Hassle-Free Holiday Meal Ideas + Veggie Foil Packets with Del Monte

This post has been sponsored by Del Monte Foods, Inc. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Holiday Meals

Each year, I seem to love the holidays more and more. To me, I love any excuse to

make delicious food and have friends and family over. So I thought it would be

fun to share an easy meal idea and show you just how easy this meal was. I

thought it turned out very elegant, and everything was literally devoured

pretty quickly.

These Veggie Foil Packets are a great vegetarian dinner alternative or side dish. These foil packets are so familiar to most people (think campfire dinners) but by adding more unique and colorful ingredients, these veggie packets can be taken to the next level and even enjoyed at a holiday dinner as a side dish! Simply put, these foil packets contain an array of ingredients like potatoes, carrots, garlic, onions, fresh herbs like parsley and oregano, and of course the Del Monte mixed veggies and green beans. Also, if you are put in the position when you need to offer a few vegetarian side dishes during the holidays, the veggie packets and the cornbread would be amazing.

Easy Holiday Meal
Easy Holiday Meal

Del Monte is my number one brand for everything canned during the holidays and during every month of the year. You can find them at your nearest retailer using this store locator. This could be a cute meal for Friendsgiving, for a fall or holiday date night, or something special for a smaller crowd during the holidays.

Visit Del Monte’s website to check out TONS more holiday recipes, here!

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)

 VEGGIE FOIL PACKETS:

1-2 Cans Del Monte® Vegetable & Bean Blends Country Style

1-2 Cans Del Monte® Blue Lake® Cut Green Beans

4-6 pieces of foil (8”-10” squares) – 2 pieces per packet 

CREAMED CORN CORNBREAD CAKE + MUFFINS:

1 package cornbread muffin or cake mix (I used one 15 oz. box but you can also use two 8 oz boxes as well!)

1 egg

1/3 c. oil

1 Cup Del Monte® Cream Style Golden Sweet Corn

½ - 1 c. milk

Muffin tin

Cupcake liners 

WHOLE YOUNG CHICKEN:

1 whole chicken (organic when possible)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1-2 tsp salt

1-2 Tbsp seasoning (I used Greek seasoning, but use anything you would like)

Brush to apply olive oil (optional)

Parsley for garnish 

Instructions:

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare chicken. Place chicken onto a rimmed baking sheet and begin to brush olive oil over chicken. I basically drizzled the oil onto the chicken and then brushed it over. Next, I simply sprinkled seasoning all over the chicken. Cover with foil and bake for at least 1.5 hours. At a little over an hour, I carefully uncovered the chicken, then placed it back into the oven to finish baking. Make sure the breast is not pink anymore. A note on the chicken: there was a lot of juice in the cake pan from the chicken cooking. Be careful not to spill this juice or it may hurt you. Be very careful when handling this pan.

2.) Mid way through cooking chicken, prep for the veggie packets. Strain both cans of Del Monte veggies and divide them equally between 2 or 3 foil packets, To make the packets, simply place two sheets of foil on a baking tray, place veggies in the middle, then season with 1-2 tsp of your favorite seasoning mix and salt if needed. Fold two side of the foil inward, then twist the ends to keep everything inside. Place onto sheet pan and bake for 12-15 minutes or until steaming. Carefully open the packets as the steam can hurt you.

Veggie Foil Packets
Veggie Foil Packets
Veggie Foil Packets

3.) Mix up cornbread ingredients and prepare pan. For my spring form pan, I sprayed it with cooking spray then lightly coated the pan in flour. Fill the springform pan about halfway full then pour the rest of the batter, cover with foil, and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes with foil covering until the last 10-15 mins. Pour the batter into the cupcake cups and bake muffins at 375F for about 15-18 minutes. The springform pan is not necessary, it just made for a wonderful presentation! Feel free to use any size or shape of square or round dish you have.

The Best Cornbread For The Holidays
The Best Cornbread Recipe
The Best Cornbread Recipe

4.) To serve, place chicken into shallow serving bowl or platter and garnish with parsley. Also, feel free to place cornbread cake onto a cake stand or on a cute dish with a spatula for serving. Lastly, either have guests grab veggies from a serving bowl or straight from the packets!

Delicious Holiday Chicken Recipe

Cleanup was super easy with this whole process. If you do not want to cook a whole chicken, you can use chicken drumsticks, thighs, or even chicken breasts. I say this because it can take up to 2 hours for the chicken to be fully cooked if the bird is 4 pounds like mine was.

I absolutely LOVED the green beans and the other vegetables in the new Mixed Veggies collection. I actually liked the vegetables more than any other part of this meal, and my friends also raved about each and every part. I had so much fun treating a few of my favorite people to an exceptionally thoughtful dinner during the holidays, which can be a super hectic time when people may forget to eat a “real meal”.

What are your favorite vegetarian side dishes to serve during the holidays?

Look out for these mixed veggies from the brand:

Del Monte® Vegetable & Bean Blends California Style

Del Monte® Vegetable & Bean Blends Classic Style

Del Monte® Vegetable & Bean Blends Country Style

Del Monte® Vegetable & Bean Blends Mexican Style

Connect with Del Monte on social and show off your recipes, too!

Canned Veggies Recipes

LEARN ABOUT MORE BLOGGERS’ RECIPES HERE!

Vegetarian Pot Pies Recipe with Amy’s Kitchen

Thank you Amy’s for sponsoring this post. #StartWithAmys this Soup Season.

With cooler weather on the horizon, it’s time to incorporate comfort food that will make you happy about what you are serving and eating. For over 30 years, Amy’s Kitchen has been cooking up vegetarian meals made with high-quality ingredients. As fall quickly approaches, it’s time to get your soup on!

Vegetarian Pot Pie Recipe #StartWithAmys
Vegetarian Pot Pie Recipe

I found a unique way to incorporate three varieties of Amy’s Kitchen soups into a Vegetarian Pot Pie, and I hope you love it! Since Amy’s Soups already taste delicious on their own, I was able to allow those flavors to shine, while simply complimenting them with a few more veggies and a flaky, puff pastry woven lattice crust. This dish can be made as individual pot pies, or as one large casserole – it’s completely up to you! And, feel free to use this lattice technique, or simply use a full sheet of puff pastry crust right across the top.

Vegetarian Pot Pie Recipe

This homemade, vegetarian dish is waiting to be served at your next weeknight dinner, holiday meal, or even as a make-ahead meal that can be frozen and baked in just a short time, making dinner exceptionally easy AND delicious!

The phrase “comfort food” definitely comes to mind with this dish. It’s filled with an array of veggies, plus Amy’s Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup, Organic Chunky Vegetable Soup, and their Organic Vegetable Barley Soup. This dish is literally brimming with vegetables, you are going to love it. Even super picky eaters will enjoy this food. It’s a great idea to stock up for the cooler months with Amy’s soups! Keep a few soup cans stashed in your pantry (or desk!) for those times when you want something tasty that will warm you up as well. I always feel better after a warm meal, and these soups make an exceptional meal all on their own!

I love this cream of mushroom soup - it could surely be enjoyed on its own, warmed up with a handful of oyster crackers in the bowl for some crunch. I have never found a cream of anything soup that I am happy with. I have found that most canned cream soups are all way too thick and just full of unnecessary ingredients, and I have found too some have a sort of strange aroma. This has always turned me away from using condensed cream soups, but now I have a newfound hope thanks to Amy’s Kitchen! The Cream of Mushroom Semi-Condensed Soup worked super well for the base of this recipe, and would even be super delicious heated and enjoyed on its own, or with a handful of soup crackers.

I have fond memories of my mom making chicken pot pie many, many times as a child. She would use a traditional recipe that incorporated chicken and a small portion of veggies. It was always amazing, but as I grew older, and realized the importance of eating plant-based, I knew I needed to adapt a few of my most treasured family recipes into vegetarian versions.

Luckily, all of Amy’s products contain high-quality ingredients. That is extremely important for me, and I am so happy I have made a small lifestyle switch to considering each and every ingredient in the foods I eat and prepare for those I love. At Amy’s, they choose the best ingredients for each recipe. They cook with ingredients that people use in their own kitchens and trust, like carrots, beans, flour and spices! They don’t use a lot of starches and thickeners (which I do notice when I open their soups and other foods. They rely instead on slow simmering and cooking to develop soups and creamy sauces. This is very apparent as I was using the Amy’s Cream of Mushroom soup, it’s a really smooth texture without being overly thick, like other cream canned soups.

PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW - RIGHT CLICK TO SAVE OR PRINT

Veg Pot Pie Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

1 can Amy’s Organic Cream of Mushroom Soup

1 can Amy’s Organic Chunky Vegetable Soup

1 can Amy’s Organic Vegetable Barley Soup (any of their other vegetable soups will work well too)

1 sheet of puff pastry

½ red onion - chopped

1-2 cloves garlic – minced

1-2 TBSP olive oil

½ of a red potato – chopped into very small pieces

1 c. broccoli – chopped into small pieces

½ c. corn (frozen or canned)

½ c. frozen peas

2-4 TBSP seasoning (I use a mixture of low sodium seasoned salt and a Greek spice blend)

1 TBSP butter or butter alternative

3 TBSP flour

salt

Optional 1 egg for egg wash (simply use which to stir up one egg in a small bowl)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.)   Sautee olive oil, onions, and garlic, and 1-2 TBSP seasoning for 2-3 minutes. Once onions are soft, add potatoes and cook at medium heat for about 3 minutes with the pan’s lid on. Carefully stir the potatoes once during cooking, and replace lid.

2.)   Add 1 cup broccoli, corn, and frozen peas, and simmer another 3 minutes. Add up to 2 tsp more seasoning at this point, and stir to coat all veggies.

3.)   Turn off heat, and transfer all veggies from skillet to another heat safe bowl and set aside. Do not clean or wipe out skillet yet.

