Go Organic This Super Bowl With Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold + A Cast Iron Skillet Nachos Recipe

This post is sponsored by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. Learn how to make this year’s Super Bowl LIII the most delicious one yet.

#LiveULTRA #PureGold #Organic #SuperBowl

Pair Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Organic Light Lager with these exceptional Organic Vegetarian Skillet Nachos for a game day snack that will be a huge hit. Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold is made from organic grains inspired by nature and it’s free from artificial colors and flavors. When I learned Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold was not only organic and delicious, but also lower in carbs and calories than a glass of wine, I was sold! You can bet this Super Bowl I’m pairing my favorite organic recipes with Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold.

ORGANIC VEGETARIAN CAST IRON SKILLET NACHOS RECIPE (Serves 4)

I was inspired to create this recipe because of the organic ingredients in the beer, plus my love for always eating organic every chance possible. I always aim to use as many organic, vegetarian ingredients in my recipes! Thiese skillet nachos could be made vegan by simply excluding or subbing out the cheese and sour cream - everything else is vegan!

Some of Tastemade’s other organic recipes include these homemade Nachos, Buffalo Chicken Dip, and Chicken Wings.

Ingredients (Use organic when possible):

1 bag of blue corn tortilla chips or any chips you like

1 small can green chilis

1 cup diced, roasted sweet potatoes

1 cup finely chopped red and yellow peppers

thinly sliced jalapeños

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 - 1 cup sour cream (transfer into plastic squeeze bottle for easy use and application)

1/2 - 1 cup lettuce (not shown)

1/2 cup black olives (not shown)

Cast Iron Skillet - at least 12” across

Instructions (See video below for more details):

1.) Spray skillet with non-stick spray. Place a layer of tortilla chips to cover the bottom of the skillet.

2.) Add your prepared toppings such as: diced chilis, shallots, onions, roasted sweet potato, seasonings, peppers, black beans and anything else that can be baked in the oven. Also, top with jalapeños and 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.

3.) Bake nachos at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese has melted. ***BE CAREFUL when removing the cast iron skillet from the oven because the handle is deceptively BOILING HOT. Please always use an oven mitt when handling the nachos and the skillet.

4.) Top with sour cream, cilantro, tomatoes, and any other ingredients you like. Enjoy with Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Organic Light Lager this Super Bowl.

These skillet nachos are also fun because they are more of an interactive dish, where people can mingle around the meal and grab small bites as they wish. Keep beer on ice or in the fridge for easy pairing!

About Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Organic Light Lager:

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE MICHELOB ULTRA’S SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL ON YOUTUBE ON 1/30!

With the USDA Organic certification on each and every package, that means they provide organic beer that proves quality, organic ingredients make for better taste. Let’s go organic this Super Bowl!

Michelob believe in thriving on a steady diet of friends, fitness, and occasionally laughing a little too hard. We believe you can work out and still go out, that you can stay fit and stay fun. We believe that getting more out of life requires putting more into life. 

Live Fit. Live Fun. Live ULTRA

Watch the Michelob ULTRA Super Bowl Commercial here, or watch below!

As one of the largest beer brands in the U.S, Michelob ULTRA represents not only a premium light and refreshing beer, but a brand that embodies wellness and active lifestyles. The brand is uniquely positioned at the intersection of health and happiness. We believe in a life of balance where you don’t have to sacrifice beer in order to maintain your active lifestyle.

Michelob ULTRA wants you to be proud of who you are, your hard work, and what makes you truly unique. We want to celebrate together and be a part of that journey with you – whether it is about living fit or living fun. Michelob ULTRA plays a part in living a full life. One that’s filled with friends, fitness and of course—fun. 

Michelob ULTRA’s new packaging is light and refreshing boasting the USDA Organic seal, just like the light, golden hue of the lager itself. With a light taste like that, it’s very easily drinking, and pairs well with food AND football!
Live life to its fullest with other foodie and football fans alike this Sunday, 2/3/2019!

WATCH THESE THREE VIDEOS FOR MORE RECIPE IDEAS!!!

Holiday Entertaining With Blue Diamond® Gourmet Almonds & Nut Thins®

This post was sponsored by Blue Diamond®. The opinions and text are all my own. #NutsAboutTheHolidays

I recently created a gorgeous, holiday-inspired charcuterie and party spread that turned out so well! Inspired by these delicious Blue Diamond® Gourmet Almonds and Blue Diamond® Almond Nut-Thins® from Walmart. Best enjoyed with those you truly love spending time with during the holidays.

In this post, I will show you a few inspiring ways to incorporate almonds, crackers, and other delicious ingredients into a stylish snack board platter, perfect for a holiday party and more!

#NutsAboutTheHolidays

While I have created my fair share of charcuterie boards in the past, I will admit, I have also spent a lot of time researching new ways to style charcuterie boards, chocolate boards, and other gorgeous platters of food. That’s just the food stylist in me, I guess! For this post, I was incredibly inspired by those images you may have seen of bountiful, well placed ingredients with lots of varied textures and flavors – something for everyone, I guess you could say!

#NutsAboutTheHolidays
#NutsAboutTheHolidays

RECREATE THIS SNACK BOARD

I consider this offering more of a snack board than a charcuterie board, because traditionally, the word charcuterie relates to a variety of meats. I am eating meat less and less these days, and my friends and family members are too, so I figured that I would just offer a vegetarian selection of goodies and call it a Holiday Snack Board.

One of the highlights of this snack board is definitely the brie cheese; with honey and herbed Blue Diamond Gourmet Almonds on top. It looks so elegant, and like it took a very long time to create. It was finished in less than 20 minutes and was the perfect pairing with the Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins.

Ingredients:

1 bag Blue Diamond Gourmet Garlic Herb and Olive Oil Almonds

1 box Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins

1 8oz. round of brie or similar cheese

3-4 Tbsp. honey (2 Tbsp. in small star shaped dish + 2-3 Tbsp. to top cheese)

2 cups cauliflower and broccoli florets

1 package of dill or parsley, or any other green herbs for garnish.

