In Season: Picnic

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Have you ever gone on a picnic?  When I was younger, my neighbor Matt and I would always go on picnics.  We would pack fluffernutter and peanut butter cracker sandwiches and piles of microwaved pepperoni (yes, you read that correctly) and we would walk to the far corners of our country yards to sit, eat, chat and inevitably get poison ivy.  As I have gotten older, my tastes have changed, my picnic settings have become more picturesque and I have learned how to properly identify poison ivy.  This past Tuesday I went on a lovely little picnic with my two girlfriends.  We couldn’t stop talking about how nice it was to eat, gab and simply sit and enjoy the nature around us.  Packing a picnic is as easy as pie, so go ahead, pack a picnic this weekend!

Speaking of pie, I made a variation of these hand pies.

I made a yummy wild rice salad, but this carrot salad looks like a winner too.

If you’re packing a classic salad, try topping it with these and these.

Sarah Yates puts together one classy picnic!

I have to admit, my picnic was missing a basket.  I packed my goods in two paper Trader Joe’s bags instead.

You can also buy a vintage basket.  There are tons on Etsy! Or you could always weave your own.

I really don’t like paper plates because I like eating off of a solid surface.  With my luck, I’ll flip the flimsy paper plate over onto my lap.  I packed these plates (our every day dinner plates), but I’d like to buy a set of enamel plates so that I don’t have to lug around our heavy, nice dishes.

If your picnic setting allows drinking, why not pick up a pair of these silicone wine glasses?

Throw down an outdoor carpet (find one at an Asian market for <$20), or an Indian tapestry or some cool fabric for your fine self to sit on. Uh, oh, now I’m down a cool-fabric rabbit hole. There’s citrus, strawberries, pineapples, and watermelon, but nothing similar to the sheet my friend Karissa brought along.  (You’ll see snapshots of that in the near future)

Huge lists of recipes overwhelm me, but the first few looked delish so you may want to check out some of these recipes.

Planning a picnic is really as easy as making a meal and throwing it (ok, place it gently) in a basket.  This bacon and blue cheese baguette is the perfect example of an easy picnic-friendly meal.

Are you inspired enough to go on a picnic yet?  Pack up your salad and snacks and get out there!

Stay tuned for photos and recipes from my recent picnic.  Happy weekend!

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Rosemary Roasted Vegtables

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season. You can see all of our rosemary posts here. Today we’re ending the series with our easiest recipe and the absolute most popular rosemary dish in our house.

 

As you’ll see, this is a dish where any vegetable goes; the only constants are my roasting and seasoning methods. For those reasons this post reads more like an instruction manual and less like a recipe. If you’re making these for dinner, be sure to begin prepping them about two hours before you want to eat. I know that sounds crazy, but I like to do a lower roasting temperature that leaves the vegetables moist and concentrates their delicious flavors. After you’ve had them once you’ll see that the prep is so easy and they taste amazing, so it’s totally worth the cooking time. Throughout this post we’ve included photos of our past roasted veg experiments, all at different stages of preparation.

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Photography 101

As you may know, I’m obsessed with photography.  I have a degree in photojournalism from Temple University and I have been working in some sphere of the photography world for the past five years.  I’m the first to admit that you do not need a degree in photography in order to take great photos. In my spare time, I teach photo classes to adults who would like to become more comfortable with their DSLRs and photography in general, and I thought it would be helpful to start sharing that information here as well. Today is the first installment of Photography 101.

Photography can become quite overwhelming because when it comes down to it, there is a lot to learn.  The good news is, you do not need to learn it all right away!  Today in Photography 101, I’m going to go over four important tools for shaping light in your photographs.  These four components: aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance are the key to creating a beautiful photograph.  Once you have a clear understanding of all four, you can begin experimenting, breaking out of your comfort zone and using the MANUAL setting every time you are out and about.  You are smarter than your camera, which is why you are probably frustrated with the AUTO setting.  Follow along and learn how to understand the relationship between light and photography.