4.)   In this same skillet, melt 1 TBSP butter. Once melted, stir in 3 TBSP flour, and stir until combined. This helps to thicken the sauce. It will look “chunky”, but that’s ok!

5.)   Add 1 can of Amy’s Organic Cream of Mushroom soup, and stir to combine. Turn heat back onto medium, and add the bowl of veggies back into the skillet. Stir to combine, and heat for 2-3 minutes while stirring, to combine and thicken everything.

6.)   Preheat oven to 400 degrees for Transfer into prepared baking dish(es) – make sure to spray them with non-stick spray first!

7.)   Time to do the crust! Either place one sheet of puff pastry across the top of the baking dish and trim the sides and cut vents at top, OR use the lattice technique I have shown in this post!

8.)   To lattice: cut ½” or 1” strips out of your puff pastry sheet and weave them across the top of the pie. I start by placing three strips vertically, then working on weaving in the three horizontal strips. From there, I can then place the remaining strips of puff pastry into the top of the pie. Cut excess dough hanging over sides of baking dish, and if you want, use your fingers to gently press the dough strips down onto the baking dish so it does not move while baking.

Vegetarian Pot Pie Recipe

9.)   Brush top of pie with an optional egg wash, and bake small pies for 17-22 minutes or one pie for 25-35 minutes. The puff pastry need to be pretty crunchy on top to ensure that the dough touching the filling is not doughy.

Vegetarian Pot Pie Recipe

What a fun and comforting vegetarian meal to make for your favorite people! Perhaps you could even surprise a busy family with a frozen version of this pie, and they can enjoy a vegetarian meal in a less than a half hour of baking time! Enjoy!

Vegetarian Pot Pie Recipe #StartWithAmys

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Football Party Ideas + Updated Pigs In A Blanket Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Dr Pepper® and Eckrich®. All opinions are mine alone. #MyMeijerWin

Time to reinvent a classic, well-loved recipe that tastes better than ever! College football season it the perfect time to try out a few new recipes for guests, friends, and family alike! This grown up, more sophisticated version of Pigs In A Blanket will delight guests! Serve with ice cold Dr Pepper® for a pairing with Eckrich® Smoked Sausage, sure to be out of this world delicious! A true crowd-pleaser during your college football celebration - who will YOU be rooting for? 

Check out this mperks offer to save $1 on any TWO (2) Dr Pepper® 6pk 7.5oz cans or 8pk 12 oz bottles at Meijer (while supplies last).
Football Party Appetizer

I used one of my favorite ingredients, Eckrich® Smoked Sausage, to make this delicious creation, which would be AMAZING for your next game day or holiday celebration. People rave about these and always ask when I’ll be making more. Read on to learn more about my latest college football celebration, and get the details on how to make your next celebration a success. Our college's colors are maroon and white, so actually Dr Pepper is a fun choice to celebrate locally. PLUS, every single one of my friends is slightly obsessed with Dr Pepper, so offering this refreshment at any of my parties tends to go over well. The smoked sausage worked super well for this project too. 

I thought it was super clever to cut up the smoked sausages for this recipe, compared to using traditional small cocktail weenies. This made for a much better bite! 

Football Shaped Party Appetizer

Whenever I begin to plan a design for a college football party, I immediately think of which vintage elements I want to incorporate. For some reason, I associate football with the nostalgia of times (and games) past, PLUS I believe that a vintage style theme and set of decorations will appeal to all age ranges, which I love. If someone who can have a sort of connection to my decor, whether they are actually attending my parties OR viewing the recaps on my blog, it means a lot to me.

Football Shaped Appetizer

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RIGHT CLICK AND SAVE OR PRINT

Football Shaped Pigs In A Blanket
Football Shaped Party Appetizer

GAME DAY PARTY DETAILS: 

To choose your colors, decide what color metallic you like best. I chose gold here, but silver or copper would be your other common choices. The gold accents really catch the light so well, and can make any party décor look more classy. These metallic gold, plastic utensils almost look real, and the gold shimmering tinsel (found in the gift wrap section at a craft store) really made things shimmer. I thought that the gold tinsel reminded me of pom poms!

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Next, I used lots of rustic wooden surfaces, and one small vintage crate to get some of the items on the table up at eye level. I love setting up the food and drink table(s) with items being served at different heights. This adds SO much visual interest to the party offerings! This is such a better alternative than simply laying all the food on an uninviting table.Taking a few extra moments to consider the design of your food and refreshment table seems to at least make party setup more exciting on my side as well.

Let people serve themselves by offering Dr Pepper and other drinks in nice containers or a cooler, so you do not have to serve each guest individually. This gives you way more time to enjoy your company rather than stressing out by hosting so much. 

Football Party Ideas
Football Party Ideas

I incorporated football themed cups, plates, and napkins wherever I could! I loved this rather vintage look for the party, with rustic woods, plaid patterns, and even a vintage looking font for the Tailgates and Traditions can carrier, above. In addition to being a cute way to display Dr Pepper at your college football parties, this carrier (or some other fun 6 pack holder) would be perfect to tote your soft drinks to the game or to tailgate.

As soon as I begin to see football related party items in stores. I tend to pick them up. We celebrate all football season long, and so having a lot of different party items on hand makes life a little bit more fun, in my opinion! 

Do you tend to go all out when decorating for football parties / game days, or do you tend to scale things back a bit and just stick to the essentials? Either way, offering guests Dr Pepper and these updated Pigs In A Blanket will make your next get together a win!

Football Party Ideas

I offered guests three different flavors of mustard to compliment the Pigs In A Blanket - I used a traditional yellow one, a creamy dijon, and a stone ground. But, whatever you have will likely work! Just serve the mustards in small glass bowls or anything that spruces up the presentation, and you're set. I definitely consider that a #MyMeijerWin

Football party ideas
Football Party Ideas

If I am having a party, I tend to offer lots of dips, making each meal a little bit more unique and delicious. Above, you will see three different mustards that I shared. Simply use whatever you already have in your home, or head to Meijer and take a few minutes to see just how many varieties of mustard there are. I chose a yellow, a stone ground, then a creamy stone ground variety. Whatever mustard(s) you choose, they will pair super well with these Pigs In A Blanket! YUM!!! This celebration and these recipes turned out SO well, and I cannot wait for you to try something this delicious. Enjoy!! 

PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Football Party Ideas
Football Party Ideas!
Football Party Ideas

Veggie Lovers’ Club Sandwich Recipe with Pepperidge Farm

This post has been sponsored by Pepperidge Farm®, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you’re wanting to find more ways to connect with family or friends, I often find that food brings people together better than nearly anything else. I recently created the most delicious Veggie Lovers’ Club Sandwich with Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse® Butter Bread, and it’s quickly becoming my go-to bread for sandwiches, breakfast recipes, and even making toast, which I love so dearly.

This sandwich contains ingredients in all sorts of colors; I just love to eat as many different colored veggies as possible each day. I hope you enjoy!

I find that sandwiches with fresh and delicious ingredients that can be made ahead of time really helps save time and brings families closer together. I absolutely love providing my friends and family with fresh, nourishing meals that in turn give them energy and encouragement to inspire wonderful days ahead. Whether you’re making this Club Sandwich for two or you’re making brunch for a whole house full of family and guests, I would definitely recommend the thick, rich, buttery taste of this awesome, slow baked Butter Bread – you’re going to love its fresh-from-the-oven taste!

When I visit the bread aisle at the grocery store, I see SO many choices for white bread. But even with all of those choices, few actually compare to this Butter Bread. I love how thick the slices are. Since I am already a huge fan of anything from Pepperidge Farm and I saw that this new flavor was available at a wide range of stores, I was instantly relieved to finally find a white bread with thicker slices and a bit of a buttery taste! YUM!

My boyfriend always jokes that any product that has butter in the name, I will love. Well, he is completely correct about that – I was seriously SO excited when I found out that one of my recipes contained butter bread, I nearly jumped for joy. That’s how much I love butter!

Find new Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse® Butter Bread at retailers like Target and Kroger here! This product may quickly become your FAVORITE new bread for every recipe you can imagine.

This Veggie Lovers’ Club Sandwich is such a fun way to spend more time together and also experience new and different ingredients and flavors – which is a super fun way to bond with those you love. Find joy in the simple flavors of these all-natural sandwich toppings!

INGREDIENTS (MAKES 2 SANDWICHES)

FOR THE SANDWICH:

6 slices of Pepperidge Farm Butter Bread

8 spinach leaves

10 slices of English cucumber

½ - 1 Cup sprouts (any flavor you like)

Toaster for bread

Food processor for beet spread

FOR THE BEET SPREAD:

1 package of pre-cooked beets or 1 can of beets (remove any liquid)

2-3 tsp olive oil

3 tsp balsamic vinaigrette

½ tsp salt

1 tsp Italian seasoning

(topped with chives – optional)

FOR THE GREEN GODDESS SANDWICH SPREAD:

¼ C. Greek yogurt (use non-dairy alternative for vegan)

1/8 C. mayo (use non-dairy alternative for vegan)

¼ C. finely chopped chives

2-3 Tbsp freshly chopped tarragon

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Make Beet Sauce by putting all ingredients into food processor or blender, and pureeing until smooth. Add more salt if desired.

2.) Make Green Goddess Sandwich Spread by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon until well combined. Feel free to add more salt, garlic powder, or any other seasonings you enjoy.

3.) Toast 6 slices of Butter Bread and get ready to make the Club Sandwich.

4.) To construct each sandwich – add Beet Spread on one slice of bread, then top with sprouts. On another slice of bread, add Green Goddess Spread and 5 slices of cucumbers (and a bit of salt on top of cucumbers if desired). One piece of bread will remain without any toppings.

5.) Lastly, layer the pieces like this – Beet Spread + Sprout slice, topped by the Green Goddess and Cucumber slice, then the final top slice of bread, and cut in half to serve! The beautiful layers of bread and ingredients are just so colorful and delicious. This toast also held up very well with all of these ingredients!