1-2 cups green olives, marinated in olive oil, a pinch of salt, and Mediterranean seasoning mix

1 cup red peppers, sliced small and thin

Any other cheeses you would like to add to your board, or that you already have on hand.

Instructions:

1.)   Bake brie cheese in a heat safe container, or on a baking sheet at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, covered in foil, until middle is fully molten. Carefully check if the middle has melted yet by applying pressure with a spoon or other utensil. You will sort of be able to tell of the cheese is liquid inside yet or not. Once that is fully baked, top with 2-3 Tbsp. honey and ¼ cup or a small handful of Blue Diamond Gourmet Garlic, Herb and Olive Oil Almonds.

2.) Place the brie onto a small round plate (mine measured 6.5” across), then arrange Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins around the plate. They fit there perfectly, and this made for an exceptional way to enjoy the crackers and cheese! I also placed a tiny sprig of dill on top, but any fresh green herb would work here, but is not necessary.

#NutsAboutTheHolidays

3.)   Place the brie in the center of your board as the focal point, then begin placing bowls of seasoned almonds, olives, and any sauces or dips on there too. Then, place crackers, fresh ingredients and any other fun goodies you have around the board to make a full, elegant snack board. Guests will LOVE what you have provided them with.

#NutsAboutTheHolidays

I was able to find so many incredible items to add to my snack board from Walmart, and I was so inspired by their large selection of snack items! Browse the fresh section, the cracker and nut aisles for the Blue Diamond products, plus the candy and snack aisles to find as many different flavors and textures as possible for your snack board.

#NutsAboutTheHolidays

This year for décor and styling, I am all about a pink Christmas and as always, shimmering accents and as many trees as possible. I used a large wooden cutting board for the base of the snack board, then used a pink ceramic cutting board with a handle as the main focus. That pale pink was everywhere this year, and I love it so much! It goes so well with whites, light wood tones, and other shimmering accents.

#NutsAboutTheHolidays

Happy Holidays! Make sure to check out the Blue Diamond website for more holiday entertainment inspiration!

An Elegant Fall Bake Sale {Raise Love for Ronald McDonald House Charities}

Who's ready for Fall? I know I am! The weather has finally cooled down a bit at night here, which means it's time to mix up a few ingredients, get out the decorating materials, and perhaps it's time to get ready to give back by hosting a Fall Bake Sale! If you're here looking for ways to make your baked goods look gorgeous, you're in the right place. 

I'm here today with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) to share some Creative and Elegant Bake Sale Tips. Selling food is all about the presentation - we eat with our eyes first! In order to make the maximum amount of money from anything you're selling, make it cute and make it approachable! 

CUPCAKE INSTRUCTIONS:

Above, I baked a box of chocolate cake mix into 24 cupcakes, using metal liners.

I then grabbed a quart freezer Ziploc bag and a rosette icing tip. I placed the tip into the corner of the bag, cut a tiny bit of the bag corner off, then taped the icing tip into the hole with electrical tape. This worked pretty well, or feel free to use a pre made piping bag and metal icing tip. 

I then applied a swirl of icing to each cupcake and placed Fall Leaves sprinkles carefully onto each one. I thin they look like a little swirl of leaves on a windy, Fall day!  

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE BARS

Also, shown above, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough, spread it into a baking sheet, and followed the instructions on the packaging for best results. I then cut the cookie bars into squares, and set them on top of a slice of decorative wood and set them on a mint cake stand I got from Target. I love how this display turned out!

Did you know that in 2016, RMHC provided 2.4 million overnight stays to families? And in doing so gave the ability to spend more time with their sick children, to interact with their doctors, and to make important decisions about their children’s care?

Below, you will see the juggling balls that Ronald McDonals House Charities sent me! 

Below, you can see a cute way to offer customers a cute gift bag with a Fall leave glued onto the bag, perfect for gifting that special treat!

Through the Ronald McDonald House and Ronald McDonald Family Room programs, RMHC provides places for families with sick children to stay just steps from the hospitals where they are receiving critical medical care.

Starting a fundraiser is simple and gives the fundraiser the freedom to do whatever it is they love to do to in order to help RMHC reach our goal of providing 12,500 more overnight stays to families of sick children this year.


1.) Always keep gloves and several pairs of tongs on the bake sale table, so you can serve customers their food without touching it. Also, make sure to keep plenty of to-go bags and containers for customers to bring their treats home in. 

2.) Always use rubber gloves while baking the items too.

3.) Presentation! Presentation! Presentation! I loved the use of this light pink crushed velvet tablecloth material! I headed to my local craft store and spent around $8-10 for 1.5 yards of it. I was so happy to incorporate one of the year's trendiest fabrics into my bake sale display! 

4.) Find a unique location like a popular, locally owned clothing boutique to have your bake sale in front of. Make sure people know to enjoy their treats before they head into shop, and food may not be allowed in the store. Office buildings, malls, and even breweries are also amazing location ideas because there is a larger amount of foot traffic.

5.) Spruce up desserts by adding bakery-style details like icing piped with icing tips, and seasonally adorable sprinkles! I also loved adding cupcake toppers, which can be made with toothpicks and scrapbooking paper or even pom poms! They can also be purchased for around $2.00.

6.) Place hand painted price signs at eye level, and make items affordable. Feel free to have a range of prices on the table too. For instance, I thought that .50 cents per mini cupcake, $2.00 per large cupcake, and $1.00 per chocolate chip cookie bar would be appropriate. I really, really wanted to make some caramel apples for this bake sale, and I believe you could get around $4.00 for them! 

7.) Display the charity name for which you are fundraising! I made a hand painted sign for FREE with black paper and white paint to showcase the "Raise Love #forRMHC" campaign info. Shoppers may also want to tag your cause on social media, so that is also what inspired me to create that sign.  

Learn more about starting a fundraiser here, and also get the details on Ronald McDonald House Charities here!

Simply Nice! Revamped Snacking + Boho Decor Ideas For Your Next Party

I was so thankful to be asked by Carusele to participate in the #SimplyNice campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. Although I have been compensated, all opinions are my own.

