Friday, June 27, 2014

Fourth of July BBQ Tablescape

There's nothing America loves more than a good, old fashion Bar-B-Q for the Fourth of July. A tasty spread of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, chips, dips, refreshing beverages, and a slew of friends and family, is truly what the doctor ordered for this mid-summer celebration. I am no exception; I love a great Independence Day bash. However, for me, it's more that I'll use any excuse to throw a party. I absolutely love to decorate, cook, and bake for anyone and everyone. 

For this year's celebration, we will be hosting my in-laws, and want to make it a fun occasion. So, I have set about gathering supplies to throw a fabulous backyard BBQ. My go-to for affordable decorations is always the Dollar Tree. I am all about making my own version of things that I don't want to spend money on, but you really can't beat $1. I usually start by purchasing a handful of items there, gather everything I can from around my house, and make the rest. I'll break down what I bought, made, and re-used for this festive tablescape.

With these tips and tricks, you can impress your guests, and still have money for food, refreshments, and fireworks!

I used one of those fold up tables that everyone has lying around for Thanksgiving or Christmas, when you have too much family to fit at your normal table. This is perfect if you don't have a fancy outdoor table.

I made the star garland last year with stars cut from craft paper, and twine. The pinwheels were quick and easy to make yesterday, with craft paper I had lying around.

I was so excited to find these basket at the $1 Stop (Dollar Tree). They were four for a dollar! I picked up extras. The bandanas also came from the Dollar Tree. You can also find them at Hobby lobby and Wal-Mart for cheap.

I used a mason jar wrapped in raffia, and a bandana to display and hold serving utensils.

This round place mat is one I have had for years. You can pick up similar ones at the Dollar Tree.

These star picks are actually cake toppers that I made. I stuck them in these vintage vases I picked up at Goodwill some time ago. I'll put them in an actual cake for next Friday. The red vases were Dollar Tree purchases, and the hibiscus is from our front flower bed.

The table cloth is from the $1 Stop (Dollar Tree), and the burlap is from a fundraiser I did last year. You can usually find it at fabric stores, but it isn't terribly cheap. You could easily pick up a few yards of some inexpensive fabric to use as a table runner.

I love these mason jar glasses. I scored them at our white elephant gift exchange last Christmas. You can use regular mason jars instead, or some colorful glasses. The little flags are cupcake toppers that came with cupcake wrappers I bought at Dollar Tree.

I snagged different size vases and items to use as candle holders from around the house to add to the mix. You could buy inexpensive flowers, or pick some wild flowers, to make it even more lovely. Use smaller glass items for bud vases or to hold votive candles.

I love these old school ketchup and mustard bottles I picked up at the Dollar Tree. They just add a little bit of fun to the event.

The mason jars I used were from the fundraiser I did as well. I picked up a few boxes of them at Wal-Mart for relatively cheap. They are great to put little votive candles in or use for bud vases.

I pulled the chairs from our dining room. You can use folding chairs if you have them.

The paper globes are from Dollar Tree. You could jazz this up even more with a string of lights. Everyone loves twinkle lights!

Get creative and think outside the box; use items for purposes other than what they were intended for, and pull things from around your home to save money. Your guest will be so impressed with your set up, and even more impressed with how little you spent! Most importantly, have fun!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dining Table and Summer Tablescape

Happy Hump Day everyone! I'm still trying to get settled in here, and get pictures edited for more posts, but I wanted to share a fun update with you all. 

As you know, when we arrived in Richmond, we had very little to fill up our new house. Being the thrifty (and now broke from a big move) folks that we are, we set out to explore some of the local thrift shops, in hopes of finding some great new pieces of furniture. Our new neighbors gave us a list of places to try, but mentioned that Diversity Thrift was their personal favorite. We went to check it out, and they were right; this place is fantastic! We have found numerous solid pieces, that are in good shape. I think I've already made over a half dozen trips, and come back with something nearly every time. One our best scores was this fantastic dining table and six chairs. It has four leaves to expand, six chairs that are in good condition, it can sit up to ten people, and it only cost us $175! It has a few scratches, and the chairs need some new fabric, but those are easy fixes. What a bargain!

I've had so much fun dressing it up with flowers and candles, I just had to show it off.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

DIY Ice Cream Sandwiches

Here is a super fun and easy summer treat that anyone can make! Have kids or just a sweet tooth? Then this is for you! 

I myself have a soft spot for sweets, and decided to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies over the weekend. Not to toot my own horn, but I think they were my best batch yet. It really is all about timing. There were so many, and it being just the two of us, I knew the hubby and I would never finish them, so I concocted the idea to make ice cream sandwiches in order to use them up. During our trip to the grocery store on Sunday, I picked up a gallon of a good ole Texas staple, Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. Growing up, the creamery was just a 40 minute drive from my hometown, so you can bet I made my fare share of trips to take a tour and get all the yumminess I could handle. What a happy surprise to find my childhood favorite all the way our here in Virginia!

I now had all I needed to make some tasty treats! This couldn't be easier. You can bake up a batch of your favorite cookies, or hop over to the grocery store to pick some up. Grab two, add your favorite ice cream in the middle, and you've got yourself the perfect warm weather dessert! I wrapped mine up with cling wrap and threw them all into a large freezer bag to make sure they stay fresh and delish.

This would be a great little dessert to make for a bbq, party, or get together. Throwing a Fourth of July celebration? Impress your guests with these homemade goodies! You could even kick them up a notch by rolling them in colorful sprinkles, chocolate chips, or nuts! You could even set up a station, and let people make their own. Be creative and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Back in the Saddle and a Visit to Boston

It feels so great to be back! It's been such a whirlwind month and a half, I can't even believe all that has happened! After the move, we went on vacation in the Azores, and made a pit stop in Boston along the way. A week and a half later I flew into Houston to spend a few days with a friend, before going home to help out with and be in another friend's wedding, as well as pick up my car from my folks. Then, I headed off to Austin for a few days to catch up with my friends there, pick up my girlfriend, and drive to Richmond from Austin once again! Holy cow! My head is spinning just thinking about it!

Let's back up to just after the move. Four days after we arrived in Richmond, we left for a trip to the Azores, which we had planned and booked months before we knew we were moving. Poor timing, but very welcomed after such a huge move. The Azores are a chain of volcanic islands off of the coast of Portugal, and are a short four hour flight from Boston. We wanted to spend some time visiting Boston, since we would already be passing through, so we booked an early flight that left us with a twelve hour layover. We decided to rent a car to see as many sights as possible. And boy did we! Our flight ended up getting delayed until the next evening, so we got an extra day to play, and squeezed in a few things that we missed the day before. 

In less than two days we visited the Paul Revere House, the Old North Church (of "one if by land, two if by sea"), St. Leonard's Peace Garden, walked through the Quincy and South Markets, ate the most amazing Italian food at Dolce Vita on Hanover Street (I recommend the Stuffed Calamari), had canolis from Mike's Pastry that will  knock your socks off, visited the impressive private art collection of the Gardner Museum, strolled through the beautiful Public Gardens that were in full bloom, stopped by the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), had a beer at Sullivan's (the longest bar in town), visited the New England Aquarium, and took a fun tour of Fenway Park. I'm sure I've forgotten something, as we packed in as much as we possibly could, but we had such an fantastic time, and what a great start to our vacation! Thank you Boston for showing a couple of Texans such a great time. Till next time!

Take a look at our tour of Boston....