I hope you enjoy this vegetarian recipe with those you love! Good food brings people together, and that time with loved ones is what keeps me happy every day! Please let me know if you wind up making this recipe!

Rustic Apple Pie Pizza Recipe + Why I love Fall Baking

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Oregon Chai®. The opinions and text are all mine. #OregonChaiMeTime 

Wow! Have I got an incredible recipe for you today. It embodies the fall spirit, and includes a dessert “pizza!” This delicious and unique recipe is rustic, sweet, and crunchy; an amazing pairing with a nice, warm Oregon Chai® Tea Latte! Make this amazing dessert for your next gathering, dinner with friends and family, or even for a potluck. This dessert will vanish before you know it.

Rustic Apple Pie Pizza

To me, baking is one of the best ways to spend “me time.” I tend to find myself baking the most once the weather cools down, when I have a bit of free time, or even when too many days have passed since I created something delicious.  Any day that includes chai tea and some me time is a GOOD DAY!

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I wasn’t always able to bake freely though. Before we got our new furnace this summer, the house would get WAY too hot (83 degrees +) when I turned on the oven, and so it was nearly impossible to justify baking when the house would not cool down from it. I made so many no-bake meals, or even used our awesome toaster oven to try to make complete meals, small casseroles, and even side dishes – baking cookies, pies, or brownies really doesn’t go well in the toaster oven.

I didn’t even realize how strong of a connection I had to baking, until I had limited use of the oven, and realized how sad I was when I looked through Pinterest and saw all of those recipes that I could not even attempt. I now bake every few days (or more) and I am so happy about how cool our house stays finally. Thank goodness for good air conditioning, LOL!

I also tend to LOVE sweet desserts and dishes, so this one is just perfect for me. If you like desserts that are on the more savory or less sweet side of life, then you can majorly reduce the amount of sugar I have suggested. Either way, you’re going to love this apple pie pizza.

Pizza is such a familiar comfort food, and when I had a slice of this Apple Pie Pizza, it took me back to eating some of the best thin crust pizza ever, combined with one of my favorite fall desserts ever.

Since we are surrounded by apple orchards here in southern Illinois, using apples in my recipe came as a very natural solution to eating more local ingredients!

This rustic recipe is crunchy around the edges from this crispy crunchy dough, sweet, tart from the apples, buttery from the dough, and the egg wash and cinnamon sugar topping makes the most excellent crunch when you bite into it.

Perfect for enjoying on a chilly fall day or evening! I was extremely happy with how this recipe turned out, and I know you will be too. I used an organic pie crust from the store, and it held the shape of the lattice just perfectly.

By cutting the lattice into smaller, ½” strips, I was able to make a very intricate pattern on top of this Apple Pie Pizza. Feel free to also cut the strips into 1” pieces to make life much easier! The ½” strips were not incredibly hard to work with, just a little more time consuming. But, patience always pays off when you’re baking.

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

1 package refrigerated pie crust (2 per package)

2 apples, I used green apples

4-5 Tbsp.  sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 egg, whisked for egg wash

4-6 Tbsp. water in a small bowl to use to attach pie dough together

Round or Rectangular baking sheet

Parchment paper

Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate to enjoy while baking!

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Chop 2 apples into tiny pieces and coat with 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg.

2.) Unroll both pie crusts onto a work surface covered in parchment paper. Optional: use a rolling pin to smooth out any creases.

3.) Use a ruler to mark every ½” or 1” on one pie crust. Also, use the ruler and a sharp knife to impress even lines and cut strips from the pie crust. Set aside.

Apple Pie Pizza

4.) Spread an even layer of apples onto the other pie crust.

Apple Pie Pizza

5.) Weave dough strips over apples, first laying half of the strips vertically, then weaving the horizontal pieces in next. Feel free to use a little bit of water in each place where the dough strips overlap. Brush top crust with egg wash.

Apple Pie Pizza

6.) Once done weaving, sprinkle on a mixture of 2 Tbsp. sugar + ½ tsp cinnamon, and bake for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F. Slice like a pizza and enjoy! We cut the finished Apple Pie Pizza with a sharp knife, but you could also use a pizza cutter!

Apple Pie Pizza
Apple Pie Pizza
Apple Pie Pizza

Make sure to also grab your Ibotta offer here for 75 cents off any 1 Oregon Chai product at Walmart (9/26/18 – 11/30/18, or until supplies last).

Stock up now! This tea is so delicious you will want to incorporate it into your every day routines and serve it to anyone who visits you.

I was able to easily order the Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate (32 oz.) on Walmart.com using their super easy Online Grocery Pickup service!

Below, you will see how easy it was to search for all of the available Oregon Chai products at Walmart. I spent around $12 to create this entire recipe, and since the Chai Tea was under $4.00 I saved SO much compared to going to a coffee shop for an overpriced drink.

After I went to the checkout page, I simply chose “Pickup” for FREE (see below)! No shipping charges at all, which saved me around $6.00. YAY!! I love a good deal.

The taste of this Oregon Chai Tea was rich, smooth, and has those amazing chai spices that I can’t get enough of. I like to add macadamia milk to my chai tea, instead of traditional dairy milk, and my body loves me for it! What a delicious way to get a little pick-me-up during baking or during any other time of the day.

Once my order was ready, I was able to run by my local Walmart and easily grab the tea in the pickup area. Super easy since I had so many errands to run that day.

Has your local Walmart installed an Online Grocery Pickup station yet? Ours JUST remodeled, and I had an extremely easy experience, let me walk you through it/ 

1.) Visit the Walmart Online Grocery Pickup station and scan the barcode given in your email.

You can also just wait outside and call the phone number on the pickup area. They will bring everything right out to you!

Like I said, baking helps me de-stress and helps me continue to be creative, so after getting a ton of things checked off the to-do list, I relaxed for a bit, then got to baking.

I hope you have an absolutely splendid fall, and please comment below to let me know if you tried making this recipe! This would be so fun with kids, and would be a fun holiday baking activity. Enjoy!

Pull Apart Cupcake Cake Recipe

This recipe is PERFECT for parties and holidays, because it's easy to eat! Everyone has their own individual cupcake to share the joy, no need to cut THIS cake. 

Pull Apart Cupcake Cake Recipe

We were ecstatic when we learned that we had the opportunity to collaborate with Martha Stewart to promote her baking items at Macy's. It's quite the honor, and several times throughout this process I exclaimed, "I am shooting recipes for Martha Stewart"!!! 

In order to creatively incorporate her Essentials collection into pins that would encourage people to want to learn more, I thought that a sweet treat would obviously be perfect, so I found a fun recipe on marthastewart.com and creates it! Below, you will find that very recipe, and I hope you are inspired by this fun post to make your very own cupcake cake!

MARTHA STEWART RECIPE (originally found here):

Pull-Apart Vanilla-Wafer Cupcake Cake with Berries

Talk about a fun dessert! It looks like a sheet cake on top, but there are actually vanilla-coconut cupcakes underneath the fresh berries and fluffy whipped-cream frosting. It's easy to make and even easier to serve -- no slicing required.

Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2018

INGREDIENTS

  • 45 vanilla-wafer cookies, pulsed in a food processor until finely ground (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together cookie crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt.

  2. 2. Beat butter with granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating until combined after each addition. Fold in coconut.

  3. 3. Divide batter among cups. Bake until cupcakes are golden brown and centers bounce back when gently pressed, 22 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely in tin on a wire rack.

  4. 4. Add 2 tablespoons water to a small saucepan. Sprinkle with gelatin; let stand until thick, about 5 minutes. Gently heat over medium until gelatin has dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool 5 minutes (but don't let it set).

  5. 5. Beat together cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until very soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture; beat on medium until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute more.

  6. 6. Remove cupcakes from tin and arrange on a platter in a three-by-four rectangle. Spoon frosting over each row of cupcakes; using an offset spatula, smooth to cover tops, forming a rectangular shape. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Sprinkle with berries before serving.

‘Make Every Cup Count’ with Laughing Man® Coffee from Target

This post is sponsored by Laughing Man® Coffee but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.This post is sponsored by Laughing Man® Coffee but the content and opinions expressed here are my own. #LaughingManCoffee #MakeEveryCupCount #Target

Sometimes I notice, that at the tail end of any season (the end of summer, for example), I sometimes get into a little slump. As a blogger, we are always having to think a month or more in advance for projects, and while it’s always fun to think about the new season ahead, I do sometimes need a little boost of caffeine in the mornings to get me through it and to stay motivated! A cute coffee cup never hurts, either! ‘Make Every Cup Count,’ friends – the motivating power of coffee is really amazing.

I recently tried delicious offerings from Laughing Man® Coffee, which I found at my local Target, and also on Target.com. I really, truly enjoyed this coffee! Bobby tends to prefer his coffee more black than I do, and wow, that fresh coffee aroma was absolutely intoxicating! We drink coffee almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day – who’s with me?! The flavors we loved most include the Columbia Huila and Hugh’s Blend. Have you ever tried this brand before?

Laughing Man® Coffee was actually co-founded by Hugh Jackman after an inspiring visit to Ethiopia, where he met a young farmer named Dukale. Inspired by Dukale’s optimism and determination, Hugh was committed to helping improve the lives of coffee farmers and share their Fair Trade Certified™ coffees with the world.

Since its inception, Laughing Man® Coffee has always strived to ‘Make Every Cup Count’ by donating a portion of proceeds from each purchase to the Laughing Man® Foundation, which supports coffee farming communities and programs that clear the way to health, growth and success for coffee farmers and their families. In addition to being available in recyclable K-Cup® pods, consumers can now purchase the brand in ground bagged coffee.

