Home Economics: How to pack for a picnic

Summer is such a fun season and there are so many outdoor concert and movie options. I’ve been going to Movie Monday’s at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa for years. Over time, my group of friends has perfected the art of packing a picnic.

imageFirst, you need a chair and blanket. I love my Tommy Bahama backpack chair. It has a regular and an insulated pouch on the back. My leopard Snuggie fit perfectly in the top pouch. I received my Snuggie as a gag gift and I actually use it all the time. It’s great if you need to stay warm and still have the use of your arms and hands!

Next, you need a good picnic basket and insulated tote bag. I inherited an awesome picnic basket when my friend Adam moved and not only is it useful, it has serious sentimental value. My insulated bag is from Trader Joe’s. It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

imageAn inflatable ice bucket is also essential. I bought mine at a Duffy boat store, but I found a similar one here. It is so convenient, and it takes up no room. You blow it up when arrive and fill with ice and your drinks. I’ve also been bringing mine to hotel rooms to keep waters cold when traveling.

imageYou also need a table in a bag. It rolls out and has screw-on legs. You can buy a similar one here. You also need a tablecloth, battery powered candles, and cute serving ware. For this picnic, I bought sandwich baskets and plastic divided mini trays. I love that the sandwich baskets came with checkered wax paper inserts. I bought the plates, baskets and battery powered candles at Wal-mart. I also pack trash bags for trash at the end of the night and grocery store bags for the dirty dishes.

imageSince the movie for the night was “Spice World,” which by the way is the worst movie ever, I wanted to make something British-themed to go with the movie. When I was in London, I had the best sandwich ever. It was so simple… Brie cheese, cucumber, and tomato with a hint of mayonnaise on a crusty baguette. Once I made the sandwich, I wrapped the baguette in wax paper and divided it into six sections. I used tape to hold the wax paper in place and then tied each individual sandwich with baker’s twine. Not only were they delicious, they also looked really cute. The six sandwiches fit in a gallon sized Ziplock bag.

imagePretzel sticks are so great to serve with dips. I bought these at Trader Joe’s. They are stronger than chips and crackers, so they don’t break when dipping. I served the pretzels with Yummus, an almond spread similar to hummus. They sell it at the farmer’s market near my house. I go to the farmer’s market every week to buy more. It’s so good! The pretzels are also great with spinach dip and hummus.

imageThe friends I was meeting brought side salads and other treats from Whole Foods.
imageEven though the movie was horrible, we had a blast! Only picnic with people you love.

Homework: What is your best picnic tip?

Dress Code: On Wednesday’s we wear cute cover ups!

imageI’ve been on a lot of mini vacations this summer. Vegas, the desert, and my sorority reunion all involved some time pool side. I have two really cute cover ups that I use when heading to the pool or the beach. The black cover up is several years old and I don’t know what I’m going to do when I have to replace it. It’s super flattering and light-weight. It’s not completely see-through, so it can easily tradition from the pool to lunch or cocktails. I wear this cover up with a black lace wire fedora that packs easily since it is wired-trimmed. The hat is easy to reshape after it comes out of my suitcase. The leopard cover up was purchased this summer and I love how light and breezy is it. It also looks great with my straw fedora. Both cover ups were purchased at Target and were less than $30. They roll up to next to nothing and are easy to pack with my two favorite bathing suits. Since most of my mini vacations were two or three days, it was important to have the two different cover ups, in case day one’s suit and cover up weren’t dry from the day before. I wore both cover ups with my black Tory Burch flip flops.

Homework: What is your favorite look to wear pool side?

