries.

Mustard is all natural and a great way to add flavor to summer picnic dishes!  #sponsored #naturallyamazing @frenchsfoods  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comEating healthier, more clean, doesn’t have to be boring.  I look for ways to add in flavor to keep me the meals from tasting the same.  I use a lot of fresh ground black pepper, fresh citrus juices and French’s mustard to add a wonderful savory tang.

vintage-blanket-and-grass-picnicThis has been a tale of my robot children and this fantastical picnic we all enjoyed together.  All the tips still hold true, just maybe not as a family picnic.  Maybe your picnic won’t be as fancy as this one but French’s and I encourage you to bring some fresh tastes to your table this summer!  Don’t forget to follow French’s for time-saving hacks and useful cooking tips as well as memorable meal ideas!

French's Mustard is #NaturallyAmazing #sponsored

 

Thank you for supporting the companies, like French’s, that sponsor my posts and allow me to create.  My robot children appreciate it also.

Cereal and Ice Cream Communal Sundae

Eat ice cream together with your friends.  And top it with cereal.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMmmmmm.  Ice cream.  It is one of my favorite things.  And it is something that I don’t hardly eat.  I’m not just a one scoop kind of a gal.  So I know that if I indulged in ice cream the way that I want to, I would need to buy a whole new wardrobe.  In another size.  So I save it for vacation or eating out at a restaurant and splurging on dessert.  But I thought I would share with you one of my favorite ice cream toppings.  Cereal.  Cereal and ice cream are perfect together.  Those who know me know are not going to believe this.  But people who knew me growing up know that I was super athletic.  Every summer I would go to volleyball and basketball sports camps.  Most of them were held at colleges where you stayed in the dorms and ate in the cafeteria.  One of my favorite things to eat was the soft serve.  But they never had any toppings to go with it.  So I would always hunt down the cereal.  I need crunch with my ice cream.  And since ice cream is pretty much the same as milk, it is a match made in heaven.

The communal ice cream sundae.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI knew this was going to get messy, but I really thought it would be fun to make this a communal treat.  Individual bowls are so last season.

Fruit Loops are where it's at.  Eat them with ice cream for a tasty treat.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAny type of cereal will do.  Well, except for something healthy.  The Fruit Loops were always my personal favorite topping.

Cereal makes the perfect ice cream topping. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comWhy does this look so pretty to me?  I would totally blow this up and frame it for my living room.

Grab some spoons and eat ice cream with your friends!  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comGrab your spoons.

Ice cream and cereal.  Dig in.  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd get at it.  I’m not going to lie, this can get super messy.  A lipped tray would work way better than this flat slate tray.

A fun twist on an ice cream sundae.  Make a huge one and share it with your kids and friends. // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comMe thinks your kids would really like this.  Do it.  I’d love to hear their reaction!

 

Essentials for a Beach Day with Friends

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Black Box Wines.  All opinions and tips are my own.  And, duh, it’s wine so I know you’ll love it as much as I do.beach-essentials-for-hanging-with-friends

There are two kinds of beach days for me, one with family and one with friends. They look REALLY different. With my kids, there is sand EVERYWHERE, there are lots of plastic beach toys and bone dry juice boxes littering the horizon. I’m also on constant watch, ready to spring in to action, to save my kids from getting too far out in the water or reaching for the wrong kid’s sand toys. But with friends, now THAT is where I can relax. That is where I can enjoy delightful conversation, probably some good music and perhaps catch up on some reading material. And if we’re lucky, there is a little wine. Here are my essentials for spending a fun afternoon, with friends, at the beach.

At the beach, I may or may not be in my swimsuit depending on the time of day or weather. The beach is sometimes even more fun on a cool, overcast day. But you certainly want to make sure to bring along healthy snacks so that you can still fit in to your swimsuit. Nuts and dried fruit are a great option. They bring the crunch, a little salt and the sweet touch that most of us crave. Similarly, popcorn is my new go to snack and it is easy to transport in a Tiffin type carrier.

Especially if the weather is warm, you want to make sure to stay hydrated with water. I love Boxed Water because there is no plastic and they are good to the environment. They also just look way cooler. Make sure to stay away from sodas that can cause you to feel the bloat. No one needs to look like they are wearing an inner-tube when they aren’t.

Sunscreen and sunglasses are not optional. Pack your favorite pair of sunnies and slather yourself up with your favorite sunscreen BEFORE you leave for the beach. It needs time to penetrate the skin. Make sure to bring it with you and reapply as sunscreen wears off and leaves your skin vulnerable to the sun. Don’t forget to bring a speaker along (and something to play music from like your iPhone or iPod!). I love this one by Nixon because it is sand, water and shock resistant. And if you think you might have a minute, bring a long some magazines to get caught up on. But do not ignore your friends and keep your nose buried in one. You DO want to get invited back for another friend beach day.