It’s important to have something to keep you fresh and alert, especially when a lot of my projects seem to be due all at the same time. That encourages me to try to burn the candle at both ends, and while I’d love to take a midafternoon (or admittedly a mid-morning nap), I know that’s just not always possible. If I have a warm cup of java nearby, then I can actually get through those rough work days.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COFFEE FEATURED HERE:

Colombia Huila – A dark roast coffee of uncommon complexity, Colombia Huila is produced from beans of great character, resulting in an intense, deep-roasted flavor with a black cherry sweetness, and a dark chocolate finish.

Hugh’s Blend™ – With contrasting, yet complementary notes of tart green apple and toasted graham cracker, this smooth and balanced blend represents the cheerful embodiment of the Laughing Man® coffee mission and a reminder that true fellowship knows no borders.

Both available in recyclable K-Cup® pods and bagged from Target.

I also like to enjoy a cup of coffee on the weekends – after all, a blogger’s job is never really done after Friday at 5pm, it’s a constant and very fulfilling job and I do love it!

What sorts of ways do you try to prep for the seasons ahead? I am finishing up lots of late summer and back to school projects, but soon enough, Fall and Winter projects will be in the works.

Whether you’re a blogger or not, I am sure we all feel the motivation to look ahead. It’s sometimes hard to create Fall projects when it’s still warm out, but I love having a delicious cup of coffee nearby, so I can get that extra boost of motivation!

Learn more about these amazing coffees here! Thanks for stopping by, friends!

Fresh Vegan Mushroom Tacos Recipe (Awesome in Cast Iron)

If you're looking for a new way to incorporate those fresh, local, Farmer's Market ingredients into a recipe, here's a good one! These Vegan Mushroom, Onion, and Pepper Tacos are super delicious and you definitely won't even miss the meat! 

Even more special, is the fact that we got to create this recipe for Martha Stewart Essentials available at Macy's. It's been SUCH an honor creating a set of four recipes for Martha! It's definitely a food blogger's dream :)

Keep reading to get the full details on this delicious, vegan recipe (but, feel free to add some cheese or sour cream if you like!!).

We found all of the fresh ingredients at our local Farmer's Market here in Carbondale, IL.

Fresh Vegan Mushroom Tacos

As soon as I learned about this amazing opportunity, I went searching through all of the items and decided upon four very delicious recipes, which I will link you to as soon as they are live! 

I was encouraged to use recipes right from MarthaStewart.com, so I used her basic recipes, then embellished and modernized them to make them extremely appealing for my Pinterest fans. Well, everyone has loved them so far, and now all of the cast iron skillets are SOLD OUT on the MAcy's website! Perhaps my recipes helped, but the fact that they were each around $15.00 might also be the reason these have all sold out. Nonetheless, find your favorite cast iron or other skillet, and let's get started!

Ingredients / Materials: 

- 1-2 lb. Fresh Mushrooms 

- 1 red onion

- 1 medium bell pepper (we used several small ones)

- 2 Tbsp. or more Mexican Seasoning

- 1/2 bunch of cilantro

- Small Flour Tortillas

- Martha Stewart Cast Iron Skillet 

Flyway Family Farm

Instructions:

1. Prepare and chop mushrooms, red onions, and bell peppers. 

2. Heat olive oil in a Cast Iron Skillet, add chopped onions, then belle peppers, then lastly, mushrooms.

3.) Season veggies generously with Mexican seasoning, a tiny bit of salt, and any other seasoning you would like. Also, add chopped cilantro at the end and stir everything one last time. 

4.) Warm tortillas, then add the veggie filling, and enjoy! They're so delicious, I hope you love them! 

Fresh Mushrooms
Vegan Veggie Mushroom Tacos Recipe in Cast Iron

FLYWAY FAMILY FARM MUSHROOMS (MAKANDA, IL)

As I mentioned, I got to use local ingredients from our Farmer's Market! We loved finally being able to utilize three different varieties of mushrooms from Flyway Family Farm. They have different mushrooms at the market almost every weekend!

Also, I used the red onions and colorful bell peppers from Country Sprout Organics, my other favorite booth at our local market! 

Flyway Family Farm

Hopefully, you have enjoyed this recipe! Stay tuned for several more recipes inspired by Martha Stewart! 

Our Montana Road Trip with Expedia Add-On Advantage

Thank you Expedia for sponsoring this post. Book your travel on Expedia.com to save with the Add-On Advantage!

We just got back home from an amazing adventure out west in Montana! We have a soft spot in our hearts for Montana and cannot seem to stay away! Travel fuels our creativity, inspires our work, and helps us bond in ways words cannot describe!

We love driving around the mountains and small towns of Montana, and renting a car from the new Expedia Advantage Add-On program is an excellent choice for a fun road trip like this, through southwestern Montana! 

When you book a flight, you can get awesome deals on add-ons like car rentals and hotels. Keep reading to learn more about their awesome deals AND see lots of photos from our recent vacation out west!

Downtown Virginia City, MT.

Downtown Virginia City, MT.

Montana is a magical place. "Keep Montana Majestic" is a fitting slogan I thought of as we were leaving this time, because it's such a gorgeous and majestic place that has only 1 million residents - one . We spent a lot of time in southwestern Montana this past month, visiting the areas around Yellowstone including Big Sky, Bozeman, Hebgen Lake, and Ennis, MT. We also spent time in the Missoula area for an awesome rafting trip on the Clark Fork River Gorge. Keep reading to learn more about some of our favorite places in Montana and get insights on these awesome travel deals.

BOOK A FLIGHT, CAR, OR PACKAGE AND UNLOCK UP TO 43% OFF SELECTED HOTELS!

So, if you already have a trip planned, and want to access a SUPER GREAT price on a hotel, this is a great opportunity! 

Missoula

I checked on car rental prices around Missoula, which also unlocked deals on hotels! There were some awesome cars available, and all of the hotels in the screenshot below (with a yellow stripe above their name) offer additional discounts to those who use Expedia Add-On Advantage! I just love saving on travel, so I can use that part of the travel budget for something more fun. Like a rafting trip, which you will see below. We had SO much fun!!

Below, we spent one particularly fun Sunday on the water with a river guide. As a team, we worked together to get the inflatable raft through rapids. We had no clue how much fun we would have, since we generally never plan trips with any sort of guide or service - we love just driving and exploring places that way.

See the car rental deals I found, below, plus more suggestions of awesome places in and around Missoula to visit. 

If you ever have the chance to visit downtown Missoula, you will love it! I would even suggest 2-3 days to fully experience a couple of days of shopping plus being able to eat and drink at the MANY bars and restaurants is so much fun. The city is walking friendly but a little spread out, and luckily parking is super easy here in the summer, so feel free to use that rental car to get around town.

Missoula, MT
Sushi in Missoula MT
Ennis, MT

We have been so fortunate to visit Ennis, MT several times in the past couple of years. We love the gorgeous mountain vistas in the Madison Valley and I absolutely love how free you feel when you're in such a beautiful place. It's a very small town, but the Madison River runs right through town, as well as being one way people get to Yellowstone, the town's rather small population gets over a million visitors. It's very popular to fly fish in this area, and we love finding a place to let the dogs swim too. 

When you're in Ennis, you must check out the Gravel Bar (aka G Bar - see beers in the image below), which has lots of local MT beers and spirits, and their food is really pretty good. They are also opening a brewery next year, which should be really neat. Across the street from G Bar is Willie's Distillery. Deemo's Meats is a place to stop and grab groceries (they specialize in amazing meats and cheeses), and make sure to grab some of their frozen brats near the register - the green onion ones are AMAZING)! Perfect for roasting over a campfire too. 

Ennis, MT

Below, I thought this was so funny. Your typical Monday, with a Side By Side just leisurely driving through town! Some of our other favorite places to visit in Ennis include Plain Jane's (clothing, shoes, and the best Montana gifts ever), Nacho Mama, and Shedhorn, which sells outdoor gear, really nice quality women's shoes and clothing and also hunting and camping gear.

Ennis, MT
Virginia City, MT

A historic gold mining town situated high above the Madison Valley. This is always a fun place to stop and shop or stroll through the wooden boardwalks that used to be hustling and bustling. 

Virginia City, MT
Virginia City, MT
Virginia City, MT
Virginia City, MT
Big Sky, MT

Sure, since Big Sky, Montana sits at around 7200 feet in elevation, it's a great place to ski, snowboard, and snow mobile But, it's an amazingly vibrant and fun place to be in the summer as well. We spent several different days in Big Sky, and saw local music at their free Thursday Night Concert Series, drank a few local Montana beers at their bars, and visited the Big Sky Farmer's Market. The shopping in this area is really wonderful, if you like that sort of thing! There are also amazing restaurants in almost every style of food, so you can please everyone with something delicious!

These Thursday Night concerts are packed - especially this one weekend when the rodeo was also in town. If the line for the beer vendor is too long for your liking, just run into the Hungry Moose grocery store and grab something to drink - you can have open containers in the unincorporated town of Big Sky during these events. Grizzly Outfitters also has the most impressive selection of the latest women's clothing from the best outdoors brands. Yay! During the summer, people also love to mountain bike here, as well as fish the surrounding rivers. The Gallatin River runs through and all around town and is surrounded by huge pine trees.

Big Sky Farmer's Market

The Big Sy Farmer's Market was really impressive. While around 90% of the vendors had art, I felt that the quality of most everything was nearly art gallery quality jewelry and decor, made with antlers, beads, and other local materials. This flower vendor was also incredible - I wanted to bring home a huge, rainbow colored array of Montana grown flowers, but that was a bit unrealistic :) There was live music which was also super great, and then you could walk to grab some food in a nearby restaurant or food vendor after walking around. This Montana Alpaca at the Farmer's Market was rather cute too! 

Big Sky, MT Alpaca

Montana Flathead Cherries are in season during the summer, so grab up as many of these as you can if you are in Montana! They're SO sweet and delicious and I would love to bake a cherry pie from them. Huckleberries are also in season, but way, way harder to find than these cherries.