Hosting a casual and elegant get-together is my favorite way to host friends and family. My friends sure know how to snack, so I always make sure to have extras on hand, too. I have always enjoyed the Nice! Products from Walgreens, and I have been noticing a few ch-ch-ch-changes lately in their packaging and ingredients. They are making a huge effort to offer products that have the best ingredients available. I appreciate this so much, because our local Walgreens is open 24 hours, so a lot of people are depending upon them to offer the very best.

5DB_9827.jpg

With the recent change in weather, going from extreme heat and humidity down to nearly 70 degrees, I am seriously using any excuse to have friends over. We all love to let our dogs play outside, which somehow makes us hungry – that’s when I know it’s time to bring out the snacks and get ready to feast! I feel good about snacking with the new line of Nice!® products from Walgreens.

I like offering guests a wide range of options, and if you’re looking for baking ingredients, look no further – the Premium Raw Mixed Nuts, shown above, feature unsalted cashews, almonds, pecans, and walnuts. I love the idea of baking fresh items for guests, that way the house smells amazing when they arrive!

HOW TO REVAMP YOUR SNACKING

If you are looking to replace those unhealthy or rather boring snacks, head to the snack aisles at Walgreens and you won't be disappointed. Their snacks all have great flavors that are unique to their products, and IU just love them! I also cannot believe how many organic options they have!

Begin by reading the labels. The new Nice!® packaging, available among many departments in the stores, showcases easy-to-reference icons at the top right of the front of every item. This nutrition info is right there to help you make the best decision for you.

SIMPLE - HONEST - DELICIOUS

Above, their motto and also mine! 

I could not believe how many new items they have available locally, and I’m sure I will start seeing even more soon. In this post, I featured newly packaged options like Magic Trail Mix, Chili Lime Cashews, Sesame Sticks, Tri-Colored Tortilla Chips (note - WITHOUT yucky food coloring like the traditional tri-colored chips I've seen), and Root Veggie Chips shown below. I just love the variety of colors in the last two options!

HOW TO REVAMP YOUR PARTY DÉCOR

If you want to impress guests with snacks AND décor, then I created a cute party look that would fit into my life and hopefully yours. I love the idea of casually sitting on floor pillows, so I found the cutest rugs ever and used them for inspiration! I laid down two woven style rugs, and one furry white rug. I also laid out a piece of this amazing crushed velvet material, which I thought would be cute to tie even more color into the look.

Next, I added some cute pillows – the more the BETTER, so use everything you can find J I love the Bohemian aesthetic, but you could use a more rustic or woodland look for a cozy and inviting theme.

I wanted a low sitting table, and did not exactly have one, so I created one myself! On top of a large wooden crate, I simply added a piece of stained wood I already had. This could be made from just about anything sturdy enough to hold your food and drinks without tipping over. I then laid a table runner across the top.

For the flowers, and if you’re planning a beer + snack tasting night, I thought it would be adorable to fill some brown glass growlers with water and fresh flowers (they traditional come from breweries so you can travel home with their beers). I also love how the brown glass and the color of the flowers really make it look more like Fall up in here!

Another fun way to dress up your party would be to provide guests with reusable, cloth napkins rolled up and wrapped with ribbon. I love the Eco-friendly aspect of this, and guests will love the oversized tea towels for their snacking adventures.

YUM!

The video below really does a good job of describing the new Walgreens Nice products and makes them very relatable! 

Another fun item I added to the party was a fuzzy, very light pink colored stool. The whimsical nature of it says so much and really compliments everything well.

Hopefully I have given you some insight on how to revamp your snacking and your party décor! For more ideas, visit me on Pinterest or Instagram. Happy snacking, friends!

The Best Way To Stay Cool This Summer! Summer Fun With Dr Pepper

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Dr Pepper®. The opinions and text are all mine. #PickYourPepper #Walmart

Summer is definitely here, friends! I’m trying to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible before it gets too dreadfully hot and humid here in southern Illinois. Luckily, there are lots of great picnicking areas and lakes available to us here in and around the Shawnee National Forest so we recently headed out to cool down!

I brought the sweetest summer essentials with me too – cold drinks, SPF, and my new 90s-inspired inflatable float :)

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

There’s nothing like floating in the lake or river while enjoying a cold drink and some fresh air. I always love to bring a big, floppy hat to protect my face and shoulders from excessive sun. Plus my ever-important sunscreen and my favorite shades - that’s about all I ever need to have a good time.

Dr Pepper sent me this float as part of their new Pick Your Pepper campaign with packaging that was made by millennials, for millennials, that I picked up at Walmart. It’s so unique and I was pleasantly surprised at how big the float was once inflated – it held me afloat in the water just fine! It was a little taller than me, so I could lay back and just float. I am excited to use this all summer and next year!

To claim your very own Dr Pepper Shaped Pool Float, or one of their other cute prizes, get the details below.

When you buy any Dr Pepper 6/15-8/15 this summer at Walmart, you can upload your receipt here to get the prize featured in my blog and/or other prizes like:

Spend $5, get a unicorn beverage holder inflatable

Spend $10, get a Walmart e--Gift Card worth $5

Spend $20, get a 6-pack can/bottle holder with ice pack

Spend $40, get a Dr Pepper bottle shaped pool float

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

I wound up getting almost everything for our day at the lake at my local Walmart! They have lots of cute summer items left, and some are even going on sale – get everything now before it’s gone.

I found everything from this tie dyed beach towel, which I absolutely LOVE, to my Dr Pepper, snacks, bowls to put the snacks into, summer-themed plastic cups, colorful straws, a cute sun hat, flip flops, and my new favorite summer clutch!!  

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

What are some of your favorite locations to visit during the summer to enjoy the outdoors? Do you tend to stay local, or do you like to drive a few hours to enjoy something even better? Leave a comment below and let me know – we are always on the lookout for travel suggestions!

