Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Nautical Summer Party

{ This post was recently featured on the Tiny Prints Blog }

This was the first party at our new lake house, so I was thrilled when I discovered the 'Swell Times' invitation on the Tiny Prints site - it was the perfect fit for our theme! 
We ordered our invites and coordinating address labels and thank you cards (I love the anchors!) and got to work planning our party.
Our invitation was the first step in coming up with a theme and color scheme for the party.  My best tip for planning party decorations - pick a color, or a range of colors (in our case it was all shades of blue with a nautical theme) and go with it.  Start collecting accessories, table settings, and decorations in your selected color, and everything will look well pulled together. 
We kept the flowers simple - light blue hydrangeas, and put them all around the house.  The perfect summer flower to compliment our nautical theme.  By the way, did you know that Costco offers flowers in bulk online?  I ordered our flowers there and was pleasantly surprised - they were gorgeous and a great price as well!
I used glass vases and jars filled with sand, shells, and driftwood to compliment our beachy, nautical theme.
We decided to go with a Summer picnic theme for the food.  The menu:  pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad, potato chips, watermelon slices, potato chips, and caprese skewers.
Our simple dessert station:
One of my favorite spots to set up - the drink station!  More hydrangeas and lots of blue to fit with the theme.
I added a collection of nautical themed prints in our colors to add interest to the drink station.  I love how it looks and how simple it was to put together!
I printed out names of the drinks we served on my computer and placed them in small frames.  The Lake Michigan Spiked Lemonade was very popular - so popular that I never had a chance to photograph it!
We had a wonderful party! 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Weekend Kitchen: Mac & Cheese with Pesto, Corn, and Sun Dried Tomatoes

I'm a sucker for macaroni and cheese.  If I see it on a restaurant menu, you can be pretty sure that I am going to order it.   I've posted before about my all time favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.  It's hard to resist the combination of pasta and gobs of melted cheese - two of my very favorite things!  I came across this recipe on Pinterest and had to try it.
Recipe adapted from Foodie Crush.  Original recipe found HERE.

- 1 pound pasta, shells or similar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk (I used skim)
- 1/3 cup prepared pesto (Or make your own)
- 4 oz. Fontina cheese
- 4 oz. extra sharp white cheddar
- 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, slivered
- 1 cup sweet corn, cooked and cut from cob
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh basil, for garnish
- fresh flat leaf parsley, for garnish
1.  Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.
2.  Meanwhile, prepare sauce.  Over medium high heat, melt butter.  Add flour and use a whisk to incorporate.  Continue whisking, one minute longer.  Gradually add milk, stirring each time to incorporate.  Keep whisking until mixture is bubbly and has thickened.  Remove from heat.
3.  Stir in pesto until incorporated.  Next, add cheeses and stir until melted.  Add tomatoes and corn and stir.  Add pasta and stir until just coated in sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, if desired.  Dish out pasta and garnish with fresh herbs.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

I really liked this unique version of mac and cheese.  The recipe is a "keeper", for sure.  This version is particularly quick, because it's a stovetop mac and cheese - meaning you don't put it in the oven.  Do you have a favorite mac and cheese recipe?  I'm always looking for more versions to try!

Monday, July 28, 2014

DKU Lakehouse Party on theTiny Prints Blog!

We recently had our first party at the new Lake House.  I'm sharing the decorations, invitations, and food on the Tiny Prints blog.  CLICK HERE to see my post!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Summer in the Mitten: Sleeping Bear Dunes

Last week, my sister, brother, Dad, and I headed up to visit Sleeping Bear Dunes (or SBD, as we like to call it).  Sleeping Bear Dunes is a National Park located in the Northern portion of the lower peninsula in Michigan.  Sister and I have been to SBD several times, but my brother had never been and made a special request to visit during his Summer vacation.
  We were happy to oblige.  In 2011, Sleeping Bear Dunes was voted the Most Beautiful Place in America by Good Morning America.  My photos don't do it justice, but hopefully they will give you some idea of how beautiful the area is. 
{ Sleeping Bear Dunes location in Michigan, indicated by the A }
{ a detailed look of the area }
Our first stop was the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  You can stop at the visitor center in Empire to pick up a guide and pay for your park entrance { $10 per car for all areas of the park } or just head straight to Pierce Stocking and pay at the entrance.

We parked the car at one of the first stops and took a short hike.  The nice thing about SBD is that you can do as much or as little hiking/walking as you like.

 { Sister and Brother are the two small specks on the hill }
 { me with World's Cutest Brother.  He looks thrilled, doesn't he?  What is it with teenage boys and the camera?  he refuses to smile...}
 { Dad & Brother }
Next, we headed to the Lake Michigan overlook stop on the drive - one of the most beautiful and popular spots.  You don't want to miss it!
 { DKU - me, brother, sister }
See the area of darker sand in the photo above?  The dark spots are people climbing back up the dune - this is not recommended!  It can take up to two hours to climb up! It's hard to get a sense of how tall the dune is in he photo, but it's 450 feet high with a very steep incline!
The water is so beautiful up here.  It almost looks like the Caribbean.
After the scenic drive, we drove North to the city of Glen Arbor.  We wandered around the shops, made a stop to the famous Cherry Republic { Don't miss it - love this fun place } and had a snack at Art's Tavern.  We continued North to Pyramid Point for one more hike.

After an uphill, buy easy, hike through the woods, you are rewarded with gorgeous views of Lake Michigan. 

I can't get over the color of the water!

 { DKU selfie }
 { a half smile...victory! }
After Pyramid Point, we made our way to Traverse City, where we spent the night.  The Traverse City area is another beautiful part of Michigan and is a really fun Summer Town.  I posted about a wine tasting trip I took here.
{ One of my Instagram photos of our hotel dock in Traverse City; I used the Waterlogue app to edit into a "watercolor" }
I hope you are having a wonderful Summer!  How is it almost August?  I am not ready for Summer to end!


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