Montana Flathead Cherries
Hebgen Lake

Hebgen Lake was formed in 1959 when an earthquake occurred, causing part of the mountainside to fall into the water, creating a rather amazing lake that is unlike any other place we have ever been. Our friend has a boat slipped on this lake, so we drove out and spent time over several different days in the sunshine! The water is absolutely gorgeous and great for tubing and water skiing too.

This lake is situated along the drive from Ennis to Big Sky. You can also drive through Bozeman instead, but this drive avoids the traffic altogether and it absolutely stunning! You even drive partially through the western part of Yellowstone. making this one of the most scenic cruises you can do in this part of southwestern Montana.

Hebgen Lake
montana

There are so many rivers in Montana, and we loved fishing various places to pull over and get in the water. Below, the Ruby River.

Fly Fishing in Montana
Fly Fishing in Montana

We loved driving around Montana this summer, and if you want any more travel advice, please leave questions or comments in the section below!

I hope you enjoyed this recap of our recent vacation to Montana! Have you ever been to any of these towns pr places in Montana? Comment below to let me know!

Montana Road Trip

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Two Amazing Recipes for Summer Get-Togethers with Mission® Tortillas

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mission®. All opinions are entirely my own.

If summer get-togethers make you giddy with joy and excitement, then you’re not alone! I too love brainstorming recipes with friends, then planning, prepping, and preparing the food, then finally getting everyone together to enjoy the bounty. Food always brings people together, and is great shared with old friends and new ones! This summer, I am going to make it my mission to enjoy the company of others over great food as much as possible!

I love how these Mission® Super Soft Flour Tortillas really made my two recipes even better than I could have ever imagined. I have tried all sorts of tortillas, and these are the softest, tastiest ones yet. They were so versatile, and absolutely perfect for my Vegetarian Southwest-Inspired Pinwheels AND for my Grilled Steak Tacos. I always feel like the tortillas make or break a recipe, and I was so happy to find a new favorite. You can use the store locator on the Mission website to find Mission tortillas at stores near you, and find even more delicious recipes as well.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced this, but I am always let down when tortillas kind of get dried out super quickly, then kind of crack when you roll anything out of them (like the pinwheels). Well, these were perfect. They held together super well, and worked amazingly well for this 4 ingredient appetizer!

And, since I wanted to offer lots of delicious toppings for these Grilled Steak Tacos, my first thought was fresh ingredients of course!

I thought it would be so fun to offer guests some handmade pickled jalapeños as party favors. Every time we serve these to guests or bring them to someone’s house, we always get lots of compliments on them.

PICKLED JALAPENOS

(Making 1 day in advance is recommended)

I think it’s time to start sharing them with people, so I filled mini jars with a mixture of fresh ingredients like jalapeño slices, garlic cloves, and mini red onions. Now, it’s time to pickle!

I heated a solution of 1.5 cups white vinegar plus 1 cup water, and 1-2 tbsp salt until the salt has dissolved. Let it cool a bit, then carefully pour the vinegar solution over the ingredients, leaving a little bit of room at the top of the jar so it does not spill out. Place lids back on, and gift as soon as the next day.  

These turned out SO cute, and you could even tie cute ribbons around the jars for an even more festive look.

In addition to the pickled jalapeños, I offered pickled red onions (get my recipe here), plus a guacamole tomatillo sauce and a traditional red salsa too.

The lettuce even came right out of my own garden! This was my first year to try growing lettuce, and while it may be almost at the end of its season, I love treating friends to things I grew!

GRILLED STEAK TACOS

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

2-3 tbsp or more taco seasoning

Juice from 1 lime

1 tsp salt

1-2 lbs flank steak or similar

INSTRUCTIONS:

Simply marinate each pound of steak in 1/3 cup olive oil, 2-3 tbsp soy sauce, 2-3 tbsp or more taco seasoning + the juice from 1 lime + 1 tsp salt for at least 1-2 hours or overnight. Simply grill for 3 or so minutes per side if your steak is thin like mine was. Slice and serve with fresh sides and warmed Mission Super Soft Flour Tortillas (they taste best warmed).

Slice up the steak and set out the toppings, the tacos are ready to eat!!!

SOUTHWEST INSPIRED VEGETARIAN PINWHEELS

I searched for vegetarian pinwheel recipes and hardly found anything! These are so great tasting, and you will never miss the meat.

Ingredients:

1 package Mission® Super Soft Flour Tortillas

Plus 1-2 bunches of cilantro

1 head of green lettuce

To create the sauce:

1 (8 oz.) box of cream cheese, softened

½ cup (or more) taco sauce or red enchilada sauce

½ - 1 cup cream cheese

¼ - ½ tsp salt, optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.    Mix all sauce ingredients together, and stir until smooth. I used a hand mixer

2.    Lay one tortilla out onto your work surface, and spread 1.5 -2 tbsp sauce in an even layer on tortilla.

3.    Add a line of cilantro and a line of small pieces of lettuce towards one side of the tortilla, then roll up into an even roll.

4.    Cut in 2” sections, and display on a cute tray. I used cactus pieces from a local market.

Enjoy!

 

The bottom line - I would definitely recommend Mission Super Soft Flour Tortillas to anyone who loves superior taste and excellent ingredients!

Happy summer, friends!

Brunch Party - Vegan Avocado and Egg Toast Board

Brunching ain't always easy, but I found a way to make it so :) Try setting up a toast board, where everyone can choose their own toppings! It's such a fun and interactive way to have guests gather around a giant array of great food and drinks! 

If you're a fan of hard boiled eggs, then here is one way to enjoy these protein packed, brunch-worthy hard boiled eggs from Great Day Farms, available at Walmart!

To make this amazing spread, you head to the produce section and grab as many colorful fresh ingredients as you possibly can. Make sure you do stick to a budget, as fresh veggies can sometimes items can weigh a bit more than expected and then ring the bill up quite a bit. I found these amazing heirloom tomatoes for around $2.99 per pound - which made them incredibly reasonable. 

Embrace anything that is in season (via the farmer's market or local grocer), like jalapeños, basil, avocados, red onions, and other delicious vegetarian ingredients. 

This is a great idea for hosting friends who are in town for the weekend, and all have different tastes - this toast board embraces just about everyone!

Also, you could prep these ingredients for lunch at work, or even for a summer picnic. These ingredients are 100% natural, and actually offer energy and so much inspiration for the day ahead. 

By offering fresh, wholesome ingredients to those you love, you can truly help nourish them with a seriously fulfilling meal. Feel free to add sliced turkey or even lox to add a really elegant vibe to this rather upscale meal.

FREE Summer Fun + A Cute DIY Gift Idea!

This post is sponsored by Zynga, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Looking for fun and entertaining ways to enjoy the summer? Well I have teamed up with Zynga Words With Friends 2 to help share some fun and easy ways to have fun for FREE. Hey, we can all use a break, right?!

With this fun gift idea + a brand-new version of the Words With Friends app will help entertain everyone this summer. Help create more winning experiences this year, enjoy the thrill of the game.

Learn more about Words with Friends 2 here.

Download the game here (Apple store) or here (Google Play). Brush up on rules here!

You may be familiar with their first WWF game, but this one is a bit more updated and runs SUPER fast on my phone.

I love how you actually stretch your brain capacity and also learn new words. It’s fun for the whole entire family, and even fun with groups of friends too. I feel smarter during and after playing Words With Friends – I always pull out new words in conversations later that day! The game helps me connect with friends (new and old)!

I have met all sorts of new friends through the WWF app! There are always tons of players ready to start or complete a game with us, every time we login. We play ALL the time, and since we are always on the go, it’s something familiar in each place too.

With all of the Double Letter (DL), Triple Letter (TL), Double Word (DW), and Triple Word (TW) spots on the board, you can really gain a lot of points in just a turn or two.

Some of our highest scoring words are: CLOTS, TAXED, and HANDLED!!

DIY SUMMER GIFT IDEA

I know that rock painting has been around for decades, but I thought that a fun way to commemorate our friendship and share the beauty of the river would be to paint our friends’ names on rocks, then spell out their names in a gift. I had so much fun, and the best part of this crafty activity, is that you may already have everything you need – deeming this a FREE project!

MATERIALS:

Smooth River Rocks

Acrylic Craft Paint in White, Coral, Mint, and Raspberry

2-3 Small Craft Paintbrushes

Paper To Cover Work Surface

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Head to your local river to collect rocks, find them at a craft or hardware store, or find them anywhere else you like!

2.) Wipe off excess dirt from rocks with damp washcloth.

3.) Paint thick, white letters onto each rock. I used two coats of white paint for each letter. Below, you will see some rocks with two coats of white paint and some rocks in-process with only one coat of white paint.

4.) Paint colorful designs on top of white paint, on each rock.

5.) Give rocks as gift and let recipient spell out their names or secret message once they receive your gift! That’s it, and this project was so fun and easy. What a thoughtful gift.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT:

Luckily, The Words With Friends app is free as well, and while I was painting the rocks, my boyfriend Bobby entertained himself with the Words With Friends app on my new phone.

A SENSE OF CONNECTION:

With the weather being so warm and beautiful right now, it was a lot of fun to gather rocks for this project, then gift such a special and thoughtful memento to my friends. I feel like we are even more connected, just like how we will be able to play WWF from afar and know that we are still connecting and interacting.

Do you play Words With Friends yet? If so, what are some of your best words? Do you play with old friends or new ones?

Have a wonderful rest of the summer! Tag me on Instagram with @happysolez if you make this project, and tag the brand, @wordswithfriends on Instagram and as @wordswfriends on Facebook to show them how you spend time playing!!

