10 Things To Do Before Summer is Over

If you’ve visited a department store recently you’ve probably noticed that school supplies and backpacks have taken the place of bathing suits and pool toys. July is almost over so now is the time to make sure you’ve crossed a few items off your summer bucket list before it’s too late. If you’re looking for some summer-themed activities to make the most of your last week’s of summer keep reading….

1 – Visit a beach at sunset

2 – Go to a water park or splash pad

3 – Go strawberry and blueberry picking

4 – Host a barbecue

5 – Go to an outdoor concert

6 – Take a boat ride

7 – Make homemade popsicles

8 – Drink lemonade

9 – Sit by an outdoor fire

10 – Dine al fresco at a restaurant

7 Summer Salad Recipes

In a summer time dinner rut? When it’s hot outside the last thing we feel like doing is turning on the oven and cooking a large meal. Mix things up by trying one of these delicious and refreshing summer salads tonight!

 

1 – Honey Mustard Chicken Avocado Salad

2 – Mexican Chopped Salad

 

3 – Cucumber Tomato Salad

 

4 – Spicy Peach and Avocado Salad

 

5 – Creamy Dilled Cucumber Salad

 

6 – Honey Lime Rainbow Salad

 

7 – Avocado Strawberry Spinach Salad 

5 Garden Plants that Keep Mosquitoes Away

Summer brings longer days and evenings outdoors. There’s nothing that can ruin a summer cookout more than the itching and scratching of mosquito bites! If you’re planning to spend time outside after dusk, try putting these plants in your garden to keep the bugs away…

1 – Lavender – Not only does it look beautiful, it smells great too! Another thing that lavender does is hinder a mosquito’s ability to smell. The leaves of this plant have natural oils that will keep your garden smelling fresh and the pesky bugs away.

 

2 – Marigolds – These annuals add beautiful color to your garden and they also deter mosquitoes, aphids, white flies, and squash bugs.

 

3 – Citronella Grass – Most people have heard of citronella candles but did you know that you can plant citronella grass directly in your garden? This plant is known as the most effective at repelling pests and is low maintenance. A must-have for your outdoor space!

 

4 – Rosemary – Rosemary is an herb that many of us are very familiar with, especially with cooking. Rosemary’s woody scent is what keeps mosquitoes as well as some moths and flies away.

 

5 – Basil – Another herb we use in our cooking, basil is also great at keeping mosquitoes and other bugs away. The pungent smell of any type of basil is powerful to keep mosquitoes from entering your space. Try planting some in pots on your patio and you can also use some for preparing dinner!

Summer Kickoff Party Ideas

The unofficial start to summer has officially passed and now it’s time to celebrate! Grab your friends and family and have fun this weekend with these great and festive ideas!

1 – Create a scavenger hunt for the kids. Make a list of items they can find outdoors and help them check off their lists.

2 – Need some ideas for fun summer decor? Use a baby pool or blow up a pool float and add ice for a festive drink cooler.

3 – Set the mood with music. Create a playlist of all songs about summer to play in the background at the party.

4 – Setup a volleyball or badminton net and get everyone up and moving by playing a game.

5 – Create a sun and bug-free station by offering your guests sunscreen and bug spray so they can enjoy the outdoors.

6 – Put together a play area for the kids complete with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, water guns and other toys to keep them entertained.

7 – You can’t kickoff summer without the classic BBQ foods. Make a menu complete with all of the best grill foods and summer salads to serve your guests.

6 Tips for Packing Away Summer Clothes

It felt like summer was planning to stick around forever this year (we’re not complaining) but the cooler temps are finally here! If you’re like us and still haven’t packed away your summer clothes now is the time. Follow these 6 steps to keep things as organized as possible.