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Simple Strawberry & Greek Yogurt Popsicles

The temps were high in North Carolina this weekend.  It felt a lot like the middle of July around here.  I was busy entertaining a few friends and we all decided to check out a local bikram yoga studio.  Yep, we thought the smartest way to beat the heat was to enter a 115° room for ninety minutes.  Our moment of salvation came at the end when the instructor gave us each a cold scented towel and a freeze pop.  Those little frozen treats left us wanting more.  We took our time thinking about it by the pool and then came up with this simple strawberry and greek yogurt popsicle recipe.  With only four ingredients, there is really no excuse not to try this naturally sweet fruit pop.

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It is best to use fresh and juicy strawberries for these pops.  Now is the perfect time to find a strawberry field near you!  There are dozens of you-pick-it strawberry fields near Chapel Hill and I think we found the prettiest one.  I enjoyed picking berries so much that I plan on picking some more this week!  You can’t beat paying $2.50 a pound for the ripest strawberries around.  If you’re looking for a fun activity this month, find a field near you!
Katie here with a few berry-washing tips:
  • It’s better to do a quick dunk in water or just run them through the faucet stream rather than to let your berries soak. If they’re in the water too long, they can absorb some of that H2O and their sweet flavor will get diluted.
  • Do you notice how your berries seem to mold much faster than other produce? Washing them is a great first attack to stop the mold, but even better is adding just a little bit of vinegar to your washing water. The vinegar will kill the model spores and, believe us, it will evaporate and won’t leave a funny taste on your berries. 
  • Finally, no matter your washing method, be sure to thoroughly dry your berries so that they don’t turn to mush in the fridge. Calder likes to put a folded paper towel in the bottom of a berry colander and just store the berries in there. The towel absorbs excess water and it evaporates fairly quickly in cold & dry fridge.

Ok, back to Sarah and the lovely pop ladies ~

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Equipment:

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • Juice of one lime

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Instructions:

  • Cut the tops off of two cups of strawberries.
  • Mash the berries for about a minute.
  • Add the sugar and stir.
  • Let the mixture sit for about twenty minutes.
  • Add the strawberries, greek yogurt, and lime juice to the blender.
  • Blend for thirty seconds to a minute.
  • Pour into the popsicle molds and freeze. Easy peasy, lime squeezey.

These pops are perfectly creamy and sweet.  They are sure to please a crowd of kids or for that matter, a group of gal friends.

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Pack Your Bags: Sarah’s Carry-On

Who doesn’t love to be prepared? Last week we talked about our essential gear for van camping and backpacking trips. Today we’re back with a double feature (did you catch Katie’s carry-on essentials this morning?) focused on our respective carry-on strategies.

I would say I’m a bit of a traveler.  I’ve been to over 15 countries and with all those flights I’ve learned a thing or two about packing a carry on bag.  Just like Katie, I don’t want to be weighed down by my luggage, but I do want to make sure it has everything I need to:

  1. Keep me warm and cozy while traveling
  2. Entertain me in the airport and during the flight
  3. Keep me fresh, healthy, hydrated and happy
  4. Keep my equipment safe and sound

Depending on where I’m headed and how long I’m staying, I’ll either pack a small rolling suitcase or my osprey pack.  I always pack my camera equipment in my carry on, which can become quite heavy after awhile.  If I’m traveling to a convenient and stable environment (house, hotel, or somewhere where I’ll be renting a car) then I’ll gladly pack a rolling suitcase.  If I’m going on an adventure where I anticipate moving around a lot, taking all types of transportation and general craziness (ie: big cities, boats, buses and unknown environments) then I’ll take my pack.  It’s a little more work, but it makes things a whole lot easier when all my gear is on my back while I’m strolling down crowded sidewalks, boarding busy trains or wading through waters to catch a ferry.  That being said, I like to analyze everything that goes into my bag to avoid toting around any extra weight.  While traveling, it’s not uncommon to haul your bags around from hostel, to ferry, to bus, to train.  Usually I stack my stuff under my seat and fall asleep.

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Pack Your Bags : Katie’s Carry-On

As summer approaches, we have travel on the brain. Last week we talked about our essential gear for van camping and backpacking trips. Today we’re back with a double feature (check back for Sarah’s post this afternoon!) focused on our respective carry-on strategies.

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Between the security lines, extra charges, and crowds, we hear plenty of complaints about air travel, but I can assure you, you aren’t going to get any of that here. We love to travel, and are equally amazed and thankful every time we hop on a plane and land a few hours later and thousands of miles from home. We would rather spend our time enjoying the ride than letting the lines get us down. So today we’re sharing our packing strategies that help us maximize the fun and minimize those aforementioned annoyances, because truth be told, they’re bound to hit everyone once in a while.