Dr Pepper Pick Your Pepper Summer ~ Indoor Picnic Ideas

While summer is all about enjoying the outdoors, here in southern Illinois / most of the Midwest, the heat and humidity sometimes keep us indoors. I am not incredibly sensitive to the heat, but if you’re having guests over, not everyone is going to enjoy it or even be able to tolerate temps in the 90s, so you could always consider hosting an indoor picnic!

The theme/inspiration for this picnic was a bountiful French picnic that features ice cold Dr Pepper Pick Your Pepper theme bottles (a personal fave), and lots of delicious snacks. Nothing super heavy as far as food, just smaller bites that you and your guests can feast on throughout the evening.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can win fun and festive prizes for Summer.

Each 20 oz. Dr Pepper bottle features over 40 artistic and inspiring labels that contain a Snapchat code on them. To unlock this fun filter, simply open Snapchat, take a photo of the Snapchat logo / code on the side of the bottle, then a little notification will appear, giving you access to the filter. Below, two of my favorite Snapchat filters were outdoors themed.

YOU CAN WIN!

Callout that the fun, unique Pick Your Pepper packaging and how it’s fun, individualized, and designed by millennials, for millennials. Available in stores starting 6/15/18.

Call out the prize reward and drive to  http://bit.ly/2pts8Qo

When you buy Dr Pepper 6/15-8/15 this summer, you can upload your reciept at http://bit.ly/2pts8Qo  to get the prize featured in my blog here and/or other prizes like:

Spend $5 get 5 bottles = Dr Pepper Retro Specs

Spend $10 get 10 bottles = Dr Pepper Copper Lined Mug

Spend $20 get 20 bottles = Dr Pepper Bluetooth Speakers

Spend $30 get 30 bottles = Dr Pepper Pool Float

CHECK OUT THE RETRO SPECS, BELOW…

Scan the Snapchat code on any Dr Pepper Pick Your Pepper to reveal a unique filter you can use! I then save the image and share it wherever you want! Below, two of my favorites!

My boyfriend Bobby and I love being outdoors, so these filters are super cute. He adores fishing, so the Snapchat filter, shown above that says, “Keepin’ It Reel” is perfect for him!

While this particular picnic I hosted for this post was indoors, I loved bringing traditional outdoor picnic elements into the evening with galvanized metal trays to hold food, easy to eat bites of a huge assortment of foods, and even cozy floor pillows, rugs and lightweight picnic blankets. I still love incorporating rustic elements into my events no matter where I host!

There are so many benefits to hosting this picnic indoors - Think of it, no bugs, no heat, and all the food and drinks one can possibly snack on throughout the evening without having to leave the elevated comforts of home. It’s such a fun way to enjoy time with friends or have a date night!

TO SET A COZY SCENE:

I love the idea of reminiscing about days past, where we would put pillows and blankets onto the floor and have a sleepover. Now that I’m older, we don’t really do that anymore, so it’s fun and nostalgic to reminisce and more or less make a soft place on the floor to settle in for the evening! It could be super fun to set this up in the living room, where everything is centrally located. Or, even on a porch!

I also added upscale touches like French-inspired textiles in stripes and plaids of white and blue. I packed some of the 20 oz. bottles of Dr Pepper into a metal “picnic basket”, which was a great way to carry the bottles plus lots of other necessities.

FOR THE FOOD:

I am always drawn to bountiful plates of fruits and other bite sized foods, so this was the perfect opportunity to try my hand at not one but three snack trays!

For one platter, I used a large, round galvanized tray with handles to hold everything. I then placed a white charger plate in there, plus a marble cutting board to hold the meats and cheeses (this was the least messy way to display them), then placed items like croissants, red and green grapes, strawberries, and more.

For another tray, I placed mini chocolate chips, blueberries, and blackberries. For the last tray, I placed a bit of herbed goat cheese dip, sliced baguettes, and crackers to dip into the goat cheese.

I was so happy with how upscale everything looked!

TO SERVE YOUR GUESTS:

I used lightweight linens, gold plates, and gold plastic utensils (that almost looked real!!), which added a bit of shimmer and glitz to the picnic. The gold and white looked really lovely.

It would definitely be fun to host a similar picnic outdoors if you live somewhere the weather is nice all the time! I love this particular color scheme, and I know those party platters would really look great at so many of your summer events.

Connect with Dr Pepper across social media!

Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest /Instagram

PIN IT FOR LATER...

Camping With Dogs – Tips and Tricks with #WalgreensPetshoppe

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

I was asked by Carusele to participate in the #WalgreensPethoppe campaign, sponsored by Walgreens. All content and opinions are my own.

We recently had the opportunity to take the dogs on a fun camping trip in Montana. There were almost more dogs than people, but that’s how the majority of our gatherings wind up anyway! Here are a few tips to help you through your next camping experience with dogs. We stocked up on TONS and TONS of amazing Petshoppe items from Walgreens before heading out, and since we had a pack of dogs, they all behaved very well because of the Petshoppe treats from Walgreens. What a fun addition to an already amazing weekend.

Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks  - Walgreens #Petshoppe

We have been taking our pups hiking and camping for over ten years now, and we always learn something new each time. It’s such a fun learning experience, and moreover, camping trips are the absolute best way to help our pets get lots of fresh air, exercise, and even social time with other dogs. The campground becomes such a fun experience for everyone. We could hardly imagine a camping trip without our dogs around. Below, our pupper friends Craig and De De came for a visit as well!!! Porter LOVES playing with these two brothers.

5DB_1811.jpg

TOP CAMPING TIPS FOR PET OWNERS:

1. If there is no water spigot in the campground, or fresh water available, please make sure to pack 2-3 extra gallons of water for your pets per day. They drink a ton of water every time we are camping, especially if it’s super hot out, or if we are in an arid place like the mountains or desert.

2. Bring food and water dishes. Each dog needs their own food dish, and they generally all share their water bowl.

3. We love using our electronic collars to keep our dogs close by. While most camp grounds are going to require dogs on leashes, these e-collars add a bit of extra protection to make sure your dogs are listening to you and behaving around the campground.

4. Stock up on treats because the dogs will need a bit of extra incentive to listen J They also burn so many extra calories while camping, hiking, and swimming, that we always treat them to a few extra treats while camping.

5. Bring soft, supportive, and warm bedding for night time. We bring an air pad for the dogs to use in the tent at night, and we also either cover them with our coats, or bring extra blankets for them. Cabbie loves cuddling in, and Porter loves the chilly air and would never want to be under the covers.

6. Watch your dog(s) around the fire pit. Sometimes dogs will try to play around the fire, or play with extra fire wood, just keep an eye on them!

7. Make sure to keep an eye on your dog(s) at ALL times! They could wander off and disturb wildlife or eat something they find in the woods that could upset their tummies.

Some of our favorite treats from Walgreen’s Petshoppe collections include the Chicken Bites with Pumpkin and Cranberry, Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries, and Chicken Bites with Pumpkin and Cranberry – all of which contain NO corn, wheat, or soy! The dogs all shared very well – we definitely had more than enough to go around.

WALGREENS PETSHOPPE IN-STORE PROMOTIONS

2 for $10 mix and match Petshoppe toys and bones every day

Week of 8/5/18 – BOGO 50% off on Petshoppe Pet Treats

Week of 8/19/18 – Petshoppe Pet Treats and Petshoppe 50 count puppy pads on sale for $7.99!

Porter was extremely interested in every flavor variety, and the Chicken Strips were definitely a crowd favorite :)

Porter had a blast – she stayed up all night looking around the tent, listening for animals and noises that peaked her interest.

Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks - Walgreens #Petshoppe

Select varieties of Petshoppe treats are Made in the USA – Look for the label on the front of the packaging! They take the utmost care in delivering high quality pet treat, which have no corn, wheat, or soy – perfect for almost every dog!

Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks - Walgreens #Petshoppe

Their toys have held up super well! Above, the Plush Turtle which comes in two colors. Below, the two Boston Terriers were playing with this Squeaker Pig ALL morning together, it was adorable!

Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks - Walgreens #Petshoppe
Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks - Walgreens #Petshoppe

Above, you will see a few more varieties of their treats. We are definitely stocked up for a while. Walgreens Petshoppe offers quality products for your best friends!!

Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks - Walgreens #Petshoppe
Camping With Dogs - Tips and Tricks - Walgreens #Petshoppe

Connect With Walgreens On Social:

Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram / Twitter

Use hashtag #WalgreensPetshoppe to show us how you and your pets enjoy these products too.

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Tips for Camping With Dogs

Side by Side – A Great Dog Food for Picky Eaters!

This post was sponsored by Side By Side as part of a Two-Post Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

This summer has been absolutely wonderful so far! It’s hotter than ever outside, but that’s not stopping us from getting out as much as possible with the dogs and letting them enjoy summer too!

We began feeding the dogs a new diet recently and they are LOVING it! If you saw my previous post, here, we were just beginning to introduce our dogs to the new food. Side by Side believes that the best way to cherish our pets is through making better food choices for them. Whole food nutrition is a great option! Side by Side only uses whole food, with minimal processing, allowing the nutrients to actually be preserved within the food better, delivering it to your pets so they stay full and happy. A pet’s diet is as important as a human’s diet, so consider making the switch to something like a whole food diet, raw or lightly cooked, frozen or freeze-dried diet.

All Natural, Raw Pet Food - Delivered To Your Door!

The dehydrated Side By Side treats, such as their Duck L’Orange, Beef Lungs, and Chicken Hearts are some of the nicest treats we have ever seen. They’re not at all greasy or stinky, like lots of other treats. We aim to give our dogs treats with minimal ingredients, so one ingredient treats are spectacular! The dogs behave SO well for these treats – they’re such good girls!!

Our dogs mean everything to us, so we love being able to treat them to something they really deserve. Since we both work from home, we are able to spend most of our days with Cabbie and Porter. We invest so much time and money into our beautiful babes, and we want the very best for them, which I am sure they notice.