Also, what are your favorite picnic day snacks to enjoy outside? I went for classic options, and everything paired well together. An ice cold drink always helps the temp cool from inside and out!

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

This day, we got the most perfect weather ever! A little on the warm side, but the slight, cool breeze really helped keep things feeling great – and luckily kept mosquitoes at bay! It had actually rained earlier in the day, but the clouds cleared just enough to allow us to enjoy the sunset (the best thing in the world to me!). The water was so calm this day.

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

Now, let’s talk lakeside fashion! I loved this Made You Look Sun Hat from Walmart! Each one of our local stores seems to have a bit of a different selection, so I tried to browse them all for the cutest summer accessories. I also found this pair of mint, crochet-like coverup shorts, near the selection of bathing suits. I also just HAD to grab these donut printed flip flops – after all, it’s summer, right now I’m saying, “I Donut Give A Care” to so many of life’s worries. This great weather is really doing me some good!!!

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

This "Made You Look" hat is so fun!

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

In order to offer chilled refreshments on a hot day, I bring a small bag of ice in my cooler, and simply set the drinks into a metal tray. I then dump ice into the tin. The cans chill in about 20 or so minutes, and it’s such a cute presentation! Speaking of presentation, I do love a cute food table display, so I brought out some cute items to the lake with us. I used three tins (one for drinks, one for chips, and one for cookies), two fish-shaped bowls for candies, a wooden box to elevate the drinks, and of course plates and napkins. No utensils were required

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

Love the three colored tassels on the clutch bag! How adorable for summer!!

Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper
Enjoy The Summer! #PickYourPepper

Taking a few extra minutes to set up a cute refreshment table really makes a day at the lake even better!

Invite your friends and family out this summer, and connect with them! Create meaningful memories during your summer celebrations that will be cherished forever!

Pinterest Party Inspirations ~ Mermaid Life Party

Vacationing here in Florida makes me appreciate Mermaid Life so much! It's so nice being near the ocean, coral reefs, lots of beautiful boats, and imagining what a mermaid would want for her party :) So, I found some amazing ideas on Pinterest that would work for a woman or girl or just about any age, to help inspire her next party, whether it be a birthday, graduation, retirement, or just about any excuse to get together with friends and celebrate the mermaid life. Click on the photos of links throughout the post to visit the sources, and of course gain even more inspiration.

1.) The Cutest Mermaid Party Award definitely goes to Garvin & Co, for her daughter's Mermaid Inspired Party! Read the whole post here, and be amazed at how much attention she pays to every little detail, from party tablescape, to balloon backdrop, mermaid costumes, and of course, the cutest Mermaid food EVER! I love her whole blog, actually, it's so inspiring - her life looks like so much fun! Also, check out her stunning Instagram page for lots of lifestyle photos that are out of this world beautiful. 

2.) Use Madeline Molds To Make Popsicles! (found on Pinterest here). You could of course go with more tropical themed flavors, like pineapple, mango, coconut, and anything else your heart desires! In fact, you could even make these vegan by using a base of coconut milk, or simply puree fruit, add lemon juice and simple syrup, and freeze them. If you're looking for lots of popsicle recipes, I have a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to Popsicle Recipes, containing over 450 recipes

3.) DIY Mermaid Salt Scrub Party Favors - these salt scrubs are everywhere here in the Florida Keys. They're reminiscent of the salty sea, and can be made in a variety of beautiful, pastel, sea-inspired colors. They would also make amazing party favors for your beautiful mermaid attendees! Here is one idea, below, from Love Vividly (another incredibly adorable blog), which would leave your skin feeling as soft and as smooth as a mermaid! Aren't the colors incredibly perfect?

4.) I also thought that this DIY Mermaid Crown would be fun to create as a party activity! Learn how to Turn A Dollar Store Crown Into A Mermaid Tiara!!! You can simply embellish those dollar store crowns with starfish, seashells, slitter, paint, vintage jewelry, glitter, and shimmery paints. 

5.) Oh my goodness, this jellyfish decor is the best thing ever! While the exact instructions are not given in the post, I would imagine you could start with a paper lantern, paint it teal/aqua, cover it with tulle, then hang coordinating ribbons, yarns, and tinsel from the bottom to create the jellyfish tendrils. They created three colors like lilac purple, pale blue, and aqua.  

And, this name sign is amazing! Start with those paper mache letters, paint them a sea themed color, add glitter (of course), and adorn with some shells and netting. Too cute!

6.) Mermaid Desserts! With a little bit of imagination, you can take almost all of your desserts into the Mermaid Life theme! Below, Sweets With Love shares her photo of these little mermaid tail and seashell topped cookies or donuts! You could use candy molds to create the shapes, then paint them with edible colors in pastels and shimmery gold. Include some edible glitter too, why not?!

7.) Another featured party that would make any mermaid happy would be this one, also featured here, that uses shades of coral, aqua, and sunshine yellow. Each and every details is absolutely perfect, right down to the gold sequin table cloth and shimmering cake pop sticks. 

And, these candies are perfect!

8.) This Barbie Mermaid themed party, from TomKatStudios is beyond amazing! These cute Oyster Pearl Cookies are perfect. The pearl portion could be a gumball, and finding some shell cookie cutters would be easy, too.

Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to create or host a Mermaid Party of your own! Enjoy :)

Best Mermaid Party Ideas

How To Host A Clothing Swap Party!

I'm super excited to bring you this fun idea! Since Fall is my favorite season, and it's definitely a fun time to transition into Fall garb, now is a great time to host a Clothing Swap Party with friends and family members. Have some of your favorite ladies over and serve some tasty coffee drinks and provide lots of snacks. This would be an amazingly fun way to spend an afternoon or evening with those who you enjoy spending time with.

cute party table

HERE'S HOW:

1.) Gather any clothes you are willing to part with. I love this swap party idea, because I tend to be able to pass along much nicer items if I have a friend in mind. 

2.) Send an invite or e-vite to friends, using this graphic. Feel free to save or even screenshot the image, and just send it to anyone who you want to invite. 