Special Assembly: A party without a favor is just a meeting, Part 2!

imageThis past weekend I attended a reunion for my sorority. I’ve shared before that in my family, it’s not a party without a party favor. About forty girls were attending this reunion, so I racked my brain trying to figure out something fun and meaningful to bring for everyone. At first I thought Scrunchies, but knew no one would wear them. Then it came to me! Back in the 80’s when we would attend fraternity parties, we would buy plastic tumblers and decorate them with paint pens. We would put our name, date, and the party theme on the tumblers.
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Tumblers and paint pens were the perfect party favor! I found the tumblers at Walmart. A four pack was only $1 and I bought a six- pack of paint pens at Michael’s for $5.99. So for less than $20, everyone got to make a tumbler for the weekend. We asked all the girls to write their name and their pledge year on their cups. The cups then also served as informal name tags, since we spanned about five years of pledge classes. Some girls even had everyone sign their cups, like a mini yearbook.

It was so much fun watching the girls decorate their tumblers. It’s amazing how quickly the sorority girl “dot writing” came back to everyone! I’m so glad they were a hit!
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They also looked cute in pictures!

Homework: What is the best party favor you ever reviewed?

Dress Code: Traveling in camo, again!

imageThis weekend I drove to Woodland Hills for a sorority reunion. I was really excited to see some of my Alphi Phi sisters that I kept in touch with via Facebook, but some I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years. We had a blast and I will be sharing more about the reunion this week.

Today, I wanted to focus on my travel outfit. It was about a two hour drive from Orange County, so I need to be comfortable. I ended up wearing my new camo flouncy skirt that I bought during our outlet field trip last week. The skirt was less than $20 at the Banana Republic outlet. I wore it with a black, satin-trimmed t-shirt, also from Banana Republic. I added my new Kendra Scott emerald green earrings from the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, a tassel necklace from Ann Taylor, my fedora, and my black Tory Burch sandals to complete the look. When I arrived, it was super hot and a group of us sat outside to greet people as they arrived. This out was perfect! Casual and cool!

Homework: Clearly, my straw fedora is my favorite accessory this summer. What is yours?

Field Trip: Vegas fun!

I went to Las Vegas at the beginning of the week and I tried a few new things on this trip.

imageIt’s a long story to explain why, but I ended up at Circus Circus, and it was a trip down memory lane. Growing up, my grandmother lived in Las Vegas and we spent a lot of time at Circus Circus playing the games upstairs and watching the trapeze show. I had to play the clown race game while we were there. You squirt water in a clown’s mouth and it fills up a ballon. The first person to pop their balloon wins. I didn’t win, but it brought back a ton of childhood memories. I did, however, win this adorable stuffed fish, I’m calling her Dory, playing another ballon game. I’m not the most coordinated person, so when I hit and popped two balloons with bean bags, I was pretty impressed with myself!

imageAfter Circus Circus, we headed downtown for zip lining over Fremont Street. I hadn’t been downtown in a million years. It’s a totally different crowd than the strip and there were some great people watching opportunities. The preparation process for zip lining was a little scary, as the elevator up to the platform was very shaky and noisy. The actually zip lining experience was very cool. The Fremont Experience area is exciting and colorful and seeing it from up above gave us a unique perspective. The ride itself is pretty mellow, until the end. You start to speed up and then, wham! You hit the brakes. The ending is a little jarring, but I would definitely do it again.

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On our first day by the pool, it was so crowded that we couldn’t even find chairs. We had to set up towels by the side of the pool. So on the second we splurged on a day bed. It was completely worth it! We had a super comfy spot all day and our waitress even brought us buckets of waters on ice. We were right on the pool’s edge and we had a view of the whole pool. There a drawer in the base of the bed for our bags and there was even a safe for our valuables. The day bed also had an umbrella which was great later in the day when I needed a break from the sun.

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imageAfter a day by the pool, we decided to take a ride on the High Roller observation wheel. Part of my room package, included a two-for-one voucher for the High Roller. I’m so glad we did it. The whole “ride” takes about forty-five minutes and you get to experience amazing views of the Vegas skyline. Even someone who is afraid of heights can handle it. The orb moves very slowly and it’s a very smooth ride. I highly recommend the High Roller. It something different and it’s a great photo opportunity.