Our Chocolate Labradoodle, Porter, who turns 2 years old on July 5, is a rather picky eater. She has been devouring the Side by Side dog food and then actually sitting by her bowl waiting for her next portion. While we try not to super encourage this behavior, it does mean she loves the food.

All Natural, Raw Pet Food - Delivered To Your Door!

With our previous dog food, which was a higher end kibble, we would generally feed the dogs 1.5 cups each, twice a day. Porter, the doodle would leave lots of food in her bowl all day. I am not sure if it was just that she didn’t really love the flavor, or if it’s because we were just giving her the wrong thing.

We still treat the dogs to a bit of low fat yogurt, plus other fruits and veggies throughout the day, but we are SO happy with the food and treats from Side By Side. Just look at the girls’ smiles to see what I mean :)

All Natural, Raw Pet Food - Delivered To Your Door!

The dogs actually received the food in the mail, and it was all still frozen. The company uses a recycled material to insulate the products, and they arrived in great shape too.

Now that they received this, they think every single package is for them. Porter nearly knocks boxes out of our hands when they arrive, so she can see if there is more Side by Side inside!

All Natural, Raw Pet Food - Delivered To Your Door!

Yes, the dogs have their very own ottoman by the window, if you were wondering :)

We noticed a few improvements in the dogs. Cabbie, the lab seemed to slim down around her mid section, and her coat has been extra shiny. Cabbie seems a bit more energetic, and since we feed them three times a day now, because of the Side By Side portion cups, the dogs love having another fun and “exciting” activity each day (lunch time, LOL!).

The dogs always have a few red bumps on their bellies, and when I chatted with one of the founders of Side By Side, she actually mentioned that they would clear up, and they pretty much completely went away. Marney explained that sometimes the red bumps can be related to food and environmental allergies. Well, perhaps the food made a bigger impact than I could’ve imagined! I believe the food did help clear up their bellies, which is so great.

Side by Side products were developed from the pet’s perspective and puts pets first to give them the best life. This allows us so many more years of opportunities to better share love with our pets.

For part of this post, we visited a local fishing pond that is about a 1-mile hike each way from where we park. We walk through cow pastures, rolling hills, tall beautiful grasses and there are even a few places to stop and fish along the way. We love bringing the dogs out to explore the area, and a couple of our friends even brought their pups too.

When Porter gets to see her little friend, Wilma, shown below, they play until they practically “fall over” from how much fun they’ve had. It’s such a great way for higher energy dogs to get their crazies out, and I love watching them have so much fun together.

We are SO thankful to have had this opportunity to introduce our wonderful pups to a raw dog food diet thanks to Side by Side! We have a new way to show our dogs we love and appreciate them, with whole food nutrition, and we cannot wait to see how the dogs keep improving in every way! 

Look for all of Side by Side’s integrated products including Food Diets, Supplements, Toppers, and soon to be released Broths. Each and every product is thoughtfully formulated to provide a complete and balanced nutrition plan for your pet!

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Side By Site Website: https://shop.sidebysidepet.com

Side By Side Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sidebysidepet/

Side By Side Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/SidebySidePet

Side By Side Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/sidebysidepet/

 

Casual Cookout with Tyson, Ball Park, and Lipton Tea!

This post is sponsored by Lipton, Tyson, and Bimbo but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Casual Cookouts are in season!! Bring weeknight (or weekend) dinners outside by making good use of your grill! You can enjoy the long summer nights as you picnic in the yard with your family. From cooking your own Ball Park® Hot Dogs to Tyson® Chicken sandwiches, let everyone join in on the fun and make it a festive family night. Excited to host lots of fun cookouts this year, and here is one to get me started.

BBQ CHICKEN SANDWICHES

Above, the Tyson Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts. I used them for chicken sandwiches!

INSTRUCTIONS: Using a grill set to 450-550 degrees, spray non-stick cooking spray and place frozen chicken breasts onto hot grill. Cook for 10 minutes on fist side, season, then flip and grill for another 10-15 minutes, until chicken’s internal temperature is at least 165 degrees F.

Below, the classic Lipton Iced Tea brewed and lightly sweetened.

Condiments can easily be placed in vintage or glass jars or bowls to serve them in a more elegant way – don’t forget to add a spoon into each condiment J

Below, the white chopped onions, pickles, and potato salad, and a cute sign that reads, “Welcome Friends and Family”.

As you might notice, I placed these ingredients onto metal trays at varying heights so they were easier for everyone to reach.

CURBSIDE PICKUP:

 Since summer gets very busy, and I always have a million errands to run at once, I loved being able to use the Walmart Curbside Pickup! I logged in and just placed my order on http://grocery.walmart.com and then stopped by my local store to grab everything!

DÉCOR IDEAS:

For the BBQ party setup, I used a plastic folding table to hold everything, then covered it with a twin white sheet that I ironed. I used a piece of on trend gingham printed cotton in white and grey. I used 1.5 yards and I think that the double layer table covering idea really looked so elegant.

 

I also really love offering food to guests at different heights, bringing the food and refreshments to eye level. I stuck with more metallic accents like galvanized metal boxes, plus small metal buckets to hold utensils and festive paper napkins. I love the mixture of navy blue and red together, which worked perfectly for this theme.

I also found lots of cute Grilling and BBQ themed signs that were so cute! I am sure that you could simply print some fun quotes off the Internet and frame them if you already have all the supplies on hand.

CONNECT WITH THESE BRANDS ON SOCIAL:

Tyson®

Facebook: @TysonBrand

Twitter: @TysonBrand

Instagram: @TysonBrand

Pinterest: @TysonFoods

Lipton®

Facebook: @LiptonUS

Twitter: @Lipton

Instagram: @Lipton

Ball Park®

Facebook: @BallParkBrand

Instagram: @BallParkBrand

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and I am eager to hear all about what you have planned for summer!

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Summer Grilling at Kroger with Smithfield + Yuengling

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Smithfield®. The opinions and text are all mine. #GrillOutChillOut

Summer is JUST getting started, and I would love to know what your plans are for the next few months! Going anywhere fun or exciting? Planning out any cookouts or summer parties? I love using summer as an excuse to get together with friends, family, and good food – there’s nothing that tops the fun and excitement I get when I know there is something fun on the horizon.

Last year, I had the opportunity to feature Smithfield® Yuengling® Traditional Lager Bratwurst from the Smithfield® Craft Collection™ in a post about making summer grilling easier and MORE delicious. You can read that post here. This is the flagship beer from America’s Oldest Brewery!

This time around I decided it would be fun to serve these brats in a traditional manner with buns and grilled onions, PLUS it could be cute to serve these brats in more of a finger food / appetizer style - cut into slices and served with mustards.

Find everything you need for summer celebrations at your local Kroger or Kroger. The bratwurst are infused with real Yuengling Traditional Lager (a.k.a. DELICIOUS!!), and are made with premium cuts of pork and a special blend of sweet and savory spices. I just love the unique taste of these, and it’s so nice to not actually HAVE to cook them in beer before grilling, because the Yuengling flavors are already there.

Since I was incredibly inspired by the history of brats in general, I was particularly inspired by German or Bavarian offerings. I found that bratwurst generally contain fresh sausage, and if you’re looking for something that is already cooked, then sausage is typically available in dried, cured, or fresh varieties. This means that the brats do need to be cooked or grilled until their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. 

I decided to offer guests five or more different styles of stone ground or other higher end mustards, with slices of the bratwurst, then we could all try something new.

If you’re “brave” enough and want to experiment with even more pairings, feel free to offer guests some sauerkraut (which is a finely cut cabbage that is fermented, and tends to have a stronger smell if you’re not used to it), which would add an even more authentic taste to this meal.

I kept thinking about how these foods would be served at a traditional festival where brats and beer are the main focus, and I thought more of a party platter (in my case a wooden cutting board with a handle) full of small bites was definitely the way to go.

Mustards are something that I am just beginning to enjoy. BUT, my boyfriend and a few of our friends seem to “compete” to see who can eat mustard with the largest number of different foods. I am fine if I don’t win that contest, but mustard is such a versatile and traditional condiment that I want to even learn to make it soon.

I found five different mustards at the store, ranging from Stone Ground varieties to Dijon mustards and even one mustard that is bourbon barrel aged! 

I basically just looked to see which ones had the most texture (as in more mustard seeds), plus which ones would offer more of a visual variety and also as many different tastes as possible. This could be a great way to get rid of some mustards in the fridge that are only half full – just offer them up and I am sure they’ll get eaten!

As far as other foods to serve, I love the idea of offering fresh homemade soft pretzels plus hard pretzels (like the smaller crunchy ones), plus perhaps some slices of super crunchy bread or similar.

Below, you will see those lovely grill marks on the brat buns! This added SO much more flavor and visual interest to the meal.

CONNECT WITH THE BRAND ON SOCIAL:

Instagram- @smithfieldbrand, @yuenglingbeer

Facebook- @cookingwithsmithfield, @yuengling

Twitter- @smithfieldbrand, @yuengling_beer

Pinterest- @smithfieldbrand

Feel Love. Feed Life. Feed Side By Side.

This post was sponsored by Side By Side as part of a Two-Post Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

If you read this blog for even a few seconds, you may notice I have an affinity for my two dogs, Cabbie and Porter. They are the loves of our lives, and I recently had the chance to spend some good, quality time with the girls. We brought some of our new favorite dog food called Side By Side, a Telluride-based brand of holistic dog food and treats, where they take a new approach to pet nutrition that cherishes each individual pet. These ingredients are used to deliver the best in whole food nutrition.

I was so lucky to have a recent consultation with one of the most knowledgeable individuals regarding pet nutrition that I have ever met, and also the Founder of Side By Side. Marney Prince explained the importance of feeding raw and/or freeze-dried food and treats to your  dogs, and I couldn’t agree more! Side By Side believes the best way to cherish our pets it to honor them with premium whole food nutrition made with love in small batches.