3.) To Make The Banner: Print the 5 pages of provided files (below) in color, and cut out each letter. I used a paper cutter and a pair of scissors. Glue ribbon or decorative pom pom trim to the top of each letter flag, and then tape a length of rope to the back of the letters. Tape to the wall behind your party table - I just love how this turned out! 

4.) Next, gather up food and drinks. I chose to provide some chocolate cookies, maple cookies, other snacks, AND iced coffee drinks! Feel free to use whatever you want here - the sky is the limit! 

clothing swap party decor

PARTY DECOR PRINTABLES:

cute invites

Print each of these 5 pages once, in color on card stock. Save these images to your computer then print at home or at a copy shop. This costs less than $5 to print on traditional 8.5 x11" card stock.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 4

Page 3

Page 5

MAKING THE BUNTING

cute party decor
cute party decor

I love the how cute these letter flags looked with the pom pom ribbon trim on top. 

cute party decor
cute party decor
cute party decor

SWAPPING CLOTHES...

When everyone arrives, have them place their clothes on a table or in a corner of your room. I would suggest mixing everyone's clothes together, then basically sorting everything by type (pants, dresses, shirts, etc) so it's more of an anonymous way to select new clothes. 

I thought it would be fun to greet guests with this beautiful party tablescape, then after people have grabbed their snacks and coffee, pile the table with everyone's clothes. You can of course let people spread out in your living room or a guest bedroom, and have everyone sit in comfy chairs and on floor pillows. This way, guests can have a comfy seat while swapping out for friends' clothes. 

clothing swap party decor
clothing swap party decor

RATE THE LOOKS:

I thought it would be so fun to let guests rate each other's new clothes they have chosen. By writing a 1-10 on the chalkboard signs, you can help your friends decide whether the clothing they chose honestly looks good or not. Kind of like scoring at the Olympics, ya know?!

clothing swap party decor

An extremely easy refreshment is pre-made iced coffee from the grocer store, topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. 

cute party decor
Coffee, please!
cute party decor / cookies
cute party decor

I also decorated with smaller paper shopping bags and adorable tissue paper!

cute party decor
cute party decor
cute party decor
cute party decor - coffee drinks!

Fall Tailgating + Football Party Tips!

I cannot wait for Fall, and one fun part of Fall is tailgating! Football season, and cooler temperatures make a great excuse to get together with friends and enjoy some good food and drink! Below, are some ideas on making your tailgating and football parties so much more elegant and grown-up. Most of these ideas, from some of my favorite bloggers, are just creative DIY ideas, that don't have to be expensive or time consuming. So, let's get ready for some football...

Fall Tailgating Tips

Serve Drinks From A Pumpkin (Waiting On Martha) - You can simply add some ice to a hollowed-out pumpkin and add beer, or line a smaller pumpkin with a plastic container and add dip for chips or veggies! Learn how Waiting On Martha styled an adorable tailgate party of her own here. 

Use Eco-Friendly Plates (Food 52) - If you must use disposable plates and food holders, there are more Eco-friendly options like these compostable wooden hot dog trays and more from Food52.

Create A Hydration Station (Style Me Pretty Vault) - Provide guests with inexpensive drinks like fruit-infused water, lemonade, and tea. Learn more about this incredible party, in the Style Me Pretty Vault Files.

DIY Flannel Napkins (Hey Wanderer) - Follow this cute DIY Tutorial from Hey Wanderer, or simply cut or rip a couple of yards of inexpensive plaid flannel fabric into 16" x 16" squares to provide guests with something more substantial thank those flimsy paper napkins. 

Style Me Pretty & Author Ngoc Nguyen Lay really know how to tailgate in style! This image, below, really shows a great overall party setup! Incorporating vintage items like an ice cream cone holder (used for fries and veggies in the photo), Picnic baskets, metal buckets, and pom-poms makes this setup look elegant instead of over the top. Learn more, here

Serve Elegant & Unexpected Treats (Happy Wish Company) - I just love how these macarons, cup of strawberries, wooden utensils, cloth napkin, and sandwich in a spotted paper party favor bag. Find fun party ideas like this one, from Happy Wish Company

I'm hoping to put together my own set of Tailgating Ideas in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!!

Passion Defined - Rémy Refined (Event Recap)

Last week, I was invited to a concert in St. Louis by Rémy Martin! The event was held at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater (formerly called Riverport Amphitheatre). There was a HUGE crowd, and everyone was having a great time. I was put on a list to do a Meet & Greet with Jhene Aiko, who opened for Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa on The High Road Tour, as well as helped Rémy Martin promote their mentorship sweepstakes. 

Remy

I waited in line to meet the woman of the hour, and she was super sweet and very personable. She's so beautiful!!! I even scored an awesome photo with her! What a unique experience this was. A special thanks to SoFabRocks for connecting me with this awesome brand, talented artist, and fun experience. 

Also, if you didn't get a chance to check out my Rémy Martin Watermelon Cocktail Cooler Recipe, you can find that blog post, here. Until next time, cheers, friends!

Jhene Aiko

Bluegrass + The Farmer's Market

I have written about the new Carbondale Community Farmer's Market before, but this week, I was so inspired by the live music that Hey Honey played! I created this fun video to showcase how vibrant this market is, so check it out here, or on my YouTube channel! 

Visit the Carbondale Community Farmer's Market every Wednesday from 3-6 pm, next to the Town Square Market, at the 200 block of Washington Street in Carbondale, IL. You will have access to seasonal produce, meat, eggs, bread, hand crafted sodas, sandwiches, baked goods, and more. You can even pick up some dinner at the market from Longbranch Cafe (I had the most amazing Sloppy Joes this week), and you can bring something home to snack on, or use for your meals throughout the rest of the week. I always like visiting each and every booth to see what's in season! 

At The Market

Hope you can stop by the market soon! 