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In Season : Popsicles!

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Our community pool’s opening this weekend, warm weather is expected, and we are going to a picnic with friends. (Sarah here: Our pool opens this weekend too! I also have a picnic planned – Schu sisters for the weekend win!) The only thing that could make this weekend more summer-ific would be a big box of popsicles. So, in celebration of the many sunny days and warm nights ahead, we’ve found some cool popsicle inspiration to kick off your holiday weekend. We’ll see you back here next week!

Get your memorial day started with this giant popsicle pinata. Just don’t fill it with popsicles.

These whole fruit ice pops look delicious!

Paletas is a really great popsicle book. Sarah babysat some wee ones last summer, her and the kids made different paletas weekly!

Hey Philly friends, have you tried the Lil’ Pop Shop yet? We want to taste the Sweet Pea pop.

We love a good popsicle mold and can’t wait to start making some sailboat pops at the beach this summer. I may add this mold to my kitchen because I heard that its pop size is just right for little ones.

Speaking of the kiddos, I’m sure they would have fun making and playing this popsicle memory game.

I thought this was a genius use of popsicle sticks: painting one with each wall color from your house and then taking them with you when shopping for home accessories.

Spoonflower has you covered if you’re looking to expand your stash of popsicle fabrics. I have my eye on this one for a fun pool tote.

Who doesn’t love a good popsicle t-shirt? The poor lollipop is loosing his popsicle love. Oh no!

Remember our visit to the Asian market? One of our most favorite things to buy there are the black sesame popsicles. Don’t leave the freezer section without them!

When Sarah was in Thailand she was addicted (eating at least 5 a week) to black bean and coconut popsicles. She couldn’t find the exact pop on the interwebs, but this recipe sounds similar.

And please, for the love of summer, get yourself a popsicle tattoo!

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Arrow Embroidery Tutorial & DIY

Don’t shoot! I know this post is a little later than normal, but that’s because I was working on an original arrow embroidery DIY for you cats.  I think we can all agree that arrows are both adorable and hip.  They deserve to be embroidered on cabin pillows, baby onesies, inspirational banners and just about everywhere else.  Whenever I see arrows, I think summer camp, forest adventures and cabin get-aways.  Who doesn’t want to think of those things? That’s why I created this arrow embroidery tutorial.

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I’m not fibbing when I say arrows are easy to embroider.  Each arrow is made up of a couple different stitches all of which are outlined below.  The colors, style and feel of each arrow is up to you!  I encourage you to sketch out a few arrows to define the style you’re going for and then start stitching.  If you really want a summer camp vibe, take your arrow embroidery supplies to the woods!

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From Crust to Crouton

Yesterday we taught you how to infuse olive oil with rosemary and today we will teach you how to put it to good use.  There are a hundred and one ways to use rosemary infused olive oil, but which is the easiest one?  Adding flavor to homemade croutons!

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“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”  I try as best as I can to live by this mantra, which is how I first came to make my own croutons.  I bought two baguettes (something you should avoid) thinking I would eat them both immediately, but a few days later the remaining baguette was hard as a rock.  I could have killed someone with this baguette.  Birds would have ate the murder weapon. How’s that for the perfect crime?  I decided to forgo the murder and figure out what to do with my baguette bat.

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Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season. A few weeks ago we infused vodka with rosemary and made bloody marys; today we’re infusing olive oil.  Find other rosemary concoctions here. 

Oil infusion may be my new favorite hobby.  I’m a first timer, but I’m here to rave about it.  Make this rosemary infused olive oil and thank yourself while cooking all your future meals.  I felt like a little chemist with the measuring, pouring, heating and transferring (sorry to all the chemists I’ve just insulted).  Oil infusion may not be the most exciting or glamorous activity for a Friday night, but it’s so stinkin’ easy and it’s plain stinkin’ too.  It makes your entire home smell super fresh.  The green herbs combined with warm olive oil ease your senses into an aromatic daydream.  Personally I was skipping along green hillsides in Italy.  I’m excited to try other herbs and even fruits like lemons and oranges.  A little basket of different oils and yummy breads would make a great gift for a chef or a snacker or an anyone.

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