Side By Side even offers their proprietary Pet Assessment process, an online tool (found here) that allows the brand to make nutrition recommendations curated to meet your pets’ individual needs.

Since my first introduction to Side by Side, I immediate felt the passion and caring commitment displayed in all that they do., I received a phone call from the Founder of Side by Side, Marney Prince to discuss her personal recommendation on products!  During our phone conversation, I immediately knew that Marney truly cares for all animals, and I felt her compassion for my dogs as if they were her own.  I talked with her for about 45 minutes about my two dogs, Cabbie and Porter. She was extremely thorough when asking about my dogs, like what issues my dogs were having, and more lifestyle questions pertaining to how much and what types of activities we do each day, how much we interact with them, and even asked about their personalities and eating habits. I left my conversation feeling extremely good from her positive comments about my dogs and me as a dog owner.

The food and treats are amazing! Since these three varieties of treats are freeze-dried, they make for an excellent treat with very few ingredients. The dogs seemed to like the  Duck l’Orange  treats the very best; they were a great size for even our large dogs.

Here is a brief write up of what Marney told me during our assessments for the pups:

PORTER’S REVIEW:

“Porter sounds like a super fun, energetic girl that tends to hold onto a little internal heat but overall appears very balanced. I think our main concern is preventing to onset of joint degradation, since she loves to play hard, has boundless energy and is a large breed dog. As far as the allergic reaction she gets on her tummy; this sounds like a seasonal allergy, not food related but once she's on a whole food diet that moves through her body at the appropriate speed (the 24 hr/12 hr ratio of kibble/real food), you will see a reprieve in the bumps. We are releasing a supplement called Cool Down Dog the first week of June for seasonal allergies and we can certainly try that if the food alone doesn't remedy the reaction. It's a bunch of eastern and western herbs. Otherwise, we would recommend that Porter transitions to our Harmony raw, either freeze-dried or frozen, because it will provide a little higher protein for our athlete, has beautiful whole wild Alaskan salmon, duck necks, yucca (cassava root), and turmeric in it for her joints, and it is considered a neutral recipe, which is ideal for a sweet natured, happy dog. I'm going to recommend our Beef lungs and Duck L'Orange treats but she'd do great on any of our options. I love that you give her yogurt regularly, please continue”.

CABBIE’S REVIEW:

“And, for Cabbie, who sounds like an absolute doll! Again, she sounds happy, healthy and balanced. The only change I'd really like to make is to slow her aging process and prevent the onset of disease. For Cabbie, our Genial recipe, either frozen or freeze-dried, would be wonderful. It is a cooked recipe, which more appropriate for a mature woman, and contains a small amount of whole oats which support the thyroid gland and metabolic system, whole Alaskan salmon for joints and beef heart which in Chinese Medicine promotes self-confidence and Shen (heart/love) energy. I'd also like to suggest our So Hip  supplement to increase the protection of her joints, plus this formula helps the body to clear toxins and free radicals within the existing joints. Cabbie is welcome to enjoy any of our treats, but just for fun, let's try the Chicken Hearts first”.

This food far exceeded our expectations, and I loved the convenience of the individually wrapped so they are basically mess free, and we were able to recycle some of the containers too! It really looks like everything is made with extremely high quality ingredients, which is of top importance to me.

If feeding your dog ingredients you trust is important to you, then I would absolutely recommend Side By Side dog food and treats! Side By Side is dedicated to the preservation of the nutrients, from sourcing the best ingredients, to minimal processing, to development of a complementary line of food diets, treats, supplements, broths, and toppers –with carefully crafted recipes utilizing only natural sources of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and the purest herbs, to provide a personalized nutrition plan for your pet.

Take the free Side by Side personalized Pet Assessment for a personalized nutrition plan today! Also, you can get 25% off your first order and 15% the subscription service with code: LILY

DIY Bottle Koozies + Vegetarian Taco Bowl Recipe

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

Summer is here and what a better way to celebrate all the hard work you have done this year with a Beer + Craft Night with friends? I’ve been really wanting to make some customized / embellished drink koozies for some time, and when I learned about this amazing opportunity with Corona®, I jumped at the opportunity to celebrate all that Corona embodies - offering a passport to carefree enjoyment and refreshing, delicious refreshments! With a refreshing, smooth taste balanced between heavier European imports and lighter domestic beer, Corona Extra is an even-keeled cerveza with fruity-honey aromas and a touch of malt. The flavor is crisp, clean and well balanced between hops and malt.

 

What a perfect way to celebrate summer with a snazzy new way to keep your drinks cold and to liven up the party...even if it is a craft night that turns into a party :)

 

These bottle and can koozies really make a statement. They will also help you identify which beer belongs to each person. For only $3-4 you can make your very own Summer Drink Koozie - keep reading to get the instructions and design ideas!

KOOZIE MATERIALS:

Foam Koozies (found in the foam aisle at a craft store)

Ribbons and trim of various colors

Low temp glue gun

Glue sticks (I used fabric glue sticks)

Cardboard for use as your work surface, or a heat-safe work surface (the glue can get messy!)

KOOZIE INSTRUCTIONS:

 

  1. Plug in your glue gun and get it ready to use. Cut ribbons and trims to fit around your koozies, leaving a little extra just in case.

  2. Once glue is hot enough, on a heat-safe work surface, add a bit of hot glue to the end of one ribbon, and begin to glue it around the top of the koozie. For the more patterned koozies, I used 4 strips of woven ribbon around. See steps below.

Notice the raw edges of the ribbons, above. We will cover those in the next image, with one more strip of ribbon, glued up the back.

3. For the tassel koozie (below), I glued on my tassel trim first, then covered that with a more tie dyed looking ribbon for a more finished look. See steps below.

4. Feel free to embellish further with stick on jewels and more ribbons - let your creativity run wild! Note - I tried using sticky-backed jewels, but I needed to glue them on, or they would fall off after a short use. Still super cute either way!

FOR THE VEGETARIAN TACO SALADS:

Vegetarian Taco Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

2 Sweet potatoes (chopped)

2-3 TBSP Olive Oil

2-4 TBSP Mexican Seasoning

1-2 tsp salt

(Other toppings include: lettuce, shredded cheddar, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, and more!)

Note - this can be made vegan if you use all vegan toppings, like vegan sour cream.

Taco Salad Instructions:

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees.

  2. Cut sweet potatoes into cubes, and chop onions into small pieces. Place into a mixing bowl, and toss with 1-2 TBSP Olive Oil.

  3. Bake potatoes and onions for 15-20 minutes, then add sliced peppers on top, and bake another 10 minutes or until the ingredients are baked soft enough to enjoy.

  4. To create your bowls, add a bed of lettuce, then top with sweet potatoes, and any other toppings you like. Enjoy with a Corona Extra®!

Have an amazing summer, friends!

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DIY Drink Koozie Tutorial

Music Festival Camping Tips with Coleman at Target

This post has been sponsored by Coleman®. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Happy Memorial Day Week!

This weekend, I am attending the Summer Camp Music Festival and I am so excited. It’s been almost ten years since I first attended, so I am really looking forward to seeing old friends and listening to some live music. (I will share some photos of the event in this post throughout the weekend!!)

It’s important to set up a cute campsite to have as your home base for the weekend, and the NEW Coleman® Dark Room Tent is a great option you might want to consider! Head to Target to find everything you need for all of your upcoming adventures, and save on Coleman products with this Ibotta rebate offer here!

Since music festival season is upon us, I wanted to share some tips and tricks on how to make camping at a music festival even better, beginning with considering your tent.

Coleman Darkroom Tent at Target #MusicFestival

This tent comes with a convenient carrying bag too!

Head to Target to get inspiration for your upcoming festivals and summer gatherings!

Coleman In-Store
Coleman In-Store Photo

One of the features I find most appealing about the Coleman® Dark Room Tent would be the roomy interior, which is great for holding everything during the festival - plus, being able to change in the tent is priceless! There is more than enough room for us in here.

I love the dark outer fabric (which is considered their Dark Room Technology), that blocks light! Since you will likely be camping around a lot of other people, it’s so sweet that this tent’s rainfly blocks 90% of sunlight so you can sleep in past sunrise. Since a lot of music festivals have festival goers camp in open fields without trees, shade is very important. If your tent gets super hot in the morning the moment the sun shines on it, think of just how HOT you would be when you’re trying to get some good rest before another big festival day. Getting a little extra sleep is really amazing.

This tent is pretty easy to set up. I would recommend at least having two people on the job, but it’s pretty easy to find a friend to help you set up your tent in this situation. There are three poles, two that go into the actual tent, and one pole that gives the rainfly a nice awning, which would reduce any water dripping into your tent.

Speaking of rainy weather, you never know what to expect here in the Midwest, but this tent will keep you nice and dry because of the WeatherTec system, which uses a tub-like floor with welded corners and protected seams.

One of my favorite parts of any camping trip is actually when we get to head to bed. I do love that part of the night where we get to retire into our ultra comfy sleeping bags, cots, and our awesome, sunlight blocking tent.

In addition to awesome camping gear, we have lots of fun ideas of how to decorate our campsite, a few of which are shown throughout the post.

A dream catcher was so adorable and easy to hang, plus it brings that whimsical element into your campsite.

My favorite décor item would probably be adding an extra large sunflower (from a craft store), which I attached with zip ties.

Use 2 white twin sized sheets and zip ties or ribbons to add inviting softness and volume to your tent. I first folded one sheet in half to find the center. I then attached that to the sheets in an arched pattern. I used two sheets, but you could use a few more to get an even more festive and inviting look.

Think of your campsite as a living room of sorts, and try to create a relaxed, comfortable environment for your group, or for friends you might meet at the festival. Use outdoor rugs, tapestries, solar lights and more to personalize your campsite and make it stand out.
 

Prepare for the summer with the Coleman® Dark Room Tent and enjoy!