  1. Wash and dry all of your clothes before packing them away so you can launder any stains.
  2. If you don’t have any, purchase some storage containers. Plastic bins or air tight bags are both great options for storing clothes.
  3. Choose your storage location. Whether it’s in your closet, your basement or under your bed, make sure the spot is cleaned and ready for your containers.
  4. Rolling your clothes will allow for more space in your containers and less wrinkles. Roll tightly and organize clothes by separating tops from bottoms.
  5. Top your clothes with some clean dryer sheets before sealing up the containers. Your clothes will smell fresh when you open them up next spring.
  6. Lastly, label your containers “summer clothes” so you can easily locate them when the weather turns warm again!

Summer Recipe Contest – Winner #3

Congratulations, Michele Coffey!

Grilled Honey Lime Cilantro Chicken with Homemade Mango Salsa

Ingredients for Chicken:
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
¼ cup lime juice
½ cup honey
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for Mango Salsa:
a bag of frozen mangoes diced
1 small red onion diced
1 fresh lime
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Put chicken in a ziplock bag. In a small bowl combine lime juice, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and seal the bag and let marinade for 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat your grill to medium high heat. Grill each side of the chicken for about 3-4 minutes or until cooked throughout and no longer pink.

Meanwhile, to make the mango salsa,  mix all the ingredients together and top with fresh squeezed lime juice. Top each chicken breast with a generous scoop of salsa and serve with a side of rice or a side salad!

 

Summer Recipe Contest – Winner #2

Congratulations, Lisa Brock!

Strawberry Trifle

Cake:
1 box butter cake mix
1/2 cup butter
3 large eggs
1 cup milk

Pudding:
2 (3.4 oz) boxes vanilla pudding
4 cups milk
16 oz container sour cream
2 (8 oz) containers whipped topping

2 lbs of fresh strawberries
Mix cake mix, butter, eggs, and 1 cup milk and bake according to package directions in 13x9 inch pan. Cool completely for at least 1 hour.

Mix pudding, 4 cups milk, sour cream, and whipped topping. Reserve 1-1/2 cups whipped topping for top of trifle.

Remove tops from strawberries and slice strawberries into thin slices.

Using 3-1/2 quart trifle bowl. Tear cake into medium pieces. Begin layering cake, strawberries, and then pudding into the trifle bowl. Continue the layers, filling the bowl. Top entire dessert with the reserved layer of whipped topping. Slice a few strawberries for garnish. Refrigerate overnight (best results) or at least 4 hours before serving.

Summer Recipe Contest – Winner #1

Congratulations, Vijitha Regatti!

Spicy Garlic Barbecued Chicken

Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup tomato paste
6 garlic cloves – finely chopped
1 tbsp red chili powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
2 finely chopped small jalapeños
3 lbs of chicken thighs – bone in
2 cups water

BBQ Sauce preparation:
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add tomato paste, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, & chopped jalapeños. Cook for about 5 min and then add black peppers, soy sauce, salt, and 2 cups of water. Stir occasionally until reduced by half, 10-20 min. Marinate chicken thighs with sauce 30 min before grilling.

Chicken preparation: Prepare grill on medium heat. Season chicken with homemade barbecue sauce and grill, turning occasionally for 15-20 min. Continue grilling, turning and basting with barbecue sauce, until chicken is cooked.

7 Tips For Packing Lunch for the Beach

We’re in the dog days of summer and that means we’re smack dab in the middle of beach season. Planning a trip this weekend? Try these tips for packing the best foods to enjoy while you’re sitting in the sand.

  1. Bring low maintenance fruits. Don’t bring anything that needs to be peeled as it leaves a mess and might leave you with sticky hands.
  2. If you’re packing a sandwich, think about making it a wrap. Wraps are easier to eat with one hand and can easily be kept in foil to avoid a mess.
  3. Bring a separate bag for your trash to avoid having wrappers blow away on the beach.
  4. Use ice packs instead of ice in your cooler to avoid a soggy mess at lunch time.
  5. Bring plenty of wet wipes for your hands to avoid getting sand on your finger foods.
  6. Prefer not to eat with your hands? Pack something in a plastic container that you can eat with a fork (think salads or burrito bowls – yum!)
  7. Make sure to have plenty of water to stay hydrated while you soak up the sun!