After the High Roller, we hit O’Shea’s for some $5 black jack. We were up, then down and then we were smart and cashed out when we were almost even.

For the High Roller ride and gambling, I wore my white Gap boyfriend jeans with a pink Juicy Couture t-shirt that is sheer in the back. My gold jeweled Nine Wear sandals matched perfectly. I added a few Kate Spade bangles and my C. Wonder camo clutch. It was perfect for walking around and being tourists.

I usually visit Las Vegas two to three times a year and I spend most of my time at the pai gow and black jack tables. It was really fun to get out of the casinos and try some new things.

Homework: What is your favorite thing to do in Las Vegas?

Dress Code: Traveling, Vegas style!

So, I went back to Vegas for a couple of days this week. I love it there and this was a super fun trip. I always pick my travel outfits carefully. I want to be comfortable and stylish… and warm. I’m always cold on airplanes.

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For this trip, I wore a black strapless dress that I picked up at Old Navy for $15. It was a great base, and I knew it would be perfect once we landed. Since planes are usually cold for me, layers are important. This camo shirt is perfect as a lightweight jacket. I picked it up at Forever 21 for $25. I wore my fedora since it’s difficult to pack and my black Tory Burch sandals. When we arrived in Vegas, I took off the camo shirt and the dress with the fedora was perfect for the Vegas heat!
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For the plane ride home, I wore a navy blue maxi dress that I bought at Old Navy for $15. I added my new Kendra Scott emerald green earrings that I picked up at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale. The rest of the outfit was recycled from my previous outfit. The camo shirt, sandals, and fedora worked great with this dress, too. The airport was super cold, so I was so glad I had the long-sleeved shirt with me.

I used my black Tory Burch tote bag as my carry on and it held two of my C. Wonder clutches inside. I used one clutch as my IPad case and one as a purse. It gave me options as I could easily switch out the clutches, depending on my outfit. I also had a few magazines and snacks :)

Homework: What is your go-to travel outfit?

Lesson Planning: Travel and packing tips and tricks

I’m a little OCD when it comes to packing and prepping for a trip. I’m a planner; I can’t help it! A few weeks ago I went to Vegas for three days and I promised I would share some of my traveling and packing tips and tricks.

Here we go:
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1) Always travel with people who make you laugh! We’ve all been on trips with people who don’t travel easily. I make it point to be a flexible flyer. If everyone is checking luggage, I check my luggage. If my travel partners are carrying on their bags, I carry on, as well. It is so much easier to go with the flow. If I travel with someone who is difficult, I don’t travel with them again.

image2) A week before the trip, I start putting things I am going to bring on the trip in my guest room and hang up clothing options in the doorway. This works especially well with items I know I won’t be wearing in real life. I also put my suitcase, my toiletries bag, etc in the guest room as well. I use this room as a staging area and it’s really nice to have a place to spread out all my choices.

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3) I use Eagle Creek packing cubes to organize my clothes in my suitcase. I bought them at the Container Store during their annual travel sale. I have cubes for:
Daytime outfits
Evening outfits
Swimsuits and coverups
Pjs
Bras and underwear

The cubes keep everything separate and easy to find. If you like to be organized, these cubes are a great investment. I keep them in my suitcase so they are ready when needed.

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4) I also use a laundry bag for my dirty clothes and shoe bags to keep my shoes from getting my clothes dirty. I bought my bags from Flight 101 . The laundry bag is essential because I never want my dirty clothes to touch my clean clothes. These bags were completely worth the money spent. I keep them with all my travel supplies so they are ready to pack at a moments notice.

5) I keep my toiletries bag stocked at all times so I don’t have to think about what I need. I always have sample sized products ready to go. I have duplicates of all make up products, so I keep a separate make up bag that goes between my gym bag and suitcase. It’s nice to have these bags stocked and ready go!