Depending on the beach and the time of day, wine is a great addition to a great afternoon with friends at the beach. Most beaches where I am from do not allow any glass so Black Box Wines are the perfect option. Lose the bottle and toast your friends with one of their tasty varieties like their new Pinot Noir (notes of fresh berry, rose petals an cocoa!). This 3L box is the equivalent of 4 bottles! So you won’t need to worry about running out AND you can take the rest of the box home with you to finish when you deem fit over the next month. I know what you may be thinking, boxed wine? But as someone who favors twist off bottles (oh the side eyes I’ve gotten when I pull out my screw tops! – which happen to be eco-friendly thankyouverymuch.) boxed wine is a great idea! This packaing is also eco friendlier than regular bottles, they stay fresh for WAY longer and you only need to take one box with you and you have a whole heck of a lot of wine. It just makes sense. AND it tastes good. The Black Box wines are award winning and are a much better value than comparable bottle wine. You guys, I’m dying to taste the Sauvignon Blanc!

Black Box also has 500 mL sized boxes, in 5 varieties, for when you just want to take a few glasses with you. These are perfect for smaller picnics and tailgates.

The only thing as fabulous as enjoying a high quality, award winning box of Black Box Wines is winning a $5,000 shopping spree! “Lose the Bottle” and grab your shopping bag! Enter the sweepstakes by visiting https://www.facebook.com/blackboxwines/

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Black Box Wines. The opinions and text are all mine.


black box wines logoThank you for supporting the brands that keep me doing the kinds of posts I love!

Use Smells to Make Your Home Inviting to Guests

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hot Shot® Insecticides.
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Place fresh flowers next to the couch to make your front room smell inviting when guests come in.  #sponsored #HotShot  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI am kind of a home body.  So I love to invite my friends over to my house instead of meeting them out at a restaurant or coffee shop.  I always try to make sure that my house feels warm and inviting to them.  One way that I do this is through smells.  My mom and I have always loved scents.  Growing up we would go to the swap meet to buy our favorite incense.  It was called African Love.  It smelled of strawberries, jasmine with a touch of musk.  And it was heavenly.  We’ve tried all kinds of ways to introduce smells in to our homes from wall plug-in thing-a-ma-bobs to diffusers for scent-infused wax pellets.  But it doesn’t need to be difficult to make your house smell great.  Here are few quick and easy tips to make your house smell fantastic, which makes your home more inviting to guests.

If you have fresh flowers in your yard, you can easily clip some and display them in your home.  You don’t need a lot of stems and you don’t need an expensive vase.  A few fresh blooms can instantly help a room smell better.  And as you sit on the couch and enjoy each other’s company, you will be able to smell the flowers the whole visit.

Candles are a great way to have your home smell great when guests come over.  #sponsored #HotShot  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comCandles are a really easy way to make a home smell amazing when someone first enters.  My home does not have a lot of places to keep candles displayed so I usually keep just one or two in a cupboard and pull them out about half an hour before company is due to arrive.  Even if you place the candle on your dining table, no extra centerpiece or styling needed, your guests will be welcomed by your fragrant home. 

Add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender to your throw blankets before guests come over so the couch smells great.  #sponsored #HotShot  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnother trick of mine is to add a few dabs of lavender oil to my throw blanket before a guest arrives.  Lavender is a soothing, calming smell and people usually love it.  It reminds me of a spa which instantly transports me in to a more relaxed place.  Take note, I will NOT massage you.  Although I love to have you in my home, I don’t want it to get weird.  Just make sure to use the oil sparingly, a little goes a long way.

Slice and bake cookies generally last a long time in the fridge which means they are easy to have on hand.  You can put the cookie dough in the oven a few minutes before your guest gets there.   NO one can resist that smell.  AND you’ll have a snack to share with your guest.  And as the holidays get closer, you can simmer some water with cinnamon sticks, sliced oranges and vanilla on the stove for a super festive smell.  What is your favorite way to make your house smell better? 

Hot Shot® Ant and Roach Killer to keep unwanted guests (of the bug variety) out of your home.   #sponsored #HotShot  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comBut there are a few guests that I don’t EVER want in my house.  The bug variety.  I do not want them to feel at home in my house.  I abhor ants and legit would scream and run out of my house if I saw a roach.  I would even leave my guest on the sofa to fend for themselves.  In the past, when I’ve had issues with ants, I would try all kinds of things to keep them at bay.  Nothing ever worked as well as Hot Shot® Insecticides.  They really help to keep my house bug free.  While I love to try natural remedies, there are certain things that need a little more strength.  My family doesn’t hesitate to put the smack down on those gross ant armies.  The floral scent is also much more tolerable, especially if you have to annihilate some bugs before your friends get to your house.