Carbondale Community Farmer's Market - Weeks 1 & 2

So we have a new(ish) Farmer's Market in Carbondale. It happens every Wednesday afternoon from 3-6 pm. Tomorrow marks the third week, and I love the whole vibe of this market so much. The Carbondale Community Farmer's Market began operating out of the Carbondale Community High School a few years ago, and also hosted Carbondale's only Winter Farmer's Market. They wanted to provide a summer market to the city that serves this vibrant community, and wanted to help make local, small-batch, and organic produce and products available. The market is really wonderful.

Feel free to check out my two photo Facebook albums: Week 1 ~ Week 2

Farmer's Market Findings
Farmer's Market Findings
Farmer's Market
Farmer's Market Findings
Music At The Market
Radishes From Homer Grown

Radishes From Homer Grown

The market is great for families!

The market is great for families!

Farmer's Market
Scratch Beer  offers refreshing craft sodas at the market, as well as home made croutons and other bread items and mixes.

Scratch Beer offers refreshing craft sodas at the market, as well as home made croutons and other bread items and mixes.

Farm Fresh Eggs
All Seasons Farm - All Local, All Organic

All Seasons Farm - All Local, All Organic

All Seasons Farm - All Local, All Organic

All Seasons Farm - All Local, All Organic

Yay! Cascade Hops from Flora Bay Farm

Yay! Cascade Hops from Flora Bay Farm

Pie From Longbranch Coffee House 

Pie From Longbranch Coffee House 

Herbal Salve from Dayempur Herbals

Herbal Salve from Dayempur Herbals

Click To View More

Summer On-The-Go & Entertaining With Black Box Wines! - Plus 2 DIY Wine Party Tutorials

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.

I would like to share some adorable DIY party ideas for a cute summer party on-the-go with you today! Black Box Wines are the perfect summer party pal, because they are extremely portable. Black Box Wines are amazing for a camping party, that is a little bit more upscale. Why not add a little wine-tasting to your camp out!

Be sure to visit the Simple Entertaining Social Hub for more details about ways to entertain this summer.

These wines are eco-friendly, because the bag and box are recyclable! Black Box Wines taste good, and they are about half the price of bottled wines. Also, they can stay fresh up to 6 weeks, and contain 750 ml - the equivalent of 4 bottles. Imagine trying to carry 4 bottles of wine, which is way more to juggle than this one awesome box of tasty goodness! 50 gold Metals for quality can't be wrong!

A SUMMER PARTY RECIPE - WINE & CHEESE PAIRING SKEWERS

I love the idea of a wine and cheese party, but if guests can carry the appetizers around, it prevents anyone from being left out, or everyone having to hover over one plate of food. Instead, offer guests skewers, and a plentiful plate of meats and cheeses, and let them decide what they want! I also like the idea of having grapes and as many fresh fruits and veggies as possible. I liked using these cardboard food containers I got at a craft store. They hold so much, and are coated to avoid any messes. 

Cut up salami, summer sausage, and various cheeses and let guests use skewers to create their own Wine & Cheese Pairing Skewers!! 

Cut up salami, summer sausage, and various cheeses and let guests use skewers to create their own Wine & Cheese Pairing Skewers!! 

Let your guests choose their own adventure, and add whatever type of meats and cheeses they want! Less food will be wasted with this method, which saves money.

Let your guests choose their own adventure, and add whatever type of meats and cheeses they want! Less food will be wasted with this method, which saves money.

 photo SOCIAL HUB graphic.png Be sure to visit the Simple Entertaining Social Hub for more details about ways to entertain this summer.

FABRIC WINE GLASS MARKERS

DIY Fabric Wine Glass Markers #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias (Msg4 21+)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) These are super simple and can be made for FREE! Just cut your fabric strips that are 12" long x 1" wide. I just freehanded these, but a rotary cutter could always be used.

2.) Now, to get the rough edges on the fabric pieces, pull them and stretch them as much as possible. Keep pulling from both ends until you get a more frayed look. 

3.) Tie the distressed fabric strips around the top of the wine glass stem, and double knot. 

4.) I found that cutting about 1" off of each of the long ends at a diagonal was best. That's it! 

DIY Fabric Wine Glass Markers #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias (Msg4 21+)

WINE PARTY TIP! 

To ensure guests can reach the boxes of wine, elevate them onto something like a glass vase or metal box. This also adds visual interest to your party table. 

Cute Summer Party Ideas! #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias (Msg4 21+)

DIY WINE SIGN TUTORIAL

Cute Summer Party Ideas! #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias (Msg4 21+)

This little project came together so well! It was one of the easiest party decor projects ever. 

WHAT YOU NEED:

All you need is a few materials and about 15 minutes, and you can make this cute DIY Wine Sign! Perfect for summer parties On-The-Go!

All you need is a few materials and about 15 minutes, and you can make this cute DIY Wine Sign! Perfect for summer parties On-The-Go!

4 Galvanized letters - found at a fabric store, Birch Round (or Rectangle) - found at that same fabric store, and a hot glue gun with glue. Super Glue / Krazy glue did NOT work at all, just a warning :) 

1.) Plug in your glue gun, and begin to do a sample placement of your letters onto the birch round. This birch round actually has a twine hanger attached, but you can cut it off. 

2.) I found that the best way to securely attach the letters was to mark where each letter went with a dot of pencil, then apply hot glue and quickly re-attach your letters. 

3.) Glue all letters in place and you are DONE! This project only took about 15 minutes!

DIY Wine Sign! #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias (Msg4 21+)
For a wonderful Summer On-The-Go party, consider providing your guests with Black Box Wines! Enjoy!
Cute Summer Party Ideas! #BlackBoxSummer #CollectiveBias (Msg4 21+)

Create + Cultivate Dallas!

Wow! Just got back a few days ago from Dallas, and I have all sorts of things to share with you. The main theme that the presenters, speakers, and mentors kept saying was to STAY AUTHENTIC. I love this because I have been completely under the impression that it is best to stick to one topic when blogging if you want to be successful. And, while this business model does work well for some, it is not the only way that you have to do things. 