6) I used to pride myself on packing the smallest suitcase, but then I realized that resulted in a heavy carry on bag. Now, I’m not afraid to use a larger suitcase if it means I don’t have a ton of stuff in my carry on. Lugging a heavy carry on around the airport is the worst. Only carry on the essentials!

I hope you find these tips helpful!

Homework: What is your best packing tip?

Dress Code: On Wednesday’s we wear hot pink and camo!

imageI love pink, bows and camo, so, of course, I ❤️ this outfit! Figuring out new ways to wear these camo khakis from Gap, is a challenge I willingly accept. This week I added this adorable pink bow tank top from Banana Republic and I was done! My Coach wedges, C. Wonder clutch, and a few bracelets completed the outfit. Oh, and my Chanel sunnies take any outfit to the next level. Effortless and chic!

Homework: What would you wear with camo khakis?

Home Economics: Lobster ravioli casserole

imageHere is another quick and simple recipe for you that can be easily customized.

You only need a few ingredients. I bought these choices at Trader Joe’s, but you can find similar products at any grocery store.

Ingredients:
Ravioli, I bought the TJ’s lobster ravioli
Pasta sauce
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

I have made this casserole in a 9×9 dish and a 13×9, it depends on how many people you need to serve. These two packages of Lobster Ravioli will work best in a 9×9 pan. First, cook ravioli according to package directions. Shoot for al dente, since the ravioli will continue to cook in oven. Start by putting a layer of pasta sauce at the bottom of the casserole dish. Then add a layer of ravioli and a layer of mozzarella cheese. Add another layer of sauce, ravioli and cheese. You could also add in other options like sautéed spinach. If you were using cheese ravioli, you could layer in meat or sausage. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, take it out and add a layer of parmesan cheese and return to the oven until bubbly, about 7-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Homework: What would you add to this ravioli casserole?

Dress Code: Outlet shopping in style!

imageLast week I spent two days in the desert with two of my college sorority sisters. We thought it would be fun to hit the Desert Hills outlets and spend the night at Casino Morongo. We had a great time! We picked up a few really good deals and shared a ton of laughs.

On day one of shopping, I wore my favorite Bitten seersucker pants. They are lightweight and perfect for the desert heat. I wore them with a $5 black tube top I bought last week at H&M. The tube top was perfect for trying on clothes. In most stores I just put tops and sweaters over the tube top, which made for quick shopping since I didn’t have to go into the dressing room! My black Tory Burch sandals and my new Kate Spade initial necklace completed the outfit. I added my trusty beach market fedora after we were done shopping.

On day two of shopping, I wore my Joe’s boyfriend jeans with an eyelet top from Old Navy. I wore a neon pink lace cami under the eyelet top, so, of course, I had to add my Kendra’s Scott necklace. I wore the same sandals and hat with this outfit. It was actually a little cold this day, so this outfit was perfect.

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I bought two pairs of Tory Burch flats at the TB outlet… One pair of party fuchsia Reva’s and a pair of nude patent leather bow flats. I’m in love with both pairs of shoes!

I bought a ton of cardigans! I added three more short-sleeved cardigans from Ann Taylor Loft to my collection. They were only $15 each. I bought a yellow, red, and another black one, since I’ve worn the heck out of the one I have! The J. Crew outlet had the best deals. Everything on the sale rack was an additional 60% off. That
means $12 cardigans and a few other good deals. Banana Republic is usually a gold mine at the outlets. I found a couple of things, but overall was disappointed.

imageI won $70 playing penny slots at the casino, so on day two, I went back to the Kate Spade outlet to buy two bracelets and a necklace… They were free with my winnings!

I try to hit the outlets a few times a year. I never know what I will find! I try to be smart and not get carried away just because something is cheap. I really
liked that we had all day on Wednesday to shop and then we went back for a quick trip on Thursday to buy the things we were still thinking about! We would also have had an opportunity to return purchases we regretted… That didn’t happen! We were happy with all we bought!

Homework: What would you wear to outlet shop?