Keep your home and yard bug free so you are ready for any guests.  #sponsored #HotShot  //  www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd since I live in a warm climate, and the patio is pretty much an extension of our home, I also use the Hot Shot® spray outside.  Works like a charm.  I’m pretty brave if I have a can of spray but usually my husband has to handle any and all bug sightings.  What about you?  Do you do the deed?  Or is it a job for the man of the house?  Share your answer on the Hot Shot® Insecticides Facebook Page and you will be entered to win their July sweepstakes!  They are giving away Visa Gift Cards weekly with one final grand prize winner!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hot Shot® Insecticides.

Thank you for supporting the brands that let me pay my bills and buy my kids ice cream once in a while.

Makeup Tips for People with Allergies #ALLERGYFACE®

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ZYRTEC®.  All allergies and the resulting ALLERGY FACE® that goes along with it are all mine. Tracking Pixel

Allergy sufferers often end up with ALLERGY FACE®.  I totally have it.  #sponsored #Zyrtec // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comDangit that is a big picture of my face.  I’m not going to lie, I originally retouched this photo so much that it didn’t even look like me anymore.  But then I thought screw it.  We all have wrinkles and such.  I’m just going to keep it real.  While I would love to have smoother skin, it’s probably not something I’ll ever have (maybe with major lasers – not to be confused with the Diplo project – or other resurfacing methods which cost more than my car).  I’m not one of those gals that hates getting older.  I’m ok with wrinkles.  But I’ve been an allergy sufferer all my life and I could do without ALLERGY FACE®.  If you don’t have allergies, you have no idea what I’m talking about – and I hate your guts because allergies suck.  Allergies, in some way, have hindered things in my life that you wouldn’t think they should hinder. Like getting massages.  WTF?!  I can’t lay face down in the donut, without getting super stuffed up and miserable.  Sure the rubbing around on my back and shoulders feels great but then I end up with a sinus headache because of it.  Oh and the wine!  I can’t drink wine (I mean I shouldn’t drink wine but I do because it is so good) because of the effing sulfites or sulfates or some other dumb property that makes my nose completely inflamed so that I can’t breathe through it any more.  I’ve even figured out how to save any crying I need to do until an optimal time for my allergies.  Yeah, I feel AWFUL after a good cry – happy or sad – so I plan it out based on my allergy side effects to the crying.

If you DO have allergies then you know what ALLERGY FACE® is.  It is where your eyes feel like they are halfway closed, even though you aren’t tired, from all the inflammation in your face.  It’s when your nose is all red because although your nose is super stuffy, it is still runny somehow and you can’t go more than a few minutes without blowing it.  And the watery eyes which causes your mascara to run down your face which makes people think you have been crying.  Which you have NOT (not until next Tuesday, see above).

DIY salt rinse for allergy sufferers.  #sponsored #ZYRTEC® #ALLERGYFACE®  // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comHaving ALLERGY FACE® has led me to try many things.  Dark under eye circles are prevalent in people who have allergies.  So by that reasoning, I must have all the allergies, ever.  My dark circles are so…er, dark.  I read somewhere that using the Neti Pot might make them less severe but I just couldn’t bring myself to use that funny looking thing.  Then my allergist suggested that I do a nasal rinse with a syringe and salt water to flush out the nasal cavity.  You guys!  This has been life changing!  I feel so much more clear with way less pressure (and helps me to fall asleep because I can get air back in through my nose after drinking the offensive wine).  BUT, my dark circles are still there. Remind me to tell you sometime about how when I first tried the salt rinse I used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon of salt…

Makeup tips for combatting #ALLERGYFACE® #sponsored #ZYRTEC®Which means it is all up to makeup to make me look presentable.  And while I’ve taken several makeup classes and am scheduled to take another really soon, it just doesn’t come naturally to me and I don’t know any tricks to mask the ALLERGY FACE® side effects.  Thankfully the kind people of ZYRTEC®, who keep me and my family functioning amid allergies to dust, mold, dogs, grass, trees, laundry and cleaning floors (ok the last two are made up…), realize that even though their medicine can help with the symptoms of allergies, us gals still need a little help in the face department.   They enlisted the help of celebrity makeup artist Jamie Greenberg (who suffers from allergies so she knows) to share makeup tips for people with allergies and ALLERGY FACE®.

Makeup tips to help allergy sufferers detract from #ALLERGYFACE®.  #sponsored #ZYRTEC® // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comHead to the ZYRETEC® Facebook page to see all the looks designed to detract from your ALLERGY FACE®.  I tend to go for the “barest beauty” look on most days.  The highlighting and contouring really helps my face to not look so puffy.  And waterproof mascara is where it’s at.  It stays put even when my tears do not.  If you are like I was and ha no idea what contouring is, just watch this great video with Jamie Greenberg.  She shares her tips on looking your best with allergies. 
I’m grateful for these tips and to ZYRTEC® for being part of my journey with allergies. Are you an allergy sufferer? Do you have ALLERGY FACE®?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ZYRTEC®.  All allergies and the resulting ALLERGY FACE® that goes along with it is all mine.