The other super important take-away for me, was that I have GOT to develop a BUSINESS PLAN if I want my blog to be my full time business! (Which I do). So I already have a journal dedicated to this very purpose, and I cannot wait to share a bit of that with my readers along the way, throughout 2016. 

macarons

THE CONFERENCE...

Let me begin by saying that this was the most inspiring event I have aver attended. There were loads of fashion bloggers, creative women, adorable food and drinks, and great people watching! I didn't really realize the event was going to be mostly fashion influencers/bloggers, but it was great to see who is out there, and basically "who I am blogging beside".

They really did a lovely job decorating the Lofty Spaces, and every single inch of the place was like a perfect Instagram moment! 

Shopstyle

It was amazing seeing so many talented and motivated millennials who all want to run an online business or blog. There were people with quite a wide range of talents, as well as people who were at just about every stage of the game, from people who were just still conceptualizing their brand, blog, and business, to those who had been blogging for ten years, and were basically "social celebrities". 

Moxie McCoy was one of my mentors. 

Moxie McCoy was one of my mentors. 

SOME KEY NOTES...

Some of the important notes I took include:

- To be inspiring, you need to also be inspired! 

- Create a business that fulfills a need that people have. 

- Take intelligent risks.

- your business pan needs to allot for revenue gain and need to be sustainable.

- Stay authentic

- You need to have a MISSION DRIVEN BUSINESS.

- Keep your original mission in mind the whole time you run your business.

- To be an entrepreneur, you need two things - WORK ETHIS & PASSION. 

- Trust your voice

- You need a specific vision and voice.

- Curate, Collaborate, and Create

- Stay ahead of the trends

- Offline Interactions are even more important than those you are having online! 

- Speaking engagements can bring in more money than blogging alone. 

- Engage in platforms that facilitate communities.

 

NYLO DALLAS + PECAN LODGE BBQ

Wow, the NYLO Dallas was incredible! Really lovely rooms with tall ceilings and large bathrooms. 

Wow, the NYLO Dallas was incredible! Really lovely rooms with tall ceilings and large bathrooms. 

Pecan Lodge BBQ. YUM!!!!

Pecan Lodge BBQ. YUM!!!!

 

 

I'm Heading To Create + Cultivate!

Create + Cultivate is less than a week away and I am so excited! This will be my second conference, and I have been following their social accounts religiously. I am always so concerned with what to wear to events like this, so I got myself a couple of new dresses and cannot wait to get packed for Dallas! 

Headed To Create + Cultivate!

These are the two dresses I got, one for the Friday night happy hour, and one for the event on Saturday. I love that these dresses won't wrinkle in my suitcase, too. I will be looking for some cute heeled booties to go with both of them! I also need to find myself an adorable new notebook, spiral preferably, and a new purse! Since I work from home, I do not traditionally wear office attire on a daily basis, so I always have to get something new when I am attending anything dressy. Totally fine with that, though :) 

I also got myself some new business cards from moo.com! They are triple thick, with a neon pink layer in the middle. They are so great! Last time I got a simple black layer inside, but the pink is even more eye catching in s fun and unique way. Click To Get 10% Off Your First Purchase! 

My New Business Cards!  Find Me On Instagram Here . 

My New Business Cards! Find Me On Instagram Here

Can't wait to share some pictures of the event soon! 

2015 Year In Review

I had an incredible year, last year, and I think it will be great to share all of the fun things with you. Sometimes, I think I am never doing enough, completing enough, scratching a line through enough items on my endless to-do list. Do you ever feel that way? I think this post will also be an amazing way to look back at all of the wonderful places we went, and things I accomplished throughout 2015. It is so important to share the things you are thankful for, and I am thankful for health, happiness, and all of the fun opportunities I had last year. Here's to another circle around the sun!!! 

2015 Recap

JANUARY

In late January of 2015, I decided it was a good idea for me to move over to a .com from my long-standing blogspot blog. I am still very happy that I chose to go to a .com! My previous blog was - http://lily-the-wandering-gypsy.blogspot.com/. Throughout the whole year of 2015, I had over 150,000 Page Views on lily-the-wandering-gypsy.com, and I am so happy about that!!! I also started my super popular Group Pinterest Board, called Inspire Me

I also created some pretty awesome things, like my Mixed Berry and Banana Smoothie Recipe, and this Beautiful Fleece Cowl Scarf


FEBRUARY

I had the experience of a lifetime in February when I went to Laguna Niguel, CA to speak at The Re/Code Media conference at THE RITZ (!!!) on a panel of "New Influencers". This was a monumental trip that you can read all about here

This month, I also ramped up my holiday-inspired posts by making a few Valentine's Day Posts. I had lots of traffic from my post about Beautiful Bacon Roses and still love them so much! Another super popular post was my Candy Heart Tutorial. I photographed some beautiful goodies from Brightly Twisted, too! I also started a blog called Bisque This! (which I later turned into Bisque-This.com). This definitely marked a point where I began creating some really nice recipes and posting them. 


MARCH

Some of the posts I made in March were these Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Rings, and the Tater Tot Horseshoe. We also created some gorgeous styled photos for Alice & Marie! We got out of the cold Illinois weather this month and headed out to Arizona!!! For some reason, I was silly and didn't post much about it on my blog...probably because of the complete lack of good internet while we were galavanting around in the desert? Who knows, but we had such an incredibly time, we are going back in March of 2016! I promise I will post more along the way this time around...PROMISE! 

The places we visited in March on our Southwest Road Trip include: Truth or Consequences, NM, Saguaro National Park, Cave Creek, AZ. Read about Utah Below...

Arizona
Screen Shot 2016-01-16 at 12.16.10 PM.png
AZ
Arizona

AND ANOTHER THING...

Bobby and I also got to work on an amazing project for L'Oreal Advanced Hairstyles while we were in Arizona. I could not think of a more gorgeous place/backdrop for photos! View my portfolio here. I also created a Dedicated Pinterest Board, called Style It - Change It - Own It, which I had a lot of fun with! 

OFF TO UTAH

We had an amazing time doing each and every National Park in Utah - so glad we had a National Parks Pass. Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Escalante, Canyonlands, Kodachrome Basin, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Moab, UT. What an unforgettable time!

Escalante National Park

Escalante National Park

Escalante National Park

Escalante National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park - Click To See Larger

Kodachrome National Park
Our Trusty Prius At Kodachrome! 

Our Trusty Prius At Kodachrome! 


APRIL

In April, the weather finally started to warm up here in Illinois, and I was creating even more content. I also started (another) blog for fashion-only, called She's So Chic (which I need to revisit pretty badly...). 

Bobby and I also created some more content and a Dedicated Pinterest Board for L'Oreal Infalliable Makeup. Another incredible and honorable projects that I was so happy to create.

I also created this DIY Daily Planner post, which remains my most popular post to date! I also created this Festival Ready Flower Crown, in honor of Coachella and Bonnaroo. 

I visited the Nashville Country Living fair with my mom and sister, and had a great time! 


MAY

Another fun month! I collaborated with Sony Pictures to help promote their movie, Aloha! We have been to Hawaii three times, so I thought this was a really fun and inspiring project. Check out the Dedicated Pinterest Board and Blog Post talking more about the project. I was also named in the Top 100 Pinners of 2015 by Daily Tekk. I also created this Tassel Earrings Tutorial, and photographed Emblem Eyewear Sunnies.


JUNE

In June, I created a great post for HelloSociety about my Top 5 Pinterest Tips! It was shared quite a few times!!! I also created another boho tutorial, showing how to embellish the cutest boots ever! I also created some adorable onesies, and took some photos at our amazing Farmer's Market, one of which was featured on the VSCO blog! 

Speaking of Farmer's Markets, Carbondale gained a new Farmer's Market this past summer, and they had a great selection of local veggies. And, check out my favorite Bloody Mary Recipe ever! 


JULY

This month, I worked with Nordstrom Rack to help promote their clothing on Pinterest! I created a new Tumblr site, called Wandering Gypsy Fashion Blog, to focus one site on fashion-only. I also photographed this organic lotion line from Ayushi Woods. We also gave a $100 Gift Certificate To one lucky winner! I also created this fun Raspberry Mint Spritzer Recipe


AUGUST - OUR BIG ROAD TRIP + MORE

Things heated up this month with an amazing collaboration with Ulta Beauty Hair & Cosmetics. I also created an amazingly delicious No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe, perfect as individual servings! 

 The second week of August, we took the biggest road trip we have EVER taken!!! Again, I did not really post much about this on my blog, but I promise to blog more on upcoming road trips, promise! 

OUR ROAD TRIP...

We spent about 6 weeks on the road throughout August and September. We visited places in Colorado like Glenwood Springs, Crested Butte, Silverton, Ouray, and Silverton. I got a few photos, but this was when Lily was having a really hard time, so it's very hard to even go back and look at photos from this time...We lost one of our very best friends on the trip, though, and I have still never felt the same without her. Lily the AmStaff will always be loved and I am happy she had such an adventurous life. 

Colorado!

OFF TO CALIFORNIA

Lake Tahoe

Tahoe Fun
Tahoe Fun
Tahoe Fun

San Francisco

San Francisco
San Francisco
San Francisco

Westport

Westport, CA + The Redwoods
Westport, CA
Westport, CA

OREGON

Waldport

Waldport, Oregon
Waldport, OR
Rogue Brewery

Cannon Beach + Portland

Cannon Beach
Portland

WASHINGTON

Olympic Peninsula - Kalaloch Lodge 

Kalaloch
Olympic National Park
Kalaloch

Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island

MONTANA + IDAHO

On the way back home, we drove through Ketchum, Idaho, and Missoula, Montana. 

Ketchum, Idaho
Missoula, MT
Missoula, MT

SEPTEMBER

Some of the photos from August actually took place in September, but this month, I wanted to feature the projects we completed in August and September. We worked with Bacardi (!!!), Missouri Department of Tourism, Emma Stine, and the FYI Network for their show Style: Unzipped. 


OCTOBER

Another pretty incredible month. While working on Halloween projects, I got an email from HelloSociety and Skype, asking me if I wanted to visit New York City (in a few days...), and help with a Skype Halloween Party for The Lower East Side Girls' Club! They flew me out, and then put me up in a (hotel). i had an amazing time and learned so many new things. Check out my tips for a great Halloween Party With Skype, and my trip to New York City! (Thanks, Skype!!!!)

I also created some amazing photos for Sony Pictures' movie, Burnt. This was one of the hardest projects I have ever done and loved learning so much from it. 

Burnt Movie
Burnt Movie

I also created a few photos for Toad&Co. 

Toad&Co.
Toad&Co.

NOVEMBER

Going back to loving to cook, I created a great Stuffed Squash Recipe, a 7 Can Soup Recipe, took photos of Fall Ice Cream Treats at Cold Stone Creamery, and also shot some gorgeous photos for Erin Pelicano Jewelry. Her work is beautiful! I also created this gift guide, and also shot a few photos inspired by e.l.f. cosmetics for their #PlayBeautifully project


DECEMBER

Wow, I did quite a bit this month! Christmas and the holidays were such a great inspiration for me, and I actually worked with Harley-Davidson! I think we got some great photos and I also made them a Dedicated Board. I also styled up a beautiful watch by JORD Wood Watches, made in St. Louis, just 2 hours from here. 


Whew! So, that's my last year in a big gigantic nutshell! I hope this inspires you, I know it will help me keep motivated to continue to create new things and travel to new places! 

This post was inspired by This Post from Inspired By Charm

Create + Cultivate Conference

I am super excited to be attending the Create + Cultivate Conference in Dallas, at the end of this month. I know time will fly, so I am trying my best to get prepared for it. The tickets have already sold out, so they are announcing the next location pretty soon. Looks like such a fun time, I cannot wait!


This conference also looked like a contender for next year - Thrive Blogger Conference. It is January 31, 2016. It costs about $150 for a ticket, which I am sure would be well worth it. It's held at The Embassy Suites in The Woodlands area of Texas.